Chapter 23: The French Drop
Four people from three areas of US law enforcement sat in silence at a familiar booth in the back of the diner. Alex and Olivia sat opposite Porter, while Elliot flanked him on his left. A cellphone was sitting in the center of the table. Porter was trying hard not to stare at it.
"Agent Porter," Alex began, "Have you been in contact with Liam Connors?" she asked.
"I'm not under arrest, I'm not in court and I don't answer to you Miss Cabot, " Porter answered coldly.
Alex had anticipated his response, "Agent Porter, you saved myself and Detective Benson from Sean Connors, yet were planning on taking us to him and his brother. I'm just trying to establish motive," she said coolly.
"I told Olivia and Stabler why I'm doing this, I don't need to repeat myself."
"Has the blow to your head induced short term amnesia? Can you not remember what you told them?" Alex mocked.
Porter glanced at the cellphone again, "Of course I remember, but you're wasting your time with me... you should be out there, making a deal with Connors so we can salvage this clusterfuck," he said sharply.
Beside him, Elliot snorted but said nothing.
"The only place Sean Connors is going is back to Federal lock up, I'm sure there will be a cell close by so that you can keep in touch," Alex retorted, voice laden with sarcasm.
Olivia picked up the cellphone and began scrolling through the messages. "Sean received messages from his brother, were you aware of that?" she asked without looking up.
Porter followed her fingers as they skillfully navigated across the keypad. "No, I didn't. Is that Connors' phone?" he asked casually.
Olivia stopped her movements and looked over at him, "Does it matter whose phone it is?" she replied, holding his gaze.
"You should be tracing the messages, trying to find out where they've been sent from," he said, not breaking the eye contact.
"But not tracing calls?" she retorted quickly.
Porter continued to glare at her, "Of course tracing calls, I meant tracing all activity from that phone," he said sharply, indicating the phone in her hand.
Olivia looked at the phone in her hand, "We will, just as soon as comms are back up at the Command Post. Goldie's cut off all transmissions until he knows who to trust," she replied casually and placed the phone back on the table. She looked over at Elliot. "Why don't you see if Luker's heard anything."
Elliot slid out from the booth, he moved to the end of the counter where Agent Luker was positioned and started talking to him. He turned his back to the occupants of the booth and discreetly brought out his cellphone and dialed Cragen's number.
Alex and Olivia studied Porter closely looking for any sign of unease but his outward appearance was calm and neutral.
Alex turned to her right and looked at Olivia, "You know if I was Liam Connors I would be calling my brother to find out what the hold up was. I'm an escaped prisoner, hiding in a cabin, I'm pretty sure I'd be worried a SWAT team weren't about to descend on me." she commented.
Olivia nodded, "I know, less than 30 minutes away too. I'd at least check to make sure my little brother was okay and en route. He sent a lot of messages to Sean's phone but they stopped abruptly. Maybe he knows the game's up and he's bailed," Olivia said in agreement.
Porter shifted in his seat. "I need to go to the restroom," he announced.
Alex nodded, "Of course, we'll just wait until Elliot gets back," she said and smiled.
"I don't need an escort," he snapped.
Olivia stood and motioned for him to slide out from the seat, "Elliot, Porter needs to pee. I'm going to go talk to Connors with Alex," she shouted.
Porter looked between them, "What for?" he asked, eyes reflexively moving between the cellphone on the table and the parking lot.
Alex slid out from the booth and addressed him, "Because I want to and I don't answer to you Agent Porter," she said and stood beside Olivia.
Elliot turned round, phone pressed to his ear and nodded in acknowledgment. Porter moved past them both, anger evident in his stride. He glared at Stabler on his cellphone and headed to the bathroom followed closely by Agent Luker.
Once he was inside and Luker positioned at the door, Elliot ended the call with the Captain and approached the two women. "Munch and Fin are about to bust into Porter's apartment, see if they can find anything. What's your gut telling you Alex?" he asked.
Alex folded her arms, "He's lying. If Olivia's theory is correct, Sean Connors is about to get a text message from his 'brother'," she said looking expectantly at the phone on the table.
As if on cue, the phone chirped.
Olivia looked at Alex, "Well well, what d'you know. I wonder who that can be?"
In the SUV Sean Connors was restless and desperate to know what was happening. The detective that had grilled him for only 10 minutes had made him nervous. He didn't want to die and was eager to speak to someone to cut a deal. He had considered all his options and decided he had a better chance at survival in a federal prison than he did with his brother in a remote mountain cabin.
