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Alex

"Has the jury reached a verdict?" The judge's voice sears through me like it's the knife and I'm the butter. If I'm going to win a case, I generally know it; I have a feeling, an instinct that flares up within in me.

"We have, Your Honor."

I have no such instinct right now. It is with a heavy heart and a flicker of hope that I await the verdict.

"On the sole count of the indictment, rape in the first degree, how do you find?"

I hold my breath.

"We find the defendant, Malcolm Halkyard, not guilty."

I expel my breath through my nose in a frustrated huff. I'm not surprised that we didn't win because this slimebag is one big schmoozer, but I still wanted to win this for Olivia. This case really got under her skin, and I'm pretty sure this loss will not do anything good for our home life.

When I see her storm out of the courtroom after Malcolm throws her a smirk, I know I'm right.

/

Olivia

I can't believe he got off. This guy molests six kids and he gets off. Of course, we could only prosecute one because of the statute of limitations, but still. He's a dirtbag, and he got off. It makes my blood boil.

I know I shouldn't be mad at Alex, but right now, it's the easiest thing for me to do. Being mad at her gives me something tangible to take my anger out on; being mad at the system doesn't.

I had planned on waiting for Alex so we could walk out together, but once Malcolm smirks at me, I can't stand it any longer. I bolt out of the courtroom and speed just as quickly back home, knowing that Alex is right on my heels.

I know it sounds callous and mean, but I can't wait until she gets home so I can rip her a new one.

When she doesn't come home in the next half hour, I decide not to wait for her. I go into the bedroom and lay down on the bed. I'm not trying to sleep, but it happens anyway. I wake up a few hours later to the sounds of Alex's soft knocking and her voice whispering my name.

"Liv? Are you okay?"

I turn on my side, my back to her. "Go away, Alex."

I can hear the shuffle of her feet as she makes her way to the bed. She sits down and puts a hand on my back, from which I immediately recoil. "Liv, please don't be mad at me. It's not fair."

"What's not fair, Alex, is the fact that six kids were molested and we couldn't even pin the guy who did it. You were supposed to put him away," I respond rudely.

She expels a frustrated sigh from her nostrils and I know she's trying to keep her cool. "Olivia, ultimately it's not up to me. It's up to the jury. You know that."

"If you had tried harder, maybe they would have made the right decision."

"Well, if you really want to go down that road, maybe I wouldn't have had to try so hard if you guys had gotten me better evidence. No DNA, nothing that physically linked him to the kids, and you practically had to force-feed the kids their stories."

I sit up and glare at her. "I can't believe you just said that," I say tersely.

She looks back at me with matching ferocity. "And I can't believe you're blaming me for this. Grow up, Olivia. Take your licks. We can't get everyone."

"Well, we should have gotten this one!" I yell at her. "You should have gotten this one! You should have done your job."

"I did my job, Olivia. Maybe if you had done yours, we wouldn't be in this mess."

"Oh, that's real classy, Alex. Blame everyone but yourself for this."

"That's the difference between us, Olivia. I do blame myself partially for this, and I can live with that. I've gotten over it. It seems you haven't, however."

"No, Alex, the difference between us is that I'm dedicated to my job and you're not," I say accusingly.

As soon as the words slip out of my mouth, I know I've gone too far. So does Alex. A hard glint forms in her eyes and she purses her lips so hard they turn white. "Fine. If that's what you think, maybe I'll just go dedicate myself to my job a little more." She grabs her keys and walks out the door, imitating my actions from a year ago.

Sucks to be on this end, I think with a scowl on my face.

/

Alex

After I walk out of the apartment, I debate going over to Elliot's. He and I have gotten closer over the year as Liv and I have had our share of fights and make-ups, to which Elliot has also been fairly central. In the end, I decide to simply call him and retreat to my office, which would feel a lot more comforting right now.

I dial his number as I start my car.

"Stabler."

"Do you have to sound like a cop every time you pick up your phone?" I joke.

He laughs. "Sorry, can't help it. What's up, Alex?"

I sigh heavily. "You need to go and talk to Liv right now because she's being a little ridiculous. Some major shit hit the fan after Halkyard got acquitted –"

"Halkyard got off?" Elliot screams incredulously. "Why didn't you call us?"

I huff in frustration. "Well, it was between calling you guys and trying to smooth things out with Liv; what was I supposed to do? What would you have done?" I ask angrily.

"Yeah, yeah, I see your point. I'm on my way over now. Where are you?"

"Way the hell away from her," I respond as I flip on my turn signal. "I don't trust myself right now."

"Okay. I'll call you when I get her calmed down."

"Might take a while," I sarcastically remark.

He grunts his agreement. "Tell me about it. Don't worry too much, Alex. It'll work out."

"Thanks, Elliot."

"Later," he clips as he hangs up the phone.

I snap my phone shut and grab my briefcase as I make my way to my office, thinking about how much it sucks to be the one doing the walking out.