Chapter Fourteen


Tuesday January 30, 2007



The department-issued cell phone vibrated across the coffee table and Elliot’s eyes flew open at the sound. His heartbeat jumped as he tried to find some familiarity in the darkened room, but none came. He moved toward the sound of the vibrating phone and felt the weight of something on top of him.

Elliot’s eyes scanned through the darkness and, finally remembering where he was, he realized that at some point during the night, he had not only shifted on Olivia’s couch so that he lied length-wise, but also brought her with him so that she slept directly on top of him as well. Her face was buried into his neck and her hair half covered his face as she slept soundly.

He reached for his phone, trying to move as little as possible to keep from waking Olivia and stared at the number in the display. He did not recognize it, but he was certain it was an NYPD call.

“Stabler,” he said softly into the phone.

Elliot sighed as the officer on the other end informed him that a young boy had been found sodomized, beaten and nude on the east side of Tompkins Square Park.

He stared at the ceiling wanting nothing more than to throw the phone across the room and lie on Olivia’s couch until the sun rose. Lying there just a moment more, he shook the arm that held the majority of Olivia’s weight.

“Liv,” he said into her hair. “Wake up. We gotta go.”

She moaned into his neck and he shook her again, unsure what he would do with another vibration of her mouth against his neck.

“C’mon,” he said. “We need to go.”

Olivia shifted on top of him for a moment in a daze of sleep and fatigue. The moment she realized on whom she was lying, she leapt off of him as if she had touched something hot.

“God, I’m sorry,” she said. “I fell asleep.”

“I gathered that…They found another one.”

“Another boy? Where?”

“Tompkins Square all over again,” Elliot said rising from the couch.

Olivia shook her head. “He’s been in the city this whole time? I can’t believe it.”

“Yeah, Munch and Fin are on their way. C’mon, I’ll drive us.”

After ten minutes of awkwardly fumbling around Olivia’s apartment gathering shoes and downing mouthwash, they arrived at the crime scene, flagged down by Melinda.

“Is it him?” Elliot asked Melinda, already knowing the answer.

“Yeah,” she said after a deep sigh. “And, there’s something else…”

She lifted a small wet piece of paper set in an evidence bag into the air so that Elliot and Olivia could see it.

“He left a note sticking out of the boy’s mouth. It says, ‘Since seven is a better number…’”

Olivia closed her eyes for a moment wanting to strike out at anything close to her.

“We got some info on Kreider’s mother,” Fin said when he saw Elliot and Olivia standing by the body.

“What’d you find?” Elliot asked.

“Her name. Just found it this morning. Emme Donaugh. She lives up on the east side, but she’s got a so-called empty apartment on Rivington Street.”

“Has anyone checked up on the place yet?” Olivia said.

Fin shook his head. “Just got the word now.”

Elliot began heading toward the car. “Let’s go. The bastard might even still be there.”

Lights on and sirens roaring, the detectives arrived at Emme Donaugh’s residence on Rivington Street, roused the building superintendent from a deep sleep and had entered the quiet apartment, all within nine minutes.

The loft was barren with out any semblance of decoration aside from the thick shades that covered the large window of the loft. There was also no sign of Kreider anywhere in the apartment.

“Do you hear that?” Olivia said as they walked throughout the apartment. “This place has been sound-proofed.”

“Donaugh probably had it done to keep out city noise,” Fin said. “I think she mighta had the windows done, too.”

“Look at this,” Elliot said shouting from his corner of the loft. “He’s got boxes piled up all over here.”

“There’s blood all over the bathroom!” Munch shouted. “Some of it looks kind of fresh too.”

Elliot swore loudly and kicked at an empty pail that sat against a pole, each detective and officer feeling every bit of his same anger.

“What about Donaugh?” Olivia said. “What’s she saying?”

“Nothing,” Fin said. “She wouldn’t even give up the info on the place. We had to grab it through public records.”

Olivia nodded at Fin and Elliot was halfway out the door by the time she turned to follow, brushing past CSU as they entered the loft.




Emme Donaugh stood at just over five feet tall in her East Side home, had her bobbed, black hair set tight curls and had cold blue eyes that seemed vacant and spiteful at the same time while the detectives questioned her. She proclaimed complete ignorance regarding Kreider and the loft, but everything in her tone told them that though she appeared a bit daft as she continually changed directions mid-way through conversations, she was a liar nonetheless.

The seventy-four-year old woman dodged their questions about being confronted by Kreider about her adoption records by providing off-handed comments about the snow and when Elliot and Olivia asked her about her whereabouts in the past few weeks, she only replied that they looked like they would make a cute couple.

 After spending an hour trying to grapple with information from Donaugh, Elliot and Olivia began questioning the household help. They started with the kitchen and through Olivia’s broken Spanish and Elliot’s half-French, they managed to sift through the Puerto Ricans and the Haitians to find an Elisa, whom they were all certain spoke English.

“Elisa?” Olivia said as they approached her mopping floors in the grand hall that led to outer grounds. “¿Hablas inglės, si?

Elisa stared at her a moment, but shook her head.

“Everybody here told us that you do,” Elliot said. “You can talk to us.”

No hablo.

“Elisa,” Olivia said. “We just talked to all the staff and they pointed us to you. We need to talk to you.”

“Fine,” Elisa said sighing, “but I still don’t got nothing to say.”

“Seven young boys are dead,” Olivia said standing directly in front of her. “What you know might send their killer to prison.”

“And, if I lose my job? Mrs. Donaugh will know if I spoke to you people and I’ll be outta here and I need this job.”

