Mercy General Hospital East
For the second time in so many
days, Elliot found himself speeding up
When he reached the hospital, it was all he could do to keep from breaking into a sprint down the corridors. He had already run up the stairs having no patience to wait for the elevators at such a time.
It was far past visiting hours in the hospital, but between the NYPD and the generous donations made by Jonathan Halloway and his family, those who had made Elliot’s list were free to visit Room 108 at any time of night.
Elliot rushed into the room to find Olivia, still unconscious though she looked far better, and Maya sitting in the chair next to the bed reading a copy of Jane. She broke into a smile when he stepped into the room breathing hard.
“Sixteen minutes from
“Not a chance,” Elliot said. “I know I broke that getting here last week.”
He sat down in the chair beside her.
“They’ve got her sedated,” Maya said knowing the question ready to spring from his lips. “Her doctor thinks that she’ll be awake in a little while.”
"But she woke up?"
Maya's smile faded. "Yeah, her nurses say that she was...um...screaming. And, it took them...you know...a while to calm her down." She sighed, shook her head and reopened her Jane as if it was her defense mechanism against the rest of her reality. "But, she should be awake in a few hours."
"You mind if I just sit here with you?"
"Please," she said smiling and removing her purse from the chair next to her. "I know she'll want to see you when she wakes up again."
He stared at Olivia, willing her to open her eyes; just to look at him and let him know everything in his life would be all right.
Maya glanced at him and let out small chuckle. "I've already tried that Detective, and it doesn't work."
"What's that?" Elliot said in a bit of daze.
"Willing her to wake up." She smiled and turned the page of her magazine. "I'd been trying for over an hour before I gave up and figured I'd just wait her out."
"You have no idea."
They both went silent for a moment.
"You don't you have today?" Maya asked not looking up from her magazine.
"Not at the moment. Technically speaking, I’m still on some kind of suspension as far as the deputy inspector is concerned."
Her eyes met his, sincerity flowing in her face. "I'm so sorry. Look, if it had anything to do with what I said, I-"
"No," Elliot said shaking his head. "I lost my temper and I picked the fight with Olivia." He paused. "Nothing you said had anything to do with it."
"Don't lie to me, Elliot. I know it sounded very bad and I know Jillian and Jonathan didn't help any."
“What happened to me isn’t your fault. It’s me. Any of this that’s affected my career is all on me.” He sighed and ran a hand over his head. “I can’t believe we even fought like that.”
“Hey,” Maya said. “I know the both of you. It was only a matter of time. The tension that I’d been hearing about…you two were either going to screw or throw down. Unfortunately, you chose the latter. Next time…just choose better.”
She smiled at him and he could not resist returning it as his face grew warm at her suggestion.
"You've really known Liv since kindergarten?" he asked changing the subject.
She nodded returning her magazine. "Yup. Livia's been a part of every major moment of my life."
“Why do you call her Livia?”
Maya simply raised her eyebrows in his direction having not understood his question.
“You call her Livia,” he said. “Not Liv or Olivia. Always Livia. What’s with that?”
Maya smiled and set down her Jane again. “I told you, Livia and I met way back in kindergarten….”
“Well, when I asked her what her name was….I didn’t hear the ‘O.’ She said her name was ‘Livia Benson. By the time I finally figured it out, the ‘O’ had fallen off and Livia just stuck with me.”
“Yeah, but I’ve never heard anyone else call her that.”
“I know,” Maya said smiling again. “Maybe when you’ve known Livia for thirty years, she’ll let you call her by some random nickname that no one else does, too.”
Elliot smiled while silence settled between the pair of them, marred every few moments by the hums and beeps of the several machines that hooked into Olivia. He sighed and felt his eyes begin to grow heavy.
She woke up.
Just the thought that she was not going to lie comatose in the room for the rest of her life took a weight off him and suddenly he felt the fatigue of the past few weeks pressing against him.
“What’s with you and your mother?” he asked quickly. If he could just keep talking, he could stay awake. He needed to be awake when Olivia was regained consciousness.
“She hates me and I hate her.”
“Something must’ve happened though.”
“I was born.” Maya sighed when Elliot stared at her, pressing for more information. “I’m the youngest of five and when I say youngest, I mean youngest of five.”
“How big is the age gap?”
“Let’s see… My oldest sister, Lavanya, just turned fifty-eight and she doesn’t like me either. My oldest brother, Rajesh, is fifty-six and Jaidev and Priyani are twins and they are fifty-four.”
“That’s a helluva gap. Are you close to any of them?”
“My sister Priyani calls every once in a while and Jaidev and his wife still live in the city, so we see each other kind of often, but I honestly haven’t talked to Lavanya in at least ten years and could’ve gone without talking to my mother until she was dead if all this hadn’t happened with Livia.”
Elliot shook his head. “My father and I didn’t have the greatest relationship when I was coming up, but I could never say I hated him like that at any point.”
“Then you had better parents than me. Once Mātā goes, I’ll be throwing myself a little party.”
“Well as much she seems to love Olivia, I’m sure she’d be upset.”
Maya set down her magazine and stared at Olivia for a long time before replying.
“Okay, but that’s because…”
Olivia’s listless form had not stirred in several hours, but the other occupants in her room laughed animatedly having shared stories about their experiences with said patient over the years.
"…so finally, Livia comes out,” Maya laughed. “And at first, me and Jillian don't even notice 'cause we're both just admiring our own gowns and how not ugly they were. And I'm telling you, I'd've worn that dress at any occasion. It was just that fabulous."
"So, Liv has good taste in bridesmaid gowns?"
"Flawless," Maya says using her hands to express her opinion. "But, yeah. The dresses were perfect and we're just admiring ourselves in the mirrors, when I see something white out the corner of my eye."
"'Bout time." Elliot laughed again.
"Seriously! So, I turn around and…my jaw drops. She looked like an angel. Absolutely gorgeous. You wouldn't've believed it. I mean the dress was this really, really beautiful Ralph Lauren and the veil...I mean it was just perfect."
Elliot nodded and tried to brush away the image of his partner literally glowing in a bridal gown.
"So, we help her up onto the pedestal thingy and me, Jill and the seamstress...we all just take a step back and just start smiling because she looked so great in this dress. And, I'm starting to tear up myself 'cause I'm remembering, you know, swinging on the swings at the playground and getting dressed up for our first school dance and stuff and Jillian was just standing there crying her eyes out."
Elliot smiles at the image that played in his head. The only images of Jillian Harfort he had were of her screaming and pointing at him like he was a criminal. It was amusing to think of her in her twenties before the weight of the world began to pound upon her.
"So, we're standing there looking at her like, ‘Wow! Livia, you look perfect!’ and she turns around so that she can see herself in the full-length mirror. And, it was like this...second of...I don't know silence or something right before the storm because she's standing there and, at first she's smiling...but then her smiles fades and…Elliot, I swear to you, I've never seen someone turn colours that fast in my life."
"So what happened?" Elliot asked.
"Literally, all the colour starting from her forehead just drains out of her face. And, all of a sudden, she's nearly as white as the damn dress. So, I'm like, ‘Livia? Are you okay?’ And then, her eyes just sort of roll back her in head and down she went."
"I wish I were. She just passed out, right there. Thank God the seamstress had seen it happen before because she was right on the ball and got to Livia before she hit the floor. So, when she grabs her, I'm standing there in shock and Jillian's just freaking out. And the worst part was, she wouldn't wake up. So, then we're at the hospital, in the bridesmaid's gowns and Livia’s still in the dress. I'm starting to freak out 'cause it's been hours at this point and one of the doctor's had to give Jillian something because her nerves had already hit the breaking point...and then, Livia just wakes up and sits up smiling, like nothing had happened."
Elliot laughed, but when his eyes saw Olivia’s still sedated form, the smile faded quickly.
"And I'm like, ‘Livia! You totally just passed out in the bridal shop!’ And she's looking around like she can't remember what went down. Then, I figure what hit her on that stand, came back to her because all the colour left her face again."
"What made her pass out like that?"
Maya shrugged, but answered anyway. "Later, when it was just the two of us she told me...She said she saw herself in that dress and then she could see herself in front of the minister who was going on about forever and she said she just lost it."
"Wow," Elliot said. "I just can't see Liv just passing out like that."
"You're telling me. I mean it was nearly fifteen years ago, but I've known her forever, and I'd never seen her do anything like that. Anyway, so then she tells me she just doesn't think she can marry Jason."
"Eight days before the wedding?"
"I know, it was awful. So, I'm telling her to just think about it and sleep on it before she did anything drastic. And you can just imagine the kind of state she was in. I mean she was asking me for advice."
"Yeah, I'd say she'd have to be pretty damn desperate at that point."
Maya rolled her eyes. "So, I leave and I call her to meet her for lunch the next day, but she doesn't answer the phone. I call her boss at that time, and he says she's taking a sick day."
"Exactly! So, I'm over to her apartment in like twenty minutes. I'm double parked and banging on her door. When she finally opens it, she's a mess. I mean she looked so pitiful and you could just tell she'd been crying all night. And that's when she tells me she broke it off with Jason the night before."
"Yeah, it was nothing short of a disaster. I mean it was a week before the wedding. Dresses had been made, flowers ordered, gifts bought, the venue saved. Oh, and they'd already got their license, like three days before."
"Good God," Elliot said shaking his head.
"Exactly. It was an absolute disaster."
"So, what was the problem? She just didn't want to get married?"
"Well, the way I understand it, Jason just wasn't the one. All she was saying was how she kept envisioning herself married to Jason, and the thought of it made her ill...literally. She said she just couldn't marry him, when she knew he wasn't the one."
"If he wasn't the one, then why even accept the ring?"
Maya shrugged. "Hey, I don't know! This was her madness not mine."
"Yeah, but she had to've said something about it."
"Look, all I know is that if a nice guy got down on one knee and offered me a ring, I probably would've accepted too."
"Without even thinking about it?"
"Well, you tell me," Maya began. "Think about when you proposed to your wife and tell me what you would've done if she sat there and thought about it."
Elliot stared at the floor. He figured that Maya had been so caught up in her story that she had forgotten the state of his marriage, but the words still stung.
Years ago, he had not really proposed to Kathy; it was more Kathy coming to him and saying that she was pregnant. He did what he thought was the right thing, but Elliot could not help wondering if Kathy was just like Olivia, accepting a proposal just because it was offered.
As Maya went on to tell him about the aftermath of the engagement, a question ripped through his mind: How different would his life had been if Kathy had thought about it?
He and Maya chatted for most of the day, though both were sorely disappointed by the fact that Olivia did not wake again.
That night, Elliot spent the evening with his family until his children all ran out of the house to spend their Saturday night with their respective friends, and he and Kathy sat on the couch watching television.
