Chapter Seventeen


Saturday February 3, 2007

SVU Squad Room


Detective Eric McNaughton had been with the NYPD for less than a year when he was assigned to Cragen, nepotism higher up on the chain landing him the position in Homicide. The pale, wet-behind-the-ears, kid seemed to know more about the physics of how a gun worked than how to actually shoot one and no one thought he would ever succeed on his own as cop. All the negativity surrounding McNaughton notwithstanding, Cragen took the young officer under his wing and showed him the proverbial ropes to Homicide and the NYPD in general. Cragen took the time to teach him how to shoot properly and, within six months, McNaughton was emerging as a good cop.

One evening while off duty, McNaughton was in the park with his five-year-old son, helping him set off a small baking powder powered rocket, when a purse snatcher, who had become bewildered during the chase, literally ran into him as he was bent over with his son. McNaughton, always thought of as a “nice” guy, reached to help up the purse snatcher, not knowing what had just happened. The thief, a crackhead with a fix itching at his skin, pulled out the hand gun he had used to rob the elderly couple down the path and shot the young detective in the chest.

Little Eric Jr. had entered City College in 2006 with every intention of becoming a police officer after school, but even so many years later, Cragen could still remember the feel of McNaughton’s father, sobbing into his chest upon hearing the news that his only son had been murdered.

With Olivia, there would be no grieving father, and Cragen pursed his lips as the thought occurred to him that it might be he who was found crying in the arms of subordinate at the news of another slain officer.

Three days had come and gone since Olivia had been seen and yet there was no news of her possible whereabouts. With the locks on her door in place and her windows unbroken, it almost looked as if she simply vanished out of her bed Tuesday night.

Then, there was Elliot to consider. The arguing, the bruises, the blood on Olivia’s floor. Elliot would have an explanation for the whole thing, but Cragen knew deep down what he did not wish to voice; what he did not want to even imagine. Olivia was missing and Elliot had something to do with it.

He had known Olivia Benson since before she could fully handle her SVU cases and knew Olivia was a fighter, but could she fight off Elliot Stabler if he really came at her?

In all his years with the force, Cragen had witnessed the horrific things that cops sometimes did to one another, at times, after being amicably partnered for years. To think that something like this could ever happen in his unit, between Elliot and Olivia, was simply unconscionable. He had seen them work miracles together and through all the problems, through all the anger, Cragen knew even when Elliot had hung on the proverbial edge, he had never slipped.

He glanced at the glistening report Melinda had placed on his desk. It sat innocently catching the slight flickers of the overhead light in his office. There was just the one copy and she had left it with him, a complete violation of her office’s many procedures, but he could not be more thankful that she had risked it for him.

They were running out of options on Olivia and it was only a matter of time before they would have to release her information to the press. Any mention of Elliot’s blood in her apartment, combined with what went on in the squad room on Tuesday morning would create the kind of media circus he wanted to avoid as long as possible, especially when it surrounded Olivia. Once the media caught wind that Olivia, an SVU detective who had been the product of a rape, had been abducted from her home and was potentially a special victim herself, the air would never clear long enough for them to sort out what had happened to her.

Cragen sighed knowing that the report did not matter. Even without Elliot’s blood mixed with Olivia’s in a smear on her apartment floor, he knew the investigation was going to be storm of his career. Elliot’s behavior throughout the Drover case would have had him sitting at a desk in any other department, but Cragen had cut him some slack out of the loyalty of knowing his lead detective was simply going through a rough time.

Perhaps, he thought, if I’d read the signs a little better…

Perhaps he would be sending his detectives out to resolve another case instead of holding a pang in his stomach that was nearing despair.

He stared out his office window to see his remaining lead detective rummaging frantically through Olivia’s desk for any information. The bruise around his left eye had darkened severely, becoming more purple in colour than red and spreading across the bridge of his nose.

A hot flash of anger coursed through Cragen’s side as he pondered on what had really happened Tuesday night. The bruises, about which Elliot still refused to give a definite answer three days later, were undoubtedly caused by Olivia and Cragen wondered what Elliot had done to make her strike back at him in such a way.

Enough is enough, he thought.

Cragen took a step toward his door, fully prepared to call Elliot into his office and have a long discussion about the details of Olivia’s disappearance when the black phone which sat on the right corner of his desk lit up, ringing its tinny chime.




Elliot had had on his coat and was running toward the elevators the moment the words had left the captain’s mouth.

“They found Kreider.”

Cragen had shouted the address to him as the elevator doors closed and within twenty minutes he arrived at the police blockade surrounding Emme Donaugh’s residence.

Munch and Fin filled him in on the situation as he slipped on a bulletproof vest the moment he arrived: A uniformed detail had been issued on Donaugh, who had been released on her own recognizance earlier the previous day, and one of the officers spotted Kreider pulling up to the apartment in the black Expedition that belonged to Jeffrey Drover, looking ragged and tired. According the officers, he checked on something in his trunk and then went into the house.

“But,” Fin continued. “Just to let you know, we weren’t able to turn up anything on Drover and Olivia.”

Elliot nodded though he felt his stomach drop at the mention of “trunk” and “Olivia” within the same minute’s time frame.

“How long’s he been in there?” he asked.

“About twenty minutes,” Munch said. “He sent all the help out of the house the second he got here and locked all the doors leading into the living room at the center of the house.”

“He’s got Donaugh in there with him,” Fin added.

“Is he asking for anything?”

“Just for us to back off, which we’re not going to do,” Munch said. “They’re talking about getting a negotiator.”

“We’re not getting a negotiator,” Elliot said. “Kreider gave up his right to have this negotiated when he mocked us with Tyler MacFarland.”

His heart raced, adrenaline coursing through his body, and he could feel tremors in his blood from having sat nearly stagnant as he sat in Olivia’s chair praying that providential inspiration would lead him to her.

The inside of the house was humid and Elliot's clothes immediately stuck to his skin as he and Fin made their way through the halls. Flagged down by three officers, they approached the sitting room silently. The SWAT members motioned to Elliot and Fin that Kreider was in the room and had a hostage.

Kreider?” Elliot called from the corridor.

“Don’t you dare come in here!

“I’m not coming in. I’m just gonna step into the opening.” Elliot pointed his gun toward the opening and slowly stepped into view.

Kreider had Donaugh kneeling on the floor and was holding a gun to her head.

“Just step back,” Kreider said, grey eyes wild.

“Now, let’s just calm down,” Elliot said softly. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

“Don’t hurt him,” Donaugh whispered from her vantage on the floor. “Please. He’s my son. Don’t hurt him.”

“No one’s gonna get hurt,” Elliot said taking a step into the room.

“I said step back!” Kreider yelled. “I’ll shoot her in the head. So, help me God. I’ll kill her right now.”

“Please don’t hurt him,” Donaugh whispered again.

“C’mon Kreider,” Elliot said. “I don’t want this to end badly. Don’t do anything drastic. Just let her go and the two of us will just have a talk.”

“The hell with you,” Kreider said. “I didn’t do anything to her.”

Panic shot through Elliot’s chest. “Her who?”

“Her!” Kreider yelled. “My stupid bitch neighbor! You people are trying to frame me for her.”

“How do you even know she’s dead?”

Kreider bent toward Donaugh’s ear. “They’re trying to frame me, Mother. They’re doing all this against me.”

“No one is against you, Kreider,” Elliot said taking another step forward. “We’re just here to end this peacefully.”

“Nothing’s ending peacefully. I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“You murdered eight people.”

They all needed to die! It was the only way!”

Kreider pointed his gun toward Elliot and Elliot immediately brought his to shoulder height.

“Let’s just calm down,” Elliot said a sweat bead beginning to trace down the side of his face. “All right, Kreider? Just calm down or you know how this is gonna end.”

“Yeah,” Kreider said his breathing ragged. “Everyone’s gonna die.”

“No one wants anyone to die.”

“You want me to.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Quit lying you bastard!” Kreider’s face had turned red and the gun in his hand shook violently.

“Fine,” Elliot said. “I do. I want you dead. You deserve it, but I’m not going to kill you, so just put the gun down.”

Kreider shook his head. “You’re going to shoot me the second I do.”

“There’s nowhere to go, Kreider. Just put down the gun and we all walk out of here as healthy men.”

“You’re full of shit.”

“C’mon,” Elliot said. “You put down your gun and let her go and she’ll have the best lawyers money can buy working on your case.”

The floorboards squeaked behind Elliot, followed by the sound of shuffling feet. Kreider’s eyes grew wider and darted about the sitting room.

“You’re not taking me alive!” he screamed and the gun in his hand exploded in several directions.

Elliot and the officers behind him hit the floor. Kreider fired six shots from the Glock that dwarfed his hand before Elliot had shifted on the floor and shot twice toward Kreider’s shin. The bullets made contact and he could see a spray of flesh, blood and bone fire from Kreider’s leg as the bullet exited, pale bits of skin hitting the sofa behind him.

Donaugh's wail bounced off the room's wooden panels as black substance with a tint of red flowed from Kreider’s left leg and onto the floors.

“My baby!” she screamed. “How could you!”

