For the second time that week, Olivia found herself sitting in silence and staring off into space as she wondered how so many things could go wrong in one day.
When she and Elliot had been “asked” to leave for the day, they did not speak one word to one another and she got off the elevator on the third floor to opt for the stairs instead of spending the rest of the ride with him. An uncontrollable anger had spurred from her that morning and having no other avenue upon which to express it, every bit of it was directed straight at Elliot.
The ring of her telephone pierced through the air and Olivia allowed it to ring three times before reaching over to answer it with a sigh.
“Hello,” she said softly, praying that Elliot would not be on the other end of the phone.
“Olivia?” Jillian’s voice said brightly. “It’s Jillian. How’ve you been?”
Olivia sighed into the phone, letting it speak for her.
“I see,” Jillian said. “Well, how busy are you right now, because Joshua’s got the boys for this guys’ night out thing and I’m in the city.”
“I’m actually not busy at all.”
Jillian was silent for a moment. “Liv, what happened?”
Olivia sighed again and Jillian interrupted her. “Forget it. I’m at Maya’s and she and I can be at your door in twenty minutes. If you’re not busy, we’re taking you out for a bit.”
Olivia nodded into the phone, though she knew Jillian could not see her and she quickly made plans to instead meet Maya and Jillian at a restaurant close to her.
“God, Livia,” Maya said, upon seeing her. “You look like hell. What’s been going on?”
“This case,” she said leaning back in her chair. “Everything about it has gone wrong from the start…”
Maya and Jillian glanced at one another.
“Can we ask-” Maya began.
“He’s gone,” Olivia said quickly. “The guy is gone. A rapist and a murder is gone and we have absolutely no way of finding him.” When neither Jillian nor Maya spoke, she continued. “And what’s most frustrating is that I have no one else to blame but myself. I let us continue looking at this case from the wrong angle instead of going my way and now the guy’s gone.”
“Olivia,” Jillian said. “Everyone makes mistakes.”
“But not everyone’s mistakes allow a sociopath to run freely on the streets.”
Silence settled over the trio again and Maya slipped out of their booth to get drinks for them.
“You can’t keep blaming yourself for what happened,” Jillian said when Maya had left.
“Jill, I’ve run this through my head a hundred times and I know what happened. A boy is dead because I didn’t do the right thing and then…and then I blamed Elliot for it because I couldn’t think of what else to do.”
“Olivia…” Jillian began, but Olivia interrupted her.
“I screwed up. Anyway that you look at this.”
“You weren’t the only one working this case, Olivia,” Jillian said. “You have a partner, other detectives, captains, so on and so forth. If you want to say that the ball was dropped on this, then you can’t blame yourself. I know that there were at least half a dozen people who let this case go, aside from you.”
“Jill, I knew about this other guy five days ago.”
“And did you keep that information to yourself for five days?”
Olivia’s eyebrows furrowed at her friend. “No.”
“Of course not. Because you’re a good cop. And since other good cops knew about him too, how can all the blame be placed directly on you?”
Olivia shook her head slowly as Maya returned to the table with three glasses.
“What’d I miss?” she said.
“Olivia’s blaming herself for something that’s not her fault,” Jillian said grabbing her drink by the glass’s mouth.
“Livia,” Maya said handing her a cosmopolitan. “What about Elliot? If this guy is gone then it’s probably just as much his fault as it is yours or anyone else’s for that matter.”
“See,” Jillian said. “Maya’s saying the exact same thing I am.”
Olivia rolled her eyes and took a sip of her drink.
“Look,” Maya said. “You can’t just wallow in self-pity all night.”
“Oh, yes I can,” Olivia said. “I was sent home today. Not asked if I wanted to take time off. Sent home. Both me and Elliot. I think a little self-pity is necessary.”
“But, I’m sure you were asked to come back.”
Olivia stared into the shining brown eyes of her upbeat friend and sighed. “We were sent home because we argue non-stop now. We can’t even talk about any case without it turning into a competition to see who can get their point across louder.”
“I’m so surprised,” Jillian said as she took a drink.
“C’mon, Jillian,” Olivia said. “That’s the last thing I need right now.”
“Well, what do you want from me?” Jillian asked her eyebrows high on her forehead. “Are we really supposed to be surprised that the two of you are arguing all the time? You’re just not good for each other. I wish you two would just split up.”
“You may get your wish Jill because my captain’s already suggesting it.”
“Good,” Jillian said.
“No,” Maya said setting down her drink. “It’s not good. If there’s a problem between the two of you, it can’t just be Elliot.” Olivia glared at Maya, but she continued. “Look, you two worked together fine for years and all of sudden you guys are arguing all the time. It takes two to argue, Livia. Even if he was yelling at you day in and day out, you had to’ve yelled back to keep it going.”
“So, now you’re blaming me for everything…”
“Isn’t that what you wanted us to do in the first place?”
“Touché, Maya,” Olivia said cracking her first smile that day.
The conversation moved from Olivia to Jillian’s sons to the children of the man Maya was seeing, to Maya’s other beau and then back Olivia and Jonathan. Olivia had been dreading the idea of bringing up Jonathan with her friends since the moment Jillian had called her and when Jillian asked about him brightly, it was all she could do to keep from rolling herself into a tearful ball on the bar floor.
“We fought last night,” Olivia said.
“What else is new?” Maya said finishing the last of her margarita. “The two of you fight every other day. The real surprise would’ve been if you’d said ‘Oh, everything’s roses between us. Thanks for asking.’ Some couples are just like that.”