“How is she?” Kathy said lowering the volume.
They had dodged the subject throughout dinner, but Elliot could tell by the look in Kathy’s eyes that she pressed the question out of her own curiosity, not only for their children’s mental well being.
He shrugged. “Hasn’t woken back up yet.”
“But, was she talking when she did?”
“They just said she was screaming.”
“Screaming?” she said eyes wide. “That can’t be good.”
Sensing that he did not want to continue with the subject, Kathy reached for the remote control, but Elliot batted her hand lightly toward the couch.
“Let me ask you something, Kath,” he said. “What was it that made you say yes?”
“I don’t understand.”
“When I asked you to marry me…why’d you say yes? Was it just because you were pregnant with Maureen?”
“No, Elliot,” she said, after a long silence. “I said yes because I loved you…like I still do.”
He sighed. “Then, how’d we get here? Why can’t we just sit here and be together waiting to bust the kids for missing their curfew just like old times?”
Kathy swallowed and shifted on the couch. “Because…Elliot, we’re not the same people we were twenty years ago.”
Nodding, he stood to leave, but Kathy quickly jumped off the couch with him.
“You can still stay, Elliot. You can just…You could just stay and come to church with us all in the morning. It would reduce the fight for the front seat for a day, at least.”
“No,” he said. “Not tonight. I’ll see you at church in the morning, though. ‘Kay?”
He left the house briskly, hoping she would not see the longing in his eyes and, for just a moment, as he pulled out of his parking space, he mildly wished that Kathy had “thought about it” so many years earlier.
Elliot found morning mass with his family fairly pleasant, though he could not bring himself to utter one word to Kathy given their conversation the previous night. He had not slept at all and, though he suffered no new nightmares, his brain whirred with thoughts of many “what-ifs.”
At mass, they had lit candles together for Olivia and he even went to confession before making the drive to the hospital.
When he checked the visitor’s log for Olivia’s room, he noticed with a frown that Jonathan had stopped by after he and Maya had left for the night and had stayed well into the morning hours.
“He slept in there,” a bright-eyed nurse said. She wore a nametag that read “Danica” on it and was dressed in the same pink scrubs as the rest of the nurses. “Is that Mr. Halloway you’re looking at on the sheet?”
“Yeah,” he said. “How’d he sleep in there?”
She shrugged. “We brought him another chair and a blanket from another room and he just made it work.”
“Thanks,” he said with a nod.
“No problem,” she said bouncing on her toes and he headed for Olivia’s room.
Maya sat next to Olivia’s bed with what looked like a legal brief sitting on her lap and smiled at Elliot as he walked through the door.
“You missed Jonathan,” she said. “It was so cute. He was wrapped up in a little blanket and was holding her hand when I got here early this morning.”
“Yeah, the nurse said he slept here.”
“Speaking of sleep, it doesn’t look like you’ve had much of it.”
“No, I haven’t. Kathy and I… I don’t know. You mind if I sit?”
“‘Course not,” she said. “You don’t have to ask me. She’s your friend too. In fact…why don’t you just stay? I’m in serious need of coffee and probably another shower. I’ve been up since about four. I really couldn’t sleep either.”
She left giving him a nod on her way out the door, and Elliot staring at Olivia, willing her to wake once more.
Minutes ticked by and every once in a while she would stir slightly or he could see her eyes moving behind her closed lids, but she did not wake.
As she lay beside him, guilt weighed on his heart, clenching with every beat. Perhaps if he had done something, none of this would have happened. Maybe if he had stayed with her a little longer, Morse’s tape would have caught what happened to her. Maybe if he just tried talking to her a little longer, the perp would have never snatched her. Maybe if he had been able to control his rage and had not gone to her apartment that night, nothing would have happened.
Elliot closed his eyes as he felt tears brimming and hoped that Jonathan was as far from the hospital as possible. Just when he had resolved himself to another day of wondering if Olivia would ever wake again, she stirred in the bed and a moan purred from her throat.
His eyes were fixed on her face, as he sat silent and still. By the time her eyes fluttered and slowly opened, the tears he had been withholding had slid down in his face.
With her eyes half open, Olivia blinked twice at the figure before her, trying to make the picture come into focus. She took in the taupe walls of her surroundings and noticed immediately that something drastic had changed. The rank odor of death seemed far away and she knew that he was nowhere near.
She attempted to blink the blurriness from her eyes to no avail and took to making sense of every faculty.
What’s that? Oh, that’s just my finger.
What’s this? It must be some kind of cast.
What are these? Some kind of tubes in my arm?
What’s that noise? Sounds like a heart monitor.
Is that a blanket? It feels soft, so it must be.
Dear God…I’m hungry…
Olivia blinked around the room once more and shook slightly as she tried to force air out of her mouth.
“Heh…lo?” she breathed with a deep raspy voice that did not sound familiar.
“Liv?” the figure before her said.
The beeps of the heart monitor chimed in time with her own racing heartbeat as her eyes widened momentarily in fear.
He found me! No! I can’t take anymore! But, no…this sounded different…better…good.
She took a deep breath and allowed her eyes to finally focus on the person in front of her.
He grinned from ear to ear. “Olivia. Yeah, it’s me.”
“How…how…” She tried to form words, but her eyes fluttered and it soon grew difficult to remember what it was she wanted to say. Elliot stared at her intently and she tried again, but when she could not force the air through her throat or make the muscles of her larynx contract properly, tears formed in her eyes and she whimpered instead.
“It’s okay, Liv,” Elliot said softly taking her bare hand into his. “It’s okay.”
Tears fell from her eyes for another minute, before she became silent and fell unconscious once more.
His heart pounded so hard he put a hand to his chest as if trying to keep it from bursting from his ribcage and he leaned in the chair to make himself more comfortable, never once releasing her hand. She had finally awakened; even said his name and he prepared himself to sit there for the rest of the night simply waiting for her to wake once more.
Elliot flipped through another page in the magazine that lay open on his lap. His right hand grasped Olivia’s left and, in the past several hours, while she did not wake again, he was comforted by the fact that her fingers would squeeze closed around his thumb every once in a while.
Jonathan and Maya sat next to one another on the other side of the bed speaking softly. When he had returned to the room, Jonathan simply stared at Elliot, his eyes narrowing upon noticing that Elliot held Olivia’s hand tightly. Elliot returned the glare, but refused to let go. Thankfully, Maya came several intense minutes after Jonathan and broke some of the tension with her light-hearted chatter about how even the city seemed brighter since Olivia had awakened. Afterward, she and Jonathan fell into light conversation about summer plans.
“…yeah, they’re almost done with the new room,” Jonathan said to Maya mid-conversation. “The whole thing will be done by summer, hopefully. We should all go up and get away for a while in maybe August. By then, Liv will be running with the best of them again and you can bring…whoever you’re hanging with at the time.”
Maya gave him a playful slap. “It’ll be Amit. Definitely Amit.”
“Finally thinking about settling down, are you?”
“I think my own near-death experience with one Mrs. Garriston has taught me a lot about married men…like staying away from them.”
“Is this the one who was supposed to leave his wife?”
“Well, they all say they’re going to leave their wives, but this one actually started to do it and nearly got me killed in the process.”
Jonathan laughed. “Have you talked to him since?”
“Nope, nor do I aim t-”
Maya stopped mid-sentence as Olivia stirred in her sleep again and turned as her eyes opened.
“Hel-lo?” she said, again in the raspy voice.
Maya and Jonathan flew towards the bed and Elliot leaned in close to her, her hand still within his.
“Liv?” he said. “We’re here.”
“WhamI?” Her words came together in a raspy slur.
Olivia nodded slightly, her mouth gaping.
“Yeah, it’s me.” He leaned over and touched her face, eliciting a small smile from her mouth.
“Han’t seeu ‘na wall.”
“I know,” he said. “I’ve missed you.”
She smiled again, but it faded quickly as her eyes slid out of focus. “WhamI?”
Olivia nodded. “Myh?”
“Livia…,” Maya said in a sing song voice bringing an even brighter smile on Olivia’s face. “I’m here.”
“Wuz mah han?”
“You’re right here, Liv,” Elliot said squeezing her hand tighter as he spoke. “I’ve got you.”
Elliot suppressed a sigh as the
smile that had been on Maya’s face since Olivia woke slowly faded. “You’re at
the hospital, Olivia.
“Yes, Liv on the
“Right here Liv.”
He burst into tears for a moment, but wiped them away smiling. “I’m just so glad you’re here, Olivia.”
He bent over the bed and kissed her on the cheek, creating another smile.
Elliot and Maya exchanged glances as Dr. Haddley quietly stepped into the room. Jonathan rubbed her other arm as he pulled his chair right next to the bed.
“You’re at Mercy General Hospital East, Olivia,” he said very slowly. “You’re on the East Side of Manhattan. In the upper nineties.”
“Yes, you’re at the hospital.
Jonathan looked at Elliot, urging him to respond. He sat for a moment with his mouth agape, unsure of what to say. Of all the questions he had been prepared to answer, “How did I get here?” was not one of them.
“Liv, it’s Elliot,” he said softly. “You were outside. Do you remember?”
“Ow-sye…? ’M n’sye n’ow…”
“Yeah, but before,” Elliot continued. “Can you remember anything?”
“S’dawk…” Olivia mumbled, but before Elliot could ask another question the grasp by which she held onto his hand grew weak and her eyes rolled back in her head as fell back against her pillows.
“Is she gonna be okay?” Maya asked Dr. Haddley as she approached the bed.
“This’ll probably continue for another day,” she said. “It takes a while for patients to stay awake for much longer than a few minutes at a time when they come out of a coma, especially when they’ve undergone so much trauma.”
“She remembered all of us,” Maya said. “That’s got to be good, right?”
“But, she keeps asking the same questions,” Jonathan said staring at Olivia. “Or is something like that to be expected?”
“She’s still trying to get her bearings. She’s been unconscious for more than a week, not to mention whatever else she might have endured prior to getting here. When she’s able to stay conscious for a little longer we should be able to see the extent…of the damage?”
“Damage?” Maya asked.
pursed her lips. “Her
“What kind of damage, though?” Maya pressed. “Her voice is a little slurred now, but half of that’s probably just painkillers, right? I mean, she recognizes all our voices, and she seems to know who she is. I mean, yeah, she’s asking the same questions over and over, but she’ll be fine, right?”
“We’ll have to wait and see,” the doctor said, the lines on her face looking deeper than ever. “The next step is to have her see a neurologist once she can stay awake, but it’s good that you’re here to talk to her. That way she remains stimulated and any injuries she might’ve suffered won’t be aggravated.”