“We need a unit up here!” Elliot heard one the SWAT members say as he picked himself off the floor.

“I knew it,” Kreider whispered as he sank against the sofa, his pale body going into shock while covered in his own blood.

Within ten minutes, SWAT paramedics had stabilized Kreider, and Elliot, Munch and Fin stood staring at the back of the darkened SUV in which Kreider had arrived; no one wanted to open it and view its contents as they each held the same thought.

Was Olivia in there?

Kreider had paused at his trunk prior to entering Donaugh’s house and with the combined inclination that Kreider had something to do with Olivia’s disappearance, all three detectives feared what might lie inside the trunk.

“All right,” Fin said preparing to open the trunk. “Let’s do this.”

They each let out sighs of relief once the trunk was opened, yet those sighs were quickly replaced with solemn faces. Wrapped in a green blanket, lay what looked like trophies from each of Kreider’s victims: soccer cleats, various jerseys and backpacks. The overturned baseball cap that sat a top all seven items read “MacFarland” across its back.

Elliot closed his eyes and faced the sky. They finally had him.




Mercy General Hospital



The gallimaufry of equipment arranged around Kreider’s hospital bed beeped and chirped softly as Elliot and Fin stepped into the room to find Kreider with his eyes closed, but body propped up on the bed. Handcuffed to the bed, his left leg was propped up from a hanging strap and he appeared paler than he had in Donaugh’s living room.

They allowed him some time to recover after the two hours of surgery needed to correct the damage caused by the bullets that shot through his leg and both Elliot and Fin were anxious to get the case resolved completely.

“I was wondering when you idiots would show up,” Kreider whispered, his eyes still closed, as they approached his bed.

“You want us to call a lawyer for you?” Fin said. “We wouldn’t want to trample on any of your rights.”

Kreider shook his head. “I know…when it’s over and…it’s over.”

“No,” Elliot said. “I don’t want you confessing to anything without an attorney present. I know you, Kreider and I don’t want you using some loophole in the law to walk on eight murders.”

“I was putting them all out of their misery.”

“Even your neighbor?” he asked.

“She was a hundred years old with no family. It was only a matter of time before she did it herself.”

“Nothing gave you the right to stab her and let her bleed to death!” Elliot yelled. “She lied there for a half an hour before she died.”

“Look, I didn’t mean to! I just wanted the damn box she was holding and to tell her to keep her mouth shut, but she kept screaming and I didn’t know what to do.”

“Why’d you call the police afterward?”

Kreider shrugged as much as he could. “I don’t know. I guess…maybe I felt bad. I know what it’s like to be all alone like that and…I just don’t know.”

Elliot glanced at Fin. “He’s unbelievable, you know?”

Let's just get a legal aide,” Fin said. “Everything he says needs to be on the record.”

“Hey,” Kreider said as Elliot and Fin walked toward the door. “You can save the time. I don’t need a lawyer.”

“Yeah, and who’s telling us that?” Fin said. “You or the painkillers they’ve got you on?”

Kreider said nothing and within twenty minutes they returned with a legal aide attorney whom Kreider promptly insisted he did not need. With the attorney sitting annoyed in the corner of the room, Kreider fell into his confession explaining how each of the boys he saw appeared so strong and beautiful and how he only wanted to be with them.

“All I ever wanted,” Kreider said, “was for someone to just…care about me.”

“You murdered these kids because you had a bad childhood?” Elliot seethed.

Kreider shook his head. “I look at someone like you and it makes me want to vomit. You probably had a great childhood with parents who cared about you and you probably had a brother or two who took care of you or whatever. I never had that. I never had anything. My real mother gave me up because she didn’t want to deal with me, the mistake. I had parents who looked at me like I was some reject because they couldn’t have a kid of their own, parents who fought non-stop and a father who eventually just walked out on us to leave my mother a complete wreck. The only thing I’ve ever wanted was for someone to give a damn about me and I never got that.”

“Is that why you strangled puppies in your basement as a kid?” Fin said, deadpan.

“You’re not getting it! I couldn’t even get them to behave; to care that I existed!”

“They were dogs.”

“Don’t bother, Fin,” Elliot said. “There’s no use in trying to reason with a crazy man.”

“I’m not crazy!” Kreider yelled. “I cared about those kids without even having met them, but they never acted the way there were supposed to! That’s not my fault!”

“You sodomized and strangled your own cousin,” Elliot said. “Your own family?”

Kreider shook his head. “I took Jacob because I didn’t want him growing up with those people. His happy family…they’re the same people who all but turned their backs on my mother because she adopted me.”

“You didn’t answer the question,” Elliot said his temper rising. “You raped a thirteen-year-old boy. For no reason!”

"I was just putting him out of his misery."

"What about all the others?" Elliot asked. "You didn't have to kidnap other kids just for the sake of doing it."

"I just wanted to raise some kids so that they'd grow up right. I wanted them to be like brothers, but they never behaved. They always acted up and so I had to get rid of them."

Elliot took a step backward to pace beside the bed and Fin took his place.

"You targeted Jeffrey Drover, didn't you? Why?"

"I saw how he was with them...the bastard. All the kids looked at him like he was some great role model. The kids he wasn't molesting, that is. He'd only do that to them when they were younger. The eleven-year-olds and such. He liked them that young, but he was a freak."

"He's not the one who strangled these kids," Fin said.

"But, he's still a freak. He wanted to stay friends with them even afterward. The bastard probably thought the kids wouldn't say anything if they kept trusting him. Him...the bastard looked just like me and we worked for the same damn company, but he had these kids, all these kids who loved him and I had nothing! I heard that you people were finally looking at him for what he'd done, but even you had your heads up your asses for that. You weren't even looking at him for the right reasons, so...I just ran with it."

"How many?" Elliot asked.


"How many kids did Drover molest?"

Kreider shrugged. "Not sure. Dozens...probably most of them. Who knows for sure?"

Elliot and Fin glanced at one another.

"Did you murder all these kids because Drover had molested them?" Elliot asked in a low voice.

"Hey," Kreider said. "I didn't murder anyone. I just put them out of their own misery."

"You're so full of shit."

"Am I? I know what those kids were going to go through when they got older."

"How?" Elliot said. "You're telling us you were molested at that age too?"

Kreider nodded. "From some caring brotherly type at juvey. I knew how they were going to feel once they got old enough to realize what had been done to them. I just put them out of their own misery now."

"If there were dozens," Fin said. "Why these kids? What made these kids so special?"

"They were the ones suffering the most."

"Oh please," Elliot said shaking his head. "I can't believe we're even listening to this bull."

"They were! Jacob...he came from the same family as me. The same family that really didn't give a damn at the end of the day. Connor...God, that poor kid. Drover had him so wrapped up, he probably had no idea what was going on. Drover was probably still feeling him up in his spare time."

"And Daniel Richardson?"

"He was suffering too."

"He was only eleven years old!"

"And his parents were driving him into an early grave. A kid like that...he would’ve been strung out on heroin before he turned twenty."

"At least he'd be alive," Fin said.

"Alive and miserable. Just like me. I didn't mean to...on King Day. It just happened. I saw what Drover was doing to him. I could see it with my own eyes. Same thing with that kid Dominic. He never even had a chance. His parents would rather leave him with that child molester than race across town to pick up their own kid. And, I know what it's like to not be wanted. The only one who wanted him was that Drover and that was only when he was young enough to be used."

"Still didn't give you the right to murder him," Fin said. "And, besides, what does that make you? I mean, you're the one who raped all these kids...just because."

"I didn't want to," Kreider said. "Especially with Daniel, but he misbehaved worse than the others. I guess in hindsight, it might've been because he just distrusted someone who looked so much like the guy who had done all that to him."

"Or," Elliot said now standing on the other side of the bed. "Maybe it was because he knew what you were about to do to him."

"I've already told you. I put those kids out of their misery. Ricky was probably two steps from killing himself and Manny and Tyler would've turned out the same as Drover when they grew up. There were more. A lot more, but...they were the ones who needed the most help."

"You're a sick fuck, Kreider," Elliot said. "Very sick. It just makes me angry that they got rid of the death penalty because if there was anyone who deserved a needle after all this..."

In an exaggerated turn of his head, Kreider glared at Elliot. "Where's the other cop that was with you? The pretty one. She seemed nicer than either of you."

"Did you do something to her?" Eliot asked taking a step closer.

“You know,” Kreider began. “Women never look at me. Never, and I really don’t expect them to. I’m scrawny, pale…not much to look at, I guess. I think I can count the amount of dates I’ve had on one hand. Women…they just never even gave me a second glance. But, her... She actually smiled at me at one point. Didn’t talk to me like I was a freak or anything. Just looked me in the eye, even though she thought she knew what I had done. She was nice, even when throwing snide comments in my direction. What was her name…Olivia? Something pretty that rolls off the tongue like that?”

Elliot took another step forward and grabbed Kreider’s newly bandaged leg. Kreider let out a scream and Fin pulled Elliot backward as tears formed in Kreider’s eyes.

“What did you do to her?” Elliot said with Fin standing between him and the bed.

