Summary: How Alex got out of Witness Protection and onto her job as the Bureau Chief ADA in "Conviction".

Spoilers: "Loss", "Ghost"

Disclaimer: Dick Wolf will not let anyone else have these characters. Though, I'm not really stealing them. I'm just borrowing them without telling him. It's not stealing.

Author's Note: They didn't mention how she got out. That bugged me, so I wrote this. Of course, now that I have both written and posted it, they are going to explain it and totally screw me over in some episode to come…

Alex Cabot parked her car at the side of Anne Arundel Hospital's parking lot. But she was not Alexandra Cabot. Not anymore. She had not been for nearly two and a half years. Alex Cabot technically died on September 30, 2003 from blood loss due to a gunshot wound. The next day, she became Emily Rose Peterson, the insurance company employee. That would not last either. Emily died on February 17, 2005, in a car crash on Route 55. From that day on, she was Sarah.

Sarah Melanie Clemens. Although she still had her blonde locks, she had a different pair of glasses. She tried contacts in Wisconsin, but she hated the way they felt. She still held on to her old pair though. It was her symbol of hope, especially after a particularly rough day. Her wardrobe was still pretty much the same. She did not need suits anymore, but she still looked nice.

She lived and worked in Annapolis, Maryland. She was a receptionist at Anne Arundel Hospital. She was in charge of telling patients where to go and logging all of the visitors. All of her co-workers thought she came from Miami. No one knew the truth. No one was allowed to know the truth. Cesar Valez could have agents anywhere. She had to be careful.

She drew in a deep breath and looked around her car. After deciding it was safe, she got out. Her purse was clutched to her side. She slammed the door to her car and locked the doors. She then rushed inside the hospital. By the time she made it inside, she was out of breath.

Her co-worker, Kim Delay, was immediately concerned. She was an older woman, probably in her fifties or sixties Alex thought. She was working here to help raise money for her grandchildren whom were now in her care while her son and his wife were in rehab again. Alex liked Kim. She was nice to her. "Sarah, are you ok, honey?" Kim asked as she walked over towards Alex.

"Yeah," Alex panted as she gave a small nod. "It's just…cold out there, you know. I wanted to get inside here as quickly as I could." At least her statement was half true. She hated lying about who she really was. She hated it in Wisconsin, and she hates it in Annapolis.

Kim nodded in agreement. "Gotta love Maryland winter weather," she chuckled. "One day it's in the forties and fifties, but the next it's below freezing. Did you hear about the possibility of snow?"

"They're always saying it's going to snow," Alex pointed out. She did not need to live in Maryland for too long to figure that out. It did not snow as much here as it did in New York. It was more of a big deal. Radio or TV stations merely mention the word "snow", and their ratings go up. Why should this time be any different?

Alex walked over and sat down at her seat behind the desk. She hated office work. But it was the only work she could get and still make a living wage. Any other job she either was not qualified to do or it was too close to her job as an ADA back in New York City. She hated it. The only thing she liked was seeing the joy in patient's lives as they were released. She especially liked watching the new parents go home with their babies. It just made the world seem like such a good place.

She knew it was not, though. She knew of the rapists, the murderers, the drug dealers. She was all too aware of them. She sighed heavily. Mainly she missed the city. She missed her friends back in New York. She even missed the traffic jams. She missed Olivia, Elliot, Cragen, Munch, Fin, and Huang. Everyone.

"When was the last time you did anything for yourself?" Kim asked curiously. Alex paused, but Kim interrupted before Alex had a chance to say anything. "If you need to think about it that much, then it's been too long," she argued. "Now, after our shift, I'm taking you over to Annapolis Mall. We can do whatever you want. My treat."

"But what about your grandkids?" Alex asked.

Kim made a dismissing motion with her hand. "Pfft, honey, what are husbands for?" She sat down next to Alex. "So, are you in?"

Alex shrugged. "I can't think of a reason why not."

Their shift ended early that night. The two of them could leave at five-thirty. They did, and they drove to the mall right after. Alex did not know what she was going to do there, but she knew she could find something. Maybe they would see a movie. She liked movies, and it has been a long time since she's seen one in theaters. She wondered if Rent was still playing. She wanted to see that.

She and Kim were meeting up in Borders. Alex walked in through the back parking lot entrance to the bookstore. She could not think of anything she needed in the store. She wanted some of the Lindt chocolate balls that are sold near the cash registers, but she would feel stupid for buying only those. She wandered up the escalator to see if there were any other movies she intended to see in theaters that were now available on DVD. She sighed. Look at that. Rent was just released this week.