She left a short while later after giving each of them her cell and pager numbers and urging at least one of them to stay with Olivia in case she woke up again. As Elliot had not released her hand in several hours and, made no motions to do so, Jonathan stood with Maya, who said she needed something to eat before she collapsed from hunger. Before he left, he stared at Elliot with an expression infused with anger, sadness and sympathy.
“I trust you’ll be here all night?” he said.
“I’m not going anywhere.”
“Well…good,” Jonathan said. “I wouldn’t want her to wake up again and be all alone. C’mon Maya. I’ll get us something to eat and then I’ll have them bring up a cot or something…”
They left and Elliot sighed as he picked up the magazine he had thrown aside when Olivia last woke and began reading the first article for the third time.
An hour later, Olivia stirred again. At first, Elliot had not noticed, having dozed off in his chair without the murmurs coming from Maya and Jonathan in the room.
“El-liot,” she breathed and he jerked awake.
“Hey,” he said. “How you feeling?”
She nodded, her eyes falling half-closed momentarily. “How…did I get…here?”
Her voice was still deep and dry, but her words had all but stopped slurring. Elliot stared at her for a long time as he still had not come up with a valid answer since she first posed the question.
"You were...It looks like you were taken from your apartment."
"I…I…what?" She rolled her head from side to side and whimpered like she was about to cry.
"It's okay," Elliot said. "Just rest okay."
Olivia shook her head, trying to shake the daze out of her head.
"I was...I was in a building..."
Elliot's ears immediately perked up and he moved closer to her. He did not have a pad or pen with him, but he was intent on remembering everything she was going to say.
"Do you remember where?"
She shook her head slowly.
"Som-," she swallowed painfully, taking a breath every few words. "Someone was there…He was there…He pushed the thing and…he had…the gun…Then he was… chasing me."
"Chasing you?" His eyes furrowed in disbelief.
"Broke my leg…," she said through a sob. "And… he was chasing... I had to run."
She was trying to run on her broken leg, Elliot thought. No wonder her leg had nearly shattered.
"There were....there were others…”
"Where?" Elliot said intently. "Were they with you?"
"Mmm…other women…Amy tried…I couldn't...I couldn't...help…" Her eyes rolled in her head and her breath began coming in gasps.
"It's okay, Liv," he said as he squeezed her hand. "You're okay. Just stay calm."
However, her breathing increased in pace and her cheeks were flushed. Her heart monitor was raced.
"Something for pain?" Elliot said, his own heart beat beginning to pick up pace.
She nodded slightly, repeating “arm” and he was up a moment later.
"I'm gonna grab your doctor, Liv," he said. "I'll be right back."
The doctor on the floor adjusted several of her IVs and gave her a sedative.
“She’ll probably be out again in a few minutes,” she said. “I’ve given her a couple inflammatories. She’s had so much breakage, it’s hard to tell how much pain she might be in.”
A few minutes after the doctor had left, Olivia began to calm as the sedative began to take effect.
"’Ow long've I been gone, El?" she said her words slurring again.
"We found you nine days ago...it had been nearly three weeks."
"Three weeks? Ohmagod…"
"It's okay, Liv," he said taking her hand again.
"Okay?" she said as her eyebrows furrowed. "W-when?"
"That Tuesday. Do you remember? That night I was at your place?"
She nodded, but Elliot could barely bring his eyes to meet hers. He had said and done so many things that night that he could not fathom an apology grand enough to encompass everything.
"Elliot," she breathed. "That...that was..."
But it what it was, Elliot did not hear as the sedative and pain medicine finally took hold of Olivia and she fell back asleep.
He took a deep breath and just rubbed her hand between both of his, in a state of disbelief. Fatigue bore on his mind and he wanted nothing more than to sleep for days straight. Instead, he remained next to her, eventually taking her hand against his cheek as he rested his head on her bed and allowed his eyes to fall closed.
Monday February 26, 2007
Mercy General Hospital East
Olivia stirred against her drug-induced slumber and allowed her eyes to flutter open as a dull pain shot across her arm and shoulders. She sighed as she shifted slightly against the starched sheets and blinked around the room as she tried to remember where she was.
Hospital…Mercy East…Got it.
She looked to her left and smiled at the sight of Elliot with his mouth hanging open as he slept with his head resting next to her hand. To her right, Jonathan and Maya slept propped up against one another on a small cot and covered with a thin blanket. She swallowed, overwhelmed with thirst, but did not wake any of them, not knowing how long they had each been asleep near her and settled deeper into her pillows instead, content with the fact that the three most important people in her life slept within an arm’s reach.
It was still dark outside and the air had the brisk feeling of the early morning. She knew the early mornings well having been awakened at two or in the morning many times previously.
As her eyes darted about the room, one question rolled in her mind: What had happened to her?
The last thing she remembered was falling and something with black letters that read “Absolut,” but other than that, everything was a blur of colour.
Olivia searched her memory for a summary of her most recent thoughts, but could only catch fragments. There was definitely a man to be feared, but she sensed he was not near. The name “Amy” had a meaning, but she could not remember in what capacity and she suddenly felt nauseated with the flashing memory of gaunt faces staring back her in the dark.
Shifting again in the bed, she noticed the casts on her arm, fingers and both of her legs, and did a quick inventory of the pain.
Left hand…clenched with Elliot’s, but okay.
Right hand…Jesus, that hurts, but still okay.
Left foot…left foot…
Olivia stared at a lump under her covers where she knew her left foot distended from the bed, but an odd feeling rested in her lower extremities rather than pain…nothing.
She pulled her hand from Elliot’s and tried to sit up in the bed. Her body, weak from days of without use, did not obey the command, but even as she attempted to move, she felt nothing. No shift of the covers against her legs; no feel of the hospital gown moving across her thigh; no vibration of the sheet as she tugged it against her foot. Her legs were there, but they were not at the same time.
Her breath caught as she focused every thought at moving her left foot, but it did not twitch. Panic set in and her hands began to shake as her breathing became erratic.
Again, she set her mind on her feet and visualized them twitching, thinking that the nerves must only have been asleep. She had the ability to move them; she knew it, yet try as she might, not the slightest movement could be seen under the blankets.
Oh, God! What’s wrong? Move. Move! Oh, God! Oh, God!
“Help!” she finally screamed, jolting Elliot, Maya and Jonathan from their sides of the bed.
“Liv?” Elliot said standing immediately.
“Oh God! Oh God! Please help me!” she shrieked. “I can’t move. I can’t move! Oh Christ! Please! Someone help!”
Jonathan ran out of the room for the nurse’s station and Maya stood away from the bed, shaking her head with tears streaming down her face. Elliot snatched Olivia’s quavering hand and held it tight as she continued yelling.
“I can’t move! Elliot, please help me! Something’s wrong. I can’t move my legs! I can’t move anything! Please help me!”
“Liv,” Elliot said trying to remain calm. “Just focus, okay? Focus on moving your foot.”
Her face had turned red as every part of her body above the waist twisted in the bed as she screamed and cried.
“Just focus, Olivia!” he yelled. “Move your foot! Just twitch.”
“No, I can’t! Nothing’s moving. I can’t feel anything! Anything! Help me, please! I can’t move! Why can’t I move!”
Jonathan ran back into the room dragging a young doctor by the coat collar. “Do something!”
The doctor called for several other nurses who pushed Elliot and Maya out of the way as Olivia dissolved into hysterical screams. They administered a sedative and Olivia stopped shaking almost immediately, but could not stop the flow of tears.
“Please help me…” she whispered, dark eyes wet.
Maya sobbed in the doorway as Jonathan stood with both hands tangled in his hair. Elliot had a hand over his mouth, his body shaking as the nurses spoke to Olivia in soft voices trying to calm her.
Five minutes had passed before Olivia’s gasps had slowed to simply a steady stream of tears and the doctor pulled out what looked like the blunt end of a letter opener.
“Olivia,” he said softly as he lifted the blankets from over her feet. “I’m going to touch your feet. Okay? I just want you to tell me if you feel anything at all? Even if it’s just pressure. Just tell me if you feel anything.”
He pulled the opener in a line across the back of her foot while Olivia had arrested her crying in hopes of focusing all senses on any feeling in her feet. Her eyes met the doctor’s as he ran the opener across her legs again and when he let out a stifled sigh, her face scrunched as a scream exhaled from her lungs.
Maya ran to her side as she erupted in another fit of tears and pulled her into a tight embrace as they cried together.
“The…the neurologist,” the doctor said in a somber voice barely audible of Olivia and Maya’s cries, “a specialist, will be here in about an hour…on your words Mr. Halloway, but…from just an initial analysis…I think she might be paralyzed from the waist on down.”
Jonathan leaned against the wall and sank to the floor as silent tears fell from his eyes and Elliot, having already shed nearly every tear his body had to give in recent weeks, stood stoic as the sounds of crying and vibrating machines echoed about the small room.
The heater that stood paradoxically near the window in Olivia’s hospital room sprung to life just as Elliot suppressed a shiver from the under the blanket on Jonathan’s cot. When Maya had finally been retched from Olivia’s somber form, Jonathan decided to take her home to rest and Elliot had remained in the room as Olivia cried herself to sleep.
He had tried to get some rest while Olivia slept, but his brain was such a flurry of activity that the solace of sleep evaded him. To his amazement, Jonathan had sent an “assistant” to the room bearing Elliot a clean shirt and also breakfast from the cafeteria on the second floor and the gesture, along with Olivia’s condition, kept any semblance of sleep at bay.
Once Olivia had settled, he had called Cragen with the news and the captain had rushed to the hospital to see her. He and Elliot spoke in hushed voices, but woke Olivia momentarily nonetheless.
She had stared at Cragen with large eyes and asked repeatedly who he was, before her eyes slid in and out of focus and she claimed to remember, though Elliot was doubtful as she did so with watery eyes that continuously glanced at her legs as if wishing them to move.
The neurologist, a Dr. Joseph Hammond, spoke to Olivia, wearing a casual sweater and the rumpled appearance of someone who had been shaken from sleep upon request of a member of the Halloway family, but left shortly afterward as Olivia grew increasingly irritated by his presence with each passing minute.
“I don’t need a neurologist!” she had shouted. “I need a goddamn therapist to help me get the feeling back in my legs!”
Her animosity continued as Dr. Haddley had later tried to explain that there were treatments available for persons in Olivia’s condition. Olivia grew so angry that she threw a cup of water at the doctor for even suggesting the she would never walk again, screaming that “this” was not going to beat her.
Dr. Haddley later pulled the three into the corridor and suggested that the neurologist would have a second look at Olivia later in the week when she had had time to accept what had happened.
“But, she’ll be fine eventually?” Maya had said with wide eyes. “I mean she’s just kind of numb from not walking for a week, right?”