“Detective!” the legal aid shouted.

“I didn’t do anything to her!” Kreider yelled. “I wouldn’t!”

“You expect me to take the word of a child molester?”

“Then, why even ask the goddamn question if you weren’t going to believe me?”

“We might be able to squeeze something out for you if you tell us where she is,” Fin said.

His eyes wet, Kreider shook his head. “It’s life no matter how we look at it. I know how you people play.”

“She’s a cop and that’ll count for something during your sentencing.”

“I don’t know where she is,” Kreider said resting back in his pillows. “I haven’t seen her since you and her were at my apartment weeks ago.”

“You’re lying,” Elliot said.

“Well, if you aren’t going to believe me, why even say anything. I think now is as good a time as any to invoke my right to remain silent.”

The legal aide stood quickly to indicate that the interview was over and Elliot and Fin both stormed out of the hospital room.




410 West 3rd Street



Elliot dabbed at the red spot on his jaw line with a paper napkin as he stared into the side mirror of the car. He had given himself a quick shave in a public bathroom and thought he could get away without nicking face with the cheap razor, but he had not used water alone to shave in years and the razor slipped just enough on his jaw to draw the smallest drop of blood.

“You ready?” Fin asked, looking just as bedraggled as Elliot, while they stood outside the Richardson’s home.

They had spent much of the day visiting the homes of each of Kreider’s victims to inform them that he had indeed been captured, would stand trial and would spend the rest of his life in prison. Going from house to house, in order of the victims, spending an extra hour with Veronica Schrader who needed to be taken to the hospital after hearing the news, they had saved Langdon and Daphne Richardson for last, knowing there was more to Daniel’s story that needed to be unfolded for them.

Mrs. Richardson opened the door for them with bloodshot eyes and she and her husband simply cried together in the middle of their living room once Elliot delivered the news.

“I don’t know what to think,” Mr. Richardson said through a haze of his own tears. “Is he going to stand trial?”

“Yes,” Fin said quickly. “And he will be convicted. He gave us a confession today.”

“Did he say why he took Daniel?” Mrs. Richardson asked. “He was younger than all those other boys. Why did he take him?”

“No,” Elliot said. “He didn’t specify.”

Fin stared at him and he half-regretted the lie, but he knew the truth would come out eventually during the trial when the Richardsons had had more time to recover. Elliot had stared into her wet, brown eyes for a moment before speaking and knew he could not tell the woman before him that Kreider killed her son because he thought she was an unfit mother after what she had continually “let” happen to Daniel. No parent needed to hear that at the height of his or her pain.

He and Fin spoke to the Richardsons twenty minutes longer before preparing to leave.

“Wait,” Mrs. Richardson said withdrawing from her husband. “There was another detective before. A woman. Is she available at all? I just…I appreciate everything that you’ve all done for my Daniel, but I wanted to thank her specifically. She…she held onto me at the darkest moment of my life.”

Touched by the woman’s sentiment, Elliot stood speechless. He and Fin glanced at one another, yet neither said anything as they were still asking her same question to themselves.




“Well, Branch refuses to take a plea on Kreider,” Casey said speaking to all of them in the squad room. “He says the public wants a trial, so we’ll prosecute.”

“Has his lawyer been asking for a plea?” Elliot asked.

“She’s called twice, but we both know it’s a wash. Emme Donaugh’s power of attorney has cut off all ties to Kreider, which means he’s now only got her as his single legal aide instead of the team of lawyers he was probably expecting. The confession he gave you two is valid, though, and we’ll be using it throughout the case. He’ll be serving life for sure. And, they’ll be prosecuting him separately on Martha Harvand’s murder.”

Elliot shook his head. “If anyone deserved the death penalty…”

“March on Albany and complain,” Casey said with a shrug. “Either way, he won’t be getting out. Donaugh, on the other hand, is on probation.”

“That all?” Fin said.

“It’s her first offense and she’s got a rather lengthy psychiatric history. But, Roy will be serving two years for aiding and abetting.”

“Two years?” Elliot said raising his voice. “If he hadn’t kept quiet about Kreider, Tyler MacFarland would still be alive.”

“A minimum of two years,” Casey continued. “He’s getting two to seven in conjunction with testifying against Kreider.”

“What about Drover?” Cragen asked. “What are you charging him with?”

“We can use the pictures in his apartment and some of the things they pulled from his computer to charge with him possessing kiddie porn. Kreider’s attorney says that she wants a deal for Kreider to give up what he knows about Drover abusing the boys, but I'm not willing to give him anything. Drover will serve time, though.” She noted Elliot’s growing unease. “He’ll serve at least three years for the kiddie porn and…we’re trying to pile on more for assaulting an officer.”

She paused and switched the briefcase in her hand from one to the other.

“Any word on Olivia yet?” she asked in Cragen’s direction.

He shook his head slightly and she bit her lip.

“Well…if there’s anything you need…”

“We’ll contact you,” Cragen said, a solemn expression set in his eyes as she began to leave the squad room.

He turned to his three remaining detectives and sighed. “We’ve got some new cases that are in urgent need of investigation by all of you. Elliot, a woman was attacked off of 123rd last night. I already started her file and it’s on your desk. Fin, I’ve got another already started…a college student was raped at a party on the Hudson campus, but she doesn’t remember anything. Munch, you’re already on the Carolyn Davis thing from yesterday. And, I’ve got another guy who claims his neighbor has too many kids running in and out of his apartment at all times of the night. Who wants this fourth one?”

Though the three detectives remained silent, Cragen noted each officer’s eyes dart toward Olivia’s empty desk.

“I’ll take it,” Elliot said, taking the file from Cragen’s hand.

He sat down with the file at his desk to read the statements given by the neighbor over the past two weeks, trying desperately to ignore Cragen who stood next to his desk staring at him.

“Elliot,” he said. “It’s time.”




The soft soles of Elliot’s shoes squeaked across the recently waxed floor as he approached the aisle of the locker room that contained his unit. A burning sensation had erupted in his stomach and he knew it was from a combination of exhaustion and hunger as his body went on close to four full days without sleep and twenty hours without food.

As he approached his aisle, the memory of giving Olivia a slight hug at little more than a week earlier as he told her that he had grown attached to her floated to mind, and he could not help but reflect upon the irony that he was now faced with investigating her disappearance.

He opened his locker and immediately spotted the blue sweater that Olivia had bought for him in October past, having missed his birthday in September. He remembered her holding it up on him and saying that she liked the way it brought out his eyes. Pawing at the top shelf for a few moments more, Elliot finally found the object Cragen had sent him to find.

The four-inch by six-inch photograph gleamed in his hand as it caught a bit of the overhead lights. It was the only picture he had of him and Olivia together.

He had left the image in his locker after Olivia handed it to him while in the locker room months earlier, not knowing where else to place it. Every once in a while he would take it out and remember the first night when Olivia felt more like a friend than just his partner.

Elliot sighed as he stared at the image, remote guilt welling within him as he was still unsure why he kept it away in the locker. There was something in his facial expression frozen in the picture that said it was not meant for the squad room desk or the household refrigerator.

The previous May, before the Gitano case, Maya had called him at random to lure Olivia out to a restaurant for her birthday.

“Just tell her you owe her dinner or something,” Maya had said. “She’ll argue about it, but just get her in the cab and over here and I’ll take the blame later.”

After ten minute’s cajoling, he finally managed to get Olivia to the small Upper West Side restaurant where Maya had gifts and balloons waiting for her; the perfect modest gesture for a birthday for which Olivia had claimed she was not ready. Maya had invited Elliot to have dinner with them and, facing a night home alone, he readily agreed.

Prior to that night, he had only said the occasional “hello” to Maya when she met Olivia before they went out for drinks or dinner from the precinct. That night, he had come to know Maya moderately well and found out more about his partner than he had learned in seven years.

Olivia had gone to great lengths for Maya’s birthday the previous year, finagling something with old friends and old flames to get a bus with “Happy Birthday Maya” to drive by at the moment they had Maya blowing out her birthday candles, and Olivia told him that she and Maya had been trying to “one-up” each other on birthdays for as long as either could remember.

That night, Maya had prepared a very small setting since Olivia had vehemently informed her that she did not want a party and it was only the three of them in the restaurant, with some musicians playing lightly in the background. Just before Olivia opened her gifts, Maya had Elliot sit closer to Olivia and she snapped the photograph with her Minolta.

He had smiled immediately when Olivia handed one of the prints a week later, impressed by how well it looked. Olivia’s face held a wide, bright smile and the dark restaurant allowed the light that stemmed from the birthday candles to play a soft glow across her face. He had leaned very close to her for the picture and could remember that the scent of her perfume had caused him to grin wider than usual. The picture was so elegant that it made his chest tingle each time he saw them together like that.

“I need a picture of Olivia,” Cragen had said minutes earlier when he decided they were going to release her information to the news. “…one that’s going to pull some heartstrings.”

With her face lit up and eyes sparkling the photo, Elliot could not think of a single person who would not be moved by her face.

Cragen stared at the image when Elliot handed it to him, with the first signs of a smirk on his lips since before Monday morning.

