When Elliot pressed the buzzer for Martha Harvand’s apartment, he expected to hear the hoary voice of the seventy-year-old who lived alone in the apartment above Owen Kreider. Instead, he and Olivia heard the voice of a male police officer.
Several minutes later, after being let into the
building by the officer at the buzzer’s helm, Elliot and Olivia approached the
open door of
“Who called you guys?” Melinda said once she saw the
pair walk through the apartment door and showing badges to the officers
stationed at the entrance. “This isn’t looking like an
She was standing next the body of an elderly woman who lied face up, in a pool of what could only have been her own blood. Elliot glanced at Olivia who remained stoic at the sight of Mrs. Harvand dead at Melinda’s feet.
He sighed. “No one called. We came because we needed to talk to her again.”
When Elliot nodded at the body, Melinda glanced back down at the woman and gave Elliot a look that read, “You’re a little too late.”
“What happened?” Olivia said.
“Stab wound to the back,” Melinda answered quickly. “The weapon’s missing, but the wound looks serrated at first glance. I’m going to guess an ordinary steak knife, but I’ll know more once I take a good look at the wound. Given her age, a stab to the back would incapacitate her and would’ve kept her from being able to fight back at all, but it wouldn’t have killed her instantly. From the amount of blood lost and the placement of the blow, it probably took her a while to die.”
“How long?” Olivia asked.
“Twenty minutes to a half an hour.”
“Why do this?” Elliot said, speaking his thoughts aloud. “If the killer wanted her dead, why not just stab her in the chest and be done with it?”
Olivia nodded without having an answer for him and looked about the living room. Her eyes scanned the old woman’s walls that were lined with tall bookshelves and old pictures in every space not occupied by shelves. Her scrutinizing gaze came upon a space beside the door and she quickly crossed the room to view the blank spot carefully. The area seemed out of place in the cluttered apartment and Olivia looked around quickly to see if there were any other places in the apartment that seemed similar.
“Liv?” Elliot asked, when he noticed her looking around the room. “What’s up?”
“This spot,” she said softly. “It’s…I don’t know…out of place. I mean she’s got stuff everywhere in here. Every inch of space on the floor or along her walls is taken up by something, except this spot.”
Elliot shrugged. “What’re you thinking?”
Olivia shook her head, lips pursed, hands in her
pockets and her leg twitching unconsciously as she continued scanning the room
“Well, there’s some dirt on the floor here,” Melinda said. “But that’s really it. Maybe it’s where she kept things like shoes when she came through the door.”
“No,” Olivia said slowly. “Something’s missing. Something was here and now, it’s gone…”
Elliot reached out and shook his hand. “Spencer. This is my partner, Olivia Benson. Liv, this is Craig Spencer, Homicide at the 8th. No one called us. We actually just came here to re-interview your victim.”
Detective Spencer nodded his head. “For what? From what we’ve heard, she was just a lonely old lady who might’ve been followed home.”
“She has a loose connection with someone we’re looking at for this strangling case.”
“You notice something over here?" Spencer said nodding toward the spot over which Olivia looked.
“Something looks like it’s missing,” Olivia said. “Like maybe your killer took whatever might’ve been sitting here.”
“I’ll have my guys take a look. Anything I should know about the vic?”
Elliot shook his head. “She called us a week ago about one of her neighbors, but we’ve already got our finger on him.”
“Well, keep me posted,” Spencer said. “She hasn’t got any family and she didn’t seem to have too many friends in the area. The only reason we were notified so quickly is because the guy downstairs complained about ‘something red’ leaking through his ceiling. It’s not that I’m trying to pass off any cases, but if she’s related to your strangler…”
“I’ll keep you in the loop,” Elliot said as he watched Olivia head out the door.
“Hey,” he said when he caught up with her on the stairs. “You think Kreider might be involved?”
She paused mid-step. “That spot between the nearest bookcase and her door is roughly the same size as the boxes that Jacob Lewendale and Manny Scheibley were found in. What if she pulled one of Kreider’s boxes from the trash and kept it there until she could call us again? If Kreider found out about it…That may be the reason she’s lying dead in her apartment.”
“But, would he alert the police about it so soon?” Elliot said. “I mean, assuming he’s involved, why risk telling anyone about blood on his ceiling? You know what he’s like about his rights. Why would he even chance the police coming to investigate?”
Olivia shrugged. “Let’s ask him.”
Ten minutes later, she and Elliot were walking back down Kreider’s corridor with the building superintendent, Ronald.
“Yeah,” Ronald said. “He called yesterday telling me that there was this red stain coming through his apartment and when I went to check on Mrs. Harvand…”
“Did he say where he might be going?” Olivia asked.
“He might’ve gone to a hotel or something. It’ll take me a few days to get his ceiling cleaned and I don’t blame him for not wanting to stay.”
“He leave any number where he could be reached?” Elliot said.
Ronald shook his head. “Naw, in fact, until you two came to get me, I didn’t even know he was gone yet.”
Olivia gave Elliot an apprehensive glance and a moment later they were in Kreider’s apartment. When she had entered his apartment on Saturday, Olivia saw that every bit of space was occupied by newspapers, books, cassette tape cases and furniture, however now the apartment looked nearly empty. All the books and items had been removed from their shelves and the little furniture that remained had been pushed against the walls of the living room.
“Aw, that bastard had better not’ve picked up and left in the middle of the night,” Ronald said.
The detectives walked through the rest of the apartment looking for any signs that Kreider had not pulled up stakes, but they found none. There was nothing in his closets or dresser drawers, the bathroom was missing all the normal amenities and his kitchen was completely bare.
“Goddamnit!” Olivia said, slamming his fridge door shut. “I can’t even believe it!”