Olivia shook her head at Maya and started laughing. “Everything’s already worse than I’d thought. Jonathan and I…I just wasn’t in the mood because everything that’s going on and he came at me the wrong way. I ended up throwing him out.”
“You threw out Jonathan?” Jillian said, eyes wide.
“Again,” Maya said. “Tell us something new.”
“But, what do you mean by ‘threw him out?’” Jillian continued. “I mean, didn’t you just give him your keys? How could you throw him out?”
“Well, he didn’t move in,” Olivia said. “He still has his own place…thank God.”
“What happened?” Jillian pressed.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I was worried about this case…no. No, I was angry at Elliot and that just spilled over onto Jonathan who didn’t even do anything. I just overreacted.”
“It’s just stress,” Jillian said. “We’ve all been through it before.”
“You’ve been through it?” Olivia spat. “Tell me, Jill, when was the last time someone woke you up at four AM to tell you a thirteen-year-old kid had been raped and murdered and left in an alley?”
“Fine,” Jillian said. “We all know that you’re job and you’re life are more stressful than anybody else’s, but we’re trying to help you.”
“I’m sorry,” Olivia sighed. “I didn’t mean that.”
“We know,” Jillian said. “It’s like I said. It’s just stress.”
“Livia,” Maya began. “Why don’t you just take some time off?”
“I can’t. There’s no time,” Olivia said, taking a sip of her drink. “Besides, I’m already being sent home by my captain because of what’s going on between me and Elliot.”
“You could make time, if you really wanted to,” Jillian said. “You should just get out of the city for a little while. Some time away from here…away from Jonathan, away from the job…away from your partner…It might do you a lot of good.”
Olivia sighed again. “I don’t even know how it got to this point. Two weeks ago, we were right back on track. Hell, two days ago we were fine, and now…It feels like we take one step forward and three steps back. It’s like everything I’m doing is wrong.”
“Or,” Jillian said, “maybe you just need a change…a real change.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” Jillian continued cautiously. “You seemed almost refreshed when you came home from working with the FBI. May this is just…God’s way of telling you that you need to get out of there. I mean no one expects you to spend the rest of your career in that unit.”
Olivia stared at the ice floating innocently at the top of her new rum and coke, pondering Jillian’s words, but Maya jumped on the defensive.
“She’ll leave when she’s ready. And, Livia, you don’t want to do anything rash. Anything you might regret later. Especially right now.”
“If not now, when?”
“Hello? Livia?” Maya said in a sing-song voice. “Have you heard anything we’ve talked about tonight? You’re under stress. More than usual. This whole thing with Elliot and Jonathan just magnifies everything going on with your case. It’s got you outside yourself. Now, especially, is not the time to make life-altering decisions like leaving your unit.”
“Why not?” Olivia said her voice distant. “My captain as much as said I’m out if Elliot and I can’t get it together. What if this is something telling me it’s time to move on?”
“Because everyone at this table knows that’s bull,” Maya said.
“She’s right,” Jillian said, interrupting before Olivia could retort. “You should probably move on, but I don’t recommend anything until some of this passes over.”
Olivia shook her head. “Nothing’s going right. Elliot’s just angry all the time and when he’s angry, he doesn’t talk to me about what’s initially bothering him and that just pisses me off. He seemed to be fine for a bit and then we get this case and we’re at each other’s throats again.”
“Well, just think of the positive,” Maya said, flagging down one of the bartenders. “I mean, you’re employed, you’ve got a rent controlled apartment in the Village and you’ve got Jonathan. And if things don’t work out with Jonathan, then screw him. We’ll find you somebody better.”
Jillian giggled. “Yeah, there’s a guy who works with Joshua who’d love you…and if he didn’t work out, there’s always that Philip kid.”
Olivia laughed into her drink and talk turned to the more light-hearted topic of Maya’s lack of a legal practice. An hour later, they parted ways and the moment Olivia was in her apartment, the telephone was ringing.
“So, what’s the real issue here?” Maya said as if they were already in the middle of conversation.
“Maya, are you even home yet?”
“‘Course not,” she said. “I’m still in the cab. Are you going to tell me what’s going on or what?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Olivia said. “We already talked about everything tonight.”
“Yeah. You can kid yourself and maybe even Jillian if you want, but you can’t fool me. I know you too well. So, I’ll ask again, what’s up?”
“Everything, or should I say everyone?”
“You mean with Elliot?”
Maya laughed. “Well, I meant Jonathan, but now that you bring him up…what about you and Elliot.”
“There’s nothing,” Olivia said sighing. “After today, I doubt he’ll even want to talk to me. In fact, I’d be happy if we were just on speaking terms again.”
“You’re really going to tell me half your fight with Jonathan didn’t have anything to do with Elliot?”
“Of course it was, but not how you’re suggesting. I wasn’t in the mood and Jonathan acted like a jackass.”
“Or,” Maya continued, “you were preoccupied with one guy and when another one tried something on you, you reacted badly.”
“You are so full of it, it’s unbelievable!” Olivia yelled into the phone.
“Okay, okay,” Maya said. “Fine, fine, fine. If you say so.”
“Maya, I’ve still got a lot to do tonight to save my job. I’m hanging up now.”
“Will you at least prove to me that nothing’s wrong by calling Jonathan?”
“What makes you think I haven’t called him since yesterday?” Olivia was met only with silence and she asked again. “Maya? What makes you think I haven’t spoken to him?”
Maya sighed. “Because he called me last night in a panic over you.”
“And did you tell him your little Elliot theory?”
“Okay, now you’re starting to get angry over nothing, which sounds like par for you these days.”
“All right! Now I am done. G’bye, Maya.”
