Part Two: Flight from Fear

Chapter Fifteen


Wednesday January 31, 2007

SVU Squad Room


Sunlight peered through the windows of the Special Victims Unit, spreading a warm glow across the series of desks and across the floors.

Elliot Stabler’s footsteps beat a dark shadow against the bright floors as he parted through the numerous officers and detectives to cut the path to his desk. In place of his normal confident and dauntless stride was a pace marred by a slight limp in his right side. His eyes, inquisitive and bright, were outlined by a swell of purple and deep blue and a blotch of red ran down the left side of his face. The looks received from various passersby were ignored as Elliot walked, though it took great strength to suppress his disconcertion.

“Welcome back,” Fin said passively, focused on his monitor, but catching Elliot out of the corner of his eye.

Elliot gave a nod in Fin’s direction as he set down his things.

“Elliot!” Fin said turning toward him. “What’s up with your face?”

Elliot rubbed the bridge of his nose. “You know…I don’t really want to talk about it.”

“You got a black eye! You get in a fight or something last night?”

“I really don’t want to talk about it.”

Fin shook his head and returned to his online file searching as Munch walked by to grab documents from his desk that he needed to prepare for a trial that day.

You feeling any better this morning?” Munch asked Elliot.

He looked up to answer him, but Munch cut him off before he could speak. “Whoa! What the hell happened?”

“That’s what I asked him,” Fin said, “and he says he doesn’t want to talk about it.”

“I don’t,” Elliot said.

“Talk about what?” Munch yelled. “You look like you were hit by a car!”

Elliot simply shook his head and pulled out the remaining notes he had made days earlier on Kreider.

“Did you find Drover?” Munch said. “I can’t believe Olivia gave you that file!”

“She didn’t give me the damn file,” Elliot said. “I didn’t find Drover and I don’t want to talk about it!”

“Well, I can see a day away did you a lot of good.” Munch picked up a folder from his desk. “Anyway…I’m due in court.”

Elliot returned his attention to his notes and glanced toward Olivia’s desk for the first time that morning. Her chair was missing the sweater she brought back and forth from the precinct, the light on her desk was not lit and the coffee cup that sat at the right corner of her desk was clearly cold.

“Where’s Liv?” he asked noting the clock on his own desk that read just half past eight.

Fin shrugged. “Hasn’t come in yet? Figured you mighta talked to her.”

Elliot was about to reply, but Cragen waved him down to call him into his office.

Here we go, he thought dreading the impending remonstration from his actions the previous day.

“Is that clear?” Cragen said, thirty minutes later, hands in his pockets as he leaned against his desk.

Cragen was incensed from the previous day over both Elliot and Olivia and hated the fact that he was forced to reprimand his top detectives in such a way, but from his perspective, he had no other choice. He was certain their handling of Kreider’s case could have gone much smoother if they had not been bickering non-stop over several weeks.

His superiors had received word of his subordinates’ actions and the full heat of the NYPD was coming down on him in spades. He had seen Elliot and Olivia solve cases in record time and accomplish more than any other partnership throughout all his years in command. All accommodations notwithstanding, Elliot and Olivia had been partnered together longer than any other detectives in the unit and had also been in the SVU the longest. So much time together had the same ability to drive people apart as it did to bring them together.

“I got it,” Elliot said solemnly.

“Good,” Cragen said as he walked behind his desk. “I’m gonna need you to talk to some of Kreider’s co-workers. Find out if he said anything before leaving Rohlman-Hayworth. They might know where else he could be.”

“I’m on it.”

“Are you okay, otherwise?” Cragen made a motion over his face in response to Elliot’s bruises.

Elliot nodded and stood to leave, but paused. “You haven’t heard from Liv?”

Cragen glanced outside the window of his office in the direction of Olivia’s desk. “No, I haven’t heard anything from her.” He paused when he saw the concern that quickly spread across Elliot’s face. “Give her a call and if she doesn’t answer, drop by her place. She might just be sick. I know you both’ve been under a lot more stress the past few days.”

