The squeaking of her Adidas shoes echoed through the empty hallways as she ran as fast as her legs could carry her. She knew she'd broken every speeding and parking law the state of New York had, and she didn't give half a damn. Finally, she saw the faded gold letters heralding the Special Victims Unit squad room, and she threw the door open so hard that the gathering of detectives standing there, hauled out of their beds at two in the morning, jumped and stared at her. She skidded to a halt, breathless. "I'm Alexandra Cabot. Where's Cragen?"
The sea of officers parted and Donald stepped forward. She took a deep breath and implored him with her eyes to explain just what the hell was going on. "So?" she finally offered, her shaking hands ready to wring his neck if he didn't explain on the spot.
"That was fast," he commented, trying to guide her to his office. "Nice time from Westchester."
She shrugged out of his grip and stopped dead in the path between the desks that lined the space. "Tell me what's going on. Just...tell me, please."
He looked over her shoulder as the detectives watched the interlude. He sighed and turned her around so she faced his squad. "Folks, this is Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot, out of Westchester County. Her sister is the..." he trailed off, feeling her angry eyes on him, and knew if he continued with the word 'victim', she'd haul off and deck him. "Her sister is Emma Cabot," he amended.
Alex nodded slightly to the haggard group in front of her before asking, "What have we got?"
Cragen turned back towards her slightly, trying to make the situation more private. "Alex, I think we should talk in my office."
Her gaze remained on the blackboard standing behind the officers, the one with her sister's picture taped in the middle. "I think we both know there are no secrets in this, Donald," she replied quietly. "Just tell me."
Cragen reached behind him and pulled Olivia's chair from behind her desk, and guided Alex into it. He returned to the board, clearing his throat slightly as an indirect order for his squad to focus on him and not Alexandra. "Emma Katherine Cabot, aged twenty-six. A master's candidate in architecture at NYU. Neighbors reported hearing an argument, a struggle and a woman screaming shortly before twelve-thirty this morning, and called police. Officers found the apartment torn apart, and blood spatter." He watched Alexandra turn her head away, not surprised when she asked a question. "Where was Jess?"
"Jessica Marshall, Emma's roommate," Cragen clarified for the squad. "She's in Stamford this weekend, visiting her parents. She's been contacted and is driving in as we speak."
"Is there anyone you can think of that may have wanted to hurt your sister, Ms. Cabot?" One of the detectives spoke, and Alex had to blink several times to see his face come into focus. She shook her head helplessly, rubbing the bridge of her nose.
"Game plan is this: interview the neighbors, talk to building security, see if the tapes show us anything. Munch and Cassidy are in charge of talking to the roommate, see if we can link any friends or boyfriends; Benson, Stabler, I want you back at the apartment." Cragen dismissed his squad with a nod and returned to Alexandra's side. He placed a hand on her shoulder and she rose, allowing him to guide her to his office. Once he shut the door, she looked up at him, fear evident in her eyes. He hugged her briefly, consoling her silently and then moved to his desk, fishing out a legal pad.
She sat in one of the offered chairs in front of his desk, looking him straight in the face. "What the hell was it, Donald? Random? Or did she know them?"
Cragen sighed. "You know I can't tell you that, Alex."
"Bull you can't," she retorted. "You haven't told me anything. You just called me and said 'Get to the city. There's a problem with Emma.' I'd say we have a problem. Now either you tell me what the hell's going on, or I go to her apartment and find out for myself."
"I've already told you everything I know, Alex, I swear to you. We're still very early in this. But I need you to think of anybody who might have wanted to do this - boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, girlfriends..."
Alex shook her head in frustration. "I just don't know, Donald." She paused, then looked back at him with determination in her eyes. "I need to go to the apartment. Maybe I can see if anything's out of place, see if anything triggers something in me."
Cragen nodded. "You can ride with Benson and Stabler."
* * *
"She's a live wire," Olivia commented dryly, taking a long drag on her last cigarette. Fine day she picked to quit, the first day of an investigation into the abduction of a legal eagle's kid sister. "An' lucky us, we get to baby-sit."
Elliot shrugged, sipping at a Coke as the detectives lingered outside the 16th Precinct. "Give her a break, Liv. Her sister's been snatched; she's just tryin' to deal with it however she can." Benson was obviously less than pleased with their tour-guide detail, but he didn't mind too much. Sometimes family members got in the way of an investigation, but they could also be very helpful in working up a victim profile. He was explaining this to Olivia when she waved a hand at her partner to silence him.
Olivia stubbed out her cigarette and eyed Alex as she came down the steps of headquarters to meet them. She put on her most professional tone and addressed the lawyer. "Miss Cabot," she began, with a tone of sympathy unmatched by her placid brown eyes, "I really don't think you should go through with this. Seeing the crime scene is too much for most family members."
Alex's chuckle hid the shiver that coursed through her body as she stepped outside, and she cursed herself for not grabbing a heavier jacket. "First of all," she said, turning to face both detectives, "the name's Alex. Second of all, I know you must hate me infringing on your territory, and it's completely understandable. But this is my sister, Detective. I know where she keeps her cash, where she keeps her jewelry, what her routine most likely was before she was taken. I'm the best person to tell you how hard she fought those sons of bitches that took her." She shoved her hands in her pockets and expelled a snowy breath into the relative quiet before them. "I promise I won't touch anything, okay?"
Olivia was quiet for a moment, surprised by the outburst. Although she had quite a polished exterior, Alexandra Cabot might just be more interesting than the detective had first thought. "Okay," she agreed. "Walk where we tell you to walk, don't touch anything, and if I say it's time to go, we go," she laid down the law. "Don't fight me on this," Olivia warned, her tone less threat than promise. "'Cause I will drag you out of there under arrest for obstruction if you fuck up my investigation."
"Deal," Alex promised, following Olivia and Elliot to their waiting sedan. The drive to Emma's apartment was filled with compelling silence, and it wasn't until Alex saw the remaining police lights bouncing off the facade of the apartment building that the gravity of the situation hit her. The determination was evident in her stride as she exited the car, her eyes following the blue and red up to the lingering officers standing out on Emma's balcony. She waited until Olivia and Elliot passed by her before heading to the elevators, and forced herself to stay behind them as they entered the apartment.
Elliot pointed to the ground, where white masking tape marked the walking line. "Stay between those strips and you'll be fine, Alex. Holler if you notice anything."
Alex nodded her thanks, standing in the doorway. She took several steps into the living room, facing her sister's couch, table and television set. "Was the TV on when the police first arrived?"
A uniformed officer nodded. "Yes, ma'am. TV was on, and there was some food on the coffee table."
"Meaning she had dumped her stuff by the door here," Alex pointed to Emma's bag, "went into the kitchen, made herself a late dinner, and sat down to watch television." Alex shook her head. "Typical Emma; eat first, do everything else later."
Elliot, who had stopped in the small hallway that led to the bedrooms, came back into the living room. "Everything else? As in, check the messages?"
Alex nodded, and Elliot pressed 'play' on the apartment's answering machine. "Hey, Em," Alex's own voice filled the apartment. "It's eight-ten. I know you have class for a little while longer, but I just wanted to check in, see how everything is. Call me." Alexandra's assessment of her message-leaving was cut short by a male's voice following the beeping of the machine. "Emma, it's Mark. Call me, honey, please. You and I need to talk. I'll come over if I have to...I just need to see you." The machine whirred and beeped three times, indicating no more messages.
"Mark?" Elliot looked at Alex questioningly.
"Um, Mark Miller, I think. He and Emma dated a few years ago, but she hadn't mentioned anything about him in ages. I don't know why he'd be calling her."
