DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: For those of you wondering just how nasty this could get… This instalment relies heavily on canon events, particularly Season 4's "Disappearing Acts". If you haven't seen it recently, it could be worth a repeat viewing to help put this one in context. Angst and plenty of bad language ahead. Spoilers for 3.18 Guilt, 3.20 Greed, 3.21 Denial, 4.03 Vulnerable and 4.05 Disappearing Acts. This 'Contradiction' is dedicated to my angst-loving friend, to acknowledge her extraordinary act of selfless heroism. You're one in a million, Jools, and you've touched someone's life in the most profound and uplifting way: this one is for you.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Sum of Contradictions: 36 Incandescent
By beurre blanc


"Who does she think she is? Goddamn it!"

"Cool it, El."

"No way, Liv. This is just crap! We put our asses on the line back there, and they fucking treat us like criminals! What are we supposed to do? The FBI won't give us access to their witnesses, or our victim, they stonewall us until it's so damned obvious we're sniffin' around, and then it's our fault when some asshole pops their guy?"


"And then, if that ain't enough, Miss High-and-Mighty Ice Princess reads it to us like we're in grade school!" 'As law enforcement officials you were well aware of the risks, and you disregarded them for your own benefit'. "Who does she fucking think she is?"

Olivia tightened her jaw, and checked over her shoulder as she indicated a left turn.

"And then she's all 'US Attorneys get a lot of leeway'. Leeway? Fucking bullshit excuse for what they did! They goddamned washed us out us and then hung us up to dry, and Alex is fucking standing by and handing the FBI the pegs!"

Shut up, Elliot. "Ok, Elliot, I hear you." Just. Shut. The. Fuck. Up!

"And what about that 'I don't suppose you'll let me do the talking?' crap – what was that all about, Liv? Liv?"

Olivia offered him a tired look. "Can we talk about something else?"

"Aww, come on, Liv. She's in your face too."

"I know, El. But I'm driving, and…"

"You know, Liv, I really thought Alex had changed. I mean, these last few months, we've closed some real tough cases, and she's been in that courtroom fighting every bit as hard as us and looking like she'll finally prove she's not just some Ivy League political climber. And now, suddenly, it's 'I can't get you a removal order', and 'this is your fault for trying to show up the feds' and she just goes and pisses that all out the window? Geez, I'd fucking hate to be the guy doin' her – one wrong move and she'd freeze your dick off!"

"Hey, Alex."


"Just wanted to let you know Mike's all set, and he wants us to meet next week. Apparently Lisa's due a week after, and he's keen to get things mapped out before then. That OK with you?

"Fine, I guess. When?"

"Some night next week - maybe Tuesday? Oh, and I talked with Charlie – he's out of town this week, but he says he'll call you when he gets back to check what we've decided."

"Fine, Trevor. Let's say Tuesday, then. OK?"

"How about 7:30 at Fitzgerald's? I'll make dinner reservations for afterwards."

"Sounds good. See you then."


"Hi. It's me."

Olivia took a deep breath and pressed her lips together as an uncomfortable silence bloomed between them.

"Are you OK?"

"I'm fine." No thanks to you.

The silence settled thickly again, redolent with things unsaid.

Finally, Alex cleared her throat. "Uh, Liv, I just wanted to let you know that I'll be working this weekend, and also I'll be out on Tues-,"

"Look, Alex, I'm really not in a very good mood right now. Being interrogated by the Feds," and then being left high and dry by the woman who keeps telling me she loves me "isn't my favorite way to spend a Friday afternoon."

"Anything I can do?"

Nice of you to offer… "No, I don't think so. I just – I need some time. OK?"

"Uh, sure…"

"Look, I'm not… I'll call you."

Alex sighed as she reached for the phone. "ADA Cabot."

"Alex?" The cheerful voice which greeted her brought an instant smile to her lips. "Alex, it's Charlie Banks."

"Charlie! Hey, how are you?"

"I'm great, actually. Better than. So, you and Trev and Mike come up with a date and time for us to get this thing happening?"

"Next Tuesday night. Trevor suggested we start at Fitzgerald's, and then we can go for dinner afterwards."

"Aw, no, not Tuesday!"

"Excuse me?"

"Tuesday is impossible for me – I've got Marcie's school play that night. She's gonna be The Queen of The Night or something. Either way, though, I can't miss it or I'll never hear the end of it."

"Hey, Charlie, that's a shame. I was hoping you'd be the voice of reason – you know what Mike and Trevor are like when the get together. How about calling me on Wednesday and I'll tell you how it went?"

Detective Benson gave a cursory knock before entering ADA Cabot's office.

