“You did good today,” Jesse said as he wheeled Olivia in her chair.
She nodded. “Yeah…”
With the ability to stand finally achieved, Olivia’s physical therapy sessions had doubled, starting much earlier in the day and then again later in the day. While she was still excited by the fact that she was standing, the initial joy was wearing thin and, with Jesse and Cedric still needed to keep her upright and also the still sore wound on her side, even her best efforts at staying positive seemed to wane.
“Hey, I don’t want you sounding defeated,” Jesse said. “We just got you standing a few days ago and I’ve been at this for a while. It takes time to stand without me and Ced keeping you up, but before you know it, you’ll be on the Lokomat and then walking out the door.”
“I know, but I’m impatient.”
“You? Impatient? Well, golly geez whiz. I’d’ve never figured that out.” Olivia simply smiled and threw her head backwards quickly to bump him in the stomach.
Officer Reeves smiled at them as Jesse pushed Olivia into her room. The moment they cleared the doorframe, however, Jesse stopped fast.
Olivia followed where his gaze led and soon found a large basket of roses sitting on the nightstand next to the hospital bed. She rolled her chair forward and saw a small white card stuck between the roes that were actually plastic, though beautifully detailed.
“‘For my favorite survivor,’” she read aloud from the card, “‘who isn’t quite ready for the real ones yet. Love J.’” She turned toward Reeves who still stood in the doorway. “How’d these get in here?”
Reeves gave an exaggerated shrug. “I have absolutely no idea. Maybe they just beamed in through the curtains.”
Olivia shook her head at him as she watched him leave with a grin on his face.
“Wow,” Jesse said as stared at the flowers. “That Halloway’s quite a guy.”
“Very much so,” Olivia said, reading the card again.
“If I wasn’t straight, I’d wrestle you for him.” Olivia laughed and Jesse squeezed her shoulder once before turning to leave.
The plastic roses glimmered slightly in the light beyond her curtains and she let out a happy sigh as she stared at them.
Jonathan had slept in her room the previous night like he had the one before that and, while she was not sure if the plastic roses were a sign of something significant or simply the fact that he enjoyed being with her, she more than appreciated the gesture.
After she had told him and Elliot that she would call them when she was ready to see either one, Jonathan appeared in the hospital corridor, well outside of visiting hours. That night, she could hear his voice from behind the door and heard him talking to Officer Martens, her night guard, but mostly to himself.
“I may not be able to actually see her,” he had said, “but, I’m still going to be here.” He then plopped himself on the floor in his six-hundred-dollar suit.
Olivia had left him outside for close to an hour before slowly wheeling out to the corridor and sighing as she watched him lightly dozing. She had been watching him sleep for close to ten minutes, when she wheeled passed Martens and whispered for Jonathan to come into her room.
She snuggled next to him on the sofa as she queued up Primal Fear for him and slept so soundly that night she was surprised when rays of sunlight began to pour through her window. It was not until Jonathan was telling her that he had to leave that next morning that Olivia realized how much she missed sleeping beside him.
Squeezing the card in her hand, Olivia moved from her chair to the expensive sofa in the room and was about to watch Primal Fear again when Elliot knocked on her door.
“Hey,” he said, stepping into the room with more of a sigh than a smile. “How are you feeling?”
“I feel fine, though you look tired,” she said, noting the circles under his eyes.
“With the day I’ve had, I’m not surprised.”
“Part of it.”
“I want to testify.”
“Casey’s working on it, but she said Gruenbaum’s stone-walling us and trying to get you quashed as a witness.”
“How can he do that?”
“He says you didn’t see anything so there’s nothing to witness.”
“Except the fact that I can testify to everything the little freak’s been doing since I moved to that apartment. I still can’t believe he tried to use my mother as an excuse.”
“Well, Landon’s a bastard and I think we both wish him a long, hot burn in hell once he gets there.”
Olivia shook her head. “Still can’t believe it. If you told me six months ago that Mark was that crazy, I’d’ve moved in with Jonathan just to get out of that place.”
“Yeah…,” Elliot mumbled.
Elliot sighed and rubbed a hand across his face as he pulled a chair close to Olivia. “It’s just what’s been wrong since February. I miss having a partner who’s not just competent, but a good cop who has a sixth sense about her job.”
Elliot leaned back in the chair, launching into a deadpan diatribe about Alexa and, all the while, Olivia could not help noticing how for the second time in one week, Elliot’s demeanor had severely changed her mood.
“Wasn’t I supposed to call you when it was safe for you to come back?” she said slyly midway through his rant.
He stared at her for minute. “You want me to stand out in the hall and call your phone?”
“No,” she sighed. “Continue…Alexa’s too naïve about what now?”
Elliot continued for close to twenty minutes, rarely pausing except to groan, and once he finally stopped, he noticed Jonathan’s roses on Olivia’s nightstand.
“Who’re the flowers from?” he asked.
“Jonathan brought them some time this morning.”
His eyes narrowed momentarily. “Halloway’s allowed to drop by whenever, but I have to stick to that call thing?”
“No. Jonathan was here last night.”
“You see what?”
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
She sighed. “Like, I’ve done something wrong.”
“I’m just curious why you let Halloway come in here unannounced and I’m given grief about coming to see you like I always have.”
“Grief? Elliot, come on. I was joking.”
“Whatever,” he mumbled. He then leaned forward in his chair as he rested his elbows on his knees and his hands folded across his face, leaving only intense eyes still viewable.
Olivia, however, continued staring at him with narrowed eyes. “I don’t like that answer. So, what’s wrong, Elliot? For the past week, you’ve been coming in here in this…mood and I can’t figure out what’s driving it.”
“I’m fine,” he said through his hands. “I’m more concerned about you, though. I talked to your doctor. He says you’re standing up? Liv, that’s great.”
“Yeah, I’m…no. No, no-no, no, no. Don’t try to change the subject like that. We can talk about that later. I asked you a question and I deserve a better answer than ‘I’m fine.’”
“That’s the only answer you used to give me when I asked you what was up.”
“Back then what was up was Jonathan and that didn’t really concern you, so I never got into it.”
“Maybe sometimes it was him, but what about Drover and-”
“What about Drover?”
“Olivia, he attacked you and you still told me you were fine.”
“And, I was more or less fine. You didn’t have to get involved, but you chose to get…No, you’re doing it again. You’re intentionally changing the subject and avoiding my question.”
“What question? You’re talking about the nuances of the word ‘fine.’”
“No, you’re talking about fine. I asked you what your problem’s been lately and you’ve been avoiding the subject ever since.”
“I don’t have a problem, Olivia.”
“Yes, you do. Otherwise you wouldn’t be sitting in front me in this angerball mode like you do when something’s wrong.”
“I told you nothing’s wrong.”
“You said you were fine which is far different from ‘nothing’s wrong.’”
Elliot leaned back into his chair. “If anything’s bothering me, it’s the way this conversation is going.”
“It’s only going this way because you refuse to cooperate.”
“Look! Olivia, I just came here to see how you were doing. Why does there have to be some ulterior motive behind what I say?”
“Because you’re mad about something and you won’t even tell me what it is.”
“I’ll tell you what I’m mad about. You put me on edge for days until I’m too angry about my temporary partner to remember that you threw me out and then you let Halloway walk in here like nothing’s wrong at all. Like nothing happened.”
“I didn’t just let him in. He came here Thursday night, intent on being here for me no matter what and…we talked.”
“Liv, I would never have disrespected your space like that. You asked us to stay away and that’s what I did.”
“But, this morning says different.”
“Fine, you want me to leave? I’ll leave.” He stood and quickly approached the door.
“Elliot! You’re just going to leave me like that?”
He paused at the door and the slowly turned around to face her. “I don’t know what you want from me, Olivia.”
Olivia shook her head, not sure how to even respond. “I…I…I don’t want anything from you, Elliot. I just wanted to see you for a bit and, since I know when something’s bothering you, I wanted to know what’s wrong. I haven’t forgotten that. I know when something’s wrong, like I know when you’re pushing me away just to avoid the subject.” She paused as he took a few steps towards her. “So…why don’t you come back over here and tell me what’s wrong before I chase you down the hall in my wheelchair.”
Elliot walked toward her, but did not retake his seat in front of her. His eyes again caught the plastic red roses that lay next to her bed and he sighed. “What…do you see in him?”
“Who?” Elliot nodded at the roses and Olivia stared at them for a moment, not sure if she understood. “Jonathan? Why? I don’t get it.”
“What is it about him that keeps you with him?”
She opened her mouth to respond, but only pursed her lips in the end. “I…I guess I’ve never really sat down to think about it before, but…I like him. We’re good together.”
“I just…I don’t understand why you keep Halloway around. The only thing he’s good for is signing a check…”
Olivia shifted straighter on the sofa and stared at him. “How can you say that when you don’t know him at all?”
“At all?” Elliot said. “Olivia, I know Jonathan Halloway. I know more about him than I ever wanted to know in my life and I know he’s not good for you.”
“Since when are you a good judge of who is and isn’t good for me?”
“Olivia, no man who could come at me in a drunken rage the way he did-”
“Let’s not go into that,” she interrupted, “because I know that’s just going to get you all riled up again.”
“I just don’t get it, Liv. I’ve seen some of the other men you’ve dated…I just like him the least.”
“And, exactly how much time have you spent with any one else I’ve ever dated?” She snickered. “You probably wouldn’t have liked any of them either, but Jonathan’s just been around the longest. When you’re not accusing him or throwing punches at him, he’s actually a nice guy.”
“I never said he wasn’t and, it’s probably not my place to say it, but I don’t think he’s the right person for you.”
“Well, we never know until we put some effort into the relationship. And, no. It’s not your place to say that.”
“Olivia, I…care about you. Who you’re with and what you’re going through eventually impacts me and what I saw in Halloway these past couple months raises all kinds of red flags.”
“Why? What’s he done that’s so bad?”
Elliot sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. “I just wish that you and him had a long talk before you go any further.”
“Elliot…I love Jonathan. We’re just going through some things right now because of what’s happened to me.”
“Liv, the guy, Morse…the one who made that video that’s floating around on the Internet. I watched all his videos, Olivia and we’ve seen some things.”
The concern into her eyes melted into an angry glare. “Things like what?”
“Do you really need me to elaborate?”
“Yes. I do. I can’t really figure out what you’re talking about when you say things. Like that’s supposed to mean something to me.”
