Chapter 22:  Small Favors

“I really enjoyed meeting all your coworkers tonight,” Robert replied with a warm smile as they arrived at Alex’s door.


Alex smiled back.  “I’m sure they all enjoyed meeting you as well.”  Well, most of them, she thought.  Arthur Branch had taken quite a liking to Robert, and she was proud to have her boss’s approval.  But she remembered how Jim’s face completely fell when she had walked in with Robert.  She had tried to make their introduction as smooth as possible before quickly moving on to the next person.  Luckily, Jim had managed to plaster a smile on his face long enough to shake his hand and exchange a few pleasantries.  After making her rounds, when she wasn’t glued to Robert’s side, she busied herself with conversing with her coworkers and staff.  Save for some small talk with Jim when they found themselves alone at the punch bowl, she tried to ignore him as much as possible for the duration of the party. 


Robert brushed some hair back from her face.  “What are your plans for the rest of the night?”  He secretly hoped that she would invite him in for a few minutes, if not longer.


Alex sighed.  “I have to prepare notes for a few meetings tomorrow, and after that I’ll probably take a long, hot bath and then turn in.”


Robert nodded regretfully.  “I understand.  Well, don’t work yourself too hard, sweetie.”


She pulled him to her and gave him a quick kiss on the lips.  “I’ll try not to.  Have a good night.”


“I will.  Give me a call later if you’re not too busy.”


“All right,” Alex agreed.  She watched the elevator doors close on him and then went into her apartment.


After a quick shower, she changed into a fresh set of clothes and grabbed her coat, keys, and purse.  She had a special errand to run before she reached the destination she’d been dreaming about all night—Olivia’s.




Olivia looked through her peephole and was surprised to see Alex standing there with her hands tucked sneakily behind her back.  She opened the door and Alex quickly brought her hands forward, revealing a bouquet of red roses.  “Surprise!” Alex said, grinning widely.


“Alex, what did we—” Olivia began.


“Don’t be alarmed, silly.  These are for your centerpiece, not you.”


“Don’t split hairs, Alex,” Olivia said, shaking her head but taking the bouquet from her anyway.


Alex walked in and closed the door.  “How was your day?”


“Pretty good.  Although I could’ve done without Elliot’s off-key caroling at the party tonight.”


Alex laughed.  “There was a lot of that over at the courthouse.  And trust me, it’s even worse when it’s drunken off-key caroling.  The whole time I was there, I was thinking about how I missed the Christmas parties at the precinct.  All you guys really made me feel like part of the team.”


“Well, you were part of the team,” Olivia said matter-of-factly.


“Yeah, I know.  But what I mean is that I didn’t feel like an ADA.  I just felt like they accepted me as if I were a fellow cop.”


Olivia smiled.  “We all miss ya.  You should stop by more often.”


Alex nodded.  “I’ll have to do just that.”  She took the roses from Olivia and carefully arranged them in the vase on the sofa table.  “Don’t these just liven up the room?”


“I guess they do.  They are beautiful.”


“But not as beautiful as you.”


Olivia cocked her head.  “Alex…”


“Hey, can’t friends give each other compliments?” Alex asked with a mischievous grin.


Olivia rolled her eyes in mock disgust.  “You were practically licking your lips as you said it.”


“And that’s a bad thing because…?”


Olivia couldn’t stop herself from laughing.  “You’re lucky I’m not kicking you out of my place right now.”


“For such a minor offense?” Alex teased.


“But your minor offenses often turn into major ones.”  Alex started to say something but Olivia continued, “And don’t even make a joke about me handcuffing you.”


Alex chuckled.  “No wonder you’re such a great detective.”


“Buttering me up, Cabot?” 


“Just stating the obvious.  By the way, how’s it going over there?”


“Good.  We just wrapped up a case where a little boy witnessed his mother get shot.  It turned out that the killer was a philanthropist named Ted Carthage, who used Nathan’s mom’s meth addiction to turn her into his prostitute.  Nathan shot him in revenge.”


