Part Three: Flight from Fate
Friday February 16, 2007
Upper East Side, New York
A navy sedan sped through the city’s streets defying all traffic sanctions imposed upon general civilians. A flashing red light turned in a spastic array within a domed container magnetically attached to the car’s roof and an echoing tone flowed in waves from it as the sedan crossed five lanes of traffic to avoid a car that was making a slow turn onto East 81st Street. Adjacent cars swerved in several directions to avoid hitting it and each other as the sedan careened through another light. It moved so quickly it was only a flash of blue and red to pedestrians making their way down the artificially lit streets.
As the sedan crossed East 93rd, a flashing ambulance turned onto 3rd Avenue just before it and, inside the car, Elliot Stabler swore, pounding his hand against the steering wheel as he hit his breaks.
They took too long to get here, he thought.
He had flown across Queens, crossed the river and steamed up 3rd Avenue by the time they had arrived at their scene and backtracked to his present location.
His phone had chirped into the late night hours bringing news from an officer Elliot had known at the academy, who never expressed a desire to become a detective. Gary Johnston had called with an urgent air in his voice having been called to a scene that had developed at East 119th and 3rd. A woman had been found in a dumpster that sat in a scarcely-used alley and, after a quick once over with his flashlight and a radio call for an ambulance, Johnston had whipped out his cell phone to call an old friend.
For seventeen days, Olivia Benson’s face and name floated around the city in some capacity and every cop had been informed of the necessity in calling the deputy inspector of Precinct 16 the moment she was found. Johnston ignored the order and called the single person he knew would care most about his discovery.
The ambulance lurched as it turned right onto East 94th into the semi-circle driveway that led to the hospital’s emergency room entrance. Elliot’s car had just barely rolled to a stop when he parked haphazardly across two spaces, leapt from the vehicle and tore across the small patch of grass that lead to the hospital door as EMTs jumped from the paused ambulance.
They worked with quick movements as they carefully slid a gurney from the transport on which was attached the thin frame of a woman covered to the neck in a white blanket. A large oxygen mask covered her face and her skin had taken a purplish colour from a mix of blue from the cold and blood smeared across her face, but Elliot recognized her immediately and called out for her as he ran for the cart.
“Hang on there,” a cop near the racing EMTs said standing in front of him as Elliot pushed toward the gurney.
Elliot flashed the badge on his coat lapel and the officer let him pass to run with EMTs.
“Howisshe?” he said in a rush.
“She’s been non-responsive,” the
Olivia’s head lolled to either side as the cart rolled.
“What’s wrong with her? What happened?”
“She’s been shot and she’s got a host of broken bones.”
“How long’s she been out?”
“If you need anything,” Elliot said, his voice cracking. “Anything at all…”
“We’ll take care of her, Detective,” a nurse in pink scrubs said appearing next to him.
“Anything…,” he repeated. “I’m her blood type. Anything you need from me…”
The nurse stared at him. “Exact type? You’re sure?”
She nodded at the blonde nurse who was scurrying alongside of Olivia’s gurney.
“Get him hooked up,” the first nurse said. “Detective, please. We’ve got to get her in.”
Elliot stopped dead in the corridor, releasing the cart as the EMTs barked Olivia’s stats to the approaching scrubbed nurses and doctors.
“Detective,” the nurse said pulling at his arm. “Please. This way.”
He glanced into the emergency room as the doctors, nurses and EMTs lifted Olivia from the gurney on a third count and began working on her body. The ER doors flopped closed and with another tug on his arm, he followed the nurse down the opposite hall.
Elliot sat with his head in his hands on the wooden bench that ran along the hospital corridor. All around him, nurses and doctors moved about the floor, nearly oblivious to his blatant dysphoria.
East 119th, he thought. I passed it on my way home and I never knew.
Questions blazed through his mind as he sat pondering. What if he had stopped and said something to the trash pickers to send them on their way? What if they had not found her when they did?
He had been waiting in the hall for hours, refusing to move even though he was told by one of her doctors that she would not be out of surgery for some time. He simply could not chance it. He could not risk that she needed him, if even for a moment, and he not be there. It was simply imperative that he stay.
Voices bounced across the polished floors and taupe walls as Elliot stared at the seconds ticking by on his watch. His right arm throbbed momentarily, still sore from the earlier blood letting and he pulled at the cotton that was pinned under a large bandage at his elbow. It was still rather dark with blood and stuck to his skin so he let it alone choosing to remove it when…if he had a chance to go home.
“Detective Stabler?” a female voice said from a meter down the corridor.
Elliot jumped to his feet immediately as a blue-eyed woman approached him, holding a wearied expression on a face curved with lines that seemed deeper than the rest of her demeanor would suggest.
“I’m Dr. Linda Haddley,” she said.
“Yes,” he said expectantly. “How is she?”
Dr. Haddley sighed. “Olivia is in a coma and still very critical. She’d lost a lot of blood and was well into shock by the time they had brought her in…Her heart stopped momentarily, but-”
“Momentarily? How long is that?”
“About eighty seconds,” she said after a pause. “But it doesn’t look like her brain was cut off from oxygen long enough to cause any real damage.”
Elliot ran a hand over his face and leaned against the wall, his legs feeling weak beneath him.
“She is still very weak,” Dr. Haddley continued. “Aside from the gunshot, she has several broken bones, including a broken femur, a shattered left fibula and splintering in her right one. Her right arm was broken as well as her collar bone, several ribs and fingers, not to mention a host of cuts and bruises all over her.”
“How bad was the shot?”
“It just got her on her side. It wasn’t too bad, but it didn’t help. She’s also recovering from hypothermia and some frostbite.”
“How long would she have been outside if she’s showing symptoms of that?”
“She was only wearing a tank top and thin pajama bottoms when she was brought in. Even if she was outdoors for a few hours, it would have affected her, but I’m guessing she’s probably been someplace indoors, but very cold for a while now. We’ve only now got her temperature back up to the mid-nineties.”
Elliot nodded to himself, taking note of every statement. “Was she raped?”
“We did a rape kit just in case and, it doesn’t look like it, but from what I can see, she was involved in a grievous fight with someone. There are several bruises over her body in the shape of what looks like hand prints and there’s a bite mark on her left shoulder close to her neck. We tried to take some images because I know they’ll help you find out what happened to her.”
Elliot let out a breath. “Why’s she in a coma?”
Dr. Haddley was quiet for a moment searching his face as if trying to determine how much information he could take in one blow.
“It looks like she might have fallen.”
“What do you mean fallen?”
“Fallen,” she repeated. “From a considerable height.
More than twenty feet and her
“Is… Is she going to be p-paralyzed?”
“There’s no way to tell just yet. We’re remaining hopeful, but we just don’t know and we really won’t know until she’s conscious.”
Elliot wanted to sit down at the news, but he was not sure if he would be able to get back up again.
“There’s something else,” she continued. “She was exposed to some kind of inhalant. We’re running some tests to figure out what it was, but it looks like a harsh anesthetic and it’s creating some other adverse reactions.”
“She’s been having seizures. We’ve been able to stop them for the time being, but depending on how long she’s been exposed to it…she may suffer further side effects…once she wakes.”
He could not help but notice the doctor’s emphasis on Olivia waking eventually for his benefit. He sensed there was probably something in his eyes that showed he was not taking the news well.
“How long do you expect she’ll be out?”
Dr. Haddley shook her head. “Could be a day, could be a week. We’re still uncertain. There’s a lot that weighs into it.”
“Like what?” he said quickly. “Is there something I can do to help her?”
“You’ve done enough,” she said sighing. “We used all the blood you gave because she was nearing thirty-seven percent loss once she got to the emergency room. Outside of that, she’s incredibly malnourished and her body’s fighting a severe bronchial infection. Combined with the cold and the severity of her other injuries…I’ll be honest. It might be a while.”
Elliot closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. “Can I see her?”
“She’s in the ICU, but I can have someone take you to her room. You won’t be able to go in, but you’ll be able to see her.
He nodded once and followed the doctor down the corridor.
Elliot’s ears piqued at the sound of feet hurrying down the corridor, but he did not shift his gaze. He stood outside of a large room in Mercy East’s Intensive Care Unit with his forearm pressed against a glass window and his chin resting on his forearm as his glazed eyes stared at the figure beyond the glass.
