Chapter Eighteen


Sunday February 4, 2007

Greenwich Village, New York


Harry Morse’s apartment building had been recently renovated and Elliot could feel the instant collision of classic and modern architectures as he moved throughout the corridors.

After taking a moment to get his bearings in the building, he approached the third apartment on eighth floor with the CSU team behind him pondering over the set of coincidences that had thrust Morse into his life. Had Morse lived across the hall or one floor down; had Olivia lived at the other end of her hall or in the Upper West Side apartment her mother had left her instead, none of them would have ever had to deal with Morse’s ravings.

The metal doorknob was cold to the touch and Elliot thrust the key given to him after much shouting by the building superintendent into the door lock. The lock turned with a thick thud and he allowed the door to open fully before taking a step inside the flat.

“Olivia!” he called out in the darkness. Liv! Are you here?”

A team member shifted behind him and he made the first move into the apartment. His eyes peered through the darkness in a failed attempt at finding a light switch and he called back to the cop nearest the door to look for one.

The sound of plastic hitting metal resounded through the apartment and Elliot squinted through the now bright light that flooded the room.

“Mother of God,” he heard someone whisper and it was not until his eyes had grown accustomed to the new brilliance that he could see what had caused the stir. The expanse of living room spread across several tens of square feet and, every wall, every single surface, was covered with an image of Olivia.

Elliot took a step backward, his breath knocked out of him, as he took in the room’s character. Set at intentional angles to one another, in sizes varying from that of an index card to poster-sized, were pictures of Olivia Benson. Most were in black and white, though some were sepia-toned and every few feet, a full-coloured image could be found. Some of the photos showed Olivia in her apartment, smiling on the phone or eyebrows furrowed while peering into her computer monitor, but the vast majority displayed her with the city as a background. While many were solely of Olivia, Elliot could see Fin in considerable amount of them and Munch was in several as well, yet what set the lurch in his stomach were the scores of images that showed him as well: he and Olivia eating lunch together, the pair of them walking through the city, him driving her home, the pair of them arguing with one another; the list went on as did the images.

Elliot and the CSU team spanned out to stare, shocked, at the images, and Elliot did his best to hide the nausea and fear that was coursing through his bones. Morse had collected a myriad of nearly every facial expression Olivia seemed capable of making. From laughing or smiling to thoughtful or simply angry, every picture held a piece of Olivia normally one would only see if they knew her well. His photos did more than invade in her privacy; they had captured a part of her soul.

“We need to…uh,” Elliot began with a crack in his voice after five minutes silence. “We need to take in everything. And we’re looking specifically for the tapes that Morse mentioned. If he’s telling the truth at all, we should find stock piles of them.”

The team set to work photographing the photographs and Elliot padded softly through the apartment in a slight daze, his mind not quite caught up to what he was witnessing.

He took a step toward the closest wall to view the photo that was stapled on top of several others. It was of him and Olivia and he felt his stomach lurch again as he placed the time. Two weeks earlier, in the early morning hours, snow had just begun to fall on the pair of them as they both laughed at something he could not remember which one had said. They stood outside her building both wearied from days of arguing and the news that Kreider had slipped through their fingers, and Elliot sighed as he looked at the version of himself that never thought he would be leading a search for the woman beside him.

He had to’ve been right there, he thought.

Telephoto lens or not, Morse would have had to have been directly on the street to take the picture, yet neither of them noticed him. Elliot shook his head, wondering whether it was simply fatigue or Olivia’s smile that had garnered his thoughts away from all other things.

The image directly beside it caused his eyebrows to furrow. Though it was black and white, Elliot could still tell that Olivia’s cheeks were beginning to turn pink as she sat with her knees pulled to her chest on the fire escape. A cigarette hung loosely in her mouth and there was a glint in her eyes that Elliot had not seen in a long while as her eyes focused on the matches in her hand.

He glanced through the nearby window that gave Morse a clear view into Olivia’s apartment and felt the nausea return. Morse had probably hurt her and most likely left her for dead while he continued his charade in front of Munch and Fin.