Jotting notes on her pad, Olivia asked without looking up, "Would she have told you if they'd gotten back together?"
Alex shrugged. "I would hope so; she knew how much I liked Mark, how good I thought he was for her. He and I were fairly close while they were dating, too. That's definitely something to ask Jessie when you speak to her." She turned a slow, deliberate circle in the living room before facing Olivia and Elliot again. "Can I see her bedroom?"
Olivia resisted the urge to ask 'Are you sure?' "If you want to," she said instead, tucking a chunk of unruly black hair behind her ear.
Alex nodded, moving into the bedroom. She pointed to her sister's bed, saying, "All her cash and jewelry should be in a lockbox under her bed. You should also find a Heckler and Koch 9 MM taped to the underside of the frame. Her theory was that if they ever had a home invasion, Jess would go for the lockbox and Emma would get the gun."
Elliot snapped on gloves and fished around under Emma's bed, pulling out the lockbox. "Looks secure," he commented, resting it on top of the comforter. "Gun's here, too." He removed the bullets from the chamber and looked at Alex. "Emma have a license for this?"
Alex nodded. "It's in the lockbox. The key should be on her key ring."
While Elliot found the key and opened the lockbox, Olivia paced the apartment. Her hands clenched in her pockets, the detective walked from one end of the tiny two-bedroom to the other, her eyes dark with thought as she searched for anything that might give her a hint where the girl was. "Alex!" Olivia called suddenly. "Does Emma have a cat?"
"No," Alex replied, coming back out into the living room. "She never could stand the smell of kitty litter."
Olivia crouched down and extended a gloved hand. "Then what's this?" she asked rhetorically. Snagging the nearly-invisible clump of hair, Olivia dropped it into a tiny evidence bag and stood, holding it out for Alex's inspection.
Alex shook her head, handing the bag back to Olivia.
Elliot returned from the bedroom, standing next to his partner and facing Alexandra. "Is there anything else you can think of?"
Alex shook her head again, her frustration at her inability to help mounting. "Everything seems normal...like someone just snatched her out of thin air. The door's not busted as far as I can tell."
"We're going to need to talk to more of her friends, people at school," Elliot continued, and Alex nodded again. "Her day planner should be in her bag."
Elliot knelt down and searched the saddle bag, lifting out a black book. "Looks like we have some calls to make."
Olivia agreed, her eyes on the blonde attorney. "Are you okay?" she finally asked.
Alex sighed, but nodded. "I guess I'm as fine as can be expected. I just have no idea how to act right now - scared out of my mind, and so angry I could punch something." She took one last look at Emma's apartment before stepping into the hallway. "So what's next?"
Elliot shot a look at Olivia before replying. "Well, we investigate. You go back home and wait for us to call you."
Alex pinned him with disbelieving blue eyes. "You don't actually think I'm driving all the way back to Westchester when my sister's missing, do you?"
"No," Olivia interjected. "He means 'go home' as in 'someplace you can catch a nap'. We have a cot back at Headquarters," she offered as they walked back toward the car.
Alex nodded, even though she knew she would not find respite anywhere tonight. "Thank you."
Elliot brushed past both women, but not before muttering to Olivia, "Live wire, indeed."
"Shut up," Olivia hissed, turning to glance at Alex as they climbed into the sedan. "So...you're a DA?" she tried to make conversation.
"ADA," Alex clarified, watching the city start to wake up as they passed. "Mostly petty stuff; contested traffic tickets, minor vandalism, and the occasional simple assault to liven things up. It's certainly nothing like what you do."
Olivia fell silent, unsure how to reply. Normally, she would've tossed back a remark about how tracking down rapists and murderers wasn't all that exciting; considering the circumstances on that particular morning, she thought better of it, and reined in her sarcastic sense of humor. Glancing out the window, Olivia followed Alex's gaze to the buildings flying by. "If there's anything I can do to help..." She let the offer linger; maybe that would make up for her attitude earlier. The ADA, it seemed, had a strength Olivia could really respect.
Alex smiled softly as she replied quietly, her voice far away. "How about getting my sister home?" Realizing what she had said, she cleared her throat and squared her shoulders with a shake of her head; now was not the time to get emotional. Elliot pulled the sedan back into the carpool area and Alex followed the detectives back into their squad room. "So, do I hover over you all morning, or do I steal your cot for an hour or so?"
Elliot chuckled as he sat at his desk. "Liv'll show you where you can chill out. Time to wake up some co-eds."
Olivia gestured for the other woman to follow her. "It's back here," she said, leading Alex toward the crash room. "You may have your choice of the bunk beds or the cot," the detective added as she opened the door, "depending on who's here."
The room was empty and Olivia stepped in, making space for Alex to do the same. "Looks like it's all yours." She cleared her throat, then began softly, "I know how you feel - well, no I don't," Olivia corrected herself. "But I can imagine." With the same quiet strength she always showed, she continued, "And I'm going to do everything I can to bring Emma back safely. I want you to believe that."
Alex smiled. "Thank you, Detective Benson. It's a comfort knowing the best is on the case." She sat down on the squeaky cot, bouncing slightly. "Not the Ritz," she grinned, "but it'll do."
"Yeah, our budget doesn't allow for pillowtop mattresses," Olivia joked, trying to relieve what tension she could. "Need anything else before I get back to work?"
Alex shook her head. "Get me if you need anything. I tend to have a way with Emma's friends...mostly by putting the fear of God into them when need-be, but hey, whatever works."
"Okay," she said, but Olivia knew she wouldn't disturb the attorney for less than Emma's safe homecoming. She'd need all the rest she could get now, while things were still relatively sane. "Sleep well."
Olivia slipped out, shutting the door behind her. The bullpen was humming with activity as the brunette claimed her chair, ready to attack the stack of papers in front of her. "Munch dumped the phones already?" she asked in wonder, glancing over a list of all the calls into and out of Emma Cabot's apartment in the preceding twenty-four hours.
Elliot nodded. "Nothing much in the way of incoming, other than Alex, this Miller character and a Connecticut number that checks out as the roommate's parents' home. What's interesting are the outgoings; looks like our girl Emma called Mark back at ten-thirty. We found an address for him across town. Definitely gives him enough time to get to Emma's before the neighbors heard the argument."
Olivia reached for her recently discarded jacket. "Let's go have a talk
with Mr. Miller then, shall we?"
* * *
Showing Mark Miller toward the interview room, Olivia turned to her partner. "Elliot, take him in. I'll be right there."
Alex nearly hit the roof as the door to the break room creaked open. She looked up from the legal pad Cassidy had given her and offered Olivia a small smile. "Hi."
"Hey. Did you sleep at all?"
Alex checked her watch. "Maybe half an hour? I kept having these thoughts about where she could be, who could have taken her..." she motioned to the legal pad. "Helps me clear my head and keep me from bothering Munch anymore than I already have."
"Oh feel free to do that," Olivia deadpanned. "It's our favorite pastime around here." Pausing a second, she continued, "We found Mark Miller, and I thought you might like to be there for the interview."
Alex nodded without hesitation. "Show me where to go." She followed Olivia through the bullpen, surprised at the difference a few hours made at the noise and activity levels. "Was Mark cooperative?"
"Very," Olivia assured her. "He seems anxious to help find Emma."
"Good," Alex replied. "Do you want me in there or just watching through the mirror?"
Debating it briefly, Olivia decided she could always pull Alex out later. "You can come in. Just let us do our jobs," she reminded Alex.
"Yes, ma'am," Alex replied, following Olivia through the door.
Elliot looked up as the door opened, and he flashed Olivia a questioning look as Alex followed her. Alex, meanwhile, looked Mark straight in the face, trying to gauge how much he'd changed in the two years since he and Emma had split.