She was about to turn around and head back to the lower level when she saw Kim's head peeking above the escalator. She greeted her friend with a smile. "Do you need anything here?" she asked.

Kim nodded. "Yeah, Bobby has a book report due next week. He just told my husband today, and he told me when I said I'd be coming here with you." The two women started walking towards the children's section.

Someone was following them. Specifically, he was following Alex. He was relatively short for a man. He was young and Hispanic. He glanced up from the movie he was looking at when he heard Alex's voice. He placed the movie down and followed her. She was in the young adult section with her friend. He stood over in the café and stared at her. He knew she was the one. He opened his wallet and pulled out a picture. He looked back at Alex. She was definitely the one. He reached for his cell phone and dialed a number. The number was in his phone book. He was calling Cesar Valez.

"It's Rodriguez," he whispered into the phone. He walked away from hearing range to anyone. "Positive ID on Cabot," he continued. "Do I have an order?"

Alex and Kim spent nearly an hour in Borders searching for the perfect book. After they found it, Alex decided she did want something after all. She purchased the latest edition of The Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year. That, and her Lindt chocolate. As she paid, she caught the eye of a Hispanic man watching her. He was familiar. She saw him upstairs watching them. At first, she just thought he was checking her out or something. But he didn't leave.

"Kim," she whispered as she grabbed her bag and change from the cashier, "how long has he been around?" she asked as she tilted her head back towards the man.

Kim turned around and glanced at the man. He was suspicious looking. Definitely. "I'm not sure," she whispered. She looked at Alex closely. The younger woman was practically shaking with fear. "Sarah, are you ok?"

"Can we go?" Alex asked fearfully. She had to get out of his sights. But she could not go back to her car. She did not want to take the chance that he would see her go to her car and then follow her home. No, she needed another store. What was outside Borders? Food court was almost directly across from the store. New York and Company was to the left. She was pretty sure there was a movie store to the right, though she was not certain. Across and down to the right was a Hot Topic and a CVS. In front of New York and Company the movie ticket booth for Crown Theaters. None of them seemed like a good enough place to hide. She would think of something. "Follow me," she whispered as she started making a rush for the entrance leading to the rest of the mall. She tried to weave in and out of the bookracks. Once she was outside Borders, she rushed towards New York and Company. She grabbed the first shirt she saw and walked into the changing rooms. Kim was right behind her.

Kim stood behind a clothes rack. She started shifting through them absent-mindedly. She was really keeping an eye out for that man. She could not trust him. As both a parent and a grandparent, her intuition on who was trust-worthy and who was not was pretty high. This man was definitely not trust-worthy. She had a feeling he was more after Sarah then her. Sarah was the one who reacted to him the way that she did. Kim feared for her friend.

She lowered her head as she saw the man pass by the store. He glanced inside, but since there were only about four other customers, he did not seem to think they were in there. He continued walking. When he was out of sight, Kim walked back towards the dressing rooms. "Sarah," she called. "He's gone." She heard a sigh of relief from the other side of the door.

Alex stepped out of the changing room. The shirt she had grabbed was actually her size. That was comforting. Even more comforting was the fact that she looked good in it and it was not too expensive. The current shirt she was wearing was pink. This one was blue. "I think I'm going to buy this," she said. "Then I'd like to get home."

"Of course," Kim said as the two of them went up to pay. Kim treated Alex to a pair of earrings that were on sale. They would go well with the shirt, and personally Kim thought Sarah had a rough day. She exhaled deeply as she paid.

After purchasing the shirt, the two women left the store. Alex walked through the food court until she came to the bathrooms on the far right. "Be right back," she said as she rushed into the bathrooms. When she was in a stall, she quickly changed her shirt. She grabbed a hair band from her purse and pulled her hair back into a ponytail. Although she hated them, she would put her contacts back on. She could not take the risk that the man would still be wandering around the mall in search of her. She stepped out of the stall and looked at herself in the mirror. It was different enough.

She grabbed her two shopping bags and left the bathroom. Kim was on line at Arby's, probably to get a milkshake. Alex finally decided that she was hungry and headed over to the line. The man was not in sight. At least, she did not think he was. She could not see him anyway.

She was the last person in the line. Kim was at the cash register ordering her food. There were about five people in between them. Alex sensed someone walking up behind her. If it was a rapist, she would be ready. "Oh my god," the voice said. "Sarah!"