“Olivia, almost three years ago, you were walking around with stars in your eyes over Matthew Williard…and I saw what he did to you. Not once. Not twice. Three different times and I remember you saying, as clear as day that you were in love with the guy. That he was so perfect he seemed too good to be true.”
“And, he was. In the end, I got rid of him.”
“But, not after he’d hurt you.”
“You know, Elliot,” she began, her voice cracking as she forced tears to remain at the brims of her eyes. “I don’t need you telling me all the mistakes I’ve made in relationships over the years. I remember every single one. Matthew…was a mistake and he caught me at a weak moment when I was lonelier than usual and was more prone to forgive him. But, I realized what I was doing and I ended it. Jonathan is not Matthew.”
“Fine, not now, but what about tomorrow or three years from now?”
“You can’t say how any of us will be in three years. Hell, at New Year’s I was planning on getting to know my cousin a little better and training for the marathon. Allison’s stopped by a few times, but it doesn’t look like I’ll be making the latter. But, I’ve been with Jonathan for two years. Yes, he has his problems, but who doesn’t? I mean, look at us. You are insistent that you are always right, even to your detriment, you push people away the moment they try to help you and, even if you were drowning, you wouldn’t call for help. And, me…Honestly, where do I start? Jonathan is a good person and I know that he loves me.”
“You can love someone Olivia without being in a relationship. Look at me and Kathy. Do you think I stopped loving her just because she threw me out? Jonathan Halloway is not the one. He’s not good for you.”
“Based on what?”
“Based on gut feeling.”
“The same gut feeling that insisted Jeffrey Drover had murdered those kids?”
“No. The same gut feeling that knew Drover was a child molester and knew that Mark Landon had done something to you. I just don’t like Halloway. Something about him rubs me wrong. I don’t know what it is, but I know he’s not…I think his influence is detrimental to you.”
Olivia’s foot tapped nervously beside her and, while she would have normally been ecstatic at the sensation, her focus was fixed on Elliot.
“You don’t know what it is,” she repeated and then scoffed. “That’s incredible to me. You know that you’ve got some gut feeling about a man you haven’t spent more than ten minutes with before going to blows with him, you know he’s no good for me, but you can’t give me a legitimate reason why.”
“That’s what they call a gut feeling, Olivia.”
“No, that’s what they call bullshit. I’ve known you for far too long take your ‘I just don’t like him’ as an answer. “
“Fine, Liv. This is your life and you can do what you want to do, but you have to know he’s just going to hurt you in the end…and I’m the one who’ll be left to pick up the pieces again.”
“What is this!” she shouted finally. “Is this you being jealous? Is this how you act out your emotions when you don’t know what else to do?” He stared at her silently and she shook her head. “I’ve dated a lot of guys, Elliot, and when I finally find someone who I enjoy being with, who makes me happy…who loves me for me, all of a sudden you’ve got all this bull to say.”
“It’s not all of a sudden, okay? I just don’t want to see you in the same shape you were four months ago when you slapped the shit out of him for being the bastard that he is. And, now you’re trying to put the blame on me because of what you don’t want to face with Halloway.”
“There’s nothing to face, Elliot. I love him and he has done more for me than I would’ve thought capable for one person.”
“Well, hell. It’s easy to do everything when you have everything.”
“So, is that what this is? You don’t want me to be happy just because Jonathan’s got money?”
“This has nothing to do with the cash he throws in the face of everyone he meets. I can’t take knowing that you’re going to be with someone…with him when I know he’s not good for you and he’s just gonna lead you away from what you want in your life.”
Olivia’s face grew flush as she glared him. “I know what this is. I know exactly what this is. You get to have a real life with your four perfect kids and, you get a lifetime full of happy memories with your perfect goddamn family, but I have to be kept in this little box so that your life can remain the way it is.
“That’s not even close to true.”
“You need me alone.” She sat straighter on the sofa so that she could stare directly in his line of sight. “That’s how you see me. Always alone. ‘Olivia is my partner who’s always alone. Olivia’s my partner who I get to show pity on because she’ll never know the…joys of marriage or children. Olivia’s my partner who we have to set a place for at Christmas because she hasn’t got anyone else in the world. And, look how great I am because of how I well I make sure my lonely, pathetic partner is still stable and juggle my family at the same time.’”
“I don’t mean that!”
“Of course you do. You need me alone so that you’re life can feel normal. That’s why you hate him. That’s why you’re so threatened by his presence. Why else would you hate him so much?”
“I hate him because he pulled a fucking gun on me.”
“God, I can’t believe you’re bringing that up again. We talked about it. He was angry! He thought I was dead!”
“I can’t understand why you’re giving me so much grief about a situation that doesn’t even concern you.”
Elliot paced back and forth in front of her. “Olivia…you’re my partner. Not at this second and I’m praying for you to get well every single day, but you are still my partner. I…care about you. My family cares about you. Everyday I go to see my kids, the first words I hear are questions about you. You are my family, so when you tell me that who you have in your life doesn’t concern me…I don’t even know what to say. All I know is, there are things…problems with Halloway that you haven’t discussed and your relationship is always gonna be bad for you until you’re honest with yourself.”
“Honest about what?”
“You don’t love him. I know you don’t.”
Her eyes narrowed at him as she gasped slightly. “I-I don’t have to listen to this.”
She reached for the wheelchair next to the sofa, but Elliot pulled it behind him and knelt before her.
“Give me my chair, Elliot.”
His eyes were intense and Olivia could feel her pulse quicken as his eyes looked directly into hers. “You can lie to me all you want, but there’s nothing you can say that’ll convince me you…care about Halloway when I saw you with the same stars in your eyes when you talked about Matthew. You need to be honest with yourself or else this whole thing is gonna burst into flames…and then I’ll be the one left trying to pull you back together again.”
“First of all, I don’t need anyone to pull me back together and second, I don’t need you for that. I’ve got Maya, I’ve got-”
“Then your memory’s worse than I thought because I’m the one who had to keep you together when you thought it was over with Halloway.”
“So then you’ll remember that I told you I loved him then, too.”
Elliot paused. “You asked me if he was the one. That’s completely different.”
“It doesn’t matter what specific words I used four months ago. I know it now like I knew it then. Give me my chair.”
“You don’t love him and you’re wasting everybody’s time by denying it.”
“Whose time? This doesn’t concern you, Elliot. It’s between me and Jonathan.”
Elliot paced again. “Do you remember the night before you disappeared?”
“Like I’ve been saying for months, I just remember bits and pieces.”
“I’m talking about the night before that. Do you remember that?”
Olivia wanted to shake her, but swallowed instead. “Yes…”
“So, if you’re so sure Halloway’s the one and the search is over…why’d you ask me up to your apartment that night?”
Olivia went silent for a long time, her eyes never leaving his and every muscle in her body was tense before she could think of the proper lie. “For company.”
Elliot closed his eyes and sighed. He then walked across the room and pushed the wheelchair close enough for Olivia to grab.
“You can lie to yourself and, you might be able to lie to Halloway, but you can’t lie to me, Olivia. I’ve known you for too long.”
While he did not slam the door as he left, Elliot still let it close behind him harder than he could have and the sound of it closing jarred Olivia in her seat even though she had watched him leave.
Holding onto the sides of the wheelchair, Olivia flipped herself into it and rolled into the bathroom to sit on the toilet seat cover in the dark. She then pulled her knees to her chest and squeezed her eyes shut as the old wound on her side ached dully. At that moment, even daylight was too much company.
Had she been prepared to see Elliot that morning, she might have been able to retort with a better response to each of his probing questions, though the more she thought about it, the more she realized a hundred years’ work could not have prepared her to answer Elliot. Though he had not directly said it to her, Elliot still voiced what she had only thought in passing.
“Maybe he does have something worry about.”
She did not want to admit it and
physically shook her head as she attempted to push away the thought, but it remained
like a tattoo on her brain. Eight years was a long time partnered in any unit,
but eight years in the
Elliot had come close to conceding what had both been denying and when faced with it directly, she faltered and she lied to the one person who knew best when she was.
“I love Elliot,” she said aloud. “I really love him.”
She loved how his eyes were intense whenever his emotions were flowing.
…how he held onto to her in her darkest hours.
…how he was the first person that came to mind when she wanted to feel safe.
She loved the way Elliot loved his family.
…the way he maintained his faith throughout all he had witnessed.
…the way he tried to protect her, whether it was from some unknown assailant or simply from herself.
There was so much to Elliot and, somewhere in the space of eight years, their relationship had grown complicated, but there was still no denying that Jonathan cared for her more than anyone else ever had.
In close to thirty-eight years of life, she had been in love and out of it, she had thought she found the one she was meant to be with for the rest of her life and lost him while the thought was still fresh, she had experienced unspeakable joy and earth-shattering pain from the same type of men throughout the years and, in a fit of fury, Jonathan had put together what she never wanted to say out loud, let alone acknowledge.
“You just can’t allow someone to love you!”
The idea of allowing someone close enough to cause the same happiness and suffering all over again seemed unimaginable when she first began dating Jonathan, and yet, she fell for him regardless.
When she first met him through a poorly veiled blind date, Jonathan was just something to do; a way to spend time when she was not at work. Along the same means that she and Elliot had formed unbreakable bond, Olivia opened herself up to Jonathan in a way she had not with any other man she had ever known and she never realized it.
She never realized it when he rubbed her feet at night until she dozed after she had spent the day running down criminals, when they shared life stories and secrets with one another during something as simple as watching television, or even when he would simply hold her tight and secure as she went to sleep. There was no denying that she loved Jonathan.
She loved the way his willingness to give her everything she could ever possibly want or need surpassed his own cares about himself.
…the way he could stare at her as if nothing else in the universe was more fascinating than her presence or more awe-inspiring than the sound of her voice.
…the way he loved her despite her best efforts at trying to push him away from her, regardless if the efforts were intentional.
She loved how his name rolled off the tip of her tongue and just saying it aloud could make her smile for the rest of the day.
…how he strived to achieve everything he wanted out of life, but could cry for her when the moment warranted it.
…how she felt when he wrapped her in his arms and all every worry in the world seemed to melt from mind.
…how she still had got the same butterflies in her stomach every time she saw him.
…how he made love to her like no one else ever had.
…how his happiness, his grief and his love seemed to be linked with hers.
She loved everything about Jonathan and thinking about all he had done for her made her look like a cold, immoral person when set next to him.
“Maybe he does have something worry about.”