Olivia sank into a chair across from the suspect, avoiding Elliot's stare. She'd deal with his questions later.
"Alex." Mark nodded slowly, as if he'd expected Emma's overprotective big sister to be hovering nearby. "I'm so sorry."
Alex smiled briefly. "Thanks, Mark." She pulled her chair next to Olivia, watching the young man before her.
Elliot broke in, saying, "Mark was just going to tell me what he and Emma talked about last night on the phone."
Mark glanced warily at Elliot. "Yeah. You sure I don't need a lawyer for this or something?"
"Mark, you know I'm a lawyer. It's all fine," Alex assured. "We just need to know what happened last night so that we can get Emma home."
"Oh. Okay." Mark sighed softly, rubbing his eyes with the heel of his hand before meeting Alex's eyes. "She called me around ten thirty," he confirmed. "I remember, 'cause I was channel-surfing before the rerun of X-Files came on at eleven."
Olivia was taking notes quietly and looked up to catch Elliot's eyes. So far, so good, she thought.
"She wanted to know why I called," Mark said softly, his voice strained. "I told her I missed her." A smile flitted across his lips. "You don't forget a Cabot," he told Olivia. "Especially not Emma. We broke up two years ago, but we kept in touch. And I just - I don't know. I hoped maybe, since she wasn't seeing anyone—"
"How did you know she was single?" Olivia asked quickly.
Mark faltered. "She - she told me, I guess. Or maybe I just assumed. I don't know."
Olivia's sharp gaze never slipped from his face. "So you told Emma you wanted to get back together. Then what?"
"She said no," Mark admitted.
"But you didn't want to take 'no' for an answer, didja, Mark?" Elliot snapped, but quickly recovered his composure. "I mean, you must've really loved this girl to wait for her for two years. Most guys would've said 'Screw her' and moved on."
Mark smiled wistfully. "She wasn't just a girl, Detective Stabler. Emma was—"
"Is," Olivia corrected him warily.
Mark's body snapped to attention. "Of course. I'm just...this is all so much to take in," he explained quickly. "Emma is the first girl I ever really loved, and the idea of her being hurt..."
Elliot motioned for him to continue. "So you go over to her place, pour your heart out, she rejects you and what? You just leave?"
"No," Mark corrected him. "We got back together."
Alex blinked several times. "What?" She shook her head slightly in Olivia's direction, indicating her disbelief.
Mark glanced from Alex to Olivia. "Emma said she'd go out with me again. We made a date for Saturday." He paused in thought, wondering how to prove it. "And - and she said she'd have to cancel plans with you, Alex, but you wouldn't mind."
"We were going to dinner," Alex confirmed. "When did she tell you she'd go out with you? On the phone, or when you went to her apartment?"
"On the phone," Mark admitted. "By the time I got to her apartment, Emma was...a little worked up." His hand went to the scratches on his cheek woodenly.
"A little worked up?" Elliot chuckled sardonically. "Looks to me like she got massively pissed at you, which doesn't jive with your whole love story scenario."
"It..." Mark sighed. "Emma called me back about an hour after we hung up, ranting and raving. I couldn't understand half of what she was saying - something about breaking and entering. She said she was calling the cops, and I asked her what the hell was going on. That's when Emma told me she thought her apartment had been broken into. Apparently," Mark continued, his voice strained, "she'd gone to get changed into pajamas, and found her drawers had been rifled. She thought it was me. She wouldn't listen to reason, so I told her I was coming over. Being Emma," Mark said, rolling his eyes in Alex's direction, "she told me if I did, I'd go home with one testicle. I went anyway."
"How did you know where she was?" Alex interjected.
Frowning in confusion, Mark shrugged. "She was home...she'd just called me."
Alex shook her head. "She had just moved, Mark. No more than a week earlier. And she told me - to my face - that I was the only one who knew where she was. So how'd you get her phone number?"
"She gave it to me," he threw back defensively.
"When did she have occasion to give it to you? She hadn't seen you in two years."
"Alex, come on," Mark pleaded angrily. "I ran into Emma at a campus rally," he explained, directed his words to Olivia. "I mentioned getting back together and she gave me her number."
"Regardless," Elliot replied, taking back control of his interview. "You went over to her apartment and what? Tried to shake some sense into her? Maybe you shook a little too hard, she got hurt, scratching you in the process. Probably made you angrier; maybe you snapped."
"No!" Mark growled, proving Elliot's point. "Emma was pissed when I got there. We got in a shouting match and that's when she scratched me. It's nothing new for us; we love hard, we fight hard, Detective." Mark hadn't taken his eyes off Olivia. He knew instinctively that of the two, she was the one he had to convince of his truthfulness.
Olivia eyed Mark with a stony gaze, daring him to give her an opportunity to crush his story with her boot heel.
"What next?" she asked simply.
Sighing, Mark rubbed his eyes. "Can I get a cup of coffee or something?"
"When you tell us something we can use to find Emma Cabot."
Glaring at her, Mark dropped his attitude after a second. "It wasn't me. Emma was pissed, didn't believe me and kicked me out. I left, and that's all I know, except that I tried to call to explain around one-fifteen and no one answered."
"We've got our timeframe," Olivia said quietly, checking Mark out with a measured look. "Thank you."
Standing, she gestured for Alex to follow her out of the room and leave Elliot with the suspect.
Alex didn't move for a moment, watching Mark's eyes stare right back at her. Finally, she stood, brushing quickly past Olivia into the hallway. "Damn it," she said softly, rubbing her forehead. She looked at Olivia, trying to gauge what the detective's gut was telling her. "Do you believe him?"
"Yeah." Olivia reached out, brushing her hand against Alex's briefly. "I think he's telling the truth. But this was good," she encouraged the ADA. "We established an approximate time for Emma's disappearance, that's going to help a lot."
Alex squeezed Olivia's hand briefly, thankful for the support. She sighed, looking back towards the interrogation room, watching Elliot drill Mark. "I just don't know why she wouldn't have told me, you know? We've been so close..." she sighed, uncharacteristically deeply, but refocused. "Did you or the other officers find any evidence of her door being tampered with like he said?"
"Maybe she was waiting to see if the relationship worked out," Olivia offered quietly. "There was a little wood sliced off, could've been from a jimmying," she responded to Alex's second question without missing a beat.
"Maybe they'll find some partial prints or something, not belonging to Mark or Emma." Alex leaned against the wall, mulling over scenarios in her mind. "I just don't know how anyone other than me or Jessica could have known where Emma was. She left her old apartment and moved to the new one rather suddenly; you wouldn't believe how many phone calls I got from her friends asking me where she was."
"Why'd she move so quickly?" Olivia reached for her pad.
"Variety of reasons," Alex replied. "NYU had limited her scholarship, meaning she had to pay out of pocket more than she was used to, and with school and the old apartment, she was spreading herself too thin. She also didn't like her apartment building...she said there were some creepy guys hanging around there..." Alex stopped, grimacing as her brain finally wrapped itself around an obvious conclusion. "They were stalking her. They could have followed us to the new apartment, staked out the place."
"It's possible, but stalkers don't usually travel in groups," she explained. "The more likely explanation is that she picked up an admirer in her new building. I'll have Cassidy and Munch go over the tenant list again." Olivia spoke as if she'd suddenly assumed command of the operation.
"Okay," Alex replied. After a moment, she shook her head in disdain. "I feel so useless," she confided, not assessing her comfort level in divulging this side of herself to Olivia. "I'm supposed to be the person who best knows my sister, and I can barely tell you why she moved out of her old apartment."