Alex did not respond. Who would be calling her by that name? Apart from Kim, she did not have many close friends at the hospital. Certainly not any who would be hanging out in the food court of a mall. Of course, Sarah was one of the most common names known to women in America. It was very likely that this man was referring to a different Sarah all together.

"Alex!" the voice tried again.

Alex's entire body froze. She did not know what to do. Again, Alex was getting to be a common name, both for girls and boys. But this was freaky. The guy called her by her alias and her actual name. He had to know something. She immediately felt sick to her stomach. She had to get out of there. She rushed over to Kim and started pulling her friend away from the food line. She had to get out of there. She turned around completely and started exiting through the entrance near Johnny Rocket's. It was not the quickest way to get to her car, but that did not matter.

"Sarah, seriously, what is going on?" Kim asked. This was serious. She had known Sarah for almost a year now. Never in that time had she seen the woman more apprehensive than right now. Sarah's breathing was heavy, but she kept running. She ran around the outside of Sears until she reached the Borders parking lot. She dashed through it until she got to her car. She rushed inside the car and locked the doors.

Kim followed as best as she could, but Sarah was a lot younger than she was. She had more energy. Plus, she was obviously much more afraid. Her car did not start right away. Kim walked over towards her friend's car. She peeked in through the windows and saw that Sarah was trying not to cry. She knocked on the window gently and heard the door unlock. She opened it. Sarah slid over a seat, and Kim crawled into the driver's seat. "What's going on?"

Alex drew in a deep breath. She had to face the fact that this was happening. Even with Witness Protection, she could not stay safe forever. Going back to the courts last year proved that they could put her in the program once. Valez probably heard of that. If the Feds put her in Witness Protection once, they could do it again. It was only a matter of time before he found her.

But she still could not tell Kim. "It's, um, just my ex from Miami," she lied. "I think he's using again." She exhaled deeply. She had to call Agent Hammond. Most likely, she would not be able to go back to her house. She did not know what would happen to her, but she had to call Hammond. But first, she had to get rid of Kim. "Seriously, though, I'll be fine," Alex stated.

"You know my number," Kim told her as she got out of the car. Once the door was closed and Kim was closer to her own car, Alex pulled out her cell phone.

Speed dial 2. That was Hammond. He answered after the second ring. "What happened?" he asked.

"I-I think someone knows," Alex whispered. "Someone working for Valez."

Hammond was taken aback. "How? How did this happen?" he demanded. He was getting furious, though not with Alex. He had to protect her, but it was getting harder to do. He knew the cities where Valez had workers. He knew even not to put Alex within 100 miles from those cities. How could someone have found her?

"At the mall," Alex continued. "I was shopping with my friend Kim from work, and there was this Hispanic guy following us. And staring. For the entire time." The words were getting harder to say. She was having to admit it. She had to admit that she was a victim. There was nothing she could do about it. She was at the mercy of whoever was following her, whoever ID-ed her as Alex, and Valez. She was at the mercy of the Witness Protection Program. They were the only ones who could save her. She told Hammond everything.

"Damn it!" he exclaimed angrily. Alex was pretty sure that she heard him slam his fist against a table. "Damn it!"

"What should I do?" Alex asked.

"Well, you can't go home," Hammond immediately stated. He was in New York. It would take him until early the next morning to drive to Annapolis. He did not know if he could get on a flight to BWI that night. The only thing he could do was call local marshals to help her out. "Where are you now?" he asked.

"The parking lot," Alex answered. Her interior car lights were off. During the conversation, she ducked down so that she was lying across the entire front seat.

"Stay there until I call you back," Hammond instructed her. "I'll try to get you a hotel in Crofton or Bowie or somewhere. Just stay there until I have the reservation. Marshals will meet you at the hotel."

Alex did not hear him. She heard the voice and sound, but she was not focusing on it. Someone was getting into the car next to hers. It was two men. One looked like the one who had been following her.

Wait. They were not getting into the car. They were getting something out of it. A gun. She knew what that meant. She swallowed and forced herself to remain still. If she got out then, they would definitely see and shoot her, possibly killing her. At least this way she had a chance of survival.

They turned around. They were looking at her car. No, they were looking inside her car. She swallowed hard. She felt it. This was it. She was going to die. She reached for her cell phone and quickly dialed 911. At least she still knew how to do that.