From the corner of his eye, Cragen appeared nearly out of breath next to him and he did not move knowing that his superior would have his own reaction once his eyes focused on the room.
Cragen hung his head low and let out a long breath unable to truly grasp what lay before him.
The walls of the ICU were a pale, sea foam green and gave the room a ghostly glow in combination with the low lights that hung overhead. A series of machines, large and small, beeped and hissed as they worked in tandem, each pointing in the direction of cream-coloured blankets that covered most of the pale form that lay on the long bed that stood to the far left of the room.
A thick, long white tube protruded from Olivia’s mouth, dwarfing the smaller, vein-like channels that ran in and out of her arms and the intravenous bag that hung beside the bed. Covered in a sea of red scratches, her was face puffed in odd places from purple bruises, but through the abrasions, her face was still severely emaciated. Even from under several blankets, through the sets of casts and braces that covered her right arm and both legs, the white plastic neck brace wrapped about her neck and the large bandage that distended from her side, Olivia had the appearance of someone who had lost a ghastly amount of weight in a very short time.
Silence descended on the two men outside of the room once Cragen caught his breath and Elliot broke it after several minutes, with a flat, deadpan voice.
“She’s in a coma.”
“For how long?” Cragen asked.
“They’re not sure. Her doctor doesn’t think she’s been like this the entire time, though…”
“I heard she was shot.”
“Yes,” Elliot said matter-of-factly. “Apparently, that’s not what did the most damage though… She fell.”
Elliot shrugged, his eyes never leaving Olivia’s room. “Still don’t know. They think maybe a couple stories.”
“Where’d they find her?”
“A dumpster on 119th. A guy and his nephew were dumpster-diving and found her there. She’d been there for half a day…lying there, bleeding out. I heard from one of the other ER doctors what really happened down there. Her doctor only told me that her heart stopped, but she didn’t mention that they thought they’d outright lost her for a minute and half.”
“Jesus,” Cragen said. “Was she…?”
“No,” Elliot answered quickly, knowing the question Cragen could not say. “But it looks like somebody probably tried. Wherever she was, they kept her without food or water and half-beat her. She’s looking at close to thirty percent breakage in all her bones and there’s swelling in her brain. And…and, they’re saying there’s a possibility she won’t walk again, granted, they can’t be sure until she wakes up…if she wakes up.”
Cragen leaned against the window, shaking his head.
“She was brought in wearing her pajamas,” Elliot continued. “The same ones I saw her in that Tuesday. Means that for seventeen days now, someone has had her and had been hurting her this entire time. She disappeared in less than five minutes and she turns up weeks later in a dumpster, with the trash. We had every cop in the city looking for her and we still couldn’t find her.”
“Don’t do that,” Cragen said. “You can’t start blaming yourself for this, Elliot.”
“Who should I blame?”
“The guy who did this to her.”
Elliot finally stepped away from the window, his breath suddenly coming in angry gasps. “We’d been on her case for two weeks and we didn’t even find her. Some idiots going through garbage had to find her for us! That’s where they found her! In the trash! This guy took her, shot her and threw her away like she was nothing and what’s better is he’s going to get away with it because we’ll never find him either!”
“Elliot, she’s found. We know where she is now and she’s getting help. It’s over.”
“Is it? Who’s it over for, Captain? Is it over for you, ‘cause it’s nowhere near over for me.” Tears were beginning to form in Elliot’s eyes and he did nothing to quell them. “The guy…the people who did this to her are still out there. She just now turned up on 119th and that was after the media coverage began to focus on these other kids. It wasn’t even as if he got spooked because she was getting so much air time and attention from the press. She was found because he was done with her.”
Elliot rested his head against the cool window again and closed his eyes. Cragen stood silently watching the mechanical ventilators assisting his other detective breath.
“Elliot,” Cragen said. “Her doctors are saying that someone tried to hurt her, right…?”
Elliot turned his head and stared at him. “From where it looks right now, Cap, I’d say they succeeded.”
“They tried,” Cragen continued as Elliot sighed. “I think she’s here, alive right now because she’s tough and she got out. She’ll beat this and we’re going to find the people responsible. It’s just a matter of time.”
Elliot said nothing and returned his gaze to Olivia’s broken form beyond the glass.
“I know you probably don’t want to hear this, but you need to get some rest.”
Elliot chuckled manically. “Yeah…sleep.”
“Come on, Elliot. I know you’ve been here all night and I know you haven’t slept in days. I’ll stay; you go get some sleep. You don’t have to go home. Just find a comfortable chair or something and just relax for a bit.”
“No, Cap,” Elliot said. “I think I’ll start sleeping when she wakes up and tells me to go to sleep herself.”
Cragen only nodded, feeling a pit in his stomach over seeing two of his best detectives at their most vulnerable. He stood for a few minutes more before saying that he had to give a status update to the deputy inspector.
“Take all the time you need, Elliot,” he said before walking back down the corridor.
At some point later, during Elliot’s hours of relentless watching, a sympathetic orderly had found a chair for him and he sat staring at his partner’s broken face as he heard a different set of feet rushing towards him.
He turned his head and stepped away from the glass to allow Maya’s body to come sliding to a stop in front of the window. She placed a shaking hand flat to the glass, turned and collapsed next to the wall in a fit of tears. Elliot knelt beside her, hugging her and allowing her to weep openly into his arms. Her body convulsed as her cries reverberated down the hall, vibrating into his chest, but Elliot held onto her knowing that if he had not grown numb from constant grief, he too would be sobbing on the gleaming hospital floor.
When she finally let go, Maya's chest was heaving in haggard gasps, retching for air.
“I…I…I already saw her doctor,” Maya murmured after her breathing had regained a normal rhythm. “She…she said…if she wakes up, Livia…might not walk again.”
Elliot nodded and sat beside her against the wall with Olivia’s window casting light from above them.
“I was so happy at first when your boss called me. He said…I was Olivia’s other case of emergency contact, but he knew he had to tell me first anyway…I was just so happy when he said you’d found her. I started crying and I was saying to myself…it was finally over, but then he said ‘hospital’…I guess…I guess I just never thought that when you had found her, we’d have to deal with the repercussions after…”
“There’s nothing saying she won’t be okay after all this,” Elliot said in a low voice, raspy from not being used in several hours.
Maya shook her head, tears splashing from her eyes and onto her shirt. “It’s just that any time I thought about the worst thing that could happen…I always thought she’d be dead, but now…Seeing her like this, I don’t know if this is any better.”
“It is better. It’s far better than the alternative. She’s alive and she’s here and we know she’s not being hurt by somebody anymore.”
“But,” Maya began, but paused to stare at him with large, wet eyes. “Even if she wakes up, she’ll never be the same. This…horrible thing will have happened and it’s going to be this scar on all of us for the rest of our lives.”
He sighed and they sat in silence, the magnitude of Maya’s words invading his thoughts. Having only time to consider her present whereabouts, he had never once considered the aftermath of Olivia’s disappearance. With both legs and an arm broken, she would have to relearn how to do everything including walk, assuming she still had the capacity to do so.
His talk with some of the practitioners who had
“Are you gonna be here?” Maya said trying to stand several minutes later.
He stood with her. “I’m not leaving until someone forces me and even then, I’ll put up a fight.”
“Good,” Maya said giving him a weak smile. “I…I have to tell…everyone and I don’t want her alone. Even though I know we can’t go in, somebody should be here. ‘Kay?”
He nodded and she fumbled through her bag with dazed eyes eventually pulling out her phone.
“…think I’ll maybe start with…God, I don’t even know.” Tears began to fall from her eyes again.
“I understand,” Elliot said reaching out to hold her steady as she had taken a wobbling step backward.
“I mean…Jonathan will be…and Jill…I don’t know who’ll be worse at this point. And…I should probably tell her aunt, shouldn’t I?”
“Maybe you should just get some rest,” Elliot said repeating the advice he did not take. “My captain and the guys at my precinct can take care of everything.”
Maya nodded and steadied herself. “Yeah…I think I’ll just go home for a bit and wait from them to just come to me.”
“I think that’s a good idea.”
Maya nodded again and slowly stepped down the hall, reaching out a hand to steady herself along the corridor’s wall every few feet.