“I’m sorry,” Dr. Haddley had said. “But, I don’t want to get your hopes up. The best we can hope for at this point is for her to be able to maybe stand.”
“But, she’ll never walk again…” Jonathan said deadpan.
“I’ve seen miracles before and there’s nothing that says-”
“But, short of a miracle,” Jonathan interrupted. “You’re just trying to put it as easy as possible. Olivia’s never going to walk again…”
The doctor had gone silent at that point and elicited a new wave of tears from Maya.
Elliot got up to stretch his legs and spoke to the morning nurses on the floor for a bit, enjoying the diversion because they reminded him of when he and Kathy were still young and she worked as a nurse at a hospital in Queens.
When he returned to the room, Olivia was tossing and turning in her sleep and he held her hand again as he sat in the chair next to her. She mumbled indiscernible words in her sleep and as he began sit back in the chair to attempt resting his eyes again, her grip increased on his hand and her eyes flew open.
“Don’t leave me,” she whispered with tears in her eyes. “Please. I can’t be alone. He’ll come for me again.”
“I’m not leaving you, Olivia,” he said. “And, I promise you, he’s not coming back.”
“Elliot…don’t leave me.”
“I’m not going anywhere, Liv.”
She nodded and rested against her pillows again as she fell asleep.
A short while later, Jonathan stepped quietly into the room with a coffee in hand. He sat in the chair opposite Elliot and sipped the drink while he and Elliot avoided each other’s eyes.
“Where’ve you been?” Elliot asked not knowing how else to make conversation with him.
“Making some calls and visiting my church. Jillian will most likely be over here later in the day. She asked if she could bring the boys, but I told her not to… I didn’t think Liv would be up to it. Has she woken up at all since we left?”
“Once. I think she might’ve been having a nightmare.”
“A nightmare…great.” His sighed as he stared at Olivia, but his expression quickly hardened as he glared across the bed at Elliot. “Is your precinct coming any closer to finding out what happened to her?”
“I don’t have the details. I haven’t left Olivia’s side in days.”
“And, I’m sure she appreciates that,” Jonathan said. “But, eventually she’s going to want to know what happened and I’d like to have answers other than ‘Elliot’s working on it.’”
He glared silently at Jonathan for a moment. “We are working on it.”
“That’s nice, but when are we going to have answers? I don’t know if you’ve met Olivia, but an answer like ‘we’re working on it’ is not going to suffice while she’s coping with the fact that she probably won’t walk again.”
“I’m not taking this from you,” Elliot said slightly raising his voice. “I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in over a month because of all that’s happened. Everything I’ve been doing has been focused on Olivia.”
“You’re right,” Jonathan said and Elliot’s mouth fell open for a moment as he had been expecting a full argument from him. “You have done…a lot for Liv. You were the first person to know. Not me. Not Maya. You were.”
Jonathan stood and crossed the room to stare out the window. “That said…I still expect results, Detective. I’ve already told you what Olivia means to me and I’ll have to suffer right along with her as she copes with this.”
“We all will have to.”
“But, it’ll be a lot easier if we
could have a face and name to prosecute as we do.” Jonathan turned and glared
at him. “Just remember this. While you and I sit here hoping for the best for Liv, whoever it was that took her is still out there.
Whoever snatched her from her apartment, exposed her
to something that gives her seizures, starved twenty pounds out of her and then
tossed her in the garbage still walks the streets and could be the next person
to walk through the door. I…appreciate everything that you and the rest of your
squad did while she was missing, but if I’ve understood anything she’s told me
about her job, this qualifies as an
“I don’t answer to you,” Elliot said. “Even if the rest of the city does.”
“That may be true, but the time is going to come when you will have to answer to her. I intend to be right there when you do and I…we will accept nothing but solid answers in the upcoming weeks.”
Silence fell over them broken only by Olivia’s murmuring in her sleep and they sat in the same silence until a knock at her door signified the approach of Munch and Fin.
“Brought her some chocolate,” Munch said. “If I’ve learned anything about women from my failed marriages it’s that chocolate seems to cure all ails.”
“Her diet’s strictly regulated by her doctors,” Jonathan said, arms crossed.
“It’s just chocolate,” Fin said. “If anything, it’ll lift her spirits considering…”
“I said no.”
Elliot rolled his eyes. “Well, considering that the only person who has any legal grounds for making decisions in Olivia’s life isn’t here right now, it’s not up to you, is it?”
Jonathan glared at Elliot, before shaking his head and sitting on the cot on the other end of the room.
“How’s she been?” Fin asked.
“It depends,” Elliot said. “Her memory’s still a little shaky and we get a different version of her personality each time she wakes up. You just missed Angry Liv a couple hours ago.”
“Seen her before,” Munch said. “And she’s not to be trifled with.”
“Her doctor’s really don’t think she’ll be able to walk again?” Fin asked, a sad concern Elliot had rarely seen etched across his face.
Elliot opened his mouth to speak when Olivia’s hand gripped his, hard.
“Hello?” she said, eyes flashing open.
“Yeah, Liv,” Elliot said. “It’s still just us. Got some visitors for you though.”
Olivia glanced back and forth between Munch and Fin for a moment before shaking her head apprehensively.
“You I know,” she said pointing at Fin and then looked at Munch. “But, I’ve never seen you before.”
Munch smiled weakly and stretched out a hand toward her. “John Munch. I’m sure you’ll remember later and then be sorry you did.”
She returned the smile as she shook his hand and looked at Fin. “Is that chocolate, Fin?”
“Best in the city,” he said handing a package to her as Jonathan groaned from his cot.
“I can’t open it,” she said after struggling with the box with weakened hands for a moment.
“That’s okay,” Jonathan said crossing the room in two steps and taking the box from her. “We can open it later. Besides, you don’t want any right now, do you Liv?”
“Guess not,” she said despondent. Her eyes then brightened. “Fin…and you…have you met my Jonathan?”
They glanced at Jonathan and Fin rolled his eyes. “Yeah. We’ve met.”
“Oh, okay.” She shivered for a moment and her eyes rolled back in her head. Jonathan had taken a step toward the door, heading for the nurse’s station again, when her eye snapped back open. “John…when’d you get here?”
Munch glanced at Elliot who shrugged slightly. “Not too long ago.”
“Who’s this?” she said pointing at Fin.
“Fin Tutuola,” Fin said.
“You just call me Fin. Remember?”
“Oh…right…” Olivia’s eyebrows furrowed at him and she settled into her pillows as she turned toward Jonathan. “Where’s Maya?”
“She went home to sleep for a bit. She’ll be back soon though.”
Olivia nodded, but her eyes slowly closed and all present could see that she was unconscious for the time being.
“We’ll stop by a little later,” Munch said as he and Fin headed for the hall.
“Hang on a sec,” Elliot said stepping out of the room with them and closing Olivia’s door slightly. “Have you found anything else on her case?”
“Brown’s been on it ‘round the clock,” Fin said. “But, she’s not coming up with anything else and she’s trying to take on the rest of your open cases at the moment.”
“She tried to talking to Mark Landon again,” Munch said, “but apparently he just slammed the door in her face and there’s not really anything left to go off of. Probably the best thing to do is see if she can remember anything.”
Elliot ran a hand over his face. “You saw what just happened in there. She’s not any shape to be probed about what happened to her. She can barely remember her name or stay conscious for more than ten minutes.” He sighed. “What’re we finding out on the Kreider copy cat?”
“Very little,” Munch said. “We’ve been working with the Calbrach boy for days and he still can’t give us much on an ID. First, he says the guy was taller than him, then he says the guy was his height. Then, the guy’s older, but then he thinks he was closer to his age.”
“But,” Fin said, “there hasn’t been another murder since Zachary was found.”
“I guess that’s always good news. Thanks for the update. I don’t know when I’ll be back yet.”
“We understand,” Munch said and they parted ways as Elliot walked back into the room where Jonathan paced in front of Olivia’s bed.
“You know, I don’t appreciate being disparaged like that,” he said.
“I’m sure you don’t, but if you weren’t such a prick, I don’t imagine you would be.”
“Maya’s the only person who can make real decisions for her while she’s like this. You don’t have the…authority to make decisions about Olivia. You’re really not a lot more than a co-worker.”
“And, you’re not a lot more than a boyfriend,” Elliot said. “And, trust me. I’ve seen them come and go quick in the years I’ve known Liv, so don’t think for a second that just because you’ve slept with her, that gives you any bearing on her life either.”
Jonathan glowered at Elliot, but kept silent. Elliot returned his gaze to Olivia’s sleeping face with the thought of the two-carat diamond that still sat on his coffee table ever-present.
As much as it annoyed him, out of all the men Elliot had seen come in and out of Olivia’s life, Jonathan was the only one with whom she appeared to be reasonably happy for any length of time and the thought that he might have to deal with him for longer than the two years he had lasted, hurt him almost as much as the idea that Olivia might never walk again.
The two sat in silence for close to thirty minutes, each staring at Olivia, but shooting one another the occasional scowl, until Olivia began to groan and stir loudly. Her body then convulsed and she began to foam at the mouth as her body jerked and spasmed while Jonathan yelled for a nurse.
“She’s had another seizure,” Dr. Haddley said minutes later.
“When are these going to stop?” Jonathan said, his voice cracking.
Dr. Haddley held Olivia’s shoulders against the bed with another nurse, while trying to keep clear of the brace that kept her collarbone in line. Within a few seconds, the seizure had passed and Dr. Haddley left them alone. They watched her patiently for twenty minutes before she stirred again.
“Myh…” Olivia mumbled with her eyes half open.
“Liv?” Elliot asked taking hold of her hand again.
“Mynjulah,” she repeated.
“We don’t understand Liv,” Jonathan said, bringing an annoyed expression to Olivia’s face.
“Mynjulah kahan hai?”
Jonathan and Elliot glanced at one another, but Olivia pressed in gibberish.
“Yaha thee aur ab nahi hai. Kahan gayi?”
“Oh my God…” Jonathan sighed.
“Mynjulah!” Olivia shouted, eyes narrowed.
Jonathan rubbed his temples. “I don’t understand what she wants. I’m calling a nurse.”
“No, call Maya,” Elliot staring at Olivia who had begun crying.
“What? Why? She’s probably on her way over here.”
“Just call her damn it!”
Within ten minutes, Maya rushed into the room where Olivia lay, eyes closed and crying in large gasps.
“What’s happened?” she said, sitting down in the Elliot’s seat as he stood.
“She’s talking in gibberish!” Jonathan said. “He said to call you.”
“Livia?” Maya said. “It’s Maya.”
Olivia’s eyes opened and a wet smile spread across her face. “Kahan pe the, Mynjulah?”