"I want to speak to someone in charge," he announced to the guards on either side.
The agent on his left looked out the window and saw the two approaching figures, "This is your lucky day, " he said and opened the door.
Alex and Olivia spoke with the agent outside the SUV briefly before Olivia opened the back door and hopped in. Alex got in and sat in the driver's seat, turned and addressed the agent on the other side of Connors, "You can go now."
The agent nodded his head and exited the vehicle. Connors looked between the two women in confusion, "What are you doing?" he asked.
"Olivia turned to him, weapon raised, "We're waiting for you to tell us where to go."
Alex started the engine and drove slowly to the entrance of the parking lot, "Which way?" she asked without turning.
Connors panicked and reached for the door handle, Olivia pressed the barrel into his side, "You don't wanna do that and if I do this," she pushed the barrel forcefully against his side, "Take it from one who knows, it's gonna hurt," she advised.
"Which way?" Alex repeated.
"I don't want to go, I'll tell you anything you want to hear, just ask. I told that detective everything I knew, I didn't lie. I swear to you," he rushed out.
Alex turned the SUV around and parked the car in front of the diner, close to the entrance and shut the engine off.
"Do you know who I am?" she asked as she turned to face him.
"ADA Alexandra Cabot," he replied instantly, hoping the woman beside him would remove the gun.
Alex smiled, "Do you know my connection to your brother?"
"He shot you, thought he'd nailed you but you came back and testified against him. Of course I know who you are. What's your point?" he asked impatiently.
Olivia pushed the gun again, causing Sean to wince loudly.
"Have you spoken with your brother?" Alex asked.
"No, he said it was less traceable if we just text. At first I didn't believe it really was Liam but he sent me proof and answered questions only he would know the answers to," he replied.
Olivia piped in, "What sort of questions?" she asked removing the gun.
He sighed, "Family stuff, things about where we grew up. I knew if he had escaped from Portlaoise, he needed to stay low. They don't take too kindly to folks jumping the fence over there," he said.
"Why did you ask to meet Porter this morning?"
He looked at the ADA in confusion, "He called me, said it was urgent, to do with Liam. He told me about his escape, where he was hiding. He said he would help me get you to him, both of you. He told me he could disable the camera's in your building and would be there to give me back up if I needed it," he answered. He looked between them and tried to read their expressions. "Look, surely you can check my cellphone, I'm telling you the truth," he pleaded.
Alex nodded, "What happened with the ambulance convoy?"
"Porter called and told me to take out the first SUV then pull back, he was going to intercept the ambulance."
Olivia shook her head, "You killed your cousin."
"It was nothing personal, he was hurt and Porter had been insistent about no loose ends," he said flatly.
Alex glanced briefly at Olivia in the dim glow of the interior light, "How did Brennan get involved so quickly? A bit of luck him being in the Tactical Team sent to get me out f the building."
Connors laughed, "You people in your ivory towers, everybody's got a price. Brennan's done a few jobs for me, he was a true soldier of fortune," he paused, "That actually was a piece of luck, I knew they would send the team down there, it was just a fluke he was in the first team sent to retrieve you," he said.
Olivia remembered the elevator, "Why was the elevator stuck on the 7th floor?" she asked.
Connors chuckled, "Ohh Detective, that was easy. Misdirection. Smoke and Mirrors. Whatever you want to call it. I had to limit your exit options and it made it easier for Brennan to escort Cabot out as per evacuation protoc-" he wheezed at the force of the blow into his side.
Olivia ignored her and pushed Connors into the door, he howled as the door handle connected with his ribs. "How many people have you had killed, how many lives have you destroyed, you're pathetic! Alex, let's go see Liam. I don't give a shit anymore about what's true or not, I want to shoot this prick myself." Olivia spat.
Alex turned the keys in the ignition but Connors yelled for her to stop.
"I'm telling the truth! I only found out about Liam from Porter! I tried calling him on the number he sent the text messages from but it kept ringing out. I swear to you's both, I'm not lying."
Alex turned off the engine and honked the horn. The two guards approached, she opened the driver's door, "We're done here," she announced and exited the vehicle.
The guards climbed back into the back seat. Alex and Olivia stood at the entrance to the diner and watched as Elliot and Porter headed back to the booth in the corner.
"Now what?" Alex asked and looked expectantly at Olivia.