“He’s got some family in the city,” Elliot said as he picked up the sole notebook that lay in a closet. “Maybe he’s-”
“Maybe he’s what, Elliot? Gone to stay with the family whose son he just murdered!”
“He found his birth mother, what if-”
“Oh, this is such bull!” she shouted. “He murdered those boys, he murdered his neighbor who knew too much and now he’s taken off so that we’ll never find him! We wasted days on Drover and now the real killer gets to run!”
“We didn’t waste days on Drover!” he yelled in return. “We wouldn’t’ve even looked at Kreider if it wasn’t for what we found or didn’t find on Drover.”
“How many days ago did we first get confirmation on Kreider!” She was screaming so loud that Elliot’s ears were ringing and her face had turned snow white in the process. “We’ve known about Kreider for five days and you dragged your feet on him every, single day! We could’ve moved on him days ago, but you insisted on looking at Drover! Now, he’s gone and none of those families will ever get justice for what he did them!”
“Olivia…” he began.
“Save it! I’ve had enough of your bullshit!”
She brushed past the super and left the apartment that continued to echo with her strained voice.
Elliot’s fingers paused over his keyboard as he considered how best to form his next sentence, but no literary inspiration seemed forthcoming.
He had come to depend on Olivia’s meticulous note taking to aid him when writing reports and, as she had not reappeared in his presence throughout the remainder of the day, he knew it was unlikely that she would be assisting him.
Sighing, he took a sip of the lukewarm coffee on his desk to keep him awake for a little while longer.
After it seemed apparent that Olivia was not returning
to Kreider’s apartment, Elliot borrowed the
He rubbed a hand over his face and neck, feeling an
ache in every bone in his body. It was not so much that Kreider had fled that
bothered him. Criminals had escaped
When he had returned to the precinct, Munch and Fin informed him that Olivia had stopped by briefly, however, she only stormed toward her desk, snatched a few files out of her drawers and stormed back out after she took a call, saying that she was taking the rest of the day. Elliot’s only reply for them was that Kreider was gone and that it looked like he murdered his neighbor to make sure she kept quiet.
Nothing was said between the remaining men for thirty minutes, Olivia’s demeanor when she had come and gone and Elliot’s announcement saying more than any words could. Even Cragen had little to say when he was notified of the situation. He told them that he would hold off for a day to see if they could pull any information on Kreider before announcing that he had slipped through their fingers, but that he would put out an All Points Bulletin for Kreider in the meanwhile.
Cragen’s initiative did nothing to quell Elliot’s dire disappointment because they had no way of telling when Kreider had gone. Detective Spencer told Elliot that Kreider would have called about the blood stain in his apartment about the same time he murdered Mrs. Harvand and it was highly likely that he ran a short while afterward.
Elliot had spent much of the day looking through all of Kreider’s bank and phone records, but there was nothing in any of them that showed that Kreider was experiencing any irregular activity nor was there anything that suggested that Kreider was expecting to leave the city. The little money that Kreider did have in his bank account remained untouched and there was no activity on his credit cards.
Deciding to say he had gone after the wrong suspect for two weeks as delicately as possible, Elliot rose from his desk to stretch, noting that the clock on his desk, framed with the etched words "Greatest Dad," read after .
Fin had called an hour earlier to tell Elliot that he and Munch were calling it a night since they did not find anything when they questioned Kreider’s co-workers at Rohlman-Hayworth and Elliot felt simply drained throughout the conversation. Olivia had yet to return any of his calls and he worried about what kind of fury the next day would bring. He and Olivia were just beginning to get themselves together and now with Kreider gone, he feared that they would never be on the same page again.
As he drove home, he imagined having to start all over with a new partner. Since Olivia, he had gotten into an actual fight with one new partner and ended up kissing another. At this point in his life, he wondered if he could even handle a new partner and if he would just retire when he hit his twenty years with the force.
When he got home, Elliot looked at his phone that was blinking to signify that he had unanswered messages, however he knew exactly from whom they were. He had left Diana’s apartment abruptly Monday morning, knowing that he would tell her that he crept out quietly to keep from waking her, though it was just to keep from feeling so incredibly guilty.
He did not care much for Diana. She always laughed at her own unfunny jokes and she managed to direct any conversation, whether it was about something regarding Elliot or something as obscure as The Sphinx, back to herself with a boring story regarding her own life. In reality, she was just a woman to touch to combat loneliness and keep him from lusting after his partner in Kathy’s wake.
For more than twenty years, Kathy had slept by his side, holding him when he needed to be held and loving him the way only a woman could. Waking up each night alone was not hard originally as anger diffused any loneliness that could accrue, however in recent months, he found himself often reaching toward “her side” of the bed and feeling his spirits dampen at the realization that she simply was not there. With Kathy gone and loneliness ensuing, his eyes would automatically look toward Olivia.
More often than not, he allowed himself to watch her walk when she walked away from him, stand a bit closer to her on elevators or walk nearer to her when they walked the streets. Everything in his mind told him it was wrong to look at her that way, but need oft times outweighed reason.
He set down his things on the countertop and sighed as he felt his stomach burn. From his kitchen, Olivia’s sheet music caught his eye and instead of being amused once more by the sight, he anger stirred within in him. Olivia sounded as if she was placing all the blame regarding Kreider and Drover squarely on him, but the fact was she had stood on the same bandwagon as he had.
Elliot threw the dishtowel he was holding onto the counter and glared at the sheet music as if staring down his partner. She interviewed Drover and she helped track him down throughout the investigation. If she truly thought that Kreider was the killer from the start, she should have stood her ground and proceeded with the investigation in that direction on her own.
He thought of the potential delight that would be set on Lizzie’s face at receiving Olivia’s music, but he pushed the idea out of mind. As far as he was concerned, he did not want Olivia anywhere is children at that point.