“Holy shit! It’s not gibberish,” Maya shouted grabbing Olivia’s hand. “She looked directly at Olivia and spoke very clearly. “Tum mujhe samjhe, Livia?” Olivia nodded and Maya shook her head, mouth gaping.
“What the hell’s going on?” Elliot said.
“She’s speaking Hindi,” Maya said her eyes like saucers.
“Wait a minute,” Jonathan said.
“What do you mean Hindi? Like the language? Like in
“Yeah…” She turned to back Olivia whose hand shook from combined confusion and fear and spoke in Hindi. “How are you feeling?”
“I'm fine, but what’s wrong with them?”
“They don't understand Hindi, Livia.”
“Neither do I, barely.”
“But you're speaking it now. You don't notice?”
Olivia squinted at Maya who stared back with large, worried eyes.
"What is she saying?" Jonathan said in a high-pitched voice.
"She didn't know she was speaking Hindi," Maya said.
"How could she not know?" Elliot said.
"Look at the look on her face!" Maya said. "She hasn't got a clue. She said she thought she was speaking English. We need to get the neurologist back in here."
Jonathan had pulled out his cell phone and had crossed the room a moment later and Olivia tugged at Maya's arm.
“This isn't English?”
“No, it's not.”
“Are you sure?” Olivia said glancing at Elliot who looked horrified.
“I'm sure. It's not English.”
“Maya, I don't remember any Hindi.”
“Apparently, you do.”
Olivia ran her right hand over her face, slightly scratching her cheek with the cast. Her eyes fell toward her legs and she burst into tears as Maya hugged her insisting that she would be all right.
“Circle?” Olivia said, her eyes hopeful.
Jonathan sighed and Elliot ran a hand over his face as Maya placed the white card that held the outline of triangle to the back of the large stack in her hands and held out a new card with the outline of a square.
They had been quizzing Olivia with the flash cards the neurologist had given them for several hours and, while she had regained her use of the English language and could recognize most words again, she still confused objects and faces in her head. She initially had trouble remembering what number came after ten and how to tell time, but got better as the day progressed. At one point, however, she had even called Jonathan “Elliot.”
Dr. Hammond saw Olivia that afternoon and after a series of tests, deduced that she was simply suffering from side effects of the coma. He expected her to make a full mental recovery, yet had much lower expectations for her ability to walk.
Though tears still formed in her eyes each time she attempted to move her legs, Olivia seemed to be coming to terms with her lack of mobility. Dr. Hammond had informed them that the swelling in her brain had all but subsided, yet even with the assistance of an orthopedic surgeon, he could not account for what was causing the paralysis.
Maya attributed this as a positive, meaning that since the doctor could not identify what was causing the paralysis, there was no reason that Olivia would not be able to regain use of her legs. Jonathan and Elliot, however, were less optimistic when Olivia began confusing their names and struggled to read a book Maya had brought her.
“We already did that one,” Olivia said with an irritated voice. “That’s the square.”
“We’ve done them all already,” Maya said setting down the cards, but holding out the last again for Olivia to see. “If you could just get this last one, we’d let you sleep.”
“Just give me five minutes…” Olivia mumbled.
“No,” Maya said loudly and Olivia’s eyes flew back open. “This one…what is it?”
Elliot stood near the window watching the sunset as Jonathan lay on the cot on other side of the room. They both agreed that Elliot needed a break, but Elliot said he refused to leave, while Olivia still struggled with discerning a circle from a triangle.
In truth, Elliot simply hated the idea of leaving Olivia alone with Jonathan. Their earlier conversation was still fresh in his mind and there was a paranoid shiver that ran through his body any time he imagined them alone.
“My head hurts and so does my arm…guess I should be glad my legs don’t hurt considering all that’s happened, eh?”
Maya held out the single card again and Olivia shook her head, but answered.
“Are you asking me or telling me?”
“It’s a…yeah, it’s a triangle.”
Maya broke into a smile as Olivia settled against her pillows and closed her eyes.
“Elliot,” Maya said with a sigh. “You look like hell. Let me take you out to dinner and you can go home and rest for a bit. That cot looks mildly comfortable, but trust me. It isn’t.”
After several minutes more of Maya’s light nagging, Elliot finally agreed to leave, giving Jonathan a dirty look as he did, and later found himself in a bright restaurant in Midtown.
“I’m surprised they let me in here looking like this,” he said from behind a short menu.
Maya shrugged. “That’s why I picked it. They’re kind of lax on the dress code.”
“Thanks.” He paused, his mind
mulling over the events of the past day. “You know, when you told me your
family had taken Liv to
“Well, she was close to fluent by the time we’d gone over there, but I figured she’d forgotten most of it. I rarely speak it in front of her anymore.”
“How’d that happen, though? I mean, I don’t think that’s one of the classes offered at any high school?”
“Not really,” Maya said with a smirk. “I guess she just sort of picked up.”
“When you were kids?”
“Yeah. She was always over for dinner or sleepovers or something when we were little and I guess Ms. Serena mentioned something to my mother because all of sudden my parents started speaking it in front of Livia. I think Ms. Serena just wanted her to learn another language that you wouldn’t readily learn in high school. It’s so strange that she’d randomly speak it like that, though.”
“Guess we never know what lies in the subconscious.”
They chatted for a while longer before parting ways and Elliot finally fell into his bed, having not seen it in two days. He slept much longer than he wanted and by the time he had showered and dressed again, it was past six in the evening. When he got back to Olivia’s room, he found it empty except for her and mumbled bad words about Jonathan as he took his place next to her sleeping form.
He picked up the old magazine he had read several times already and began his fourth read of the inane articles until Olivia started to stir in her bed. She tossed and turned with her eyes closed at first and then began yelling as her arms flailed about her.
“Liv…” he said softly trying to hold onto her.
Her jerking ceased at the sound of his voice, but she cried against his arm, whispering “Elliot, don’t leave me” for several minutes longer, before falling unconscious once again.
Another hour passed without any sign from Jonathan and Elliot grew increasingly aggravated until Olivia slowly opened her eyes and broke into a smile when she saw him.
“Hey,” she said with a sigh.
“Hey. How are you feeling?”
She thought about it for a moment. “Kind of tired…and a little ashamed.”
“Ashamed?” he asked through furrowed eyebrows. “Ashamed of what?”
“Myself and how I reacted to all this.” She hovered her arm over the lower part of her body and he sat back in his chair, astounded by her sudden shift of coherency.
“I’m not the first person to go through this,” she continued. “And, I won’t be the last. This won’t beat me, Elliot.”
“No one thought as much for even a second.”
“Where’re Maya and Jonathan?”
He shrugged. “Maya threw me in a cab hours ago and I thought Halloway would be here when I got back.”
“Hmm…I remember him talking in his cell. I don’t remember who he was talking to though. Why’d Maya have to put you in a cab?”
“‘Cause I hadn’t left here in days.”
“Days? Why not?”
“I was worried about you.”
“Elliot,” she said rolling her eyes with a smirk. “You don’t have to worry about me.”
He stared at her for a very long time before speaking again. “I’m going to worry about you, Olivia. After all this, I’ll be worrying about you for the rest of your life or at least mine.”
“You don’t have to though.”
“I don’t have to do a lot of things, but I do them anyway.”
“Didn’t your mother ever tell you that if you worried too much you’d get premature wrinkles?”
“No,” he laughed. “At this point, wrinkles are probably the least of my worries.”
“You’ve lost weight…”
“Yeah, I have.”
“Probably. Think I’m working on an ulcer too, but the jury’s still out on that one.”
“You’ve had that burn in your stomach for ages,” she said. “When are you going to have a doctor look at it?”
“You sound like Kathy.”
She scoffed. “I don’t know if I should be happy or angry to hear that.”
“I’m just happy to have you talking to me like normal.”
“Honestly, Elliot. You’re in a hospital. Just grab one of the doctors and tell him your symptoms.”
Elliot simply shook his head. “I’ll worry about me when I’m done worrying about you.”
“Which we’ve just established is probably never going to happen, so you might as well have a doctor look at you now. Seriously, Elliot. You don’t look good. You look like you’re sick.”
“I haven’t been eating or sleeping all that well in the past couple weeks, Liv,” he said rubbing his forehead.
“Well, what’s been going on?” she asked, concerned. “Did you find Kreider?”
“God, Olivia,” he said laughing at the absurdity of the scenario. She lay incapacitated and yet, she remained committed to the job.
“Why aren’t you at the precinct?”
“‘Cause I’m here with you.”
“But, if Kreider’s still out there, Elliot, I’m not nearly as important as getting him off the streets before he hurts another kid.”
“We found Kreider.”
“Kind of, but we got him.”
“What about Drover?”
“Found him too.”
Her eyes narrowed at him, scrutinizing him in the way that only Olivia could. “Then, what’s going on? Why do you have that look in your eyes that says something’s off?”
"Look, you need to rest and I-"
"Elliot! Just tell me."
"The murders,” he began with a sigh, “they started back up again about two weeks ago. We think it’s a copycat."
“Yeah. Same MO, even down to the box and lack of witnesses.”
“Who’ve you been working the case with?”
“A little upstart, Alexa Brown.”
“I’ve met her. She’s a good cop,
although…I doubt she’s really
“She’s a pain in my ass if she’s anything.”
“So, why are you here?”
“There’s nothing to go on, Liv.”
“Well, there’s got to be something.
There were surveillance cameras from some of the storeowners near
Her voice faded as she noticed the look in his eyes at the mention of “tape.”
“We already checked,” he said trying to move along the subject. “But, don’t worry about it for now. Just focus on getting healthy.”
“What are you keeping from me?”
“Liv…you really need to just-”
“What are you keeping from me, Elliot?” she pressed. “I’m going to find out eventually, so you might as well tell me while it’s just me and you.”
He stared at her, unsure of how to begin.
"Look, Elliot," she said beginning to get agitated. "Whatever it is, just tell me."
"Okay…Do you know a guy named Harry Morse?" She shook her head. "He lives in the building across from yours. Apparently...he's been stalking you...for quite some time."
Olivia blinked at him, searching for further understanding in his eyes. "Stalking how?"
"He's been taking your picture and…videotaping your apartment for the last five years."
Olivia let out her breath and stared at the ceiling. "Oh God. Is he the one who-?"
"No," Elliot said. "We've looked at him every way possible. He's not the guy."
“So, you’ve got this guy to look at and the killer of these new kids and you’re still sitting here worrying about me.”
“Liv, I’m technically suspended for the time being anyway, so I’ve got the time.”
“It’s not official, but between IAB and the deputy commissioner, I’m under a…verbal suspension.