Saturday February 17, 2007
Elliot’s long legs brought him briskly toward Morse’s padded cell. He knew the rest of the day would be spent at his post in front of Olivia’s window, but he had one last errand to run before returning.
Time had come to a halt as he stared into Olivia’s room wanting to see some improvement in her condition materialize in front of him as nurses continually streamed in to check on her.
Some time in the morning, Munch and Fin had arrived at the room, displaying the same shock as Cragen. After getting a report on how Olivia was fairing, they nearly dragged him out of the hospital and threw him into a cab, knowing he probably lacked the capability to drive at that point. He swore, insisted that he was not leaving her for anything and even took a half-swing at Fin as they streeled him down the corridor. The only reason he allowed it instead of kicking his way out of their grasp was due to simple exhaustion and the guarantees from both detectives that they would not leave the hospital and would notify him of the slightest change in her condition.
“If she blinks,” he had threatened, “or even shifts her head, I want you to tell me.”
He had actually fallen asleep for a few hours in his apartment and, as usual, he had awakened from a terrible nightmare in which Dr. Haddley told him repeatedly that Olivia had not survived.
When he had risen from his bed, he checked the nineteen messages on his phone. Most were from his family, who he had gone to visit that morning to relay the more positive aspects of Olivia’s condition. He left out any mention of possible paralysis, noting the expression in Kathleen’s already watery eyes.
Calling Maya that morning also did little lessen his anxiety that morning. While he reassured her that his colleagues were standing watch over Olivia, she continued long ramblings about calling Jonathan and being unable to find him. Elliot could do nothing, but sigh into the phone in the appropriate places.
The orderly in front of him paused by Morse’s door and heaved the lock out of place to allow Elliot to quickly enter. Morse lay in the corner of the room asleep on the bare floor.
He looked considerably worse than the last time Elliot had seen him. His hair had fallen out in patches and made him look like he was suffering from an eczematic condition.
“Wake up, Morse,” the orderly said in a gruff voice, dripping with the irritability of having dealt with the youngest of the Morse clan for an extended period of time. “You’ve got a visitor.”
“Go away, Detective Stabler,” Morse muttered still facing the wall.
“I’ve got something to tell you.”
“You always have something to tell me and then you come with the questions. Like, you’re just so certain that I know where she is, but I’m just not telling.”
“I know that you don’t know where she is,” Elliot said.
Morse turned slowly on the floor and then stood.
“Finally, we’re getting somewhere.” He took a step toward Elliot. “What’s with the sudden change of heart? You finally grow some iota of intelligence?”
Elliot glared at Morse for a moment. He was painfully thinner and paler than when he had first entered the squad room weeks earlier and Elliot tried not to be overwhelmed by pity.
“I probably shouldn’t even tell you this,” Elliot said. “It’s not like you deserve it. I should probably just let you wither away and die here without knowing anything.”
Morse’s eye twitched as he took another step forward, his face frozen in anger. “What are you playing at, Detective?”
“We found her. She’s alive.”
Morse’s eyes rolled back into his head for a moment and then his face broke into a wide grin as tears immediately formed in his eyes.
“Where is she?” he asked.
“A hospital. Don’t bother asking because I won’t tell you where.”
Morse nodded. “How is she?”
“She’s been better, Morse.”
“Is…is she talking? Did she say what happened yet?”
“No,” Elliot said solemnly and the smile faded from Morse’s face.
He stared at Elliot for a long time before speaking again. “She’s dead, isn’t she?”
“I just told you she wasn’t.”
“But, I can read you like a book. She may be alive, but if she’s not talking then…she’s probably near death.”
“She’s in a coma.”
“Ah, yes,” Morse said sarcastically. “A coma. How wonderful. So, how long are the doctors going to keep her around before they bring up the subject of the plug? Are you going to come tell me when you’re the one who pulls it?”
“Olivia’s not on life support. She’s breathing on her own, but she’s just sick.”
“Sick. Oh, that’s original.”
Elliot shook his head. “You know, I don’t even know why I bothered coming here. You’re a prick and you’re gonna be one ‘til the end of your days.”
“Why did you come here? Felt you could get me to admit to something by sharing a little bit of news?”
“I want information,” Elliot said.
“Just like always.”
He stared down at Morse with intense eyes. “I need you to cut the bullshit for once. Just once. I’m not asking for much, but I just need you to search in that little head of yours and give me a name.”
“She’s going to die, isn’t she?” Morse asked.
“Look, Morse. Every second, I’m standing here is a second I’m not with her. I just need a name.”
“For what? She’s been found.” Elliot’s eyes fell to the floor, but Morse read the body language. “You…want me to give you something in case you really do need to start investigating a homicide…”
“I just need a name, Morse,” Elliot repeated. “Someone we haven’t looked at yet…I just need you to give me a name.”
Morse paced in front of him, his eyes never leaving Elliot’s before he stopped and sighed. “I was thinking about you and Olivia this week. The things you’ve done. The things you’ve said. If you’re looking for a name, the first one that comes to mind is really ‘Stabler,’ but I suppose since you’re here in front of me, looking so sincere, I can think of another.”
“I thought about that night, those years ago…It took me a while, but I remember now. Williard?”
“Willard,” Morse repeated. “Matthew Williard. I was thinking about it for a long time when it finally hit me. No pun intended.”
“You’re sure it’s Williard?”
“Well, given the way Olivia looks right now, I’d like to have someone other than an old boyfriend to go after.”
“You asked for a name…How about Jeremy Cross?”
“Okay, who’s that? I’ve never even heard about him.”
“Yeah, you have, you dolt. The fuck buddy, remember?”
Elliot froze as he remembered the night Morse had come to the precinct with his details on Olivia.
“And don’t forget that Landon across the way.”
“He’s at the top.”
“Just make sure you look.”
“From what you’ve seen,” Elliot said nodding, “from what you remember, is there anything that makes you think Halloway did something to her? Anything that would make you think that he’d let us find her if things got too crazy?”
“No,” Morse said. “Never. He might raise his voice every once in a while, but he wouldn’t lay a hand on her. Even if she deserved it. He wouldn’t know how.”
Elliot stood silent for a moment. “Three weeks ago, someone could’ve said the same about me and Liv.”
Morse’s eyes narrowed at Elliot. “Like I said, Halloway would never hurt her. He cries in his car every time they have a fight and she throws him out. And, like I said, Halloway wouldn’t even know how to do anything to her. It’s not in his character. You however…I saw it in you the first time I saw you drive her home.”
Elliot rolled his eyes and turned to leave.
“Detective?” Morse said getting his attention once again. “I don’t care what the rest of the world may think. Or even what Olivia may think of you. I saw what had been building over weeks and weeks and there’s no doubt in my mind that if she hadn’t been strong enough to get away from you, you would have killed her.” He paused to cross his arms. “Take it from someone forced to stay in the psychiatric ward…you should really think about getting some help before you do something your cop buddies won’t be able to fix for you.”
“We found Olivia,” Elliot said.
“But, that still doesn’t change my opinion of you. Remember Detective. I’ve been watching for years and I know you almost as well as I know Olivia.”
Elliot simply shook his head as he head passed the orderly and walked out the door.
An hour after he had regained his post by Olivia’s room, Elliot spotted the form of someone new coming down the corridor. He had been either sitting or standing in the hall for so long that he could recognize all the doctors, nurses and hospital staff that worked on the floor and he knew from just the outline approaching him, that this was someone he had not seen in a long while.
Sylvia Whitmore’s graceful stride brought her down the corridor quickly and Elliot soon stared into a face that had an odd familiarity to it. Large green eyes had given way to a series of fine lines and wrinkles in an otherwise attractive face and her silver-blonde hair caught the light as she turned toward the window and gasped softly.
“It’s worse than that other detective made it out to be,” Olivia’s aunt said. “Much worse.”
“I’m so sorry,” Elliot said to her.
“What for? You didn’t do this.”
He wanted to reply, but knew she was correct and simply continued his stare at Olivia’s unconscious form.
Several minutes later, her daughter Allison bolted down the corridor and stood with a matching look of horror as she stared at the figure beyond the glass.
“Dear Jesus,” Allison said.
“I know,” Sylvia said. “I know. It’s just horrible.”
