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"I don't get it. This guy raped fifteen women, that we're aware of, stole thousands of dollars from them, and killed five people, two of which were cops. We know he did it. Hell, he knows we know he did it, but we have nothing. Nothing at all. He's laughing at us." Detective Elliot Stabler put his hands behind his head and leaned back on his chair.
His partner, Olivia Benson, was perched on his desk, rubbing her temples. "Maybe Alex can use what we've got."
"What we've got?" Alex marched into the room, and stopped beside Stabler's desk, "What we've got is nothing. I can't use any of it.."
"What?" Olivia stood up and turned towards the ADA, "What do you mean it can't be used?"
"None of it was aquired legally. You guys stuffed up and now you have nothing."
"Stuffed up?" Olivia took a step towards Alex, "What the hell.."
"Alright, that's enough!" Captain Cragan hurried out of his office and over to the girls to stop a potentially vicious conversation. He stepped in between the two women, gave Olivia a look that said Back off, then turned to Cabot. "What do you need?"
"I need more. I need something at all, or this guy is going to walk and I'll be laughed out of the courtroom; if I even make it that far."
Olivia let out a slightly nasty laugh, "You just want to look good in the courtroom."
Alex threw a look of daggers at Olivia. Her blood was boiling, and her voice was rising, "No, what I want is for people to do their jobs right, so I don't have to come in here and try fix up your mistakes. A violent, violent man is going to be walking free and I don't want that on my shoulders!" Alex paused to calm herself, "So please, find me something I can use. And make sure you do it properly."
The ADA left the way she came in. The Detectives sat in an awkward silence for a moment. Olivia returned to her desk and took a seat, "We're screwed."
- - -
Alex bit her lip; her face of confidence was faltering. She could hear her own heart beating as she watched the jury return to their seats. This was it. Cabot was good, and she knew it, but there was no way she could have won this one. She felt like she was hunting with no ammunition. She got a few good hits in, but nothing that would do any lasting damage, and Defence Attorney Langan knew this and pointed it out as much as he could.
"Has the jury reached a verdict?"
Alex held her breath; this was an important one. If he didn't get locked away, this man would do a lot more damage. No other criminal that she had shared a courtroom with had ever scared her as much as Richard French did. And he knew it. She had felt like a little girl questioning him on the stand during the trial. If she hadn't perfected her face of ice so well, she might have just run out of the room crying. He was cold and dangerous.
"We have your Honor."
Richard caught Alex's eye from across the room; it sent shivers down her spine.
"We find the defendant, Richard French, not guilty on all counts."
Cabot's heart sank. She looked behind her at the Detectives sitting near the back. Stabler looked mad; like he wanted to hit something, or someone. Alex matched the look on Olivia's face to how she was feeling. Guilty.
Olivia met Alex's eyes, but got up quickly. She didn't want a guilt trip from Cabot; she felt guilty enough.
"C'mon, let's get out of here." Olivia nodded and followed Elliot out of the coutroom.
"I can't believe we let him walk!"
"We didn't let him walk Olivia!"
"We let those women down. We dragged up all those memories, promising them we'd lock him up; that they'd be safe. We failed them."
"Liv, we did our best."
"It wasn't good enough."
Benson and Stabler climbed into the car.
"Why is this getting to you? More than the other's who get let off I mean."
"Elliot, this guy is evil. He's dangerous! Who know's what he'll do next!"
"This guy really has you spooked." Elliot looked at Olivia, waiting for a reply. She didn't say a word and Elliot clicked, "He threatened you, didn't he? Why didn't you report it?"
"I don't know. I couldn't be sure and I couldn't prove it."
Elliot shifted in his seat so he was facing Olivia, "What happened?"
Olivia closed her eyes and took a deep breath, deciding it would be easier to explain if she was a bit more calm. She opened her eyes and let out a startled cry. Elliot spun his head around to see Richard gazing in through the window. He smiled and waved.
Elliot quickly reached for the door handle to get out of the car, but Olivia grabbed his arm and pulled him back. "There's nothing you can do."
"I wanna know what the hell he did to you to get you so freaked out."
"Let's just get out of here."