Mount Carmel Hospital East
A smile played across Olivia’s face as she stared into the small screen of the digital camera that flashed a shaky video. The music that played from it touched her heart and nearly brought a tear to her eye as it elicited both longing and remembrance for her own youth.
Elliot had taken the video of Lizzie’s piano recital weeks earlier and had brought it to her shortly afterward, but Olivia enjoyed watching it frequently and it was simply an experience in itself listening to Lizzie play the works of the old masters and also a piece that she had finessed as a listless college student who doubted what she wanted to do with her life.
Four weeks had passed since she had first become continually conscious of the world around her and she was never for want of gifts or company. Most of the outpour of gifts and trinkets came from people she had never met who said they had simply prayed for her, while others came from people with whom she had not spoken in years. Her most cherished, by far, was the handwritten letter she received from the little boy who had found her so many weeks earlier reading:
Deer Mis Oliva Binson,
My name is Deondre Meekham and I am 7 ½ years old. I like to read and I like French fries. Mom says to rite to you so I do. I found you in a dumpter with my Uncle Ray. Rember? I hope you is ok now cuz you was very white and I was scared. Mom says you was on tv cuz you was gone but now you is okay cuz we found you. I hope you fell better soon.
The various visitors had also
caught her by surprise. Several nights after being moved to
“D’you remember how you played for me when I was sick in the hospital?” Amarie had said as she pulled a shining violin out of its case.
“Yes, I do,” Olivia had said.
“Good, ‘cause Momma says you’re sick and I wanted to play for you this time.”
That night, Olivia could not stem the flow of tears that had been motivated by Amarie’s rasping rendition of “Greensleeves,” and though Elliot and Maya had asked repeatedly what was wrong, Olivia still cried herself to sleep.
The next day, her cousin Allison had brought her seven-week-old son, Patrick Kyle, to the hospital so that Olivia could hold him for a short while and, after the visit, she found herself wondering if she would rethink the prospect of children, assuming she was still capable of carrying.
Every day friends, old and new, other cops and neighbors paid visits to her. While they all looked happy to see her, she learned to prevent a look of annoyance from crossing her face each time someone would comment on how much weight she had lost, as not one person had the ability to keep such comments to his or herself.
Each day Olivia struggled to relearn how to do simple tasks such as sitting upright without aid and doing everything with her left her hand as her right remained inside of a cast and each day she realized something new she could or could not do.
She could feed herself with her left hand; she could not lean too far to either side of the bed without the risk of falling completely. She could lean on her elbows for short amounts of time, move every muscle above her belly button and assist in the removal and entrance of her catheter at various times of the day; she could not feel anything from the slightest brush to the hardest pinch from her hip bone to her feet. There were times, however, when she wished she could not feel anything at all.
Her doctors insisted that the pain was a part of the healing process and, as so many of her bones had broken in her apparent fall, she supposed it was normal to feel so horrible as she did when the effects of her pain medications began to wear.
Some days her mind was like a cloud of memories where nothing could be easily ascertained from the amount of drugs in her system. Other days, the pain was so great it seemed like no amount of Oxycodone or even Codeine could take away the sharp throbbing in her arms and rib cage.
Aside from the constant battles over the pain and her reluctance to take any opiates for more than a day, Olivia’s conversations with her many doctors were becoming more of a nuisance than anything else.
Jonathan had pulled out all stops to find the best doctors to help treat the paralysis, but as they were each considered the finest specialists in their respective fields, there were numerous disagreements over the actual cause of the paralysis.
While Doctors Li, Brandt and Schoene all agreed that Olivia had sustained some damage to her spine creating a partially herniated disc, they were in argument over whether the damage was a severe prolapse or an actual extrusion in the spinal disc between lumbar bones L4 and L5. The differences seemed nominal to Olivia who had picked up more medical jargon than she ever could have wanted, but since the treatment differed between homeopathic measures versus surgical ones, she remained bothered by the fact that the specialists (a neurosurgeon, a spinal column surgeon and a doctor who specialized in both), could not make any further headway than her initial ER doctor. Even when they agreed than an extrusion could be causing pain throughout her upper body and possible numbness in her lower extremities, they still disagreed over the fact that outside of complete sequestration of several discs along with a severance of the nerves carried by said bones, they could not account for the paralysis. It also did not help matters that even through several long MRIs that Olivia was certain were going to cause even more problems later in her life, the results were still inconclusive.
Applause echoed through the small camera in Olivia’s hands and she sighed as she turned off the camera. She lay against her pillows to stare at the myriad of cards, letters, pictures and balloons that decorated the large new hospital room that was being paid through Halloway family money, before trying to turn as much as she could on her bed in order to stare out the window, only to give up when the light coming from the window, obstructed her view of the outside world.
Two weeks earlier, she had been
moved from Mercy General to
It was completely different from
when she last had a memory of it. There was little snow on the ground and the
snow that was still there had turned brown and grey from city grit and grime.
The trees that she could see were showing the very beginnings of buds and the
air itself was getting the familiar feel of springtime in
Olivia allowed her eyes to droop momentarily, but forced them back open at the sound of movement behind the door to her room. Nightmares, or rather graphic daydreams, had been plaguing her mind since she had stopped randomly losing consciousness throughout the day.
They were nearly always the same; something about her mother’s death or about a very pale someone coming after her again. She was certain that the pale person in her dreams was her attacker, but she could never place him in the right context. He came for her in a dark building, her living room or even in the apartment in which she had lived with her mother as a child, but she still could not figure out where in the city he was when she left him.
She welcomed the dreams because she knew they signified that her memory was still trying to paint a picture of what had happened to her, but she could not help being embarrassed when she had them while someone else was in the room with her.
When it was Maya, Elliot or Jonathan who eased her out of a nightmare, they each held the same expressions of pity and sympathy, which annoyed her endlessly. They would stare at her with sad eyes as if they were trying to commiserate, but she knew none of them ever fully imagine what it was like to wake up and realize that a motor function that had been taken for granted for more than thirty years, no longer worked as it should, thus the heightening annoyance.
Annoyed as she was, Olivia could not help appreciating what they were trying to do for her. Every day Maya assisted with Olivia’s physical therapy in attempts to help Olivia regain some of the muscle that had atrophied in her arms and abdomen. Sometimes it was the simply act of allowing Maya to prattle about what was happening in the city while she helped get the circulation flowing in her legs that kept Olivia remaining upbeat.
George Huang had come to see her in the new hospital, but when she insisted that she did not need any kind of mental probing, he said he came to see her as a friend and had no intentions of asking any psychological questions, until she was ready.
All disappointments in regards to her paralysis aside, Olivia tried to remain positive. The seizures, which had initially occurred at least once a day, had slowed to the point that her new primary doctor, a Dr. Jakob Androse, expressed that he thought she might stop having them completely by the time of her pending release from the hospital weeks down the line.
Olivia turned again and flipped through the television channels, discerning the time from the various daytime television shows for which she and Maya had developed a healthy appreciation.
Maya, like Elliot and Jonathan, visited her every day, for hours at a time and most of the time they simply laughed together like teenagers in high school. They watched their “stories” together, swooned over the young and attractive male nurse who helped change some of Olivia’s bandages and teased one another. Maya had even taken to calling Olivia “Olive Oyl” again like she did when Olivia had hit her growth spurt at fourteen and grew nearly four inches in one summer without gaining any weight. Maya had also made sure that when people came to visit that Olivia looked as healthy as possible.
“Olive Oyl?” Elliot had said one afternoon while Maya was in the midst of giving Olivia a manicure.
“It’s an old nickname,” Olivia said, rolling her eyes.
Maya laughed. “So hilarious. You should’ve seen her when we were fourteen. She was a tall, skinny, flat-chested brunette. She was Olive Oyl. It was great!”
“Olivia Oyl?” Elliot repeated.
“You don’t get to call me that.”
“Sure, fine, okay…Olive Oyl.”
Olivia sighed when she found nothing worth watching on the television and, as she wishing for company or just the ability to sit with her cello again, she heard a knock at the door.
Kathy Stabler peeked around the door and smiled at her. “Hey!”
“Hi,” Olivia said, trying to straighten her position on the bed. She had expected to see the Stabler children following behind her when Kathy entered the room, but once she saw that it was only Kathy, she felt oddly embarrassed.