Elliot nodded again, but a knot in his stomach began to twist as he left. The moment he came back to his desk, he reached for his phone to call Olivia, but heard a commotion behind him the second he pressed the star key.

“What tha hell is wrong with you people!

Veronica Schrader stumbled into the precinct opening, red-faced and eyes glazed. “No one is doin’ anythin’ about my Ricky! And he’s dead! He’s all dead and I’m nevah gonna see ‘im again!”

“Veronica,” Fin said. “You gotta calm down.”

“No!” she screamed. “You calm down! If Ricky was some snot nose rich kid, you people’d have a ton ‘o officers tryin’ ta figah out wha happened, but cuz he’s my kid, you’re jus’ lettin’ it all go!”

“Veronica,” Elliot said. “We are still working your sons’ case. We’re tracking down the guy who hurt Ricky. You just need to give it some time.”

“If you’re trackin’ ‘im down, how come I jus’ saw Jeffy Drover at a bodega on Nelson?”

“You saw Drover in Brooklyn?” Fin asked.

“Yeah, and if you people are trackin’ ‘im down, how come I gotta tell you where he is?”

Elliot took a step toward her. “Veronica. Jeffrey Drover did not kill your son, but we know who did and we’re going to find him.”

“That’s not good enough!” she screamed and shoved Elliot in the chest.

Fin stood up and cornered Veronica from behind her. Elliot nodded to let him know he still had control of the situation.

“I know you’re upset,” Elliot said to a now weeping Veronica. “But you have to go home. As soon as we have him, you’ll be the first to know.”

Veronica continued crying and Fin called an officer to take her home.

“You think she really saw him in Brooklyn?” Fin asked Elliot once Veronica had been escorted from the squad room.

“No way to be sure, but I’m not allowed to know anything concerning Drover, so…”

“A’ight,” Fin said making a note on the long list on his desk.

“Cap wants us to interview Donaugh again and Kreider’s co-workers,” Elliot said. “And, I don’t know where Liv is…”

“I’m coming,” Fin said, bringing his last notes on Kreider with him as he rose.

“Hang on a sec,” Cragen said before Elliot and Fin hit the elevators. “We just got word on Micah Diorel. He just got arrested this morning trying to break into the halfway house Evelyn Rivers is staying at.”

Elliot and Fin glanced at one another.

“How’d he even know where she was?” Elliot said. “Olivia had Evelyn in there before Drover got out on bail.”

Cragen shrugged. “Well, he’s on his way back to Rikers. He jumped one of the officers from the house and pulled a knife on them, so the judge revoked his bail. Let Liv know once you see her.”

“Will do.”




SVU Squad Room



John Munch’s eyes narrowed at the empty desk across from him, noting that one of his fellow detectives had still not arrived at the precinct as he sent another e-mail requesting the specifics on Drover’s whereabouts during the police detail. Olivia held most of the information they had at hand, but in her absence, he was forced to rely on some friends of friends to get the job done.

 He pulled out his cell phone and dialed Olivia’s number twice, getting her voicemail each time. Leaving a message the second time, he started to call Elliot, but Cragen interrupted.

“John,” Cragen said. “We got some word on Drover. Ricky Schrader’s mother came in here a couple hours ago screaming that we weren’t working her case. Now, I know she was coming down off of something, but she mentioned seeing Drover in Brooklyn just yesterday.”

“Yeah,” Munch said. “I found most of the info on his detail from some of the cops working him and apparently he’s been staying with a cousin on her side of Brooklyn since last Friday. I guess he’s been getting threats at his old building.”

Cragen nodded. “Look into it. I wanna know if he’s been trying this same thing he did with Elliot’s son with any other kids.”

When Munch arrived at Nelson Street forty minutes later, he was surprised to find Drover’s cousin, Meredith Lynch, completely un-phased by the raucous her cousin had been causing.

“Well, Jeff’s always been kind of weird since that thing with his dad,” Meredith said.

“Weird how?” Munch asked.

The brown-haired woman shrugged. “Just…weird. I know he likes kids, but I wouldn’t let him near mine. They’re with their dad in Georgia right now, otherwise I wouldn’t’ve let him stay.”