"It's okay," the detective assured her, not looking up from her pad, where her pen rested silently. "You're doing your best."
The two rested in silence until the interrogation room door opened and Elliot emerged, standing next to his partner, hooking a thumb back into the gray room, where Mark still sat, fiddling with a ring on his right hand. "Do we need him for anything else?"
"Nah," Olivia said, finally meeting Alex's eyes. "Let him go, but keep a car on him, see where he goes from here."
Elliot nodded, stopping next to Alex before going back in the room to release Mark. "Do you want to say anything to him?"
Alex mulled it
over for a minute, then shook her head. "He
knows I'll kill him myself if I find out he lied to us."
* * *
"Nice job trying not to look down her shirt, Boy Wonder." Munch's ball-biting tone elicited an eye roll from his partner.
"Up yours," Cassidy replied, shooting a look at Alex as she sat next to Olivia's desk, still working on the paper he'd given her earlier. The blonde looked up at the young detective, her eyes questioning. Before Cassidy could answer, Munch loudly laid his feet on his desk and queried Olivia, "You grab the girl's laptop from the scene?"
Her gaze never lifting from the manila folder in front of her, Olivia reached out her left hand and smacked Munch's feet off her desk. "Do I look like a rookie to you?" she parried. "Of course we picked up Emma's laptop." Olivia emphasized her name with a sharp eyebrow-raise at Munch, reminding him silently that the abductee's sister was sitting a foot and a half away. "Why?"
Before Munch could infuriate anyone else, Cassidy jumped in. "The roommate said she overheard Emma talking on the phone about a week ago, talking about an email she had sent that would, and I quote, 'Make a huge difference'. It should still be in her outbox, if we can get tech to crack the passwords."
Alex nearly leapt out of her chair. "I know her passwords," she replied, looking down at Olivia. "I should be able to get into her accounts, no problem."
"Okay," Olivia said noncommittally. "Slow down," she said, standing and tucking her hands in her pockets. "First, we've gotta let Cragen know that we're gonna get the computer out of evidence."
"Can Cassidy and Munch do that?" Alex's three cups of coffee and lack of sleep were beginning to manifest itself in her evident jumpiness. "It's been almost twelve hours, Olivia. We both know the statistics of stranger abductions."
The first thing Olivia noticed was the informality creeping into Alex's exhausted speech; she was now "Olivia" not "Detective". The brunette pinned Alex with a solemn stare. "I know," she replied, "but you're not a detective, and this isn't your case." Her tone made it perfectly clear whose case it was, and who answered to whom. "We've gotta go through channels and cover our asses."
"And exactly how long is that going to take?" Alex asked, pausing briefly. "Enough time for this son of a bitch to strangle my sister to death? Enough time for him to dump her in the East River?" She turned to Munch and Cassidy, who continued to sit at their desks. "You know, by this point in the conversation, you two should probably have beaten us to tech yourselves, seeing as you got the information first."
Olivia snapped quietly, "Alex, that's enough." Turning to the pair of colleagues, she said, "Can you guys go find Cragen and fill him in? Then go get the laptop and Jason from CS Tech. Please," she added.
The look exchanged between Munch and Cassidy was obvious enough that, combined with Olivia's obvious anger, Alexandra focused on a spot on the opposite wall while the two male detectives headed toward Cragen's office and then grabbed the elevator to the downstairs labs. She turned to Olivia, and upon seeing the well-buried fury and frustration combined with a genuine will to help, Alex sighed, rubbing her temples. "I'm sorry," she amended. "I promised you I wouldn't fuck up your investigation, and here I am, queen of the fucks."
"Nice language," Olivia said, her rage at Alex immediately settling into a sympathetic simmer of anger at injustice in general. "You're starting to sound like me."
Alex chuckled. "Trust me, I have a vocabulary that would put most of the Navy to shame." She ran a hand through her disheveled hair, her edginess once again apparent as Olivia's phone rang, sending her sky-high. "Gotta switch to decaf," she murmured.
Olivia didn't respond, grabbing the receiver. "Detective Benson," she answered it.
Alex could hear the curt reply of "It's Munch. Tech's ready for the passwords", and leaned across Olivia's desk, brushing her arm against Olivia's front to grab a post-it and pen, jotting down Emma's password, handing it to the detective to read to her colleague.
Pushing everything but work out of her mind - not an easy accomplishment - Olivia took the sheet from Alex, thanking her with a tiny smile. "Okay, first one." She read them off, one by one, and waited for a response. "Uh huh. Okay, can you ask him print it out up here? SVU6258D," Olivia gave Munch the serial number off their printer. "Thanks." Hanging up, she strode over to the printer. She was not disappointed; three sheets were spit out within seconds. Skimming it, Olivia murmured something unintelligible. "Did you know about this?" she asked, passing the sheaf to Alex.
Alex took it and skimmed the first three lines, sinking back into "her" chair next to Olivia's desk. "Shit." The word was drawn-out and harsh, betraying a combination of guilt and fear. She nodded slightly, laying the sheets precariously on top of the tilting pile of manila folders decorating Olivia's desk. Alex looked toward the clouded glass window, squinting her eyes shut in self-directed anger. "I didn't even consider it. Shit, Alexandra."
"Alex?" Olivia tried to get her to focus.
Alex cleared her throat. "That is an email from Emma to our stepfather, Peter Kelleher. In it, Emma states that she and I have filed a civil suit against him, and should he continue to campaign for a judgeship in Connecticut, the contents of that civil suit will be released to the public." Her tone was even, and semi-detached, but wavered every other instant, relaying the tip of her true emotion.
Her eyes alight at the possibility of a suspect, Olivia crossed to Alex, crouching down in front of the attorney and resting a hand on her knee. "So he had every reason to want Emma quiet?" she extrapolated.
Alex nodded minutely, leaning slightly forward. She knew Cragen knew the story, and that Elliot would find out from Olivia, but she really had no desire to share her entire childhood with every member of the SVU. "Especially with the specified allegations in the suit," she agreed. "Peter Kelleher is a convicted child molester, but he never did any time, thanks to the political influence associated with the judge and jury in the case."
Her eyes widening imperceptibly, Olivia nodded slowly. "Do you wanna go someplace private?"
Alex shrugged, then shook her head. "It's all going to come out one way or another. And you've done something few have accomplished in almost twenty years - actually getting me to talk about it."
Hiding a wry smile, Olivia encouraged her to continue. "He abused you?" she assumed.
Alex shook her head. "Not sexually. He roughed me up once, fairly well, which allowed me to list myself as a co-petitioner on the civil suit. Emma was his choice of Cabot. He started abusing her when she was about eight, and stopped when she reached fifteen." She chuckled sardonically. "Well, 'stopped' isn't exactly the appropriate word, I guess. Emma's room was across the house from mine, and I was in my own little world so much of the time that I just didn't see any of the signs. It wasn't until Em became overly hostile to him, really acting out against him and my mother, that I figured something was wrong. She finally let it out, and I stayed in her room that night. When he came in, we confronted him. I took her out of the house the following Saturday, and hid her in my dorm at Brown until we were kicked out."
A flicker of something crossed Olivia's eyes before she shut away any emotion and focused on being professional. "I'm sorry you two had to go through that," she said quickly.
Alex allowed herself a small smile and covered Olivia's hand with her own. "It took me a long time and a lot of therapy, but I learned to deal with my small role in it, dealing with my guilt at not knowing for all those years. But Emma, obviously, has had a much harder time, especially without the closure of seeing her rapist put to justice. I finally convinced her to go back into therapy, and her doctor recommended confronting him as best she could. So Emma tracked down his email address and sent him that note. I don't think either of us thought he'd actually do anything to retaliate." She grimaced again. "I have his address and phone number in Bridgeport."