Jonathan was not perfect. Like her, he always wanted to get his way because, again like her, he knew when he was right and, as much as he attempted to shed it, he still carried himself as the wealthy heir he was brought up to be. His faults, if she could really call them such, looked trivial when compared with how she had treated him over the past two years.
Whenever Jonathan inquired about her life, she threw him out of her apartment. When he asked questions she was not prepared to answer, she threw him out of her apartment. When she left to work undercover with the FBI, she had ensured that Maya and Elliot could be certain she had not simply fallen off the face of the earth, but Jonathan had been left in the wind without any information and when he confronted her about what she had done to him, again, she threw him out of her apartment.
He told her frequently he did not like secrets in a relationship and the only thing Jonathan had ever kept temporarily hidden from her was his family history, while she hid everything except the vaguest descriptions about her career; the details about her parents, her reservations about falling in love again and what he already suspected about the nature of her partnership with Elliot were kept in the dark.
I’m the one with something to worry about, she thought. He deserves better than this.
She could hear Reeves calling for her and came out of the bathroom, realizing only then that she had been crying throughout her revelations.
Once Reeves had left, Olivia reached for her phone and quickly pressed the sequence for her speed dial, excited and tense that for the first time in a long while, she knew exactly what she wanted.
SVU Squad Room
Elliot stormed into the squad room fresh from his unnerving and rather unpleasant argument with Olivia. His face was flush and he could feel his heart racing though he had only walked a few steps to get into the building.
As he rounded the corner to his desk, he noticed Olivia’s still empty desk, with a layer of dust that was becoming thick from lack of use, and for the first time since he could remember, he was not momentarily depressed by her absence. For once Elliot wished that it would just stay empty. However, the moment Alexa caught his eye, he immediately regretted the thought.
“Elliot, hey,” Alexa said walking toward him. He could tell from her loose ponytail and the sweatshirt she had tied around her waist that she had been at the precinct for hours already. “I need to get your signature on these final two reports on Harry Morse so I can get them to the Cap.”
“Why are we just now finishing this up?” he snapped. “Morse has been at that facility for months.”
She blinked at him. “Um…well, I guess with everything that was happening with Olivia…”
“This should’ve been done already.” He snatched the bundle of papers from her, signed them quickly and then nearly threw them back at her. “Here.”
“Look, Elliot. I’m just playing catch up here, okay? And, like I said, with all that was going on with Olivia, it got pushed back a bit. Besides that, it wasn’t even my case to begin with. I can only do so much.”
Elliot sighed and rubbed a hand over his face, his eyes catching Olivia’s desk, still bare after four months while the side of his desk flowed with Alexa’s errant files. “Alexa, I’m sorry. That’s…that’s not directed at you. Okay? I’m sorry.”
Her expression changed immediately and she gave him a quick smile before heading towards Cragen’s office.
Alexa had not been gone more than a minute before Munch and Fin stepped into the squad room and walked toward Elliot.
“Hey Stabler,” Munch said. “Do you know how Olivia’s been doing?”
“Yeah…,” Elliot mumbled. “She’s…she’s doing just fine.”
Munch and Fin glanced at one another, but neither pressed the issue further and Fin changed the subject.
“We been out all morning trying to track down this guy Landon said helped him. We just got back from grilling some of the Unis who were checking the area where Liv was found.”
“They have anything else to say?” Elliot asked.
“Just that it was months ago,” Munch said as he sat at his desk. “That they’re not sure what they found or didn’t find this far away from it.”
“Notes, memos, anything?”
Munch shook his head. “They’re all young, fresh from the academy, so all their notes are lazy, which is still no excuse. They also said they got bogged down with a hit and run in that area that same morning in the midst of checking all the doors and they might’ve missed three or four buildings depending on where they started.”
“They had two wet-behind-the-ears rookies up there doing the searches on the outer-lying buildings and their notes are a mess… Well, that’s just great.” Elliot rubbed his temples. “I don’t think it would’ve mattered much anyway. All the buildings up there just start looking the same. Not to mention that we’re still not sure which window she fell out of and any evidence up there is probably long gone by now.”
“It’s worse than that,” Munch said. “According to the records, those buildings have been in various states of renovation for years. It’s been a running problem. The developer in the middle can’t sell his land with the abandoned buildings next to it and the others around him keep blaming one another or claiming that something is in the works, but then it falls through whenever something looks promising.”
“Is anyone checking in on the buildings?” Elliot asked.
“Yeah, actually,” Fin said. “Someone from the law firm of Carrow, Arriston and Page tries to swing by every once in a while to make sure nothing’s been vandalized, but they got nothing to say about the area.”
Elliot’s eyebrows furrowed as the names rolled in his head. “How are they involved?”
“They were contracted in by Erwin Morley,” Munch said, reviewing some notes on his desk. “He sends them in there to check on them, quote ‘whenever the fat bastards get the chance.’”
“That developer? You spoke to him?”
“For too damn long,” Fin said. “He wants the whole block bulldozed so he can set up some office buildings or just sell it off to the city, but he can’t get his hands on the deeds while the other developers are arguing among one another.”
“Where’s Morley now?” Elliot said.
“On his way back
Munch stood with a stack of paper in his hands. “I’m going to run a check on who owns all the buildings in three-block radius of where Olivia was found. Maybe if we lean on one of them long enough, we’ll figure out who Landon was in contact with.”
“We need to bug Casey for another warrant for the area,” Fin said.
“Already tried it,” Elliot said. “All those buildings have been locked front, back and from the roof and she’s told me a hundred times that we’d need a place to start looking. And, considering there was no glass found around Liv’s dumpster…we technically have no way of knowing where she fell.”
All three fell silent for several minutes before Munch broke the silence.
“Well…At least she’s here right?” He then clapped Elliot on the back once and walked towards Cragen’s office.
Elliot sighed in his chair and rubbed his hands over his head, his mind still a mix of depression and anger and pain.
He had had so much more to tell Olivia. He wanted to get her opinion on a couple of cases just to keep her mind active, he wanted to see if she remembered anything else about her attacker or at least how Landon might be involved and also tell her how Arthur Branch had Landon’s case bumped. He had received a call the afternoon she finally stood, barely able to understand anything in between Maya’s squeals of excitement and thought he and Olivia would have spent at least an hour talking about it. Somehow, yet again, the subject of Jonathan Halloway had intervened with his plans.
He walked to the restroom and then stared at himself in the mirror over the sink.
“What the hell did you expect her to say?” he whispered. He ran the water and wiped his face, shaking his head at his reflection all the while.
“Why’d you ask me up to your apartment that night?”
He had wanted to ask the question for months, but had never found the time or the nerve, especially when Olivia was blaming him for her condition in a fit of rage. However, in his own fit of rage, Elliot had spouted what he had hoped to bury deep into his memory; for one brief moment, she was his.
He expected his visit to her room that morning would be spent with just the pair of them. They would laugh about how wonderful it was that she could stand and just talk like old times, but learning that Jonathan had been given the chance to spend time with her and he had not, seemed like a blow to the chest. Yet, in all of his anger, he never once considered what he would have done if Olivia had answered him truthfully.
Cried? A possibility.
Kissed her? Not likely.
Stood shocked and unable to respond? Absolutely.
If she had repeated to him what Morse had told him months earlier, they would have most likely shared an awkward silence before he left and then would never speak of it again.
As he stared in the mirror, Jonathan Halloway began to materialize in place of his reflection.
“I bring out the worst in him?” Elliot said aloud. “He brings out the worst in me.”
Even as the words left his mouth, his past conversation with his priest echoed in his mind.
“How does a relationship with Olivia factor into what matters most to you?”
“Still doesn’t,” he answered to the mirror, drawing the attention of the young detective who had just entered the restroom.
Elliot walked back into the squad room, poured himself a large cup of coffee and rolled up his sleeves as he set into the work before him. Every once in a while, he found himself outwardly shaking his head or nodding to himself and after several wayward glances from Alexa, he decided to set aside the stress of his conversation with Olivia that morning until he had a chance face the punching bag in the gym.
It would never work, but at least she’s here, he thought to himself as he reviewed his notes from a case caught the previous night, and I’ll be here for her in case the bastard breaks her heart.
Olivia could not help but chuckle at the sight before her. In his hand, Jonathan held a small plastic token, black on one side, white on the other, and he continuously rubbed it between his thumb and forefinger as he bit his lip. He had been contemplating where he would lay the piece for two minutes and his furrowed eyebrows combined with his cheeks that were red from concentration put a smile on Olivia’s face.
They had played Othello throughout their relationship after Olivia discovered Jonathan’s affinity for the game and, while they spoke little during the game, Olivia cherished every minute of their games. The quiet brought ease to her often hectic days and, when they did talk, their conversations always revealed something new about each other. She had tried to teach the game to Maya and Jillian when she developed a fondness for it in college, but Maya grew bored with it easily and Jillian got frustrated when she could not win immediately after learning how to play.
Jonathan brought his hand forward to lay a piece, white side up, on the green velour board, but hesitated and eventually drew back his hand as he shook his head.
“You’ve got to lay down your piece sooner or later,” Olivia said, smiling.
“I’ve got a winning streak to maintain here,” he said. “You used to beat me all the time, but I’ve won the last ten games.”
“Maybe I just let you win out of pity.”
“Yeah, right. When I see you let me win at Othello, I’ll see astronauts land on the sun the next day.” He leaned against the tray on wheels that was serving as a makeshift table between them and sighed. “I know you’re trying to bait me with that corner, but I’m not going to take it.”
“It’s a corner you’ve inadvertently tricked me into giving up. If you won’t take it, I’ll make sure it’s mine.”
Jonathan groaned. “I know you’re trying to bait me and I can’t let you break my streak.”
Olivia smiled again as he rubbed his chin, unable to keep out a memory from when they first began playing against one another.
“You’re trying to take away my corner, Olivia,” Jonathan had said as he rubbed his chin and stared at the dark green board covered mostly in black pieces. “It’s not going to happen.”
“The only valid move you’ve got is B8,” Olivia said. “And, you know I’ll take the corner then and, after that…I’ll own you.”
“That’s what you think. This is the game of champions, my dear. ‘It takes a minute to learn…a lifetime to master.’”
She laughed. “Yeah, well you’re still owned, so play your piece so I can win.”
He set down the piece with the white face and Olivia rubbed her hands together before setting down her piece with the black face and then turned over all the white pieces in the line, so that the only white pieces left were set in the middle of the board.