“We need to talk to him. When was the last time you spoke to him?”

“Last night he said he was going for more booze. That’s all he’s been doing lately is drinking. I mean he lost his job, lost his soccer thing, his neighbors about ran him out of his building…You guys really did a number on him.”

“Mrs. Lynch,” Munch said. “We have evidence that he abused two kids and we know for fact that he tried to attack a detective and a detective’s kid. Do you really think we’re bringing all this on him for nothing?”

Meredith stared at Munch with Drover’s same grey eyes. “Look…I don’t know what to tell you. He left last night to get some liquor and he never came back. And I don’t know where he is, so maybe you should just go.”

“You’re going to hide him even though you wouldn’t let him near your kids?”

“His father raped him, so I know he’s probably still nuts from that, but he’s still family, you know? You can’t turn away family and Jeff needed a place to go.”

“Do you have any idea where he was Monday night?” Meredith shook her head and Munch continued. “From what we’ve heard, he tried to attack a detective’s son…Like I said, the sooner we find him, the sooner we can get a statement from him and clear all this up.”

Meredith simply stared at him.

“Well, what time did he leave here last night to start killing himself with liquor?”

She rolled her eyes. “About six or seven, I guess. I don’t know. It was already dark out, so it was sometime around then.”

Munch handed her his card. “Make sure the second you see him, he calls me. The faster we find him, the quicker this will all be over.”

“Duly noted,” she said and closed the door on him.

On his way back to the island, Munch stopped for a coffee and biscotti at a restaurant he used to frequent before he had moved from New York to work in Baltimore and was struck with inspiration on Drover. He called the precinct to have the officers run lists of anyone matching Drover’s description and within twenty minutes, Munch stood in front of the jail cell at Precinct 27, watching Drover sleep in a drunken stupor.

“Hey!” Munch said. “Drover! Get up, we need to talk.”

Drover slowly opened his eyes and rubbed his temples.

“What the hell do you want?” he asked once he saw Munch.

“I want to know where you’ve been lately,” Munch said. “The word on the street is that you’ve been trying to attack some of the people who’ve been hunting you down.”

“Screw you,” Drover said. “Screw all of you.”

“I’ve been talking to your cousin,” Munch continued. “Looks like you’re the one who’s been getting screwed.”

Drover crossed the cage and glared at Munch, several inches away from him. “That’s because you people started telling everyone I know that I’m some kind of child molester and now my life’s turned to shit.”

Munch waved a hand over his face. “Does that mean you’ve started eating it too? You smell like you’ve been rolling in your own vomit for days.”

“Guess that’s what I was doing when you’re people came and picked me up off the streets.” He stumbled as he tried to make his way back to the bench in the cage. “They say I’m being charged with public drunkenness…like I need that right now.”

“Well, what you need to do right now is to give me a statement on where you were Monday night. I might be able to get you out of here, if you give me the right answers.”

“Go ta hell,” Drover mumbled.

“You weren’t in Queens on Monday were you?”

“You know what! You can all kiss my ass! That lady cop, Olivia, said she’d help me out every single, goddamn time I talked to her and look where I am.”

“You’re here because you drank yourself into a stupor and they picked you up at about eight this morning to save you from getting hit by a car in morning traffic.”

“That stupid bitch opened her mouth, didn’t she?”

“If you’re talking about Detective Benson,” Munch said softly. “Yeah, she did tell us what you tried on her. Not that you’d’ve been able to get away with anything, but it was an amusing story.”

Drover nodded once, but rolled toward his side and vomited in the corner of the cage.

Munch rolled his eyes and turned to leave as Drover passed out in a pool of his own sick.




“You need to let her speak,” Fin said to Lohraman, his eyes narrowing as he spoke. “She has to talk to us.”

“Not until I know what she’s being charged with,” Lohraman said. His beady eyes darted back and forth between Elliot and Fin with the beginnings of a smirk curling at his thin lips. “Now, you people don’t have a leg to stand on and Mrs. Donaugh isn’t going to answer any questions in her current state.”