Sylvia began a silent pace behind Elliot and Allison, her eyes constantly on the window, before she paused and removed a small black flask from her large handbag. She unscrewed the cap, paused briefly to look at Olivia and tilted the flask into her mouth.
Elliot stared at her with a frown on his face and she pointed her index finger at him.
“Don’t…” she began. “Don’t you dare judge me. The only piece of my sister I’ve got left is nearly gone. I think…if there was ever a moment I needed one, I think this warrants it.”
“Mother,” Allison said. “No one’s judging you. Besides, you never cared before. Not even while Dad was leav-”
“Don’t you start that argument again! Not here. Not now.”
Allison did not reply and, instead, turned her gaze back to her cousin. Sylvia slipped away the flask and straightened her back.
“Well, there’s not much else we can do by just standing here, is there?”
“I think it’s good to just be here anyway,” Allison said.
“That’s what he’s for.” Sylvia pointed at Elliot. “You’ll let us know if her condition changes?”
“Absolutely, and I even if I have to leave, she’s been watched ‘round the clock.”
“Good. Allison, I’m going home.”
“Hang on. I’ll take you. God knows how many you had on the way over here.”
“I just said-”
“Forget I said anything, okay?” She gave Elliot a weak smile before escorting her mother down the hall.
After they left, Elliot retched himself from the room long enough to grab an overly-priced cup of coffee from upstairs and, a few minutes afterward, Maya appeared at the window, with Jillian at her side.
Jillian gasped and burst into tears when she saw Olivia lying unconscious beyond the window. She glared at Elliot when she regained her composure and he had the feeling that if she was not so very conservative, she might have decked him on the spot. Instead, she quickly left without saying another word.
“She’s sorry,” Maya said, looking as if she had been crying non-stop since he had last seen her, “about all the things she and Jonathan had been saying to you. I know she is. It’s just…she’s Jill. She doesn’t really apologize, even when she should, but I know she’s sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Elliot said.
“Has there been any change?”
“No. I’ve just talked to her doctor. She says she looks a little better, but there’s not been any real difference. She’s still unstable.”
Maya nodded and dabbed at her eyes. “Have you talked to Jonathan?”
“I haven’t and no one’s been able to reach him. According the house sitter, he’s spending time at someplace upstate, but there’s no phone to reach him.”
“Yeah,” Maya said. “I figured he might do that. He’d been saying he needed some time away from the city to clear his head, but he’s got horrible timing. Always has.”
“We’ll let him know if we hear from him.”
Maya swayed as she stood, her eye drooping.
“You want me to take you home?” Elliot asked.
“No, somebody should stay.”
“If anything happens they’ll let us know. C’mon. I’ll drive you.”
Maya sighed and allowed Elliot to usher her down the corridor and into his car.
“How are you doing otherwise?” Elliot said, trying to make some kind of small talk as they drove through the park.
“Otherwise…,” she said leaning against the passenger door. “Otherwise, everything’s turning to shit as I touch it. The last time we met with the DA, my client erupted into a huge uproar about how he was being discriminated against and whatever. Completely tanked any plans I had to get him off with time served.”
She closed her eyes and Elliot glanced at her noticing that she too looked like she had lost weight in the recent weeks, most likely from stress.
“How ‘bout you, yourself?” he asked. “I mean, are you sleeping or-”
“God, you sound just like Jillian.”
“Yeah, constantly checking on me. Jonathan too. In fact…now that I think of it, I’m really not surprised that she gets along with you so well. Livia, I mean. There’s so much of Jill and Jonathan in you. Or maybe all that’s the other way around. She likes Jonathan because she likes you…or whatever.”
“Okay,” Elliot said figuring she was delirious from lack of sleep and grief.
“I’m serious,” she continued. “From the way I look at it, if you put Jonathan and Jillian together, you get Elliot Stabler. Maybe that’s why you all argue so much. You can drop me right here.”
He paused the car on West 75th Street. “You need help?”
“I’ve got it. You’ll let me know anything about Livia?”
“Of course, but I imagine I’ll probably see you at the hospital tomorrow regardless.”
Maya flashed a sleepy smile and nodded as she turned to walk up the stairs to her building.
He sat in the car for several minutes reflecting on the past twenty-four hours and weighed whether he would try to go back to the precinct or risk another nightmare in his apartment. Choosing neither, he turned around the car and drove down 9th Avenue until it turned into Hudson Street.
The air in Olivia’s apartment was stale from lack of its occupant and he glanced around it half-expecting her to call from the bedroom that she would be “ready in a second.”
He walked a circle around the apartment stopping at her desk in hopes of seeing some sign of Matthew Williard, yet there was none.
Looking over the items that Maya had neatened on her desk, he spotted a familiar picture tucked away in the corner. He reached for it with a smile tugging at his lips. It was the same brilliant picture he had given Cragen when their search for Olivia had just begun.
Framed photo in hand, he took a step away from the desk and towards her sofa, seeing from the corner of his eye some of her case files that had been left untended. He made a note to grab them on his way out of the apartment and slowly lowered himself onto her couch.
The afghan that rested along the backside of the couch smelled like Olivia and he pulled it around himself as he rested against the couch pillows and closed his eyes. He had hoped for some kind of divine inspiration by coming to Olivia’s apartment, but his eyelids suddenly felt very heavy and he wondered if he even had the strength to lift himself from her couch.
The picture shined in the moonlight that poured into her apartment from the nearby window as it lay on the hope chest Olivia used as a coffee table. Elliot sighed as he took one last look at it and allowed his eyes to close as he lay wrapped tight in Olivia’s blanket.
Sunday February 18, 2007
Greenwich Village, New York
Elliot’s eyelashes fluttered open as sunlight streamed through Olivia’s windows. He stared at her ceiling for a few moments trying to get his bearings before he rose to leave the apartment. As he locked the door, Mark Landon opened his own apartment door carrying a large trash bag.
“Good morning,” Elliot said flatly.
Mark scowled at him and slammed his door shut, leaving Elliot to shake his head as he strode down the hall.
“She’s doing much better,” Dr. Haddley said as they later stood outside of Olivia’s hospital room. “Her temperature is good and her heart rate’s just about returned to normal. The frostbite on her feet is clearing up, so I don’t think we’ll have to remove anything.”
“What about the gunshot?” he asked quickly. “And, she’s still got that tube…?”
“Yes…We’re still keeping an eye on the bronchitis. It’s quite severe and we’re trying to keep it from turning into pneumonia. But, the wound is healing fast.’
“And the seizures?”
“I think she might have gotten it all out of her system. I’m still thinking it might have just been the stress her body was under all this time.”
“Do you have any idea when she might wake up yet?”
Dr. Haddley shook her head. “Unfortunately, we don’t. Her brain waves are very active, but she just hasn’t regained consciousness yet. But, on a more positive note, as long as her condition does continue to improve, she should stabilize and we might be able to move her out of ICU by tomorrow.”
Elliot nodded and Dr. Haddley left down the hall issuing instructions to the lanky nurse who walked with her. He stared at Olivia’s comatose form and sighed. Her face looked much better as some of the bruises had begun to subside, but she still looked very pale and the oxygen tube distending from her mouth was unnerving.
A ring from his jacket pocket jarred from his constant staring and willing Olivia to suddenly wake.
Twenty minutes later, he arrived at Melinda’s lab
having been directed there by several surprised
“You have something for me?” he asked.
“Lots. We’d done analysis on all her clothes and it looks like she’s been in them the entire time. We found some seminal fluids on them as wells wood chips, glass, and just general dirt.”
Elliot nodded though his mind had stopped when he heard “seminal fluids.”
“There was also lots of blood and hair,” Melinda continued. “And it’s not all hers. I found seven different types of hair and at least two blood types.”
“Seven?” Elliot’s eyes were narrowed at the idea of it. “How many people could’ve possibly had her?”
Melinda shrugged. “Just telling you what I’ve found. I’ve more analysis to do tomorrow. I’ll let you know what, if any, matches I find, but I just wanted to you to know, she’s at the top of my list.”
“Thanks Melinda,” he said. He opened his mouth to give her an update on Olivia when his cell rang from his pocket.
“Stabler,” he said without reading the display.