Jonathan shook his head at the board. “I’m all alone. It’s just my two pieces alone against everything else.”
“The everything else that’s going to overwhelm you in a minute.”
Jonathan went silent for moment as a very pensive look came across his face. “You know…I never thought I’d say it out loud, but…that’s how I kind of see us at times.”
“Us? You mean alone? That’s crazy. You’ve got both parents, two older brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, step-family, great-family…”
“Yeah, but I’m me, you know? Even though they’re relations, I don’t relate to any of them. None of them can understand why I didn’t go into my grandfather’s business.”
“Well, that was to really strike out on your own.”
“See, you can understand it and I can understand it, but no one else in the family gets it. I’d be the true black sheep of the family if my second brother didn’t like drink himself into oblivion and get arrested every other month with a hooker in the passenger seat. Sometimes I think of us and it’s like just me and you against the world.”
She snickered. “I guess…we do only have one another.”
“Yeah,” he said, putting a down a sole white piece and flipping over three blacks in the process. “I guess we do.”
Olivia simply smiled as she turned over all five of his remaining pieces, leaving the board covered in only her tokens.
Jonathan played his piece on the board, turning an entire row of her tokens from their black face to white, and grinned as he stared at her.
It’s now or never, she thought and quickly placed one of her black tokens on the board.
“Jonathan, I just want to tell you how sorry I am…for everything.”
He shook his head. “You’ve got nothing to be sorry for, Liv. I’m the one fighting with your partner. I’m the one who knocked you out of your chair the other day. If there’s anyone who should be apologizing it’s me. Daily. So, here’s the one for today. Olivia…I’m so sorry for what an ass I’ve been.”
“You’re so good to me,” she sighed more than said. “And, you do this all the time. Just apologizing because you think you did something wrong, but I’m the one who should be apologizing to you.”
“For…not being honest with you…about our relationship.”
Jonathan held the game token in his hand, midway to the board. “What do you mean?”
“Well,” Olivia said, swallowing. “I feel like this entire time, when you’ve been asking me about the…situation with my partner, I’ve not been entirely honest with you.”
He stared at her for a long time and finally set down the piece in his hand. His eyes had changed from their normal sapphire-like colour to a darkened, stormy hue.
“You and him?”
“Not how you’d think,” Olivia said quickly. “I just…I’ve been thinking about things you’ve said to me in the past…and you were right. I haven’t really allowed myself to be happy with you because of Elliot. I never wanted to admit that…I have…had feelings of some sort for my partner and as long as I kept denying it, I was never able to love you like I should.”
He stood and stared down at her silently. Olivia could feel her eyes begin to tear as she feared the worst.
“But…,” she continued, feeling as if the emotions rocking through her could bring her to her feet, “this whole time, I’ve been sitting here, soul-searching to find out what I really want and…I know it’s you. I love Elliot and probably always will, but I’m in love with you. I’ve always been.”
Jonathan shook his head. “I…I don’t want to be in second place to your partner or anyone else, Olivia. And, I don’t have to be.”
“You’re not. It’s just different with Elliot. That it’s taken me this long to figure it out is ridiculous, I know, but I needed to tell you the truth. I needed to tell you like I needed to just figure it all out. At some point, I did want something…I don’t know what, but something with my partner, but now know I only want you.”
“You want me…because you can’t have Elliot?”
“Jonathan,” she said, straightening on the sofa. “I don’t know how to sugar-coat this, but I think you deserve to hear the truth. I love my partner. That’s just a fact and, there was a point where I wanted some kind of…I don’t know if relationship is the right word when it comes to Elliot, but…but when I started prioritizing and really thinking about my life has been like since I met you, I knew there could only be one choice.”
Immediately regretting every word she had said and her breath growing heavy during his pause, Olivia fell silent under Jonathan’s glare. She wanted to simply yell out the same words that had been rolling in her mind throughout the day, but they would not come; she could only take deep breath after deep breath as Jonathan paced in front of their makeshift table.
“That night,” he began, “when you cancelled on me while you were still working the case with those boys…I planned on proposing to you that night, but I still wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure if you loved me like I loved you, but then I said to myself, ‘If she didn’t love me, we wouldn’t have lasted this long anyway.’ and so I rescheduled for the day after Valentine’s Day. I believed you when you said I had nothing to worry about.”
He held up a finger to silence her. “You know, I cried every single day you were gone. The entire time, I just kept saying to myself that if I had just been there, this wouldn’t have happened. Maybe if I wasn’t so jealous and I had just been there with you that night, you wouldn’t’ve had to go through this. Olivia, I know I’m not a cop and I couldn’t do much more than harass any person I could think of in hopes of getting you found quicker, but I did everything I could to try to find you. I would’ve sat in the jail cell your colleagues put me in for the rest of my life if I thought it would mean you were safe. I put my career, my freedom, my health on the line because I wanted you found. I was willing to risk everything for you. I know I haven’t gone through what you have or what you will, but I know I’ve gone through enough in my life to know I deserve better than second place. I love you so much, but if you can’t share that with me…”
Jonathan went silent and Olivia tried to open her mouth, but once again, her voice would not work. She wanted to tell him that she was foolish to put someone who she knew loved her so much to the wayside the way she had and that, from this point forward, no one would be able to pry apart them. She wanted to explain to him that she could and did share that same love with him. She wanted to fully apologize and plead for him to take her with all her faults, even though she had not done him that same justice. She wanted to tell him many things, but never got the chance.
Jonathan stared her with eyes that now appeared almost looked grey as they did when he truly was hurt and left the room without another word.
Olivia slid off of the sofa and pulled herself into the corner of the room, her left leg twitching slightly. Her entire body ached against the cool floor as tears began to fall from her eyes so quickly that she did not have time to brush away one before another met her fingers.
Of all the scenarios she had played in her head as she considered how she would explain herself to Jonathan, the idea of him simply leaving her for good repeated itself over and over again, but she had never fully imagined the pain. She had considered the tears, the nausea, the instant loneliness and the hollow sensation in her stomach, but the pain in her chest, in her stomach, in her legs, in her arms, her head... She never quite expected the level of pain that ran throughout her body.
She shook slightly in her corner as the sun began its path towards the horizon and, across the room, the Othello tokens were waiting to be played, each twinkling as they caught the shrinking sunlight.
Pulling the tilted IV stand closer to keep it level, Olivia sighed unsure what hurt worse; her mending thigh bone, the banging in her chest, the fact that she finally came to a conclusion about whom and what she wanted most in her life or the fact that he just walked out of her life.
Carrying a small aloe plant in his hand, Elliot spotted a family of six as he strode through the automatic entrance doors to Mount Carmel Hospital East. The parents appeared somehow relaxed and harried at the same time, the three young daughters were apparently oblivious of their parents’ worries and the eldest, a son, looking grumpy with his arms crossed as they approached the same set of doors. Elliot passed the front desk where a receptionist he saw almost every other day, and twice already that day, nodded as he passed the family. The security guard stood from his chair for a moment to inform Elliot that visitors’ hours had ended, but once the guard caught a good look at Elliot, he paused and took his seat.
When the guard appeared to not mind Elliot’s presence in the hospital, Elliot overheard the eldest son of the family of six whisper into the air, “How come he gets to come in after hours?” Elliot simply shook his head and pushed the white button for the elevator.
He had bought the little potted plant for Olivia as a type of peace offering, not knowing what else he could do or say for his actions toward her that morning. He wanted simply buy her some fake daisies, but the image of Jonathan’s red plastic roses jumped to mind when he attempted to get roses from a flower shop and Elliot quickly decided on the aloe plant instead. It was a simply piece of greenery in an otherwise concrete world and something that would grow, refusing to die, even if Olivia tried to kill it.
Shouldn’t’ve said she didn’t love him, he thought as the elevator chimed and its doors opened.
The possibility seemed great that Olivia and Jonathan would be in the midst of a conversation when he got to her room and, while he and Jonathan had more or less come to an understanding, Elliot still felt nauseated at facing Jonathan following the conversation he had had with Olivia. Apart of him wanted to just let the situation alone and pretend nothing had been said, but when he had a moment to remember how he had wished for the same thing just before Olivia had been taken and nearly killed, he realized he could not allow an entire day to pass without talking to her again.
When he did not hear a response when he knocked on Olivia’s door, Elliot slowly opened the door and stepped into the room.
He could not decide if he was simply surprised or worried to see Olivia lying in her bed. She had been trying to keep out of it as much as possible, either in the wheelchair or on the comfortable sofa Jonathan had purchased. Instead, she lay in the hospital bed staring out the window, so obviously far away from the present that she did not even notice when Elliot entered the room.
“Hey,” he said softly as he approached the bed.
She slowly turned toward him and attempted a weak smile. “Hi Elliot.”
“I brought you an aloe. Dr. Weiss said it would be fine and I figured you could use a little greenery in here. Plus, they’re hard to kill, so I figured it would be right up your alley.”
“Thank you,” she whispered as he set the plant next to Jonathan’s plastic flowers.”
“You look at little pale. Are you feeling okay?”
“Yeah,” she nodded. “I think I’m okay.”
“Think?” Elliot pulled a chair close to the bed and stared at her. “What do you mean think? Is it pain in your legs or your side?”
“No, just…” Olivia bit her lip as she glanced at the ceiling, but was still unable to stop the tears from coming.
“Liv,” Elliot whispered as he moved closer. “What’s wrong? What happened?”
“I…I talked to Jonathan about our relationship…” She trailed and closed her eyes.
“Olivia, what happened? Did he say something to you? Did he do something?”
“I’d rather not get into the specifics right now, but to put it simply…he left.”
“Left as in…he broke up with you?”
“Yeah…he left me and now, I have to go through this without him.”
Elliot sighed and ran a hand over his face after watching Olivia brush away another tear. The words “I told you so” were echoing in his mind as well as multiple scenarios where Jonathan face met the end of his fist.
“Well,” he said. “You’re gonna be out of here in a couple weeks anyway and, we’ll get you into a good hospital if the bastard doesn’t want-”
“I don’t care about where I am, Elliot!” she said louder than she intended. “I didn’t mean go through this without his money. I don’t care about Jonathan’s money. I never have and I never will. I just…the idea of having to deal with walking again and learning to live by myself again without him is…”
“Liv, I’m here and I’ll always be here for you.”