Just as Elliot was considering putting on his coat and appearing at Olivia’s door to rant about the blame she placed entirely on him over Kreider, he heard banging on his own door.
He crossed the apartment and opened the door cautiously to see Diana glaring back at him.
“Hi,” he said softly.
“Oh hi,” she seethed. “Yeah, you’re neighbor let me up.”
“Oh,” Elliot said, wondering which neighbor needed a strong lecture in building safety. “You wanna come in?”
“No, I don’t want to come in.” She was nearly yelling and her face was flush. “I’m just glad to see that you’re still alive since you haven’t returned any of goddamn calls.”
Elliot sighed as she turned and strode back down the corridor. He wanted to say something to her to feel less guilty, but no wise words came to him, so he remained silent.
Sensing that Elliot was still watching, Diana stopped at the stairs.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?” she said turning back toward him.
“What do you want me to say?”
“Something, anything. Anything to tell me that you even give a damn!”
“Why are you so angry?” he asked softly still standing at his door.
“I’m angry because you left Sunday, sometime in the middle of the night and you haven’t returned any of my phone calls!”
“I only got two of them and I’ve been busy. In case I never told you, I’ve got a hectic job.
“What about the message I left at your precinct tonight?”
“I didn’t get it.”
“How could you not have gotten it? I left a message with someone.”
“Who, Diana? There’s a million people working at the 1-6.”
“I called your precinct and a woman answered the phone. She was actually really rude with me, but she said she’d pass it on.”
He squinted at her. “Olivia?”
“So, you know who I’m talking about, so why couldn’t you have found one damn minute to call and say thanks for a great night or something!”
“She didn’t give me the message.”
“Oh, that’s bull.”
“Look, Diana. I don’t know what to tell you, but I know I can’t be bothered with this right now.”
“Well,” she said walking toward the apartment. “If you’re stressed, that’s what I’m here for. I thought we already established that you could talk to me.”
Elliot sighed. “If you want to come in, fine, but I’m telling you now, I’m not going to be good company.”
She stared at him for a solid minute before brushing past him into his apartment and sitting, arms crossed on his couch.
“So, do you at least want to talk about what’s wrong?”
“I screwed up…and now, my partner’s pissed.”
“Well, he’ll get over it.”
“She won’t. Not for a while considering how things have been going.”
Diana stared at him a moment more. “The woman I spoke today…that’s your partner?”
“Oh…what’s she like?”
“Pretty,” he blurted out without thinking and he spoke quickly to cover the indiscretion. “Brown hair, brown eyes, tall. You know, she’s a good person, it’s just that lately we’ve been arguing almost everyday and sometimes she can be a real bitch to me.”
“Well, maybe you just need a change. Perhaps a different partner.”
Elliot resisted the urge to roll his eyes, remembering this same sort of jealousy erupting from his wife regarding Olivia. He knew it was his own fault by calling Olivia “pretty,” but he was more than annoyed that he even had to discuss the issue with Diana.
I shouldn’t have taken her dinner, he thought. Dinner meant more than just a fling; more than something that was simply physical.
“I don’t know,” he said with another sigh.
“You’re right,” she said. “You aren’t good company tonight.”
“Look, I’ve got a lot of stuff to still get to tonight. Why don’t I just give you a call in a few days?”
She nodded and stood to leave. “Well, considering I’m up against your ex-wife, who you still talk about with dreamy eyes and your pretty partner, I won’t be holding my breath for that call.”
He rubbed his hands over his head when she slammed the door as she left. It had been so long since he had had to deal with a new woman in his life that he had forgotten just what kind of pain they all were.
“I can’t even believe it,” Olivia repeated in her darkened apartment.
She had been sitting in the dark staring at the far wall of her apartment for more than an hour, replaying the day’s events in her head.
Somewhere in the twenty-minute gap between the moment she saw Martha Harvand’s body and the moment she realized that Kreider had fled, she had become sick of the mere sight of her partner. She and Elliot had been doing so well, their case notwithstanding and, as she sat sipping her barely-chilled glass of wine, all seemed lost.
If only she had stood her ground over Kreider…perhaps, Dominic Hedges would still be alive. The thought that an innocent life had slipped through her fingers was enough to throw Olivia into an all-out depression.
Regardless of what had happened on the case, she knew she should not have walked out on Elliot, but she knew she would not be able to contain her anger if she stayed. With every step taken in Kreider’s apartment, she received further confirmation that he was gone and, with every step taken, resentment for her partner grew stronger and stronger.
“Damn it, Elliot,” she said aloud.
When the memory of their hug not two days earlier jumped to mind, she tried to shake it away by physically shaking her head and she laughed at her complete mood swing in the past forty-eight hours in regards to Elliot. Two days earlier, she was swooning at his touch; today, the very thought of him caused every inch of her skin to burn. Never in her life had she wanted to hurt someone and hold him close at the same time.
She had spent most of her day making notes on all thirteen of her other open cases and seeing what headway she could make in regards to test results on her own. She had called witnesses and visited several victims and was actually feeling better about herself as a detective until she saw Elliot trying to call her. The moment she saw his name on her cell phone display, the rage began to build again and she decided to collect her thoughts at home. Changing into loungewear, a cami and baggy pajama pants, Olivia settled onto her couch with one of her better wines and her afghan and took to staring at her wall in hopes of easing the tension in her body.
She heard keys rattling in her door and closed her eyes to wince at the thought. Of all the things she wanted at that time, company was the least of them.
“Hey,” Jonathan said as he came through her door. “Why are you sitting here all alone in the dark?”
“Sshh,” she said taking another sip of her Smith Woodhouse port. “I just need quiet right now.”
“I missed you. I figured you’d probably be working through the night yesterday, so I didn’t even bother coming over. Is everything okay?”
