She stared at the picture that filled the front page of the morning paper. Her eyes were shimmering with unshed tears. She had known Alexandra Cabot. She had even liked her. She gently touched the picture, tracing Alex’s beautiful jaw line. A shiver went through her slender body. The feeling was painfully familiar, it always happened to her when someone was lost; getting hit by the overwhelming thoughts of missed opportunities. In her life it occurred far more often than she cared to think of. You would have thought that she would learn to treasure the moment. She sighed and glanced at the woman in the picture, looking into matching blue eyes, but the woman in the picture was eerily silent.
The last person she had lost had been Jewish. She had sat Shiva with the family. The tradition of reminiscing over the deceased’s life seemed comforting to her. Her thoughts automatically returned to Alex and she tried to remember the times their paths had crossed.
“Detective, you were the first person on the scene. Correct?” ADA Alexandra Cabot asked; her blue eyes fixed on the blonde detective in the witness stand.
“Yes. My partner and I took the call and were the first to arrive at the scene.”
“Can you please describe it to the court?”
She had given her statement exactly the way they had discussed the night before. When she finally fell silent she saw a hint of a smile on the beautiful ADA’s lips. She had done well. She smiled at her. Praise from Alex Cabot was almost as rare as from Judge Petrovski. The detective could almost feel the judge’s eyes on her.
“No further questions,” Alex said and took her seat.
“Detective, you may step down,” Judge Petrovski said in that voice that always made the little hairs in the back of her neck stand straight up.
She slowly got up and walked back down the isle. She noted Detective Benson from 1-6 sitting in the back. Changing direction she took a seat next to her.
“You did great,” Olivia whispered to her.
“Thanks.” She leaned closer. “I got the smile of approval,” she whispered and gently elbowed Olivia. She felt a tremor go through Olivia as she managed to quell the urge to laugh out loud.
“Good for you,” she mumbled.
The next witness had been sworn in and they turned their attention to the front of the courtroom again.
“Detectives,” she said and stopped in front of them. The young ADA’s navy blue power suit looked as crisp as it had this morning. Her lipstick looked like she had just applied it and her eyes were full of energy. She was the vision of victory.
“Congratulations Alex,” Olivia said and gave her a lopsided grin.
“Thank you,” she said and bowed her head just a fraction. “Much of it was thanks to some damn good detective work. You won this case just as much as I did.”
She smiled. More praise from the ADA. Unusual, but far from unpleasant. She glanced at Olivia from the corner of her eye and caught a glimpse of something. Her eyes darted back to Alex. There it was again. Her senses were instantly alerted. Was there something going on between these two?
“Can I interest the two of you in a victory drink?” she said and looked at Olivia.
“I’m in,” Olivia said.
She glanced at her watch. “I can do a quick one. Have to pick up the boys at six.”
Together they strolled down the halls of justice, the ADA flanked on each side by a detective. Had it not been for their relaxed body language and the frequent laughs, someone might have been tempted to think that the beautiful ADA had a protective detail.
Later as they were seated around a small table in the bar she again caught Olivia looking at Alex. When Alex excused herself to go to the bathroom she leaned across the table.
“Olivia, is there something going on between you and Alex?”
Olivia stared at her. “Why do you think that?”
She smiled. “Come on, I know your preference for blondes,” she said and winked.
Olivia touched her short blonde hair. “Are you flirting with me again detective?”
She smiled. “You’re trying to change the topic.”
Olivia shrugged. “I like her, that’s all.”
She nodded. “You’ve never struck me as afraid of anything Liv. Why don’t you ask her?”
Before she had a chance to ask why, Alex returned to the table. They had enjoyed another drink together with lots of laughter.
“I’m sorry, but I have to go. This was nice; we should do it more often.”
They both nodded and tapped their glasses against hers.
“Nite,” Olivia said with a smile.
“Good night. And thanks for working so hard on this case,” Alex said honestly.
“You’re welcome.” She gently squeezed Alex’s arm. “And congratulations again.”
Alex smiled. She really was a beautiful woman.