She shook her head. “Elliot, even if you wanted to spend every minute here with me, you couldn’t. You have other obligations, other people. Jonathan and I just…at the end of the day, we just had one another.”
“That’s not true, Liv. You always have me and I know you’ll always have Maya. You’re not alone.”
“I know I can trust you both to always be my friends, but I loved…love Jonathan. When Maya was off being Maya and you were busy with your life and your family, Jonathan and I still had each other. And now, I’m alone.”
“Olivia, I’m here. I know it’s not physically possible for me to always be here, but my mind’s always focused on you.”
“You shouldn’t have to be eternally focused on me, Elliot,” she continued. “You have four children who need their father and you shouldn’t have to spend your time thinking about me when they need you.”
He shook his head, trying to say that he did not understand, but the words would not come.
“Elliot…” she sighed. “Has it even registered to you that your eldest daughter is about to move in with her boyfriend?”
“Yes. It pisses me off, but it’s registered.”
“Well, that’s just my point. If she had come to you about this at any other point in time, you wouldn’t be talking about anything else. If this hadn’t happened to me and Maureen told you she was about to start living with a boy, I’d have to take a week off just to get away from your constant ranting about it, but…here we are. You mentioned it to me once and never brought it up again.”
“Well, I don’t see why I should bring my personal problems into your life, Olivia.”
“And, that’s just it. We spend so much time together, but our lives are still separate. You have your life with your family and I…I’m supposed to have Jonathan. It was supposed to be us against the world.”
“It’s like you said before,” Elliot whispered. “He’s the one.”
“Yeah…and now he’s gone.”
Not knowing what else to say, Elliot simply pulled Olivia into a hug and allowed her to cry into the night.
Water. Everywhere, water.
In her eyes, in her nose, in her mouth, in her lungs. Water.
The pressure from it pressed on her from all sides and the burning in her chest squeezed and squeezed until she felt a hand pulling her back to the air.
She turned toward the voice while still floating in a sea of darkness, pulling on the hand that pulled hers.
“Livia…wake up, Hon. Wake up.”
Olivia shook from side to side on the bed several times before the water seemed to disappear and the air returned to her lungs. Maya stood next to the bed holding her hand. Behind her a nurse walked quickly into the room.
“C’mon Livia,” Maya said. “We need you to sit up a bit. You’re not getting enough oxygen and the nurses are getting worried.”
Still slightly dizzy, Olivia shifted on her pillows and wiped her eyes as she realized she had been crying. The nurse turned knobs and flicked switches on the various machines next to her bed.
“Okay,” the nurse said, pulling a bundle of plastic tubing out of its wrapping. “This is a cannula. It fits over your ears and under your nose and it’s going to be delivering pure oxygen to you because your levels keeping dropping.”
“I don’t want it,” Olivia mumbled.
“I know,” the nurse said as she pulled the cannula over Olivia’s head. “But, if you’re oxygen level keeps dropping, it’ll be the same if you kept a pillow over your head.”
Olivia jerked and fidgeting until Maya began to smooth her hands and eventually the nurse was able to secure the oxygen tubing.
“Do you feel any better?” Maya asked as she pulled a chair close to the bed.
“No,” Olivia said. “I…I feel sick.”
“Like you’re gonna throw up or something?”
“No…like my chest hurts. Like I still can’t breathe.” She pulled at the cannula, but Maya grabbed her hand and replaced it.
“It’s probably the painkillers,” she said. “I don’t think you remember since you were running such a fever earlier this morning, but you kept screaming about the pain in your thigh so they pumped you up. I guess they aren’t really helping.”
Olivia shook her head and in doing so caught sight of the sofa in the side of the room. The Othello game still lay unfinished in front of the sofa and its pillows were still rumpled as if she had just left it. Her eyes instantly burned as tears reformed in her eyes.
Maya sighed as she stared at her and continued to rub her hand. “Why’d you have all the blankets and stuff removed?”
Olivia glanced at the bundle of bedding that had been put in the opposite corner of the room waiting to be removed.
“I…I figured I’d rather do it now…rather than later.”
“I don’t understand. Jonathan had that all this stuff specifically made for you. Why would you…” Her voice trailed and Olivia nodded.
“I decided that I should tell him that I’d made a decision and that I chose him, but…I think I ruined it by having to make the decision in the first place.”
“Livia, I’m so sorry.”
“S’ok. I…I had a feeling he might leave me if I came clean to him…and he did.”
Maya shook her head. “But, he…Jonathan’s a good person. He wouldn’t just leave you like this.”
“Look around Maya. He’s gone.”
“No, you pushed away his things, but he’s a good guy. Movers aren’t going to come in here tomorrow and haul away everything. He’s not going to just leave you in this condition just because he’s mad. I mean, Jill knows him better than I do, but I know he wouldn’t do that.”
“I’m gonna prepare myself anyways.”
“God, Livia…you couldn’t’ve waited until you were out of the hospital to drop this bombshell?”
“Sure. Why not make it seem like I attempted to milk him for every dime I could?”
“Why’d you tell him anyway? What did you think he was going to do when you told him you wanted Elliot?”
“But, wanted Maya. Past tense. And, it was all done unconsciously either way. I just wanted to come clean to Jonathan so that we could make a fresh start.”
“I know you probably don’t want to hear this, but he has every right to be angry.” Olivia snatched her hand away from Maya, but let her continue. “Livia…If you think it would’ve been bad to telling after you got out of the hospital, what made you think that telling him today would be any different? I’m sure he thinks you’ve just been sitting on all this for years because it has been years.”
“I know it’s been years. That’s why I knew it was necessary to say something. You make it sound like I never loved him at all.”
“Well, that’s what I’m hearing when you say ‘come clean’ to him and, if it sounds that way to me, how do you think he’s taking it?”
Olivia brushed away a tear. “I don’t know. The conversation didn’t go half as well as I wanted it to.”
“He’ll come around,” Maya sighed. “He loves you far too much to give up now.”
“I don’t think so. Not this time.”
“Livia…he brought Aileen Halloway, the queen of the Muffys and the Bunnys, to come see you. If he loves you that much…maybe this’ll just be a story you tell your grandkids.”
“Maybe…” Olivia reached out her hand to grab Maya’s and, for the first time since Jonathan had left, felt the overwhelming sadness lift from her chest just a bit.
Olivia snapped forward at the waist, drenched with her own sweat. Her hair was clinging to her face and her heart was racing from the terror of her dream.
For the third time that week, she had had a nightmare that she was drowning. In the dream, she had been swimming and coming up for air like normal, but once she began to swim under the surface, she found she could not return to the surface. No matter how hard she kicked, she could not reach the air and, as she felt the water leaking into her lungs, she awoke.
She took a sip from the bottle of water that sat on the nightstand and scanned the room in the darkness. Maya had prevented her from removing all of Jonathan’s bedding and the blankets and extra comforters lay in the corner waiting to be re-sanitized. To her right, the Othello game still sat, the tokens catching the light from the twinkling lights beyond her window.
Shivering from the combined chill at being covered in sweat and the amount of time that had passed since she had last seen Jonathan, Olivia lay back against her pillows to contemplate her newest dream while trying to repress the expression on Jonathan’s face when she last saw him.
When she had told Jillian and Maya about her dreams, they had completely different responses. Jillian said a dream was just a dream, quoting “hell is an idea first born on an undigested apple dumpling” and changed the subject to the fact that Jonathan had not been seen at either his office or his church in the past few days. Maya, on the other hand, was convinced the dreams had everything to do with Jonathan.
After he had left, Olivia had tried to remain upbeat, but immediately missed his presence. She was always lonely at night when he normally would have come to see her and, while her treatment did not differ in his absence, the nurses who appeared more apt to please her when Jonathan was in the room were beginning to show their true colours.
Most distressing of all was the retrogression she had experienced in the Blue Room. On Monday and Tuesday, she needed more help to get to a stand as her legs seemed to no longer support her weight and, that afternoon, she discovered that she could no longer even push herself up and onto her feet.
Olivia shivered again as she turned away from the Othello board to stare out the window and wish for sleep. The three-month old wound on her side had turned into an array of dark, scabby skin that still throbbed slightly and did as she turned onto her side; she was certain it was going to leave the largest scar on her body seconded by the series of dark dashes on her shoulder that created the outline of a human mouth.
She turned again to lie on her back to worry instead about Mark Landon. Elliot had told her though a channel of information from Cragen from Casey from Arthur Branch that Mark’s trial had been bumped quickly through the normal bustle of litigation in order to give Robert Gruenbaum the least amount of time to concoct a vivid story for Mark’s affirmative defense.
In the past several days, Dr. Weiss viewed her current wave of pulmonary problems as a signal that pneumonia was attempting to make another attack on her system and because of such, Olivia was barred from the outside, preventing her from even being present at Mark Landon’s trial. While she was on whole aggravated by the idea that she could not look Mark in the eye as he was being tried, she was still genuinely content with not getting a second-hand account of all her indiscretions with men in the past ten years, as Casey had warned her was bound to happen.
She flinched as she suddenly remembered the way Matthew Williard had hit her for the third time and shook her head as a vision of Mark coming through her door to supposedly save her from herself formed in front of her eyes.
The little bastard has a point, though, she thought.
Most, if not all, of her previous relationships had been disastrous in one or another as she displayed naïveté bordering plain stupidity time and time again. Outside of Elliot, her only successful long-term relationship had been Jonathan.
“And now he’s gone,” she sighed aloud.
Holding back the impending tears, Olivia rearranged her remaining blankets and brought her pillows to the foot of the bed where she turned away from the unfinished game to face the window without lying on her injured side and hoped to gain some sleep before her morning therapy with Jesse and Cedric.
Trial Part 74
“…and you saw this and still did nothing?”
“Objection, Your Honor. Misquotes the witness.”
“Judge Reilly, the witness has already stated that he made no effort to act in the face of clear calamitous deeds by the supposed victim.”
“Then the question is asked and answered and the objection is still sustained. Next question, Mr. Gruenbaum.”
Sitting within the wood-paneled platform, Elliot glared at Mark Landon’s attorney. He felt very hot and struggled to keep his hands clenched in an effort to stave off the possibility of a violent act.
Angry and uncivil thoughts were running through his head as he glanced at Mark and the urge to shoot him from the witness stand was diminished only by Elliot’s desire to have Mark prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Twenty feet from Elliot, Casey took her seat at the prosecution table in the court room and, in front of her, Gruenbaum paced, visibly angry from the judge’s decision about his line of questioning. At the defense table across the way, Mark appeared sullen, but somehow still arrogant and defiant and it was that look more than anything that tested Elliot’s resolve.