Olivia hung up the phone and turned on her television to one of the instrumental music channels. Thankfully, Maya knew when she had pushed the limit and Olivia knew that she would not call again that night, but she felt aggravated altogether. It was no surprise that Jonathan would call Maya when they were having problems, but the idea still infuriated her.
Olivia turned off the television after one song and changed into running clothes. Too worked up for either sleep or simple self-pity, she knew the only thing to be done was to get out some of her frustration at the gym.
Elliot sat in the restaurant on
He had spent much of the remainder of his day at his church speaking to his priest; no other remedies could come to mind. Throughout his youth, Elliot’s mother had continually reiterated that when he was in doubt, he should always fall on his faith. Considering the state of things with his partner, he was in serious doubt of what else could be done.
A curly-haired waitress came by for the second time offering coffee and beer, coddle and hamburgers, and French fries and goody. He declined her offer for anything other than coffee and she walked away, rolling her eyes.
Elliot sighed as she walked away and stared at the door.
She’s got three more minutes, he thought.
As if on cue, Kathy appeared at the door and quickly found his table.
“Hey,” she said as she sat. “I would’ve been here sooner, but I had an argument with Kathleen about her dress for this upcoming formal thing.”
“At least you’ve got her talking,” Elliot said.
“Yeah. Could I get a tea with lemon?” she asked the waitress who appeared the moment Kathy sat at the table.
Elliot stared at his ex-wife for a moment and suppressed a sigh. Her face was slightly pink from the cold and her eyes were shining even through the false, fluorescent light in the restaurant.
“So, what’d you want to talk about, Kath,” he said.
“I…uh, just wanted to talk to you about the kids.”
“Well, it’s easier than trying to break the phone free from one of them.”
He was about to bring up using a cell phone, but took a sip of his coffee instead. He rarely got to see her and, even when he did, it was hardly ever just the two of them.
“It’s just that Dickie’s been bouncing off the walls a lot lately,” she continued. “I got a call from the vice principal and he says Dickie’s been disruptive in his classes lately.”
She shrugged. “He wasn’t very specific, but from what I gathered he’s just talking a lot in class and drawing a lot of attention to himself.”
“What do you think is problem?”
“I don’t know,” she said shrugging again. “Maybe it’s this girl he keeps talking about every other second. Jessica…I think she’s a bad influence.”
Elliot laughed. “Come on, Kath. He’s just a got a crush.”
“But, he was never like this before he started talking about her non-stop.”
“And, he’s never been thirteen before, either.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s true,” she said with a smirk as she stirred her tea.
“Oh, I should give this to you,” Elliot said taking some papers out of his inner jacket pocket. “Lizzie wanted some music from Olivia for her recital. When it is it by the way?”
“March 4th and I suggest you mark it on your calendar now because I doubt she’ll forgive you missing this one.”
“Trust me, I won’t.”
“So, why’d Lizzie want music from Olivia?”
“She said she wanted something new and she knows that Olivia plays. I’m sure she’ll like it. Olivia composed it herself.”
“Really,” she said, a light frown tugging at her lips. “‘Lately’…well, I know Lizzie will love it.”
He nodded and took a sip of his coffee. “
A grin quickly spread across her face. “Yeah…God, our kids are growing up quick.”
“You know, Lizzie burned herself the other day when she damn near set the house on fire?”
Kathy sighed. “Yes, I know. I saw it when I got back home. It took me an hour to clean the stove.”
“Where the hell were you?” Elliot said.
“Well, she’s thirteen, Elliot,” Kathy said, narrowing her eyes at his sudden change in tone. “She doesn’t need a babysitter.”
“So, you just left her to set the house on fire by herself?”
“She was fine and she wasn’t alone.”
“She got burned and she could’ve done some real damage while you were out wherever.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Kathy said, leaning forward. “I met with my book club on Saturday and some of us went out for a few drinks afterward. I wasn’t just out wherever.”
“Yeah, okay. You’re out and, meanwhile, Lizzie’s busy burning down the house.”
“Don’t be patronizing with me, Elliot! How many nights a week did you and Olivia and all the guys from the precinct go out for drinks after a case, leaving the rest of us here? You spent every waking second at work and when you had a moment off, you spent it with other people!”
“You’re right,” he said softly after a long pause. “I did that a lot…and I’m sorry.”
Her expression softened immediately and she sighed.
“It’s okay, Elliot,” she said and she leaned back in her seat.
He was relieved and impressed by how quickly she calmed down with the simple apology and wondered if that was all it would take to reduce some of Olivia’s fury.
“So,” Elliot said after taking another drink of his coffee. “What’s going on?”
“I just wanted to see how you were doing.”
“Well, a killer’s loose and my captain’s threatening to reassign me because Olivia and I are fighting non-stop. How do you think I’m doing?”
Kathy’s eyes fell to her teacup and he immediately regretted the statement.
“I didn’t mean that,” he said.
“You never mean it. I know. I remember the drill.”
Silence fell over them for a moment before Elliot spoke again.
“So, what did you really want to talk about?”
“Just you, Elliot,” she said. “Just you.”
He nodded and they proceeded to talk about old times when the kids were little, how the neighborhood had changed so much in recent years and what they might expect from Lizzie having seen what Maureen and Kathleen were like through adolescence.
They started laughing about the time Kathy tackled him at their front door to keep him home when he had the flu and, just as Elliot suddenly remembered that EK Mitchell’s was not that far Diana Willex’s apartment, he saw a flash of light brown hair through the window. His heart jumped into his chest when Diana’s face came into view. He directed his attention completely on Kathy, but he could see that Diana recognized him and was making her way into the restaurant.