The small smile that had been lurking behind his guise of thankfulness for the medical examiner’s efforts faded quickly and Elliot closed his eyes and hung his head.
He listened to the rest of the other party’s words and replied with a sigh.
All Saints House
Elliot squinted slightly at the flash of a camera at the very end of the long corridor. A mass of detectives and uniformed officers had already gathered at the bathroom that sat at the end and were floating in out of the area speaking in low voices.
Normally, he would not have been called in such a case, but, as the officer at the other end of his earlier phone call noted, these were extenuating circumstances.
Elliot swallowed as he entered the bathroom
preparing himself for what he was about to see. A tall detective nearest to the
tub stood holding a small piece of paper with handwritten ink and the
The bathtub itself seemed to glow against the deep red that surrounded its insides and Elliot repressed a shiver as he first took sight of Evelyn Rivers lying up to her neck in a mixture of cold water and her own blood. Her eyes were closed, but her face had frozen in a combination of fear and grief and he could make out the salt stains her previous tears had left on her face hours earlier.
“She left a note,” the tall officer said handing Elliot the piece of paper. His voice was flat and uncaring. “It just says she couldn’t live like this anymore. Whatever the hell ‘this’ is supposed to be.”
Elliot read Evelyn’s tear-stained handwriting with shaking hands: He’s tried to kill her and I know he’ll kill me next. I can’t keep living like this anymore. I’m just going to beat him to it.
“Should be pretty open and shut though, eh?” the officer said, breaking Elliot’s moment of silence for Evelyn. “Don’t know why they even keep razors around a place like this when all the woman all look like they’re ready to start slitting stuff when they bring them in here.”
“Why don’t you show a little respect, you jackass?” Elliot said nearly shouting.
“What respect?” the officer said. “If she had any respect for herself, she probably wouldn’t’ve ended up in a place like this in the first place.”
Elliot glared at him, wanting to hit the officer in his red face, but simply handed him the note and stormed out of the bathroom, not wanting to do anymore to sadden the scene of Evelyn’s death.
He drove back to the precinct feeling cold and hot at the same time. A part of him wanted to pull his car into an alley and start breaking windows for his inability to keep Evelyn from hurting herself, while another part wanted to simply scream out at the frustration of the same calamity.
When he finally stepped off the elevator and into the squad room, Alexa popped out of nowhere to berate him.
“How come I’m just now finding out what’s going on?” she said with wide, angry eyes. “I know her too. I wanted to know. No one even bothered to tell me about Olivia.”
Elliot brushed past her and headed toward Cragen’s office, but Alexa continued.
“You know, you can’t keep treating me like I did something wrong. You can’t just ditch me anytime you feel like it. I know this whole thing’s been rough on you, but you can’t-”
He did not hear the rest of her tirade as he closed Cragen’s office door behind him, leaving Alexa with her arms crossed and pacing in front of the door.
“Evelyn Rivers is dead,” he said flatly. “She killed herself this morning. Said she thought Diorel had tried to kill Olivia and would eventually kill her. She said she was beating Diorel to it even though…even though I told her repeatedly that Diorel wasn’t involved.”
“I’m sorry,” Cragen said.
“Elliot, you did everything you could. That girl was fragile to begin with. You can’t beat yourself up about this.”
“I could’ve done more.”
“How? She was a wreck for weeks.”
“I could’ve read the signs a little better. If I’d just been a better cop, I could’ve saved her life.”
“Evelyn Rivers refused to leave Diorel even though he was about two steps from killing her. We already knew she was in a state before we even got her case. You knew that and so did Olivia. That’s why she had to practically drag Evelyn away from Diorel.”
Elliot shook his head. “What makes this all even worse…is that I know, that if Liv had been here, she could’ve kept Evelyn from doing it.”
“It’s like I said. Given the state she was in, I don’t think anything anyone could’ve said would’ve kept her from doing it.”
“Liv…Olivia saw something in Evelyn that I could never get in touch with. If it had been up to me, we would’ve put Evelyn on the back burner and forgotten all about her until Diorel finally murdered her, but Liv always wanted to check in on her and see how she was doing. Now, that I think about it, I never once called the girl just to make sure she was doing all right. Just to keep something like this from happening.”
“We were too busy finding answers about this newest string of murders and looking for Olivia.”
Elliot ran a hand over his face. “Speaking of…I spoke to Morse again. I want to re-interview Mark Landon.”
“Naturally,” Cragen said with a sardonic tone. “Did he give you anyone else?”
“Yeah, two. The guy who slapped Olivia on his videos. Matthew Williard and also a Jeremy Cross he said we may want to look into.”
Cragen shook his head. “It’s Spencer’s case.”
“C’mon, Cap. Even Craig knew this was never his
case. Olivia’s not dead and for all intents and purposes this has
“Fine,” he said after a moment of silent staring. “Do what you need to, but… I want you to make a better effort with Brown. She’s a good cop, Elliot.”
Elliot glanced out Cragen’s office window to see Alexa in a heated discussion with Andrea who looked thoroughly annoyed.
“I’m not ready to concede to a new partner just yet.”
“No one’s asking you to, but if you’re taking on Olivia’s case, we need to have results. When Liv wakes up… and I know she will, she’s going to want answers. You’ll have more to tell her if you work with someone rather than just working alone.”
Elliot rolled his eyes and sighed, but marched out of the office and nodded at Alexa.
“I need you to help me find some information on a Matthew Williard. I want to find him today. He’s already hurt Liv once and I wouldn’t put this past him.”
Alexa nodded quickly and nearly broke into a run towards her own desk area where she pulled up a search on her computer. Elliot watched her with another sigh as Andrea, who had finished noting Morse’s videos, closed the door to the video room and approached him.
“You have a minute, Elliot?” Andrea said softly. “I need to talk to you.”
“I don’t have a minute, Andrea,” he snapped, some of his irritation with Alexa smearing onto Andrea. “I don’t have time for anything else right now. You need to wait.”
He began to stride away from her, but stopped when he felt her glare burning into his back.
“How many times are you going to do this, Elliot?” she said.
He turned. “Do what?”
“Act with your dick first instead of your head?”
“Andrea, we have our first hit on the guy who might’ve taken Olivia.”
“Williard. Matthew Williard. He’s the guy who slapped Liv on those tapes and he’s the guy I want. I don’t know about you, but that takes priority for me!”
“And, you’d think you’d want to have everything solid on the man, but instead, all you’re interested in is storming out there with nothing but a name from Morse and a gut feeling.”
“You have something more than that?”
“Yes. Why in God’s name would I stop you if I didn’t?”
“Fine. What is it?”
“It’s a who. The guy you want. You’ve got the name, but I’ve got more than that on him.”
“More than his name?”
“Just follow me.” She headed for small room with Morse’s videos, but Elliot only glared at her back. Every thought that ran through his head involved leaving Andrea in search of Olivia’s possible attacker, but the same instinct that told him Matthew Williard was worth investigating, pushed him in Andrea’s direction.
“Okay, take a look at this,” she said, as she queued videos on several monitors. “Morse actually caught your guy Williard coming and going out of her apartment.”
“We already knew that. How is this significant?”
She glared at him, but pointed to a screen. “Right here is the last I thought I’d seen him in the building. That’s almost two years ago, but look at this.” She paused and pointed to a separate screen. “Who does that look like to you?”
Elliot stared at the screen and the scowl on his face deepened. “That bastard…”
“It’s Williard,” Andrea translated. “He was in her building the day she disappeared and I don’t see him leaving…granted, there are a lot of white men with brown hair on this tape, but I still don’t see him leaving and I searched for him carefully.”
“How the hell did Alexa miss this!” He stormed out of the room searching for her small frame for a moment before Andrea pulled him back into the room.
“Elliot! For God’s sake! Calm down! It wasn’t her fault. I just found it myself on the unedited tapes. It’s from the one Morse always pointed at her building during the day.”
Elliot nodded at her, but was still boiling at the thought that it was Alexa who had not found this information. Yet, as much as he wanted to scream at her until he lost the breath to do so, he knew Andrea was right. There was no way Alexa could have known what was on Morse’s unedited videos.
“We need to find him,” he said finally. “He’s the last link in this.”