“Detective Stabler,” Gruenbaum began again. “You have testified today that you’ve known the supposed victim for eight years, is that correct?”
“Your Honor,” Casey objected. “Permission to approach?”
Judge Reilly motioned Casey and Gruenbaum to come towards him.
“I would request that the defense cease from referring to Olivia Benson as the supposed victim,” Casey said.
“Olivia Benson was not injured by my client. As the defense will prove, all of Ms. Benson’s injuries were conducted by a separate assailant, not my client. She is a supposed victim unless the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she is an actual victim of my client.”
“Unless Mr. Gruenbaum is planning to present facts not in evidence or is trying to change his defense to something other than justification, he cannot suppose Ms. Benson has not been the victim of his client. She is a victim of the defendant.”
“Your Honor, the defense has not even begun its case and I have every right to present my case to the benefit of my client.”
“The defense’s case stands on the fact that Mark Landon did kidnap and assault Olivia Benson as well as murder two children in the process.”
“But, that is also why the defense has chosen to use the term ‘supposed’ to refer to Olivia Benson. As far as our case is concerned, she only became a victim because the prosecution chose to label her as such for their own purposes.”
Judge Reilly stared between them both for a moment before shaking his head. “You’re on thin ice, Mr. Gruenbaum, but I’ll allow it. Step back.”
Casey stormed back to her seat and Gruenbaum turned towards Elliot with a light grin on his face.
“I’ll repeat the question,” Gruenbaum said. “You’ve said you’ve known the supposed victim for eight years, Detective Stabler?”
“Yeah, about eight years.”
“I don’t really know how answer that, but there was a brief period about a year ago when Olivia went to work with the federal government. Other than that, she’s been my partner for eight years.”
“The defense seeks to admit Defense Exhibit A, listing a series of police reports involving a Matthew Williard.” Gruenbaum handed a piece of paper to Elliot. “Detective Stabler, can you please read the highlighted summaries?”
Elliot cleared his throat. “Courtney Williard called dispatchers complaining her husband was being abusive, but recanted her statement once officers from Precinct 16 arrive…Lourdes Jenal called dispatchers stating her boyfriend had beaten her severely…but also recanted.”
“Thank you. Now, Detective, was Ms. Benson ever involved with Matthew Williard at any point in time?”
Elliot tightened his hands as he ran through a list of half-truths to present. “She dated a Matthew Williard. I can’t be certain it was the same.”
“And, how long was Ms. Benson in a relationship with the Matthew Williard you’re aware of?”
“I don’t know. A couple months maybe.”
walked back to his desk. “Defense Exhibit B: a police report taken on
Barely looking at the police report, Elliot mumbled his own name. “Elliot Stabler.”
“I see. So, you questioned a Matthew Williard about the precise actions the defense just listed?”
“So the court can infer that Ms. Benson was in a relationship with a wife-beater for a couple of months…Detective Stabler, were you at any time aware of an altercation with Matthew Williard and your partner?”
“Never. I would’ve struggled with the option of taking the law into my own hands if I did.”
“So, you’re protective of your partner?”
“Olivia is my partner. All cops go out of their way to take care of their partners.”
“And why is that?”
Elliot ran a hand over his head. “Because you need to know the person who’s got your back is in good enough shape to do so, but…really because you get close to a person over time and you look out for their well-being like you would any member of your family.”
“Like family, eh? You’ve mentioned you have three daughters, Detective. If you found out that one of your daughter’s was dating a man who beats women, would you react in the same manner you described when relating the same incident on your partner?”
“Because she’s my daughter and I don’t want her in that kind of relationship.”
“And yet you saw the same thing happening in your partner, your family, and you didn’t look at this behaviour as destructive?”
“Objection, your Honor! The witness is a detective with the NYPD, not a psychiatrist.”
“But, as a detective,” Gruenbaum said, “he uses the skills of deductive reasoning everyday and as a detective he can surely deduce when the person he has worked with every single day for eight years is heading down a destructive path.”
“How are we to define destructive without the expertise of a licensed professional laying the groundwork for that line of questioning? And aside from that, the question has been asked and answered. Detective Stabler has already stated what he would have done had he known of the situation and he cannot testify to actions he did or did not take when he was not aware of a problem.”
“She’s right, Counselor. Overruled.”
Gruenbaum took a backward step from the witness stand. “I have no further questions for this witness.”
“Re-direct, Your Honor?” Casey asked.
“Detective Stabler, why did you bring Matthew Williard to your precinct on February 18th of this year?”
“To interrogate him about Detective Benson’s disappearance.”
“Was Matthew Williard the only suspect interrogated?”
“No, he was one of around ten people severely questioned…including the defendant.”
“I see. When you questioned the defendant was he able to give you a clear account of his actions the night of January 30th?”
“He told us, repeatedly, that he had neither seen nor heard from Olivia Benson following that night. He said that on multiple occasions throughout the investigation.”
“And what did your investigation prove?”
“That Mark Landon had abducted Olivia Benson from her home.”
“How was this discovered?”
“We found that Detective Benson’s apartment had been connected to a wireless video network that worked for only short distances. Based on that evidence, we arrested the defendant in whose home we found a key to a desk drawer in Olivia’s apartment and also videos showing him attacking her. From there he was later identified as an assailant in a separate, but related incident. Aside from all that, the defendant confessed to taking her.”
“He was identified as the assailant in another incident,” Casey repeated while tapping her chin dramatically. “Detective, were you aware of the homicides involving the strangulation and sodomy of Ryan Daly and Andrew Shaw and the attempted murder of Zachary Calbrach?”
“Yes, I was one of the lead det-”
“Objection! Beyond the scope of cross.”
“Your Honor,” Casey said. “The witness already answered the question and was just giving a reason behind the response.”
“The objection is sustained and the jury is instructed to disregard the witness’ response.”
Casey pursed her lips and locked eyes with Elliot for a full minute before speaking again.
“Detective…How often did Detective Benson mention her neighbor, the defendant, to you?”
Elliot shrugged unconsciously. “Never. I only learned the defendant’s name when I was beginning the initial search for her.”
“Prior to January 30th of this year, on any given day, how much time would you spend with Detective Benson?”
“A lot,” Elliot said shrugging again. “The whole day, sometimes. A bare minimum of twelve, but probably closer to about eighteen hours a day. Sometimes more when we were directly on top of a case.”
“Eighteen?” Casey repeated. “Throughout your eighteen-hour days over the course of eight years, you’re saying Detective Benson never once mentioned the neighbor who was so good to her?”
“Sustained, Ms. Novak.”
Casey sighed. “Detective Stabler, the defense has stated that Olivia Benson could not look out for her own well-being. Do you believe this to be true?”
“Absolutely not. I would trust Olivia with my life and even the lives of my children.”
“And the apparent men she had running in and out of her life?”
Elliot laughed. “She’s a beautiful woman and a beautiful person who’s looking for the proverbial one. It shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise that she dates a lot…and the people she meets are honest, educated, hard-working and good men.”
“But, the defense has presented evidence that Detective Benson was in a relationship with a man who violently assaulted her. How do you account for that?”
“Olivia Benson is a highly capable
“If you were asked to define her character, how would you?”
“Olivia Benson is one of the most decent individuals I’ve ever met and a brilliant investigator. A few dating mistakes here or there would never leave Olivia or anyone else open to what the defendant did to her.”
“Move to strike, Your Honor,” Gruenbaum said as he stood from his seat.
“Denied. Continue, Ms. Novak.”
“Detective Stabler, you’ve said that Detective is a brilliant investigator. Can you please elaborate on what is meant by ‘brilliant investigator?’”
“Willing to go above and beyond to see a case solved, to give a resolution to the victims and to give swift justice to the criminals.” Casey’s eyes urged him to continue and so he did. “And…Olivia would have been the first cop to the scene if Ryan Daly, Andrew Shaw and Zachary Calbrach were murdered by the defendant when she was still available.”
“Your Honor,” Gruenbaum said, his voice shaking from frustration. “Move to strike.”
“The witness is answering a question,” Casey said.
“What question? The witness is on a soapbox, Your Honor!”
“Mr. Gruenbaum. Your motion is denied. Ms. Novak…continue.”
“In all her alleged transgressions with various men, to the best of your knowledge, did Detective Benson ever have opportunity to come into contact with the Daly, Shaw or Calbrach families?”
“Your Honor, the prosecution has already laid the foundation that the victim and the witness spent the majority of their time together. “
“The majority of their time together, not all.”
“And where do we draw the line between all or nothing? Spending eighteen hours a day with a person out of a twenty-four hour day can and should be seen as all. It is a reasonable inference.”
The judge stared at Gruenbam for a moment. “I’ll allow it. Overruled, Mr. Gruenbaum.”
“Judge Reilly! The witness cannot testify to what he has not seen. Even if-”
“You’re overruled, Mr. Gruenbaum. Sit down.” Gruenbaum plopped back into his seat and the judge turned to Elliot. “You may answer the question, Detective.”
Elliot sat straighter in the witness chair and cleared his throat. “No. Olivia never met anyone from any of those families. The only connection between Olivia Benson and the boys who were raped and murdered is the defendant.”
Casey nodded at Elliot. “Thank you, Detective.”
Elliot’s foot tapped nervously as he sat on the bench outside of Room 1120 and waiting for Judge Reilly to recess. He had been waiting for close to an hour and had received four pages and seven phone calls as he sat. While he tried to make the most of the day through his Blackberry, his focus was still fixed on the door of Room 1120.
He wanted to acknowledge that Casey had done a masterful job of changing Gruenbaum’s slight at Olivia’s character into a powerful reiteration that Mark was on trial for not just kidnapping Olivia, but also the murders he committed as he tried to cover up his first crimes, yet the idea of allowing Gruenbaum to say whatever he chose to say about Olivia was still unsettling. There was no telling how long the details of the very public trial could remain under wraps and Elliot shuddered when he thought of Olivia learning that the general public was now party to the particulars of her private life.
At the first sign of red hair, Elliot jumped to his feet and hurried down the corridor to meet Casey.
“Casey,” he said tapping her on the shoulder.
She smiled when she turned. “Elliot. You did fantastic in there today.”