“This is good,” he said, but the hint of a smile faded quickly when he looked at Elliot again. “Go home, Elliot. You look like hell.”

Elliot knew Cragen was right, but he shook his head regardless. His face had a scruffy appearance, his cheap shave not accomplishing what he had intended, and the coffee he had use to keep him conscious was causing his hands to shake from combined fatigue and caffeine.

“I’m not going to sleep,” Elliot argued.

“Try anyway,” Cragen said. “I’ll see you later. Hopefully not until tomorrow.”

Elliot nodded as he picked up his coat and marched toward the elevators.

As he drove across the bridge, his mind raced, all thoughts squarely on Olivia.

She was fine when I left…She was fine when I left. What if she was really hurt? No, she would have turned up at a hospital somewhere…She was fine…She was fine when I left…

Once in his apartment, he showered and simply fell onto his couch, the television on in the distance, as he allowed pure exhaustion to overwhelm him. When he woke around six in the evening, the first thing he saw was Olivia’s face from the picture he had given Cragen on his television. The announcer was speaking with a concerned expression on her face and Elliot felt his stomach burn once again as she spoke.

“…with Kreider now behind bars, one search ends, yet another begins as the police are now looking into the disappearance of Manhattan detective, Olivia Benson…”

They had cut him out of the picture to focus on Olivia and with her image in the background, the reporter prattled off Olivia’s various awards and accommodations.

“…Detective Benson was also one of the lead detectives involved with tracking down the mass murderer, Owen Kreider…”

Elliot hated the thought of her life being summed up in less than two minutes of speech and shortly after the anchor had switched the topic to the weather, he was out the door and heading back the precinct.

The phone lines were beginning to light up by the time he arrived and he took a place at his desk to see if anyone had information regarding Olivia’s whereabouts.

In the case of civilians, the Department of Missing Persons in New York County required that citizens were missing for at least forty-eight hours before an officer would even begin looking at the case and, even after that time had expired, only one or two detectives would be assigned to the case which could take months to resolve. In the case of Olivia, a seasoned and decorated officer, the situation was far more dire. There was not a possibility that she had gone for an extended run, skipped town or simply run off with someone as seen with so many Missing Persons cases and, with the news that Olivia had possibly met foul play, officers were volunteering left and right to find out what happened to her.

A little after ten o’clock, Elliot rubbed the bridge of his nose as he slammed down the telephone receiver. The caller had been an elderly woman claiming that she was a “mystic” and could feel Olivia’s soul was peril. He knew he might have entertained the woman’s ranting for a bit longer had Olivia been sitting beside him laughing uncontrollably as the woman driveled endlessly, but the situation at hand drowned out every bit of his sense of humor.

He walked toward his desk to stretch his legs only noting the error in his action when he viewed his partner’s empty chair and cold coffee cup once more. His eyes scanned the room in hopes of something to ease his spirits and fell upon the undersized contour of a young man looking no more than nineteen years old. He looked aimlessly around the busy squad room, concern etched across his face.

“Can I help you?” Elliot asked in his direction.

His meek expression hardened the moment Elliot’s voice reached his ears and he stared through icy blue eyes that seemed to pierce Elliot’s very soul.

“Perhaps,” he said with a scornful, yet nonchalant air to his voice. “I need to speak to someone about Ms. Olivia Benson’s whereabouts.”

Elliot’s eyebrows flew upward and Cragen, who had overheard the man’s statement, appeared at Elliot’s side in half a step.

“You have information about Olivia?” Elliot asked.

“I might,” he said. “But, I’d need to speak to someone about it. Someone else.”

“Look,” Elliot said taking a step toward the short, blond-haired man. “We don’t have time for any games here. A cop is missing. Do you have any information on her or not?”

The young man glanced at Cragen and then narrowed his eyes as he glanced back at Elliot. “I don’t want to talk to you.”

“Fine,” Cragen said, noting Elliot’s skin turning red from frustration. “Talk to me.”

“Okay,” he said. “Is there someplace we could talk?”

Cragen nodded and lead him to the nearest interrogation room as Elliot followed.

“What’s your name?” Cragen asked as they sat at the wooden table in the room.

“Harry Morse.”

Cragen pursed his lips. “Morse…Are you a third or a fourth?”

“I’m neither,” Morse said arrogance biting in his voice. “My oldest brother, Richard…I call him Dick because he is one…he’s the third. But thanks for asking.”

“I see,” Cragen said glancing at Elliot.

The Morses were as old as money could be in the city and Cragen knew that the name itself carried a worth greater than many of the wealthier families in the city combined.

“You said you had information on Olivia Benson,” Elliot said quickly. “Do you or are you just wasting our time?”

Morse smirked at him and turned toward the captain. “It radiates off him, doesn’t it?”

“Excuse me?” Cragen said.

“The anger. The rage. It’s right there, just like he’s emitting it or something.” Morse turned back toward Elliot. “Are you always so angry or is it just lately that this has been happening?”

“If I seem angry,” Elliot said through his teeth, “it may be because while my partner has been missing for nearly four days, you’re in here jerking us around. Now do you have any information or not!”

Morse scoffed and then chuckled to himself. “It’s actually been about ninety hours since she went missing, hasn’t it?” Morse looked at the Breitling watch on his arm. “Yeah…well, it’s ten twenty-six, so that’s actually ninety-three hours and fifty-eight minutes since Olivia’s been missing. So, almost ninety-four hours…close to four days, but not quite.”

Elliot stood slowly, glaring at the young man sitting across from him. “You’ve got about ten seconds to tell us what you know before I throw you across this room and-”

“And what?” Morse shouted. “You’ll tell all the other cops about me? Make ‘em believe I allegedly did something to your partner?” He let out a fake laugh. “Honestly, you slay me, Elliot. You really do.”

“All right, Morse,” Cragen said unable to miss the fact that Morse already knew Elliot’s name without either of them mentioning it. “You’ve got our attention. What do you have for us?”

“Oh, I’ve got a lot. I’ve got a whole lot. A lot of information about Mr. Big-Bad Detective Stabler here and a whole lot more on Ms. Benson.”

“Care to share any of that information?” Cragen asked with strained breath. He, too, wanted to throttle Morse, but he knew he needed to keep him talking.

“Well, I’d love to,” Morse said. “But, I’ll be damned if I give this up in front of him. I’m not so hot about you either, but I’m not that picky.”

Elliot slammed his hands on the table. “You walk into the special victims unit asking for someone to talk to about Detective Benson’s disappearance and you got us. You talk to us or you don’t talk.”

Morse turned toward Cragen again. “You see, Cap. That’s the problem with this one. He’s a loaded canon waiting to go off at even the slightest provocation.”

“Do you have information on Olivia!” Elliot screamed into Morse’s face.

Morse scraped his chair backward against the hard tile floor. “I do,” he said softly. “But, I’m not telling either you or your superior. I know how this works. The two of you get together and decide on what you’ll report. I want the other two detectives. Munch and Tuta…I can’t remember how to say it. I want to speak to them, because…from what I know about all of you and this unit, I can’t trust the angerball or the one who keeps taking his back.”

Cragen and Elliot simply stared at Morse for a long while. Both men easily towered over his small, thin frame and though he appeared to be no older than nineteen or twenty, the baritone hints of his voice gave way to someone much older. His close-cut blond hair highlighted menacing blue eyes that held an extra glint of something sinister behind them. The very curl of his lips made Cragen’s stomach turn and after another moment of wondering how Morse was able to acquire so much information about them, he turned on his heel and patted Elliot on the shoulder. Elliot did not budge at first, but eventually he turned to follow Cragen out of the room.

They entered the small watch room from behind the large mirror in the interrogation room to find Munch and Fin standing with concerned expressions.

“We’re gonna get Huang in here as soon as possible,” Cragen said, “but keep him talking. I can’t tell if he’s just a kook or if he really knows something about Olivia. The only thing that makes me think he’s legit is that he knows all our names and who’s partnered with who. Just keep him talking as long as possible. If he knows where Olivia is, we’ll drag it out of him.”

Munch nodded and he and Fin stepped into the room.

“Morse,” he said brightly. “How the heck are you?”

“John, I’m doing just fine,” Morse said with the same sardonic tone.

“Well, good,” Munch said as he sat at the table. “So, why don’t you tell us how you know Detective Benson and tell us where she is?”

“Well, I don’t know where she is, but I know that he most likely does.” He pointed toward the mirror, where he figured Elliot would be standing.

“What makes you think that?”

“Because I saw what went down that night.”

Munch and Fin glanced at one another. Behind the mirror, Cragen saw Elliot visibly tense and his own thoughts went back to Melinda’s report that sat locked in his desk.

“What d’you mean, you saw what went down?” Fin asked through narrow eyes.

“You know what I’m talking about, Fin.” Morse smiled with a mouth full of perfectly straightened white teeth. “I saw what happened. I saw what he did to her.”

“Who?” Munch asked, immediately dropping the sarcasm.

Morse glanced toward the mirror and then back at Munch. “You know who I’m talking about.”