As soon as she got a person on the line, she started talking. "I'm at Annapolis Mall in the parking lot behind Borders. I'm in a silver Ford Taurus, and there are two men outside my car looking in. They have a gun, and I know they're going to kill me. It's…"

The shot was fired once. Alex felt the pain in her arm. It was sharp, intense. She screamed in agony. The shot was fired a second time. This time she felt nothing. She was unconscious in one second.

"Ma'am?" the 911 operator asked. "Ma'am, are you there?"

Pain. Duller now, less intense, but it was still pain. Why? Where was it coming from? What had happened? Alex blinked her eyes until she was awake. The same setting. Pink walls, white vertical blinds. She had been there before. Every day of her life. But she was never here in this sense before. Why now?

She groaned as she became aware of the pain in her right arm and chest. The same pain. In that moment, she knew exactly what was going on. Valez found her. The details from that mall trip were flooding back to her. She hated herself for agreeing to go shopping. She would probably be relocated again. She did not want that. She groaned again.

The curtain separating her bed from the other one opened. "Miss Cabot," the marshal greeted her. This one seemed friendly. He would at least give her privacy while she was asleep. He walked over to her and sat down in the large blue chair next to her bed. "I am so glad to see that you're awake."

"Why?" Alex rasped. That's odd, she thought. Her throat felt dry. She tried not to talk. She would just let the marshal continue.

"Well, you've been out for nearly four days," the marshal replied. "You gave us quite a scare," he stated. "Two gunshot wounds, one to your arm which was minor. The other one was to your chest, and that one narrowly avoided hitting your lung."

Alex frowned slightly. Valez's bastards were better shooters now. She barely escaped death on this one. She glanced out the window. It was the middle of the day. She did not know what to think. She just felt the pain. She glanced over at the IV bags, but noted that they all still had fluid in them. She could not get any more. "What now?" she asked. "Phoenix? Orlando? You know, I've always been kind of fond of Chicago."

The marshal chuckled. "Miss Cabot, you don't have all the facts yet," he stated. "I'll call Carmichael and have her explain it all to you. I'm sure you'd like to hear it from a familiar face."

Alex frowned in slight confusion. "Carmichael?" she questioned. "As in Abbie Carmichael?"

The marshal nodded. "The one and only."

"What would she have to do with me other than we both used to work in New York?"

The marshal smiled. "This case against Valez is huge. There are a lot of charges against him. None of the local authorities are equipped to handle it. It's a federal case, and she's a federal prosecutor. Ever since your believed murder, she's wanted in on the Valez case."

The door opened and a doctor walked inside. She gasped once she saw that Alex was awake. "Hey there," she said soothingly. "How are you feeling?"

"Pain," Alex stated.

The doctor turned up the dosage on the IV machine. "Are you up for some company?" she asked.

Alex did not know how to respond. If it was Hammond telling her that she was being shipped off to Memphis, then no. But she did not know who it was. She shrugged. "Sure."

Hammond was the first one to walk inside. Abbie was right behind him. "I'm so glad to see you're awake," she said. She sighed as she sat down at the edge of the Alex's bed. "I bet everyone's been saying that."

Alex nodded as she subconsciously pulled the blanket over herself. Everyone else was wearing business suits. They all had neatly combed hair. She was in a hospital nightgown, and she was pretty certain her hair was worse than a rat's nest. "Do you have good news or bad news?" she asked.

Abbie smiled. "Very good news," she promised. "You were still unconscious, but there was a witness at the mall shooting. She got the license plate from the car with the men who shot you. Anne Arundel County Police tracked the car down. Apparently, those two assumed you died and celebrated at a bar. The police pulled them over for DUI. They heard the description of the shooters' car, saw it was the same car, and arrested the men. The younger of the two guys flipped against Valez, and we got records from the older one's phone showing calls he made to Valez."

Alex nodded slowly. "What's this mean?"

"It means that our tech guys took the number to reach Valez, called it. When Valez answered, they found out where he was. From there, the Feds went and arrested him," Abbie stated. She saw the smile on Alex's face. "But it gets better. Valez was indicted today on all counts, and his lawyers are already seeking a plea bargain. We've got the bastard."

"And that means that you can go back to New York," Hammond finished. "If you want."

Alex pushed herself to a sitting position and threw her arms around Hammond and Abbie. She did not care how much pain she was in. This was the best news of her life. She could stop pretending. She could go back to New York. To Olivia, Elliot, everyone. She did not want to let go.