Olivia smiled, "Now we finish this...once and for all," she said as she guided Alex through the door. As they entered Olivia shouted Elliot before he reached the table and he turned back instantly. He stood with them at the end of the counter. Only Alex could see Porter seated at the table but she kept her head tilted towards Olivia beside her.
"Is he watching?" asked Elliot quietly.
"Yes," Alex replied.
"Everybody know what we're doing?" Olivia asked Elliot.
"Yep, all set. Your call Liv," he answered.
"She nodded, let's do this," she said and motioned for everyone to return to the booth.
Porter looked up as they resumed to their seats, looking on curiously as Olivia sat next to him and Elliot sat next to Alex.
"Sean is keen to make a deal with us, he implicates you as being the instigator in this whole affair," Alex informed Porter.
Porter smiled and shrugged, "I already told you Counselor, I don't have to answer any of your questions. Besides where is your proof?" he said, eyes flickering to the phone on the table.
Alex lifted the phone, "I think we have enough on here to start with, don't you?" she said confidently.
Porter shot her a hateful look, "You have nothing. Trust me."
Agent Luker approached them, "Detective Stabler, Lieutenant Goldie needs to speak with you urgently," he said hurriedly.
Elliot slid from the booth and followed Luker into the kitchen.
Olivia watched as the two men left the seated area. She placed her Jetfire pistol on the table beside the cellphone. She was about to lift the cellphone when it began to ring.
Everyone looked at the phone.
Porter lifted his eyes and looked across the table at Alex, his eyes darting between hers and the ringing cellphone.
Olivia reached for the cellphone as it continued to ring but Alex lifted it first. She slid from the booth and stood facing the window with her back to the table. "Hello?" she paused, "Who is this?"
The sound of a struggle caused her to drop the phone and turn round quickly.
Porter held Olivia in an iron tight grip with his uninjured arm, pistol pressed to her throat.
"What are you doing?" Olivia choked out around the stronghold he had on her neck.
"Give me that phone," he demanded.
Alex picked the phone up and placed it on the table. "Let her go," she said calmly, "you're only making an already bad situation worse Agent Porter."
Porter shook his head, "You think you're so smart, you think you've got me all figured out. I have news for you ADA Cabot, you just made the biggest mistake of your life," he spat out angrily.
Olivia struggled to break his hold but he only gripped her tighter, "Olivia, sweetheart, don't make this any harder for me. Please," he said through gritted teeth.
"I'm not your fucking sweetheart, you bastard," she rasped out.
Alex was about to shout for Elliot but Porter stopped her, "Not a word Counselor or I'll kill her. You wouldn't want that would you?"
His eyes suddenly widened as the phone in his pocket vibrated. His eyes darted to the phone on the table and his mouth opened in surprise.
"Something wrong Agent Porter?" asked Alex knowingly.
"He released his grip on Olivia, reached into his pocket and retrieved his vibrating phone. As soon as she had enough room she elbowed him as hard as she could and slid from the booth to stand in front of Alex.
Porter lifted the pistol and pointed it at her as he answered the phone silently.
"We switched sim cards you prick, knew you would too," Elliot Stabler's voice announced in his ear.
Porter's mind raced, he had swapped sim cards believing the one in the phone on the table was Sean's. He had replaced it with the one he had been using to text Sean pretending to be LIam. He panicked, "I'll kill them both if you even think about coming through that kitchen door Stabler, tell the goon squad to stand down," he ordered and placed the phone on the table. "Sit down!" he barked.
Olivia stood her ground in front of Alex, she reached behind her to hold the ADA in place.
"How sweet you both are, I thought you were past all this Olivia," he said sarcastically.
"What are you talking about? Do you really think I'm going to let youshoot her after everything we've been through today? Why d'you do it Dean, why d'you create this elaborate charade?" she asked calmly.
He snorted, "Isn't it obvious Liv....I want you."
She looked at him puzzled, "Me? Why?"
"Does it matter any more? We're all going to die in this diner in the middle of nowhere, I'm not backing down." He said with finality.
"So tell me what the real story is, if you're going to kill us you might as well tell us," she reasoned with him.
He looked at her for a long moment, "We could have been so good together Liv, but every time I got close, you pulled away," he looked at her, "because of her," He growled out indicating Alex.