“Nice room,” Kathy said as she walked toward Olivia’s bed. “You’re the only one in here?”
“Yeah…just Jonathan pushing money in all the right places.”
“Very nice. So…how are they treating you here?”
“Everything’s fine,” Olivia said, allowing a brief silence to waft over them as she considered her last interaction with Kathy’s daughter. “Kathy…I, um, never really got a chance to apologize to you about the situation with Kathleen.” Kathy nodded and she continued. “I was able to talk to Elliot about it for a while, but you and I never got a chance to-”
“Don’t worry about,” Kathy said. “There’s no apology necessary. Kathleen trusts you and…now at least, I’m glad she knew she could talk to you.”
Olivia smiled weakly at her. Well, she can’t hurt me anymore than I am now, she thought.
“Kathy, I need to tell you something.”
Apprehension spread across her eyes like ink through water and Olivia swallowed hard.
“It’s not really that important since it was so long ago, but I can kind of tell that you’ve been wondering why Kathleen even thought of coming to me with her questions…”
“Well, it hasn’t been keeping me up at night, but I have been wondering.”
“Okay. Well, last January, my friend and I were out at a bar opening and we saw Kathleen there. I swore to her that I wouldn’t say anything after she promised she’d clean up her act a little, but I just wanted you to know…Or I just needed to get it off my chest.”
“Was this The Rox?”
Olivia’s jaw fell. “You know about it?”
“Yeah, of course, I do,” Kathy laughed. “She blurted it out to me one night not too long afterward. All she really seemed concerned about was whether or not I was going to tell Elliot. I told her I wasn’t grounding her. I was just disappointed, but she stayed in for the few three weeks anyway.”
“That was our end of the bargain. I told her she should help out around the house and that she shouldn’t be going anywhere, as if she were grounded.”
“Disciplining my own kids, now?” Kathy said with an eyebrow arched.
Olivia’s breath caught and she pursed her lips, but Kathy just smiled.
“It’s okay, Olivia. If Kathleen hadn’t looked like she already got in trouble that night, I would’ve done the same. And…she listens to you and I know that’s probably helped a lot.” Kathy sighed as she stood. “Anyway, I just wanted to see how you were doing.”
“My main doctor says I’m coming right along.”
“Good,” she said smiling. “I need you to get well because this other girl that’s supposedly watching Elliot’s back doesn’t know her ass from her elbow. I’ll see you later.”
Olivia waved goodbye and fell back into her pillows with a huff. The last, and only other, one-on-one conversation she had had with Kathy was months earlier when Kathy came to her asking for Olivia to goad Elliot into signing the forms that would finalize his divorce.
She had not wanted to say anything to Elliot and, thankfully, never had the chance, but any mention of Elliot’s family brought the conversation to mind.
When she watched the video Elliot had taken of his daughter’s recital, Olivia could not help but notice how perfect they looked all together; Elliot, his wife, their children. The first thought that came popped into her head when Olivia saw Kathy in the room was to berate her with questions over when she was planning to file “the papers,” but when Kathy looked genuinely happy to see her, she belayed the urge and her face grew red instead.
During their previous talk, Kathy had confessed to Olivia that she thought Elliot preferred spending time with Olivia instead of his family, an idea Olivia quickly refuted, but even then, she felt guilty about it.
The truth was, when Elliot was going through the initial phase of his separation, she relished the idea of spending more time with him. Considering the fact that Elliot had spent days at a time with her in the hospital, Olivia imagined she felt the same way Maya did whenever she came across the spouse of a man with whom she had been having an affair.
As she turned on her side to reach for the cheap romance novel Maya had left for her to read, she felt a sharp pain in her lower back and she squeezed her eyes shut, fearing the worst. Time had taught her that while she never remembered having a seizure, there was always the moment right before they happened where she would feel some pain along her spine and “wake up” feeling sore and disoriented several minutes later.
A minute passed without further incident, but when she reached for the book again, she felt something snap in her lower back and suddenly every nerve capable of receiving a signal tingled like the aftermath of an electric jolt.
She gasped at the sensation and a moment later, every muscle ached with such a severity that she whimpered at the pain. As quickly as it came, the pain ended leaving a dull throb in her fingers with each heartbeat.
Finally able to reach for the desired book without a problem, Olivia simply held it in her hands as she stared at the door.
Pain is part of the healing process, she reminded herself, yet she continued to stare at the door.
It would only take a little shout or a slight shift to the right side of the bed where the call button for the nurse’s station lay to have three or more nurses running to her bedside, ready to administer more pain medication into her system, but she shook away the thought.
The fewer drugs the better, she thought. My goal’s to get better. Not develop an addiction.
She settled further into her book nodding to herself, giving an absent-minded scratch to an itch on her thigh every once in a while.
“Knock, Knock! Olivia, I’ve got your lunch.”
Jesse, Olivia’s favorite nurse, smiled brightly as he entered her room with her meal, such as it was. He approached her bed with a large tray, his mess of short blond curls shining in the light from her window.
“Where’s your entourage today?”
“Gave them the day off,” Olivia said. “I figured they could use it.”
Jesse laughed. “Okay. We’ve got a sandwich, turkey and Swiss on whole wheat with no mayo…some dry baby carrots… a fruit cocktail, sans-syrup, and… a non-caffeinated, non-carbonated, sugar-free drink for you.”
“At least it’s more or less good for you, eh?”
Jesse chatted with her for a short
while before he left to continue his rounds and Olivia sighed as attempted to
make sense of the meal before her. While the food at
Maya brought a box of Olivia’s favorite chocolate once every few days and, if she pouted just right, Olivia could convince Elliot and other visitors from her squad to bring anything from bagels to elaborate salads.
Just as Olivia was about to subject herself to the dry sandwich on her plate, Cragen walked through her door bearing a deli sandwich and a smile.
“Cap! Please say that’s for me.”
“Who else would I bring it for?” he said handing her the sandwich.
Olivia shrugged. “Well, there’s a guy down the hall who’s supposed to have both legs amputated. The nurses tell me he’s pretty good at drumming up the sympathy.”
Cragen simply shook his head as Olivia took a bite of her sandwich.
“How’re you feeling?”
“Same old, same old.” He pointed at her legs and she continued. “Still nothing happening there as of yet.”
“I heard Jonathan’s been pulling out all stops and having doctors shipped in here.”
“I don’t know about shipped here, but he’s definitely working hard for me. I suppose it’s all for the best. It can’t possibly hurt…unless they start talking about surgery again.”
“Surgery on what?”
“That’s the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question.”
“Well, speaking of questions…I’ve got a few.”
Olivia set her sandwich on the nearby tray. “Shoot.”
“How’s your memory been lately?”
“It’s hard to say. Things just keep coming in and out…”
Her memory, rather slowly falling into focus, sprang forth with clear shots of time like random photographs detailing a life in an album. A gaunt, worried face stared directly at her; darkness and cold overwhelmed every part of her being; piercing eyes glared at her from behind the barrel of a gun. Cragen did not look pleased at the lack of progress.
“How much do you remember about the Tuesday you disappeared?”
“Same as the last time you asked me these questions. I remember taking a cab home, walking to the store, coming back home, talking to Maya, Elliot coming by and then nothing.”
“Last time you said you remembered Elliot leaving.”
“I did…do. I remember that he left.”
“But nothing else after that?”
“No, he left and then nothing.”
“You’re sure he left?”
“Yes. I remember the door closing, his footsteps down the hall…Elliot left and then I was attacked.”
“Okay…” Cragen nodded his head. “Tell me about what happened when Elliot came by.”
“It hasn’t changed since the last time you asked.”
“You know we need to make sure we are all clear on what happened.”
Olivia sighed and turned her focus to her window. “Elliot wanted a file from me. I think it was one of our cases…Drover. It was Drover’s file. When we were arguing in the precinct that day, he wanted the information on where Drover was staying because of what he had tried to do to Dickie.”
“And did you give it to him?”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Because he was enraged!” Olivia closed her eyes, regretting the blunder immediately.
She remembered how angry Elliot had been with her and, while her heart told her Cragen was just trying to do what he could make sure her captor was caught, she still hated being spoken to like a victim and the constant repetitive questions frustrated her nonetheless.
“And Elliot’s anger…is why you didn’t give him the file…”
“More or less.”
