Chapter 1:  Alien

May 2005


After two long, emotionally exhausting years, Alexandra Cabot had finally been released from Witness Protection when the DEA informed her that Cesar Velez and several members of his drug cartel had been assassinated.  She had been back in New York City for two weeks and was still trying to reclaim the pieces of her old life and transfer everything back in her name—her real name.  The amount of paperwork was tremendous.  Not only did she have to take care of her own financial and legal matters, but she also had to take care of her mother’s matters, which included estates, accounts, securities, and various other assets. 


It was all pretty alien to her at first.  For the past two years, she had gotten so used to being other people at different points in time that she wasn’t sure if she could be Alexandra Cabot again.  She wondered if this was how prisoners felt when they were released, if it took them some time to acclimate to their old surroundings again.  However, she decided that her experience was worse.  After years of prosecuting criminals and making sure victims received justice, she knew that the criminals’ sentences were rightly justified.  Her sentence, however, was not.  She had been forced to be a prisoner inside her own body, had her life and everything she valued taken from her, and she had committed no crime.  Most of all, she had had the love of her life ripped from her just when they were taking their relationship to a deeper level.  That caused her to suffer the greatest pain of all.  She had felt so lonely and empty during her time in Witness Protection that she had started a few meaningless relationships just to numb some of the pain.  However, she had always longed for Olivia.  Olivia was the first thought on her mind when she woke up and the last thought on her mind before she fell asleep at night.


The most aberrant thing about all this is that she should have been ecstatic to be allowed to return to New York City and reclaim not only her old life and friends but Olivia as well.  However, she had a mounting sense of trepidation.  What her time in Witness Protection had taught her was that nothing was certain; the things one valued the most could easily be taken away in the blink of an eye.  She had already lost Olivia once and the immense pain she felt as a result left a huge hole in her heart.  It was as if a part of her soul had been lesioned.  But if something happened that forced her to lose Olivia again, it would completely debilitate her emotionally; she felt that she could literally die from the heartache.  She had begun to think that it may be better to decide not to have Olivia this time than to deal with the agony that would result if she lost her again.


The other predominant reason she was wary of regaining her relationship with Olivia had to do with her political aspirations.  On top of everything, District Attorney Arthur Branch had informed her that she had been appointed the position of Bureau Chief to a group of young ADAs.  Of course, she had always had excellent prosecutorial skills, which was why she had been assigned to adjudicate SVU cases in the first place five years prior, but she was certainly the youngest ADA to ever become a bureau chief.  She was excited about her promotion, since it would have taken her several years to reach this position if she had not been shot and ushered into Witness Protection, but it also brought about certain dilemmas. 


She had always been an ambitious, politically motivated person.  One of her biggest aspirations was to be DA one day or to receive a position in the United States Attorneys Office.  She was strong, extremely intelligent, and came from a well-connected affluent family.  Her dreams were very much well within her grasp since she had a considerable advantage over other similarly-aspiring candidates, and she was determined to accomplish them one day.  However, there was one big obstacle in her path—her sexuality.  Even with the background and ambition that she had, politics could be very difficult for a woman who was a lesbian.  Over the years, she had learned to repress the majority of her emotional and sexual desires to achieve the things she’d valued most in life. 


This had proven to be no easy task, but it was manageable.  She had had female sexual dalliances during college and law school, but they were far and few between, and she usually avoided them afterwards for fear of being outed.  Once she had graduated law school, she thought about what was best for her pending political career.  She opted for meaningless flings or relationships with the opposite sex because they were safer for her and much less complicated.  She knew the role she was expected to play, and over time she had become quite good at it.  However, all these social restrictions she had woven into her life began to unravel when she met Detective Olivia Benson of the NYPD.  She could no longer just run from her sexuality.  From the moment she set eyes on her the first day she walked into the Special Victims Unit squad room, she began to fall for her and couldn’t have stopped herself even if she’d wanted.  She knew it was dangerous territory, but part of her derived satisfaction from giving into her heart’s desires for a change. 


They had established a flirtatious game of cat and mouse—throwing lingering, sometimes sexually charged gazes, letting their hands lightly brush as they exchanged files or walked down the hall, and standing or sitting so closely together that they completely invaded the other’s personal space.  They continued tap dancing around each other until Alex invited Olivia over one night after a particularly draining case for both of them.  From their first electrifying kiss, they knew that they were meant to be together.  Of course, they encountered a few stumbling blocks along the way because neither was particularly easy to be with, and thus they sometimes clashed.  But they always returned to each other after the dust had settled. 


That’s why the hardest part about being forced into Witness Protection was leaving Olivia.  She had begged and pleaded with the U.S. marshals to let her tell Olivia goodbye.  Of course, she had requested that Olivia’s partner, Elliot Stabler, be there as well, but his presence was just a formality.  It was Olivia whom she focused on during the few short moments they had together.  Now the hardest part about being home could be not having Olivia due to another force beyond her control.  This time around, she was determined to maintain control over every aspect of her life.  It took some deliberation, but she had come to a decision.  Now all she had to do was tell Olivia.


A few days later, she concluded that she had put off seeing Olivia long enough.  Summoning up all the courage she could muster, she picked up the phone.