“What state?” Fin yelled. “She comes in and out of the crazies anytime she feels like it.”

Lohraman glared at him. “Mrs. Donaugh’s state is not under question here.”

“You’re right,” Elliot said. “We just want to know what she’s hiding about Kreider.”

“Owen,” Donaugh said, speaking for the first time since Elliot and Fin had arrived. “I’ve…done enough to him. I gave him up because I didn’t think I could raise a child at my age and look what’s happened to him. He’s had a miserable life and it’s all because of me.”

“You can spare us the sentimentality,” Elliot said. “We just want to know where he is. Regardless of what your lawyer says, you can’t stall forever. We have every ability to haul you to jail on Obstruction of Justice charges.”

“Idle threats, Detective,” Lohraman said.

She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. I’ve wronged that boy enough already and I’ll be damned if I’m going to do it again.”

Realizing that they were not going to get any further with Emme Donaugh, Elliot and Fin left the house frustrated and annoyed. They both knew she had information on Kreider, but her family lawyer held on retainer seemed to exempt her from any responsibility.

They arrived back at the precinct at the same time Munch was announcing to Cragen what Drover had been doing.

“…and he looks like he’s been drinking all night and into today. He was giving it all up when I started leaving and he’s probably got alcohol poisoning.”

Cragen shook his head as Elliot and Fin approached. “What’d Donaugh tell you?”

“Nothing,” Fin said. “She came out of her…issues long enough to tell us that she wasn’t going to saying anything against Kreider.”

“We’re just about to shake down Kreider’s co-workers though,” Elliot said.

Munch and Fin each hovered around the coffee stand to pour themselves black coffee, but Cragen frowned as he looked at Elliot.

He had not wanted to press the issue earlier, but standing so close to the detective, Cragen could clearly see all of Elliot’s injuries and could see that he was favoring one side.

“Have you heard from Olivia yet?” Cragen asked.

Elliot shook his head.

“When was the last time you talked to her?”

Elliot visibly tensed. “Last night, about midnight I think.”

“Did she say she wasn’t coming in?”

“Not to me.”

Cragen frowned again. “Well, you and Fin continue on with Kreider’s people…let me know if Olivia ever calls. Munch.” He turned toward Munch who was drowning the last bit of his coffee. “Splash some water on Drover and make him talk.”

Elliot walked by his desk, but stopped as the phone on Olivia’s desk rang.

“Detective Stabler, SVU,” he answered.

“Uh…yes. This is Evelyn Rivers,” the voice on the other end said. “May I please speak to Detective Olivia Benson?”

“She’s not in right now, Evelyn,” Elliot said. “This is her partner. Can I help you out with anything?”

“Well…no…I just really wanted to talk to her ‘cause…see she said she was going to come see me today…but, she still hasn’t come by and the day’s half over.”

“Evelyn, I haven’t seen her yet, but I know she wouldn’t let you down. I’m sure she just got busy, but I know she’ll by be to see you today for sure.”

“Okay,” Evelyn sighed. “I guess…I’ll just have to wait.”

“I’m sure she’ll be by soon,” Elliot said.

Two hours later, Elliot and Fin found themselves in an office meeting room in front of one Lucas Roy, the last of three people who were closely associated with Owen Kreider. Like with Kreider's other associates, Roy appeared apprehensive in speaking to them, but Roy continuously looked toward the door when a question was asked.

“When was the last time you spoke to Kreider?” Elliot asked his stern gaze never leaving Roy’s shifty stance.

“Uh…it’s been like weeks. I mean I haven’t talked to him…especially since all this with these kids…I mean he seemed like such a normal guy and then this, you know?”

Fin’s eyes narrowed in Roy’s direction. “Everyone else we’ve been talking to always describe him as a little off-balanced. What made you think he seemed normal?”

“Well…you know…I mean you’d talk to him and he talked about sports and stuff just like any other guy. He talked about settling down one day and having kids…guess that can be a little strange for a guy his age, but I mean, he seemed perfectly…you know, normal.”