“Elliot,” one of the officers called. “We found something you should see.”

Elliot left his post at the window and strode through the apartment to see at what several other officers were staring. Inside of what should have been used as a laundry room, stood stacks and stacks of small, grey plastic boxes. He picked up one and noted the words “USB 2.0” and “500GB” etched onto the box’s flat side and white label with “January 7 – 13” on the other.

“What the hell?” Elliot said his eyes narrowed at the box in his hand.

“They’re hard drives,” the youngest of the team members said. “Hundreds of external hard drives.”

“What could he be doing with these?” Elliot asked, eyebrows still furrowed.

“Your videos,” the officer said. “He’s got a lot of complex video editing equipment set up throughout the apartment, with several of these connected to his system. He doesn’t need to use tapes because everything’s all digital. The drive you’re holding can store probably a week’s worth of video without the trouble of having to go through actual video tapes.”

“Great,” Elliot said with a sigh as he set down the drive. “Stalking for the twenty-first century. Pack them all up. We’re gonna need to take them with us.”

As the unit thoroughly photographed Morse’s apartment, Elliot took in every item Morse had strewn about the rooms. Apart from the hard drives, also scattered throughout the apartment, Morse had blueprints of Olivia’s apartment building as well as journals cataloging her every movement.

Out of morose curiosity, he picked up one of them and to his horror learned that Morse had documented everything from how long she brushed her teeth each day, dates of her menstrual cycle, the last time she had slept with Halloway and the probability that the food in her refrigerator was decomposing to predictions on which Golden Oldies playlist Olivia would listen to when cleaned her bathroom.

Elliot passed a lone camera that appeared to swivel in any direction that Olivia might move in her apartment and walked into what looked to be another sitting room. His breath caught again as he saw that Morse’s real artistic skill rested with a paintbrush, not a camera.

Much like the living room, the walls of the new room were covered with images of Olivia, yet in place of photos were framed paintings and sketches Morse had made of her over the past few years. A sole painting hung in Morse’s bedroom. Her hair was much shorter, but her smile was dazzling and Elliot could not help but smirk slightly noticing that Morse had managed to capture the certain sparkle of her eyes to which he had become so accustomed. As he gazed at the painting, he half-wondered if he could take the work of art for himself, but squashed the idea, knowing that he would never be able to explain it properly to anyone who saw it in his apartment.

He passed a small television that was connected to a system and another hard drive in the bedroom and sighed as he pulled out his phone.

“It’s Stabler,” Elliot said when Cragen answered. “This situation with Morse…it’s far worse than we thought.”




SVU Squad Room



The thin vertical cursor blinked at Elliot as he stared at his blank report, without the faintest idea of how to proceed. He began by simply typing “Detective Olivia Benson,” but the appearance of her name in relation to “Missing Person” made his nausea return.

Cragen had asked him to begin the paperwork on Morse’s apartment while CSU set up to see what was on the hard drives and Munch and Fin still spoke with Morse. He had wanted to simply barge into the interrogation room and demand an answer from Morse, but he knew it would not solve the problem at hand.

He saw a flash of the overhead lights hitting black hair and looked up to see Maya walking toward him quickly with a tear-stained face.

“Maya,” he said standing. He had expecting to hear from her, but he had hoped she would not find out for another few hours.

Maya shook her head at him. “Please…Elliot, please, no. No…where is she?”

He took her by the shoulder and guided her toward his chair. “Just…just sit for a moment.”

“I don’t want to sit…just…please, just tell me where she is.”

“Maya, Liv’s-”

“No,” Maya interrupted bursting into tears. “No, please, no…No, just tell me where she is.”

“Maya, we don’t know-”

“Please Elliot!” she pleaded. “It’s me, okay? It’s me. It’s just me and I need to know. You have to tell me. You have to tell me.”

“Maya, if there was anyone in this world I would tell if I knew where she was, it’d be you. But-”

“Why didn’t you tell me earlier!” Her frantic screams drew attention from every officer in the squad room. “Why did I have to see it on the news!