“Yeah, but I don’t like that Gruenbaum gets to go on and on in there about Olivia like that?”
“That’s the only option they’ve got right now. To tear down the victim as much as possible in hopes that the jury will forget the real reason they’re there.”
“This is bull! He’s making it sound like Liv is some kind of cracked out whore who was on the verge of suicide and she can’t be here to defend herself.”
“Liv’s not here because she’s too sick to get here and Reilly denied her from being here which is only to Gruenbaum’s detriment because he could’ve really nailed her on all her past history then.”
“But, he nailed me on it instead.”
“Elliot, you saw how Gruenbaum was trying to distract from the fact that Landon killed those boys. He doesn’t have a case. The witness-bashing is just part of the show at this point. There’s nothing to this. We’re just going through the motions because there’s no deal we can make that he’ll accept and so he’s working the jury in regards to sentencing. He’ll do everything possible to keep Landon in jail for a short a time as he can.”
“I don’t like what’s going on in there. This has been bad enough without damaging Olivia’s reputation as a cop.”
Casey sighed. “You more than made
up for that on re-direct and tomorrow, I’m bringing in Cragen, John and Fin to
support what we’ve already alluded to about the boys. Not to mention another
five other guys from
“Why would you have to subpoena him?”
“I asked him to testify a week ago and he said he didn’t have a problem, but when I’ve been trying to call him for preps this week, he refuses to take my calls. It’s okay though. With everyone else we’ve got, including putting Zachary Calbrach on the stand, Landon doesn’t have a chance. By the time I’m done, they won’t even have half a case to present. Don’t worry, Elliot. It’s a slam dunk. He won’t take another free breath for the rest of his life.”
He tried to smile, but could not find the strength to do so and slowly walked toward the exit. Making his way out of the back entrance in order to dodge the mass of reporters on the courthouse steps, Elliot caught a glimpse of Mark shackled, but still pompous as he stood waiting to load a bus back to Riker’s Island.
Elliot only squeezed his hand to
keep his rage confined as he walked back to the parking garage on
Elliot paced in his living room as the phone rang against his ear.
The moment he walked through the door, he began coursing through the information about Jonathan he had acquired that day. With Olivia now claiming she wanted to be left alone while she was attempting to stand again, Elliot was left with only one recourse in contacting Jonathan and that meant exercising his authority to the farthest degree. The background check took far longer to find Jonathan’s unlisted telephone number than Elliot would have thought, but as soon as he found it mixed within barrage of records about summer homes and Ivy League universities, he made the call. On the fourth ring, an elderly British female voice answered.
“Residence of Mr. Jonathan Halloway.”
“Yes,” Elliot said. “This is Elliot Stabler. I need to speak with Jonathan, please.”
“I’m deeply sorry, Mr. Stabler,” the woman said. “Mr. Halloway is indisposed.”
Elliot sighed. “Tell him it’s an emergency.”
“Sir, I’m very sorry, but Mr. Halloway is indisposed currently.”
“Damnit! Tell him that Elliot Stabler is calling him and it is an emergency. He has to talk to me!”
“One moment please.”
The phone went silent for a bit before he heard the phone pick up again.
“Detective Stabler, we don’t have anything to talk about.” Jonathan’s voice was very low and Elliot could swear he heard Jonathan sniff into the phone.
“Halloway, you have to testify against this Landon guy. You owe it to Olivia. If you care about her, you’ll-”
“Detective Stabler,” Jonathan interrupted. “We don’t have anything to talk about. Goodbye.”
Elliot stared at the phone in his hand after Jonathan disconnected, but his resolve had been set since his conversation with Casey that morning and he grabbed his jacket as he headed out the door.
Double parking across from Jonathan’s apartment building, Elliot jumped out of his car and approached the two doormen in front of the tall and elegant building.
“Excuse me,” Elliot said as he tried to pass the doormen.
“Sir?” the younger of the pair said stepping in Elliot’s path. “I’m sorry, sir, but can we help you?”
“Yeah, I’m a detective with the NYPD and I need to see Jonathan Halloway. It’s an emergency.” Elliot quickly flashed his badge.
“Is there a problem, sir?” the younger asked.
“No,” Elliot said.
“Is he expecting you?” the elder doorman said scorning.
Elliot felt his eye twitch. “By definition, an emergency doesn’t really give you a lot of time to call ahead.”
When he tried to pass again, the younger doorman stood firm and set his jaw while the other whispered something to the air as he pressed a finger to an earpiece.
“Sir,” the younger said. “I’m sorry, but if Mr. Halloway isn’t expecting you, we cannot let you in.”
Elliot took several steps backward as he reached for his phone. A moment later, he was dialing Jonathan’s number again.
“Residence of Mr. Jonathan Halloway,” the same elderly voice answered.
“Ma’am, I need to talk to Jonathan Halloway.”
“I’m very sorry, sir, but Mr. Halloway is indisposed.”
“Ma’am…you’re not hearing me. I need to talk to him. Tell him I’ll scale the damn building if I have to, but I need to talk to him.”
The phone went silent again.
“Detective Stabler…” Jonathan said, again in a low voice.
“Halloway, I’m standing outside your building right now. I don’t know how clear I can make this, but I have to talk to you.”
Jonathan sighed and then disconnected the call. Ready to simply destroy his phone, Elliot rubbed his temples as he paced in front of the door until he noticed a blonde woman at the front desk inside the building staring at him while she held a phone to her ear and nodded. He paused when she picked up the two-way cell phone and the older of the doormen touched his earpiece again. The doorman nodded twice and then glared at Elliot before speaking.
“He can go up…escorted.”
Without taking his eyes off Elliot, the younger doorman walked with Elliot towards the elevators and up to the eleventh floor.
Jonathan stood at his open apartment door, arms crossed, his eyes red and puffy and his hair dull. His appearance was so striking that Elliot paused for a moment before stepping off the lift, so unaccustomed to seeing Jonathan in such common attire. His rumpled red Cornell sweatshirt was fraying on the bottom with a pink bleach spot on the shoulder and the purple NYU seal on the side of his grey sweatpants was peeling in all directions.
“Halloway,” Elliot said his approached Jonathan. “Why are you ignoring the DA trying Olivia’s case?”
Jonathan crossed his arms tighter. “I assure you, Detective. If our criminal justice system is half as good as we brag, my testimony is not needed to guarantee Mark Landon gets what’s coming to him.”
“But it could still help.”
“They had you. I’m sure the great Elliot Stabler was more than enough.”
“Would you stop this jealousy bullshit! This is about helping Olivia.”
Jonathan’s eyes darkened as he glared at Elliot. “I’ve helped Olivia. I’ve done everything in my power for Olivia, but apparently that’s not good enough.”
He tried to close the door, but Elliot held it open. The doorman grabbed Elliot’s shoulder, but Elliot shook off the hand.
“Don’t touch me,” Elliot said and turned back to Jonathan. “Halloway…if you’re not gonna testify, at least be there for her. For Chrissake, go talk to her at least. She’s getting depressed and she’s stopped making progress. You saw how she was a month ago before we arrested Landon. Do you really want to be responsible for her falling back into that again?”
Jonathan only shook his head. “You…me…Olivia…we don’t have anything else to talk about.” He then managed to shut the door and the doormen grabbed Elliot’s shoulder again.
“If you touch me again, I’m arresting you for assaulting an officer.” The doorman removed his hand and ushered Elliot to the elevator instead.
Once on the elevator, Elliot shook his head as he whispered. “Always a bastard.”
Olivia’s eyes snapped open as she awakened from another dream. The dream had ended abruptly without the water completely enveloping her and as she scanned the room to get her bearings, she quickly saw why.
Jonathan lay on the sofa staring at her in the dark. His face was expressionless, but he had stretched himself across the sofa and was slightly hanging over the edge closest to Olivia as he watched her.
They stared at one another in the dark for close to five minutes, the silence marred only by the various beeps and hums of the equipment that ensured Olivia was healthy. When Jonathan finally spoke, his voice was rasping, as if he had not used it in days.
“You’re not wearing the night shirts I had made for you.”
Olivia glanced down at the plain and itching hospital attire she wore. “I…I figured you wouldn’t be coming back and was preparing myself for when I’d have to change hospitals.”
“Do you really think I’d do something like that?”
“I don’t know. I would have. If our places were switched and you’d told me that you had led me through every hoop in the book because you weren’t ready to admit that you had loved someone else…I’d’ve probably smothered you with your pillow.”
He did not laugh at her attempt at humour and she felt tears burning in her eyes.
“I wouldn’t do that,” he said. “I’d never let my own anger get in the way of your well-being. I…I’m incapable of purposefully doing something I know would be detrimental to you. No matter how angry I am.”
She let silence pass over them momentarily. “I’m sorry, Jonathan. Even when you made a mistake, you always apologized to me and you always tried to do the right thing, but…I always pushed you away. And, I’m so sorry.”
He shifted so his hands were folded across his face and the moonlight in her room shined on his face. Tear stains had dried a salty path on both cheeks.
“So, it’s him then? You love him.”
“I’d be still lying if I said I didn’t love Elliot. I do. That’s just a fact of being there for one another for close to a decade, but…it’s because I never feared falling in love with him that I allowed myself to love him like I do. I knew there was never a possibility between me and him and so I just let that friendship flow into what it is today. Something more than fraternal, but yet…not quite there.”
“And with me?”
“You…you scared me Jonathan. You scared me because letting myself go with you meant opening myself up to unbelievable pain if you ever left me and I wasn’t ready to risk that.”
Olivia shook her and bit her lip attempting, unsuccessfully, to keep the falling tears at bay. “And now…I’m fucked because it happened anyway…against all my walls and all my best efforts. And, now you’re leaving me and I’m in so much pain right now, it’s difficult to breath…”
The oxygen monitor next to Olivia’s bed began to beep and within moments Officer Reeves and a nurse were stepping into the room.
“Everything okay in here?” Reeves asked as the nurse came to check Olivia’s oxygen levels.
“We’re okay,” Jonathan said, but Reeves still stared at Olivia.
She tried to say “I’m okay,” but could only mouth the words and settled for nodding instead.
“I think it might be best to put the cannula on,” the nurse said as she reached for the thin tubing in the sealed plastic pouch she brought with her.
“I don’t need it,” Olivia said, never taking her eyes off Jonathan.
“Just for tonight.” The nurse pulled the tubing over Olivia’s ears and Olivia obliged only to get rid of both Reeves and the nurse as soon as possible.