Olivia nodded, but put a finger to her lips to reiterate that she wished to listen to nothing but the sounds of her breath.
“Something bad going on with work?” Jonathan whispered as he lounged onto her couch.
“It’s fine,” she said, half mumbling.
He ran the back of his hand against her bare arm. “You don’t sound like everything’s fine.”
She shudder when he touched her, though she could not be certain if it was because of the cold or the fact that she simply did not want to be touched.
“And, you’re tense,” Jonathan continued. “Whatever happened, it must’ve been really bad.”
She only nodded again in response.
“Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it, Liv?”
“Can I take you out for the night? Just someplace where you can just take a load off?”
“I’m not in the mood for a bar.”
“How about someplace mellow? There’s this place not too far from my apartment-”
“Jonathan, I really just want quiet right now.”
Sighing, Jonathan went into her kitchen to retrieve a wine glass and poured himself a glass of her port. They sat together silently for close to twenty minutes, Jonathan fidgeting next to her every once in a while, however, when he drained his glass, he began to brush his fingers against her again.
“Come on, Jonathan,” Olivia said, shaking his hand away from her. “I’m not in the mood.”
He leaned close to her and removed the now empty wine glass from her hand. “Your glass seems like it’s been empty for quite some time.”
“I’ve…just been thinking.”
Jonathan nuzzled her neck and she shook him off again. For some reason, it suddenly felt wrong to have him touching her. The memory of Elliot’s embrace was still fresh in her mind and Jonathan’s hand against her skin almost felt like she was cheating.
Cheating on whom? she asked herself.
“Liv…” he said with a sigh. “Whatever it is, I’ll make it better.”
He nuzzled her again and she leaned away from him.
“C’mon, seriously. I just want to sit here for a second.”
He kissed her collarbone and she swatted at him as she backed against her couch cushions.
“You just need to relax a bit, Liv,” he said and brushed his lips against her neck again.
“It’s good for what ails ya.”
“God, I’d love it if you said ‘stop’ in that cop uniform.”
Olivia felt a nerve pop and she shoved him away from her as she stood. “I told you to stop, goddamn it!”
“Okay, okay,” he said softly. “I was just trying to get to you to loosen up a little.”
She crossed her arms and glared at him.
“Look,” he said. “Just sit back down, okay? I didn’t mean anything by it.”
“I told you, I was not in the mood and you went for it anyway.”
A blank stare came over his face before he spoke. “Well…I mean, I guess I thought you were just playing around or something.”
“Jonathan, have I ever playfully told you that I wasn’t in the mood?”
“Liv, please. Just sit down. We’ll sit here in silence for as long as you want. Just sit.”
“No,” she said still standing. “I think you should leave.”
Jonathan jumped off the couch. “Honestly Olivia! It’s not like I was going to hurt you!”
“I told you when first started dating never to pull that kind of bull on me. When I say ‘no,’ I mean it.”
“Liv, I don’t see what the problem is. I…I was just trying to get you to loosen up a bit. I can see you’re overly tense.”
“I’m tense because my job is kicking my ass right now and I don’t need this kind of stress!”
“And I’m just trying to make it better.”
“Get out, Jonathan. I don’t want to deal with you right now.”
“Jonathan. Leave. Now!”
“You’ve got to be kidding me! I was just trying to help.”
“Do I looking like I’m kidding? Do I sound like I’m kidding?”
“Olivia,” Jonathan said in a suddenly calm voice. “I know what it’s like to have a rough day. It’s the story of my life. I just wanted to make you feel a little better. Now, I offered to take you to a nice quiet restaurant and you turned me down, so I tried to just snuggle with you on the couch for a bit. It’s always made you feel better before. I’m just trying to help ease your day.”
“Well, what’s going to make me feel better right now is solitude. I want you to go.”
“Whatever is bothering you, I know it’s major. I don’t want you to be alone right now.”
“And, luckily for me, it’s not up to you.”
Jonathan shook his head and put his hand on the doorknob.
“Don’t forget your coat,” Olivia said before he walked out of the door.
“You’re being absolutely ridiculous.”
“Just…leave,” she said slowly. “And lock the door on your way out.”
He glared at her for another moment before he walked out, slamming the door shut.
Sitting back down on the couch, Olivia pulled her knees to her chest and rested her forehead on them. She knew she should not have thrown out Jonathan, but she felt she had no choice. If he had stayed, they would end up talking and when the conversation turned to Elliot, as she knew it eventually would, she was in no mood to try and dodge the issue to avoid Jonathan’s jealousy. There was also the issue of Monday’s dinner and the idea of him finding some obscure, but romantic moment that night to tell her something “important” was more than she could bear at that moment.
After five minutes of silence and solitude, Olivia heard knocking at her door.
“Go away, Jonathan!” she shouted toward the door, but the knocking continued.
“I said, go away!”
When the knocking continued, she leapt from the couch.
“Goddamn it, Jonathan!”
She crossed the room in three angry steps and threw open the door. Instead of Jonathan, Mark stood in her doorway, looking pale and confused.
“I…I’m sorry,” he said cowering slightly from the anger resonating off of her.
“Mark,” she said surprised. “No…it’s fine. I was just expecting…”
“Jonathan. Yeah, I, uh…gathered that.”
Olivia felt her face grow warm as she stared at Mark, feeling suddenly very exposed to someone who was quite the stranger to her.
“Did you want something?” she said crossing her arms across her chest.
Mark shifted his weight on his feet. “Well…I just sort of overhead you two arguing and…”
Olivia rolled her eyes. “I’m sorry, Mark. I hope we didn’t disturb you or anything.”
“No, I just wanted to make sure that you were okay. I mean I wasn’t trying to listen or anything, but I…I just wanted to see that you were okay. I mean it’s never easy breaking up with someone.”