“How old is he?”


“Fourteen,” Olivia answered.


“Did he have a good lawyer?”


“Yeah, Sophie Devere.”


“Was he convicted?”


“No.  Casey had offered Nathan a plea bargain, but the proceedings were interrupted when Mrs. Carthage’s lawyer showed up and gave Donnelly a restraining order barring her from accepting Nathan’s plea.”


“Why?” Alex wanted to know.


“The NGA got involved to contest research showing that witnessing gun violence bred more violence because they were afraid they’d be held accountable for kids committing murders,” Olivia explained.  “So Casey and Liz teamed up with Nathan’s defense attorney against Carthage’s.”


“Who was representing the Carthage family?”


“Mike Geddes.  He wanted Nathan to testify in the hopes that he would incriminate himself.  But by doing that, he fell right into their trap.  Devere asked Liz for a mistrial and she granted the motion, then Casey pitched in and got Judge Malloy to dismiss the evidentiary hearing.” 


Alex smiled and nodded in understanding.  “That’s the perfect strategy; that idiot forced him to violate his right against self-incrimination and practically freed him himself.  I can’t stand Geddes anyway.  Mike Randolph was up against him not too long ago, and luckily he wiped the floor with him.”


Olivia smiled.  “Good.”


“So what happened to Nathan?” Alex asked.  “Did he end up in the system?”


“I introduced him to his new foster parents after everything was dismissed.  He trusts me; we formed a nice little bond.  That was a couple days ago, so I hope he’s settling in fine.  I’ll probably call next week to check up on him.”


“You’ve always been so great with kids,” Alex said, giving her an admiring smile.  “Is Liz still over the moon about being on the bench?”


“Oh yeah.  She’s lovin’ it.  It’s too bad that they can’t transfer you back over to SVU.  You’d be great as our bureau chief.”


Alex smiled.  “That would be wonderful.  Who knows?  If they don’t fill the spot, maybe I will be at some later point.”


“Yeah.”  Olivia stood up and offered, “You want some eggnog?”


“Well, I had a cup at the party, but I’ll gladly take some of yours.”


Olivia returned a couple minutes later with some eggnog and a plate of cookies.  “I brought some cookies back from the party.  Wanna help me finish them?”


“I’d love to,” Alex said, eagerly reaching for a cookie.  “These are so good!”  She reached for her mug and took a sip of eggnog.  “And I love how you sprinkled nutmeg on top just how I like it.”


“Thankful for small favors, huh?” Olivia asked, wrapping her fingers around her own mug and drinking some.  She looked over at Alex again and suddenly started laughing.  


Alex looked at her curiously and asked, “What is it?”


“You have a mustache,” Olivia informed her.


Alex ran her tongue above her mouth.  “Is it gone?”


“Yeah,” Olivia answered.  “Oh, how I wish I’d had my camera handy.  Can you imagine if I hung a photo up in your bureau somewhere?  I wonder how your ADAs would react to seeing their strict chief with an eggnog mustache.”


Alex laughed.  “That would be pretty funny.”  An idea suddenly popped into her head.  “Are you going to be free next week?”


Olivia creased her brow.  “Why?”


“Well, I thought we could spend some time together again before Christmas.”


Olivia knew Alex had something up her sleeve; she could tell from the excited twinkle in her eye.  “I dunno.  It depends on what day and what comes up.”


“Well, call me next week and let me know.”


Olivia folded her arms.  “You’re not gonna blindfold me and lead me to a bed covered with rose petals, are you?”


“No,” Alex said.  “I was hoping I could be creative and decorate the kitchen countertop with petals instead.”


“Alex!” Olivia gasped, throwing a pillow at her. 


The pillow bounced off Alex’s arm onto the floor.  “I was kidding!” she insisted.  She picked up the pillow.  “Don’t worry, you won’t object to anything I have planned.”


Olivia cocked her eyebrow and let a small smile cross her face.  “We’ll see.”