“Do you think she’ll let you keep your job once we book you for Obstruction of Justice?” Elliot asked.

“She might.”

“You’re going to let a murderer go free just to keep your job?”

Elisa sighed and Olivia pressed further.

“Tell us where he is,” she said, holding an image of Kreider.

“I don’t…I don’t know. I really don’t.”

Was he here?” Elliot said.

“Yeah, but he hasn’t been in a while.”

“You’ve seen the news lately and you still didn’t say anything?”

Elisa set her mop handle against the wall. “Look, what am I s’posed to do? Mrs. Donaugh’s been walkin’ around here, crazier than usual, sayin’ that she’s finally found her baby. D’you think I was gonna be the one to put him away?”

“He killed seven people, probably eight.”

“And what makes you think me openin’ my mouth is gonna keep him from comin’ back to kill me? If I been hearing the news right, you people already lost him once. You really think I’m gonna say something so that when he gets out again he can come after me or my family? You’re crazy!”

“Fine,” Olivia said. “When was the last time you saw him?”

“Yesterday,” Elisa said after a long pause. “I heard him say to her that she wouldn’t see him for a while, but that’s it. I don’t know where he went or if he’s even comin’ back.”

“Do you know if Mrs. Donaugh owns any other properties in the city? Anywhere you can think of that he might try to hide?”

“No! I already told you. I don’t know nothing! Now please, just leave me alone.”

With nothing else on which to focus, they tried again to pull something from Donaugh. After three hours, Elliot got sick of Donaugh’s clouded phrases and expressions and both he and Olivia arrested her for aiding a felon, yet by the time they had arrived at their precinct, the Donaugh family attorney was waiting ready to take his client back to the East Side.

“Detectives,” a balding lawyer said as they brought in a struggling Emme Donaugh. “Jerrold Lohraman, Esquire. Thank you for bringing Ms. Donaugh into my care. I’ll be taking her home now.”

“The hell you will,” Elliot said. “She’s been aiding a felon for a week now.”

“And that’s an argument you and your unit’s DA are more than welcome to argue during a trial, but as for today, everyone standing here knows that Ms. Donaugh is in no mental shape to handle this ordeal and I’m here to look out for her well-being.”

“She boarded a murderer,” Olivia said unwilling to let go of Donaugh who had taken to shaking as if having a seizure. “And, she owns the loft where these murders have been committed. She’s not going anywhere.”

“Like I said,” Lohraman continued. “You’re welcome to attempt to prove that she even knew a loft existed in her name, but as for tonight…come on, Emme. She’s going home to rest.”

Cragen nodded at Olivia and Elliot, and begrudgingly, they allowed Donaugh to leave with Lohraman.

“She’s our only link to Kreider,” Olivia said.

“Well,” he said. “Lohraman contacted Casey the second someone at Donaugh’s house caught word that you two were bringing her in. We don’t have enough to hold her.”

Olivia shook her head. “We had enough to hold her overnight. Some wealthy spinster gets to fake crazy when she feels like it just to keep from testifying? It’s absolutely incredulous.”

“It’s bullshit,” Elliot added.

“Look!” Cragen said. “We’ve got Unis sitting on her and we’ve shut down Kreider’s last hold out. It’s only a matter a time before we find him.”

“I’m sure that’ll be a great condolence to this last victim’s family.” Elliot said as he walked toward his desk.

As he sat in his chair with a spiteful huff, his phone chirped from his jacket pocket.

“Stabler,” he said into the phone.

“Elliot, I need to talk to you.”

He sighed. “Yeah, Kath, this is a real bad time.”

“I know,” Kathy said. “It always is. I just wanted you to know that something happened with Dickie last night and now he’s locked himself in his room.”

Elliot glanced at the clock on his desk, which now read a few minutes after nine o’clock in the morning. “What do you mean something happened?”

“He came home last night looking like something bad had happened and just ran upstairs and hasn’t been out of his room since.”

“Are you sure he’s even there? He might’ve snuck out again.”

“Every time I start banging on the door, he just turns up his music. Elliot, something happened to him last night and I’m worried.”

He looked around the busy squad room for a moment. “Kath, I…”

“Look, I’m not leaving the house until he comes out and I just thought you needed to know. If you give a damn about your children, you’ll come over now to see what’s wrong!”

She hung up before he could respond and he sighed, shaking his head.

“Liv…” he said, “I gotta go. Something’s up with Dickie.”

From her desk, Olivia nodded that she understood and Elliot was soon racing across the bridge to his former home.

“Dickie,” he said twenty minutes later as he knocked on his son’s bedroom door. “It’s Dad. Open up.”

“Go away.”

“Dickie, open the door.” Elliot was met with silence. “Now!”

“I said, go away!”

“Richard! Open the door now before I take it off the hinges!”

Elliot heard stomping footsteps and the door opened a moment to reveal Dickie’s angry face and bloodshot eyes.


“What the hell are you talking about, ‘what?’” Elliot said. “It’s nine-thirty on a Tuesday and you’re still home. Your mother’s worried out of her mind and I’m standing here trying to figure out why you’re making everyone crazy. What’s going on?”

“I’m not going to school today,” Dickie said, turning his back on Elliot and sitting on his bed. “Just leave me alone.”

“Look, Dickie. I don’t have time to argue with you about this. I don’t know what’s going on, but you need to spill. Now.”

Dickie shook his head and stared out his window.

“I’m going to ask you one more time,” Elliot said, growing angrier by the minute. “What’s going on?”

Dickie crossed his arms, but said nothing.

“Is this about this Jessica girl?”

“No! It’s got nothing to do with Jessica.”