“What happened after you told him ‘no’?”
Olivia sighed again. “We argued about it and then he left.”
“Argued about it how?” When she remained silent, Cragen pressed further. “Olivia? Argued how?”
“God, I’m so tired of answering that question.”
“I know you are, but you suffered a head injury and you have little to no memory about what happened. I know this all sounds bad and I know Stabler didn’t do anything, but I still need you to answer.”
She stared out the window for a long time before answering. “He grabbed me, tackled me to the ground…I got away, he grabbed me again, I fell into the wall and then I hit him.” She paused and the event floated in front of her eyes for a moment before she continued. “I hit him, then I cuffed him, then we talked and then he left.”
“And then nothing after that.”
“But you’re sure it wasn’t Elliot who came after you that night?”
She glared at him this time. “Yes. I’m absolutely certain it wasn’t Elliot.”
He nodded and fell into a long diatribe about what they were going to do throughout the investigation in case her memory of the attack did not come back, but Olivia just stared silently.
Though she could not remember much, she made certain to remain clear on one aspect of her story; Elliot had not hurt her. She reiterated it to Cragen, his superiors, reporters who had infiltrated the hospital, her friends and well-wishers; everyone. Elliot was there, he left and then someone else came after her and, yes, she was certain that person was not Elliot.
When Casey told her that her office had actually arrested Elliot in the aftermath of her disappearance, Olivia kept her hands clenched for rest of the day, trying to keep her emotions from all spilling out at once. She had wanted to blame anyone who walked into her room and it was only through Elliot’s running commentary that everyone did what they thought was right at the time, that Olivia maintained her composure.
The actual memory of that night was really not much more than a haze of grey, but the parts she remembered most, she kept to herself. Her brain readily retained the feel of Elliot’s body nearly lying on top of her, smell of his aftershave and the touch of his skin as he ran his lips across her shoulder. When the memories flashed to mind as Elliot had leaned over to hug her, she had decided then and there not to reveal them.
It was the heat of the moment, she said to herself as Cragen left her with her thoughts.
While she knew the very mention of the near event on the floor of her apartment would most likely reduce the strain of interrogation, she knew there were enough rumors floating around about them and did not want to inflate them further especially when she saw the looks Elliot and Jonathan gave one another when they thought she was not paying attention.
Like normal, she had awakened from a nightmare the previous morning, but was distressed more than ever when she realized it was not a dream, but an actual memory that was plaguing her. In her “dream,” she and Jonathan had been in the midst of a long and nasty argument that ended with a smack across the face and a lot of tears. While she had yet to mention anything to Jonathan about their argument before her flight from daylight, her attitude toward him still changed, and with Elliot as well.
She felt guilty when Kathy had visited her days earlier, but she was not entirely sure why until the dream. In it, after her argument with Jonathan, she instantly found herself in her apartment with Elliot and was lying next to him and hoping he would make the move. She was still too embarrassed to even ask Elliot about his version of the events that night let alone what he thought about what had nearly happened on her living room floor and instead, she simply welcomed the idea of having him around her when he could visit.
Elliot visited every day for close to an hour in the mornings and then again later in the day until she fell asleep most nights. He made sure to check her visitor’s log each time he arrived, arranged to have an officer at her door and quizzed her about the names he did not recognize.
“Honestly, Elliot,” she had said. “The guy who attacked me isn’t going to march in the hospital to see how I’m doing. Especially when there’s a cop at the door.”
Elliot just shrugged. “I can’t afford to take any chances.”
Jonathan welcomed the security measures and it seemed to be the only thing upon which the two men agreed. Olivia would pretend to sleep when it appeared that their arguments were heightening and only Maya would venture to step into the fray putting them both in place by noting the final decisions, should Olivia be found unfit to make them, rested on her.
The sound of her doctor’s now familiar voice roused Olivia out of her reverie and as she began to set upon the sandwich Cragen had given her, she heard another knock at the door.
“Hey Olive Oyl!” Maya said as she entered the room carrying a large bag.
Behind her came a dark Indian man who pushed a large trash receptacle. With eyes lowered, he crossed the room, replaced the trash in Olivia’s room and was leaving in less than a minute. He nodded at Maya on his way out the door, but she rolled her eyes and pretended not to see him.
Olivia shook her head after witnessing the exchange. “You could’ve nodded back, Maya.”
“Why? I don’t know him.”
“God…you’re such a Brahmin snob, you know?”
Maya shrugged. “So, sue me. Besides, he wouldn’t be over here if he wasn’t one too. Anyway, what’ve you got for lunch today?”
“The sandwich my captain brought me. Hopefully, you’ll be kind enough to bring me a decent dinner.”
“Sorry. Dr. Androse actually sat down me, Elliot and Jonathan individually and talked about not letting you sneak chocolate and other crap.”
“And, that’s fine,” Olivia said, pointing at her untouched hospital sandwich, “but I can’t eat that.”
“I know it’s gross, but you’ve gotta eat it or else you’ll get sicker and they’ll keep you here for even longer and then I’ll have to just rent the room next this one because I’ll be spending so much time here.”
“And, that’s fine, but I really can’t eat that.”
“Anyway,” Maya said as she rolled her eyes and set her bag on Olivia’s bed. “I brought something for you.”
“Well, I suppose I’ve been good today and deserve a present.”
Maya laughed. “I didn’t know if you would’ve even wanted these, but I thought they’d be good for a laugh.”
“What are they?”
“Newspaper articles from a couple months ago. But, the cool thing is, they’re all from psychics and stuff commenting on you.”
“What do they say?” Olivia asked.
“Well…” Maya said pulling out several cut articles at once. “This one says that you were kidnapped by faeries. And, this one here says you ran off to the island where Elvis, Tupac and Amelia Earhart are.”
“No way!” Olivia laughed and pulled several from Maya’s pile. “That’s crazy.”
“This lady’s great too. She was on The Lessa Show a while back. ‘Olivia Benson’s story is a tragic one, found too commonly in a city such as New York, but what pains me most is that the police do not seem to want her body found, otherwise they would have contacted me in regards to the firsthand information I have on her whereabouts.’”
“Firsthand? C’mon.” Olivia shook her head. “Oh! Look at this one! ‘Ms. Benson’s spirit lies somewhere other than what we know of as heaven and Earth. She’s outside of our world and I think, no, I know, she shan’t be returning.’ Good God! The things people print!”
“I know,” Maya said. “And, I found a great one about alien abductions in that crazy newspaper ‘The Threat Among Us.’”
“Yeah. Whoa! Days is on! Where’s the clicker?”
Olivia turned on the room’s television and sifted through the various articles Maya had collected as Maya watched the soap opera.
With each article she found, Olivia felt more and more nauseated. Throughout various articles journalists and pseudo-reporters managed to condense her life into the space of a sound bite and the idea of it made her physically ill.
Olivia Benson, respected officer of the NYPD…
A seasoned officer and also known as a devoted friend…
Detective Olivia K. Benson, detective of the NYPD and champion of the victims of rape…
Manhattan-born cop, Olivia Benson…
By the time the soap was half over, her palms were sweaty and she could file bile accumulating at the back of her throat.
“Livia?” Maya said, spotting the change. “Are you feeling okay? You look kind of pale.”
Behind Maya, an hourglass was rotating on the television as a wizened voice echoed, “We will return for the second half of Days of Our Lives in just a moment.”
Olivia shook her head, but Maya still stared at her, concerned.
“What’s wrong?” Maya said.
“Yeah…in fact it’s so March, it’s almost April.”
“It’s just weird, that’s all.” Olivia sighed and turned her gaze toward the window. “It…it feels like just the other day we were dealing with January and now all of a sudden it’s April. I didn’t even have a chance to pretend that March 2nd didn’t hold any meaning for me.”
“March 2nd?” Maya eyes looked around the room for a moment before they locked back on Olivia’s thoughtful form. “Your mother’s birthday…”
“Yeah….” Olivia sat silent for a moment before turning her pensive gaze toward her friend. “What all happened when I was gone? I mean, world-wise. Like…did anything significant happen in the city or something while I was gone?”
“I have no idea. In fact unless you spoke to someone outside the city, you probably couldn’t speak to someone who could come up with anything other than the news about you.”
“What did you think had happened to me?”
