DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
SPOILERS: through Season 5, "Loss."
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Hilliard MacKenzie

"Olivia doesn't look well."

Alex discretely wiped a rolling tear from her cheek before turning to face the woman whose art at understatement was astounding. Alex's response was simple.

"She didn't know."

Jeanne-Marie Cabot gazed at her daughter, stress of the past 48 hours readily apparent on the younger woman's face.

Her mother looked like she had something to say, but several quiet moments passed between the women. The DEA agents in the front seat chattered away seemingly oblivious to their presence.

Light gray eyes searched Alex's face.

"How long have you two been back together?"

Alex snorted, the sting of irony.

"We're not."

The remark riveted familiar eyes, and Alex buckled within seconds.

"It was on again, off again, at best. You know that."

Her mother had been raised liberally in Europe and was indifferent to gender when it came to Alex's love life. However, Jeanne-Marie had been vocal about her distrust of Olivia, the woman who wavered between wanting to be with Alex, and at other times seeming to want no emotional ties.

Like it or not, Jeanne-Marie didn't deny the connection between her daughter and the detective. Alex had offered little personal detail about their relationship over the years, but Jeanne-Marie knew her only child well enough to know that Alex was in love with Olivia, and she suspected the feeling was mutual.

"Alex, I don not believe that emotions between two people may be qualified as `on' and `off', but for the sake of argument, I will point out that an abundance of `on' remains between you and Olivia. That is obvious."

It was one thing to know it and quite another to hear it confirmed by someone else. Alex allowed the bittersweet truth to seep in.

The last time had begun as a particularly emotional trial ended, leaving a trans-gendered young woman gang raped and clinging to life after Alex's conviction that sent her to Attica. It continued through the turbulent case of a serial rapist, a case that stretched both Alex and Olivia to personal breaking points.

And they had broken.

Since their first foray, Alex and Olivia had both remained keenly aware that the well-being of their friendship and working relationship had to come first. And, aware of Olivia's unwillingness to give their relationship a real, long-term chance, Alex knew that their stints as lovers, blissful as they were, would likely never be anything more than that.

Now that seemed a certainty.

When Alex spoke again, her voice was barely above a whisper, thick with loss.

"Anyway, it doesn't matter now."

Jeanne-Marie reached for her daughter's hand.

"Unfinished business never finishes itself."

How many times in her life had Alex heard that? It was one of Jeanne- Marie Cabot's hallmark expressions and it made Alex smile in spite of herself. She squeezed her mother's warm hand with her own, ignoring the pain emanating from her wounded shoulder.

"I'm sorry to put you through this."

Her mother returned the squeeze.

"If I am to experience a memorial service for you, I would be a fool to not be overjoyed that I do so with the knowledge that you, my sweet girl, are alive and well."

That did it. Pent up tears spilled down ivory cheeks and Alex let them fall, preferring the comfort of her mother's hands to the self- conscious erasure of emotion.

After many long moments, when the tears had stopped, Jeanne Marie kissed her daughter's free hand and released it.

"What happens now?"

"They'll keep a protective detail on you while they continue to watch -"

"What happens to you, Alex?"

"They're sending me to a safe-house, ostensibly for a few months. Then, when they are satisfied that I'm off of everyone's radar, I will be relocated."

"Will you be able to stay in touch?"

Alex assumed so, but was unsure. She glanced toward the front seat and found the agent in the passenger seat already turning around to face them.

"Alex will have a secure phone line and will be able to call you, yes."

The man turned back around and said something inaudible to the agent who continued to drive.

"I'll call you once I get settled, mom."


Hesitation and worry worked their way into Jeanne-Marie's face, as the SUV pulled to a stop outside a large wrought iron gate. The driver punched a code into the secured access box and the gate began to slowly retract, allowing them in. Once the gate was again closed, they drove on, a large, modern office building looming in the distance.

They pulled to a stop behind an idling cab, at the curb in front of the building's entrance.

Alex's brow furrowed.

"The cab is ours, don't worry."

The agent's words were comforting only until Alex looked at her mother. The beautiful woman looked her age for a change. The only other time Alex had seen this look was when her father had died. It made her whole chest ache that she was the cause of her mother's the sorrow now.

"It'll be alright, mom."

Her words were said with all the conviction she could muster.

Jeanne-Marie pulled her gently into an embrace. She smoothed Alex's hair as she spoke softly.

"I love you, sweetheart. Take good care of yourself and call me."

Alex's promise was a whisper.

"I will."

Jeanne-Marie pulled away, kissing Alex's cheeks in turn. Her door was opened by the agent who had been driving. Jeanne-Marie gathered her purse and swiveled to go - stopping mid-turn as she caught her daughter's eye.

"Think about doing something about that unfinished business of yours."

With that she surveyed her daughter's face one last time and climbed out. The door closed behind her and Alex sighed, relaxing into the soft leather seat.

She was definitely thinking.

The End

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