“Well,” Olivia said, looking at the floor. “We’re not…I don’t know…at least I hope we’re not…but I’m fine regardless. Thanks for checking.”
“I just want you to know that if you ever needed someone to talk to…I’m here.”
At that, Olivia could only smile. “Thanks Mark. Really, I’m fine. I’ve just had a hard week and it’s only Tuesday.”
“It’s just that I noticed you’ve been seeing just this one guy lately.”
“You noticed that?”
“I don’t mean that in a creepy way,” Mark said with a smile. “I just mean, we both’ve been living here for ages and normally…I’ve seen you dating…I don’t know a couple different people and with this guy-”
“Jonathan,” Olivia corrected.
“Jonathan…you haven’t been seeing anybody else.”
“Yeah,” Olivia said leaning against her open door. “We got set up by some friends of ours and we just kept seeing one another.”
"Well, it just seems like you kind of fight often..."
"More often now than before, but I guess it happens."
"Not to sound...I don't know...like I'm preaching to you or anything, but do you think your mother would have approved of this gu-…er Jonathan?"
Olivia stared at him for a long time before speaking. "I don't know. 'Course, I'd never been one to care whether or not my mother approved of the men in my life anyway. Why do you ask?"
"Well...I...I kind of remember a lot of things that Serena would say and-"
"And, you thought I'd make a better decision about Jonathan if I thought about what my mother might've said if she'd met him?"
"That...that kind of thing always kind of helps me out when I'm in a stressful situation. You know, I kind of knew Serena better than my own mom and sometimes a mother's words are all it takes to give us...I don't know...direction or something. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that if you ever need someone to talk to...a shoulder to cry on...I'm here."
Olivia smiled at the little man before her and patted him on the shoulder. “I’ll keep that in mind. G’night.”
She sighed as she shut the door and her smile quickly faded. Glancing at her phone on the wall, she wondered whether she should call Jonathan just to apologize. She decided against it and simply went to bed feeling angry again once thoughts of Elliot invaded her mind.
As she allowed sleep to overtake her, a single memory of her mother rolled into thought.
“All men are crazy, Babygirl,” Serena would say, half splashing her Scotch on to her lap. “They’re all crazy and they’re all stupid.”
Olivia’s shoes clicked against the floor as she came off the elevator and the scorn that had spread across her face deepened when she saw Elliot at his desk. The anger she felt as she fell asleep gave her bad dreams and she woke up in an even worse mood than when she had left the previous day. She approached her desk silently, set down her bag and poured herself a cup of coffee at the coffee station in the corner.
“Everything all right?” Elliot asked when she sat at her desk.
“Do you even have to ask?”
She had not meant to come off so angry toward him, but between losing Kreider and going through her troubles with Jonathan the previous night, she was in a mood that nothing could cure.
“I mean besides the obvious,” Elliot said softly.
“No. Everything’s just fine.”
He rolled his eyes and decided not to pursue a morning greeting any further. It was days like these that Elliot hated every single thing about his life and without any real remedy, he could not see it getting any better.
Olivia had been completely aggravated with him in the past, but he could always wait her out by consoling with his family. He knew eventually, she would calm down, but with this case and her demeanor upon entering the squad room, he had no way of gauging how long it would take.
They sat in silence for another ten minutes before Melinda appeared in the squad room with a somber expression on her face.
“I heard about Kreider,” she said, “and I’m sorry.”
“What are you sorry for Melinda?” Elliot said. “It’s not your fault he’s a bastard.”
She nodded at him and set the file she had been holding on his desk. “I found something in one of the boys that you may want to look into.”
“What’d you find?” Elliot said opening the folder.
“When I was reviewing all of my observations on each of the boys, I noticed that Daniel Richardson showed some damage and tearing that looked older than any of the others. Now, I overlooked it at first because they…just kept coming. But, I thought you may find it relevant when you find this guy.”
“You’re saying that Daniel was abused before he was killed?” Olivia asked, her eyebrows furrowed.
“I can’t say how long for certain, but at least for the last few months. Maybe even the last year.”
“And you’re certain that Daniel was killed by the same guy?” Elliot said.
“Absolutely,” Melinda said. “Everything matches except for your MO…Let me know if you need anything else from me. I’m on my way down the 8th precinct.”
She left the detectives pondering her newfound news with a nod of her head and walked quickly toward the elevators.
“Who could’ve been abusing him?” Elliot thought aloud.
“Kreider might have had some kind of contact with
Daniel that the
“Or about Drover.”
Her eyes narrowed at him. “You can’t still be on about Drover?”
“As the killer, no,” Elliot said. “As a child molester, always.”
“You think he was molesting Daniel Richardson?”
“I think he was probably molesting several of those kids, but if Daniel Richardson was showing signs of previous abuse, I’m willing to bet anything on it.”
“But he said he didn’t even have any contact with Daniel,” Olivia said.
“And since when have you started trusting pedophiles? He said he didn’t know Daniel, but I think that’s bull. All the pictures we found under his bed of were little boys, all right around ten or eleven. Daniel Richardson was just eleven years old.”
Olivia shook her head and turned her attention back to her monitor. Elliot stared at her a moment and opened his mouth to say something about her attitude, Fin walked into the squad room.
“Hey,” he said, approaching their desks. “Found something on your friend Drover.”
“What’s up?” Elliot said, arms crossed.
“We were talking to some of the parents again about
Kreider when we got to the
“What kind of stuff?” Elliot asked.
“Mostly about the arrest,” Fin said. “But, here’s the thing: they said they were concerned because they knew Drover.”
Elliot tensed and resisted the severe urge to glance at Olivia. “How well did they know him?”