“Hang on a second,” Andrea said. “Before you start out on another witch hunt…there’s no way to tell when he left Olivia’s building. Morse had turned off that camera when she got back to her apartment that night.”
“We’ll find out when he left once I drag the answer out of him.” He began to walk out the door, but Andrea stood, grabbing a manila folder that lay next to the monitor.
“Hang on,” she said. “I need to tell you something else…”
But, Elliot simply waved a hand at her on his way out the door, leaving Andrea to frown at the item in her hand.
“Stabler!” Alexa shouted waving some papers in her hand. “I found him.”
“Williard?” Elliot said. “What’d you find?”
“Everything. Full name, last three addresses, social security number, previous spouse and…I’m working on pulling up some old 911 calls made from his place.”
“Well, it’s one o’clock in the afternoon, so he’s probably at work. What about where he works?”
Alexa stood silent for a moment, staring at him with large, worried eyes. “I haven’t found that just yet.”
“Well, that’s not everything is it?”
“I’m…I’m sorry. I know I can get it in, like, two seconds.”
She rushed off toward her desk and Elliot sighed. Anger welled somewhere deep in his stomach, but for the first time since she started to walk beside him instead of Olivia, Elliot did not wish to direct all that anger at Alexa.
He eased himself into the chair at his own desk and put his head in his hands as he prayed for his cell phone to ring with the news that Olivia had awakened and was ready to run with him once again. Instead, he forced himself to swallow the lump that had caught in his throat when his eyes caught a glimpse of Alexa’s looping handwriting on an ordinary legal pad at the edge of the desk.
While wanting to watch his comatose partner, praying and hoping that she would wake, Cragen’s words still echoed in his head.
When Liv wakes up…she’s going to want answers.
Regardless of how many times he tried to repeat it to himself, “When Liv wakes up…When Liv wakes up,” the now familiar sense of loss seemed to overshadow everything else in his mind.
Alexa was not Olivia; that much was obvious. No one in the world came close to Olivia and the differences in all those around him, no matter how small, magnified her absence.
He was simply not accustomed to others giving up on an argument so easily or just doing what he said with little to no resistance. Olivia always pushed back when she thought she was right and, if he ever had the audacity to bark an order at her, she would have laughed herself into hysterics at the idea of it. Alexa, and even Andrea, caved into his will too quickly and Elliot squeezed his eyes shut for a moment in an unsuccessful attempt at keeping his own words “if she wakes up” from echoing through his head.
“Matthew Williard,” Alexa said loudly as she approached Elliot’s desk. “Office is on West Broad and Canal. Works at Williard Realty.”
“He’s a realtor?”
Alexa nodded. “Apparently a good one too. Especially if he’s got a place down there.”
Elliot tried to envision Williard standing next to Olivia years earlier and saying something about working real estate, but the image was only clouded by the thought that Williard had struck his partner.
“All right,” he said. “Let’s bring him in.”
Matthew Williard’s real estate office was large and comfortable with all the markings of a successful and growing business. He stood as Elliot and Alexa entered his office and gave them a dashing smile etched on a handsome, tan face. Tall and blue-eyed, Williard had a likeable air about him and an endearing charm enfolded throughout the rivets of baritone and bass in his voice that many people loved instantly. Elliot hated him on sight.
“Please,” Williard said shaking Alexa’s hand. “Have a seat. People think I’m a bit crazy for it, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the NYPD.”
He reached out a hand toward Elliot, who, playing in his head the several mental quips he had been rehearsing on the drive to Williard’s office, stared at Williard’s hand for a moment and simply nodded with his hands held tight behind his back.
The moment Williard came into view, a flash of Olivia falling backwards after he had slapped her across the face floated across Elliot’s eyes like a hologram and it took every bit of his resolve to let the awkward moment where Williard pulled his hand away and glanced at Alexa with high eyebrows, pass without further incident.
“Now,” Williard said seated behind his large oak desk. “What can I do for you? I haven’t broken any laws, have I?”
Alexa returned his wide smile weakly. “Do you know a Detective Olivia Benson?”
“‘Course I do,” he said settling back in a thick leather chair. “I’ve been hearing her name on the news for weeks now. Yeah, we dated for some time a while back. She broke up with me, but I’ve always thought I should’ve chased her a little harder. I can’t help thinking she was the one who got away.”
“I see,” Alexa said flatly.
“She always had so much patience with me and such a great attitude. I really hope she’s doing okay. I have been worried sick since I heard that she’d been found.
“Have you?” Elliot said, his eyes burning into Williard.
Williard glanced at Alexa for moment with raised eyebrows. “Yeah… Is there something wrong?”
“You tell me,” Elliot said. “We’ve been doing a little background checking into you and we’re just trying to account for your whereabouts on Tuesday January 30th.”
“January 30th? I can barely remember what I had for breakfast this morning and if I didn’t have my Blackberry I’d probably forget my own last name. But, what do you mean you did a little checking into me? You’re talking to me like I’m some kind of suspect.”
“Funny thing is,” Alexa said. “You are.”
Williard laughed. “I’m a suspect? In what?”
“What the hell do you think?” Elliot seethed. “Olivia Benson’s lying comatose in the hospital and someone did something to put her there.”
“Wait…Someone? You can’t possibly think I did something to Olivia?”
“Well,” Alexa said. “Now that you mention it…”
“This is ridiculous,” Williard said flattening his tie.
“You know what I think’s ridiculous,” Elliot said. “That you’re willing to sit there looking smug after all you’ve done. After the way you hurt her. You’re nothing, but a dog and, if I wasn’t wearing a badge, I’d kick your ass river to river.”
A wave of guilt passed quickly across Williard’s face and, in that instant, Elliot was certain he had the wrong man. No matter how much he hated to even acknowledge it, Elliot had seen that same look mirrored in himself when he was first faced with what he had done to Olivia the night she disappeared. However, something still had to be done. The image of Williard’s hand sliding through the dark to strike Olivia was far too vivid in his memory and, though Elliot knew there was little he could do to ensure that Williard spent time in prison, he still needed to suffer.
“Hurt her? Olivia?” Williard scoffed. “I think it’s a bit rich that you’re calling me names and threatening me for hurting Olivia. Especially since it wasn’t too long ago that I saw something off the Internet that showed you and her in a very compromising position.”
“Get up,” Elliot said coming around the desk.
“You’re coming down to our precinct.”
“For what? No, forget it. I’m not going.”
“You can either come under your own steam or you can be dragged up there under whatever trumped up charge I can think of. It’s your choice, but you’re coming.”
The drive to the precinct had been tense and silent and Elliot allowed Williard to sit alone in an interrogation room for several hours while Alexa, Munch and Fin dug through Williard’s personal and financial records.
They quickly found that he was a divorcée who had had two previous domestic violence accusations filed on him in earlier years, but for some reason, both his wife, and girlfriend thereafter, recanted. From the records they could see that Olivia discovered this very information the night she had confronted Williard and he struck her for the third and final time.
The same records lead them further into Williard’s business and they discovered that while he was in Olivia’s building the day she went missing, Williard was showing the apartment two floors below hers and, much to Elliot’s dismay, was confirmed at a bar on the east side by three different people at the time of Olivia’s disappearance. Nonetheless, Elliot was still determined to disrupt Williard’s life as much as possible.
“How’ve you been?” Elliot said to Williard close to three hours after he had arrived.
“You can’t keep me here like this,” he said immediately. “If you insist on keeping me, then I’m asking for my lawyer.
Munch opened the door and wheeled a small television into the room.
“What’s that?” Williard said with wide eyes.
“Don’t worry about it just yet,” Elliot said smugly, but Williard shook his head.
“These cop tactics aren’t going to work with me. I used to date one of your own, remember? She told me lots while we were between the sheets.”
“Couldn’t’ve told you that much,” Elliot said. “She doesn’t take kindly to abusers.”
“Abusers? This is nonsense. I never touched her like that. Not once.”
“Who said anything about touching Olivia?” Munch said taking the seat next to Elliot.
Williard glared at him. “You’re insinuating it, but I never did.”
“We’d like to believe you,” Elliot said with a smirk. “But, we’ve got evidence that says otherwise.”
“That’s bull. I never laid a hand on her.”
Munch turned on the television and pressed a button
on the small
“Wh-where’d you get that?” he said with watery eyes.