Aw shit, he thought as she approached them.
“Hi,” she said curtly.
“Hey,” Elliot said into his coffee.
She stood in front of the table for a moment, before Kathy gave her a bright smile. “Hi there. I’m Kathy.”
“Diana,” she said still staring at Elliot.
“Do…you want to join us?”
Diana glared at Kathy. “No thanks. I just came in for a quick drink. Bye Elliot.”
She turned on her heel and flagged down a bartender.
A part of Elliot wanted to laugh out loud at the situation while another part of him wanted to bang his head against the table.
Kathy turned her attention back toward Elliot. “A friend of yours?” she said, eyebrows raised.
“Yeah, I guess.”
He could see in her eyes that she wanted to inquire further, but he took another drink of his coffee to break the eye contact and quickly changed the subject to Dickie and Jessica Barrow.
After another thirty minutes of discussing their
children, Elliot was in his car driving up
When they approached the house they had once made a home, Elliot shut off his car engine and stared at Kathy. They sat in silence for a moment before Kathy reached for the door handle.
“Hang on a sec, Kath,” he said. “What was all this about tonight? I mean…you really just wanted to see how I was doing?”
She shrugged. “Yeah. You just seemed a bit off when I saw you on Sunday and I just wanted to make sure that you’re okay…Are you okay?”
He smiled at her. “I’m as ‘okay’ as I can be, considering…”
“Well…goodnight, Elliot.” She squeezed his hand and went into the house. As she walked away, Elliot felt his heart sink with every step. He missed everything about her and it took every bit of strength to keep from running after Kathy and begging her to let him come home.
He went back to his apartment and lied awake staring at the ceiling, his mind swirling, until , when he got dressed and took a drive. His relationship with anyone he cared about was hanging by a thread and if he could just get one of them going in the right direction, all the others might fall into place.
On the other side of the East River, he planned on going to the precinct to exercise, but he found himself continuing on 9th Avenue instead of turning onto 47th Street and his phone was in his hand a moment later.
Diana was a mistake over whom he would just as soon not trouble himself and Kathy was at best, an extreme work in progress. As all four of his children were most likely asleep, there was just one relationship he could touch that night.
A swift January wind hit Olivia’s face the moment she opened the door to her building. She pulled her coat tighter around her and took a deep breath as she stepped forward to face the winter air.
The café on
She had attempted to work out her frustrations on the treadmill at the precinct, but had no luck. She was just as tense and irritated passing the three-mile mark on the treadmill as she was on the cab ride up to the precinct. Still stressed, Olivia returned home to lie on her couch and stare at her phone, willing Jonathan to call her. Perhaps, if he just called could clear up things between them and she would be able to “handle” Elliot the next day.
It was only when Olivia had given up on Jonathan for the night and was falling asleep that the phone finally rang. She had leapt out of the bed and crossed the room in a single bound to get to the phone after just one ring. To her dismay, Elliot’s number appeared in the phone display and she hesitated before answering.
She could hear that he was driving as he spoke and
decided that only a special breed of “mean bitch” would stand him up at the
café when he had taken the time to come all the way from
The metal door to the café felt brutally cold as she pulled it open and she regretted not bringing gloves with her. She rubbed her hands as her eyes scanned the café, half-hoping that Elliot wouldn’t show.
In the corner of the café, Olivia found him with a despondent expression displayed on his face. She ordered a decaffeinated tea at the counter before sitting down at Elliot’s small table.
“Drinking coffee?” she said. “Are you expecting to be up for long?”
“It’s decaf,” he said in a low voice. “And, I don’t need coffee to keep me up at this point.”
“I see,” she said as she took off her coat.
“Olivia…” Elliot began, but paused. He was not sure what was going on between them, but he was certain that they could not continue on their current path. “Whatever it is…I need you to just say whatever you need to say to me right now. You can say anything you need to get off your chest. Anything. I don’t care what it is…because we cannot go on like this. Not if we expect to keep our jobs.”
Olivia sighed. “Honestly, I think I said just about everything already.”
“Well,” he said rubbing a hand over his face. “Can we just…start over? I don’t know what I did to get us to this point, but I really need for us to…get back, close to the same page.”
“I know, Elliot,” she said softly. “And, I’m sorry about what I said. All this…it’s nothing you did. I’m just frustrated. This case has been hell from the beginning and I’ve been under a lot of stress lately.”
Elliot sighed and wanted to bring up the issue of her doctor’s appointment again, but hesitated, realizing that of all moments, this was the worst of all possible ones to do so.
“Whatever I’ve been doing to cause that frustration…I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologize,” she said. “It’s not because of you.”
“Then what?” he asked before he could stop himself.
She shook her head and shrugged. “Life. But, it’s like I said, you haven’t done anything wrong and I’m really sorry about what I said today. None of this is your fault.”
“You say that, but I must be doing something wrong. We keep going forwards and backwards, but we’re still stuck in this same groove.” He paused for a moment as her gaze left his eyes and fixed on her cup. “Look, can we just say that we were both wrong and move on? I’m so ready to move on, Liv, and I can’t seem to function right when you’re this mad at me.”
“I’m not…not at you. I’m just going through some things right now.”
“Must be some pretty serious stuff,” Elliot said, “because when I didn’t have a comeback for what you said to me today, I nearly decked you.”
She gave him a small smirk and stirred her tea. “It’s not that serious. It’s just stressful for the sake of being stressful.”
“Is there anything I can do?”