“Then, what the hell is it!”

A solemn expression waved over Dickie’s face and the whites of his eyes turned red once more.

“What?” Elliot said, pleading with his son.

Dickie stood, coming only to Elliot’s shoulder and sighed.

“Last night…I’m walking home and…”

“And what? What happened?”

“…and this…this guy gets out of this car on the other side of the street and starts walking toward me.”

Elliot felt his eye twitch, but he let Dickie continue.

“And, I start walking faster, but he kind of catches up to me and asks me if I wanted to go to his place to play video games.”

“What’d you say?”

“He smelled like beer or something and I said no and just kept walking, but he kept following me and when I tried to get away from him, he grabbed my arm.” Dickie pulled his shirt sleeve up to show a red bruise that appeared to be subsiding. “And, I got scared, so I started pulling away from him. He kept saying that he just wanted to talk to me for a sec, but he wouldn’t let go. So, I kicked him in the balls and took off down the street. And, I didn’t stop ‘til I got home.”

Elliot ran a hand over his face, standing speechless.

“Look, I didn’t want Mom to worry about it, but I didn’t want to talk about it last night…and I just want to stay here for a bit, okay?”

“It’s not okay,” Elliot said through clenched teeth. “It’s not okay. What did this guy look like?”

Dickie shrugged, but answered. “He looked kind of like that guy that’s been on the news.”

“It was him?” Elliot took a step toward his son. “Are you sure?”

“No, but it wasn’t him, Dad,” Dickie said. “It kind of looked like him, but it wasn’t the guy.”

“I don’t understand.”

“He looked a lot like the guy on the news, but it wasn’t him. I know it. If it was the guy on the news, I’d’ve started running the second I saw him, but it wasn’t him. Mom’s been telling us to be careful and showing us that guy’s picture, but this guy wasn’t him. His hair and eyes were kind of the same, but it just wasn’t him.”

Elliot started at Dickie for a moment with a furrowed brow, knowing there were two options: Dickie was either lying because Kreider actually did something to him or he was taken so off guard that he did not realize who he saw.

“Did he do-” Elliot began, but paused mid-sentence when he made the connection.

“Did he do what?” Dickie asked.

Elliot suppressed the shaking throughout his body and pursed his lips. “Did he hurt you at all?”

“No. He just grabbed my arm.”

“Okay,” Elliot said, nodding with severe strain. “You just…uh, you stay put. I’ll have Mom call you in sick and have her bring you some ice for your arm.”

“No, it’s fine. It doesn’t even hurt and I don’t want Mom to know about it right now.”

“Why not?”

Dickie stared at the floor. “I…I told her I’d call her or Kathleen to bring me home instead of walking if I was going to be at Jessica’s for too long, but I…”

Elliot reached out and hugged Dickie briefly, patting him on the back. “It’ll be okay. Mom and me are just glad you’re safe. You can stay and hang out for today and…we’ll talk about this more tonight, all right?”

Dickie nodded and Elliot headed downstairs to see Kathy pacing back and forth in their living room.

“What’s going on?” she asked the second he reached the bottom step.

“Kath…He’s fine. I told him he could stay home today, but I have to go.”

“No, Elliot!” she shouted. “You’re not giving me that. What’s going on?”

“He’s fine,” Elliot said. “Trust me. We’ll all talk about this tonight, but I’ve got to go. Just let him be for now and we’ll talk when I get back.”

“This is bull,” Kathy said shaking her head.

“Trust me, Kathy. We’d all talk now, but I need to do something first. I swear to you, I’ll be back by seven, but I just have to go.”

Kathy nodded her head as he left, worry never leaving her face. By the time, Elliot had come to the river, rage was coursing through him, his breath had become ragged and an irrepressible shaking nearly caused the car to careen out of control.

My son, he thought as he drove. That rat bastard went after my son.




SVU Squad Room



Olivia let loose another sigh as she tried to reduce the nervous tapping in her feet and hands. She glanced at the clock on her desk and shook her head. Kreider was within their grasp and she knew she could only wait for Elliot so much longer before her ambitions would drive her from the squad room, guns blazing, in search of Kreider.

When the doors to the elevators opened, Elliot’s brooding form stormed out and Olivia leapt up the moment she saw him.

“Hey! I’ve been going through all the sightings of Kreider in the past few days that pertained to Donaugh’s area. I found three. Fin and Munch are talking to two of the witnesses right now and I’m about to-”

“Where’s Drover’s file?”

“What?” she said squinting at him. “Why do you need his file?”

Elliot brushed past her and started sifting through all the folders on his desk. “I need his file.”

“Why? Elliot…we need to find Kreider.”

“Screw Kreider!” he said as he slammed one of his desk drawers shut. “I want Drover’s file. Where is it?”

“Elliot, what’s wrong?”

“I need to know what’s in his detail report. I need his file.”

“I have it, but I’m-”

“Give it to me,” Elliot said taking a step toward her. “Now.”

“No,” she said taking a step backward, alarmed by the amount of rage being suddenly directed toward her. “Not ‘til you tell me what’s going on.”

“He came after Dickie!” Elliot shouted. “Last night! Right after the detail was pulled! Now, give me the file!”

“Is Dickie oka-”

“Give me the file, Olivia!”

The squad room had grown quiet at the sound of Elliot’s voice and Olivia looked around the room as if asking for help.

“We’ll tell Cragen and we’ll bring him in, but-”

“I don’t care what you do,” Elliot said, “but, I want his file. I want to know where he’s been staying because he hasn’t been at that apartment of his and everything’s in the detail report. Give me the file.”

