Repercussions (part 1 of 2)

The small brass bell mounted on its frame jingled as Alex Cabot pushed open the door to the flower shop. The sweet, organic smell of roses, irises, orchids, and a dozen other flowers suffused the air. The scent of fresh coffee mixed with the flowers’ sweetness in just the right proportions to remind Alex of the lingering smell of Olivia’s perfume on the empty pillow she’d awakened to this morning.

Alex inspected the arrangements in the cold cases as she waited for someone to emerge from the work room at the back of the store. Alex’s heart rate quickened as the memory of Olivia’s mouth on her breast streaked across her mind.


She turned to find Jonas Issacson regarding her with more than a little confusion.

“Did I forget a family birthday? Please tell me you’re not here for a funeral arrangement.”

“It’s good to see you too Jonas,” Alex said with a smile as she crossed the intervening space to receive his offered bear hug.

Jonas squeezed her tightly. He released her and caught her serious expression. “Dear god, you are here for a funeral arrangement.”

“I have a…situation, and I need some advice Jonas.”

“Flower advice is the only kind I’m good at Alex, you know that.”

Alex nodded. “I need the right flowers Jonas. They need to be convincing but not…”

“Pushy,” he finished, a question in his tone.


“Convincing ‘I’m really sorry’ convincing or convincing ‘I want to take you to bed’ convincing?”

Alex allowed a small smile to touch her lips.

“Well then,” Jonas said, returning Alex’s smile, “I think I have just the thing for you.”

Olivia Benson scrubbed a hand across her eyes and yawned as she fast scanned the last of a tall stack of video tapes. The perp had posed as a room service waiter to gain access to his victims’ rooms. He’d targeted mid-priced hotels with less than cutting edge security. So far he’d been careful to avoid hotels with more than a single camera per floor. He’d finally slipped up by going back to the first hotel he’d hit. They’d upgraded the security on most of their floors since the first attack.

She and Elliot had been working this case for weeks, interviewing and re-interviewing bellhops and cleaning crews to find anyone who might have seen the guy. Lack of sleep, and random flashbacks to the sound and smell of Alex, did nothing to help Olivia’s concentration.

She stood and stretched, loosening muscles that never quite had the chance to relax into deep sleep the night before. Alex had dropped off almost immediately but Olivia found herself wide awake in the unfamiliar surroundings. She’d also surprised herself with her unwillingness to get up right away and go home. Her stomach growled, coffee for breakfast and too long a wait for lunch. “Where did he go for those sandwiches? Home to Queens,” she thought, glancing at her watch.

The video tape rewound automatically as it hit the end of the cassette. Olivia shut off the machine when it finished. The sunlight streaming in the windows of the squad room had her blinking rapidly as her eyes adjusted. It took her a few seconds to notice the vase sitting in the middle of her desk. The five dusty purple flowers that surrounded it made the single longstemmed red rose that much more vivid “When did these come?”

“During your marathon movie viewing,” Munch said without looking up from the paperwork on his desk, “I signed for them but was a gentleman and refrained from reading the card.”

Olivia plucked the small envelope from the plastic holder at the side of the vase. She slit the sealed flap. Thank you for a memorable evening. -A. Olivia folded the card and slid it back into the envelope. The silky brush of the rose petals brought back the feel of Alex under her hands.

“Are those tulips,” Elliot asked, putting a bag from the carryout on her desk.

Olivia shook her head. “Roses of some sort.”

“Sterling roses,” Fin said, putting an identical bag down on top of Munch’s paper work.

Munch picked up the bag with two fingers and moved it aside. Olivia slipped the envelope and card into her pocket.

“They signify a courtly, romantic intention,” Fin continued, “and they’re not cheap.”

“When are flowers ever cheap,” Munch said looking at his partner, “and when does sending them ever have a point?”

“You don’t have a romantic bone in your body. That’s your problem,” Fin said, shooting his partner a pointed look.

“How not cheap,” Elliot asked.

“Between $80 and $125 a dozen usually. Not that it matters if the sentiment is appropriate.”

“Must have been a hell of a date,” Elliot said, biting a big hunk out of his sandwich.

“It was…memorable,” Olivia said, skimming her fingers over the rose petals again.

Her stomach protested yet again as the aroma of lunch rose from the slightly greasy deli bag Elliot had dropped on her desk. Her lips were just closing around the crispy edge of a BLT on wheat toast when Cragen stuck his head out of his office door.

“Olivia, Elliot…bring your lunches.”

“Did he ask your permission to take the pictures Amy,” Olivia asked, her eyes not leaving the 17 year old’s face.

Amy Stockwell nibbled at the ragged skin near her thumbnail. She could feel her mother’s eyes boring into her.

“Answer the Detective, Amy.”