“There’s crime scene tape on her door,” Maya screamed pounding a fist into his chest as he tried to calm her. “Why is there tape on her door! Why didn’t you tell me! You called me Wednesday and you said everything was fine! I could’ve been looking for her, but you said everything was fine! Fine!”

“Please, Maya…”

“Just…please, just please tell me where she is.”

Elliot managed to maneuver her into his seat. “Maya, as soon as we know-”

“Don’t feed me that bullshit! Where is she, please! I need to know! You have to tell me! Please!”

“You have to calm down,” Elliot said softly.

Maya’s breath was coming in haggard pants as she continued crying. “Elliot…she’s like my sister. You have to tell me where she is. Please.”

“I’m sorry,” he said. “You’re right, I should’ve told you, but we’re looking for her and we’re gonna find her. I know she’s fine. It’s just gonna take some time.”

“That’s what she told me,” Maya said jumping out of the chair. “She says that’s what you tell the parents all the time…even when there’s no hope. Now, c’mon. It’s me you’re talking to. You’ve got to tell me the truth!”

Maya let out a wail and dissolved into a fit of tears as Elliot held her in the squad room. He could only whisper to her that everything would be all right, though he did not believe one word of it. She shook and sobbed in his arms for another ten minutes, before he was finally able to gather her into a cab.

With Maya on her way home, Elliot stepped off the elevator, wondering when Jonathan and Olivia’s other friends would start appearing as he headed for the interrogation room where Morse was still held.

“And you still don’t think you’re a stalker?” Munch asked Morse as he leaned over the table toward the narrow-eyed individual who he knew held their only information on Olivia’s disappearance.

“No,” Morse said. “No, I just followed her and watched her. You know a stalker has plans to…do things. I just wanted to see her. I didn’t even want to touch her or be with her. She was like my magical star. You can’t hold it or touch it, but you can always gaze upon its beauty and worship it from afar.”

“You’re sick,” Fin said, his lips curling in a sneer.

“How am I sick?” Morse asked. His bright eyes were beginning to lose some of their vivacity and were becoming pink near the brim. “I just watched her and loved her from across the way. No one person in the precinct can say that about Olivia, no matter how hard they try or how long they’ve known her.”

“You need to cut the crap,” Fin said through his teeth. “Tell us where Olivia is.”

The pink along Morse’s eyes turned red and he looked as though he was about to burst into tears. “I…I should’ve known better. I underestimated him. I underestimated everything, and now, she’s gone because of it.”

Tell us,” Munch said growing impatient. “Where is she?”

“I went for a walk,” Morse continued as if Munch had not said anything.  “She seemed like she was in the for the night and I decided to go for a walk to stretch my legs. You know, I figured I’d be back by the time she went to sleep and I’d just catch up on her during the day when she was here. Where I couldn’t follow her.”

“You’re leading us through this bullshit again,” Fin said. “Just tell us where she is. That’s all we wanna know.”

Morse gave Fin a weak, tearful smile. “I…underestimated everything. I thought I had enough room for the rest of the night, but…”

“But what?” Munch asked.

“When I came back home after an hour…I’d run out of room. Everything had stopped taping.”

“Is that when you snatched her?” Fin said. “You broke in her place and took her because you didn’t get to watch her that night?”

Morse’s smile turned somber and he broke into a sob. “You don’t understand. I didn’t do anything. In her greatest moment of need, I went for a walk around the city…I went for a walk and when I got back, everything had stopped…and she was gone.”

Munch and Fin were silent and watched together as a tear rolled gently down Morse’s cheek.

“Morse…” Munch said.

“Don’t you get it!” Morse yelled. “Of all the times in the world to take a goddamn walk, I did it then! The one time when it would’ve mattered the most!”

“Where is she?” Munch repeated.

Morse shook his head and loosened several more tears to make the trek down his face. “When I came back and saw that the cameras had stopped, I looked up and saw that she was gone. And I knew. I knew right in that instant he’d done something to her.”

“Who?” Fin said.

“Fuck who!” Morse screamed. “Him!”

He pointed back at the two-way mirror behind which Elliot took a step backward, surprised that Morse had pointed in his exact direction though he had no way of knowing he was there.