“You ever go out with him?” Fin asked. “Did he ever talk about kids in a way that seemed strange to you?”

“No. Like I said he was a normal guy.”

“How ‘bout visiting his place? Did you ever notice anything out of the ordinary in his apartment?”


“Did you ever let him stay at your place? Maybe after a night out, he slept on your couch or something?”

“No, never.”

“You seem a little nervous,” Elliot said, still staring.

“I-I’m not nervous.”

“Well, you’re sweating a little and you keep looking at the door like you expect someone to come barging through it.”

“And you keep tapping your feet,” Fin said. “You got rhythm in your soul or something?”

“Well, yeah okay. I am a little nervous, but you’ve got to see this from my point. I’ve been hearing all this stuff on the news about a guy that I sat next to and worked next to everyday for two years. For two years, we’d talk about baseball and hot girls and then the next thing I know, he’s some fricken’ psycho who’s murdering kids. I mean, come on! You people don’t know where he is and for all I know, he’s lurking in some alley outside my apartment waiting to strangle me. I think I’ve got the right to be a little nervous.”

Elliot and Fin glanced at one another and let Roy sit, feet tapping and eyes shifting, for a few silent minutes.

“Don’t leave town, Mr. Roy,” Elliot finally said, standing.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Roy called out to Elliot and Fin as they left the room, but neither turned to answer him.




SVU Squad Room



Munch sighed as he closed the file he had re-made on Drover that day. The suspect had turned much worse after Munch had left him and had to be taken to Mercy General Hospital to keep his blood-alcohol level from killing him. Drover’s doctors notified Munch that it would be at least a full day before they could question him, but they made sure that he was handcuffed to the bed regardless.

He was about ready to call it night when a short, dark-haired man approached the squad room entrance with a brown package in his hand. The man looked around the unit precariously, as if worried that he might be caught in the police precinct.

“Can I help you?” Munch said from his desk.

“Yeah…the cop downstairs said I should probably talk to SVU…Is this SVU?”

“Yes, this is,” Munch said. “Do you need to report a rape?”

“No, no,” the man said quickly. “I…uh…”

Munch stood and closed the gap between himself and the man. “Do you want to talk somewhere a little quieter?”

“Yeah,” he said, immediately relieved. “Yeah, I would.”

“What’s your name?” Munch asked a moment later in one of the less austere interrogation rooms.

“Peter Wheeler,” he said.

“What’s going on Mr. Wheeler?”

“Well,” he said pulling out the postal package. “Some friends of mine like to give…um, gag gifts and stuff. And for my last birthday, they gave this random…um, adult video. Now, I don’t watch this stuff. It’s gag gift.”

“Fully understood,” Munch said.

“But, they gave me this…so I watched it.”

“Okay…Was there something on there that bothered you?”

“Well, it seemed like a normal porno at first.”

Normal in the sense that you don’t watch that stuff?”

“But, then it turned weird,” Peter continued as if Munch had not commented. “This guy…I’m still not sure what happened, but it looked like this guy killed this girl on the video.”

“Sounds like a normal, not-so-normal porn to me.”

“That’s what I thought too, it’s just that…It didn’t look like some low budget porno death. It looked really real. The girl really looked like she was dead.”

Munch stared at Peter for a moment suppressing the sigh that was building in his chest.

“Anyway,” Peter said sliding the package across the table. “I just thought you people should watch it. I don’t know…You’re cops. Maybe you can tell for sure if she really got killed on the DVD or not.”

“Well, thanks Peter,” Munch said. “We’ll look into it.”

He shook his head as he ushered Peter out of the room and tossed the packaged DVD onto his desk knowing it would be at the bottom of a very big pile for a while. With Drover and Kreider on his plate, not to mention all of their other open cases, there did not seem to be time for small concerns such as a well-made adult video.

By the time Elliot and Fin returned to the precinct, Munch was about to walk out of the squad room.

“Everybody so far seems clean,” Fin said, commenting on Kreider’s close friends and co-workers.

“With a guy like Kreider?” Munch said. “You’ve got to be kidding?”