She started to shake her head, but spoke instead. “Actually, there is. When something is bothering you, really bothering you…just, please come to me about it. Because when you’re stressed about something and you won’t talk about it, I get stressed over what you’re not telling me and then I get angry and then we fall into this angerball cycle.”
He stared silently at her for a moment. “I’ll try. If you’ll do the same.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes as a voluptuous woman with big hair laughed loudly at what the man sitting across from her had to say at the next table. Finishing their coffee and tea without words, they paid and left, and Elliot walked Olivia home, though neither said anything until they reached Olivia’s building.
“You didn’t have to walk me home, you know?” she said with a smile. “It’s only half a block and this is nice neighborhood.”
“Tell me about it,” Elliot said. “Though, if I could pay eight hundred a month for the Village, I’d be out here too.”
She laughed. “Oh, the beauty of rent-control.”
“I’m surprised they haven’t run you out of here yet.”
“My landlord keeps trying, but I’m not budging. It was my mother’s and her mother’s before her. Besides my neighbor’s been in her apartment forever, so if he was really trying to oust anyone, she’d be the first to go.”
They chuckled together as a light snow began to fall giving a small lull to the city’s night noise.
“I better go if I expect to get some sleep,” Elliot said.
“Yeah,” she said. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
When he got back to his car, Elliot let out a long sigh. As the light snow became heavier, he realized his muscles were still tense from keeping back the steady urge to reach out and hug his partner as they stood before her building. His senses were still piqued from the past Sunday and he kept the heat off in the car as headed back over the river.
With the situation as it was with Kathy and also Diana, he could not afford to complicate anything with his partner and, Elliot knew that another hug, no matter how benign, would turn into something severe with Olivia.
Sunlight peeked through an opening in heavy grey clouds and Elliot squinted as the streets were showered with the new light that bounced off the gleaming snowdrifts. Olivia sat next to him in the car looking carefully for Building 1480.
They had spent the majority of the morning trying to catch up on their other cases by making phone calls, collecting files and retrieving statements from several witnesses. Everything was followed up, except for the Kreider case. Cragen was going to make a public statement later that afternoon as no word had been heard regarding Kreider and it was beginning to appear that he simply disappeared off the face of the earth.
Though nothing had been said officially, Elliot and Olivia had been pulled as the lead detectives on the case and, while neither was happy with the situation, they did not complain. Solace came for both detectives when Cragen saw them working in tandem at their desk pair, instead of yelling or snipping at one another.
As their most poignant case was Marianas Garcia’s, they found themselves driving up Lexington Avenue in search of the residence of Kevin McDaniel, to whom they had intended on speaking over a week earlier, but Kreider came in the way.
“Is that him?” Olivia said pointing to a man shoveling show in front of Building 1480.
Elliot pulled the car to the side of the street and he looked at the image Olivia held in her hand.
He nodded. “Yeah, looks like.”
They got out of the car and approached the red-faced man who was pounding at the snow that was hard packed to the ground.
“Kevin McDaniel?” Elliot said with a hand about to pull out his badge.
The man stuck his shovel into his building snowdrift and looked up at the two detectives. Elliot and Olivia both showed their badges and, as Olivia opened her mouth to introduce them to him, McDaniel dropped the shovel and took off running down the street.
The detectives glanced at one another before giving chase, but only ran a few steps before watching McDaniel’s feet hit a patch of ice. His arms spun wildly in the air for a moment before his body gave way to gravity and fell spread eagle on the ground, hitting his head in the process.
Thirty minutes and long laugh at McDaniel’s expense later, the detectives were in an interrogation room across from McDaniel who held an ice pack to the back of his head and angry expression on his face.
“Remember to keep ice on that,” Olivia said, smirking slightly. “Or else you’ll have a nasty bump on your head in the morning.”
“Yeah, whatever,” McDaniel said in a gruff voice.
“So,” Elliot said. “Are you gonna tell us what happened with Marianas Garcia or what?”
“Look,” McDaniel said. “All I did was ask for that girl’s number and she turned me down.”
“And you thought raping her was just revenge?”
“No,” he said, tossing the ice pack on the table. “She turned me down and then me and a buddy ‘o mine were walking down the street when we saw her a few days later. I told him about her and he said we should jump her.”
“Oh, so this wasn’t your fault at all?” Elliot said sarcasm biting in his voice.
McDaniel sighed and stared at the table. “It was all Lanaghan.”
Olivia snorted and drummed her fingers on the table. “And so I take it your semen just magically beamed into her?”
“Lanaghan said we should do it!”
“But, you’ve got a brain of your own,” Elliot said. “You knew exactly what you were doing and you hurt her anyway.”
“Doesn’t matter anyways, Elliot,” Olivia said. “He raped
“Hey!” McDaniel said. “What do I gotta do to fix this?”
“Nothing,” Olivia said. “You can serve your full sentence and live whatever life you’ve got left when you’re finally let out and…considering the fact that this’ll probably go down as a hate crime…your parole board members are probably still walking around in diapers at this point.”
“What hate crime!” McDaniel yelled. “We didn’t do it ‘cause she was Spanish! We did it ‘cause she was a bitch!”
“Yell all you want, but all three of us know how this will go down,” Elliot said. “Two white guys, up in Spanish Harlem, raping a Spanish girl…well, at least you’ll have an active social life while you’re inside.”
“Aw, c’mon!” McDaniel said. “If I could take it back, I would, but this wasn’t a hate crime! You gotta be able to do something.”
Olivia took out a legal pad and a pen. “We might be able to talk the DA into giving you a deal, if…if you give us a statement and if you testify against Lanaghan.”
“And end up his bitch in the joint? No way.”
