Title: Loaded
Author: Amy Jo
Feedback address: js1n2001@yahoo.com
Date in Calendar: 17 December 2004
Fandom: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Pairing: Olivia/Alex
Rating: PG
Summary: Alex feels the weight of losing a case.
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC04

Disclaimer: Dick Wolfe and a bunch of people that aren't me own the rights to the show and the characters.


“You can't let it get to you like this.”  Simple words that hold so much meaning, so much truth.  

How many times today had someone told her that, or something close to it? Elliot said it just after the jury came back and had even gone so far as to throw his arms around her in what was meant to be a comforting hug. Liz had found time before rushing out of the office to make sure Alex knew she shouldn't take this as a personal loss. Even Cragen had called with an offer of dinner and friendly conversation to make sure she was doing okay.  

Olivia was conspicuously absent; the detective had been there every day for the trial after she was called as a witness but she wasn't there to hear the closing arguments today, she didn't drop by when the jury came back, and even now that it was long past sunset Alex still hadn't heard from her. The two had spent hours going through testimony in preparation for the trial; Alex had been sure that Olivia would take this loss almost as hard as she did, and the detective's absence only added salt to her wound.  

“Don't take it personally.”  

“You won't win 'em all.”  

Words that had become part of her daily lexicon, heard and used around the halls as often as 'prima facie case', 'insufficient evidence' and 'motion denied'. This wasn't the way it was supposed to be; this wasn't supposed to be a job that she did every day, took home with her at night, and followed her into her nightmares.  

Prosecuting was going to be this great career where she found purpose. An honor, a noble profession; certainly more satisfying than a job pushing paper in even the most well known Wall Street firm. Even if she did work long hours and take files home, she was going to be satisfied with the knowledge that her work was getting real results; that just maybe the streets really would be a little safer at night. Youthful idealism and exuberance; a fire, a passion, that dwindled and died out when faced with cold, suffocating reality.  

The words of her criminal law professor echo in her mind, haunting her.  

“Justice: A scheme or system of law in which every person receives their due from the system, including all rights, both natural and legal.”  

The book in his hands shuts with a loud snap, echoing through the lecture hall almost ominously.  

“That's what this book says justice is. This book is wrong. It doesn't matter how smart you are or if you have every word of the Penal Code memorized, you will never be able to ensure that 'every person receives their due'. There will always be someone who feels that justice hasn't been served. If you're lucky, that person will be the perpetrator, but more often than not, it's the victim who gets forgotten in the shuffle of papers and the making of deals.  

“Justice is fairness; but the world of criminal law is not black and white. It's the delicate balance of what is wrong and slightly less wrong. There are subtleties, varying levels of right and wrong. That may upset some of you, but when you take that job in the DA's office, or even that clerkship in the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals, you'd better remember that justice is not vigilantism.  

“Most of you will learn the law in this class and move on. A few of you will even think you can take what you learn in this class and move on to prosecute criminals. But only those of you that leave this class knowing that there is no clear line between right and wrong will be any good at it. Those of you who remember that there is a victim to every crime and who try to make sure that it is the victim who 'receives their due” will be great prosecutors.”  

The professor went on to explain that teaching, and learning, criminal law wasn't just about prosecution, but also defense. Alex had learned just as much, if not more, about prosecution when the professor went into great detail about various defense tactics. Over time she discovered that just because you know the tricks a good defense attorney will pull, it doesn't mean you're prepared for them.  

In that class, prosecuting seemed like a challenge; work that would keep her constantly thinking. Work that would make sure she didn't fall into the lull of a nine to five job and go home at night feeling as if there was something more, something greater, she could be doing with her time.  

Everything she learned in that class made her the prosecutor she was today. Today she felt like she failed.  


“Alex?” Olivia's voice breaks through Alex's thoughts.  

Taking a minute to clear her head, Alex simply offers Olivia a vague, “Hmm?”  

Olivia steps into the office and closer to the woman slumped in defeat behind her desk. “You okay Alex?”  

Alex tilts her head to glare at Olivia and bites out, “Not exactly.”  

Olivia is very practiced in the art of confrontations, but still that sharp riposte almost makes her flinch. “We're not going to be able to get 'em all, you know.”  

“Why does everyone always say that?” The bitter edge of Alex's tone does not go unnoticed. “How can you, of all people, say that?”  

Knowing that Alex has more to say, Olivia waits silently. How she responds to the counselor's anger will be determined by the words Alex uses and the tone of her voice. Sometimes the best way to placate Alex is to fight fire with fire, sometimes it's easier to use soothing words until the storm passes. More often than not, it's a combination of both.  

“All the work you and Elliot put into this. All the work you and I .…” Finally working out some of her anger, she continues, “Damn it, Olivia. I saw you in the interrogation room with that guy. You wanted to rip off his testicles and shove 'em right down his sleazy, slimy throat.”  

Momentarily surprised at Alex's choice of words, Olivia hesitates before saying anything. “We all wanted Crider to go down. Maybe we wanted it too much.”  

The blonde's stiff posture and cold glare reflect her anger, but the tone is questioning when she asks, “What?”  

Olivia knows she's treading on thin ice; if she doesn't choose her words carefully she will only fuel the fire of Alex's anger. After failing to put a man like Jason Crider behind bars, Olivia knew that the prosecutor would be disappointed and angry. Unfortunately diffusing the anger sometimes involved pointing out facts that Alex might not be ready to admit.  

“Alex, I'm just saying the case was thin. We wanted this one too bad and rushed the prosecution because of the statute of limitations.”  