Munch sat back in his chair and stared at Morse. He had not wanted to fathom about what Morse was suggesting, but the expression on Elliot's face when he first entered the squad room Wednesday morning fluttered to mind nonetheless.

“You were stalking Benson,” Fin said as more of a statement than a question.

“No,” Morse said quickly. “I don’t stalk. I never stalked Olivia. I just…paid special attention to her.”

“Stalking a police officer is a felony,” Munch said. “A felony which we’ll gladly lay aside if you can give us some information about Olivia.”

Morse shrugged his shoulders. “What is it you’d like to know? I mean, I know practically everything there is to know about her. I even know a fair bit about you too, John…” He stared at Fin. “I’ve never really got your name right. She always calls you Fin.”

Fin felt a sharp shiver racing down his spine, but he refused to let it show. “So, you stalked her long enough to know a little about where she works and the people she works with. Now, why don’t you put us at ease by tellin’ us where she is?”

“But, I keep telling you, I never stalked her.”

“That’s right,” Munch said. “You paid her special attention.”

Morse glared at him. “I noticed her. I first noticed her about four…well, closing in on five years ago. I saw her through the window from my own place…”

From behind the mirror, Elliot and another detective, Alexa Brown, furiously jotted down notes.

“He’s probably been living in the building right across the street from her,” Cragen whispered to them.

“She was just doing some dishes,” Morse continued. “And she was sort of…lip-synching with some music as she did them. It was the strangest thing I’d ever seen.”

Fin shook his head. “Strange because you were stalking her or strange because you were just watching her.”

“Strange because you really don’t see a person until you can see them when they think no one is watching. She was standing at her sink, her hands slightly red from the warm water and covered in soap bubbles. I’d seen her around the block here and there, but I’d never really noticed her until I happened to just look up that night and see her so very innocently doing her dishes while singing along with her music…as if lost in her own little world for a moment.”

Morse’s eyes seemed to lose focus as he sat, clearly remembering the very night of which he spoke.

Fin felt his foot start tapping. He wanted nothing more than to simply shake the answers out of Morse, but he knew he had to maintain composure.

“Get to the part where you started stalking her,” he said.

“I tell you, I didn’t stalk anyone. I watched her from afar.”

“Watching her doin’ her dishes?”

“At first. That’s how she first caught my eye. And I admit, even that moment was not enough to really bring me into her. Back then, I had no direction whatsoever. My parents were throwing cash at me to make me do something…anything.” He laughed. “They still are actually, but now at least, they can say that I’m the starving artist, black sheep of the family, instead of just a general waste of space and oxygen.”

“Is that what the problem is?” Fin said. “Daddy’s little protégé needed some extra attention and he thought he could get it by stalking Olivia. Building her up in your head.”

“Oh, she didn’t need to be built up,” Morse said, his eyes becoming dreamlike and unfocused again. “She was…well, she was an amazing person.”

Munch felt his stomach flip. Was. Morse had used the past tense to describe Olivia and if he was involved, it could only mean one thing.

“But,” Morse continued. “I didn’t start to watch her, I mean really watch her, until a few months later. I saw her out of the corner of my eye while in my apartment. She was racing around her place like crazy. It was really fascinating to watch actually. She was simultaneously doing laundry, cleaning her bathroom, doing her dishes, and cooking this spaghetti dish, complete with its own homemade sauce. It was like, she would stir the sauce, separate some more clothes, throw some cleaner in the toilet, wash her hands, clean a few dishes and then go right back into the meal. I’d never seen someone moving so fast in my life. It was as if she knew she had, like, one night to do everything that she had to get done in a week. And, that’s how it started.”

“How what started?” Munch asked, impatience growing in his voice. “You stalking Olivia?”

“How much longer are we gonna let him go on like this?” Elliot hissed from behind the glass.

“He’s got a story to tell,” Cragen said. “He wants to talk, so we let him.”

“But, how much time are we willing to waste letting him talk? He could have her anywhere.”

“Exactly. And how the hell do you think we’re going to find her if we shut him up too quick. We let him talk.”

Elliot ran a hand over the back of his neck and, through the glass, Morse smiled as he shook his head at Munch.

“At first I just watched her from my window. I liked seeing her do the little things like put on her makeup in the morning or even ironing. And then, I started to actually follow her. I wanted to know more about her; what she did for a living, the type of person she was.”

“And when you found out she was a cop, you naturally backed off, right?” Munch said.

“I was intrigued,” Morse said still smiling. “I looked up as much as I could about her and as it turned out, she was a rather good cop. She worked here, in this Special Victims Unit, with kids who’d been hurt and rape victims and such. She was an incredible person.”

Munch felt his skin begin to crawl with the use of “was” again and the side glance he threw his partner told him he was thinking the same thing.

“So, when I saw how amazing she was, I knew I needed to see more of her.”

“See more, how?” Fin said.

More of her,” Morse said as if it was the most natural thing in the world. “It was like I need more of an Olivia fix than I could get just by watching her through my window or following her every once in a while outside. I mean, she was a cop and I knew eventually, she was bound to notice me.”

“So, what did you do?” Munch asked, his voice regaining equanimity as he spoke, hoping that Morse would slip and tell them what happened to Olivia.

“It was actually a real dilemma,” Morse said somewhat breaking his reverie. “Even if I was awake when she was, I had to sleep eventually and then I couldn’t watch her. And, that was the thing I liked most about watching her…watching her sleep. She always had the most peaceful look on her face…sometimes, I’d feel like I just wanted to curl up beside her while she slept.”

Fin stood quickly, unable to hear anymore from Morse, and held an expression reminiscent of Elliot who had sat in the same chair minutes earlier.

“Fin,” Cragen said, opening the door. “A word, please.”

He stormed out of the room. “How long we gotta hear him talk about Liv like this?”

“Until he gives up where she is,” Cragen said. “We’ve got to keep him talking. Let him finish his story. If there’s any truth to what he’s saying, we might be able to find Liv quicker.”

“What if he’s just jerking us a round?”

“And what if he’s got her held up somewhere and just wants to tell his story to congratulate himself on kidnapping a cop? We’ve got no leads. We have to let him talk.”

“Cap, let me talk to him,” Elliot said. “I want him to look me in the eye and tell me what he’s been doing.”

“No,” Cragen said. “He asked for Munch and Fin, and he’s got them. Go.”

He motioned for Fin to go back into the interrogation room.

“So, what’d you end up doing,” Munch said very calmly to Morse.

“Well,” Morse began, suddenly sounding mild and small. “I bought a camcorder and just sort of aimed it at her place. It worked well for a little while, but it just wasn’t what I wanted.”

“What did you want?”

“Well, I liked the camcorder because I could watch her anytime of the day. Even when she was out and about, I could get video of her doing things…rolling her eyes at the smokers who dropped their butts on the ground, ironically, I might add…smiling at happy little kids who happened to glance her way…giving that little smirk of hers and extra shake to her stride when she walked by some guy she found attractive… I really enjoyed taping her, but the camcorder was stationary in my apartment, and if I left my place while she was at hers, I’d only get shots of her while she was directly in the camera’s line of fire.”

“Sounds like a real problem,” Munch said sardonically.

“It was. So, finally, I got this brilliant idea. I went to the old man for some cash and I went out and bought some of these really cool, high-tech cameras…I mean, these things were great. They were like, the size of pen cap and could see everything. They had motion detectors and everything and they came with all this storage too for the videos because it was all digital. I’m talking James Bond, here. So, I bought everything, I hooked up my stuff and then I went to work.”

“Went to work?” Fin asked.

“Yeah. I went to work…in her building. Her building’s super looked like he needed a hand, so I bummed a job from him. Gave me complete access to the whole building, including her place. And, oh man. I have to tell you. It was one thing to see the apartment from across the street, but it is a whole other ball game when you’re actually there. I mean, I could smell her in the air, in the couch cushions, in her bedroom, everywhere.”

“What did you do in her apartment?” Munch asked.

“I set up the cameras. I bought about a dozen of them and just positioned them all so that every single part of her apartment was covered. That way I’d be able to see her anywhere she went, even her hallway. Everywhere except the bathroom…Everybody needs some privacy.”

“Well, of course,” Munch said. “Naturally.”

“How long’ve you been taping Olivia?” Fin said.

“Since…early January 2002. It’s weird…”


“Back then…it seemed like such a strain, watching her all day, but now…Now, it’s difficult to imagine a day without seeing her. It feels like my whole world is about to fall apart when I can’t see her face.”

“Why would you have to go without seeing her?” Munch said, crossing his arms. “It’s not like you have a job or something that keeps you from watching her.”

“No,” Morse said. “I don’t have any other obligations aside from her.” His expression grew somber. “But, she keeps doing things to keep out of my reach…”

“Like what?” Munch asked not liking Morse’s new demeanor.

“Like…how she’s always leaving at, like, four o’clock in the morning and, you know, I’m sleeping and, then when I wake up, she’s gone. And then, I can’t find her for a day. The next thing I know, she and the Indian girl are standing at her sink talking about scars and putting Vitamin E or something on this…wound on her neck.”