Olivia glanced at Mrs. Stockwell and then back at Amy. “If he said or did anything to threaten you into doing the things in the photos he took away your ability to choose Amy. He had no right to do that.”

“Damon didn’t threaten me, OK. We were partying and Damon had his camera with him. He always has his camera with him. It was no big deal.”

“Partying? You’re having sex with the boy in those pictures,” Mrs. Stockwell said, her voice strained.

Olivia glanced at Elliot.

“Mrs. Stockwell, I need to get some information about Amy’s school schedule, her activities, ” Elliot said, drawing Mrs. Stockwell’s attention. “These things will help us track down the boy in the photo.”

Amy resumed gnawing on her thumb as Elliot escorted her mother from the room.

“Who is ‘we’ Amy,” Olivia asked.

“Me, Damon, and Jeff Erickson.”

“Just the three of you?”

Amy’s eyes slithered away from Olivia’s unwavering gaze. Olivia waited for the girl to answer. “Please let her say just the three of them,” she thought. Amy shook her head. “How many others were there Amy,” Olivia asked.

Stabler dropped into his desk chair and loosened his tie. Olivia had spent 20 long minutes coaxing a list of 8 boys’ names out of Amy Stockwell. She looked ragged to Elliot’s eyes as she dropped a fat file folder onto her desk.

“Do you believe this? Our budding Mappelthorpe gave her copies,” she said, yanking her chair from under the desk and sitting down.

“We’re going to have to wait until he gets back from his ski trip to talk to him,” Munch said, hanging his coat on the rack in the corner, “What do you want to bet there’s video tape of this ‘party’ floating around somewhere?”

Olivia ran her hands through her hair. What kids thought was acceptable was starting to frighten her. “We’ll be lucky if it’s not for sale on eBay by now.”

“Have we heard back from Cabot on the warrant,” Cragen asked.

Munch shook his head. Olivia lifted the receiver on her phone. She was halfway through dialing the number when Alex turned the corner into the squadroom. Despite her intention to maintain some distance, Olivia couldn’t stop her pulse from quickening at the sight of Alex clearly decked out for court in a dark suit and royal blue blouse that highlighted her blonde hair and blue eyes.

“I’ve been in arraignments all day. I just got your messages. What’s going on,” Alex asked, her glance not meeting Olivia’s eyes on its way to Cragen.

“Amy Stockwell. The mother called us because she found explicit pictures of Amy and a boy in her class in Amy’s room. She recognized the boy and when she couldn’t get any information out of Amy she became convinced her daughter had been raped.”

Alex set her briefcase down next to Olivia’s desk. She leaned against the edge of the desk, turning her back to the flowers but not before she noted the empty card holder at the vase’s edge. “You interviewed the girl?”

“Amy insists it was all consensual,” Olivia said, “All eight participants.”

“Could she have been drugged,” Alex asked, crossing her arms.

“She admits to four maybe five beers over the course of 3 hours. She remembers everything, which lets out a date-rape drug.”

“What about the photographer?”

“Damon Miller,” Munch said, reading from his notes, “School shutterbug, and avid skier. Always catches the first powder at Killington. He’s due back in town at the end of the week.”

Cragen crossed his arms.

“Can you get us a warrant Counselor?”

“How old was the girl when the photographs were taken?”

Olivia flipped through her notes. Munch’s phone rang. He answered it and opened his own notebook as he listened.

“Seventeen,” Olivia said finally.

Alex shook her head. “She’s above the age of consent. If she insists the activities were consensual we’ve got nothing to hang a case on.”

“Eight guys in a row can that be consensual, Olivia asked, her tone incredulous.

Alex turned to look at her. She worked hard to keep her face neutral and her mind on the case under discussion, ignoring the random images of Olivia her brain was throwing at her body “It is if she says it is.”

“What about the pictures? Do they give us anything,” Elliot asked.

“It might be an angle but I need more information,” Alex said, looking at Stabler. “See if he’s got a web site. If he does and the pictures are on it, I might be able to work with that.”

“So, we’ll get our kid photographer into interview and see what we can shake loose,” Cragen said.

Munch hung up the phone. “We’ve got another little issue. Our hotel door crasher hit another one.”

“Where’s the victim, at the hospital or still at the hotel,” Olivia said, standing and pulling her coat off the back of her chair.”

Munch shook his head. “Neither.”

After four years as a detective Olivia always expected that she’d be used to the hustle and bustle in the City Morgue’s main processing area. The hive of activity ran counter to the image she’d always held of a place that dealt with the dead.

Unlike the pastel and soft lighting of the family viewing rooms, the main processing area was strictly institutional issue. Green and white tiles climbed the walls to about 4 feet high, the plaster above them painted light enough to not be oppressive but dark enough to cover most stray marks. Metal file cabinets and desks formed a U-shape where paperwork was completed and sent off to the appropriate departments. Morgue attendants and Assistant Coroners joked, laughed, and ate lunch not 100 feet away from autopsy and cold storage rooms. In short, a normal work place on a normal day. Olivia steeled herself as she pushed open the door to Autopsy 4.