"All the times I got you out of trouble, helped you with Simon and what did you do? Nothing. I put a bullet in Manuel Rojaz as he held a gun to your head and what did you do? A pretend date with a forced kiss to set me up! How many times did I ask you out for dinner, out for a drink?" he asked.
"Dean, we went for dinner, we went for drinks, you never hinted at anything more," replied Olivia gently.
"All you talked about was her, how you wondered where she was, had I found anything out. How much you missed her. Christ, the hours I spent listening to you go on and on about the brilliant Alexandra fucking Cabot. If I didn't know any better I'd think you were in love with her!" he said angrily.
Olivia concentrated on displaying no reaction and didn't respond.
Porter's eyes widened as realization dawned and he remembered every look they had exchanged, every touch that had passed between them at the table, in the car, "Oh my God...you are...you're in love with her!" he spat and leveled the gun at her chest.
She looked past the gun to his face, "It doesn't have to end like this."
"Doesn't it? Am I going to walk out of here, go back to the FBI and be able to pretend this didn't happen? No. I knew what I was doing, I just didn't give you, or your girlfriend, enough credit for your resourcefulness," he said with disgust.
"What were you going to do with us at the cabin, there is no-one else and you selected the secluded hideaway yourself. What was your plan?" she asked, ignoring the gun and taking a step closer, keeping Alex firmly behind her.
He softened his expression and spoke calmly, "Make it look like Connors shot Cabot then kill him. Comfort you in your hour of grief, be there for you, let you see how important you are to me. Love you."
She shook her head, "That would never have happened," she said and placed her hands on the table, blocking his view of Alex, "I would die before I let a prick like you lay a finger on her."
"So be it," he said and squeezed the trigger.
"I removed the bullets"
He squeeze the trigger again...click...Porter rose from the booth enraged and reached for her, she stepped back as a loud crack sounded and Porter's body was flung backwards into the backrest before slumping onto the padded seat.
Olivia looked to the kitchen door and saw Agent Luker's weapon pointed in their direction.
Elliot raced around the counter, gun trained on the fallen FBI agent. He pushed him over and saw blood seeping through the shirt on his chest, "You'll live. Pretty boy like you is gonna be real popular in prison," he said sweetly.
Olivia turned to Alex, "Let's go."
Luker approached Elliot, "Road team is on their way, we can take him back by chopper any time."
Elliot nodded, "Gimme two minutes, I just want a quick word with our friend here."
Luker nodded in understanding, "I'll instruct the chopper to move and meet you outside."
Elliot waited until he left before addressing the gasping FBI agent, "I'd love to put a bullet in you Porter and finish you off....but I won't."
Porter swallowed harshly before choking out, "You're wasting your time on her Stabler,she's a fucking dyk-"
He closed his eyes and reflexively spat out blood in response to the force of the blow to his chest. He struggled to breathe.
Elliot punched him again and watched him collapse unconscious to the padded bench.
"Prick." He stood and moved to the doors as he saw the chopper land.
As soon as they entered the kitchen Olivia grabbed her and held her tightly. They both sagged against each other with relief. They stood that way for a long moment, relishing the contact until a strange set of arms reached round them both. They lifted their heads and looked down to see familiar blonde curls leaning against them.
"I'm glad you're both okay. Please tell me somebody put another hole in that piece of dirt," Suzy said seriously.
They separated and stood in a close circle, Olivia smiled at Suzy, "He's alive, prison will be a tougher punishment than death," she answered.
Alex reached for Olivia's hand and grasped it tightly, "This is over, isn't it?" she asked, seeking confirmation.
Olivia squeezed her hand and gazed into cobalt blue eyes, brimming with unshed tears, "Yes, it's over," she whispered and kissed her softly on the mouth.
Suzy felt guilty witnessing the private moment and interrupted quietly saying she was going to the little girl's room.
They broke the gentle kiss and Olivia wiped Alex's eyes with gentle thumbs, "What Porter said..about um..me..and um..you," she faltered.
"It's okay Liv, we'll talk about it at the cabin," she said quietly and reassured her with a kiss.
Olivia moaned into her mouth as the kiss deepened and a hot tongue slid sensuously against her own. Alex grabbed her ass and clutched at her, leaving no space between them.
The kitchen door opened, "Li-"
Elliot stopped in his tracks and watched as Olivia and Alex broke apart, his eyes trailed to the hands inside the denim pockets on his partner's backside.
Alex reluctantly removed her hands but Olivia took one and intertwined their fingers. She looked to Alex for reassurance and then to her partner, "El, I...we.."