“There was one guy,” Elliot said. “Lucas Roy. He seemed a little nervous talking to us, but he turned out clean. No one looks like they’re having any interaction with Kreider.”

Munch released his pent up sigh. “Where the hell can this guy be hiding?”

“I’m beginning to think he’s not even in the city anymore,” Elliot said. “I mean we’ve tracked down everyone who’s had some kind of contact with him and he’s gone.”

“And even if Donaugh was helping him,” Fin added, “we’ve been checking her out from every angle. She’s not giving him a dime.”

“I can’t believe it,” Munch said. “I’m calling it a night.”

“Same here,” Fin said at his desk. “I’m out the door right after you.”

Cragen motioned for Elliot to come toward his office. “Any word on Olivia yet?”

“No,” Elliot said through furrowed eyebrows. “She hasn’t called or anything?”

Cragen ran a hand over his face, looking more than exhausted. “I can’t believe she’d just vanish like this, especially after yesterday.” His voice began to rise in intensity. “I gave her full reign back on Kreider and on Drover and now, she’s nowhere to be found.”

“I’ll check on her tonight,” Elliot said trying to diffuse some of his boss’s resentment. “Just to make sure she’s okay.”

“Well, when you see her, make sure she knows what’s she’s missed all day. Evelyn Rivers has called every hour, on the hour since you and Fin left here at two.”




“Liv?” Elliot said as he knocked on Olivia’s door. “Olivia? Liv, it’s me.”

He poked his head through her door and opened it a bit, hoping that she would simply be on her couch, ignoring him. Stepping into the apartment, he scanned the room in search of her.

Across the apartment, Olivia’s walls were bare in spots where her framed pictures, now shattered in several places all over her floors, once hung. The hope chest that sat in the middle of the room as a coffee table was overturned and lay open with its contents, two blankets, a violin case and sheet music, spilling toward her television. The television sat askew on its stand while the DVDs, which normally stood neatly on their shelf beside the television, were falling in all directions, some laying haphazard on the edge of the shelf. Accent pillows and couch cushions lay in several orientations, each pointing toward the long brown afghan, that had covered both he and Olivia not forty-eight hours earlier and now lay strewn across the sofa and onto the floor, fuzz from its woolen strands still reaching upward as if pulled by the electricity left in the air. Her beige oriental rugs that stretched across the living room were covered with bits of broken glass that glinted in the moonlight, and the various files, notepads and pens on her desk sat in complete disarray, many of them overflowing onto the floor and spraying an arch that swept toward the room’s center. The chair that usually stood next to her desk laid on its side, one of it legs bent at an odd angle from the rest of its brothers toward the floor and its back appeared severely scratched. On the room’s other side, her cello case lied flat on its back, as if having slid from its precarious position by her bookcase and the dust that had been interrupted from the floor behind it upon its fall had settled into a fine grey layer on the black hardened plastic of the case. In the middle of the floor and nearing the coffee table rested a small red-brown smudge that lied amidst all the broken glass catching the eye immediately and tying together every facet of the room’s state. Everything looked exactly the way it did before he had left Tuesday night.

Elliot sighed as he checked Olivia’s bedroom and bathroom, just in case she had fallen or was completely indisposed, with no luck. Frustrated, he pulled out his cell phone and called her phone again. He jumped when it rang from the nightstand in her bedroom, as it sat directly next to her badge and her gun. He then checked her top dresser drawer for her backup weapon and noticed that her spare keys were gone, but the gun still remained and he looked toward her closet to see that her running shoes were still in place.

As he approached her door, he sighed again wondering if she had simply stepped out of her apartment altogether. He knew that sometimes she visited her neighbor two floors above her and there was always the possibility that she had made up with Halloway some time in the night and she was holed up with him somewhere.

Elliot paused once more before locking Olivia’s apartment, concern spreading over his bruised face. Her keys were glistening in the moonlight that shone through her apartment while they hung from their normal hook and her cell phone beeped in the distance, full with dozens of the day’s messages. He simply shook his head and locked the door as he left, wondering briefly if she had simply taken flight from him again like she had eight months earlier.