“Pretty well. He trained Daniel’s soccer team last summer. Apparently, they’ve also been paying him under the table for a while now to give Daniel private soccer training. They said they wanted him to be the best.”
Keeping his eyes off of his partner, Elliot sat a little straighter in his chair. “Melinda’s just now told us that Daniel Richardson was being abused before he was killed.”
“You think Drover?” Fin said, eyebrows high.
Elliot shrugged. “Who else? Besides, he told us point blank that he didn’t know Daniel Richardson. Said he’d never seen him before. Why leave something like that out?”
“Well,” Olivia said. “He was pretty upset when we first started questioning him.”
“But, he started all his belly aching when we mentioned Ricky Schrader,” Elliot said. “I showed him a picture of Daniel and he didn’t act any different.”
“Well, Cragen wants to know what we’re gonna do about Drover altogether. I’ll be back.”
Fin dropped some things off at his desk and walked down the corridor.
“What are we going to do about Drover?” Elliot asked having retrieved a few words out of Olivia.
“Drover can go to hell as far as I’m concerned.”
“He’s child molester, Olivia. We owe it to all the kids he coaches to investigate, especially knowing that he lied about knowing Daniel Richardson.”
“Drover’s a wash,” she said toward her monitor. “At this point, we couldn’t do anything with what we’ve got. The only complaining witness is dead and there’s no evidence as to who might’ve been abusing him. Jumping on Drover, again, this early doesn’t make any sense.”
As Elliot stood to escalate the building argument with Olivia, he saw a flash of bright red and turned to see Veronica Schrader walking steadily in his direction.
“Mrs. Schrader,” he said when she reached his desk.
“What’s going on with my Ricky’s case?” she said.
Her face was very pale and her eyes looked sunken with new wrinkles and circles. While her hair looked like it had been washed and combed, the stains on her dress were reminiscent to the last time Elliot had seen her.
“We’re still working the case,” Olivia said as she stood
“What did you people find out about Jeffy?” she said. Tears were beginning to form in her eyes and, as she wiped them away, she smeared her mascara.
Olivia glanced at Elliot. “We’re still unsure of his involvement.”
“Oh, he’s involved,” Veronica said, raising her voice. “I know he’s involved and he should be arrested for this. Right now!”
“Veronica…” Elliot began softly, but she cut him off mid-sentence.
“He touched Ricky,” she said. “I know it. I remembah Ricky acting all different after I started seeing ‘im, but I didn’t know what was wrong. He touched ‘im.”
“You’re coming forward now?” Olivia said, unable to mask her disgust for the woman before her.
“Look! I’m just coming down offa’…and I realized that my Ricky…my baby…I’m nevah going to see him again.”
“Veronica,” Olivia began, “I understand what you’re going through, but…”
“But nothing! I was looking for ‘im on Sunday and
that’s when I realized that he’s nevah comin’ over again. Nevah!
Elliot took a step towards her. “You should talk to Victims’ Services,” he said softly. “They’ll be able to help you through this.”
She shook her head, tears dropping to the floor. “I don’t wanna talk to nobody but my Ricky and I can’t do that because of Jeffy! Why in’t he arrested yet?”
“We have nothing to arrest him on,” Elliot said.
“He touched my boy before he killed ‘im!”
“Jeffrey Drover didn’t kill Ricky or any of these boys,” Olivia said.
“I don’t care about any otha kids! I just care about Ricky. Jeffy touched ‘im and he gets to go right on coaching and goin’ about ‘is business?”
Neither detective had an answer for her and she shook her head at the pair of them.
“I can’t even believe this! I betcha if you people’d found that Jeffy was touching one of them rich boys, you’da had ‘im in here faster than he could blink! I’m sick of all you!”
“Please,” Elliot said. “Talk with Victims’ Services. They can help.”
She shook her head again and stormed out of the squad room.
“We should really talk to Drover again,” Elliot said once she had left.
“Are you kidding me?” Olivia said, crossing her arms in front of her. “Drover didn’t kill those boys.”
“Fine, but this is the second confirmation we’ve had about him being a pedophile…in so many minutes.”
“From some vague suggestion from a victim’s parents and the garbled ramblings of Veronica Schrader as she’s coming down from whatever she’s been shooting in her veins for the past few days?”
“Combined with the pictures and the fact that Daniel had been previously abused, I think it’s a valid claim.”
Olivia scowled at him. “You just can’t let him go, can you? You can’t take the fact that Drover’s not involved?”
The intensity in her voice was rising and other detectives around the squad room were beginning to stare at them. Munch and Fin, who had both watched the exchange with Veronica Schrader, were standing, braced for the impending explosion between their co-workers.
“Olivia. He may not have murdered these six kids, but he is a child molester. What do you want, a notarized certificate saying he likes little boys?”
“This isn’t based off actual evidence! You’re just making assumptions because you have a vendetta against him!”
“And you don’t want to look into this any further because you don’t want to admit that you went to bat for a pedophile!”
“If I hadn’t stepped in, we would still be going after him for these murders and, if you hadn’t been going after Drover so zealously, we would have Kreider locked up at this very minute instead of hoping we might be able track him down!”
“Don’t try to place all the goddamn blame on me! You wanted Drover in here just as much as I did!”
“I wanted to catch a killer! You just wanted to prove that you weren’t wrong! I’m placing the blame exactly where it should be!”
“Hey!” Munch said stepping between them. “Come on. We all dropped the ball in regards to Kreider. We could’ve kept the investigation going on both Drover and Kreider at the same time, but we didn’t. There isn’t one of us that doesn’t deserve some of the blame.”
Olivia broke her glare at Elliot and let the full force of the fury behind her eyes lay on him. He took a step backward and continued.