“You have to give her this, she fought back hard,” Dr. Melinda Warner said as she slapped the x-ray film onto the viewer. “Two of the fingers on her left hand and three on the right show pre-mortem fractures. Bruises on the palms, wrists, and forearms are definitely defensive wounds.”

“Anything from under her fingernails,” Olivia asked.

Warner nodded. “A good skin fragment from the right hand. We also got a nice sample from the rape kit. You get me a live perp to match it to and we’ll be able to get a good DNA lock for the trial.”

Elliot and Olivia exchanged worried looks.

“That’s it. I’m done,” Elliot said tossing his pen onto his desk.

Olivia looked up from the case file she was reading. “Done? Have you looked at the first case file again? I’ve got it here somewhere.”

“Liv, I can’t see straight. It’s after 8 o’clock. I’m going home, and you should too,” Elliot said, standing up and pushing his chair back to his desk, “or better yet, call up Mr. Roses. I’m sure he’d love to see you again.”

Olivia’s eyes narrowed slightly. “What makes you say that?”

Elliot grinned, pulled his coat off the coat rack, and shrugged it on.

“At $80 a dozen I’d want to. Look, it will all be here in the morning.”

Olivia nodded. “I know. I just want to finish up this one thing.”

Elliot gave her a little wave as he left the squadroom.

Alex tapped her pen on her desk blotter while she waited for LexisNexis to process her query on cases similar to Amy Stockwell’s.

While she waited she let her mind wander to the issue of a certain NYPD Detective. With a bit of concentration Alex could almost hear Olivia whispering in her ear. It didn’t take much concentration on top of that to recall Olivia’s strong hands on her thighs. Hot on the heels of that was the memory of the slightly sick feeling she’d stomached before walking into the SVU squadroom a few days ago. “But when is romance ever simple,” she thought.

Alex glanced at the phone. She was just about to pick up the receiver when her computer beeped to signal results available from the database. She was surprised by the number of hits the legal database had returned for cases involving photographs of consensual sex acts. Alex pulled a fresh pad out of her desk drawer and began noting case citations.

Olivia pushed back from her desk and made her way across the now mostly dark squad room to the coffee maker. The coffee pot held half an inch of black sludge that looked like it had been cooking all day. She snapped off the switch for the warmer plate and ran her hands through her hair massaging her scalp. Something about this latest hotel rape just wasn’t sitting right. The perp in the previous four rapes had been meticulous about not leaving DNA. All of his victims said he’d used a condom but CSU hadn’t found used ones at any of the crime scenes. Plus, there was something about the scene itself that was bothering Olivia. Maybe Elliot’s right.

Olivia glanced across the squad room at the vase of flowers half in shadow and half in the pool of light created by her desk lamp. The once tight blooms had relaxed and released their scent into the squadroom. Even at three days old they showed no signs of wilting. Olivia checked her watch. “9pm…what are the chances? I’ll get her voicemail and that will be that,” she thought as she picked up the telephone handset on her desk and dialed the number. Alex’s crisp voice came across the wire after the second ring.

“Alex Cabot.”

“You’re still there.”

Alex felt the adrenaline hit her system. “Just catching up on a little paper work.”

Olivia brushed her fingers through the roses in the vase.

“Listen…”   “Have you…”

They both spoke at the same time and then stopped. Olivia took a deep breath in the silence. “I’m sorry. You were saying?”

The worst thing she can do is say no. The thought flashed through Alex’s mind. “I was going to ask if you’ve had dinner yet,” Alex said, gripping the handset tightly. The tension had to go somewhere.

“I haven’t.”

“I’m about done here. Do you eat sushi? I’ve had this craving all day and I know a great place.”

“I’ll meet you.”

Alex pinched off another small lump of wasabi for the last of the spicy tuna rolls. Though it looked like a typical midtown hole-in-the-wall, the restaurant opened up into a mid-sized space inside the building’s first floor. She had always chosen this place for the freshness of the sushi. It wasn’t until she’d spent several minutes sitting across the table from Olivia that Alex realized how intimate the setting was, and how right that intimacy felt.

The three days between sending the flowers and Olivia’s call had passed easily, but not without distraction, for Alex. Just that morning, the alarm clock had deprived her of the lush orgasm she was sure would have been the end of a vivid dream featuring Olivia’s hands and mouth. Alex pulled her mind back to the current conversation.

“So what is it that’s bothering you about this crime scene,” she said, using her chopsticks to stuff the lump of wasabi into the sushi roll.

“If it’s the same guy, he’s never killed before, but I’m not sure it’s the same guy. There are just too many things that are different.”

“Such as?”