“You’re gonna be somebody’s bitch in prison either
way,” Elliot said. “It’s just now a matter of how long. You give us a statement
and testify against Lanaghan, you can walk out of Sing Sing on parole in maybe
five years. You wait until the DA tries your case, and trust me with
“Fine,” McDaniel said after a long pause. “Gimme the damn paper.”
An hour later, Casey and McDaniel’s public defender reached an agreement for McDaniel to serve six to twelve years once he testified against his accomplice, Timothy Lanaghan and, instead of celebrating on a case quickly closed, Elliot and Olivia were preparing to meet the public and deliver the news of Kreider’s flight.
The announcement was scheduled for and Munch and Fin walked into the squad room at fifteen minutes to three.
“How goes the hunt?” Olivia said.
“It isn’t,” Fin said. “We’ve been trying to find some relations, but Kreider’s an only child and his dad hasn’t seen or heard from since he was a kid.”
“We did, however,” Munch said, holding a large manila folder packed with dozens of papers, “find something in his sealed records.”
Olivia whirled around in her chair. “What’d you find?”
“Well,” Munch announced. “Owen Kreider was at the tender age of nine years old, when his mother, a Ms. Rosalyn Kreider, noticed a strange odor coming from her basement. When she investigated, she caught her son strangling, not one, not two, but three two week-old puppies in the middle of the floor. The odor came from his stockpile of other animals he’d been putting out of their premature misery.”
“Puppies?” Olivia said. “He’s a complete freak.”
“But, we already knew that,” Elliot said.
“Oh, it gets better,” Munch continued, waving the folder at them. “When the Kreiders took their disturbed son to a psychiatrist, Owen proclaimed that it quote: ‘felt nice to control something for once, especially when it was life or death.’”
“Good God,” Olivia said. “And this was when he was nine?”
“And there’s more. Since the neighbors had been noticing their pets and other woodland creatures disappearing, a judge ordered Kreider to work in an animal shelter for ninety days. Ten days into it, one of the workers found Kreider in a back room doing something God never intended with a dog and a plastic bottle. After that he was in juvenile detention until he was thirteen.
“What about after he turned thirteen?” Olivia asked.
Munch shrugged. “Some fights here and there in high school, though it looks like he was mostly on the receiving end of them, combined with some miserable grades…Bounced from job to job for a bit before getting a spot at Rohlman. He’s your perfectly average, standard, run of the mill sociopath.”
“Yeah,” Fin said. “And no one has the slightest idea what happened to him.”
The detectives shook their heads at the thought and Cragen appeared a moment later, ready to deliver his statement.
The public announcement went quickly and all four detectives stood stony faced, but strong beside their captain as the storm of the press took hold. Questions bounced from every angle and each detective remained firm and united.
When it was all over, they returned to the squad room drained and somber. The Whickfields and the Richardsons were both present and they all knew the image of two grieving mothers, one black, one white, embracing one another in a tumult of tears over their lost sons would be front page material citywide and ignite a second outburst of calls and leads that led nowhere.
Olivia’s leg banged into her end table as she entered her apartment and she swore loudly, grabbing her leg with her free hand. The pain in her leg was short and left swiftly, yet she realized a moment later that she swore mostly because she had had a drink too many at the bar with Elliot, Munch and Fin.
They had gone to a nearby bar to drown their sorrows in liquor after dealing with the aftermath of the day’s statement and one beer quickly turned into five and Olivia was angry only with herself as her head still spun slightly after getting out of the cab.
Elliot had offered to take her home, but she declined with a few half-slurred words in order to keep her dignity. On only one occasion had she become so intoxicated that she had to be taken home and, from what she remembered, Elliot had to half carry her into her apartment and put her to bed because she could barely move under her own steam.
Olivia flopped onto the couch in a huff and, the moment she did, her telephone rang. She let out a long groan and reached across the sofa to grab the phone from its stand.
“Benson,” she said slowly.
“Hey, Olivia,” Philip said. “It’s me…Philip. How’ve you been?”
“I’ve been better.”
“You sound tired.”
She laughed. “I guess you can say that.”
“I’m actually on the way towards your place. Would you mind if I came up to visit for a bit?”
“You came here first and then decided to call?” she said sitting up on the couch. “That’s pretty bold, Phil. What if I were entertaining a date or something?”
“You don’t sound like you are,” he said.
“That’s besides the point,” she said smiling into the phone.
“Well, I’m actually just bringing something to my mother and figured I’d give you a call to see if you wanted to do something.”
“Thanks, but I just dragged my ass in early from the bar and I think I’m in for the night.”
“How’s that guy who’s supposedly the one?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she mumbled.
“Oh really,” Philip said slyly. “Are you sure I can’t come over? Just for a bit?”
“Philip,” she said. “I know what you’re thinking and no. I don’t know what’s going on with my current relationship, but I’m damn sure I’m not ready to start anything new with anybody.”
Philip sighed. “If you’d just get to know me a little, Olivia…I’d never do anything to make you not want to talk about me.”
“Philip…” she groaned as she squeezed her eyes shut. “We talked about this…”
“I know, I just…”
When his voice trailed off, Olivia knew she had had her fill of the conversation.
“Look, Philip. I’m tired. How ‘bout I talk to you later okay?”
“Yeah, that’s fine,” he said with sigh and Olivia hung up without saying goodbye.
She lounged on her couch and had been asleep for four hours, wrapped in her afghan, when her cell phone’s chirp ripped through the air.
Olivia fished it out of her pocket quickly, dreading the idea of having to go back out to view a new victim.
“Benson,” she said into the phone, but she was only met by the sound of someone breathing and background noises of the city.