“I don’t know,” she said shrugging. “When my imagination really got going, I was half-ready to believe those alien abduction people.” Olivia gave her a weak smile and Maya continued. “It’s hard to describe. It would’ve been different if we’d just found you and you’d been…killed or something. That’s doable. Livable…mostly. We could all uplift each other because we could just say to ourselves that we weren’t the first people in the world to lose a close a friend and we wouldn’t be the last. Missing is something completely different. When you’re just wandering around in the unknown…it’s far, far worse than dealing with death.”
“What do you think you would’ve done if I had been killed?”
Maya shrugged again, letting her shoulders fall heavily, ejecting a huff from her mouth. “I…Well, by about now, I might just be able to get out of bed in the morning so that I could spend my day crying on the sofa instead of just in my bed.”
“Seriously? You wouldn’t want to live your life to the fullest just to…I don’t know…make my spirit live on?”
“Eventually, I’d get there, but it would take me at least a year of mourning before I could actually grasp the fact that the person who had been there for me throughout my entire life was gone.”
Olivia nudged her. “You always were the softy.”
“What brought this on, though?”
“I guess I was just thinking about time and…how precious it is. I mean I technically only lost about a month of my life, but how many more months are going to be spent learning to figure out who I am again. I nearly had a handle on most things. I had a job I loved, some close friends, rent control, I was dating someone. Now…things are very, very different.”
“You can’t get depressed, Livia. Depression will just ruin all the progress you’ve made.”
“Progress? Yeah, I guess sitting up straight is some progress.”
“Yes progress. A month ago you were barely able to move on your own and you’d basically forgotten how to read and you got Elliot and Jonathan mixed up.”
“I did?” Olivia said eyebrows high. Maya nodded. “Yeah, that’s bad.”
“I think Jonathan was only pissed for half a day.”
“God, I don’t know about me and Jonathan.”
“Or even Jill for that matter.”
Olivia sighed. “I guess you’ve noticed her visits have been really short lately. Mostly just I can hug the boys and then she’s on her way.”
“Look, the Jillian thing will work out on its own. Eventually, she’ll come down off that high horse of hers and things’ll go back to normal. Same thing with Sarah. You know how they both can be.”
“And words of Maya-wisdom on Jonathan?”
“How the heck should I know?” she said with a smile. “Jill and Sarah are the ones who got you two together. If you prod either of them right, I’m sure Jonathan might fall back into line.”
“It’s just that we hadn’t really talked since before…all this and I just don’t know what to say to him anymore.”
“It’s probably because he’s not sure whether or not you remember what he said to you yet.”
“Oh, I remember. Nothing gave him the right to say what he did, but I also remember that I wasn’t exactly being as open with him as I could’ve been.”
They were both silent for a moment before Maya spoke. “Are you thinking about breaking up with him?”
It was Olivia’s turn to shrug. “I don’t know. A part of me thinks the relationship has run its course, but on the other hand, I don’t think I’ve ever given him a whole-hearted chance. I’ve just been really focused on not having a repeat of Jason, you know?”
“What should I do?” Olivia said.
“Hey, don’t ask me. I was rooting for Elliot, remember?”
Olivia rolled her eyes and gave Maya a playful slap. “God, you’re no help at all, you know?”
“Livia, you’ve gotta do what makes you happiest. That’s the only advice I can give. Now, turn the clicker back to Days. We haven’t seen Kate on in a little while…”
Once the soap ended, Maya assisted Olivia with her daily exercises, filling the room with absent-minded chatter as she worked to keep up Olivia’s spirits.
The same expression of combined anger, grief and confusion would play across Olivia’s face whenever she watched someone bending her legs to keep her circulation flowing. While she tried to tell herself repeatedly that she would eventually regain what she once had, some days the simple unfairness of situation seemed to coalesce and expand during the therapy.
By all rights, she should have been in the midst of several cases with Elliot, not contemplating what she would have to do with her apartment and the cost of wheelchairs. She should have been running down perpetrators and helping victims through their trauma, not spending her days attempting to stimulate movement in the lower half of her body, with daytime television as a background. She should have been doing a lot of things, but instead a month of her life had been stolen and many more were spent trying to make sense of the world again through the walls of an old hospital.
“…and JD and Priyani will probably be by later today or tomorrow,” Maya said as she flexed Olivia’s foot. “I’m not sure if Mātā will be coming with them, but you’ll understand if I don’t show up while they’re here, right?”
“I’ll understand. Anyway, speaking of visitors, I’m expecting a couple. I know Adam’s coming to see me today.”
“Well, good, because I’ve brought your good brush and some makeup because the ‘I-have-just-been-whisked-from-the-gates-of-death’ look is just not going to work with people besides me, Jonathan and Elliot.”
Maya left for a meeting with a client a half hour later, and had only been gone a few minutes when Adam Jackson knocked on Olivia’s door.
“Hey Olivia.” He walked toward her bed looking somber, but happy to see her, regardless. “How’ve you been feeling?”
“Just trying to get well.” It had been her standard mantra for nearly everyone who had come to see her. The desire to burst into tears and scream about what an unfair hand she had been dealt was always overwhelming, but she managed to contain it with a readied response. “How’ve you been?”
“Can’t complain, I guess. Not much going on.”
“Nothing going on? So, you’ve just been staring at the floor for the past two months, then?”
Adam laughed. “I got up to got up to go to work a few times in between. Other than that…Me and Nitaysia got back together.”
“Well that’s something! See, I told you she’d realize what she was missing.”
“Yeah, the past couple months have been interesting.”
“From what I’ve up to lately.” He paused and Olivia leaned toward him, pressing him to continue. “Well, as sappy as it sounds…prayer. A lot of prayer.”
“That’s not sappy, Adam.” she said staring at her blankets. “My partner told me what happened while I was gone. I’m so sorry. I don’t think I can say that enough.”
Adam waved his hand as if brushing off the suggestion. “Don’t even worry about it. I don’t think I really would’ve believed them when they said they were questioning everyone if they hadn’t talked me…in hindsight.”
“I just wish I could turn back the clock. I feel like I’ve put everyone I know through hell when I didn’t even do anything.”
“It’s okay, Olivia. I was probably praying hardest after your team came to talk to me. In fact, after that I started spending a lot more time in the church after service just to…be in God’s house for a little longer. Taysia still went to the same, of course, and she’d heard what’d happened and we got to talking again.”
“I’m glad something good could’ve come out of all this. I’m happy for you.”
“Yeah,” Adam sighed. “You know, even though I know you think most religions are full of crap…”
“Well, not full of crap.”
“But,” Adam laughed. “I fully believe in the power of prayer and I’m still praying that we’ll be able to go for a run together soon.”
Olivia smiled. “Thanks Adam. It can’t possibly hurt, right?”
The pair talked throughout the rest of the afternoon until Elliot and Jonathan came to the room at the same time. After several tense minutes sitting between them, Adam left saying he was late for “something” and Olivia was left trying to interject into a growing argument that seemed to have started well outside the room.
“I think you’ve got too many visitors coming in and out of here,” Elliot said. “We should probably speak to Androse and get them limited.”
“Don’t be stupid,” Jonathan said. “She’s not going to sit here alone all day except for some nurses.”
“She wouldn’t be alone. There would just be fewer people bringing in all sorts of crap from the city for her weakened lungs to breath in.”
“Actually…,” Olivia tried to say, but no one else in the room seemed to notice her.
“As long as her doctor doesn’t object,” Jonathan said. “I don’t see a problem.”
“This coming from the guy who had a problem with her having chocolate.”
“Well, she shouldn’t be eating all that crap anyway. Just like I was saying at first. It’s going to ruin her health and she’ll be here for even longer. That’s why it’s called junk food.”
“Yeah well, we all know that now. Ever since Androse talked to us about it. So, don’t get cocky like you were so well-informed.”
“Elliot… Jonathan…if I could just…”
“Oh, I am well-informed. I make it my business to be well-informed. Because I care about Olivia’s welfare, I’m well-informed.”
“You know, you need to just drop the attitude. You’re not impressing anyone here.”
“And who are you trying to impress, disparaging me at every chance you get? Is that the only thing you can do once the wit runs out?”
Elliot stood immediately and Olivia grabbed the edge of his coat in hopes of keeping him on his side of her bed.