“No,” she said taking another step backward, nearing her own desk. “Not when you’re like this. If we’re going to get him, we’ll do it right. I’ll take this to Cragen-”

“You had your chance to do this right!” he shouted. “We could’ve had him on his way to Rikers on Friday, but you wanted to keep quiet and now he’s going after my children! Give me the god-damn file!”

His eyes bore an intense blaze into Olivia’s and whatever nerve she had been amassing to hunt Kreider shrank under Elliot’s glower.

Detective Andrea Cooke, who had been watching the entire scene enfold, approached Elliot softly. “Elliot…”

“Stay out of this!” Elliot yelled at her. “This doesn’t concern you.”

“Just calm down,” Andrea said.

“What part of ‘this doesn’t concern you,’ don’t you get!”

“Elliot,” Olivia said. “You need to calm down.”

He closed the gap between them and glared directly into her eyes. “Give me the file. I want Drover and I want him now.”

“We’ll get him,” Cragen said, having finally approached their desk pair. “But you need to step down.”

“The hell I will!”

“You’re too close to the case, Detective!” Cragen said. “We’ll handle Drover, but you’re off the case.”

“I don’t care,” Elliot said. “You can have my badge, you can have my gun. I’ll go after him as a civilian.”

“Elliot, stop,” Cragen said. “Just calm down.”

“I want the file!”

“And you’re not getting it!”

Elliot felt his hands clench and he shook his head at his superior, but Cragen took a step closer to him.

“Go home,” Cragen whispered. “Take the day and talk to Dickie.”

“My son is fine. I want Drover.”

“And, we’ll get him, but you’re not going to handle this case. Go home.”

The guise of rage set on Elliot’s face bounced back and forth between Cragen and Olivia for a moment before he moved past Olivia, giving her one last scowl as he made his way back to the elevators.

Olivia let out a deep breath and put a hand to her forehead. Cragen stared at her. The second half of the most dynamic partnership in the SVU stood before him clearly shaken by her partner's disposition, yet his eyes narrowed at her, any semblance of empathy washing away with the recollection that he had had every intention of commenting on the fact that she and Elliot had left the precinct and arrived back together wearing the same clothes as the previous day.

“My office, Detective,” Cragen said.

Olivia wanted to protest, but only nodded, acknowledging that though she was not responsible for Elliot’s actions, she had done plenty to botch the case on Drover and Cragen could see it in her eyes as she set down her notes on Kreider to march sternly toward the captain’s office.




SVU Squad Room



Munch removed darkened glasses from his ears and brought his hands forward to rub at tired eyes. The majority of his day had been spent combing through reports and his hands, covered in paper cuts, were as hardened and dry as his eyes felt.

Kreider had disappeared yet again as none of Emme Donaugh’s records provided them with anything with which to track down the murderer. Lohraman had made certain that they have a specific warrant each time they tried to look through anything pertaining to Donaugh and much of the day had been wasted waiting for Casey to obtain judge signatures as they dug further into Donaugh’s history. All of her family’s hiding places had been searched, but still, there was no sign of Kreider.

The most recent victim had been quickly identified as thirteen-year-old Tyler MacFarland and he and Fin were forced to deliver the news to his mother who refused to believe it even after she had seen the body. Mrs. MacFarland gave continuous pleading to he and Fin, begging them to show her where Tyler “really” was because she was certain there was no way he could be dead. All they could do was sympathize with her and hold her hand when the reality of the situation finally hit.

Frustrated and wondering if this would be the case that would cause him to retire, Munch had returned to the nearly empty squad room to gain perspective on Drover’s case. With no concrete facts in regards to Drover, Munch had no reason to expect that much would come from the case in the end.

Olivia, it seemed, had been nearly attacked by Drover as had Elliot’s son, but near attacks in the city were not the same as actual assaults and even with Olivia and Dickie’s future testimony, nothing either could say would bring any solace to those whom Drover had abused. There were no complaining witnesses to attribute to Drover’s alleged pedophilia and as no conviction based on Olivia and Dickie’s word would warrant any substantial prison time, Munch had the sinking feeling that the case was a wash as the miniature grandfather clock on his desk rang in the eleventh hour.

Rubbing a hand over his face, he returned his glasses and had decided to call it a night when the doors to the elevators opened slowly and an intense figure made his way quickly toward the center of the squad room.

Elliot glanced at Munch as he made his way toward the desk pair he shared with Olivia, but barely acknowledged his presence, the wild desire that still streamed in his veins during his drive across the bridge ever present.

Spending the day with his son, Elliot had just come from a long, heated discussion about safety with Kathy and he was in no mood to say or do anything except beat the life out of anything that kept him from finding Drover.

Dickie continually said that everything was fine and that he was not hurt, but Elliot never had to perform a quick SVU analysis on his own child and though he wanted to believe that Dickie was fine, a combination of rage and pain riveted through his chest each moment he remembered that Drover was freely walking the city streets.

“What are you doing back?” Munch asked from his own desk. “Cragen said you needed to take some time. Well, actually he screamed it, but we all got the gist of it.”

Elliot remained silent as he leafed through files on his desk.

“In case you’re interested,” Munch continued, “we dug up everything there was to know about Emme Donaugh and I’ve still got a stack that’s higher than she is tall to go through on psychiatric history in general. Somehow, the word crazy doesn’t begin to sum up a person when it takes a whole tree to describe just how certifiable they are.”

Elliot glanced up at Munch a moment, but silently began combing through files on Olivia’s desk instead.

“Elliot,” Munch said. “Whatever you’re looking for, it’s not worth it. Take some time and get out of your head for a few days.”