She nodded, but looked unconvinced. “I still don’t get it. Does this Morse have something to do with you being suspended? And why the hell were you suspended in the first place? God, please don’t tell me you did something stupid when you found Drover.”
“No,” he said. “I wasn’t the one to find Drover.”
“Then, what happened?”
Elliot focused on the fitted sheet stretching across the mattress under Olivia, feeling her gaze boring into him.
"This guy, Morse…He taped your apartment all the time and he was taping that night."
"So? I still don't understand."
"When you disappeared, he came into the precinct with a tape of that night. It showed the whole fight...except for this six-minute gap, right at the end when you cuffed me."
"You were suspended because of our fight?"
"Liv..." he said unsure of how to phrase the words. "You were gone. We had no idea what happened to you...we still don't. But then Morse walks in with a tape showing me and you going at it, but doesn't show me leaving your apartment."
"They think you did something to me?"
"If you'd seen the tape, Liv…We've busted people on far less evidence."
"But, Elliot...It's you. I mean Cragen didn't think that you'd done anything?"
"He didn't really have a choice. Everyone saw us arguing that Tuesday and then with the tape, plus what Maya and your friend, Jillian had to say, it was all Cragen, could do but suspend me."
"What did Maya and Jillian have to say that could've matter?"
There’s no use lying, he thought.
"Maya said you told her you worried about what I might do when I saw you took the Drover file."
"And Jillian? I didn't know the two of you had even met?"
"We hadn't, but she said you'd mentioned my temper to her and it just fueled the fire."
Olivia stared down at her hands and shook her head. "Elliot, I'm so sorry."
He laughed. "Liv, you have absolutely nothing to be sorry about. I'm just sorry that you even have to go through this."
"I don't remember anything else, Elliot. It's frustrating."
"You might later. Just focus on getting better. The other side of my desk is getting lonely."
“Do what you need to do,” they heard Jonathan yelling from just outside the door. “I want him, Brandt and that other German doctor and I want them here by the end of the week…I don’t care what it takes. Just make sure it gets done. Liv!”
He had come through the door speaking loudly on his cell phone and flashed a perfect smile when he saw Olivia awake and alert.
“Hey Babe!” Olivia said breaking into a smile just as wide.
“How are you feeling?”
“Good as I can be, I guess.”
Jonathan glanced at Elliot and he nodded. “She’s been fine. Talking to me like old Liv.”
“And by old,” Elliot said laughing, “I meant the wonderful Olivia we’ve all come to know and love.”
“Ah, I see. That’s better.”
Jonathan sat beside her and stared at Elliot until he rose and squeezed Olivia’s hand before heading for the door.
“Where are you off to?” Olivia asked.
“I need to, uh…check on the kids. They’ve been asking about you almost daily and I need to give them a status update. I’ll be back later, okay?”
She nodded and turned her attention to Jonathan once the door closed. “Where’ve you been? Elliot seemed kind of annoyed when I asked where you were.”
“Yes, well, Elliot and I haven’t been on the best of terms through all this.”
“You haven’t been arguing, have you?”
“Yep, you’re definitely the same old Liv.”
“So, really. Where were you? I expected to see your pretty face when I woke up.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry. I had to make some arrangements.”
“Your doctors are saying you can’t walk, Liv.”
“I know. If anything, I can remember that little conversation quite clearly.”
“I’ve been making arrangements with some specialists to look at your…situation.”
“What kind of specialists?”
“The best money and a good name can buy.”
“You know I don’t want you doing-”
“Olivia,” he interrupted. “If there was ever a time you needed to just let me dote and attempt to spend every dollar of my inheritance on you, this would be it. Just thinking that you’re hurt like this is too much for me and I’m going to use every avenue I’ve got available.”
“Like spreading around the big bucks?”
He shrugged. “I’m a Halloway. It’s in the blood, I suppose.”
She laughed and squeezed his hand.
“You’re really feeling better?” he said staring at her intently.
“Yeah, I mean…things are starting to make sense. I can’t really remember anything about what happened, but I’m starting to get little flashes of what happened before.”
“What’s the last thing you remember?”
“I don’t know. Elliot yelling I think…but he’s not the one who did this to me,” she added quickly.
“You don’t sound convinced.”
“Well, maybe tomorrow I’ll bring in a laptop and I’ll show you what we’ve all been dealing with these last couple weeks.”
“Elliot’s already told me. Something about some video?”
“Some guy…some stalker Olivia, was watching you twenty-four hours a day and he caught you and Elliot having this knock down, drag-out fight on his camera.”
Olivia shook her head. “That’s just crazy.”
“You’re telling me you didn’t have a fight with him?”
“Well…yeah, we fought, but it’s not like how you’re making it out to be. We kind of…struggled at little. That I remember, but he’s not the one who did all this to me.” She pointed at her legs and Jonathan’s expression grew somber.
“Olivia…” he said as his eyes turned red. “I am so sorry.”
“What are you sorry for? You didn’t do this to me either.”
“But, I…I should’ve called or something.”
“Jonathan, this isn’t your fault. You’re worse than Elliot, you know? You didn’t do this to me and so you shouldn’t be worrying so much about what didn’t involve you.”
“But, I was going to…that night. I stared at the phone until two in the morning wanting to call, but I didn’t. If I’d just called you, none of this would’ve happened.”
“Yeah, but how do you know that?”
“This guy just came and took you…and I didn’t even know when they found you. I wasn’t here for you when you needed me the most.”
Olivia intertwined her fingers with his. “Jonathan. You’re here now. That’s all that matters.”
“If I hadn’t been such a jackass, then I’d’ve been there with you that night and he never would’ve got you.”
Olivia sighed. “Wow, I’ve done it…”
“I’ve got a Halloway to admit he’s a jackass.”
He started laughing, but then broke into tears and she rubbed his forehead, running her hands through his hair. Jonathan leaned close to her bed, nearly lying with her as tears fell heartily from his eyes. She hugged him and continuously ran her fingers through soft, black hair, reassuring him that “it was okay” as he wept into her shoulder.
“So, when can we see her?”
Kathleen pressed the question to her father with large eyes and Elliot set down his fork full of potatoes with a sigh.
“It’ll probably still be a while. She’s still really sick.”
“Will she be okay?” Lizzie asked, eyes as bright and inquisitive as her sister’s.
“We’ll just have to wait and see,” Elliot said.
A sobering silence fell upon the table and Elliot cleared his throat as he attempted to change the subject.
“How are the
recital pieces coming…
She rolled her eyes. “Good. Dickie had people over yesterday even though he knew I had to practice.”
“’Oo coulda prak-tis ‘nee-time,” Dickie said with a piece of steak stuck in his cheek.
“Don’t talk with food in your mouth,” Lizzie said. “It’s gross.”
He let his mouth gape to display the masticated meat in his mouth.
“Oh, grow up, would you?” Kathleen whined.
Dinner continued for another twenty minutes in the same fashion, and after letting Lizzie win a very long game of chess, Elliot found himself having a glass of wine with Kathy at their kitchen table.
“Another language? Really?” Kathy stared at him with wide eyes and took a sip from her glass.
“Yeah, it was wild. But, she seems fine now.”
“Fine enough to have the kids go see her?”
“No,” Elliot said, shaking his head. “Not even close. I’m still not sure if it’s really hit her yet.”
“It probably won’t. I’ve seen patients before who would start to lose it years after paralysis.”
“I think Halloway’s
pulling out all stops, though. I heard him on the phone. He’s having some
doctors brought in from
“Well, at least there’s a hope.”
“I just don’t want him to get her hopes up. We’re just now able to talk to her and I’m not looking forward to starting over if these doctors can’t do anything.”
“How’s that other girl you’re working with doing?”
He leaned back in his chair and smirked at Kathy who began laughing.
“Is she still that bad?”
“I guess she’s doing okay. I haven’t seen her in a couple days.”
“Well, I’m glad you stopped by, but you look like hell, Elliot. Are you doing all right?”
He shrugged. “Well enough…considering.”
“Have you been eating? Sleeping?”
“Sure. Why not?”
“I’m fine,” he laughed. “But…I should probably get going.”
He suddenly felt very sleepy, but did not want to leave the warmth of the house. “Yeah, let me just use the bathroom.”
“Use the one in our…the one upstairs. None of the kids are ‘fessing up but something happened to the one down here. I’m having a plumber come out on Friday.”
“You should’ve called me. I can look at it.”
“I knew you were busy with everything that’s been going on and it’s just the toilet.”
He nodded. “Give me a minute and I’ll have a look.”
Upstairs, he heard Kathleen and Lizzie talking softly in their room and crossed his old bedroom to use the bathroom. In the small bathroom’s soft light, he got a good look at himself and could finally see what those around him had meant.
He had visibly lost some weight and the circles under his eyes looked like they would never disappear. His hair looked slightly thinner and he could swear he could see sparkles of grey here and there.
As he turned off the light, Elliot stared at his old bed and sighed. It seemed so inviting that before he could stop himself, he had sprawled on his stomach and held his face to his comforters.
Just five minutes, he thought. I just need to lie for here five minutes and then I’ll be fine...
Elliot rolled onto his side, an odd, but comfortable feeling coursing through his body. Squinting against the sunlight that poured against his closed eyelids, his ears perked at the sounds of running water a few meters away from him.
He jerked awake and saw that he was in bed, but not the hard one that sunk slightly in the middle that stood in his apartment. It was a soft bed with sheets that felt smooth against his skin. Sitting up to rest on his elbows, he realized he was shirtless, but still wore the jeans in which he had eaten dinner.
“Oh, you’re up?” Kathy said brightly as she left the bathroom.
“Yeah…did I sleep here?”
She nodded. “I came up here after ten minutes to see what had happened to you and you were out cold. I didn’t have the heart to wake you, so I just…shifted you over.”
He stared at her embarrassed, missing her terribly and they made small talk for several minutes before Kathy left for the day, leaving him with swirling thoughts. He wondered whether the calm in his chest was from the idea that Olivia seemed to be coming back to herself or the fact that he had slept so soundly in his old bed. Either way, he slept without the slightest vestige of a nightmare for the first time in days.
When he finally arrived at the hospital to check on Olivia, Munch and Fin were already in the room laughing with her. It died down once he knocked on the door and she beckoned him closer as Munch and Fin left the room.
“Hey you!” Olivia said. “They got my TV working. I think I may have to try one of these Rachael Ray recipes.”
“I see they snuck you in more chocolate.”
He sat in the chair beside her with a mild smile on his face at change in her appearance. Her eyes seemed brighter than they had in the past few days and she smiled more, but she still had the appearance of someone recovering from a serious illness. Her face was still rather thin, her eyes had circles to match his own and he guessed she had yet to gain anything to bring her back to a healthy weight.