“Elliot! Christ…what the hell? Jonathan? Look, I don’t know what’s wrong with either of you, but if you’re just going to be arguing like this, you can both leave. I’ve got way too much to be concerned about to let you two argue over me like you’ve gone crazy!”
“Olivia, please,” Jonathan said.
“Don’t you dare talk to her with that condescending bullshit tone of yours!”
“My tone? ‘Scuse the hell out of me for using a normal voice instead screaming my head off like a jackass.”
“Oh my God!” Olivia shouted. “Get out now! Both of you!”
“Olivia…” Elliot began near a whisper, but she cut him off mid-sentence.
“No. When the two of you stop arguing and decide to act like grown men, then we can all have a nice civil conversation. Until then…I’ll see you later.”
“See. You. La-ter.”
They left the room glaring at one another as they walked and Olivia shook her head as the door closed with a final “click.” She never before seen them fight like that and it made her wonder just how loud the arguments might have become before she had been found.
Trying to brush away the thought, she curled into her pillows as much as her abdomen would allow and sighed as the wear from countless drugs in her system was allowing her eyes to close.
Maybe I’ll give Adam another call, she thought. Maybe I’ll ask him to throw in a prayer about Elliot and Jonathan.
With the absence of any visitors,
the room suddenly very serene and Olivia fell asleep quickly. The noises of the
city dulled slightly as the night wore on and just as she was about to hit
An echoing pain resounded throughout her body and Olivia shivered from the aftershock. She began breathing hard as the pain faded and considered calling for the nurses’ station, but simply fell back against her pillows trying to make sense of what she had felt.
Nothing happened for several minutes, but again the searing pain ripped her from sleep and she reached forward.
“Jesus Christ!” she yelled, grabbing her thigh. This time she pushed the button for the nurses’ station in quick succession and clawed at the cast that still entrapped her thigh.
As her finger grazed the rough cast, she stopped for a moment, blinking at her hand that was pink with several abrasions from the cast.
Pain…? she thought. In my leg…?
Elliot strode down the bright corridor, nodding
toward the faces he had come to recognize after weeks of daily visits to the
hospital. He had eaten a nice meal with his family and had spoken at length
with his daughter who was beginning the last stretch of her time at
Maureen had decided to pursue her
Master’s degree at
Once he had approached the nurse’s station near Olivia’s room, Elliot ran his finger down the names of Olivia’s visitors for the day.
Maya Shah, yes…Melinda Warner, yes… Sylvia Whitmore, okay…Samuel Lauer, yes, the neighbor… Jillian Harfort, yes… Jordan Harfort, Jeremy Harfort, her boys… Kenneth Randall, okay…Jonathan Halloway…Aileen Halloway, might be the bastard’s mother, Jaidev Shah, okay…Priyani Iyengar, okay…
“Hey,” Elliot said a moment later as he stepped into Olivia’s room.
Olivia stared at him for a moment as if suppressing a grin. “Hey. Are you feeling better?”
“Yeah.” Elliot stood with his hands in his pockets before Olivia beckoned him closer. “Sorry about all that last night.”
“It’s fine. Just try to be a little more cordial in the future.”
“I will, but you should talk to Halloway too.”
“He’s called three times today apologizing.”
“Good to know.” Elliot sat in the chair nearest to her bed. “I see the cast on your arm is off.”
Olivia happily waved her thin arm that was free of its itching menace. “Yep. They cut me out of it this afternoon.”
“Where’s Halloway now?”
“Jonathan is having dinner with his mother and has promised to order an extra meal just to have something decent to bring me. How are the kids?”
“Doing good. Although, Maureen’s just told us she and her boyfriend are planning on moving in together after graduation.”
“Wow. Big step.”
“A wrong step.”
Olivia sighed. “He’s a good kid, Elliot.”
“I’m sure he’s an excellent kid, but I still don’t like the idea of him shacking up with my daughter. She’s too young.”
“She’s older than you were when you got married.”
“And, we had to get married because we were too young. I know how this works. She’ll be in school and he’ll be at a firm somewhere and then one thing leads to another. She’ll get pregnant and have to drop out and then she’ll never get to do what she wants with her life.”
“How about thinking the cup is half full once in a while, Elliot?”
“The cup’s not half full, Olivia,” he said. “In fact, when it comes to that situation, the cup’s damn near drained. Change of subject, though. How are you doing?”
A sly smirk spread across her face. “I’m well, Elliot. I’m doing well.”
“Just well? How’s your collar feel?”
“It’s coming along.”
“Are you getting your grip back in your hand?”
“A little, but I liked the idea of being ambidextrous for a while.”
He stared at her for a moment. “What are you leaving out?”
“What makes you think I’m leaving something out?”
“Something happened, didn’t it?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yeah, okay,” he said. “Did Halloway propose or something?”
Olivia’s eyes grew to twice their size. “What?”
“Okay, I guess was wrong.”
“Yes, very wrong.”
“Then, what’s with you? You’ve got that look on your face like you do when you think you’re hiding something good.”
She shrugged. “Just happy to be alive, I suppose.”
“Or happy on that new happy-drip they’ve got you hooked up to now.”
“I’ll admit the new drugs might have a small factor in my mood.”
“Why the new drugs, though?”
“I had a lot of pain last night, but I’m feeling much better though.”
“Well, good…Cragen wants us all to talk to you again…when you think you’re ready.”
“I’m always ready. I’ll give you everything I’ve got.”
“Good to hear. You look tired though. Why don’t we save it for another night?”
“I met Aileen Halloway today. Just withstanding her looks that bore through my soul took a lot out of me. It would have been bad enough just having to talk to her as any old person on the street, but she’s his mother on top it. The whole time she kept giving me that look. The one that says she wouldn’t care if I was the ambassador to another country, she still wouldn’t like me.”
“I’m sure she loved you.”
“I’m sure she didn’t, but I never do well with the parents anyway.”
“Still,” Elliot said. “That’s a big step. Meeting his mother. I guess things between the two of you are back on track?”
Olivia sighed and stared at him for a long time. “I don’t really know where we are at the moment. Everything feels like it’s back to normal, but we still haven’t talked about what happened before…all this.”
“I’m sure it’ll all work out.”
Olivia’s voice trailed and she quickly changed the subject to Elliot’s most recent case.
While no other murdered boys had been found, there was still no evidence and nowhere to begin looking for answers. Public outcry had waned by the time Zachary Calbrach was out of the hospital and, as other cases continued to appear, Ryan Daly and Andrew Shaw were set to the side, waiting for more information.
Elliot discussed some of his caseload, his dislike for Alexa Brown and the differences in the department since Olivia had been gone for a while longer before he was called out to a new crime scene.
“Hey, could you do me a favor?” Olivia said as Elliot stood to leave.
“Well…I need you to…how do I put this?”
“What is it?” he asked suddenly apprehensive. “Just tell me.”
“Yeah…well, can you pull down my blankets a little more so that they cover my feet?”
Elliot’s eyebrows furrowed as he approached the end of the bed. “Okay…Any reason why?”
“Yes, well it’s kind of chilly in here and my toes are getting a little cold.”
He pulled at her blankets for a moment, but paused when he noticed something moving beneath the blanket. His eyes grew wide when he caught the significance of her statement and all but pulled off her blankets to see Olivia slightly wiggling her toes.
“How long…?” he tried to say, but gasped and laughed at the same time, taking away his breath.
“Last night,” she said beaming at him. “I couldn’t figure out what was going on at first. All I knew was that my whole body was in pain. Then I realized that my whole body that was in pain. I’ve spent most of today practicing on just my feet.”
“Oh my God, Olivia…I can’t believe it.”
“See? I told you the cup was half full.”
He laughed and tickled her feet. She let out a girlish shriek as her toes quivered.
“Stop! I can only move them so much and that tickles!”
Elliot smiled and felt his chest burn as he tried to hold back tears. “Bet you’ll be able to write with your feet again in no time.”
“Well,” she said laughing. “Next time, bring a pen and I’ll practice.”
In another moment, he had wrapped both arms around her, and he held her like he had weeks earlier, feeling genuinely thankful for the first time in months.
At a knock on the door, he released her slightly and, upon noting Olivia tense in his arms, let go completely, knowing that Jonathan most likely stood behind him.
“I’ll see you later,” he said and quickly headed for the door without looking at Jonathan.
“What was that about?” Jonathan asked as he took Elliot’s seat.