Elliot rifled through several more of Olivia’s drawers before slamming his hands on the top of her desk, causing her framed photo of Jordan and Jeremy Harfort to slide onto its back.

“She took it,” he said. “She took it, didn’t she? She fucking took it!”

“Took what?” Munch said.

“The goddamn Drover file!” Elliot screamed. “I want his address! I want his information!”

“For what? So you can beat a confession out of him?”

“He came after my son.”

“Drover went after a kid he saw at night-”

“Don’t give me that bullshit! He came after Dickie because he couldn’t get Olivia like he wanted to last week, so he came after me the only way his sick mind could. Drover came after my kid…And, Olivia took his damn file with her.”

“Because she knows you. She knew you’d be back here trying to track him down.”

“He came after my son. My family!”

“Elliot,” Munch said. “We’re booking him for assaulting Olivia and she’s the one who’s looking for him hardest.”

“The second the police detail is off him, he pulls this move. On my kid!”

“Elliot, I’m telling you. You’ve got to lay off Drover. We’ll bring him in as soon as we have him, but you’ve got to calm down.”

“I’m so sick of everyone telling me to calm down! Why the hell can’t anyone put themselves right where I’m standing?”

“We can, but-”

“But nothing!” he shouted. “If this were your kid, you’d be doing the same thing I am in trying to find Drover! Olivia’s my partner. She knows exactly what this is doing to me…and she took it with her.”

“Forget about it tonight, Elliot,” Munch tried to argue, but he doubted Elliot heard him as he shook his head, making his way for the elevators.




Greenwich Village, New York



The click of Olivia’s shoes on the sidewalk echoed against the brick and stone buildings of the Village as she quickened her pace toward the corner store at the end of the street.

I just need one, she thought. Just one.

She opened the store’s door and nodded at the familiar owner who stood reading a newspaper at the counter. Her gaze flitted toward the assortment behind him, but a wave of guilt pushed her down the juice and cereal aisle instead. She had not felt this contrite since she had bought condoms for the first time.

Stopping first for cranberry juice and then again for a pint of butter pecan ice cream, she approached the counter, eyebrows furrowed with anxiety.

“This it?” the Korean man asked, but her gaze was fixed on the lines of cigarettes behind him.

He looked at the cartons and packs behind him and turned to her with raised eyebrows.

“I thought you quit,” he said.

“I have,” she said quickly. “I am. I just…You can’t just sell me one, can you? I just need one.”

He shook his head. “Sorry. Package deal. How ‘bout some Nicorette instead?”

She smiled briefly, but bit her lip as she stared at the white Camel boxes lined neatly in rows behind the counter.

“Just give me a pack of the Camel Ultra Lights,” she said sighing. “Just one, though. I only need one.”

“Okay…,” he said taking the package from the set. “I don’t expect to see you in here buying these every week again. I haven’t seen you buy these in years.”

“Five years actually,” Olivia said as she handed him a wad of bills. “And you won’t. Like I said, I just need the one.”

“Okay,” he repeated. “Just remember, I run a sale on the gum and the patch every other month.”

Ten minutes later, Olivia leaned against her window while she stood on her fire escape, and she cupped her hand around the lit match she was bringing closer to the white cigarette hanging precariously out of her mouth.

The cigarette lit, she waved the match out and took a long drag on the stick, closing her eyes to allow the smoke to fill her lungs and nicotine to infiltrate her blood. Halfway through the second drag, Olivia felt an instant ease to her nerves and wondered if she could keep the promise she had made to herself of smoking just one.

She closed her eyes against a painful wind that swept across the face of the building, causing the fire escape to slightly sway and a faint memory of her sixteen-year-old self taking her first cigarette puff came to mind.

Maya had been “party smoking” for months before Olivia had wrapped her lips around her first one and, although she knew the dangers and knew the cosmetic risks, she took the chance, not being able to withstand the idea of being seen as the “little girl” who could not smoke in the eyes of her twenty-one-year-old boyfriend at the time. The first intake felt like someone had ignited a fire in her chest and she coughed up the single puff for the rest of the night. It was only after several other nights out with Maya and Maya’s friends that she finally got the hang of it and managed to finish her cigarettes without Maya or another friend having to finish them off for her.

The calming effect that came with the nicotine, however, did not hit her system until she was met with college stress, where she thought she had only two choices to help calm her nerves: nicotine or alcohol. Insistent that she was not going to fall into her mother’s drunken footsteps, Olivia opted for cigarettes and she spent fifteen years on and off the smoking bandwagon, telling herself each time she caved into stress that she “only needed just one.”

The only excuse that she had managed to give herself over the years was that her body only craved the tranquility of smoking when she was under severe stress. She had fallen back after the first time she killed someone, she fell when a criminal used her to commit suicide and she nearly fell back after her first major tiff with Elliot the previous year. After the day she had had, only the serenity of a cigarette could calm her.

Munch and Fin had arrived in the squad room that day, just in time to watch Elliot storm out of the precinct and had given the news that they were not able to come up with anything from tracking down the people who claimed to see Kreider in Donaugh’s area.

In his office, Cragen made her give a full account of what had happened between her and Drover which led to an explanation of what had incited the incident. He told her that he would leave out Drover’s motives for attacking her Thursday night, but in order to hold him, he was filing a report on Drover whether or not she liked it. Cragen had also called her “willful” and “irresponsible” for not taking the steps to ensure that Drover was in a jail cell rather than loose to attack anyone else he chose.

Before her reprimand had ended, he had given her a once over and frowned.