"We'll need that." Olivia stared at Alex's hand on hers for a second. "Do you think he's capable of snatching Emma?" she asked unnecessarily.
Alex shook her head. "I don't think he'd dirty his hands by being 'directly' involved. But I think he is definitely capable of hiring someone to do it for him."
Chuckling softly despite the severity of the situation, Olivia said, "A good old-fashioned mob hit." Realizing what she'd said, she straightened and stood abruptly. "I'm sorry, that was out of line."
Alex waved away her apology with another slight shake of her head. "Emma's not dead. I know that, and I think you're inclined to believe that, too, without evidence to the contrary. Right?"
"Absolutely." Olivia still stuffed her hands in her pockets, trying to recover her equilibrium. She was vacillating between too emotional and too detached with this case; she couldn't control herself.
Alex rose as well, looking around her feet for her bag. "I have his address in my planner...which I probably left in my car. Do you want me to go get it?"
Sighing silently in relief, Olivia agreed with a nod. "Sure. I'll meet you back here later."
Alex offered a slight smile, more proud of herself for asking before leaping than in an offer of solidarity to Olivia. She headed out the front of the building, the early afternoon sun blinding her enough that she stood at the top of the marble steps of the precinct for a good three minutes before focusing, trying to find her Explorer. Her mind raced as it hadn't been allowed to for the majority of the day, namely the terror that coursed through her when thinking about Emma. She found herself praying hard, using a faith she had forgotten was inside her. She fished her keys out of her jeans, trying to think of anything that would get her mind off the horrible scenarios running through her mind. She thought to the detective waiting inside for her, with whom Alex felt an ease long-forgotten. Olivia was now added to the less than select few who knew about Alexandra's past, and Alex was struck by the thought that it felt good to share that part of her with someone, especially someone like Olivia; strong, but understanding, emotional but professional - someone very much like Alexandra herself. There was a trust burgeoning there, and Alex decided to be comforted by it, rather than question it, as was her nature. The comfort, she mused, would serve a greater purpose, than would doubt.
her car, pulling out her tote, and headed back into the precinct, more
determined than ever to bring her sister home.
* * *
Throwing the pile of coffee cups and napkins in the backseat, Alex offered a slight smile to her entering passenger. Rather than requisition another sedan, causing more of a delay and an even more impatient Alexandra, Cragen had granted permission for Alex to drive to Connecticut, with Olivia and Elliot as her passengers. As Olivia finished up on the phone with local authorities, Elliot jogged up to the car's open window, hooking a thumb towards Munch and Cassidy. "Liv, I'm heading with these two. We have a couple of sightings in different boroughs, and Cragen wants us on it now."
"Sightings?" Alex asked, excitement and fear flitting across her eyes.
"Not recent, and not validated," Elliot warned. "But valid enough to warrant checking it out." He moved his gaze to his partner. "You cool meeting up with PD up there?"
"Sure, we've got Bridgeport covered; g'head."
Elliot nodded, and Alex watched him run down the sidewalk, thankful he seemed to have warmed up to her as well, and at the very least, was one of the best when it came to looking for her sister. "CT-25, here we come."
"Let's do it." Olivia snapped her seat belt into place, and they were off. The first few minutes passed in silence, as the detective scribbled various thoughts in her notebook.
The silence was companionable as they exited the rush of the city, but as the highway ground beneath them, Alex found her restlessness had accompanied them on their field trip. "Do you mind if I turn on the radio?"
"Nope, go ahead," Olivia replied succinctly.
Alex clicked on the radio, and surfed until gentle orchestral strains filled the car. She listened to Vivaldi's 'Summer' for a few minutes, trying to think up something to engage Olivia, as it seemed her furious writing had ceased for the time being. This is worse than trying to come up with a pick-up line, she thought briefly, before the errant metaphor slipped out of her mind, and a shocked smile replaced it. She chalked it up to nothing more than a defense mechanism to keep even worse thoughts about the fate of her sister at bay.
Wondering if Alex found the silence as awkward and strained as she did, Olivia searched for something to say. She settled on, "I'm not usually a fan of classical music, but this is pretty."
Alex smiled, thankful Olivia chose a neutral topic. "I started listening after all of those studies on how Beethoven increases your brainwave activity. It kind of stuck. But if you'd rather have something else, go ahead and flip."
Olivia reached over and turned the volume down until the music was a faint background noise. "I'd rather ask you some questions. If that's okay," she added quickly.
"Sure," Alex replied, shifting to the center lane.
Flipping to a clean page in her pad, Olivia began, "I know it's a long shot, but can you think of anyone who would've taken Emma for your stepfather?"
"It's been a while since either of us has had extended contact with him, so I don't know of any of his colleagues, as they were. If we can get a subpoena of his records, though, he may have met someone through defending them. He's a defense attorney." The venom in her voice was two-fold, coming from both a prosecutor and an angry stepdaughter.
"Good idea. Guess lawyers can be good for something," she teased gently, trying to lighten the mood a little.
Alex chuckled. "Well, we're good at other things, too, I'm sure. I'll let you know when I come up with one."
Bet you're a good kisser. Olivia forced the thought from her mind as quickly as it had appeared. She couldn't afford to let her guard down, for so many reasons - not the least of which was that Alex's sister was a victim of a vicious crime. Her mind needed to be on the job, not on the sweet scent of the woman sitting next to her, not in what high regard she held the ADA after knowing her such a short time, and certainly not how much she wanted to share something with Alex to even the score after learning about the attorney's painful past.
Alex smiled softly as she felt Olivia's thoughtful eyes on her. She met the gaze for a moment before returning her eyes to the road and asking gently, "Is there anything else you want to know?"
Getting back to the subject at hand, Olivia tried to regain her professionalism. "What kind of documentation of Emma's abuse did you have when you filed the lawsuit?" she asked. "Pictures? Affidavits?"
"We really only had the police report, and the rape kit done on her, indicating prolonged abuse. The kit was inconclusive as to the length of the abuse." Alex changed lanes, and then sat back in her seat for the highway drive ahead. "The lawsuit wasn't intended to right any wrongs; there is nothing in this world that will give Emma back her childhood. It was more intentioned to call attention to the physical abuse, and to his abuse of power in getting the sentence knocked down to probation."
Nodding slowly, Olivia understood exactly what Alex meant. "Yeah," she agreed immediately, without thinking. "You can't get those years back."
"There are some days I want nothing more than to give them back to her," Alexandra confided softly, her lawyer veneer slipping under the tired and vulnerable sister role. "You have no idea how many nights afterward I cursed him and my mother to hell, and blamed myself for her seven years of torment."
"You couldn't have done anything," Olivia replied, scribbling idle notes on her pad.
"I could have tried. With me, it's all about the effort." Alex took the exit for Bridgeport, her numerous right turns reminding her she was in a much smaller setting than the city. She pulled up in front of the building, nestled on the edge of a small forest, and put the car in park. "Bridgeport Police Department," she announced, a slight smile crossing her features. "Last stop."
She wanted to say something, anything, so badly. Instead, Olivia climbed out of the car with a grateful nod, tucking her notebook away.
Alex held the door open for Olivia, following her into the sparse entryway. She leaned around the slightly taller detective and rapped against the pane of glass. The receptionist turned in her chair to face them, a smile lighting up her face. She opened the partition, and leaned out, hugging Alex awkwardly. "Alexandra!"
"Hi, Margie," Alex replied, offering a smile. "How are you?"
"Fine, just fine." Margie eyed Olivia, and Alex introduced them. "Margie Murray, this is Detective Olivia Benson, of the NYPD. Olivia, this is an old friend of mine, Margie."