Inside the interrogation room, Morse pulled a small disc out of his jacket and slid it onto the table. The disc, half the diameter of a normal DVD, glowed in the poorly lit room and all those present stared at it as if it were enchanted.

“I’ve…made copies,” Morse said. “I’ve made loads of copies of it, so I don’t want to hear about any of this Blue Wall nonsense. I saw what went down that night and I’m here to make sure everybody knows about it.”

“You just said you went out for a walk and when you came back Olivia was gone,” Munch said. “Which is it? Either you were there and saw what happened or you didn’t.”

“When I saw that she was gone, I rewound the last hour to see if maybe she just took a walk like I did or got called out on a case. Imagine my surprise and horror when I saw that he’d been there.” Morse nodded toward the mirror. “He knows where she is because…he attacked her.”

A hard silence fell over both the interrogation room and the small room attached to it.

“And, you say you taped it on that disc?” Fin asked after a full minute’s silence.

“Yeah,” Morse said. “On this disc and the one I’ve got in my car and the five others I’ve got in my apartment. Not to mention the ones I’ve put in my safe deposit boxes and gave out to some friends of mine, all just in case you people get amnesia or lose the one I brought. See, I know what happened and I want everyone to know too. The world needs to see what the cool, collected detective did to her.”

Munch pursed his lips never taking his eyes off of Morse. “What makes you think that Detective Stabler has anything to do with her disappearance?”

Morse slid the disc toward Munch. “Watch it. It plays in any DVD player. It’s all on there. Watch it and tell me you don’t think he had something to do with this. That he didn’t hurt her.”

Cragen glanced at Elliot as he brushed past into the room. “If you’ve got plans to air something like that, you’re dreaming. The media’s not going to air anything, especially with you here. And, considering what we just found at your place, you’re in for the long haul.”

“Oh,” Morse said eyes slightly brighter. “You’ve seen my…uh, wallpaper.”

“Yeah. We saw it.”

“Well, then you know I mean business.”

“I know you’re a sick freak with nothing better to do than stalk innocent people!”

Morse scoffed. “Yeah, you’re one to judge who’s innocent. Anyways, once you watch that video, I want Detective Elliot Stabler arrested or else I guarantee you that tape will run.”

“And, I’m telling you,” Cragen said, “you’re not releasing anything to the media.”

“Who said anything about the media?” Morse said. “I gave copies of that video to three friends who, if they don’t hear from me by eight o’clock, will upload that video to the Internet. The Internet. And label it, ‘Cop Murders Partner, Caught on Tape.’ It will spread like a virus and, in less than a day, the whole world will know the little secret you’re trying to keep quiet about him. Now, I know you all have more than enough evidence against him and I want him arrested for murdering Olivia, tonight!”

Munch and Fin stared at Cragen who, in turn, glared at Morse who now stood breathing hard and looking up at the captain. Cragen picked the disc off the table and left the room in the direction of his office, motioning for Elliot to follow. Once inside his office, he closed the door, turned on the small TV in the corner and set the disc in the DVD player. Before starting the disc, he shut off the entire set-up and turned with a sigh to Elliot who sat in the chair across from his desk.

“Is there anything that you want to tell me before we watch this?”

Elliot sighed and rubbed his hands across his face. “Olivia and I had an argument that night.”

“Yes. You’ve mentioned this. Is there anything else you want to say?”

“You’re asking me for my statement,” Elliot said.

“Yes,” Cragen said with no hint of amusement in his voice. “What you tell me now makes the difference between whether or not I have to consider pressing charges on my own detective, so…Is there anything you want to tell me?”

“We argued and…we fought.”

“What do you mean fought?”

“Look!” he said sitting back in the chair. “She yelled, I yelled louder. She pushed me away and…I lost it. I grabbed her and pushed her against a wall. Her…her frames started falling down. She slapped me and we struggled for a bit. I pinned her to the floor and I told her all I wanted was the Drover file, but she still wouldn’t give it up.” He paused. “She struggled around, hit me twice in the eye and flipped me. She handcuffs me and leaves me on the floor and goes into the kitchen to pour herself a drink. Then she tells me…this was the reason I couldn’t have the Drover file. Because she knew that I wouldn’t be able to control myself. After a little while, she uncuffed me and then I left.”