“Olivia,” he had said. “I’m not going to insist on details because, quite frankly, I don’t want to know, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed that you and Elliot left here together last night and arrived at the newest crime scene together, this morning. Whatever is-” He held up a hand when Olivia opened her mouth to protest. “…I don’t want to know about it. Just fix it. Sooner rather than later.”


“Look, if there’s nothing, fine, but otherwise, I don’t want that to be the cause of these arguments between the two of you.”

The tone of his voice suggested that the conversation had ended regardless if Olivia had anything to add and she turned to leave.

“Olivia,” he said, just before she headed out the door. “This is a report on Micah Diorel’s known-hangouts, including a list of all the people who helped post his bail…” He sighed, his expression changing from a superior looking down upon a rogue subordinate to that of a father apprehensive of his only daughter’s recent actions. “Take a look over them and…just keep an eye out for the time being.”

The wind blew a dusting of snow off the roof of her building and layer of it fell onto Olivia’s head. She shook the snow from her hair and sighed before taking another drag on the cigarette.

Kreider was on the loose and had taken to mocking them with his victims, Drover had completely fallen off the deep end and was going after Elliot instead of her and now, Diorel was free to walk the city streets to go after anyone he pleased.

“Shoulda shot the bastard,” she said aloud as she approached the end of the stick.

Olivia put the cigarette out in the cup she had brought out the escape with her and looked at the gleaming pack that sat on her window sill. She stared at it for a full minute before reaching for another one. Pulling out the long white stick, she ripped another match from the small book in her pocket, yet as she prepared to strike a flame, a flash of white light from the across the street caught her eye.

She focused on each of the windows in the building across from hers, unsure from where the light had come. Individual New Yorkers sat reading, watching television or sharing conversations with one another in their own apartments, but nothing caught her eye again.

The wind blew again and she let out another sigh, taking the cigarette from her mouth and stuffing it back in the box with its brethren. A moment later, she had climbed through her living room window and had stashed the box of Camels under her sink next to bottles of drain cleaner and cans of bug spray. If she was going to go for another one, she would have to willingly sift through all the other poisons under the kitchen sink to get to them.

She rubbed her hands, still cold from the winter air, and sat on the floor of her kitchen for a moment, wishing she had not slapped Jonathan across the face four nights earlier. His expression of pain blended with confusion from that night had never left her thoughts and she wondered if he would ever forgive her, if they even had chance to see one another again.

Every male relationship in her life was either lying in ruin or teetering near the edge. From her co-workers who gave her sideways glances to her beau who proclaimed that she could not allow herself to be happy to her partner who looked like he might have ripped her in half when she refused to give him what he wanted.

Olivia shuddered at the memory of the intense fury Elliot had directed at her that morning and she looked at the pile of folders she had brought home with a sigh. As loneliness began to settle back into her psyche, she reached for her phone in hopes that Maya was in for the evening.

“Hey, how are you?” Maya asked solemnly, though she already knew the answer.

News stations had been blaring information about Kreider throughout the day and while Maya was never told the specifics of any case on which Olivia worked, she could tell from Olivia’s tone if one of her cases had hit mass media.

“Alone,” Olivia said softly. “It’s just hard to come to that realization.”

Maya sighed. “The five o’clock news showed you and Elliot at the crime scene of that Boxing Strangler today. He looked really pissed, though…I’m sure I can imagine why.”

“Oh God, Maya,” she said. “That was nothing. His true colours were in full force later in the day.”

“He was angry with you?”

Olivia hesitated for a moment before recounting the day’s events regarding Elliot to Maya. She left out any mention of Drover or Diorel because, while Maya always liked to look a the lighter side of any situation, Olivia knew that Maya and Jillian talked and if Maya did not come to any impetuous conclusion about Elliot, Jillian would.

“He was just so angry, Maya,” she said. “And…I did something else and when he finds out…I don’t even know what I’m going to do when he finds out.”

“Well, I doubt he’ll do anything too rash, Livia,” Maya said. “I mean this is Elliot we’re talking about.”

“You don’t know him like I do,” Olivia said. “I’ll be happy if he’s just angry with me, especially considering what’s been happening with us lately.”

Maya noted a change in Olivia’s tone; one that she had not heard since Olivia had appeared at her home one night when they were teenagers, insisting that she had done something terrible and impulsively suggesting that she had to get out of the city.

“But…,” Maya began, “you’re not actually…scared of him, are you?”

“No,” Olivia sighed. “But, I am afraid of what this might do to us. We’ve been on this downward spiral since I came back to the SVU. This just isn’t going to make it any better.”

“What about Jonathan?” Maya asked after a moment’s pause. “Have you talked to him?”

“Why?” Olivia spat. “Do you wanna know if he’s available?”

Maya sighed into the phone. “Livia, you know me far better than that. I just want to know if he’s called.”

“No. He hasn’t called and I really don’t think he’s going to.”

“He’s just mad right now. He’s always come back to you, singing songs, bearing gifts-”

“No, it was never like this before. He was really angry with me on Friday and it’s almost Wednesday and I still haven’t heard from him.”

“Olivia,” Maya said softly after a long silence. “What happened with Elliot…and his daughter?”

She was silent for a very long time and all the while, Maya allowed the silence to continue.

“He…he came over on Friday because he found out about it and…he was not happy.”

“Wait…was this before or after Jonathan?”


“What the hell, Olivia? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I didn’t know what to say.”

Olivia could imagine Maya’s brows furrowing from the just the tone in her voice. “Well, what happened?”

“He was…angry.”

“Just angry?”

“Livid,” she continued. “He was so mad at me. I thought he really was going to lose it.”