He moved towards them and hugged them both, "I'm glad you finally figured it out, " he said quietly to them both before stepping back. "Chopper's here, ground support is 10 minutes out. What d'you wanna do? Fly or ride back to the city?" he asked.
Alex looked at him, "We'll need to give statements. Who's en route?"
"Goldie, Cragen, clean up crew," he replied and smiled at Suzy as she entered the kitchen.
Alex squeezed Olivia's hand, "We'll give our statements here. We're not going back to the city just yet. Give me your phone," she said to Elliot.
She dialed Cragen's number and waited until he answered. She informed him everybody was fine and were waiting for them at the diner. She told him Porter was heading back to the city by air and that Olivia was taking 2 weeks off, effective immediately. Alex felt the tug on her hand and ignored it. She ended the call and handed it back to a grinning Elliot.
Elliot looked at his phone as he put it in his pocket, "How did you know he would go for it?" he said to Olivia, referring to Porter.
"A lot of small things he said didn't add up but, when he didn't fire a single shot in the parking lot, I knew he was covering something. I just didn't know what. His reactions when we questioned him were controlled, he was too careful with his answers. When I used his phone to call you from the car, I noticed it had dual sim card capabilities. He had two separate phone numbers going into one phone. I figured out he was texting Sean from one number pretending to be Liam and calling him from another as himself, I just needed proof. The text that Sean's phone received shortly after Porter went to the bathroom confimred my suspicions. When we deliberately allowed him to return to the table alone, having already misinformed him about comms being down it was too big a chance for him to pass up. Leaving him with the only evidence that could nail him must have seemed like a dream come true. He switched sim cards without realizing we had already done that. His reaction when the phone on the table rang was the beginning of the end for him, he added further confirmation to his emerging guilt when the phone in his pocket rang and it was you. That really freaked him out. I knew he would go for my gun if he was guilty, so I took the bullets out and left it as bait."
Elliot shook his head, "I knew he was untrustworthy after the double homicide but I never thought he'd throw his career away and pull something like this."
"Too good an opportunity to miss," said Alex,"once he found out about the hit and Connors' involvement, he concocted this elaborate scheme just to kill me and have Olivia for himself," she said and shivered at the thought. Olivia smiled at her.
"That reminds me, Fin called. Apparently Porter has a shrine dedicated to you in a closet in his apartment, pictures and emails that you've sent him plastered over the walls. I hope Huang does his psych evaluation, really hits home how screwed up he is," Elliot said.
Agent Luker appeared through the doorway, "We're good to go, you accompanying Porter? Connors is going back by road, two agents are taking him."
Olivia answered for him, "Yeah, he's coming." She moved over to him and hugged him, "Thanks El, you're the best," she whispered and stepped back.
He looked at her and smiled before moving over to Alex and surprising her with a hug, "Take care of her, " he said quietly.
"Always," she answered softly and patted his back.
He turned to leave and then remembered Suzy who was busying herself by washing the dishes from the baking session. He approached her and tapped her shoulder, she was startled from her musings and whirled round, dish rag in hand. He kissed her on the cheek and hugged her, thanking her for looking after them both, he also told her if she ever wanted a job as a police sharpshooter to give him a call to which everybody laughed.
As he released her and walked away, she shouted after him, "I just knew you were a big boy," she said, looking at his lower half and waggling her eyebrows.
He stopped and turned, blowing her a kiss before leaving the room.
Suzy walked over to the tired pair and stood in front of them, "What are you girls going to do now?" she asked.
Alex smiled broadly at Olivia, "We're heading to the Catskills."
Olivia gazed into her eyes before looking at Suzy, "Alex has a cabin there."
Suzy beamed at them both, "I'll make some more gingerbread then," she grinned at them knowingly, "You'll be needing your strength." She turned to the cooker shaking her head and laughing as two identical flushed faces looked at her wide eyed.
I just want to thank everyone for reading this and especially those of you that read and reviewed. You helped spur me on and rise to the challenge of a daily post!
I started this as a way to stay awake through the night looking after my 19 year old cat, Scarlett, whose health was failing. When she passed away only 6 days into this story I didn't think I would finish it. Reading your comments and PM's encouraged me to continue, thank you so much.
Hope the ending didn't disappoint and tied up ay loose ends. If I've missed something, I'm sure I'll touch on it when we get to the cabin. I never did trust Dean Porter...