She grabbed her jacket and nodded a goodbye as she got up and left. A last glance over her shoulder confirmed her suspicion that Olivia had taken the seat she had just vacated – next to Alex. The two women were sitting close together. Very close together. She smiled. Maybe Olivia would be brave tonight.
She ran into Olivia now and then, but they had not been able to get together since their impromptu drinks with Alex. Each time they both smiled and apologized for not keeping in touch; again making promises to call and go out for drinks. Both knowing that there was fat chance of it actually happening, and both willing to ignore that fact.
Then the rumors had started. Olivia was seeing someone. Could it be Alex? She wanted to ask, but knew she couldn’t. Instead she had asked who, but all she got was a head shake. Don’t know. The rumors had finally died down. She wished she and Olivia had been closer so she could call and ask her. Surprised at the thought she had she leaned back in her seat. Why did she even care? Alex and Olivia were just slightly more than acquaintances, borderline friends, but not quite yet there. The truth was that the job took a huge toll on everyone, especially women. If Olivia had found happiness with Alex she was truly glad for her.
The rumors had never been confirmed. Soon no one even mentioned it anymore. She assumed that it had been just that – a rumor. If Olivia was openly dating Alex she would have heard about it. That was a given. She chuckled, and smiled sheepishly when four sets of eyes looked up at her. She reached for the phone and the eyes looked away. The true nature of cops. You get enough shit through the job; you don’t need to go digging for it from your colleagues. No one ever pressed her for her secrets, and god knew she had many. She put the receiver down as her partner walked in. Diane looked tired. She had dark circles under her eyes.
“Morning,” she muttered and sat down behind her desk.
She looked at her with compassion. Her partner was struggling with life, barely hanging on. She knew she would make it, but it was hard to watch. Damn hard. She sighed. She needed to get out and catch some fresh air. She grabbed her coat and purse.
“Come on, let’s go for a ride.”
Her partner nodded. She walked passed her and poked her head into the sergeants office. “We’re hitting the streets.”
“Sure,” he said, barely looking up at her.
She smiled. He was so predictable. The two detectives quietly left the squadroom at the 1-5.
A silent tear fell onto the paper. She touched it where it had landed on the woman’s cheek and her finger smudged. She sighed. She would miss Alex. Maybe Olivia would miss her more.
The apartment was quiet. The boys were at a sleepover. She finished her drink and put the glass in the dishwasher. On the street below the muffled honking of annoyed drivers announced someone’s mistake. Everything in the City was loud. Everything but a person’s silent grief. That was too personal and the City was not about that. New Yorkers knew that the way to survive was to grow a thick skin and yell out loud that you didn’t care what anyone else did or thought. The problem was that she did care. She cared a lot. Her mind made up she grabbed her bag and jacket and turned off the lights. As she closed the door she never noticed the streetlight outside shine through the window and land on the picture of the blonde ADA. Alexandra Cabot almost looked alive in the pale light.
The knock on the door startled her and she almost spilled her drink. She ignored it. Maybe they would go away. Another knock, this time a little harder.
“Go away,” she yelled.
Her head snapped up. The voice was female. This was an unexpected surprise.
“Who is it?”
“It’s Jill. Please let me in,” she said, her voice even huskier than usual, muffled as it was, coming through the closed door.
The door opened and a disheveled Olivia Benson appeared. She stared at the beautiful blonde standing outside the door. Detective Jill Kirkendall from the 1-5 cocked her head and gave her a little smile.
“I thought we could sit Shiva for her,” she said softly.
“She wasn’t Jewish,” Olivia said, her arms folded protectively around her.
Jill sighed. “I know. Neither am I, but I think it's a beautiful thing; a way of remembering the good times.”
For a moment she thought that Olivia was going to ask her to leave, and then finally she stepped aside and let her in. As they sat down on the couch she saw a tear roll down Olivia’s cheek. Without a word she pulled her into a comforting embrace. Jill held her as she succumbed to the tears that she had held back all day. Finally she fell asleep with her head on Jill’s lap, comforted by Jill’s gentle hand caressing her hair. Sometimes rumors are not just rumors…