Olivia crunched a few fresh soybeans and placed the empty pod on top of the growing pile on the serving plate in the middle of the table. She ticked off the anomalies on her finger as she went through them. Alex nodded.

“What’s been released to the media? Is it enough for a copy cat to set something up?”

Olivia shook her head. “I don’t know but I’ll have a look,” Olivia said, meeting Alex’s eyes, “Maybe we should get you into case meetings more often. You might be able to give Huang a run for his money.”

Alex smiled. “I don’t solve them. I put them away.”

“And you love that part don’t you?”

“I love the law Olivia. It’s about order, and it’s stable.”

“How can you think anything about Amy Stockwell’s case is orderly?”

Alex shook her head as she swallowed the last of her tea, her palate still processing the sweet after effects of real wasabi. “I don’t, but I’m bound by the law.”

“So we’re back to consent belonging to the individual,” Olivia said, raising one eyebrow. “What about the consequences?”

“As an officer of the court I can’t worry about them if the fall outside the bounds of the law’s purview.”

“And what about as a human being, Alex?”

“What Alex the human being and Alex the lawyer think don’t always agree, you know that” Alex said, laying her chopsticks across the top of her now empty plate.

A small grin played across Olivia’s mouth, and something low in Alex’s belly clenched tight in a not unpleasant way.

“So you admit that lawyers aren’t human then,” Olivia said, humor ribboning through her voice.

Alex smiled. “My god she’s beautiful when she lets herself really smile,” Olivia thought.

“Now you’re just baiting me, Detective.”

“I might be at that.”

Their waitress approached, placed the check between the two women, and retreated to the bar. Alex picked up the bill and glanced at it. She reached into her purse for her wallet.

“I hope you’ll let me buy you dinner,” she said pulling out the right number of bills. “It was my invitation.”

“But I did call you.”

“True, but I picked the restaurant,” Alex retorted with a grin, “and I happen to have the check.”

The waitress crossed to the table. She took the check and payment. “Do you need change?”

Alex shook her head. The waitress smiled her thank you and went back to the bar. Alex looked at her watch. They’d spent more than two hours over dinner and conversation.

“You need to go,” Olivia said, noting Alex’s gesture.

“I do. I’m on the early calendar tomorrow, and they’re about to throw us out.”

Olivia glanced around the restaurant, realizing for the first time that she and Alex were two of but a handful of customers still dining.

“Next time I’ll pick the place and you’ll let me buy you dinner. How does that sound?”

Next time, the words echoed in Alex’s head. She nodded. “I’d like that.”

Outside the restaurant Olivia’s hand twitched as she fought the desire to take Alex’s hand. She pulled on her gloves as they walked toward the corner and a more suitable place to catch a cab.

“I never did thank you for the flowers,” Olivia said, glancing at Alex out of the corner of her eye. “They’re still gorgeous.”

“I’m glad you liked them. I’ll have to tell my florist they’ve stayed fresh.”

“You have your own florist?”

Alex grinned. “He’s a friend, and brilliant with flowers professionally. His apartment is dizzyingly full of plants.”

“He knows about your personal life?”

“Jonas and I don’t have a lot of secrets, and yes, he knows a bit about why I sent you the flowers. Why do you ask?”

Olivia shook her head. “I just thought that you kept your private life private.”

“I do. That doesn’t mean I don’t have friends,” Alex replied, a hint of anger curling around her words. Alex stopped on the corner and waived her hand to flag down a cab approaching the intersection. The cab got caught at the red light but the driver flashed his lights to acknowledge Alex’s call. Olivia put her hand on Alex’s forearm. The contact, even through the thick camel hair of her overcoat, sent a shiver through Alex.

“I didn’t say you don’t have friends.”

“You’re right. You didn’t.”

“It would help if I knew what the rules are Alex. I’m good with rules,” Olivia said, grinning, “Plus, that way, I’ll know when I’m breaking them.”

“And you think I know,” Alex shook her head, “Sorry to disappoint but I don’t.”

Olivia stepped closer to Alex as the light turned green. “How about we make them up as we go along then,” she whispered, leaning in to kiss Alex gently.

Alex felt her body begin to respond, with heat. The cab she’d hailed rolled to stop at the curb. Alex pulled away from Olivia’s kiss. “I should go before I do something stupid like invite you home,” Alex said with a smile.

“You should go before I do something stupid like say yes.” Olivia reached past Alex to open the cab’s door. She shut the door behind Alex and put glove covered palm against the glass.

Alex matched Olivia’s hand with her own for a few seconds. The driver moved away from the curb, merging into traffic. Olivia turned and started walking in the opposite direction.

Across the street Elizabeth Donnelly pulled on her own leather gloves. She’d recognized Alex Cabot immediately. “And Detective Benson…How very interesting,” she thought as she adjusted her scarf against the slight breeze.

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