“Why didn’t you say something earlier?”

“Because she was fine and…I was ashamed. I had lost complete control and had wrestled her to the ground without another thought. When I saw myself in the mirror Wednesday morning, I saw exactly what I had done. But, I swear on my father’s grave, she was fine when I left. I walked out the door and she was perfectly fine. I figured that maybe she was still pissed and was going to maybe take a personal day or something before she came back in, but she was fine. When I left her, she was fine.”

The glower on Cragen’s face was too much for Elliot to take and he lowered his large eyes to the floor. Cragen stood, leaning slightly on his desk, with his arms crossed and a frown set so deeply in his face it appeared that it might never release.

He was angry and wanted to slap Elliot himself after hearing the story, though a part of him was not too surprised. After so many years together, he had seen partners go crazy against one another countless times and, as he turned back toward the television set, he hoped he could chalk up the story to a simple misunderstanding between old partners.

When he turned on the television, there was only a blue screen that flickered several times before an image of Olivia’s empty apartment came into view. The camera was clearly posted in the far corner of Olivia’s living room, but nearly every part of the apartment could be seen from the single view.

Cragen pulled out a remote control and pressed the fast forward button, yet nothing seemed to change in the empty apartment. After five minutes of forwarding through the video and watching the shadows in the apartment grow duller and duller as the sun slowly set, Olivia’s door opened finally and she entered the apartment looking slightly pink from the cold.

They watched silently as Olivia set down her things and pulled a pack of cigarettes out of the small bag in her hand. Jacket on, she slid out to her fire escape and the camera could just catch Olivia in the farthest edge of the frame smoking a cigarette on the escape.

“When did you get there?” Cragen asked, noting the time stamp on the video.

“May-maybe eleven…midnight?”

Cragen nodded once at sped through the film. On the screen, Olivia shimmied back through her windowed and placed the cigarettes under her sink before reaching for her phone and dialing, when Cragen slowed the film again.

“MJ?” the Olivia on the screen said. “Alone…It’s just hard to come to that realization…Oh God, Maya. That was nothing. His true colours were in full force later in the day…”

Elliot shifted in his seat when he realized it was apparent that Olivia was talking to Maya about him. He avoided Cragen’s glance as he wondered how often they talked about him.

The Olivia on the screen wiped at her eyes and continued speaking. “…God, Maya. It’s like everything in my life is just spinning out of control…” Tears rolled down her cheeks. “…I know you will, Sweetie. Thank you.”

The minutes rolled by as they watched in odd wonder as Olivia moved about her apartment, and for a brief moment, Elliot could see some of Morse’s fascination with simply watching someone who did not know they were being watched.

She changed clothes, out of sight of the camera, and emerged wearing a dark purple cami and black pajama pants as she attempted to work on something at her desk. She gave up on work after a while and walked so close to the camera to retrieve her cello that it made Cragen shift as he leaned against his desk. It seemed as if she just looked up, she would be able to see the hidden camera.

Cragen resisted the urge to fast forward through her playing and, having never heard her on the cello previously, he let the video play, but before long, she had replaced the cello in its case and shut the door to her bedroom. He forwarded the film until the display read just after midnight, when both men jumped at the sight of her door shaking in its frame. Cragen threw Elliot a dirty look as the Olivia on the screen padded across her apartment to answer to the door.

The next twenty minutes of film passed quickly: Elliot barged into the apartment and he and Olivia began arguing immediately. He grabbed her arm, she snatched away from him and they progressed into even louder arguing, which caused Elliot to slam his hands on her desk. Her lamp crashed to the floor taking the cello bow with it, yet Elliot did not seem to notice. The arguing continued softly at first, but grew louder and louder until Elliot gave Olivia an angry push in her shoulder. She shoved him back, but he proceeded to push her backwards over a series of words. When Olivia had backed up against the wall closest to the camera, she pushed back against him, but he barely moved. They then spoke softly for a few moments more before Elliot stormed out of the apartment. The moment it appeared that Elliot had gone, Olivia took a graceful leap across the broken glass that now littered her floor, pulled a file from the stack remaining on her desk and threw it into her top desk drawer. As she set the key in its lock, Elliot came through the door behind her. A moment passed where neither moved, but Olivia shook first and jumped from him throwing the keys down her cami and pulling her hands up in a defensive position.