Munch glanced toward the small dark window in the room remembering the day when they had all worried what might have happened if Olivia had been a step closer to her quarry.

“And then,” he continued, his voice now quavering. “There was this past summer when she just vanished into thin air. I mean, one day, I saw her packing up a bunch of bags and, then she, was just gone…” Morse let out a low breath. “Do you know what it’s like to watch someone everyday of your life for years and, then all of a sudden, they’re just gone?”

Munch nodded as if he understood the question posed, but he was far more preoccupied by how closely Morse had followed Olivia’s life.

Behind the mirror, Cragen turned to Elliot.

“Check out everything there is to know about this Morse. I want to know if he’s had any arrests, aliases, whatever. If he’s starting to lose it just thinking about last summer, then he probably did something stupid about that time too.”

Elliot nodded at him and rushed out of the room. Within the hour he had pulled Harry Morse’s entire, surprisingly lengthy record.

Despite his youthful appearance, Elliot learned Harry Morse would be celebrating his thirtieth birthday in ten days and had more petty arrests than Elliot had ever seen in one criminal file. Apart from eight different charges of pick pocketing which he had proclaimed were simply street art, Morse had been charged with everything from jaywalking to destruction of property, yet served not one minute of time for the charges. Morse had, however, been incarcerated in a padded cell at Bellevue for thirty-five days starting in August past.

The police reports were not as detailed as Elliot would have liked them to be, but he learned as he sifted through files that Morse had strolled into the twelfth precinct screaming “She’s gone! You have got to tell me where she is!” and attacking an officer who had tried to subdue him in the process.

Elliot swallowed as a chill ran down his spine as the image of Morse screaming for Olivia came to mind. He was about to delve deeper into the files, when he spotted a dreary-eyed George walking into the squad room.

“George,” Elliot said flagging him down. “How much clearance do you have in looking into medical records?”

He shrugged. “Not much more than you. Whose records are you trying to look into?”

“This guy’s,” Elliot said pointing back toward the interrogation room where Morse was still being questioned. “He’s spent time in psyche ward at Bellevue.”

“That doesn’t mean I can get at the medical records,” George said. “They’re confidential and we would only be able to see them if he was arrested and if he was taking some kind of insanity defense.”

Elliot sighed. “We’re gonna need you to talk to this guy. We’re not sure, but we think he might have Olivia.”

They walked to the interrogation room and George stared at the young man who sat speaking with animated gestures to Munch and Fin.

“He says he’s been stalking her,” Cragen said with no inflection in his voice. “I’d prefer not to think it, but he’s letting on a little too much about Olivia.”

“He’s probably an obsessive compulsive. I wouldn’t be surprised if he drops some sort of bombshell about her that he’s certain no one else knows about. If he’s fixated on Olivia, he’s going to try to prove that he knows her better than any other person possibly could. What’s his name?”

“Morse,” Cragen said. “Related to Richard Morse, the second, so he’s got a lot of money backing him.”

“Is he asking for a lawyer yet?”

“We haven’t made an arrest. He just walked in here, asked for Munch and Fin and started talking. I’ve been trying to keep him going because I assume he’ll give up some information when he’s done telling his story. You want to have a go with him?”

“I don’t know what kind of help I’ll be. If he’s asked specifically for them, there might be something he sees in one or the other that makes him think they understand the story he’s telling.”

“But, do you think you could get a grasp on whether or not he knows where she is. The way he sounds…I mean, he’s been saying that he’s been following her with a camera. I want to know if he’s just holding her or if he’s…”

Cragen’s voice trailed and George pursed his lips knowing how Cragen would have ended the sentence were he talking about any other person.

George nodded and Cragen opened the door asking to speak with Munch and Fin. Once they had stepped out of the room, George slipped through the door to stare at Morse.

Cragen turned toward Munch and Fin. “I want you two to wake up Liv’s super. Take Morse’s mug shot with you.”

“He already said he bummed a job with the guy,” Munch protested. “What if they’ve changed supers, what if-

“I want to know exactly what he had access to,” Cragen continued. “We might be moving a step in the right direction if the super’s never heard of him.”

They left Cragen and Elliot in the side room and, inside the interrogation, George approached Morse.

“Harry,” he began. “I’m George. How are you feeling tonight?”

Morse shrugged. “A little chilly, I suppose. But, it is an interrogation room and these places aren’t meant to be suites, are they?”

“No, Harry, they’re not.”

George sat at the table and opened his mouth to begin probing, but Morse spoke first.

“So, George,” he said. “You came in here, speaking very calm and referring to me as ‘Harry’ instead of just ‘Morse’ like the others. You must be a shrink.”

“I’m a psychiatrist, yes. How did you know?”

“I know shrinks. You’re all the same. It’s in the voice or something. And, how you look at people with that ‘I know why you do everything that you do’ expression. I think they sort of brand it on you once you graduate or something.”

A small smirk pulled at George’s mouth.

“Well, since you seem to know me so well, I’ll cut to the chase. How long have you been fixated on Olivia Benson?”

“Good news travels fast, eh?” Morse said glancing toward the mirror. “Well, I do thank you for not saying that I was a stalker. Fixated…yes. I’ve been fixated on her for a long, long time. I was really such a boy back then.”

“Do you feel more like a man having followed her for so long?”

Morse nodded. “I suppose so.”

“What is it that draws you to her?”

“She’s a beautiful person.”

“That’s it?” George said. “She’s pretty?”

“Not just physically, but throughout everything that makes up her personality. She’s my muse and the most magnificent person I’d ever…never met.”

Morse’s eyes grew large and glossy again and George continued to press him.

“What do you do with the videos you take of her?”

Morse snapped back to reality, slightly taken aback by the question.

“I just watched,” he said with another shrug. “Anytime she went someplace I knew I couldn’t follow, I’d go home and watch the tapes. You can learn so much about a person by just watching them. You get to know them more completely than they know themselves. Like, I know when Olivia’s going to be running out of her apartment late just by seeing if she falls into the bed the previous night, instead of actually getting into bed, like normal.”

George gave Morse a slight nod, wishing he knew less about the young man in front of him, but intrigued all the same.

“Harry, why did you come here tonight?”

“Because…my angel is gone and I know what happened to her.” His eyes suddenly appeared wet and he looked toward the ceiling as if holding back tears.

“What happened to her?”

Morse’s hands began to shake and he remained silent, his gaze fixed on a dried water spot on the ceiling. George decided to switch tracks.

“Well, why did you insist on speaking to Detectives Munch and Tutuola about this? Why couldn’t you talk to Detective Stabler?”

Morse’s eyes finally dropped to meet his. “I don’t like him. I’ve seen a fair shake of men come in and out of Olivia’s apartment and even I’ll admit that not all of them have treated her the best, but he…he comes to her and he’s always angry. Every time. Of all the bastards she’s let through her doors, he’s by far the worst. Even the one who…” Morse shook his head at the mirror. “I hate him.”

“Okay, what’ve we got?” Casey asked, having just stepped into small room on the other side of the mirror. Her eyes were dull with sleep and her hair was thrown into a loose ponytail.

Cragen turned toward her and Casey’s eyebrows furrowed at the expression on Cragen’s face. He glanced at Elliot, who stood perfectly still staring through the glass at Morse and George, and told her what Morse had been saying.

“Do you think he has her?” Casey asked quickly now staring at Morse.

“We still don’t know,” Cragen said, “but a warrant to search his place would be nice.”

Casey nodded. “I’m on it. We’ve got more than enough for a warrant, and we’ve got extenuating circumstances. I’ll wake up every judge in the city if I have to.”

The moment she darted out of the room, Cragen took a deep breath, not sure where his suspicions lied most: with the boy who sat in the interrogation room revealing more and more about his mania or the colleague and friend who stood directly next to him.




Greenwich Village, New York



Fin’s hand banged on the old wooden door, shaking the door in its frame.

“Hang on a sec!” a voice shouted from behind it.

“We don’t have a sec!” Munch yelled through the door. “It’s the police. Open the door!”

Joseph Rhames, thin and balding, appeared at the door in grungy, deep red robe.

“What the hell do you people want at this time of night?”

“Harry Morse,” Fin said, holding up Morse’s most recent mug shot.

“He doesn’t live here,” Rhames said about to close the door.

Munch blocked it with his foot. “We know he doesn’t live here. He’s down at our precinct. We want to know what you know about him.”

Rhames took the image from Fin and stared at through narrowed eyes. “Yeah…I remember this kid. Like three or four years ago. I gave him a job just doing some work here and there around the building that I needed to get done. He seemed like he was down on his luck or something and just needed a gig for a little while. He only stuck around for about a month before just moving along.”

“You didn’t think about getting background checks for this kid who was down on his luck?” Fin asked through his teeth.

“C’mon, Fin,” Munch said. “He was paying Morse under the table. A little way to shirk some of his financial obligations to the Feds.” He took a step toward Rhames. “Because of you a cop is missing. She could be dead!”

“Wait a minute!” Rhames said. “Is…is this about Benson? No way!”

“Yes, way,” Fin said. “You let some guy work in your building and right now he’s at our precinct telling us how he stalked Olivia.”