“Look, we know that Kreider was looking for his birth mother. If we can find her through his adoption records…maybe she’ll be able to tell us something if he contacted her.”
“In the meanwhile,” Elliot said, “I want to talk to Drover again. Whether or not he’s related to these murders, we still need to investigate him. He has access to dozens of kids though his soccer training and we know that one of the kids he gave private lessons to was sexually abused.”
“There could be half a dozen reasons-”
“I know,” Elliot said. “But, I want to talk to Drover anyway.”
“You’re just not gonna learn your lesson, eh?”
Elliot opened his mouth to respond, but Fin spoke up instead.
“Look, I’ll go with Elliot to talk to Drover.”
“No,” Olivia said picking up her coat. “I don’t have problem with talking to Drover again. I think it’s a complete waste of time, but I don’t have a problem with it.”
With those words, she brushed past Elliot and Fin and headed for the elevators. Elliot resisted rolling his eyes and followed after her.
The drive to
Initially, Drover refused to let them into his apartment when arrived, but after some coaxing on Olivia’s part, he buzzed them into the building. The moment they entered his apartment, however, Olivia laid into Drover with questions about Daniel Richardson.”
“What?” Drover screamed. “You’re taking his side now!” He pointed toward Elliot.
“I never left his side, Drover,” Olivia said. “He’s my partner and you’ve neglected to tell us just a few too many things for us to let this go.”
Elliot glanced at her, taken aback at the sudden shift in her response toward Drover.
“Why are you doing this?” Drover said staring at the floor.
“Why did you lie about Daniel Richardson?”
Drover’s colourless eyes stared back at Olivia and Elliot had a glimmer of pity for the man.
“I…I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You trained his team last summer,” Olivia continued. “You spoke to his parents. Told them that he had lots of talent. Offered to give him private lessons. Does this ring a bell at all?”
“Okay, okay, fine. Look, I didn’t tell you anything
“Wanted,” Olivia corrected. “The
“Look, you people are trying to frame me! I didn’t do anything wrong! I thought we’ve already covered this.”
“Those look like latex gloves to you, Liv?” Elliot said, pointing to Drover’s bathroom, into which they could clearly see from their vantage point in his living room.
Allowing Olivia to press further into Drover, Elliot took the time to look around in his apartment for something damning. At this point in the investigation, it was more than simply getting Drover to confess. They would need some kind of hard evidence to ensure that he remained behind bars.
Olivia leaned closer to see to at what he was pointing. “You know…they most certainly do. Why do you have latex gloves just lying around, Jeff?”
“I don’t have to answer that without my lawyer.”
Elliot started to interject, but he could feel Olivia’s anger heating up and he stayed still to let her continue into him.
“You know, you’re right,” Olivia said. “You don’t. In fact, let’s all of us take a trip to our precinct and you can tell us when your lawyer gets there.”
“Fine, okay. Fine. I’ve got the gloves because sometimes the kids get hurt on the field and I don’t want to get in contact with their blood.”
“They’re kids, Jeff,” she said. “What do you think you’re going to catch?”
“What about your pictures?” she said.
“Your little spank bank. We found them under your bed. It looks like you might’ve left a little something extra on some of those photos because we found a bit of you smeared all over them.”
His eye twitched as he stared at her. Drover then crossed the room to sit in a chair in the corner of the room and she continued. “Why don’t you come clean, Jeff? It’d save us all a load of time.”
“I don’t know why you’re doing this to me,” Drover said, austere. “I didn’t kill those kids and you know it. Why are you being so hostile? I thought-”
“You thought what! What, Drover! What! You thought we wouldn’t find out the real reason you like spending all that time with these kids? Is that it?”
Drover’s eyes began to tear again and he shook his head. “You just…I can’t believe you’re just…”
“Just what!” she yelled. “I’m disgusted that I even came in contact with you! You abused Daniel Richardson!”
“No, I didn’t…”
“You’re a pedophile! A child molester! You make me sick!”
Drover covered his face with his hands and dissolved into tears, but Olivia grabbed him by the shirt collar, forcing him to face her.
“Is this what you do, Jeff?” she said in a low voice, very close to his face. “Do you cry with them? Make yourself seem like a kid, just like them? And then you get close to them. You get nice and close to them. So, close that you can smell every drop of sweat on their small bodies.”
Drover shivered under her and made as if he were trying to get away from her, but she held him tighter and bent down lower.
“You think about all those boys, don’t you? This close to you. All you have to do is reach out an arm and they’re yours.”
Drover shook his head, but she shook his shirt collar and straddled him in the chair. “Yes, you do,” she whispered right next to his ear. “In fact, I bet you’re getting all hot and bothered just thinking about it right now, aren’t you? Aren’t you? Just like you do when you’re alone at night. You’re dreaming if you think you’re fooling anyone. Sleeping with those boys' mothers just to spend the night. You do it just to get closer to them, don’t you? Don’t you, you bastard! You probably finish with their mothers and then you slip into bed with them right afterward.”
Drover was breathing hard by now and he shook violently to get Olivia of him, but she was now leaning her whole body onto his chest. He grabbed her leg and Elliot had his gun out a moment later. The safety clicked and Drover froze.
“Elliot,” Olivia said still staring at Drover while she sat on top of him. “Give me a second with Jeffy here.”
Elliot eyed Drover suspiciously, but he backed away from them and out of the apartment door, leaving it open a crack.
“We’re all alone now,” she whispered to Drover. “Anything you want to tell me now that it’s just the two of us?”
“Leave me alone,” Drover sniffed through a haze of tears. “Get off.”
“Get off? Is that what you do with your little collection of pictures, Jeff? You get off with them?”
He shook his head and sobbed. “They’re just pictures.”
“Well, if they’re just pictures, why are you all over them? Why do you even have them out when you’re climaxing?”