“Did something happen?”

“No…no, I just…He just yelled.”

Maya immediately felt that her friend was lying, but she knew not to press the issue and she allowed Olivia to continue.

“Maya, he was so angry and that was just over Kathleen. Something he more or less got over after a day. This thing today…something happened with Dickie. He’s is only son and it has to do with one of our cases. We’ve been battling over this one suspect for weeks now and after what’s just happened with his son…this is just not going to be good.”

“But, I thought things were going to be okay,” Maya said. “I thought you had breakfast and stuff?”

“We did. I even fell asleep with him on my couch last night.”

“Well, he couldn’t do a complete one-eighty on you if you two were asleep on your couch. No one’s mood swings move that fast.”

“Like I said. You don’t know Elliot like I do.”

“Livia…this, all this will pass. Days from now, I’m sure you both will be over this and look back on it and laugh.”

“I don’t think we’ll be laughing anytime soon, MJ. Not after this case.” Olivia wiped away an errant tear that had escaped from her lashes. “God, Maya. It’s like everything in life is just spinning out of control.”

“Well…if it’s any consolation,” Maya said. “I’ll always be here to catch if you fall.”

Olivia smiled into the receiver and felt tears spilling over her brims to run down her face. “I know you will, sweetie. Thank you.”

After she had ended her conversation with Maya, Olivia took a shower, taking extra care to get the cigarette smoke out of her hair, and made notes at her desk of all the things she needed to accomplish for the next day: check on Evelyn Rivers, hunt down Drover’s friends identified in the detail report, entice more information regarding Kreider from Emme Donaugh, go over Tyler MacFarland’s autopsy report with Melinda.

Notes made, she pulled out Boccherini’s second concerto, but as she played, her kept eyes catching the manila folders on her desk. Eventually, she gave up playing and set her bow down on her desk to pick up one of the witness reports on Kreider. From what she had gathered from Elliot’s earlier screaming, Dickie had identified Drover or someone who looked just like him as a would-be attacker. There was just as strong a possibility that Dickie had seen Kreider on the news and assumed his attacker looked similar to Kreider as there was a chance that Drover had tracked down Elliot and would be stupid enough to try something on one of his children.

Olivia shook her head, deciding that she had had enough for one day and went to bed. She had just drifted off to sleep when she heard banging on her door, very reminiscent to Friday past. Padding softly across her apartment, she opened the door to Elliot who barged past her, looking wildly around the living room.

“Give it to me, Olivia,” he said.

“What Elliot?” she lied in an innocent voice. “I don’t know what you’re talking about?”

“Give me the damn file!”

“Which file?”

Don't play games with me, Olivia," he said with an intensity Olivia had seen on rare occasion and even then, always reserved for a suspect. “I want that file and I want it now!”

Olivia moved toward her desk.

“Which file?” she said again calmly. “I’ve got a half a dozen of them here.”

Elliot grabbed her arm, hard.

“Give me the Drover file! I know you took it from the squad room and I want it.”

She snatched her arm out of his grasp. “You know I can’t give it to you.”

“That’s bullshit. Give me the damn file!”

No, Elliot," she said getting back some of her nerve. “It isn’t going to do anyone any good if you find Drover and beat him senseless…or worse.”


“Elliot,” she said softly. “Cragen’s already taken you off this case, and everyone saw how you reacted this morning over him. I don’t know whether this is what’s been happening between you and the kids lately or just this case in general, but you are not thinking clearly. How’s this going to look when Drover lands a suit against you, the department and the city, especially if he didn’t do anything?”

“He’s the guy,” Elliot said through clenched teeth. “You’re calling Dickie a liar?”

“Of course not! But, if he’s seen Kreider on the news, there’s just as strong a possibility that he just saw Kreider in the guy talking to him.

“He’s the guy, Olivia. I know it.”

“Did you show Dickie Drover’s picture? We both know you didn’t. You heard Dickie tell you about someone who looked like Kreider and you immediately went after Drover.”

“Because he’s the guy. Just hand his file over to me and I’ll keep it between us.”

“What, do you think I’m stupid! No!”

“Give me the file, Olivia!”

“No, I ca-”


He slammed his hand on her and the Tiffany’s lamp she had found on sale years earlier leapt off the desk, taking her cello bow with it. The lamp shattered on the floor and the bow snapped in half under the crash of the lamp. Elliot’s gaze did not register that anything had happened.

“I think you should leave,” she said softly.

“I’m not leaving without that file.”

“I don’t have it here,” she lied.

“Like hell, you don’t. It’s not at the precinct. It’s gotta be here with you!”

“You went looking through my desk for it!”

Elliot said nothing, but continued glaring at her.

She took a step toward him. “Do you realize how you sound? You are losing it, Elliot. For the love of God, take some time. Get some clarity. You are letting this case affect you too much. Please, Elliot. Please. Just back away from Drover right now. We have dozens of cases still open. Pick one and focus on it, but please just…just let this thing you have against Drover alone.”

Elliot sighed. “Liv…I just want the file.”

“You just want the file,” she repeated shaking her head.

“Give me the file for tonight.”

Olivia scoffed and shook her head again.

“Just for tonight. Let me look at it and see if I can pull anything else from it. If I can’t, I’ll let the whole thing go.”

“You must think I’m a real idiot Elliot, if you think I’m handing Drover’s file over to you. Besides the fact that I’d be more than responsible for anything that you’d end up doing to him, I can’t. I don’t have it here.”

“You’re lying.”

“And you’re losing it!”

“I want his file.”

“I don’t have it!”