Alex looked up slowly from her desk, sensing the brunette's barely-furled fury. She eyed Olivia with studied impassivity before standing and motioning to one of the client chairs, recalling with distinct unease the last time such a situation had arisen; a fleeting and rapidly-suppressed expression suggested that Olivia's mind was suddenly possessed of thoughts none too dissimilar.

Alex sat down again opposite Olivia, staring, as the silence between them congealed. The detective's jaw clenched and then slackened again as she considered what to say. And what not to say.

"Go ahead, Detective. Why don't you just tell me what the problem is?"

Olivia shook her head slowly as multiple accusations battled for precedence. "Case against Gavin Sipes is closed."


"Russian mob closed it for us…"

"Why wasn't I told?"

Olivia shrugged, but her gaze never wavered. "I'm telling you now."

Another oppressive silence stretched between the two women, until finally the brunette had had enough. "How dare you, Alex?" she demanded suddenly. "Where the hell do you get off talking to me and Elliot like that, huh? Telling us we were only pursuing this case so we could – how did you put it – 'show up Federal Officers'? How. Dare. You?"

The attorney said nothing, waiting for the wave to crest.

"I mean, come on Alex… Just how stupid and naïve do you think we are? Did you really think we gave away the location? Jesus!" Olivia stopped her pacing and spun to face Alex. "And one more thing - AUSA Williams knew it was Gavin, the minute we said our suspect was diabetic. Did you know that? That's blatant obstruction of justice, and from a much-vaunted Federal Officer, no less. And still you have the gall to say we were just trying to get one up on the Feds?"

"That's not what I said-,"

"Not what you…? That fucking is what you said, Alex. You said it straight to my face."

Alex closed her eyes, but her jaw remained set. She laid her palms on the desk, preparing to stand. "What I said was that-,"

"I don't believe this!" Olivia swung around, arms flung melodramatically wide. "The Queen of Grandstanding is sitting here telling me I only went after a rapist so I could big-note myself?"

"Grandstanding? What the hell?" On her feet now, Alex stepped around her desk to meet Olivia head on.

"Yeah, Alex, grandstanding - and it's not like you don't have form." Olivia put her hands on her hips, issuing a direct challenge. "Spent any time in Judge Petrovsky's chambers recently?"

"Now wait a minute, Olivia! You know full well I put my career on the line for you over Barnett."

"No you didn't. You put your career on the line for Sam Cavanaugh, and for yourself."

"Oh, and being jailed for contempt over refusing to charge Claire Rinato? What was that?"

"Gee, you have a conveniently short memory, Alex. Petrovsky jailed you for contempt when you insisted on charging Grace Rinato alone, without reference to Claire. All you wanted was a quick conviction, and you refused to wait for all the evidence to come in. Then, when it did, Petrovsky had to point it out to you. Face it, Alex, you just won't accept being wrong."

"And you have a convenient way of missing the big picture, Olivia. If I hadn't pushed the envelope with Petrovsky over Barnett and Todd, she wouldn't have felt the need to show me who's boss. Judge Petrovsky jailed me for contempt because she wanted to. It was a power play – nothing more."

"Oh, yeah, and why was that? Oh, I remember," Olivia added with weighted sarcasm, "Because you pissed her off by grandstanding in her courtroom!"

"Damn it, Olivia, I used every ounce of creativity and every goddamned trick at my disposal to get us those convictions. You, on the other hand, still don't seem to recognize that your single-minded pursuit of Peter Sipes, one which ultimately cause his death and that of a US Federal Marshall, was based merely on the fact that you couldn't see anything beyond getting a rapist behind bars! Hell no! No rapist is going to get away from Detective Olivia Benson… What does it matter that Sipes was a crucial witness to hundreds of murders? Why should you let go of your opinion that he was also a rapist? An opinion that was proved wrong, by the way!"

As she spoke Alex witnessed Olivia's anger transform from controlled to incandescent; the detective's wrath reached a level which Alex had never previously witnessed, and it rendered Alex both speechless and scared. She had never felt anything like the menace Olivia was now radiating, and it took all her reserves of trust to stand her ground in the face of it.

But stand she did – she stared unflinchingly into the face of her lover, her stance firm as her mind battled to divine exactly what had wrought the change, and her ego encouraged her to match it, blow for blow.

And then, without warning, something in Olivia seemed to collapse.

"Fuck you, Alex." It was no more than a whisper, derisive and curt, but Olivia's departing sneer cut deeply, and drew forth as nasty a response as Alex could muster.

"You already did, Olivia," she said to the detective's retreating back. "It didn't help.

The End

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