“How are you feeling overall?”
“Good, but kind of anxious at the same time. Like I’m ready for something to happen, but I don’t know what.”
“You think you’ll be up to some questions later?”
“I don’t see why not, but I can’t really remember anything right now.”
“What’s the farthest back you can remember?”
“Just being cold and then lots of light, followed by a lot of pain and then I woke up and you were staring at me.” She sighed. “What if I can’t ever remember?”
“Don’t worry about it just yet. Maybe it’ll be better if you didn’t for the time being.” He stood. “Suspension or no suspension, I’ve gotta check in on Brown.”
“To make sure she’s still holding down the fort?”
“Or make sure it’s not burning down. Are you going to be okay if I leave for a bit? I called Maya, but I don’t want to leave you by yourself.”
Olivia grabbed the remote control and turned on the television that was mounted to the far wall. Bob Barker stood on a stage being hugged repeatedly by a large woman wearing a shirt that read “Team Pierson.”
“I’ll be fine,” Olivia said turning up the volume.
He leaned over and gave her a quick peck on the cheek and left the room as Maya strode down the corridor with a thin book in her hand.
“Hey! How is she?” she asked.
“She’s up and doing great. Almost back to normal.”
Maya grinned wildly. “Oh, I’m so glad. I’m surprised to see you leaving though.”
“I’ve got to check in on a couple cases, but I’ll be back. I’ll see you in a bit.”
She waved and stepped into Olivia’s room as she turned off the television.
“Hey!” Maya said with a beaming smile.
“Hi…” Olivia said. She did not return Maya’s smile.
“Elliot just told me you were almost like your old self. How are you feeling?”
"Did you know he’s been suspended?"
"Yeah," Maya says, surprised at the sudden anger in Olivia’s voice. "He told me a while ago."
"What did you say?"
"Olivia, why are you so angry?"
"What did you say?"
"Wow, I was picturing this going far differently..."
"What did you and Jillian say?"
"Whoa, Livia. I-"
"What did you say?"
" I didn't want to say anything!” Maya said her hand shaking from the quick shift in her own mood. “Some guys from your precinct pulled me into an office and grilled me, like I did something wrong!"
"You didn't do anything wrong."
"You're right. I didn't. But, you had just vanished and from the way they were talking to me...I just told whatever I could in case it could help."
Olivia was quiet for a moment. "Did you really think Elliot had done something to me?"
"Livia, I..." Maya began. "I didn't want to think it was possible. But...before I went down there, someone sent me this stupid video that showed you and Elliot fighting...and I just didn't know what to think."
"So, you told them that Elliot was responsible for what happened to me?"
"No!" Maya yelled tears forming in her eyes. "I just kept saying that he couldn't...wouldn't! I just kept saying it because...I figured if I said it enough, I'd really believe it."
Olivia scoffed. "I can't even believe I’m hearing this. I can't believe you would think my partner would...I mean, you've met Elliot-"
"I know." Maya said. "I know Livia. It's just that with seeing that video and with what you said about him going crazy if he found out you took that file...I didn't know what to think."
Olivia’s eyes fell to study her blanket as she tried to hold back tears.
"I'm sorry, Livia." Maya said. "But, you were gone and nobody knew what happened to you. I just...I just..."
"It's okay, Maya. I didn't mean to yell at you. It's just that the last thing I remember was Elliot in my apartment, and then I wake up and four weeks of my life have passed me by. And, I don’t have the pieces to pull together even a blurry memory."
The tears that had welled up in her had spilled down her face generously.
Maya sat down on the side of Olivia's bed and pulled her into a hug. "See, this is what I wanted. I would cry, you would cry and then we both watch Lifetime movies and go through our yearbook for the rest of the day."
Olivia laughed and pulled one her boxes of chocolate from the table next to the bed. “Here. Open this and crack open that book. I’d all but forgotten what a nightmare 1987 was…”
They talked about old times, laughing at each other’s yearbook photos from nearly twenty years earlier and were in the middle of watching a movie together when Jillian knocked on the door.
“Oh my God,” Jillian whispered with watery eyes. “You look so much better.”
Olivia sighed. “Well, when I last looked in the mirror in that drawer, I’d thought I looked like I got hit by a truck, but thanks anyways.”
“I’m serious, Olivia,” Jillian said as she lightly padded toward the bed. “The last time I saw you, the doctor’s were debating about whether you’d even wake up. It’s like a miracle.”
“Oh, don’t be so melodramatic, Jill. I can’t remember much, but I know it’s not in your nature to be such a drama queen.”
“Are you…is the p-paralysis real?” she stammered glancing at Maya.
“Yeah, well, seeing as how I’ve been trying to just wiggle my toes here for the past hour and nothing’s happened, I’d say yes.”
Jillian put her hand to her mouth and burst into tears. Olivia outstretched her bandaged arm and pulled Jillian into a hug.
“It’s okay, Jill.” she said. “I’ll be fine.”
“Fine?” Jillian said pulling away from her. “You were gone for weeks. How can you say this is fine?”
“Because, Jillian, I’m trying to be optimistic.”
Jillian shook her head. “I want to be optimistic too, but I can’t. Not when we still don’t know what happened to you.”
“Let’s just talk about something else for a bit,” Maya sighed.
“No,” Jillian snapped. “We’re going to talk about this. Liv, no one knows what’s happened to you. No one. As far as we know, you’re partner could’ve-”
“You remember what happened to you, then?”
“I know Elliot didn’t do anything to me.”
“You don’t understand, Olivia. There’s a vid-”
“I’ve heard. There’s a video of Elliot and I arguing. That doesn’t mean anything.”
“Not arguing,” Jillian pressed. “Attacking. He had you pinned to the floor.”
“I’m telling you. Elliot didn’t do anything to me. I can specifically remember Elliot walking out and slamming my door shut.
“What else can you remember?”
“Nothing. And believe me, I’ve been trying.”
“So, if you can’t remember anything else, how can you be so sure of what happened that night?”
“You know what?” Olivia said her jaw set. “I think I’d like to just be alone with my thoughts right now.”
“I am not going to lie here and listen to people accuse Elliot of something I know he didn’t do.”
“We’re just trying to be realistic here, Liv,” Jillian said.
“I don’t care! Okay? I’ve already told you Elliot wasn’t there and I won’t listen to you bitch about him. Go!”
Maya stared at Jillian and shook her head as she picked her coat up from her chair.
“Liv, we just...” Jillian began, but Olivia held up her hand to silence her.
“No. I don’t want to hear it. We can talk again when you come to terms with the fact that Elliot’s a good person and who I know would never hurt me.”
Olivia settled into her pillows and flipped through television channels until mildly familiar characters caught her eye. On the screen Sami Brady and Lucas Roberts were setting the plans of their wedding reception when a surly EJ stepped into the room and Olivia flipped off the television as she sighed and stared at the ceiling.
Her mind was a blur of colour as memories came in and out of focus like ripples disturbing a reflection water. In all honesty, she could not remember if Elliot had left that night or not and while she was certain there was a figure present throughout her time in the dark, she could not discern a face through the murk. While she would not let her mind consider the topic, the fact still remained; Jillian had made a valid point. She did not remember much of anything and who was to say what really happened that night if she could not ascertain a clear avowal of the situation?
She closed her eyes and allowed the fatigue that followed her exertions with Maya and Jillian to close on her body, but as she began to fall asleep, for the first time since she became aware of her surroundings, Olivia did not wish for answers and instead, feared what the truth might bring.
“You at least need to finish it, Liv,” Elliot said pushing the plastic plate on the rolling table that hovered over the bed toward Olivia.
She scrunched her face at the dry turkey meat and half-warm, half-raw string beans that lay on the plate. “Didn’t you promise to bring me a Ruben?”
“Oh…Might’ve been Munch.”
Elliot sighed with a contented smile on his face as he leaned back in the chair. Maya had called him in close to a panic hours earlier and he worried that Olivia had fallen back into suffering from psychosomatic problems. When he arrived at the hospital, however, he saw that Olivia was alert, though she seemed less happy to see him than she had on previous visits.
Olivia shifted her arm and pulled the series of straws she had jury-rigged into her cast to scratch the skin under her cast. “I can’t eat any more of that stuff. What happened to my chocolate?”
“There’s two empty boxes in the trash over there. I’m sure if Halloway saw that, he’d have a fit.”
“Why? Has he been trouble recently?”
He opened his mouth to respond, but paused. A part of him wanted to spill the events of the past weeks, detailing every last word Jonathan had spat at him, while another part remembered the look on her face when he last saw she and Jonathan together.
“He’s just been concerned. That’s all.”
“Well, what has been going on since I’ve been…gone?”
He rubbed his face and launched into a story recounting his past month without her, leaving out the more gruesome details where he thought it necessary. Her eyes never left his as he continued and by the end, she was insisting he call some of the newspapers so that she could set the record straight.
“Can you remember though?” he asked.
She sat quietly staring at her feet for a moment. “I know I wasn’t alone.”
“Yes,” he said nodding as he remembered her saying the same words days earlier.
“There were at least…three, maybe four…Then there was the one. I can’t remember her name…Angie, I think? Maybe Annie?” She put her hand to her head and squinted as if in sudden pain.
“It’s okay,” Elliot said. “Take your time.”
“Maybe there were more…I just remember it being so dark…I think there were people. Yeah, there was definitely more than four…like fifteen or twenty…and then they were all-”
Her breath caught and she shivered as her eyes rolled back in her head. Elliot grasped her whole body tight as she seized and convulsed, a foaming spittle forming at the corner of her mouth and the bed shaking in the process. When it was over, Olivia blinked around the room confused about what had happened.
As the realization of what had transpired set in, tears rolled down Olivia’s face and Elliot rested against the bed as he held her.
“I can’t Elliot…” she said. “I can’t move. I can’t walk. I can’t feel anything.”
“I know. It’s okay,” he whispered into her hair.
“Elliot…God…What am I gonna do? I can’t walk…Dear Jesus…What am I gonna do?”
“She’s been coherent for a couple days now. I think we can take her at her word.”
Cragen’s chair was turned away from his office door and he spoke into the phone with a low voice. The idea of even having the conversation annoyed him, but he did not want any of his detectives to see the expressions on his face as he attempted to avoid a full argument with his own superior.
He had gone to see Olivia earlier in the day and while he was delighted by seeing her awake and lucid, he was disheartened by her appearance and the fact that she seemed to have resigned with clear certitude that she was never going to walk again. Only one other officer in his command had seemed so at ease with such a calamity and he was the eighth cop Cragen had buried after he suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
“I’m sure she means it,” Deputy Inspector Felton said, “but I’m not ready to take it as the Lord’s honest truth. She’s been through a lot and I don’t want to pull all the heat from Detective Stabler until I know where we stand.”