"You're thrilled, aren't you?" Abbie asked.

"Hell yeah," Alex stated.

"In pain?"

"Hell yeah," Alex admitted as she pulled away from Abbie and leaned back on her bed. But still, she was happy. She would be going back to New York. She was going back to the city where she belonged, hopefully doing the job that is rightfully hers. She did not mind if she and Casey had to share the position. She just had to get back in the D.A.'s office.

Hammond left a couple minutes later to start searching for a job in New York for Alex. Abbie remained with her for the next couple of hours. The two of them talked about practically everything. Then Abbie had to go back to work. She wished Alex a speedy recovery and told her to send a postcard from New York. Alex promised she would.

Kim came by after her shift. Finally, Alex was able to tell her the truth about what had been happening. She also mentioned that she was leaving. She was going home.

Three days later, Alex was able to be discharged. She was getting a final examination from the resident on call and a nurse when Hammond stopped by to pick her up. Hammond quickly saw that she was wearing nothing but pants and a bra, so he quickly turned around and returned the curtain to its closed position. "I apologize, Miss Cabot," he stated as he kept facing the window leading into the hallway of the hospital.

"It's ok," Alex assured him. He was on her case for two and a half years. He was with her that night when she first got shot. He certainly had not seen anything new. She just wanted the news. What would be happening to her? Hammond had been searching for jobs in New York she could have. So far, he had not reported anything back to her. "Do you have any news for me?" she asked.

Hammond nodded. "I found a job right up your alley," he stated. "It's in the D.A.'s office," he started.

Before he could continue, Alex pulled away from the resident. She jumped off the bed and walked over to the curtain. She pulled it slightly so that her head was on the other side. The rest of the curtain was covering her body. "Are you serious?" she asked.

"Miss Cabot, I never joke," Hammond told her firmly.

Alex smiled as she almost considered hugging him. However, she recalled what she was wearing and the pain it caused her last time she tried that. She wisely decided against it, but the smile would never fade from her face. "How?"

"Do you remember Liz Donnelly?" Hammond asked curiously.

Alex walked back over towards the bed to allow the resident to finish his examination. "Yeah, what about her?" she asked as she rotated her injured arm for the resident. As she did, she winced. The resident noted her pain and started placing her arm into a sling. "I, um, I heard she's a judge now," Alex said.

Hammond nodded. "She is," he stated. "And her replacement as Bureau Chief no longer wants the position. His wife got a job in North Carolina." He smiled. "So that leaves an opening."

Alex's mouth dropped open. She began putting her shirt back on. The resident smiled at her and signed the discharge papers. He and the nurse left.

Alex walked to the other side of the curtain. "Are you actually saying that Branch is offering me the job?" she asked. "Wait, he still is the District Attorney, right?"

"Yes, Miss Cabot, he is," Hammond assured her. "And when I told him that you were out of Witness Protection, he said he would love to see you." The two of them started exiting the room. "Your flight leaves in two hours. I'll be accompanying you, and there will be a police car ready to pick us up from JFK the second we land."

By five that evening, Alex was in New York. Everything had gone according to how Hammond told her it would. She did recognize the officer who picked them up from the airport. She had hoped it would be someone from the SVU, but she had to be real. They probably had a lot of work to do. Besides, she wanted to surprise them when she was done.

The police car pulled up in front of the D.A.'s office. The building still looked exactly the same. There was still no one leaving it, despite normal working hours being about finished. She smiled. It was how it was supposed to be. She exited the car and walked inside.

She came face to face with a couple of security guards. Interesting. They've really tightened security, she noted. There were two different ways to get inside. One for employees, and the other for visitors. She did not know where to go, so she figured visitors. Both had to go through metal detectors anyway. That part was not new. She walked over to the two security guards there. "I'm Alex Cabot, and I'm here to see Branch," she started.

The first guard eyed her closely. He glanced at her ID from before she entered Witness Protection. Her hair had grown out, but she still looked like Alex. "Oh my God, you are," he said. "I thought you were dead."

"Branch didn't tell you I'd be coming?" Alex asked curiously.

The guard shook his head. "Nope," he stated. "Guess he wanted it to be a surprise or something." He smiled as he initialed next to Alex's name on the visitor's log. "It's nice to have you back, Miss Cabot."

"Nice to be back," Alex stated sincerely. She started to walk away, but then she turned back around. "Branch's office still the same place?"