Margie extended her hand. "The only one Alex ever keeps in touch with," she added. "Chief Burrows will see you in a few minutes, Alex. He's finishin' up somethin', and then he'll pull your file."
Alex smiled again, and took a seat on one of the offered chairs. She caught sight of herself in Margie's window, and sighed. It had obviously been a long night.
Olivia took the seat beside Alex, sitting silently in deference to the local detectives eyeing her as they passed.
Alex motioned to the pad. "Care to share the great American novel with me?"
Cracking a wry grin, Olivia shrugged and passed the pad to her traveling companion.
Alex looked over the small sheets, trying to make heads or tails of it. She gave up after a few minutes, handing it back to Olivia. "You're almost as bad as I am, with the shorthand and half-finished words."
Chuckling despite their grave errand, Olivia put the notepad away. "I pity the guy who inherits my caseload when I retire."
Alex smiled with her, and then looked to her right as the door opened. A portly man stepped through, nodding to Alex and Olivia. "ADA Cabot," he said, not unkindly.
Alex rose, shaking his hand. "It's nice to see you again, Chief. This is Detective Benson."
Olivia stood and extended her hand. "Chief Burrows," she greeted him formally. "I can't thank you enough for your help with this case."
"No thanks needed, Detective. Although," Burrows said, leading them into his office, "I'm not quite sure how much help I can be. I already sent the original police reports from the assault to both of you. There hasn't been any trouble at the house since you and Emma left, Alexandra."
"Well, this visit isn't about that night, Chief. Emma's been kidnapped, and one of the avenues being investigated is that Peter Kelleher may have been involved. We'd like one of your deputies to accompany us to the house, stave off any jurisdictional issues."
"Wait a minute," Burrows held up his hand. "Emma was kidnapped?"
As the conversation progressed, Olivia glanced from Alex to the police chief. Her raised eyebrow chastised the lawyer for failing to inform the local authorities of the situation before they'd arrived; that was really a mistake on Elliot's part, though.
"Yes," Alex replied.
"And you think your stepdaddy had something to do with this?"
"It's possible. We just need to clear him of suspicion, and we can't really do that without your assistance."
Burrows leaned back in his chair. "What evidence do you have that Pete's involved?"
Alex shifted slightly in her seat. "He and Emma were in contact in the days prior to her disappearance."
"How do you know they weren't just makin' nice after all these years?"
Alexandra rolled her eyes openly. "You don't 'make nice' with the man that sexually abused you for seven years and got away with it."
Burrows shook his head. "More of this conspiracy nonsense, Alexandra? He was arrested - convicted, even."
"Did he serve time?" Alex interjected. "Was his record not expunged?"
Burrows rose, indicating the door. "I won't have you speaking to me that way, young lady. I'm sorry you came all this way for nothing."
A picture flashed through Olivia's mind of the composed blonde attorney, whose barely concealed rage was about to boil over, lunging across the desk and beating the cop with the nearby stapler. To stave off any bloodshed, she placed a restraining hand on Alex's arm and slipped on her game face. "Chief," she said, feigning a companionship that clearly didn't exist, "one cop to another: the possibility exists that Kelleher had somethin' to do with Emma's disappearance. All I'm asking is a chance to check out his house and the neighborhood, without stepping on any local toes." Steeling herself, Olivia forced down the adrenaline that was surging through her veins. "I'd really appreciate the help."
Burrows sat down again, moving his gaze from Alexandra's angry facade, and Olivia's complimentary one. "I don't know, Detective. It seems like an awfully long shot. I don't know what this one has told you, but Peter Kelleher is one of the most upstanding citizens in the entire state of Connecticut. I've known him for ages. I just don't think he'd mess with Emma - or Alexandra, for that matter - again."
"I hear ya," Olivia nodded, loosening her grip on Alex imperceptibly. "But maybe I could take a look around, just to be sure? Then I can go back to New York with a clear conscience."
Burrows hesitated, but finally nodded. "All right. I'll have one of my deputies go out with you. But if he slams the door in your face, no officer of mine is going to force entry. We clear?"
Alex nodded, covering Olivia's hand briefly. "Thank you," she replied quietly. "I promise I won't cause you any more trouble."
Burrows laughed. "You're a Cabot. Of course you will." He picked up the phone, and motioned to the door. "You two can wait outside for Deputy Hayes. He'll meet you down here in five."
"Thanks." Olivia ushered Alex out of the stationhouse and into the street. "You weren't kidding about the good ol' boys network here," she murmured sympathetically, once they were out of Burrows' earshot.
Alex chuckled. "Part of me wants to run back in there and make sure he's not telling Hayes to slip a note to Kelleher or something." She sighed loudly, leaning against the stucco. "As much as I want to find Emma, there's a part of me that does not want to go back to that house."
"Good, because you're not going." Olivia reached into her pocket, digging out a piece of nicotine gum.
Alex's head whipped around. "Excuse me?"
"You're not going in. You can stay in the car, if you promise not to pull an 'NYPD Blue' and jump out at the worst possible moment. Otherwise, you're staying here."
"What?" Alex's mouth dropped open, aghast. "You mean I drove all the way up here to stay in the car? What about Kelleher?"
"He's why you're not going," Olivia explained succinctly, chewing frantically on her gum. "I need to convince Kelleher he's not a suspect, so he'll let me check out the house. If I see anything, we'll get a warrant and come back; then you can come."
Hating that Olivia's logic made sense, Alex cracked her neck. "We're going to need a warrant to dump the phones and his financials." She paused, watching Olivia. "I hope to God you find something."
The door behind them opened, and a young man, in his late twenties or early thirties, exited the building. "Detective? ADA Cabot?"
Alex nodded. "Hayes?"
The officer nodded at her. "Yes, ma'am."
Alex looked at Olivia. "Shall we?"
Nodding, Olivia gestured toward the deputy's car. "We'll follow you." They climbed into their respective vehicles and headed out. It was a short ride to Peter Kelleher's mansion-style home on the outskirts of the city proper. As Alex pulled the car silently up the seemingly interminable drive, Olivia offered only, "We'll find her." The car stopped and she hopped out, turning back and leaning her arm on the top edge of the car door. Leaning down, the detective caught Alex's eyes. "Stay here," she reminded the attorney. "No matter what you see or hear."
Alex looked up into the stern, brown eyes, and wondered just how Olivia knew of her plans to sneak up to the living room window and peek through, even though they had only been introduced that day. "All right. But nail him hard, Olivia."
Biting back a sardonic reply, Olivia nodded and straightened, finding Deputy Hayes watching her. "Let's go." The pair strode up to the door and Olivia rang the bell.
The door opened, and a strikingly blonde woman appeared, decked out in a black Donna Karan suit and pearls. "May I help you?"
"Mrs. Kelleher?" Olivia asked automatically, as Hayes' profile blurred in her peripheral vision.
"Yes," the woman drawled.
"Ma'am, I'm Deputy Hayes, from the police department. This is Detective Benson, from the New York City Police Department. We were wondering if your husband was home."
Mrs. Kelleher started slightly, but covered it well. "Well, yes. He's visiting with his daughter, in his study. What's this concerning?"
"I'd prefer to speak to you and Mr. Kelleher at the same time," Olivia cut the deputy off before he could reveal their purpose. "May we come in?"
"Of course." Mrs. Kelleher stepped aside, ushering the pair inside. "I'll go get my husband. Please, make yourself at home." She gestured to the living room, pausing to straighten some photos on the table as she walked down the hallway to her husband's study.