“Hello?” she said, sitting up on the couch. “Is anybody there?”
“Yeah,” a voice said quickly.
“Who is this?” Olivia said squinting as she tried to place the voice.
There was a long pause on the other end and Olivia wondered if she should simply end the call.
“It’s Jeff Drover,” he said. “I need to talk to you.”
A hot flash coursed through Olivia, beginning in her abdomen and heating every part of her body as it raced toward her head.
“Why the hell are you calling me? I don’t have anything to say to child molesters.”
“Would you…would you just hear me out for a second?”
“No!” she yelled. “Unless you’re calling to confess to molesting Ricky Schrader and Daniel Richardson, there’s nothing for me to hear. Don’t call again.”
“Please!” he said. “I just need to talk to you.”
“Why me? Can’t you find solace with some pedophiles on the Internet?”
“Look, I’m not like that!”
“The hell you’re not! I know exactly what you’re like. I’m hanging up now and don’t call ag-”
“Please Olivia. I’m begging you.”
“It’s Detective Benson and I’ve already told you-”
“Look, I know you don’t want to hear it, but I need to talk to someone and you’re the only person I can think of who doesn’t need to be brought up to date on what’s going on in my life and who can’t possibly think any lower of me. Please. I need to talk to you.”
Whether it was the liquor still floating in her system or the pleadng in his voice, Olivia grimaced as she agreed.
“Fine,” she said. “What must you talk about?”
“Not over the phone,” Drover said. “Can you meet me?”
“You know what? You’re outta your goddamn mind, Drover! I don’t want to talk to you and I sure as hell don’t want to go traipsing across the city trying to meet you in the middle of the night!”
“Please. I…I can’t discuss this on the phone. I’m at a coffee shop on Bleecker at 10th. How far away are you?”
Olivia sighed. “Not far, but I’m still not going out in this snow just for you.”
“Please,” Drover repeated. “Oliv-…Detective, please. I need help and you’re the only one I know who can help me.”
Five minutes later, Olivia shivered in her jacket as her feet hit the sidewalk. She walked, shaking her head at the ludicrous idea of meeting Drover and played with the idea of simply leaving him at the coffee shop where she and Elliot had talked less than twenty-four hours earlier. Her stomach gurgled with a splash of undigested beer and she skipped a step to keep herself balanced. She was no longer tipsy, but the slight buzz that tingled throughout her body had yet to dampen.
The street seemed darker and quieter than normal, which she attributed to a broken bulb in the nearby light post and the snow that had begun falling even stronger than it had in several days. She was annoyed that she had, again, been coaxed into listening to Drover, but if he was willing to admit he had a problem and asked her for real help, it was her duty to listen.
Thinking it might be prudent to call Elliot and have him pop in at the café, she pulled out her phone and brought it to her ear as she crossed the alley next to her building. The moment she opened her mouth to voice dial Elliot, she felt something hit her hard from behind and, a second later, she shrieked as she was pulled into the alley.
“Don’t say a word,” a gruff voice said.
A pair of strong hands held her by her arms and squeezed tight in case she might try to break free. Unable to see her assailant in the dark, Olivia tried to talk her way out of the assault.
“Let me go,” she said.
“Now, that sounds like you saying something. Didn’t I just tell you not to say one fucking word?”
She recognized the voice. “Drover?”
“Shut up!” he hissed.
“Jeff…let me go.”
Drover pulled her further down the alley and pressed her into a drain on the building.
“You people screwed me over,” he said. “So, I’m going to do the same to you.”
As he leaned closer to her, Olivia could feel the hard push of his building erection pressing against her thigh and she winced as he pressed her harder against the building.
“You feel that, Detective? Does that feel like a guy who gets off on little boys? Does it!”
“It…it feels like someone who’s frustrated about what’s been happening to him and is reacting in the wrong way.
He pushed his shoulder into hers to keep her pressed against the wall and freed both of his hands. He put one hand against her throat and the other he used to pull at her thigh. Olivia felt her breath catch as she tried to keep from panicking.
“Jeff, let me go,” she repeated.
“No! I’m going to screw you over just like you did me.”
“We didn’t do anything to you,” she said as his hand began to tighten around her jaw. “You abused Daniel Richardson and it was only a matter of time before you were going to…”
“Shut up!” He pressed her further against the drain pipe and she let out a cry of pain. “I lost my job and they told me they never wanted to see me again at the soccer association. My neighbors heard you and that guy calling me a child molester and now, they’re talking about running me out of the building! You ruined every single thing in my life for nothing! Nothing!”
“Jeff, any second now, someone’s going to hear you. Someone’s going to walk by and see this and then we’re going to have problems.”
“No, you’re the only one who’s going to have any problems.”
“Just let me go. If you just let me go, we’ll part ways and we’ll never speak of this again. If someone notices, then I’ll have to report this.”
“You mean, if I don’t screw you hard enough to keep you from talking.”
“Do you realize what you’re saying?
Jeff, if you hurt me…every cop in the city is going to be after you. Raping an
“Why?” he said. She could see light reflecting in his large eyes and his grip loosened slightly against her throat.
“If someone from my precinct gets to you first…they’ll take you to an interrogation room, and not one of the suites you’ve been in recently. It’ll be the one in the back that we say is being used for storage; the one that’s in the corner without any windows and no way for anyone to know what’s going on inside. They’ll take you back there and, then my partner, that guy you say has had it in for you for the past two weeks…he’ll be in to…talk to you. And after he beats you to within an inch of your life, they’ll just leave you there and then for some reason, no one will ever know what happened to you. You’ll just have disappeared and we’ll write you off as a Missing Person and that’ll be the end of it.”