Elliot lunged for her, but she swerved out of the way, tipping over her chair and causing some of the files on her desk to pour onto the floor. He screamed that he just wanted the file, but she said that she refused to give it to him. They argued for a moment and a barely distinguishable jingle came from Olivia’s direction as they paced about her apartment. He came after her again, dragging the chair across the floor and she jumped over her couch to get away from him. He tackled her as she got over the side, but she still tried to crawl from him as her afghan fell off the couch. Elliot climbed on top of her with a knee on her legs to keep her down as he ran his hands up and down her abdomen searching for the keys while Olivia screamed from him to get off of her. She kicked backwards trying to push him up, but he dodged her foot and grabbed hold of her shoulders as he fell on top of her. He lied on top of her for a few moments as they lied on the floor, both breathing hard.

Behind Cragen, Elliot shifted uncomfortably in the chair, a knot growing his stomach as he realized what was coming next on the video. He knew rage alone could not explain his actions at this point and he pursed his lips, expecting Cragen to turn on him with a glare that could rip through walls.

With Olivia pinned beneath him nearly out of breath, the Elliot on the screen slowly slid his hand from Olivia’s wrist and up to her shoulder. She said something indiscernible with her face against the floorboards and Elliot shifted on top of her. He ran his mouth up her other bare shoulder and said something quietly into Olivia’s ear as he leaned against her. She shifted under him, but he visibly tensed and said something that sounded like “file” causing her to elbow him in the stomach as she scrambled out from under him. He gave chase, tackling her again and managed to straddle her on the floor screaming that he wanted the file. She tried to flip him over with a sway of her hips, but he fell on top of her and his arms came around her, placing her in a headlock. She reached for his hands with a grimace on her face and the video crackled for a moment before returning to a solid blue screen.

Both Cragen and Elliot stared silent and still at the television for a full minute after the video had stopped, neither able to believe what had been seen. Cragen turned off the television as Elliot rubbed the bridge of his nose and stared at the floor.

“Christ, Elliot,” he began. “I don’t know what to say.”

“I know,” Elliot said solemnly.

“You know? That’s the best you’ve got for me? I just watched you attack and damn near strangle your partner and that’s all you’ve got to say?”

“I didn’t hurt her,” Elliot said. “When I left her, she was fine.”

“Are you sure?” His words stung and Elliot closed his eyes as he sighed.

“I did not hurt her.”

“The bruise across your face says different.”

“That video cuts off halfway through the fight.”

“And she’s still missing, so it makes me wonder if Morse is right.”

Elliot stood. “Don, it’s me!”

“And that’s Olivia you were struggling on the floor with!”

“I know! I know it’s Olivia, but swear to God I didn’t hurt her.”

Cragen pulled himself to his full height to look Elliot square in the eye. “So, you come in here looking like you got ran over by a train and you’re telling me you didn’t do anything to her? Keeping in mind that I just saw what happened and she didn’t look like she was getting any hits on you.”

“I know,” Elliot sighed. “But, that is not all that happened.”

“What do you say happened?”

The mistrust in his voice seemed overwhelming. “She struggled away from me and I grabbed her again and she sort of…fell towards the wall.”


“I guess…I guess I threw her against the wall.”

Cragen crossed his arms. “So far, I’m not liking this story.”

“Cap,” he said exasperated. “When she hit the wall, she doubled over and I remembered what Drover had already done to her and I…I…I sort of snapped out of it. But she was still pissed.”

“And rightfully so.”

“She lost it on me and I…tried to defend myself a little, but I let her because I knew I deserved it.”