Rhames shook his head. “Look, he looked like a good kid. I figured he was trying to just make it on his own. He didn’t look like he could’ve done anything wrong. Besides, if I heard about any of the tenants complaining, I’d’ve busted the guy.”

“What the hell would you have done if he raped and murdered someone in their apartment!” Munch yelled taking another step toward Rhames.

Rhames took several steps backward and Fin put a hand to Munch’s shoulder, trying to calm him.

“When was the last time you saw Olivia?” Fin said after Munch had stepped back into the hallway.

“I…I don’t know,” Rhames said, putting a hand to his head. “She’s got autopay from her bank account. I haven’t seen in her months. I’ve seen that Indian friend of hers more than I’ve seen her.”

“How come?” Fin asked.

“She came around here in the summer saying that she was taking over the lease while Benson was gone, wherever the hell gone was.”

Munch rounded on Rhames again. “If something’s happened to Olivia because of Morse, I’m holding you personally responsible.”

With those words, he stormed down the hallway, Fin shaking his head after him.




Morse paced back and forth in front of the large mirror that spanned across the room’s back wall, peering into it as if he could he see the figures of the three men standing behind it.

“I think he would react well to Elliot,” George said behind the mirror.

Cragen shook his head. “Bad idea. If Morse hates Stabler…”

It’s part of his show,” George said. “He’ll crack with Elliot in there. I’m sure of it.”

Morse tapped on the window and flattened his nose on the window, leaving a greasy smear on the mirror as he slid his face around it.

Cragen nodded at Elliot, who strode to the door almost too quickly for Cragen’s liking.

“Have a seat, Morse,” Elliot said as he came around the table.

“So, they’re sending you in again, then?” Morse said. His eyes narrowed at Elliot as he sat at the table.

“Just coming to have a little chat.”

“Yeah, okay…”

“So, tell me,” Elliot began. “What do stalkers do when they’re not stalking?”

“Well, I wouldn’t know,” Morse said in soft, calm voice. “After all, I’m not a stalker.”

“C’mon, Morse. We both know what you are. Plain and simple stalker.”

Morse shook his head. “That’s such an ugly word. And I’m not. I just watched her and I wasn’t the only one, but I’m telling you, I’m not a stalker. Wanting to see someone all the time doesn’t make me some kind of freak.”

“Sure, it does.”

“Look,” Morse said, his face growing red. “I’m not going to go around in circles with you all night. I’ve already told you a million times and if you’re going to keep insisting it, you might as well send the doctor back in.”

Elliot glanced at the mirror knowing he had to keep Morse going.

“Fine, Mr. Watcher. I suppose you know everything there is to know about Olivia?”

“That’s right, I do,” Morse said finally sitting at the table across from Elliot. “Better than her friends and definitely better than you.”

“Is that a fact?” Elliot said.

“Yes, it is. Like, I always know when you’ve called her. It’s that look on her face when she looks at her phone. It’s something…off. Like happy memories mixed with anguish, fear and regret. It’s an odd expression.”

Elliot nodded his head, wondering how many times he could punch Morse across the face before the others could get to him.

“Did you know that Olivia is a real musician?” Morse continued.

“As opposed to a fake one?” Elliot said suppressing a smile.

Morse rolled his eyes. “She plays the violin and the cello. That’s when I realized just how special she was. When I heard her play Ava Maria on her cello. It was so soulful and brilliant…I admit, I didn’t think some cute cop could be capable of such…grace, but she threw me for a definite loop.”

“You forgot the guitar,” Elliot said monotone, breaking Morse’s reverie.

“Huh?” Morse said, eyes back to the present.

“The guitar. Stringed, musical instrument, usually made of wood and used for music of the rock or country persuasion. She was trying to teach herself back when I first met her, but she gave it up after a while.” He could not suppress the arrogant smile spreading across his face. “Guess that was just before your time with her.”

“No, it wasn’t,” Morse corrected. “And she didn’t give it up either. She first put it away in storage along with that really expensive cello her mother got her for her thirty-first birthday. The last one she was alive for. She brought it back out a couple years ago and her neighbor who lives a few floors above started giving her lessons. She was getting pretty good. And, there’s a piano at this bar in the village that looks like the definition of a hole in the wall. I’ve heard her play there a few times and she’s quite good there too, but obviously, she doesn’t get a lot of practice on it. Like I said, she’s quite the musician.”

Elliot sat silently frowning over Morse’s revelations.

“Did you know,” Elliot began, “that she bites her lip and tilts her head to the left simultaneously when something confuses her?”

“I did!” Morse said brightly. “And not just when she’s working. When she’s watching Jeopardy or comes across something strange on her computer or when’s she’s talking on the phone with that Maya woman and she says something off-balanced. Did you know the only magazines Olivia ever reads are the ones that Maya gives her?”

“I figured as much,” Elliot lied.

Morse nodded. Elliot sensed he had struck something within Morse and could feel the game increase as Morse opened his mouth again.

“Did you know her favorite colour’s green be-”

“Because her mother’s eyes were very green.”

Morse nodded again. “Did you know when she cleans her apartment she blasts-”

“Oldies music.”

Morse was now smiling. “How ‘bout when she has time to just veg?”

“It varies,” Elliot said after a pause. “Could be Stevie Wonder, could be Rascal Flatts. That’s Liv.”

“Did you know during her time of the month, she craves-”

“Chili dogs and McDonald’s apple pie,” Elliot interrupted. “Not homemade. Not store bought. McDonald’s apple pie.”

Morse beamed at Elliot.

“Look, Morse,” Elliot said, a smug annoyance heavy in his voice. “If you wanna do this, at least give me a hard one.”

Morse just stared at Elliot, simply grinning.

“You can’t,” Elliot said. “Can you, you bastard?”

Again, Morse sat only grinning.

“Because even though you watched her through your window, stalked her when she wasn’t looking, you know that I know my partner better than anyone else here, so why don’t you just cut the crap and tell me-”

“Did you know that Olivia had a miscarriage a little more than two years ago?”

The shock that registered on Elliot’s face resonated through both men. He felt his mouth gape and Morse’s drawling laugh flowed through the room.

“That one good enough for you?” Morse said, his white smile glowing.

“You’re lying,” Elliot said after a moment.

“Am I?” Morse said as his eyes danced. “You really want to think that, do you?”

“I know my partner.”

“Obviously, you don’t.”

“And obviously, you’re full of shit! Now, why don’t quit playing games and tell me where Olivia is!”

Morse held up his hands in mock fear. “Hey now, Mr. Detective. Don’t want to get you too angry. Especially since I’ve seen what you can do once you’re angry enough.”

Elliot felt his stomach drop as he considered what Morse had said and quickly changed the subject.

“I would’ve known if she was ever pregnant.”

“Obviously, you didn’t!”

Elliot glared at him, but Morse continued. “Don’t suppose she ever told you about a guy named Jeremy Cross?”

Having been answered with only a silent glare, Morse continued.

“Yes, Jeremy,” he said as he leaned back in his chair. “I wish I had the chance to speak to her back then. Maybe I could’ve warned or something. I mean, I saw her in the weeks before where she’d forget to take her pill, like three or four times in a week. Then, she’d count them and just down four of them, like that would make it all better. It was inevitable.”

Morse stood and took to slowly pacing the room, his eyes fixed on Elliot.

“And Jeremy…he was about as dumb as they come. Only served one real purpose.”

“Which was?” Elliot said monotone.

“Come on, Detective! You know what’s what. A single woman, living in New York in the prime of life. They all have a fuck buddy or two. Depending on the woman, sometimes three. But, Olivia had just the one. Just Jeremy. He was a massive guy. Had to be at least six-five and easily two-fifty. Hung like a goddamn bull!”

Elliot shook his head at the table. He did not know which shook him more: shock or fury.

“But, he was a real idiot,” Morse rambled. “And she knew it. A few minutes after he was done, she was showing him the door…if she could stay awake afterward.” Morse took a long pause and sighed. “It kind of makes me wonder where the hell she even found him. I mean, he’s definitely not the sort you’d meet…Hell, I doubt he was even smart enough to find his way to the bar. No…it’s good that she didn’t have it. She’s better off.”

Elliot scoffed. “You’re sick, you know that?”

“How so?” Morse said. “And, don’t start on that stalking crap again.”

“She’s supposed to be your muse and you think it’s a good thing for her to have miscarried…assuming that’s even true.”

It was Morse’s turn to shake his head. “If you’d seen the guy, you would agree. I never even met the guy, but I could tell he was a complete idiot. The way she looked at him too…there was a strong chance that baby would’ve been a real moron. Albeit very good-looking, but just as stupid as they come.

“What was fascinating, though, was that I knew before she did. I saw that she missed her rag, but she didn’t even seem to notice until another week went by and even then she didn’t believe it. Even when she started getting, like, flu-like, she was still in this state of denial or something.”