“You’re lying,” he whispered.
“Am I? What do you think is going to happen once they find you?”
“You can’t just disappear people. You’re lying and I’m sick of all your lies.”
“When have I ever lied to you?” she said.
“You told me that all I had to do
was give you
He squeezed tighter around her jaw and she felt her breath catch again.
“It wasn’t my fault that the case kept coming back to you.”
“The hell it’s not! You lied to me at every chance you got and I’m sick of it!”
“Jeff, let me go. You can still walk away from this.”
“You’re not walking away from anything.”
“Stop! You make another move on me and I’m gonna have to fight back. I can’t guarantee that I’m not going to beat you senseless either.”
“You won’t be beating anything with my dick against your clit.”
“Let me go! Don’t make me hurt you, Drover. I’ve got a lot rage built up and I’ll kill you for sure. And not a jury in this world would convict me for taking out a rapist like you.”
“Jeff…just let me go. We’ll…we’ll go in separate directions and we won’t talk about this. If I have to fight back, you’re going to have real problems.”
“You’re full of shit.”
“Do you really think I would just come out to meet you at a café alone?”
“You called your goddamn partner, didn’t you?”
She nodded as best she could with Drover’s hand at her throat. “What do you think is going to happen if neither one of us shows at that café? Elliot’ll start calling me and then my boss, the captain, and before you know it, this place is going to be crawling with cops. If they find you like this…nothing I say is going to save you.”
Drover glared at her and she could herself in his eyes as if she was staring directly into a mirror. His hand against her leg shuddered and she could feel his grip releasing.
“That’s it, Jeff,” she said softly. “Just let me go and we’ll never discuss this again. Even if we’ve got you pinned for any other thing, I won’t say a word against you.”
He pushed away from her and she staggered on her feet for a moment before putting her hand to her hip holster. She could hear the sound of feet running and a moment later, Olivia saw the figure of what looked like a blond boy in his late teens standing at the alley’s mouth.
“What’s going on?” he said out of breath.
“Everything’s fine,” she said looking at Drover. “Right, Jeff? We’re fine. We were just leaving.”
“I-I just wanted to make sure,” the boy said.
Drover said nothing, but backed out of the alley and took off down the street.
Olivia let out a deep sigh and leaned against the wall of the building. She winced as she leaned against the side Drover had pushed against the metal drain pipe and she watched as the boy bent down to pick up her cell phone that she dropped when Drover snatched her.
“Is this…um…yours?” he asked handing the phone out to her.
“Yeah,” she said now breathing hard. “Thank you.”
“I…um…I saw that guy standing out here looking like he was waiting for somebody and then I saw you and I…I just…you know…I figured I’d better make sure you were okay.”
“Thank you, sweetie,” she said pushing herself away from the wall and walking back toward the sidewalk. “I’m okay, but I’m glad to see that there are people like you still around in this city.”
He gave her a weak smile. “Well…um…do you need me to walk you home?”
“Thanks, but no. I live right here.”
He nodded at her, but walked her to the building door nonetheless.
The moment Olivia closed the door to her apartment, she sank to the floor against the door, put her face in her hands and cried.
Like mother, like daughter, she thought as the taste of alcohol at the back of her throat brought back a conversation with her mother from her teens. Thirty-eight years ago, her mother had been staggering home drunk when she was set upon by a rapist and Olivia had been paying for the mistake ever since.
Between the alcohol and being overly worked up on the case in general, not to mention her wreck of a relationship with Jonathan, she stepped out of her building without fully thinking through what Drover was suggesting.
After the stunt she had pulled in his apartment the previous day, she was foolish to think that there would not be some kind of repercussions on Drover’s end. She had severely underestimated him and it could have cost her life.
He could have been waiting in her alley with friends ready to strike and she would have had real problems. He could have been so filled with rage that he could have strangled her the moment he took hold.
What if he got my weapon away? she thought.
The only reason she remained even remotely calm throughout the ordeal was because she knew that if she felt him making a further move, she could have her gun out in a moment’s notice, but the question still rang in her mind as tears ran down her face.
She ran through a list of her normal diatribe for assaulted victims and wondered if she should go see a doctor.
“No,” she said aloud.
She was not a victim. Drover tried something, but she prevailed. She was not a victim.
Olivia lifted herself off the floor and took a long shower wanting to wash away the smell of Drover from her face and neck. She had half a mind to burn the clothes she was wearing, but she simply opted for doing laundry sooner rather than later in the week.
You’re acting just like a victim, she thought.
“No,” she said aloud again. She was not a victim.
She paced around her apartment for a bit before wrapping herself in all the covers on her bed. Each time she passed her telephone, she wanted nothing more than to call Elliot, but she knew she could not face him in her state. Knowing that she would simply break down on the phone if she called, Olivia shook the thought from mind. She had worked too hard in getting him to see her as his partner who just happened to be a woman rather than just another woman he had to look out for and crying hard, either on the phone or directly in front of him, would undo everything she had built in the past eight years.
As she wiped away the last tear from her eye, she decided that she would go into the gym at the precinct early in the morning and just work out all of her frustrations on the treadmill or perhaps some light weight lifting. Normally, during the very early morning hours, there were fewer men in the weight room and she could lift without feeling completely inadequate next to the beastly man next to her who would be lifting thirty-pound weights.
You’re trying to push it away instead of deal with what happened, she thought.
Her breathing finally back to normal, she shook her head into her pillows.
“He didn’t do anything to me,” she said. “I’m not a victim. I am not a victim.”