“So, all this…?” Cragen said motioning to Elliot’s remaining facial bruises.

“She let me have it. But, I swear to you. I swear on my children’s lives, she was fine. When I walked outta her door, she was perfectly fine.”

At long last, Cragen’s expression seemed to soften. “And we checked hospitals for her?”

“I checked every hospital from Beth Israel to the orthopedic institute. She wasn’t anywhere and there’s no one even matching her description, plus all her stuff was still in her apartment…Don, I don’t know if Morse trying to pull something with this cut off tape, but he is in on this. He did something to her.”

Cragen sighed. “This is bad, Elliot. You and Morse are all but pointing fingers at one another and this thing makes it look like he’s the one telling the truth.”

“You have to believe me,” Elliot said. “I wouldn’t hurt her. I’d never do anything to hurt her.”

“If she was standing between you and the person you thought had done something to your kid…you’re telling me, you wouldn’t do anything?”

Elliot fell silent as the rhetorical question floated in the air. He was about to come up with an answer when they both heard a crash from outside the office.

They opened the door to find a circle of officers surrounding a red-faced Jonathan Halloway.

“Where is he!” he screamed.

“You need to calm down,” Fin said among the circle of cops.

“No, you need to get off your asses and tell me what’s going on!” Jonathan yelled. “She’s gone on the news and I know he’s involved, so where the hell is he. I want him to tell me to my face what he did!”



Elliot stepped into the squad room and made a beeline for Jonathan.

“What the hell do you want, Halloway?” he said. “You told me that Olivia and I could kiss your ass.”

Jonathan froze for a second and then slowly turned to face Elliot. His face simultaneously grew redder and scrunched as he attempted the crash through the circle of officers in Elliot’s direction.

“You bastard! I’ll kill you!”

Several hands took hold of Jonathan, but he barely took notice. He struggled and pulled for Elliot, his eyes watery and blazing, and even after a several minutes of raging, Jonathan still screamed at Elliot from the cell to which officers had dragged him in order to help calm him.

“You just couldn’t keep your hands off her, could you? I’m calling every attorney my family has and I’m gonna take you down! You bastard! I’m gonna take you down and I’m gonna kill you myself!”

Though he was set apart from the rest of the squad room, Jonathan’s subdued shouts still echoed off the walls and suspicious looks were cast at Elliot from every direction.

“Well?” Munch said staring at Cragen. “What was on the video?”

Cragen glanced at Elliot who refused to meet his eyes. “We need to go through all the tapes we recovered from Morse’s place. There’s no telling what he’s edited to make us see what he wants us to see.”

Munch did not looked convinced by Cragen’s answer. “But, what was on the disc?”

“We’ll worry about that later,” Cragen said and pulled Elliot closer to his office to whisper. “Why does Halloway think you’re involved?”

Elliot shrugged. “We’ve never really got along and, besides that, he’s a bastard.”

“This isn’t funny, Detective,” Cragen said.

Morse is involved,” Elliot said.

“And Halloway’s the second person looking at you for doing something to Olivia, and that’s without him even seeing the video.” He sighed. “Just…stay in my office for a second. Regardless of what Morse and Halloway are saying, we need to see what Morse might’ve left out on that disc.”

Elliot walked toward Cragen’s office in a huff while he turned toward the rest of his detectives.

“We’ve got thousands of hours of video to go through to see whether Morse’s story has holes or not,” he said. “Who’s gonna do the honors?”

Munch and Fin glanced at one another, yet neither moved to indicate they wanted to undertake the daunting task. Watching the inner workings of an average victim was an undesired task in itself. Viewing Olivia through the lens of a psychopath such as Morse seemed like grounds to ask for a transfer to a different department.

Realizing that neither Munch nor Fin nor any of the other detectives facing him would be willing to take on the chore, Cragen’s eyes scoured the squad room for someone to pull.

“Brown,” he said as he turned toward a young Third Grade detective with red hair and brown eyes who appeared heavily involved in the large map laid out on the table in front of her. “I need you for a project.”

With a bounce in her step, Alexa Brown stood at Cragen’s side a moment later and he pointed in the direction of the small room where the CSU team had set up the videos recovered from Morse’s apartment.