Standing in the foyer, Olivia turned to Deputy Hayes. "I appreciate that this is your jurisdiction, but Emma Cabot disappeared from my precinct's grounds, so this is my case. All due respect, let me handle this."
The comparatively green officer's eyebrows raised, but he conceded as the Kellehers emerged from the back of the house.
Peter Kelleher, a six foot man, with brown hair and eyes, sauntered down the hall with an election-year smile on his face. "I'm Peter Kelleher. Victoria tells me you're from the police department? How is good old Billy Burrows these days?"
"Fine, sir," Hayes replied, before remembering Olivia's warning and shutting up.
Olivia jumped right in. "Mr. Kelleher," she began, "I'm here about your stepdaughter, Emma. I'm investigating her disappearance. When was the last time you spoke to her?"
Peter shrugged. "She called me about a week ago, ranting and raving about something. I told her I was busy, and disconnected the call. I haven't heard from her since."
Notebook quickly in hand, Olivia scribbled notes. "What was she 'ranting and raving' about?" she asked, echoing Peter Kelleher's words. Her eyes never left his face, judging each word within the context of his body language.
Kelleher shrugged. "Something about how 'the truth was going to come out', and that I was 'finally going to pay'. She's done this many times, Detective; so often that I had to file a restraining order against her."
Victoria reentered the conversation by saying, "I love my children very much, Detective. But Emma is an unstable soul, prone to flights of fancy. Are you sure she didn't just run off and neglect to tell anyone?"
Fighting a wave of angry nausea, Olivia simply nodded, turning to Mrs. Kelleher. "Can you give me some examples of Emma's 'flighty' tendencies?"
Victoria clucked her tongue. "Well, she was one of those children who lived in the clouds. One day, she was a fairy princess, and the next, she would be clopping around in gardener's galoshes. She changed her major I don't even know how many times prior to graduation. Perhaps I noticed more, given how focused and driven Alexandra always was. But Emma was more focused on the joie de vivre rather than the actual path."
Mentally rolling her eyes at how Mrs. Kelleher slipped obscure French phrases into the conversation, Olivia continued her questioning. "According to her sister, Emma wouldn't have taken off without telling someone. Did she give you any indication she'd be taking a vacation?"
"I don't think either of us had spoken to her since the day she called here," Mr. Kelleher replied, looking to his wife's confirming nod. "You'd have to ask Alexandra about that."
"I will." Olivia continued taking notes, glancing up at the Kellehers after a moment. "We expect to hear in the next couple of hours if this is a ransom-driven crime. Do you know anyone who bears a grudge against you, and might do something like this for money?"
"To be honest with you, Detective, our contact with Emma has been limited since the day she and her sister walked out of here. I highly doubt anyone would do this to get at my husband and me." Victoria offered a sympathetic look.
"I always saw Emma as one of my own flesh and blood," Peter said, putting an arm around his wife. "If there's anything else we can do to assist you in your investigation, please don't hesitate to ask."
Hearing the finality in his voice, Olivia flipped her notebook closed. This interview was over. For anything further, she'd have to take a more stern approach - probably coming armed with a search warrant. "Thank you, Mr. Kelleher. I'll be in touch." Turning, she beckoned Deputy Hayes to follow her out of the house. Olivia turned back as they reached the front door. "Oh," she said, as if it had just occurred to her, "what kind of terms are you on with your other stepdaughters, Mr. Kelleher?"
"Caroline and I speak regularly; I'm helping her start a candidacy run in Georgia. Alexandra and I never saw eye to eye; she's definitely got her mother's stubborn streak. My relationship with my other children - from a previous marriage - is marvelous, though."
Taking a glance at Victoria Kelleher, Olivia nearly laughed aloud at her husband's suggestion. The resemblance between Alexandra Cabot and her mother ended with their matching tawny hair and porcelain skin. "Of course. Thank you again." She stepped out into the bright afternoon sun.
Seeing the front door open, Alex, who had spent the time rearranging her change, and reading her car manual, sat up suddenly, her heart beginning to race. She couldn't read Olivia's face as the detective made her way to the car, and refrained from saying anything as the passenger door opened.
Answering Alex before she could ask, Olivia said cryptically, "I knew he was a lying fuck when he said you were just like your mother."
Alex couldn't refrain from laughing at the comment. "God, if anyone ever told me sincerely that I was just like Victoria Kelleher, I would commit myself."
Meeting Alex's eyes, Olivia grinned back, but quickly sobered. "I'm not sure how much he had to do with this, Alex, but I know he's dirty somehow."
Alex nodded. "Did he say anything we can catch him in?"
"We can start with a call Emma allegedly made to her mother and stepfather a week ago."
Alex shook her head immediately. "It was the other way around. Emma emailed him, like I told you, and then he called her. That was the conversation that Jess overheard." She reached backwards over the center console, reaching for her briefcase. "We have her phone records here." She skimmed through the monthly statement and shook her head. "She hasn't called this house in three years, let alone a week ago."
"It could've been from a payphone," Olivia played devil's advocate. "Or her cell. Think we can get a warrant to have his phones dumped now?"
"We have her cell records too..." Alex trailed off as she fished through the stack of papers. "Nothing there. As for the payphone, I can tell you out of experience that the likelihood of my sister having enough change for a call to Connecticut is none." Alex slipped the records back into the file folder and laid it on her lap, looking at Olivia. "We have enough to get a warrant and dump the phones. When we catch him in the lie, I'll put that to probable cause and check his financials." She fished through her purse again and pulled out her cell phone and day planner, flipping to the names in the back. "When I took Emma to Brown, we had to emancipate her from my parents. Luckily, the judge and I have stayed on good terms; hopefully she'll be able to help us out."
Alex waited until she was patched through to Judge Warner's voicemail and left a message, requesting Her Honor phone back as soon as possible. She disconnected and looked at Olivia. "There used to be a great deli in town, it might still be here. You want to grab something while we wait?"
"We'd better," Olivia mock-griped. "Seems like we'll be stuck here in the 'burbs for a while."
Alex chuckled, returning her folders to her attaché. "Come on, Olivia, don't you love the smell of cows?" As she pulled the Explorer out of the semi-circle driveway, neither woman saw the young blonde watching them from an upstairs window.
Alexandra pulled into an open spot in front of Maryanne's Luncheonette and put the car into park. She put a hand on her stomach as it growled loudly. "Thirty cups of coffee and no food. Not a good combination."
Cracking a wry smile, Olivia stepped around the car to meet Alex as they headed into the little restaurant. "Guess it's only us cops that can live off a caffeine IV."
"Guess so." Alex smiled, and at the sign beckoning them to seat themselves, chose one of the red-plastic lined booths. She leaned over and grabbed the two menus propped up behind the ketchup bottle, and handed one to Olivia.
Once the waitress had taken their order and left, Olivia began to tell Alex the details of what had transpired in the Kelleher's foyer. "I'm amazed your sister was able to get here so quickly," she mused idly, toying with a salt shaker. "Doesn't she have kids?"
"My sister?" Alex looked confused. "Caroline's still in Atlanta, as far as I know."
Wary, Olivia set the salt shaker down with a sharp bang. "When we arrived, your mom said he was in the den visiting with his daughter."
"There's no way." Alex pulled out her cell phone and dialed her sister's campaign headquarters. "Hi, this is Alexandra Cabot, Caroline's sister. I need to speak with her, please...she's not? Where is she?" Alex started to tap the prongs of her fork on the Formica impatiently. "She's giving a speech at the Hilton right now?" She raised her eyebrows at Olivia. "Yeah, can you have her call me on my cell phone when she gets back? Thank you." She hung up, sending the phone scattering towards the other end of the table. "She's definitely in Atlanta."