The security officer nodded. "Same as it always was," he promised. Alex smiled and thanked him as she walked down the hallway. It was so familiar to her. The same walls, the same floor. She knew it all too well. In some ways, it felt like she never left. She passed her old office and took a peak inside. Casey was in there, pacing uncomfortably. Alex did not know entirely what she would say to the other ADA. She was still unsure of how Casey felt about her. During her brief return, Casey seemed distant. Alex decided to keep walking.

She walked down to Branch's office and knocked on the door twice. It was already open ajar.

"Come in," Branch called. Alex had the strongest feeling he was seated at his desk with a newspaper across it or something. She walked inside. "Alexandra," Branch greeted her. "So good to see you. Please, have a seat."

Alex smiled as she walked over and sat down in the chair opposite his desk. "Are you seriously considering me for this job?" she asked. It seemed all too fairy-tale like. After two and a half years of waiting, she was finally getting exactly what she wanted. Justice on Valez and a job higher than where she was when she left the D.A.'s office.

Branch shook his head. "No, I'm not considering you for it," he stated. He stood up from his desk. "I'm giving it to you."

Alex's mouth dropped open. She was speechless.

"Is that a yes?" Branch asked her.

Alex was still shocked. "Of course it's a yes," she said. "But shouldn't you interview more people? I mean, I've been out of the office for two and a half years."

"But you still think like a prosecutor," Branch interrupted. "I know you. I heard about your performance at Liam Connors' trial for your attempted murder. I know you are still more than capable of doing this. Before you were shot, you were so dedicated. If you hadn't been in Witness Protection, I would have offered it to you as soon as Liz left." He smiled at her. "It means you have the job, Alexandra. Don't disappoint me."

Excitement burst inside of Alex. She had the job. She was back in New York doing what she was supposed to do. She smiled at Branch and thanked him numerous times. Branch chuckled.

"You're very welcome," he told her. "Now go out and celebrate."

"Thank you," Alex said again. She headed for the door and opened it. Casey was on the other side with her hand raised as though she was about to knock on the door. "Casey," Alex stated.

"I thought I saw you," Casey noted. "What's going on?"

"Valez has been indicted. He's in federal custody, and I'm here," Alex said.

Casey smiled. "It's good to see you," she said. She then instantly frowned. "You're not taking my job, are you? I want it now. You can't have it."

Alex shook her head. "You should want it. You're an excellent prosecutor," she complimented. "I'm not taking your job," she promised. "I'm taking over for whoever replaced Donnelly."

"So, you're my boss?" Casey asked.

Alex shrugged. "I guess I am." She sighed. "I was going to head over to SVU. Did you want to come?"

Casey nodded. "I was on my way there, too, after I told Branch the good news," she said. She turned to Branch. "We've got indictments on both boys for the murder of Jason King."

Branch smiled at her. He knew she would eventually want the job. "Good," he said. "Now I want both of you girls out of here celebrating. Tomorrow's going to be crazy on you both, but you should have some fun first."

Casey drove Alex over to SVU. Alex convinced Hammond that she would be fine. She still had his number in case she felt threatened. She did not need him there over her shoulder calling her all the time. She was on her own. She smiled as she pulled up in front of the station. Casey smiled. "I'll go first," the younger ADA stated. "My news is good, but nothing compared to yours. We should build them up." With that, the two of them walked inside. Alex hung back outside the doors actually leading to the squad room.

She saw Casey walk inside. Munch was there. Fin. Olivia and Elliot were coming out of Cragen's office. Cragen followed them. Casey presumably talked since a few seconds later, they were all high-five-ing. Casey smiled and turned around. She gave a signal for Alex to enter.

Alex did. "Hey," she announced. Her statement immediately caught the attention of all the detectives in the squad room. "Miss me?"

Olivia was the first to react. "Alex, what is going on? Is this for good?"

Alex nodded. "You bet," she said. "Valez is in federal lock-up, and completely isolated at that." She smiled widely. "I've got a job in the D.A.'s office. You'll be seeing a lot of me."

"Good," Elliot stated. "We all missed you like hell."

From there, they all went out for drinks. There was a lot of talking, about everyone's lives. Especially now, the focus was on Alex and how she finally got out. She was thrilled. This was how it was supposed to be. She still did not have an apartment, so Olivia offered up her guest room. It was a lot more comfortable than the couch.

The next morning, Alex went into work at 8:30. She had a temporary desk. She already had twelve messages on it. She chuckled. "It's good to be back."