Silence permeated witness holding; the only sound that blessed Alex's ear was the incessant tick…tick…tick of the second hand on the clock above the door. With each second that slowly passed by, Alex grew more and more nervous. She nervously paced back and forth, arms folded, staring at her feet move one in front of the other. Preparedness wasn't the problem; Jack, Liz and Jim spent hours with Alex, prepping her for the upcoming testimony. She was an attorney herself; she knew the questions that were going to be asked from both sides. The problem was that she hadn't looked Robert in the eye for almost four months. She had weeks to prepare, mentally, emotionally. Unfortunately, all of that seemed to melt away to nothing. She had to rely on her instincts.

=====AO=====

"I may have exercised some frustration at times, but never in my right mind would I lay a hand on Alex. I love her. And I wanted to raise our child with her." Robert spoke in an eloquent, arrogant tone.

The very thought of Robert saying he loved Alex made Olivia cringe in her seat. Branch remained adamant and continued questioning Robert.

"Mr. Sheldon, would you mind explaining why Ms. Cabot was taken to the emergency room on the evening of February 2nd, 2010?"

"…I have no idea." He sighed, understanding where this line of questioning was going.

"According to the emergency room report, Ms. Cabot had received a broken cheek bone and two broken ribs. The emergency room physician stated that these injuries were "indicative of a violent altercation." In fact, subsequent emergency room reports state the same thing on March 15th, April 6th, but the report from June 15th was different, Mr. Sheldon. Do you have any recollection what the anomaly in this report was?" Branch stated pointedly.

"No, I don't."

"This was the day that Ms. Cabot found out she was pregnant with your child, Mr. Sheldon. Some caring father-to-be you are." The Texan attorney grinned.

Sheldon's lawyer quickly rose to his feet,

"Objection, badgering the witness."

Branch smirked, "….Withdrawn." He stated adamantly. Branch turned on his heels and once again, faced the jury.

======AO=====

For a moment, Alex paused to stare out the window at the rainy, Manhattan morning. The rain drops, gently tapping on the window sill gave a rather dreadful atmosphere to an already dreadful situation. She exhaled and mentally cursed herself for being so negative. Suddenly, she felt a gentle kick from her "little man." Placing her hand over the kicking, she was reminded of why she was testifying in the first place. As if by magic, her pulse slowed, her anxiety eased, and the only emotion that remained was motivation. She was ready to put Robert away; she was ready to protect her baby.

======AO======

"…Mr. Sheldon, the emergency room reports do not stop there. She visited the emergency room for fractures three subsequent times, the final time, was due to the injuries she sustained from you in a room full of witnesses in the DA's office. Do you have any justification or explanation for raising a hand to your pregnant fiancé, let alone in her place of work?"

Robert stared daggers at the Attorney General, refusing to allow himself to appear weak. Unfortunately, his attempt failed.

"…no. It was a moment of mental weakness. For that, I am sorry."

"Seems you have had many moments of mental weakness, Mr. Sheldon."

Once again, Robert's lawyer rose to his feet, "Objection, your Honor!" the attorney pleaded.

"No further questions for this witness, your honor." Branch spoke in his best court tone.

Robert remained stoic and silent as he returned to the defense desk and allowed three men next to him determine his fate with the justice system. Jim glanced over at Robert from the gallery on the prosecution's side. The anger welling in Robert's gut was more than evident in his expression. He knew that his chances for freedom were slipping. Little did he know what surprises waited for him behind the holding room door.

Olivia's foot was tapping incessantly; the nervousness she felt was getting the best of her.

"We got this, right? I mean, there's no chance that anything can go wrong?" Olivia whispered in Jim's ear.

"Alex is going to be phenomenal. She's ready to put his ass in prison. We got this." He smiled.

Olivia nodded and returned her gaze forward. The nervous habits were growing in intensity, now including the ever-infamous lip biting. Taking notice of this, Cragen, having been seated next to the anxious detective placed his hand gently over hers and leaned over to whisper in her ear,

"When Alex walks through that door, she is going to be looking to you for strength. Stay strong, Liv. She's gonna do great, but she needs your help."

Once again, Olivia nodded and allowed the nervous ticks to subside.

The judge bellowed from the stand,

"Your next witness, Mr. Branch?" he asked.

Olivia and Jim stared at Robert, awaiting his reaction,

"The prosecution calls Alexandra Cabot to the stand."

When these words were spoken, Robert's façade faded. His anger was now more than apparent, and he began whispering various stifled words into his attorneys' ears.

Olivia's gaze went straight to the holding room door. The door opened, and Alex emerged, looking stronger and more beautiful than ever. She strode with the same indignant presence that she had walked these floors with before. Even as a victim, she still commanded respect simply with the way she carried herself. She took her place on the witness' stand, and prepared herself for what lay ahead. The bailiff stood before her with the Bible in his hand, rambling the same spiel she had heard so many times before. She raised her right hand and spoke,

"I do."

She scanned the room, taking in the eyes of the jury, the eyes of the judge, and the eyes that stared back at her from the gallery. Behind the prosecution stand sat the powerhouses of Manhattan's legal system; Steele, Donnelly, Branch, and McCoy. She made mental notes of the familiar faces; her ADA's sat neatly in a row, Rossi, Peluso, Potter, Finn, Desmond…and there were two faces that had long since graced her presence; she saw the softened features of her once dear friend Serena Southerlyn, and the chiselled, southern-tanned features of her predecessor, Abbie Carmichael. She took in the confident gazes of the detectives, Fin, Munch, Cragen, Stabler, whom she had worked with for so long; and then, her eyes locked with the single person that had given her the courage to sit where she was today, the hazel eyes of her anchor, Olivia. As Olivia gave her a confident and supportive smile, Alex recalled the conversation that took place the night before….

'You're gonna be magnificent tomorrow, love. I promise.' Olivia whispered, wrapping her arms around Alex as they nestled beneath the sheets. Alex's gaze remained out the window as her mind raced with every possible scenario,

'I hate being on that side of the desk, Liv. I feel so vulnerable. Recalling all of that shit that he put me through, yet again…' Alex brought her hand to her cheek, wiping away a stray tear that had fallen. Olivia propped herself up, hovering mere inches from Alex's face, and slid her fingers into Alex's hand, interlacing digits,

'When you are telling them what he did, and you are thinking back on the dark stuff from the past, just look for me in the courtroom. I'll bring you back; I'll be your anchor. Okay?'

Alex smiled and nodded, while Olivia placed a chaste kiss upon Alex's forehead, and trailed down to her swollen abdomen where she whispered,

'You're Momma's fighting for you, Little Man. We all are….'

Alex's mind was brought back to the present as Liz Donnelly rose from behind the prosecution's stand and approached Alex,

"You ready?" the older woman whispered,

"….ready as I'll ever be."

With that, Alex's testimony began….

= = = = AO = = = =