Olivia woke up early the next morning. Alex was still asleep, her hair spread over the pillow in a very touching way, pale gold and delicate. Her arms were over her head, as if trying to block out sunlight, and she was smiling, faintly, at some pleasant dream. Olivia breathed in, then out, happiness settling over her like dust.
A small part of her was reluctant to wake Alex up - she seemed so content, and while Olivia knew that she was safe here, asleep in a sun-drenched room in a guarded apartment, she could not say the same of the DA's office. She would like to stay here, in this happy, sunny apartment, where no-one could hurt them and they were together. But she was nothing if not practical, and, with a small sigh, began to shake Alex gently awake.
They made it to the office in remarkable time; Olivia did not think she had ever seen New York so quiet. The streets were thick with browning leaves, and there was an oddly still air about the city, as it had been dampened or muffled. People were few and far between.
"What's going on?" Alex asked, staring out of the window. "We ought to be gridlocked."
"Maybe something's happened," Olivia said.
But when they reached the courthouse, and began to skim idly through the papers which had been delivered to Alex's new office (still a bare shell, with dust rings where paintings and diplomas had been on the walls and sad, empty bookshelves), they saw that the news was distinctly unsensational - taxes, strikes and the Supreme Court. Alex shrugged, and Olivia shrugged back, both a little baffled. They began to unpack Alex's things from their boxes; hang a tidy row of certificates up behind her desk (Olivia was much better at this than Alex, who had not got the knack of juggling frame and nail and hammer), organise Alex's law books (which Olivia was absolutely no help with, not knowing an legal treatise from a casebook, and not caring to learn), work out how far they were from the coffee machine, realise that the coffee was just as appalling on this floor as it was on the floor below, and settle onto the couch under the window together. They were only three minutes into a conversation about the relative merits of books vs. films when McCoy arrived.
The press were gathered at the foot of an imposing flight of stairs, which McCoy, Alex, and, at a respectable distance, Olivia, descended. McCoy and Alex stepped up onto a podium, and began to field questions, post of which were fairly good-natured - was Alex, for instance, the same Alex Cabot who had been shot dead six years ago? Did she wish to comment on how that was possible? Was she, in fact, a vampire? Alex and McCoy were almost enjoying themselves; Alex's predecessor had been much despised by the press, refusing to give interviews and threatening photographers with restraining orders, and Alex Cabot, valiant in the face of danger, achingly beautiful, hardworking, selfless and just, made for an attractive contrast.
They were ten minutes in before Olivia started to relax. Even then, her eyes were restless, scanning the crowd for hostile faces, but the journalists didn't seem angry, or even particularly intent - most seemed rather pleased that they had been given such an easy assignment.
And then the flash of metal, and a sudden noise, and screams. Alex fell, and McCoy threw himself to the ground beside her with an almost military precision.
Olivia was at Alex's side in seconds. Alex's opened her eyes and smiled, somewhat painfully, up at Olivia.
"Hit my vest," she said. "Nothing serious."
Relieved beyond measure, Olivia sprang back to her feet and scanned the crowd again. There - a figure, skirting towards her, looking to escape discreetly through the side exit. She pounced, almost feline, and heard people's gasps and yelps of surprise as she landed, tumbling onto the shooter and pinning him firmly to the ground.
By that point, every single journalist was running back to their press van, trying desperately to be the first to report on the unexpected shooting. Olivia cuffed the shooter, and took time to look at him while retrieving his weapon.
He was ordinary, nondescript; if she had seen him in the street, she wouldn't have looked twice. He was of medium height, medium weight, medium-length hair of a medium brown, not desperately attractive but not hideous either, in a dark suit and white shirt. He could be anyone, anywhere. Instead, he was the man who had tried to kill the woman she was in love with. She only barely refrained from causing him bodily harm.
"Who the hell are you?" she spat. Alex's protective detail were approaching at a run, startled by the gunshot. The man said nothing. Olivia shoved his head backwards between her hands.
"Who sent you?"
He was mute. Practically steaming with frustration, Olivia handed him off to the uniforms and instructed them to take him to the 1-6, where she would deal with him personally.
And then she was back at Alex's side. McCoy had moved her away from the podium to an alcove, where she was sitting, winded, but essentially alright. Olivia's suit and shirt had two neat bullet holes at Alex's waist.
"Alex," Olivia said. Alex reached up her arms, in such an uncertain, gentle gesture that Olivia felt all of her black fury dissipate clean away. Olivia held her for a moment, felt her heart beat, felt the soft brush of her breath against her own skin, and was reassured that, once again, Alex Cabot had cheated death.
"You must stop doing this," Olivia said, and Alex laughed softly in her ear.
"I owe you a new suit," she said. "Remind me later."
McCoy coughed, not ungraciously, and they broke apart. His expression was not irate, or even surprised; it was, overwhelmingly, amused.
"Alexandra. Do please tell me this shooting nonsense won't become a regular feature of your time here?"
Alex looked over at Olivia, whose hand was still held loosely in her own, and let an exhausted, brilliant smile spread across her face.
"No, Jack. That ought to be the last of it."