Elliot perused his memory of the last time Olivia seemed markedly ill. It was more than two years earlier and they had sent her home because she looked like she might have had the flu. He remembered telling Kathy that Olivia was sick while he was with the kids, and Lizzie, having overheard the conversation, gave him chicken noodle soup that she had made herself to give to Olivia. Even through three different pregnancies with Kathy, he never once imagined…

“She kept looking at her calendar,” Morse said with a laugh. “And she would count up the days over and over again. It was find funny to watch because I was always looking for that moment when she would finally make the connection. Then, halfway through that second month, she came home with a little pregnancy test, but she just left it on her dresser for, like, days. And, I’m watching her knowing that she had to see it each time she walked by. It was like maybe she didn’t want to know or something. But, then she finally took it…and that look on her face…eyes squinting at the stick, head cocked to one side, biting her lip slightly. I didn’t have to see it to know.

“Then, she runs out of the apartment and down to the store a few blocks down our street. And, I’m freezing my ass off because it’s the middle of the night and I just grabbed my camera and a light jacket and took off after her. I had no idea where she was going at that point, so I’m trying to watch, but trying not to be seen either and…Well, thank God she was so distracted because she practically ran into me on the way out of there and probably would’ve known I was following her.

“So… she goes home and sets up the five different tests that she just bought, at the same time! And, she’s pacing back and forth the whole time waiting for them with this look on her face and I think she was sweating too. Then, her timer goes off. She looks at the first one and throws it one the floor. Looks at the second one…throws it down. Third one, fourth one…throws both down. Then, the last one…she looks at it, closes her eyes, leans against the wall and just slides to the floor. It was the first time I’d seen her really cry.”

Morse leaned against the far wall and gauged Elliot’s expression. The scowl that had set in Elliot’s face was accentuated by the finger-like, purple smudge that darkened the side of his face. The room felt warmer from only the angry heat emanating from the seasoned detective. Morse’s small blue eyes narrowed and his lips grew tight at seeing Elliot’s face and Elliot could see Morse’s right eye twitch slightly.

“Anyway,” Morse said after moment. “She eventually got over the shock and I knew she was going to keep it.”

“How’d you know?” Elliot said, his voice lacking any intonation.

“She kept walking around her apartment patting her stomach. Every once in a while, I’d see her just staring in the mirror with this odd smile on her face as she’d turn to the side and kind of stuck her stomach out. And, of course, she’d practice out loud what she was going to say to you. ‘Elliot, I’m pregnant.’ ‘Elliot…I’m pregnant.’ ‘Elliot, I have to tell you something.’ ‘Elliot, there’s something you really need to know.’ ‘Look, Elliot, I don’t want you thinking you’ve got to treat me delicate or something, but…’ ‘I’m having a baby, Elliot.’ ‘You’ll never guess what happened!’

“After she got her first ultrasound, she would be at her desk and take out the image to just stare at it. She'd sit with that little smile on her face and pat her stomach every once in a while.”

Morse let loose a long breath and shook his head. “And then…I’m still not quite sure what happened. I had followed right up to the precinct and even managed to keep up with you two a bit that day. But, you were chasing after some guy and I knew I couldn’t keep following so I just went back toward your car when I saw him and her tearing down the street. I don’t know where the hell you were, but she half tackled him and she had him down, but he…he kicked her. Right in the stomach…hard. She’d banged his head on the ground to keep him down, but he kicked her anyway. She was up again in, like, two seconds, but she definitely went down holding her stomach.

“A few days later, she’d just gotten through her apartment door and she just…doubled over. She tried to keep walking, but this…I don’t know. I guess it was just pain, but I could see it, like, rippling through her and she just slid down the wall.”

“You saw that she was hurt,” Elliot said in a low voice, “and you just stood across the street and watched?”

“No,” Morse said. “I was-”

Elliot’s voice cracked. “How long were you going to let her lie on the floor before you did something?”

“I didn’t,” Morse said now leaning across the table. “When I saw what happened, I was about to run out the door for her when I saw her crazy neighbor across the hall jump out in the hallway. I followed them when he drove her to the hospital. From what I could tell, all she kept saying was for them not to call anyone.”

“She didn’t want anyone to know,” Elliot said monotone once again.

“She didn’t want you to know,” Morse said. “Not that way, at least. I wasn’t in the hospital with her, so I didn’t know how bad it was until the neighbor brought her home. She just slowly paced around the apartment holding her stomach for hours, until she finally leaned against a wall and just started crying. It was awful. I cried with her…

“She’d been showing slightly even. I could see it when she got out of the shower. This slight curve in perfectly toned abs…I think it says a lot that you didn’t even notice anything. Not even a change in her personality.”

“Well, I think you had the advantage on me since I wasn’t the one stalking Olivia at the time.”

“I wasn’t stalking Olivia and you have no right to judge me.”

“Oh, you’re so full of shit! You come here telling us you have information on Olivia and you’ve got nothing but a bunch of made up stories!”

“Made up stories!” Morse screamed. “Who’s full of shit now? I’ve gotta story for you detective:  Once upon a time, a woman let her partner bully her to the point where he thought he could get away with anything and when she stood up to him, he took her down the only way his feeble mind knew how!”

Elliot narrowed his eyes at Morse. “Tell me where she is, you sick bastard.”

Morse just slowly shook his head.

“If she’s somewhere…” Elliot said, “somewhere…hurt, so help me God, I will personally make you pay.”

“Not before I make you pay.”

“Enough with the games, you freak! Where is she!

“Look, you can call me a freak, a perv, a stalker, whatever. I don’t care. It doesn’t change what happened.”

“You explain to me what happened,” Elliot said, “I’ll make sure the same thing only happens to you a few times a week in prison instead of everyday.”

Morse glared across the table at Elliot. “I’ll be damned if I explain any of this to you.”

“Tell me where she is.”

“I’m not telling you a goddamn thing.”

“What happened to her!

“You tell me!”

Elliot slammed his hands on the table, looking ready to leap across it at Morse, whose cold eyes reflected the same malice. The door to the interrogation room opened with Cragen, Munch and Fin standing in the doorway.

“Morse,” Cragen said. “You remember Detectives Munch and Tutuola?”

“So, what if I do?” Morse asked his eyes never leaving Elliot.

“They’ve a few questions to ask you,” Cragen said. “And meanwhile, Detective Stabler and I need to talk.”

“Talk, eh?” Morse said. “Have a little talk. Have a little cover-up talk?”

“No ones’ covering up anything,” Munch said.

“Like hell you aren’t! Either you’re all in on it too or you’re all too thick to see what’s going on. The thing is, I don’t think Olivia would work with such stupid people, so you all must be in on it!”

“No one’s in on anything ‘cept you,” Fin said.

Elliot and Cragen stepped out of the room, leaving Munch and Fin with a distracted Morse.

“Why’d you take me out again?” Elliot asked.

“It’s not working,” George said, though he knew it was the understatement of the night. After what he had just witnessed in the room, he now wondered whether he had underestimated Morse, and Elliot.

“Olivia’s the focal point of his life,” he continued, “and he thinks you have something to do with her absence.”

“I don’t,” Elliot said.

“But as long he thinks you do, he won’t be giving up anything regarding Tuesday to you. If he thinks you’re her assailant, he’s going to want you to confess to him.”

Elliot shook his head, fuming. “He took her.”

“We don’t know that,” Cragen said.

“You heard him in there! He’s been stalking her for years! Probably planning all this for just the right moment!”

“All right, fine,” Cragen said. “We’ve got his address and a warrant to search his place. Go to his apartment with the CSU team, Elliot. If he’s been doing all that he’s said he’s done, we should find miles of evidence of it in his place.”

“No,” Elliot said. “I need to be here. I want to be here when he tells us what happened.”

Cragen took a step toward Elliot so that both men were directly eye to eye. “That’s an order, Detective. I want you at Morse’s apartment executing this search warrant. If he’s done something to Olivia…I want as much evidence as possible.”

Elliot stared at his captain for a moment more before leaving the room and heading in the direction of his coat.

“If Morse is here,” George said, “then he’s probably covered his tracks at his apartment, too.”

Cragen sighed. “Do you have any idea if Morse’s involved?”

“I don’t think he did anything to her,” George said. “But, he saw something that night. Something has set him off to think that Elliot’s the main player in her disappearance. If he’s been watching her all this time, he would have noticed anyone who was around Olivia. Old boyfriends, other cops. But he’s focused on Elliot as the one who’s hurt her.”

“Couldn’t that just be because he’s the one around her the most?”

“But even the closest partners have lives outside the force, apart from each other. He had an entire host of people to choose from, but he’s fixed on Elliot. There’s something more to this and he wants to tell us. That’s why he’s giving us these stories. He wants to show how much he knows before he gives the coup de grâce. We just have to drag it out of him.”
            Cragen felt his stomach turn. The off-balanced young man in the interrogation room stood yelling at Munch and Fin. Morse thought Elliot was the one who had hurt Olivia and Cragen knew he had a mountain of evidence that suggested the same.

He ran a hand over his sparse scalp. His hope that Olivia would simply walk into the precinct having just chased off a lead had long since vanished and his sanguine optimism of finding Olivia alive was quickly fading as everything tied to her disappearance pointed directly at Elliot Stabler.