“Just a little something.”
“The same little something you refused to talk about over the phone.”
“The same little something you would’ve heard first if you hadn’t surprised me with your mother.”
“She wanted to meet you and wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
“A Halloway refusing to take no for an answer? Now there’s a surprise.”
Jonathan laughed. “So…what’s the little something that had him all excited.”
“Yeah, him. Your partner.”
“And his name is…?”
Jonathan rolled his eyes. “Elliot.”
“Good. Now that I know you both know each other’s names, I expect you to be civil.”
“I’ll do my best.”
“That’s all I ask.”
“So, what happened?”
Olivia stared at her feet and wiggled her toes until they began to hurt. “Oh nothing.”
“Nothing?” Jonathan squinted at her. “What do mean nothing? I mean, when he walked out of here he looked like-”
Jonathan stopped short as movement caught his attention. Olivia tried to repress a smile as she watched Jonathan staring at her feet as if they were magical, but she could barely help it.
“Dear God,” he whispered as he knelt beside the bed with tears forming in his eyes. “I knew…I just knew it would come back…”
By the next day, news of Olivia’s steady recovery had spread through the hospital and neurologists and doctors specializing in spinal injury from across the city had come to see her.
Elliot could see Olivia’s was patience wearing thin by the time he arrived at the hospital in the morning, but at the same time, her face seemed brighter and she looked healthier than she had in a long while. She had gained some weight and did not look so much like someone who had stepped out of a concentration camp and, even though she had not been outdoors, she had regained some of her natural colouring.
Jonathan and Maya were completed elated by the news, though Jonathan was visibly irritated about hearing the news second after Elliot, but all three stood by as she endured a series of tests to see how much progress they could expect for her to make.
Though the team of doctors were impressed by the fact that Olivia not only had sensation below the waist, but could also make slight movements if she concentrated, they agreed the most that could optimistically expected was for Olivia to perhaps stand unaided, but that walking or running was no longer a possibility. Only Dr. Androse dissented saying that he believed Olivia could make a full recovery within a year’s time. Even with the news, the four celebrated and Jonathan would pinch her lightly on the legs just to hear Olivia giggle and say “Stop that, damn it” each time.
The celebration, however, turned bittersweet when the pain Olivia was experiencing would not subside. Dr. Androse worried about giving her too many painkillers in conjunction with the antibiotics to prevent infection and to prevent the pneumonia from reoccurring, but by that Monday, Dr. Androse had given Olivia a fentanyl to combat the pain for the short term.
To further the disappointment of all involved, Olivia’s motor functions were not progressing the way anyone would have hoped. Many times when she attempted to move her right foot, the left would move instead and, on top of everything else, she was still having the seizures.
“Well, no one said this was all going away in a day,” Maya said that night after Olivia sat staring out her window, visibly tristful following an afternoon of failed attempts at moving her entire foot as her mind commanded. “We knew we’d be in this for the long haul, so there’s no reason for us to get upset this early on.”
Olivia nodded, but was barely listening. On the wall next to the window was a calendar and she could not help noticing that with March 26th she had lost fifty-five days of her old life. She had tried not to count and attempted to push the thoughts from her mind, but it could not be helped and, as Maya, Elliot and Jonathan tried to reiterate that setbacks were not uncommon when massive healing had to take place, Olivia counted a hundred and five days lost if she remained in the hospital until her thirty-eighth birthday.
Olivia’s fingers gripped the edges of the hardcover novel in her lap as she realized exactly whom Stephen King’s “Randall Flagg” personified.
Maya and Elliot had left for the night and to stave off the boredom, Olivia asked Jesse to get a book for her from the bookstore several floors downstairs. She had been reading intently for several hours to the point she barely noticed the sounds of the city and did not realize how hard she was holding the book as she read. The new knowledge about Randall Flagg was so thrilling that she jumped in the bed when there was a knock at her door.
“Hey Liv,” Jonathan said as he approached her.
“What’s that?” Olivia pointed to the large bag around his shoulder.
“This is your new laptop.”
“My new laptop? I don’t remember asking for one.”
“You didn’t, but I thought you might want something to do other than watch soaps.”
“Hey! I’m reading too.”
Jonathan smiled as he opened the laptop and handed it to her. When Olivia turned it on, she found that Jonathan had changed the background image to a photo of the two of them taken on their first date together.
“This is nice,” she said. “Thank you.”
“Never a problem.”
She browsed the various games and e-books Jonathan had bought for her and then brought up a Firefox browser to check the news.
When she realized that Jonathan had simply been staring silently at her, Olivia looked up at him. “What?”
“Nothing just glad you like it.”
“I do. I bet I’ve got a million e-mails to read.” She sighed. “You know, I half-expected the first thing that would pop up on here was that video everyone keeps talking about.”
“If you want to see it, just Google ‘cop kills partner.’ It’s on YouTube for sure.”
“It’s not funny, Jonathan.”
“No one said it was. And believe me, no one was laughing after it showed up.”
Her curiosity getting the better of her, Olivia did the proposed search and watched, with her mouth slightly gaping, as she and Elliot wrestled on her living room floor. Her eyes went wide when she saw where the video clip stopped.
“This is bullshit.”
“Meaning…what? That’s not you?”
“Meaning, I don’t know how this was taken, but it cuts off at the most important part. Elliot leaving.”
“Well, I’m sure the world is happy to hear you say that.”
“It’s the truth.”
“I’m sure it is, but until you were awake and able to say ‘it’s the truth,’ the only person who knew the truth, wasn’t forthcoming with it when you first disappeared.”
“Why are you so hung up on this video?”
“Because it’s important that you see it and know what’s on it. You should know why we’re all so on edge lately. It’s because we’d had to deal with that during the weeks you were gone.”
She shook her head at him. “Is this your excuse for why you and Elliot argue like ten-year-olds every time you’re in here together?” Jonathan leaned backward in his chair and she continued. “You know, he didn’t do this to me. I feel like I’ve been saying this everyday. Maybe you should give Elliot the benefit of the doubt.”
“Maybe…it’s somehow significant that of all people who had to show this to you, it had to be me.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Why hasn’t he shown this to you yet?”
“And, the rest of us aren’t? I’m surprised I haven’t been fired from my job yet. I spend less than three hours a day in the office.”
“Well, it’s not like the city will be sending you to a debtor’s prison if you do. And besides, what has that video go to do with anything? I know you don’t think he did this, so I’ll tell you like I told my captain. That night, Elliot and I had an argument. It got out of hand, but in the end, after he pinned me, I got out. I handcuffed him, we talked for a bit and then he was gone. That’s it. I’m so sick of saying this.”
Jonathan stared at the floor and, with furrowed eyebrows, she turned her attention back to her January e-mails.
“Well,” Jonathan began nearly twenty minutes of silence later, “can we talk about something else? Something specific that pertains to just you and me?”
“How much do you remember about the week before all this happened?”
“You mean, do I remember our, um…talk?” Jonathan nodded. “Yeah, but I’m not sure I’m really in the best mood to be talking about it right now.”
“Yeah, I’m really not in the mood to talk about it.”
He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “Olivia, I know you don’t want to talk about it, but I…I’m pretty sure this is bothering you too because it’s agonizing me. I just need to tell you, I’m sorry. I am. I…I didn’t mean what I said at all, and I’m so, so sorry.”
The words “He was the one, wasn’t he?” floated into Olivia’s head and she closed her eyes and sighed.
“It’s…” Olivia began. “Well, I want to say ‘it’s okay,’ but that doesn’t seem like it’s fitting.”
“I don’t know why I said that to you.”
“I don’t think you’re a…whore. I would’ve never pursued you if I thought you were.”
“No…I know you don’t think that and I know you didn’t mean to say it. The truth is, when I think back on it, I know you were frustrated because I had a lot going on and it seemed like I was pulling away from you.”
“I still had no right to say that to you.”
“No, you didn’t, but if I think about the situation on whole, I can kind of understand why it came out like that. The real problem is that we never had a chance to really talk about it.”
“I know,” Jonathan said. “I’ve been asking myself for months why I didn’t just call you. If I had called, we wouldn’t be going through this right now.”
“You can’t know that, Jonathan and I don’t want you to blame yourself for this.” She paused. “So, I guess the question is, where do we go from here?”