“Does it make a difference at this point?” Munch said. “We just trapped you in the worst lie I’ve heard all week.”
“Yes, please,” Elliot said seething. “Tell us. Explain to us what was going on that night.”
“That was a long time ago.”
“Yeah, it was,” Munch said. “But lucky for you, that tape’s dated. It was made less than three years ago.”
“When’s the statute of limitations run out on filing assault or personal injury charges in New York County, John?” Elliot asked brightly.
“Why, Elliot, I think it’s three years.”
“Three years?” Elliot said and turned back toward Williard. “Well, isn’t that interesting.”
“I…I understand where you’re going with this, gentlemen,” Williard said softly. “But you have to understand-”
“Yes, we do want to understand, don’t we, John?”
“We do, Elliot.”
Elliot smiled. “We want to understand everything so that we can pull every single niche out of the penal law to make sure you serve as much time as possible.”
“I was under a lot of stress back then,” Williard said his foot tapping nervously. “Some of my places were being eaten up by the competition and it was looking kind of bad there for a while and then all of sudden she comes at me with this old crap and I just…lost it.”
“Oh, you lost it,” Elliot repeated.
“I did! But I swear on my life, I’ve been getting help since then. After Olivia pulled that gun on me…I finally realized what I was doing and I got help. I’m seeing a therapist three times a week.”
“Does that help?” Elliot asked with feigned care.
“Absolutely! She has taught me things about myself I never even knew.”
“And, if it doesn’t help,” Munch said, “you can always smack her around until it does.”
“I swear to God I don’t do that anymore and I haven’t had any contact with Olivia since the night she threw me out.”
“You’re sure?” Elliot asked, now serious. “That’s the story you wanna stick with?”
“I swear. I mean would you try to talk to a woman who just aimed a gun at your head?”
“Guess we can say you’re a smart man, eh?” Munch said.
“Look,” Williard said, “if I had any information, anything at all, I’d tell you. I’d tell you because I’d want you to tell her how much I’ve changed. Maybe she’d give me a second chance.”
Elliot shook his head as he stood. “As far as I’m concerned, she gave you more chances than you ever deserved and, if I’d known what you did to her at the time, I’d’ve gladly served the time for breaking your neck.”
“Are we filing charges? Cragen asked Casey when Elliot and Munch entered the small room that sat outside of the interrogation room.
She shook her head. “I can’t see how. The statute’s about to run out anyway and with Olivia in a coma… And he seems like the kind of weasel who’d have a lawyer or two just greasy enough to get him out of serving any time even if we could make the charges stick.”
“So, what do we do?” Elliot asked.
“Let him sweat in there for a few more hours,” Cragen said. “Then I’d let some of his past records slip to some of clientele and competition. How are you doing on this Cross guy?”
“Alexa’s working on him.”
“Well find him. This’ll be the first we’ve really looked at him, so find him and grill him hard.”
“Got him!” Alexa said excited as Elliot left the interrogation room.
“Jeremy Cross. He works lugging boxes down by the docks.”
Elliot nodded as he reached for his coat. “You drive. I’ve got a couple phone calls to make for our friend Williard in there.”
Gansevoort and Washington Streets
"Cross?" a stout manager with a clipboard said to Elliot and Alexa when they approached him. "He's over there, but I don't know how much you expect to get out of him. He's kind a dull...you know? Slow.”
Something large moved behind the truck at which the manager pointed and Elliot felt slightly caught off guard by the sight of the man who had just heaved three large crates from on truck onto another.
Jeremy Cross’s mess of brown hair and round face gave him the initial appearance of young boy, but the body on which his large head rested proved he was anything but. Six foot six and easily two-hundred and fifty pounds, Elliot felt dwarfed by the large man and he wondered why Jeremy was spending his days moving boxes instead of blocking others his size on a football field somewhere.
“Jeremy Cross?” Elliot said holding out his badge.
Jeremy set down his crate and stepped from behind the truck.
“I’m Detective Stabler. This is Detective Brown. We need to talk to you for a couple minutes.”
“Yeah…sure,” Jeremy said taking a few steps toward them. He spoke with deep voice and a strong accent and Alexa, barely standing at his elbow, eyed him suspiciously. “What’s going on?”
“I’m sure you’ve seen reports on the news about a cop’s disappearance. A Detective Olivia Benson?”
Jeremy nodded and blinked large brown eyes. “I heard she was found. Is she okay?”
“She’s fine,” Alexa said quickly jumping into the conversation. “We’re still trying to figure out what happened to her.”
“I was really happy when the news said you found her. Do you know what hospital she’s at? Can I go see her or talk ta her?”
“No, sorry,” Elliot said crossing his arms as he stared up at the man. “She’s still in the ICU and she can’t have any visitors.”
“ICU?” Jeremy said, a quizzical expression on his face.
“Intensive Care Unit. Look, Jeremy, when was the last time you spoke to Olivia?”
Jeremy looked up as he thought for a moment. "Think it was maybe a year or so ago. She's usually the one who calls me, but she hadn't in like a real long time, so I called her that time and she said she’d wanted ta…um…see other people."
"And, you haven't spoken to her since?" Alexa said.
"Naw...don't think so. Hey, did I do somthin’ wrong?"
Elliot and Alexa glanced at one another.
"No," Elliot said. "We're just talking to anybody who had any contact with Olivia and might know what happened to her."
“Oh…have you talked ta her neighbors and stuff?”
“Why? Is there a neighbor you think we should look at in particular?”
“Um…yeah. I think is name was like Landani or Landano…something like that.”
“Mark Landon?” Elliot said. “How do you know Landon?”
Jeremy scratched his head. “Yeah. I guess it mighta been Landon. I, um, gave him his mail once. It was on the ground. I think Olivia mighta got it by mistake and threw it in front of his door, so I just gave it ta him this one day.”
“Did he give you a bad vibe or anything?”
“Well…no, not really. He was just…really little. But…he is the guy across the hall, so if something happened ta Olivia, he would be the first person I would ask. Did you ask him?”
He looked at Elliot expectantly and Elliot nodded. “We did ask him and he said he didn’t know anything.”
"Oh," Jeremy said, looking down at his shoes. "That’s all I can think of. Sure wish I could help. If I knew anything, I'd tell you."
"I'm sure you would Jeremy," Alexa said.
Elliot gave Jeremy his card and he and Alexa walked back to the car.
“What do you think?” he asked.
She paused, surprised that he had asked her opinion. “I don’t know. I think he seems genuine though. And, I hadn’t seen him on any of the tapes past the time when Jonathan Halloway began showing up.”
"Morse must've had it wrong," Elliot said as they drove back to the precinct.
"Why? What do you mean?"
"Alexa, I know Olivia and she wouldn't go out with a guy like that. She likes smart people. Guys who can make her laugh. He’s not even close to her type."
Alexa sighed. "You didn't watch the unedited version of those tapes, Detective, but you're right. They never went out anywhere. She'd dress up, he'd meet her at the door and they wouldn't make it out of her front door. It doesn't take a 160 IQ to be good at what he does."
Elliot rolled his eyes as they headed back up 8th Avenue.
“Hey! Zachary, right?”
Zachary Calbrach nodded with a smile at Munch as he and Fin stepped into his hospital room.
“I’m Detective Munch and this is Detective Tutuola.”
“Are you here to talk to me about what happened too?” Zachary asked.
“We are,” Munch said.
“Sorry, I didn’t do so well last time.”
“You did just fine,” Fin said, “but we just wanted to know if you could remember anything else that might help us catch him.”
Zachary sighed. “I’m starting to remember now. I’d seen him before. Like a couple weeks ago, but I still can’t make him out. Like, I see him…but I don’t. It’s weird.”
“It’s okay,” Munch said. “Do you remember where you might’ve seen him?”
“Like at school and stuff. I just remember thinking…like ‘It’s that guy.’ You know what I mean?”
They spent another twenty minutes trying to pull memories from Zachary, but he quickly grew frustrated and, when his mother insisted that he had had enough for one day, they shifted their efforts back to interviewing witnesses in the case.