“Olivia, I can’t take you looking me straight in the eye and lying to me. First, you give my daughter the okay to go sleeping around with whoever she wants, and now you’re keeping me from investigating the guy who tried to attack my son. I want his file! You owe me that!”

“What?” Olivia took an angry, calculated step toward him. “I owe you that! Who the hell do you think you are, coming to my apartment, breaking my things and demanding I give you something you don’t have a right to? You’ve got some balls telling me that I owe you a damn thing because of Kathleen!”

“You told my little girl-”

“You know what, Elliot? You’re little girl isn’t so little anymore and it’s about time you faced that. But, I’m not going to apologize anymore for what I did. I did it to help your family. To keep your kids from falling apart anymore!”

“Don’t,” Elliot said pushing a finger into Olivia’s shoulder. “Don’t think for a second that you’re some kind of great confidante, helping my kids out! They don’t need you for that! That’s why they have a mother and a father. Neither of whom are you!”

“Then, why the hell did she feel she had to come to me?” Olivia said and she then gave Elliot a shove backward. “And don’t fucking push me in my own goddamn house! I don’t care how angry you are about Kathleen or Drover! I was right about Kathleen, just like I know I’m right about Drover!”

A fire lit behind Elliot’s eyes and he pushed her backward with each intensified word. “Oh, I’ll push you when I need to. I’ll push you when you’re screwing with my kids and I’ll push you when you’re lying to my face. You’re the reason Drover’s out walking the streets and you’re the reason he even had the chance to come after Dickie. Now, give me the damn file!”

Olivia felt ready to slap him in the face, but she settled for giving him a hard shove backward. “I don’t have it! I already told you!”

He barely moved under her pressure and by this point, Elliot had pushed her across the apartment and against a wall. He grabbed both of her arms above the elbow and pressed her against the wall.

“Stop lying,” he said in a low voice. “I need that file and I know you have it.”

Olivia rolled her forearms backward and broke his grasp. Several of her picture frames which had hung on the wall behind her came crashing down, spraying glass in every direction. An image of she and her mother from ten years earlier tore in its right corner, the frame itself cracked in disarray.

“Get out, Elliot,” she said slowly. “I’m not giving you the Drover file, so you might as well just go home. Just go home, get some sleep and maybe take some time off.”

“I can’t do that. Not right now.”

“Elliot,” she said a little more at ease, “you’re off the case. This isn’t your problem anymore.”


“I know, Elliot. I don’t doubt that he’s lying, but we can’t say for sure that it’s Drover. C’mon, you know better than this. We can’t just railroad him on a hunch. That’s what got us in trouble with him in the first place.”
            Elliot took a step back from her and ran a hand across his face and neck. He sighed, guilt washing over him as he heard glass crinkle under his shoes and he felt his anger begin to subside.

“Please,” she continued. “Just go home. I swear to you, I will let you know the second we get anything solid leading to Drover.

“And you won’t give me that file?”

“No, I don’t have it for you.”

He started to walk away, but paused. “Look, me in the eye and give me the real reason you won’t give it up.”

Olivia stared at Elliot unsure of what to say. She wanted to tell him that she feared for what he might do to Drover if he found him. She wanted to tell him he needed therapy. She wanted to tell him that she was specifically instructed not to give him the file and that she was afraid for his job, his family and his life. She did not, however, want to lie to him.

“Elliot, I-I just don’t have it.” She immediately focused on his jacket pocket and then the floor; anywhere, but his eyes.

Elliot narrowed his eyes at her and nodded his head. He walked across the hardwood floor, feeling glass from Olivia’s shattered frames grinding into the floorboards as he left. He glanced back at her standing still against the far wall, before turning the doorknob and heading out into her hallway.

The second he was gone, Olivia jumped over the broken glass in bare feet and headed for her desk. She quickly shifted through a sea of files, found a thick manila file folder with the name “Jeffrey Christopher Drover” printed clearly on the label, and shoved it into the top side drawer. She opened her top middle drawer and sifted through errant Post-It pads, pens and binder clips, before finding a set of two small, golden keys bound together by a black string.

It was not that she distrusted Elliot in any way, but he had gone through her desk in the squad room and he was clearly in a state where he was prepared to do anything. They had exchanged keys for each other’s respective homes years ago, completing the exchange again when Elliot had moved to his apartment. She knew if Elliot really wanted the Drover file, nothing would stop him from coming back when she was asleep or out to go through the files on and in her desk.

She set one of the keys in the lock above the drawer holding the newly-found manila folder and turned the key.




Elliot had made it all the way to the elevators on Olivia’s floor and had even pushed the “Down” button, before his anger began to rise again.

She had the file and she looked me in eye and lied about it.

At this point, it was not solely the issue of the Drover, but the principle of the thing. If she was not going to trust him enough to just give him the file, she, at the very least, could have been an adult about it and given him a legitimate reason.

As the thoughts played in Elliot’s mind again and again, he grew angrier.

Who was he to come to her apartment demanding things? Who was she to lie to me? Me. Her partner.

Elliot shook his head and walked back to her apartment door he had left slightly ajar on his exit. He pushed the door open and had taken a breath, prepared to demand that she apologize for not having the nerve to give him a real reason for not giving up the file.

A moment passed when it seemed all the air had been sucked from the room and Elliot and Olivia simply stared at one another. Elliot, his hand still on her apartment door; Olivia, her hand still turning the desk key in its lock. Another moment went by and Olivia jerked away from the desk, taking the key with her. Elliot, realizing what she had just done, felt a nerve snap somewhere near the back of his neck and simply lunged for her.