“I need you to go through the videos in there. They’re all of Detective Benson’s apartment, but I need you to just make as many notes as possible about what you see. Who goes in, who comes out. Times and places of anything out of the ordinary. Everything. We need notes and we need you to be thorough, but still work fast.”

Brown nodded enthusiastically. “I’m on it, sir.”

“All right,” he said turning back to Munch and Fin. “Benson’s a priority, but we need to play catch up while we’re still doing recon on Morse and anyone else in her life.”

“What about Elliot?” Munch said his arms crossed. “What about the tape Morse was raving about?”

Cragen stood silent for a moment. “I’ll deal with that. Just get us caught up.”

Inside Cragen’s office, Elliot stared at the far wall slowly shaking his head.

She was fine when I left. That video is crap. She was fine.

The video played across his thoughts and he continuously shook his head at what he saw. Grabbing her the way he had; pushing her across her apartment; tackling her when she tried to get away from him.

How could I have let it go so far?

Elliot did not move when Cragen came through the door behind him and continued to stare at the far wall as Cragen went behind his desk to retrieve a glossy report.

“Melinda came by last night,” he said. “They ran some of the substances found on Olivia’s rug and found that one of them was blood, specifically Olivia’s…and yours.”

Elliot sighed. “We were on the floor with all that glass…We got cut a bit. I mean, I’ve got some scratches still on my arms.”

“This is bad,” Cragen said as he sat in his chair. “Even without your blood on Olivia’s floor…the way the two of you’ve been arguing lately, the way you’ve been acting in regards to the Drover case. Before we had that tape, this was looking bad.”

“But, I didn’t hurt her.”

“Elliot, no one in this world wants to believe that more than me, but if you were just a civilian off the street, we’d have already called Casey, ready convict. Just the look of Liv’s place by the time we got there makes this look worse. Plus, we’ve got to look at this like anyone else would’ve. You went to Olivia’s apartment before CSU got there.”

“To check on her. To make sure she hadn’t fallen in the tub or something. I went to make sure she was okay.”

“But, it still could look like you had time to clean up. You refused to tell anybody what had happened until just now and now…now we’ve got this tape to deal with. We’ve convicted on less, Elliot. Far less.”

“I can’t believe this,” Elliot said, astonished that the conversation was even taking place.

“I’ve known you and Olivia for a long time, but my instincts tell me that a lot of things can happen between partners.”

“She was fine when I left. After she ‘cuffed me, she poured herself a scotch, drank it and told me she wasn’t giving up the file. She was standing in the middle of her living room when I closed the door behind me and she was perfectly fine.”

“Then, where is she, Elliot?”

“How the hell should I know! If I knew that I wouldn’t be sitting here getting accused for doing something to her.”

“Morse’s video ends a little before 12:30. If what you’re telling me is true, then something had to’ve happened to her immediately afterward.”

“And that’s why we need to look into Morse. If he’s been taping her and stalking her and painting her picture every chance he got, he knows what happened to her.”

Cragen stared across the desk at his detective for a long time. Elliot’s blue eyes were laced with traces of red from lack of sleep and severe stress, and pity coursed through him. He wanted to ask how Elliot could have allowed things to get so out of control, but the question was futile, having seen Elliot explode at suspects, victims and other cops previously. If Olivia had vehemently insisted that Elliot could not have the very thing that would keep him from getting his hands on the man who had propositioned his son, a fight, even with his female partner, seemed perfectly imminent.

“Go home, Elliot,” he said after a while. “Just go home.”

“What about tomorrow?”

“You attacked your partner and, regardless if that fight has anything to do with her disappearance, it’s been caught on tape. Just go home and we’ll handle it from here.”

“Am I being suspended?”

“Officially, no. But, it’s best if you let the rest of us sort this out for a while.”

Elliot sighed as he stood and he slowly marched out of the squad room, eyes from all corners watching every step he took. As the elevators closed around him, he wondered just how long the stares would linger and missed Olivia by his side more than he had ever in his life.