Taking a short hiatus to check on Olivia and Elliot, back at his post by Olivia’s window, Munch and Fin spoke to all three possible witnesses and dropped visits on those who had discovered the crime scenes in Ryan Daly’s and Andrew Shaw’s murders. The day had been long and the tasks at hand arduous and unfulfilling as not one person interviewed had any relevant information to add.
Cold and bedraggled, Munch suggested they check in on the neighbors who lived several doors down from the Calbrach house.
“Just terrible,” Mabel Hickins said as she lowered her eighty-year old body into an arm chair in her living room. “To think that someone could do something to such a lovable little boy. He used to come here and let me read to him when he was little. Now, he’s a little too grown to spend all his time here, but he still waves on his way home from school.”
“When you saw him around the area,” Munch began, “did you ever notice anyone ever following him or paying him any attention?”
“Not so much,” she said. “The school’s just a stone’s throw away from here and I see most of the kids every day. It used to be safe for them to just walk home, but nowadays…”
“You seem to know the area pretty good,” Fin said.
Mabel nodded. “I’ve been here forever and even if the neighborhood does go down the tubes even more, I don’t see myself moving.”
“So, have you noticed anybody around the area or around the schools that seemed out of the ordinary?”
“Well…There was someone staring at the kids a few days back.”
“What did they look like?” Munch said taking out a notepad.
“It was a young man. He was kind of far away so I couldn’t tell how old he was. Maybe in his twenties. Maybe younger. Maybe older. But he was standing nearby the fence watching the kids leave the school, maybe a day or two before this happened to Zachary.”
“Can you remember what he looked like?” Fin asked, but Mabel shook his head.
“Brown hair is about it. Maybe even red. I wish I could tell you more. But, um, tell me something. You’re all cops…what do you know about that young woman I’ve been seeing all over the news. The one they just found on 119th?”
“What about her?” Fin said.
“Just wanting to know how she was doing,” Mabel said. “I try to follow the news as best I can and didn’t know if you knew anything else about her. I mean to tell you honestly, with all this fuss over those other two boys and now poor little Zachary, I’d all but forgotten about her. But, I guess that’s just the way the mind goes when you get to be my age…”
Elliot sighed as he watched the lanky nurse with the mousy brown hair change the bandage on Olivia’s side.
With Williard and Cross no longer viable suspects and with Mark staunchly hiding behind his attorney, he had found no other evidence to use to pursue the case and he found it painfully ironic that the one person off of whom he could bounce ideas until one sounded plausible, was the only person he could not ask.
He pressed his hand against the window and willed her to wake for another twenty minutes before he turned to leave. The moment he turned, he caught sight of Maya and another woman walking down the corridor. The other woman’s brown hair was lit with highlights and she was tall, like Maya and Olivia, but had the body of a mother.
“Elliot,” Maya said with a small smile. “How is she?”
“Better. Her doctor says she’s mostly stable and they might be able to move her out of the ICU tomorrow.”
“Good…good,” Maya said.
An awkward silence fell over them before the woman’s hazel eyes glinted behind her black Armani glasses and she opened her mouth.
“Sarah Hyman,” she said offering her hand toward him in a business-like manner. “Wish we could have met under more light-hearted pretenses.”
Elliot looked at Maya. “Anyone hear from Halloway yet?”
“No,” Maya said shaking her head. “I’ve tried every emergency number I can think of. His brothers all say he’s not answering them either. I’m starting to get worried about him now.”
“Well, Jonathan’s a big boy, Maya,” Sarah said. “I’m sure he can take care of himself.”
Maya glanced at Elliot before speaking. “Yeah…but that’s what we were saying about Olivia…and look what happened.”
“I’m sure he’s fine,” Elliot said quickly as tears began to form in Maya’s eyes.
hey stared at one another for a second awkward moment, before Elliot cleared his throat.
“I’ve, uh…got some things I still need to get done. Maya, you’ve got my cell just in case anything changes. Sarah…good to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Sarah said, though her tone suggested different.
As Elliot strode down the hall, he could hear snippets of their voices coming like echoing hisses off the polished walls.
"I can't believe he has the nerve to be here," Sarah said. "After what Jillian told me...the other cops in her unit think he's involved."
"He's not, Sarah," Maya said. "I know him and he wouldn't be here if he was."
"But, what if it's a cover? What if he's just trying to see exactly how much he did to her?"
"Sare, he didn-"
"You need to come back here tonight and make sure he doesn't come back to finish her off..."
Elliot simply shook his head as he climbed the stairs back to the street, but his mind was plagued with thoughts of Olivia by the time he got back to his car.
What am I going to do if she never wakes up? What was going to happen if something’s really wrong with her? What if the seizures were a sign of brain damage? What if she really couldn’t walk again?
He pushed a hand to his side as the burn in stomach hurt worse than ever at the same time his phone rang from his pocket.
“Yes,” he said quickly noticing for the first time that he never bothered to change the number’s display from “Home” to simply “Kathy” or “The Kids.”
“It’s me,” Kathy said brightly. “I was just wondering if you were free to have dinner with us tonight.”
He nodded into the phone, the burn subsiding momentarily. “Sounds like a plan.” He set off for his previous home, feeling dazed and tired.
Elliot’s original plans for the evening included another round of “Beast,” hopefully sans-Jonathan, and a night of staring at his ceiling praying for a peaceful slumber, so the idea of having dinner as if his family was whole again seemed the perfect distraction.
“Dickie,” he said into the living room as Dickie and Lizzie were deep into a racing game on the television instead of helping make dinner. “How ‘bout you help Maureen set the table?”
“Sorry?” he said through furrowed eyebrows.
“Rick,” Dickie repeated never taking his eyes from the game. “I’m trying it out for a while. Rick.”
Elliot closed his eyes and shook his head with a grin. Kathleen laughed as she stirred spaghetti sauce into which Kathy sprinkled basil every few strokes.
“All right, fine. Rick, help your sister set the table. Elizabeth, come tear lettuce with me.”
Dinner felt just like old times and, after Maureen had left and the others had gone upstairs to bed, he and Kathy sat on the sofa and talked like they had before life had grown so complicated. Elliot felt his heart ache for his old life as Kathy told him how grumpy Dickie had been recently over losing Jessica Barrow to the basketball player, how Lizzie’s music was coming along so well and how Kathleen’s spirits seemed to brighten after Elliot had told her that Olivia had been found.
Talk eventually turned to Olivia’s state and he felt oddly surprised to see Kathy so interested in his partner, regardless of what had happened.
“Kathleen says she wants to see her,” Kathy said sipping her ginger ale.
“No,” Elliot said. “I don’t want any of the kids to see her like that.”
“Well, how bad is it, El?” She paused, but when she received no response, continued. “I mean I haven’t heard much from the news except that she’s still critical. You’ve all been keeping a tight lid on just about everything.”
“Just as it should be. This is bad enough without the press crawling all over her room.”
“How bad is she?” When he remained silent, she pressed him further. “Look, I need to know. I need to know if I need to brace myself for how Kathleen will be if her Olivia’s condition worsens… How all the kids will be, for that matter.”
Elliot sighed. “It’s bad, Kath. Her doctor says if she wakes up from the coma…she’ll probably never walk again.”
“Oh Jesus,” Kathy whispered. “Do you have any idea what happened yet?”
“We don’t know. I mean… Cragen’s making me work the case with this girl who… I mean, for Chrissake, Dickie could make a better cop at thirteen than she is.”
“I guess we all have to crawl before we can walk.”
“Yeah, well. I wish she’d just crawl back to wherever she came from so I don’t have to deal with her.”
He grunted slightly and shifted on the couch as the burning sensation in stomach grew worse.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Nothing,” he said rubbing his side. “Just my stomach.”
“You should probably see your doctor about it,” she said concern written all over her face.
He scoffed and shook his head.
“I mean it, Elliot,” she continued. “With all that’s been happening this past month, you’re probably working on an ulcer.”
“Probably,” he said sleepily.
She pursed her lips. “You look tired. How ‘bout I make up the couch for you again and you can take the kids to school again in the morning?”
Elliot attempted to nod, but had already leaned his head back against the arm of the sofa and, by the time she rose to grab a blanket for him, he began to snore softly.
Kathy broke into a wide smile and she pulled a blanket of over his sleeping form. She watched him sleep for a long time before retching herself from his side and stepping softly up the stairs to her empty bedroom.