Having had this argument on more than one occasion, Olivia steels herself for Alex's next maneuver.  

“Maybe if you guys had brought me more to work with, I would have had a stronger case.” The personal insult tells Olivia just how hard Alex is taking today's loss.  

“We brought you everything we had.” It wasn't the passionate defense of the detective's job that Alex expected to hear, wanted to hear. Olivia's voice is calm, not willing to get into the verbal bout that Alex is looking for. “Time was running out, Alex. You know that as well as I.”  

“I needed more.”  

“We wanted to give you more.” Everyone had worked hard to bring Alex more evidence as soon as the trial date was announced. For the better part of three weeks double and triple shifts were the norm at the squad. Olivia voice lowers as she offers something more personal, “I wanted to give you more.”  

They prosecuted too soon, pushed by the statute of limitations and the surprising defense move to not delay the trial, but rather to push fast and hard for the speedy trial that is the right of every defendant. Moving so quickly into trial was a good move for the defense, but it left the prosecution with minimal evidence.  

Silence hangs in the air, thick and stifling.  

“Where were you today?” Alex breaks the increasingly uncomfortable silence with a question Olivia expected, but still did not want to answer.  

“Got called out with Munch and Fin,” Olivia answers truthfully.  

“Why didn't Elliot go?” Alex pushes.  

“It was my decision,” Olivia tells her. The look Alex gives her makes it clear that she is not happy with that decision and Olivia hurriedly continues, “I thought one of us should be there when the jury came back.”  

Alex glares at Olivia, obviously unsatisfied with her explanation. “You were there for every day of that trial; you were our witness, not Elliot. And yet at the end of the day when the jury comes back, it's Elliot sitting there ready to reassure me that everything is going to be okay.”  

“You wanted me to be there,” the detective states the obvious.  

“Of course I wanted you there,” Alex tells her indignantly.  

“Why?” Olivia rises from the chair and moves behind the desk, leaning against the surface, inches from the chair Alex remains sitting in.   “Because,” Alex starts to say, the nearness of the detective stealing her words for a brief moment. “Because that one wasn't easy to lose.”  

“I know.”  

Alex absently notes that the hand brushing an errant strand of hair out of her eyes is steady and strong but also gentle and caring. The touch is comforting, and she leans into it as she lets go of the last traces of her disappointment from the jury's decision.  

“Do you know why I wasn't there?” Olivia asks quietly.  

“You said you got called out. I assume that means more work for the both of us.” Alex takes a look around her office and sees the stacks of files on almost every available surface. The blonde barely resists the urge to sigh at the thought of adding even one more.  

“I also said it was my decision on whether or not I wanted to head out with Munch and Fin. Elliot could easily have gone out on the call.” Olivia keeps her tone soft as her hand slides down Alex's cheek, gently turning the counselor's face up toward her.  

This, the thrust and parry of words, the questions she answers with deliberate vagueness, has proven to be the best way to get Alex through her anger. Olivia is purposely making the counselor think about the way she is answering the questions, making the other woman's mind work to decipher the answer. It's a distraction technique, but one that works rather well to keep Alex from focusing on her anger.  

She tried a few times to simply let Alex take out all her anger in a steady barrage of accusations, not fighting back. Alex would take jabs at Olivia's job, saying the detective and her partners had botched the investigation. In the beginning, the detective's response to the personal attack had been passionate but now she can see the attack for what it is. A diversion from Alex's disappointment in herself.  

Alex, as expected, pulls back from Olivia's touch asking, “Well then, why weren't you there?”  

Olivia pauses, debating how much she should tell Alex. The lingering touch that Alex allowed, even if she didn't realize it, and the admission earlier that Alex wanted her to be there for the verdict. Olivia wonders if maybe she is reading too much into things, but it is small things like this that keep her smiling on days when the job is unforgiving and she can feel herself losing the battle with her own anger.  

When Olivia takes too long to respond she notices the impatient look in Alex's eyes. “We both knew that Crider was going to walk away.”  

“Sounds like all the more reason for you to be there. Let him know you'll be keeping an eye on him,” Alex lowers her voice to almost a whisper before continuing, “Let me know you'll be keeping an eye on me.”  

Knowing that she will not forget those words and the way Alex said them, Olivia tries to lighten the conversation, “You need someone to keep an eye on you?” Seeing Alex frown, she continues with a small smile, “A joke, Alex.”  

With not even a small chuckle Alex asks again, “So why weren't you there?”  

“We both knew he was going to walk …”  

“We already covered that part,” Alex interrupts.  

“I thought you might want one of us there,” Olivia finishes, forcing herself not to voice a promise to be there next time and every time after.  

The gentleness of Olivia's tone softens the lingering anger in the counselor's eyes. It's obvious that there is more on the detective's mind, that something is being said without actually being put into words, but Alex senses that now is not the time ask. She pushes away from her desk and stands, the intense eyes of the detective following her.  

“So how much more work am I expected to do tonight?” Alex grabs her briefcase and turns to leave.  

“Oh not much,” Olivia says casually when Alex pulls the door shut behind them. “All we need you to do is make a deal with the devil.”  

Alex turns to see Olivia grinning impishly at her. “What?”  

“A deal with the devil, Alex,” Olivia repeats, already walking away. “After all, what fun would Halloween be without some nutcase out there thinking that we won't catch him just because he's wearing a costume?”  

Alex follows Olivia to the elevator, already visualizing the paperwork piling up in her office.