“The words came out of her own mouth,” Cragen pressed. “She said he didn’t do anything to her and I believe her.”
“Well, she’s a good detective, but we’re keeping our own investigation open until we know for certain what happened.”
“How much more do you need? She said it herself.”
“Well, you’ll forgive my skepticism, Captain, but I don’t think that the words from someone who just woke up out of a two-week coma from being beaten nearly to death and who was having trouble even speaking in her own native language as short as two days ago can be trusted! She’s his partner and, if anything, I’d assume that she wouldn’t want to believe that something this violent could happen between them. Let’s not forget that that she can’t remember what happened to her for the past month, but she’s absolutely certain that Stabler didn’t hurt her. If you take a step back from the situation, Captain, you’d see there are holes all over this.
“Elliot Stabler is a good detective. He didn’t do this to her.”
“But, there’s a video circulating all across the globe of him tackling her and holding her in a headlock just before she disappeared.”
“Ask Detective Benson’s doctors. She wasn’t out in the elements all that long. Elliot’s been on her case since the second something looked up. If he was the one hurting her, we would’ve seen some kind of sign of it.”
“That doesn’t exempt him from this.”
“What do you need?” Cragen yelled, finally exasperated. “A signed affidavit! The victim says he’s not involved!”
“And the victim has a close relationship with Detective Stabler. The victim is just coming down from the shock that she may never walk again and victim is struggling with the psychological backlash over what’s happened to her. Now, I’ve got witnesses eight people deep, all saying that Stabler and Benson were on pins and needles in the weeks before her disappearance and that tape doesn’t help anything. Halloway is pulling out all stops on the situation and, because she was the lead detective that helped nail down Kreider, we’ve got Richardsons, Whickfields and every other family with kids in this goddamn city asking me questions about this! We’re not taking the heat off Stabler until we have a suspect.”
Cragen sighed as he put down the telephone receiver and wondered if he just imagined a new crease in his forehead. For the past month, a light police detail had been ordered on Elliot, following him and noting his whereabouts from time to time, and Cragen had made a third attempt to get it removed, deeming it unnecessary since Mark Landon and Diana Willex first emerged to clear him.
Felton began the investigation without his knowledge, claiming that it would be easier to discover the “truth” if they investigated without so much public stigma. Cragen knew that the word of two people was not enough to stop the background investigation, but with Olivia insisting that Elliot was not involved, he saw the need to try again.
The deputy inspector remained unconvinced by Olivia’s surety of the facts only as they pertained to Elliot and, as he ran a hand over his face, Cragen thought about his own skepticism. Rationally, it made sense to keep a case open on Elliot while there was still no one to prosecute, but emotionally, Cragen hated the idea of having any kind of investigation run on his two favorite detectives.
All the good thoughts and prayers notwithstanding, a questioned still remained: If Elliot did not nearly kill Olivia, who did?
“Mother! Mother please!”
Serena Benson lay on the floor face down in a large pool of her own vomit. Olivia kept shaking her harder and harder, but she still would not wake.
She and Maya had just gone for a run; not long, not short, but it could not have been enough time for Serena to do so much damage.
“Mother please!” Olivia said still shaking her mother.
She turned her over and as she did she heard a pounding at the door. He was coming.
“Mother! Mother wake up! He’s coming! Please, wake up! He’ll come!”
Serena did not move and Olivia tried to pull her, but her young arms could just barely lift her.
He door rattled in his frame and then came the familiar scent of death and decay.
“He’s coming, Mother!” She dropped her mother and tried to drag. Maybe she could get out. Get out with her mother, if she would just wake.
“Please…,” she cried. “Mother, please wake up. Please!”
She knelt down beside her mother who felt cold to the touch and door rattled harder, with bits of wood flying in several directions.
Olivia cried onto her mother’s chest. “Mother, please don’t leave me. Not now. He’s coming. Mother please. Please wake up!”
The door burst into a shower of serrated wood edges and Olivia pulled her mother into a hug as unnaturally blue eyes glared at her from a pale face.
“Please,” she whispered into her mother’s ear. “Mother…please wake up.”
He started into a run, knocking over tables and lamps and, as his cold fingers brushed against her faced, Olivia screamed.
She bolted upright in her bed and Elliot’s hand grasping hers was the only thing holding her in the hospital bed.
He stood immediately, still holding her hand. Her voice did not sound like her own. She sounded as if she was still trapped in a dream as a young girl.
“No!” she screamed again. “Get away from us!”
“Liv,” Elliot said. “It’s me. It’s just me. Okay? It’s just me.”
The tension in her body eased at the sound of his voice.
“Just you?” she said, her voice returning to normal.
“Yes, Liv. Just me. It’s just Elliot. I’m right here for you and I’m not going anywhere.”
Her breathing eased though sweat still beaded at her brow as she glanced around the room.
“He didn’t come?”
“No. It’s just me.”
She nodded. “Where’s mom?”
“I don’t understand,” Elliot said.
“Mother…my mother…she was right here…she threw up and fell on the floor…just like that one time. Where is she?”
Elliot stared at her for a long time before speaking. “Olivia…Olivia, your mother’s gone. She…she died.”
“She died?” Olivia then nodded. “I knew it. I knew it would happen like this. I always knew…Maya and I would go running for track and she’d die…just like that.”
Elliot bent in front of the bed so that he could look Olivia directly in the face. “Olivia,” he began in a strong, clear voice. “It’s 2007. Your…your mother died seven years ago. It didn’t just happen.”
“Then what happened to him?”
“Olivia…I don’t understand. Who is he? Is he the guy who took you?”
Olivia shook her head and her eyes slid out of focus. “No, he’s…where am…” She paused and looked around the room again. “No…I know. My mother died seven years ago, I’m at Mercy General East and…I can’t walk.”
“You’re gonna be okay, though. You’ll be okay, Olivia.”
She squeezed his hand in return. “I know. I’m going to get through this. I know it…”
She rested against her pillow, never releasing his hand and was asleep again within minutes.
Elliot sighed as he watched her sleep. With her lapse from earlier that day came the overwhelming sense of doubt for his own words.
Moonlight had filtered into the room and he continued to stare. Her face had finally gained a bit of its natural colour, but was still gaunt. She was thin, far too thin and he knew her reluctance to eat the hospital food would not help the problem. In his heart, he was willing her to get better with each passing minute, but skeptical and pragmatic thoughts still floated through his head.
She was, indeed, talking and behaving like “old Liv,” but judging from the slight aftermath of her last nightmare, her mind was still not right and he wondered how many seizures it was going to take to acerbate her injuries further. The last thing he needed, anyone needed, was for Olivia to suffer another setback. Maya’s nerves were reminiscent of when Olivia was stilling missing and Jonathan seemed as irritable as he had ever been. Their trio, as he was referring to all of them, could barely stand something else happening to Olivia.
Words could not describe the pain he felt when she first started screaming that she could not move below the waist. The wails still echoed in his head and he doubted they would ever stop.
Elliot rested himself in the chair that was quickly conforming to his body and settled his arm in a comfortable position. He had no reason to leave the hospital that night nor did he want to do so and chance facing the pair he had been pretending to ignore for past three weeks.
The pair of detectives, both from “the rat squad,” had been tailing him for so long, he was almost growing accustomed to them being there…almost. If it had been any other time, he would have raised the biggest raucous imaginable, but with Olivia gone, he lacked the desire to even do that. Instead, he allowed them to follow and pretended that he had not noticed them in all hopes that IAB would come to the correct conclusion about him on their own.
Olivia stirred in her sleep, squeezing his hand in the process. He returned the squeeze, hoping to give her the assurance that he was there, even while she waded through the recesses of her consciousness.
While he had tried to remain upbeat, at least while Olivia was awake, Jonathan’s previous words troubled him, even terrified him.
Whoever snatched her from her apartment, exposed her to something that gives her seizures, starved twenty pounds out of her and then tossed her in the garbage still walks the streets and could be the next person to walk through the door.
He had been thinking the same thing since he raced across the hospital parking lot the morning she had been found, yet hearing the word aloud, made them sound even worse than they had in his mind. Somewhere, in some unknown place, the “he” Olivia was so certain was “coming” still lurked.
Elliot squeezed Olivia’s hand again and again she squeezed back in her sleep.
I won’t let him get you again.
Unknown Time and Place
Lost. His precious was lost.
He had read that in a book once, had he not?
Yes, a precious thing being lost. He could now understand how it felt.
As soon as she had gone, guilt coursed through him once the anger subsided. She was, of course, his and he should not have given up on her so quickly. In truth, he had not had enough; he was simply frustrated by days of effort and nothing to show for it save for a wound on his side, the marks on his wrists and the taste of her skin still on his teeth.
Not once in all his years had one of his possessions escaped. Jumped through a window while running on a broken leg? If that was not the epitome of vigor, he did not know what was.
When he had gone to retrieve her, she was simply lying there unconscious. It was amazing. No one was around the area. No one had seen anything. The homeless who wandered and often used the alley for a toilet were even out of sight.
He knew if he had tried to gather her back into the building, he would surely be noticed and an entire day had already been wasted. Weeks of work had already been lost on just one possession. On top of her bleeding form he had piled several bags of trash and left her to her own demise as quickly has he had come.
Yet soon afterward, thoughts began to creep to mind. He had never had the chance to break her and he was close. So very close. Another day or two and surely she would have been broken.
In the state she was, she would have been more willing to do anything to keep away death. Weakened, he could have made her into an even better game. Make her beg for him just so that he could give her something to stay alive a little longer. And he would give her treasures; real meals, just enough strength to think that perhaps she could live, but still not enough to escape again. However, when he had gone to retrieve under cover of darkness, he found that she was lost. Stolen from him.
The room where she had lain, nearly broken, seemed so empty now. She was so unlike the others, though they were now trying to follow her example. The window had to be boarded immediately lest one of the others attempt the same thing. He already had to get rid of one of them since her departure. That one was ready to raise an all out revolt and it had to be quashed before everything was ruined.
He sighed for the first time in years and stared at himself in the mirror.
Skin that had rarely seen sunlight in more than a decade glowed faintly in the dark. Perhaps he should simply retire. Call it “quits” while he was ahead. Obviously, he was getting sloppy as the years passed or else she would never have been able to leave.
Anger surged through him once again as the memory of her standing defiantly before him came to view.
He had never once had an escape. Not once. And, he would be damned if he was going to allow his possession, something he had bought and paid for, to wander round free.
He passed the room, its stench pleasantly overwhelming and his resolve was set.
He had to have her back in his possession. No matter what it took. He needed her back.