“Now, that’s something I don’t want to discuss right now. I’d rather you put every focus into getting better and we’ll see what develops from there.”
“I don’t know what that means.”
“It means…no matter what happens, I’ll always be here for you.”
Olivia reached for his hand and fell asleep with her fingers intertwined with his.
“Life was such a wheel that no man could stand upon it for long.
And it always, at the end, came round to the same place again.”
Olivia let out a deep sigh when she finally closed the novel in her lap. She had first read the book way back in her early twenties, but as life turned in its many directions, she had forgotten every aspect of it.
As she set the book on the nightstand next to the bed, her ears piqued at the sound of heeled footsteps coming down the hospital corridor. She was not surprised when the figure in heels came through her door; only the idea that she hear and recognize Jillian’s terse footsteps surprised her.
“Okay,” Jillian said as if they were in mid-conversation. She stood at the door with her coat still hanging on her arm. “I feel horrible for not spending as much time as I could here with you and I know this is mostly about what I said to Elliot. So, I need you to just listen as I make my case so that you understand exactly why I’ve said the things I have to your partner.”
“I understand, Jillian. You’ve never really liked Elliot and, when you heard something bad about him, you jumped on it.”
“Please, Liv. I just need you to understand. Okay? Just think about this from my point of view. The godmother to my children had gone missing. No one knew anything about where she had gone, but…But before any real investigation even began, your partner called me one morning asking if I had spoken to you and, when I asked him then what was wrong, he said it was nothing. Nothing! I asked him specifically if I should be worried by the fact that he was calling and he said there was no problem and he was just trying to make sure that you were okay. His words, not mine. ‘Just making sure that she’s okay.’ And then I come to find out that you had been…gone for two days by the time he called me. He lied Olivia. Right when you first disappeared, he lied to me.”
“Jillian…he said what he needed to say to make sure that you didn’t cause any unnecessary panic. He did what any cop would’ve done.”
“Any cop? Olivia…” She ran a hand
over her face. “You were missing for two weeks! Yeah, I caused a panic when I
learned that something happened to you and look what’s happened. God, when I
saw you after they first got you to the hospital…I didn’t think you’d ever wake
up again…I thought you were going to die. All of our worst fears had come true
and it first started when he was dishonest with me. Call it what you want, but
when I learned that he had lied on
the phone, any reason I had to trust what he had to say went right out the
window. The last time we had spoken, you were complaining about the how bad the
job was going and thinking about transferring to a different department because
of how things were going with your partner. Then that Saturday,
“Essentially, that’s what he was doing.”
“No, he was starting a Missing Persons investigation and lied to try and keep me calm. I’ll tell you this much, I sure as hell wasn’t calm when I remembered what he’d said to me. And then there’s the tape. I know you’ve seen that video. Can you…can you just imagine for a second what I was going through when I first saw that? My friend since college was missing, her partner had lied to me about it and then…then I see this video that makes it look like her partner had done something to her. If our places were switched and you got a call from Joshua that sounded a little suspicious and then I turned up missing, what would you think? Christ, what would you do if you saw me and Josh on that video? You would’ve jumped to the same conclusions that Jonathan and I did.”
Olivia was silent a moment as she stared at Jillian. “Okay. Fine, Jill, fine. I’m willing to acknowledge that you were probably really freaked out by what happened, but Elliot’s been my partner for close to ten years.”
“And how long have Josh and I been married?”
“Jillian, it’s different.”
“No. It’s no different.”
“Jill, you’re right. If the tables were turned, I would’ve probably suspected, arrested and interrogated Joshua until I knew he was clean, but the key difference here is that when you were found and you looked me in the eye and told me that Joshua hadn’t hurt you, I would’ve found him immediately and apologized. That’s what’s different.”
“Okay. I’ll apologize to him.”
“And, you need to make it a good one too. Not one of your half-assed Jillian apologies that aren’t really apologies. Make it genuine.”
“Okay, I will…So, can I sit here for a moment and just talk to you…because when Maya told me you got the feeling back in your legs and I started crying on the phone because I wanted to talk to you, but I didn’t want to make this any worse.”
Olivia smiled and shook her head. “You’re such a drama queen, Jillian. Besides, you know I’d keep you around…just to see my boys, if anything.”
They laughed together and talked like old times until Maya joined them and all three watched Days of Our Lives in the same manner they had spent many of their college afternoons.
Throughout the remainder of the day, there were never fewer than three visitors in Olivia’s room and, by the time Elliot arrived, Olivia was beginning to feel the wear of a body that was not fully healed and also the quarter gram of codeine running through her system.
When Elliot stepped into the room and spotted Jonathan who was about to leave, she barely had the strength to reprimand either of them when they scowled at one another.
“Can you two please just do whatever you need to do to make peace because…you two are starting to stress me out.”
“It takes two to make peace.”
“Yeah, but you could just be civil.”
“It’s hard to be civil when he’s an asshole.”
“Well, why don’t you be the bigger person here.”
Elliot sighed. “I’ll try.”
“Okay. Well, what’ve you been up to today?”
“Talking to Zachary Calbrach.”
“He’s one of the last victims of the Kreider copy-cat, right?”
“Yes,” Elliot said solemnly. “I’ve been talking to his mother. She says he’s been having seizures. He’s had them two days in a row last week and his doctors are having a time trying to stop them.”
“The same person who took me, killed those boys…”
“Yeah, that’s what we’re thinking.”
“Any ideas yet?”
Elliot sighed again. “We’re working on it.”
“Well, I suppose that’s still something.”
“On another note…I didn’t notice it earlier, but I see Halloway’s bought you a gift.”
“Oh, the laptop. Yeah, I put it away for a while after I lost a hundred games of spider solitaire in a row. I kind of think he just wanted to show me that video.”
Olivia stared at Elliot and, for the first time since either could remember, they shared a moment where one was completely certain of what the other was thinking.
His hands, her hands. Her body against his body. His lips against her skin…
Elliot broke the eye contact first and cleared his throat. “Yeah…um…well, anyway, I Kathy told me she came by to see you on her own a while back.”
“She did!” Olivia said, happy for a quick change in the conversation, and they talked about Elliot’s children until Olivia’s eyes began to droop while she was talking.
“Get some sleep, Liv,” Elliot said, giving her hand a quick squeeze before heading for the door.
“Oh, hey,” she said. “God, I just thought of something. Someone needs to go check on Evelyn Rivers if you haven’t already. I mean, she was already kind of fragile that Monday and I’d told her I’d be by to see her that Wednesday. I’d all but forgotten about her considering all that’s happened. She’s probably blown up my cell phone by now.”
Elliot sighed as he stared at her. He had known the moment was coming when he would need to tell Olivia what had happened, but he had hoped that he could have saved it for several months more.
“What?” she said.
He shook his head and she squinted at him.
“Is…is she okay?”
Elliot’s eyes dropped to the floor. In all his life he never thought that he had failed her as much as he had at that moment.
“Elliot…?” she said, her voice catching. “Is she okay?”
He gave a slight to his head and Olivia could feel her eyes begin to tear.
“What…Diorel? Please don’t tell me he hurt her again.”
“No,” he said. “Diorel’s at Rikers.”
“Then, what happened?”
He took a deep breath and pursed his lips. “Olivia, she’s…Evelyn’s dead. She killed herself.”
Olivia closed her eyes and a tear escaped her eyes before she could stop it. “How? When?”
“She slit her wrists a few days before you woke up.”
Olivia nodded with wet eyes and coughed to cover the sob that had built in her throat. “Did she leave a note?”
“She…she said that she couldn’t let Diorel do to her what she insisted he did to you.”
She sniffed back a second tear and shook her head. “That’s just…I don’t even know. I mean did I everything I could…it wasn’t enough.”
“Olivia,” he said. He crossed the room in three steps and was at her side a moment later. “This wasn’t your fault.”
“I let her down, Elliot.”
“No. It was all me. I saw the signs…she was calling for you everyday…she left message after message, sounding worse and worse. She kept saying that Diorel had to’ve done something to you and that he was coming for her next. She was going downhill quick. I just didn’t see it in time.”
Olivia leaned back into her pillows. “I work so hard to get her away from him, Elliot, and he managed to kill her anyway.”
“Liv…” he said softly, but she just shook her head and turned away from him.
“Just…just go. I just need to get some sleep.”