“They’re just pictures,” he repeated.
“You keep saying that, but I don’t believe you.” She lowered her face so that her lips touched his ears when she spoke. “I’ve known a lot of guys, Jeff, and I’ll tell you with most of them…if I was sitting on top of them just like this, they’d be so hard their dicks look like they might just fly right off. But, not you, Jeff. Not you.”
“Th-they’re not the ones wh-who you’ve been calling a child molester.”
“But, if I was wrong, then I’d be feeling something, wouldn’t I? Right here.”
Drover jerked beneath her, but she maintained her grip on his shirt collar. “I bet you’d be nice and excited if I was a ten-year-old boy, wouldn’t you?”
He tried to shake his head, but she wrapped her free hand around his head to hold him still. “Yes, you would. If I was a thin, growing and changing little boy, you’d be ready to jump. If I was little Daniel Richardson or Connor Whickfield…nothing would be able to stop you…”
“What do you want?” he said, his tears beginning to wet the side of her face.
“I want you to say it, Jeff. Just say it. Say I’m a child molester. C’mon, I know you can do it.”
“Just leave me alone.”
“No, Jeff, I need you to say it. Say it! Say, I’m a child molester.”
“Please, just go.”
“Say it. Repeat the words with me.”
“Leave me alone…please.”
“Say it, you bastard! Tell me how you abused those boys! Tell me you’re a child molester!”
“I…I…I didn’t do any-”
“I don’t want to hear that! Don’t lie to me, goddamn it! Say it!”
“Okay…I’m a …”
“A what? You’re a what!”
“Yes,” she said releasing him slightly. “Yes, you are, Jeff.”
She smacked him on the forehead and jumped off of him to head toward the door. Drover leapt out of the chair, having regained his courage, and followed her.
“You people can’t come in here harassing me like this!”
“And how long do you think you can go on molesting boys before you’re caught?” she yelled, ensuring that the sound of her voice carried down his corridor.
“I don’t do that! And, if you people had anything on me, you would’ve already thrown the damn cuffs on me again! I’m not a…molester.”
“Yeah, of course you’re not,” Olivia said sardonically and walked out the door.
She brushed past Elliot in the corridor and made her way to Drover’s elevator. Olivia pushed the “down” button for the elevator, but after a few impatient seconds, she let out a huff and stormed out the side door to the stairs.
“Liv,” Elliot called after her. “You’re just going to walk down nine flights of stairs just because?”
“I’ll be fine,” she said without pausing on the stairs.
“Hey!” he said when he finally caught up with her. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing!” she shouted. “Nothing’s going on. We still haven’t found Kreider and Drover’s a pansy-ass, crybaby, just like I figured he would be. Nothing is going on!”
“You know you were out of line up there.”
“I don’t care!” she shouted. “I don’t give a rat’s ass about Drover! Kreider murdered six children and he’s gone! We’re not going to find him and he killed his neighbor too just to make sure that we wouldn’t. A cold-blooded killer slipped through our hands because we spent days looking further and further into the wrong guy. This wrong guy. And here we are again, looking at this same goddamn person! I don’t care about Drover. Okay? He is shit to me!”
They walked the remaining five flights of stairs arguing over Drover and carried the argument into the car, uptown back to the precinct, onto the elevator toward the squad room and continued as it spilled out onto the squad room floor.
“Why don’t you just say it to my face, Olivia!”
“What you’ve been dying to say all day! Just say it!”
She took a step toward him. “Fine! You’re the reason that Dominic Hedges is dead!”
“Look, I thought we already talked about this,” Munch said once they had approached the desk pairs.
“I don’t want to hear it from you, either!” she yelled.
“The only person responsible for Dominic Hedges’ death is Owen Kreider,” Munch said.
“Don’t bother arguing,” Elliot said. “She’s on a roll now and she’ll just trample you too.”
Olivia whirled back around to Elliot. “I have every right to be ‘on a roll!’ I tip-toed around you for days because I knew you’d explode if I approached this Kreider thing the wrong way and this is what’s happened. Another boy died while we were screwing around with Drover!”
“We were looking at Drover, Olivia!” Elliot said. “Your words, not mine. We were looking at him. If you felt so strongly that Kreider was the one, you should’ve stuck to your damn guns! Don’t try to pin this all on me!”
“Who should I blame? You’re going through a divorce. You’re kids are acting up. You’re having trouble ‘cause Kreider’s been murdering boys your son’s age, but you’re the only one who can’t be held accountable for his actions!”
“Oh, you’re full of shit!” Elliot shouted.
“No, you’re full of shit! You knew you had problems with this case from the very first day and instead of being a man and stepping down before you were too far in, you pressed on, completely blind to what was going on! I don’t care how many ways you want to point the finger! All the blame lies on you!”
Elliot glared at her, rage building with each passing second. As he thought about how hard he would hurt Olivia at that moment if she was not a woman, Cragen called them both into his office.
“All right,” he said. “Whatever is going on between the two of you…I don’t care what it is, I want it over with. Now! I have to make an announcement about Kreider and this is going to look bad enough with the two of you screaming at one another like you’ve lost your goddamn minds! If you can’t get it together, I’ll reassign you both!”
Elliot and Olivia glanced at one another at the word
“reassign.” As angry as they both were at the moment, neither wanted to lose
their position in the in the
“Everything’s…fine, sir,” Olivia said softly.
“And it sounds like it is,” Cragen said glaring at her. Elliot began to say something, but Cragen held up his hand. “I don’t care. I don’t want to hear about it. Just get it together. Go home, the both of you. Take today, clear your heads and do whatever you have to do to get your acts together.”
The detectives glanced at one another and silently filed out of the office. They picked up their things and said nothing to anyone as they left the squad room and parted ways at the street.