Catching the phone deftly, Olivia handed it back to Alex, a stern set to her mouth. Pulling out her cell, she pressed speed-dial. "Cassidy, it's Benson. I need you to check on something for me. Uh huh, Peter Kelleher. Prior marriages, all known children, the works. Okay, thanks." Olivia hung up, smiling grimly as she tucked the phone into her back pocket. "By the time we're done eating, Cassidy should be able to tell us if Kelleher's visitor is, indeed, his kid."
Alex leaned against the back of the booth, shaking her head. "Even after all these years, that guy still pisses me off beyond words."
Not sure what to say, Olivia settled for, "I'm sorry," as their lunches were delivered.
Alex shrugged, beginning to pick apart her egg salad sandwich. "It's like you said earlier, there's nothing that will change what happened. I can still be angry, though," she finished, a wry grin on her face. "You're sure my mother said he was visiting with his daughter?"
Alex took a sip of her water, shaking her head. "Other than Caroline, Emma and me, he doesn't have any daughters. He has two sons from his first marriage...although, knowing him, he probably has dozens more illegitimate kids running around."
Olivia nodded, absorbing the information and processing the events of the morning. Her mind was racing with all the information she'd need from SVU headquarters and how to get it. They needed names and telephone numbers of anyone who ever worked for, with or against Peter Kelleher, not to mention associates of his wife. Olivia nearly sighed aloud at the magnitude of their task.
Alex leaned back against the plastic, continuing her earlier train of thought. "So, in other words, there's no way that kid is his daughter." She rubbed the bridge of her nose, and then regarded Olivia. "At least that narrows our search a bit." In tandem with her comment, her own cell phone rang, and she hurriedly answered it. "Hello? Oh, yes, Your Honor, how are you?" Alex looked at Olivia and held up crossed fingers. She quickly explained the situation, and the need for a search warrant of her parents' home and financial records. As the Judge mulled the evidence, Alex interjected softly, saying foreign words. "Leila...I need your help." There was more silence, and Alexandra thought her heart might just beat out of her chest in the interim.
Finally, the judge sighed, and Alex grinned at Olivia. "Alex, I'll fax you a warrant for the house, but only to look; no touching. If you see something in the house or on the phone dump, come back and talk to me. Deal?"
"Deal," Alex replied. "Thanks, Leila." She disconnected and laid her fork on her plate. "We have a sight-only warrant for the house, but if we find something we like, she'll grant us a full warrant." Wiping her mouth one final time, Alex cocked her head towards her parked car outside. "Shall we, Detective?"
Feeling her heart lifting, even slightly, for the first time in nearly twelve hours, Olivia stood and followed Alex out.
Twenty minutes later, a faxed copy of the search warrant snug in her grasp, Alex's adrenaline was pumping as they pulled back in front of the house. She parked the car and looked at the brown-haired woman next to her. "Am I babysitting the car again?"
"No, I need you this time." Olivia smiled tensely as they climbed out of the car and headed up the driveway. "Ready?"
Alex couldn't contain a chuckle as she rang the doorbell. "I've been waiting for this moment for a long time." Her grin widened as her mother's shocked face entered her field of vision. "Hello, Mother," Alex said sweetly, handing her a copy of the search warrant. "I'm home."
Olivia's carriage was a little more professional. "Mrs. Kelleher, we have a search warrant that allows us entry into every room of your home. We'd like to make this as easy as possible on everyone," she said, keeping her speech firmly in the plural. Alex was a part of the team now. "So if you'll just have a seat, we'll get this over with as quickly as we can."
Alex stepped inside, past her shocked mother. For her part, Victoria sputtered for a moment, and finally called after her daughter. "Are you bent on destroying us what's left of this family, Alexandra?"
Saying nothing, Alex followed Olivia further down the hall. "We definitely need to check his office and his bedroom. Those would be the two main places we'd find something."
Startling herself, Olivia grabbed Alex's hand. "Just don't touch anything that's not in plain sight," she warned. "We don't want to screw ourselves out of a full warrant."
Alex nodded. "You got it," she replied, squeezing Olivia's hand briefly before using it to point to the last door on their left. "That's his office."
"You check in there," Olivia suggested, "and I'll take a peek around his bedroom."
"'Kay," Alex replied, opening the office door. Peter's office was pristine, with everything in its place. It wasn't going to be easy to find anything he'd left out in the open. She stepped behind the cherry desk and started looking through the few papers dotting its surface. "Expert names and phone numbers, list of potential clients..." she read, sighing as nothing yielded information on her sister. She rifled through Kelleher's inbox tray, knowing since the papers were not in folders, they were subject to the warrant. She sifted through them, and at the bottom, found a post-it note listing bank addresses in Manhattan. "Gotcha," she murmured, moving to examine his bookshelves.
Striding off down the hall, Olivia approached the bedroom slowly. Her hand froze on the knob as a familiar muffled scream pried through the heavy oak and assaulted her ears. For the first time that day, Olivia wished Elliot were there for backup.
"Police, freeze!" she bellowed, turning the doorknob and darting into the room. Her .357 trained on the back of Kelleher's head, Olivia shouted, "Get away from her, now! Move it. I said, move." Grabbing his collar, Olivia damned regulations and risked a lawsuit, jerking the esteemed law professor off the shivering body of the barely-pubescent girl trapped against his closet door.
"Down," Olivia barked, giving Kelleher a shove. Fuckin' pedophiles, was her only thought.
Alex heard the thud from down the hall, and followed the connecting hallway to the bedroom. "Olivia? You all right?" She approached the doorway and saw Olivia, standing tall, gun trained. Alex peered around the door, saw the scene and groaned. "You never learn, Peter. You never learn."
As Olivia slid her ever-present handcuffs like silver bracelets onto Kelleher's wrists, she glanced at Alex, sharing a grim smile with the prosecutor. "Hardly ever catch 'em in the act," she commented, pulling the other woman's stepfather to his feet. "Come on. Let's re-introduce you to Fairfield County lockup." Before he could retort, Olivia shoved him toward the door.
Alex stepped further inside the room, placing a hand on the young girl's nude shoulder. "It's going to be okay," she soothed softly.
For the first time, the tiny blonde girl cowering against the wall felt eyes on her. She looked up, tears clouding her green eyes. The slender pre-teen was barely able to hold her head up high enough to meet Alex's gaze. "I'm sorry," she murmured. "I didn't mean to...he just...Momma's gonna hate me forever!" she burst out.
Alex knelt down in front of the girl, grabbing the throw blanket from the edge of the bed and wrapping it around her tiny body gingerly. "Listen to me: this is not your fault. He is a sick, sick man."
"But...but ..." The girl couldn't get her words out through intermittent sobbing.
"Oh, my God." A voice behind her swallowed Alex's reply to the shaking soul in front of her.
Alex turned and pointed back to the hallway. "Get out of here."
Victoria remained in her doorway, her manicured hand covering her mouth, shocked tears forming in her blue eyes. Alex wrapped the girl in the blanket more tightly before rising and pushing her mother back out into the hallway, closing the bedroom door. "Victoria, you need to leave here before you're arrested for interfering with a police investigation."
Victoria's gaze remained stone cold for a few minutes, causing Alexandra's eyebrows to furrow. "Mom?" she said. "Mom?"
"I never really thought he was capable," Victoria replied hoarsely.
"What are you talking about?" Alexandra placed her hands on her mother's shoulders, holding her at arm's length. "Victoria," she implored, "what the hell are you talking about?"
Realizing that Alex was rightly confused, Victoria blinked rapidly and sighed heavily. "That's Kirsten," Victoria replied, by way of explanation. "That's Caroline's daughter."