He stared at her for a full minute before leaving. Everything in his soul was urging him to stay, but he continued walking and two days had passed before Olivia’s mood showed any signs of change.
Olivia sighed as her arm missed the far table again and pouting slightly, she rested back against her pillows.
She had been stretching for the box of chocolate Maya had intentionally set just out of her reach and, even after moving the bed as much as she could while still lying on top of it and extending her fingers as far as they would go, she still could not reach her quarry.
Several days had passed since Elliot had informed her that Evelyn Rivers had died despite all her efforts and there had been an outpour of candy and treats sent to her from other officers in her precinct and other friends in attempts to placate her.
A slight depression had overwhelmed Olivia’s spirits as she was plagued with thoughts of what must have been going through Evelyn’s head in her last living moments. Any time she managed to sleep, she woke after suffering nightmares of Evelyn crying out for Olivia to help her, but Olivia could only get to her just as she slit her wrists.
Though she had pressed him for details about Evelyn, Elliot remained adamant about only offering what he thought Olivia could handle, much to her annoyance, and thus left her dealing with her own imagination in combination with the vague memories that constantly plagued her thoughts. Every once in a while she would wake feeling brutally cold though the heat in the hospital room blazed or she would find herself suddenly nauseated to the point where Maya had to hold back her hair as she vomited into a shallow bucket. She knew the problems were caused by memories of a dark place and continually pushed the thoughts aside, yet she had nothing else on which to ponder and when her mind turned to Evelyn’s tragic end, the depression would settle further into her psyche.
Olivia eventually welcomed the gifts, yet to the point that she had abstained from eating the meals prepared by her nutritionist and doctors. Worried that she might be endangering her health, Maya had insisted that the treats and outside food stop coming and even threatened to file a legal suit to keep visitors away from Olivia, but somehow unapproved food would appear in the room.
Through a channel of uninformed visitors and orderlies she would reward with a wink and a smile, Olivia received what she wanted on a consistent basis and though her doctors warned that without a proper diet, she might risk further health problems when she was finally strong enough to leave the hospital, Olivia did not care.
The news of Evelyn’s death weighed upon her heavily from the fact that she could not do anything to stop it, to the idea that it was her disappearance that had sent Evelyn over the edge. That thought alone lead to the notion that, regardless of how many times Elliot had said, “Liv, it wasn’t your fault,” she had been the cause of Evelyn’s death. She had asked politely at first, and then later demanded that she be allowed to at least visit Evelyn’s grave, but her doctors, and Elliot especially, were against it.
Several small bruises had erupted
on Olivia’s arms and legs and her doctors feared that she might be reacting
poorly to the vancomycin used previously to treat the
pneumonia that had seemed to linger in earlier weeks. A mild cough she
developed had turned into a new infection and while the drugs that pumped
through her IVs appeared to be working well, no one wanted to even risk
exposing Olivia to the
Infection was also possible from the wound on her side that had become a dull, continuous ache that would sometimes bleed if she shifted too quickly. All the while, melancholy mixed with anger anytime Olivia realized that everyone around treated her like a fragile victim and if there was one thing she knew she was not, it was a helpless victim.
When Maya had discovered the contraband chocolate behind her pillows, she had snatched it immediately, scolded Olivia for not caring about her well-being while so many others did and set it just out of reach as a constant reminder of the potential damage that could be done if Olivia did not follow her doctors’ wishes.
Olivia huffed in frustration as she glanced at the perfectly balanced meal that lay to her left. She was hungry, but out of simple determination and stubbornness, she refused to eat it.
Her foot twitched as she intended to extend a chagrin kick under her blankets and a grimace fell over her face as she imagined Maya, Elliot and Jonathan staring at her like she was a sick child who needed to be told “no.”
She turned on the television and caught the last bits of a commercial flaunting a fight between two grown men for the next episode of a talk show and Olivia rolled her eyes wondering if the tension between Jonathan and Elliot would erupt into such a fight.
The looks and snide exchanges had increased since Elliot had told her about Evelyn and she heard Jonathan insist on more than one occasion that Elliot had only said something to keep Olivia’s spirits subdued. The very idea of the suggestion annoyed her to no end, yet Elliot’s responses toward Jonathan were just as ill-tempered. What infuriated her most was that while Jonathan was behaving no different than his smug temperament was apt to show, Elliot no longer pretended to even tolerate Jonathan’s company.
They argued like embittered siblings over anything from whether or not the position of the window blinds would eventually shine light into her eyes to who would assist Olivia with her physical therapy each day. Most of the time, Maya kept her opinions to herself, though occasionally she too would snap at Elliot and Olivia felt the need to side with her.
She had seen him become protective of her to the point where it was nearly territorial in the past, but never had Olivia seen an adulterated rage spew from Elliot in regards to one of her beaus. Try as she might to get some kind of information from Maya as to what might have turned their relationship from barely cordial to inflammatory, Maya insisted there was nothing to tell.
Jillian and Fin had been fairly more forthcoming with information, yet they told two very different stories. While Jillian pressed that it seemed apparent when Olivia was missing, that Elliot had done something to her and was stymieing all efforts to find her, Fin insisted that Jonathan had exploded in the squad room enough times to ignite the place and turned an already tense situation into a near debacle. She did not know who to believe, though they both sounded as if they were telling the truth and she had heard snippets of conversation at random points during her hospital stay that shed some dim light on the problem.
When trying to make sense of Evelyn’s suicide, the arguing between Elliot and Jonathan aggravated Olivia to the point that she would insist on being alone and threw them both out of the room, where they would continue their boisterous arguments in the halls.
“You just need to make it difficult for her, don’t you?” Elliot had once yelled from behind her closed door.
“Me?” Jonathan had shouted in return. “What about you? You’re standing over her, telling her ‘no’ like she’s one of your goddamn tribe of kids!”
“Fuck off, Halloway! I’ve already dealt with enough of your bullshit to last me a lifetime. You don’t know Liv, like I know her and I know why she’s dealing with all this the way she is.”
“You can shove the high and mighty attitude, Copo. I don’t give a damn. She’s a grown woman who can make her own decisions and she doesn’t need you telling her what she can and can’t do.”
“If you weren’t so busy trying to make up with her, you’d realize how goddamn ignorant it is to let someone who’s suffering from multiple bronchial infections outside so they can breathe in all the city’s pollutions and catch something she can’t get rid of.”
“And if you weren’t so caught up in your trivial problems, none of this would’ve even happened. She probably got taken because someone was trying to save her from you. Or do think I’ve forgotten about the tape that shows Faithful Detective Stabler throwing my Olivia into a headlock on the goddamn floor!”
“I don’t have to explain myself to people who threaten cops in their homes.”
“Don’t act like you’re going threaten me with me that.”
“I’m not threatening anything. It’s a fact. You pulled an unlicensed weapon on me and I have every right to throw your little rich ass in jail for it. Not to mention, Liv was shot with a Smith and Wesson.”
“Screw you for even suggesting it, you bastard! I wasn’t the one who half destroyed Olivia’s apartment the night she disappeared and I wasn’t the one who kept the world in the dark about it until I was faced with the proof that I’d been caught. I should’ve shot your lying ass when I had the chance!”
“Yeah, you probably should’ve. Then, you’d be prison and I could be helping Olivia instead of dealing with your bullshit right now!”
Sighing away the memory, Olivia shifted on the bed and wiggled her toes until the familiar pain returned to her left thighbone that had not yet healed after her injuries. She glanced at the shimmering box of chocolates that lay out of her reach and sighed again. As she lay into her pillows, her mind whirred and, after a bout of inspiration, she grabbed the fork from the hospital food tray and with it, began reaching out to the box of her desire.
She stretched as far as she could with the fork in hand, but just as the fork tip grazed the edge of the box, she felt a prick at her neck as if she had strained something and dropped the fork as she swore at the pain. Her hands shook as she still leaned out of the bed and before she knew what was happening, her body tensed as every nerve constricted simultaneously. As she fell forward, everything turned dark as a large crack rang through the room in conjunction with a sharp pain shooting through her head.
The grey before her eyes slowly formed into the cream colour of the ceiling at which her eyes now stared and the sound of feet running across tile echoed through her head.
“Jesus Christ!” a voice yelled. “There’s blood everywhere! Get the rest of the staff. Hurry!”