As soon as they had left, she ripped off the tubing and stared at Jonathan who stared unblinking in return.
“I don’t want to be runner-up to Elliot Stabler when it comes to you, Olivia.”
“I can’t compare you and Elliot. That’s like comparing apples and…strawberries. They’re both red and they both have seeds, but God…they couldn’t be more different.” He turned his gaze from her and stared out the window. Her heart was pounding so hard that her chest began to ache. “You know, I love strawberry ice cream, like I love apple pie, but strawberries are just so much more exquisite than other.”
“Is it because they don’t come around that often?”
“Yeah,” she whispered. “And, if you don’t get them when they’re offered to you…who knows when God will bless you with anymore…”
Jonathan sighed and rubbed his
hands. “Wednesday night I went for a drive and I ended up in the
“Did…did you get anything out of
your foray into the
“Actually, I did,” he said as he quickly
brushed away a tear. “The preacher was talking about the Book of Samuel,
specifically the death of
“Well,” Olivia whispered. “Some biblical stories get very complicated.”
“They’re complicated, but…they can
still hit home and apply to our lives. Like with Saul, for example. I remember
learning about how God literally kicked him off the throne and put David in his
place, but what was I always forgot that Saul had a son…Jonathan and he’s the
most interesting of all. See, Jonathan was put into a situation where he was
torn between two people as David was being put on the throne. On the one hand
there was his father who he owed his loyalty and his absolute honor. The father who gave him everything he had
wanted or needed and had set him up with…a legacy. If he did the good and honourable thing and follow in his father’s footsteps, take
his father’s same paths…turn out just like his father…then presumably, he would
automatically live a great and more or less honoured
life as the anointed king of
“Wow,” Olivia said. “I didn’t know that at all.”
“Neither did I, but like I said…sometimes these stories apply directly to our lives.”
Olivia stared at him and let silence once again creep between them before finally getting the nerve to speak again.
“Jonathan…I care about you. And, I’m sorry for treating you the way I had because the more time I have here by myself, the more time I have to realize how terrible I had been when you just were trying to get closer to me. Honestly, it scares me to even wonder how bad I would have let things get between us if this hadn’t happened to me.” Her breath caught and she coughed severely as the heart rate monitor beeped twice in quick succession. “Jonathan…I’m so, so sorry I even thought it necessary to make a choice between you and anyone else, but…I’ll understand if you don’t want me back.”
“I want you in my life Olivia, but I need you to make me a promise.”
“I can’t…we can’t get anywhere if you’re going to hold back on me. I just need you to let me in. Okay? I think I would’ve been able to talk out the whole thing with Elliot, if you had just told me that we even had something to talk about. I was walking along wanting to think that everything was fine, but knowing something was wrong without knowing a way to fix it. So, I just need you to let me in. Don’t hold back from me. Tell me everything, even if you don’t think I can take it because…if someday you come to me and tell me you love apples more than strawberries…it shouldn’t come as a surprise to either of us. I know you’re going to think it’s trite for me to say it, but the agony of wondering and suspecting and not knowing is a far cry worse than the pain of a break up.”
“Well, is now a good time to start? Can I start by telling you everything now?”
“Yes. Yes, please. I want you to tell me exactly what you’re thinking.”
“Good…because you’re right. I do think that was pretty trite.”
Tears streamed down Olivia’s face as she saw Jonathan’s smile for the first time in six days and the heart rate monitor pattered for a moment as she smiled in return. He crossed the room in a single step to be by her side and cupped her face with one hand. They stared at one another for what seemed like forever before they finally kissed and Olivia could barely contain her jubilance when she realized how long it had been since she kissed someone who was in love with her.
That night, Olivia slept on the sofa wrapped in Jonathan’s arms and in the morning, after getting the approval of Dr. Weiss, Jonathan had fresh strawberries brought to the room at breakfast for the next three days.
Olivia had been rapidly flipping through the channels on the television in her room when she briefly saw the face of a young Sidney Poitier and had to slowly backtrack to find his image again. When she recognized the film as A Patch of Blue, she smiled and nodded to herself as she set down the remote.
The middle of the afternoon had turned into a quick bore after Jonathan had left to get a deposition signed. He had spent as much time as possible with her, leaving only for brief periods when his job or simple cleanliness warranted it and Olivia found herself missing him the moment the door closed behind him each time. Jonathan would also leave briefly when Elliot came to pay a visit, though he did not seem nearly as sullen as he had previously.
To otherwise pass the time, she had initially taken to playing her violin once again, but out of the sheer laziness that beheld a Sunday afternoon, she decided to flip through the television channels until she found something worth watching or Jonathan returned. However, only a few minutes of the film had progressed before she heard a knock at the door.
“Yes?” she said, straightening her appearance, as she knew the knock did not belong to Jonathan.
Kathleen smiled and bounced on her toes for a bit before stepping into Olivia’s hospital room.
“Did you come by yourself?” Olivia asked.
“Yeah,” Kathleen said nodding. “Dad keeps saying you’re fine, but you know, it’s always good to see things for yourself sometimes. Are you doing okay?”
“I’m doing great. I’m up again and I’ll probably be standing on my own in a few more days.”
“Awesome! I knew you’d get better. Any word on when you’re getting out of here yet?”
“Well, if I can keep this cough I keep getting from developing into anything more serious, I should be out in about two weeks.”
“That’s so great. Although…” Kathleen looked around the room. “This place is hooked up pretty nice.”
“Yeah, my boyfriend likes to make sure I’m comfortable. Speaking of boyfriends, though. How’s yours doing?”
Kathleen shrugged. “I guess he’s okay.”
“You aren’t talking to him anymore?”
“Not really. He kind of broke up with me.”
“Aw, Kathleen. I’m sorry.”
“I’m not. It had been over for a while. I just didn’t really know how to end since he’s such a nice guy.”
“Why? What happened?”
Kathleen shrugged again. “Well, I was depressed throughout, like, all of February and I didn’t want to even do anything for Valentine’s. And, plus with all that had happened with you and then later with Dad…I ended up losing interest.”
“Well, did the two of you…?”
“Yeah, we did it, but I…I don’t know.”
“It didn’t go well? “
“Well, I guess everything went okay. I just…I mean I wasn’t really in the mood to, but I wanted to do something since we hadn’t been talking all that much and so we just did it. We got tested and used a condom and everything, but I just…I mean, I kind of wish I hadn’t, but on the other side, I’m just kind of glad it’s over, you know?”
“No one’s first time ever goes smoothly. Are you still friends with him?
“Yeah…I mean, I guess so, but like, one of his friends was one of the main ‘Your dad killed his partner’ people, so I don’t want to hang out with them anytime soon, but Mike and me are still cool. I just couldn’t really handle everything that was going on with Dad when you were gone. And, you know how people can be jerks about that kind of thing.”
“Well, you can just laugh that off. You know your dad would never do anything to me…as long as I don’t take Lizzie to get her first birth control.” Kathleen laughed and Olivia smiled. “Are you going to tell your dad…about you and Mike?”
“What, are you kidding me? It’s finally sunk in that Maureen’s living her guy and he’s over every night now talking to Lizzie, Dickie and me about responsibility. I think that might give him a heart attack. I told my mom though.”
“How does she feel about it?”
“Just that she wishes I would’ve waited, but that she was glad that I was responsible enough about it.”
“Well, that’s good to hear…”
They chatted for a short while longer until Kathleen got a text message from one of her friend’s claiming that she knew of a place that was giving out free Dave Matthews Band tickets for the upcoming concert that August, which resulted in a mad dash out of the hospital.
Within an hour of Kathleen’s visit, Olivia received another knock on the door and was severely surprised to see a smiling, but fatigued-looking Alexa come into the room.
“Hi there,” Olivia said brightly. I
haven’t seen you in a long time. How are things in the
“Okay, I guess,” Alexa said as she sat in Kathleen’s chair.
“It’s just…everyone just really misses you a lot and, I thought after we caught the guy who did this to you, people would stop giving me the ‘you’re not Olivia so get out of my way’ looks…but they haven’t.”
“I’m sorry, Alexa. I’ll talk to Elliot, if you want.”
Alexa laughed and shook her head. “Don’t worry about it. They’d probably be worse if you did say something. Anyway…how’s the therapy coming?”
Olivia smiled. “Very well. I’m doing much better lately.”
“Good…good to hear…” Her voice trailed and although, Olivia had only run into Alexa every once in a while at the precinct, she could instantly tell through the trailing voice that Alexa had arrived at the hospital room for something other than checking on Olivia’s well-being.
“Thanks,” Olivia said. “Although…I’m getting the sense that you came here wanting to ask something else?”
Alexa’s eyes dropped to Olivia’s blanket and she sighed. “I just…how…how do you…”
“How have you done this job for eight years?”
“I don’t know. I mean…I thought that I could deal with it when I came here. You know, I said to myself, ‘If I helped my best friend through it when it happened to her, then I’m made to help others,’ but it’s not just the rapes. It’s the constant rapes. Everyday there’s someone new and I keep listening to it over and over and over again and every single time it sounds worse and worse.”
“It’s never easy when you start out.”
“But, I feel like, if I just keep going, I’m just going to get numb and not care at all and I don’t want to do that because you can’t be good at this job without the empathy.”
“I agree. You just have to find a balance. For me, I ran a lot and, when things got too bad, I turned back to my music.”
Alexa nodded, though Olivia was not she heard her. “I just…what do you do when you’re talking to six-year-old whose older brother…or the family where the dad was doing…to the first and the second kids, but not the youngest. I mean, does it ever get any easier when you’re talking to a child who’s lost every shred of innocence?”
“No,” Olivia said after a long silence. “It doesn’t. It’s about as hard the first time as it is every time. I wish I could lie and say that you’ll get used to it, but anyone who really gets used to hearing about it is nothing short of a monster, I think.”
“Yeah…” Alexa sniffed back a tear and nodded again. “Well, sorry I came here bringing you all this and you’re not even back yet.”
“No, it’s fine. If you ever need someone to talk to…I’m here.”
Alexa smiled. “Well, now that you mention it…You have any words of wisdom on dealing with Stabler when he’s in a mood?”
“Dealing with Elliot? Just step back and let it pass. He’ll calm down eventually and, then only approach with caution.”
Alexa laughed and said that she would stop by again later that week, though highly Olivia doubted it and turned her attention to the final scenes of A Patch of Blue as she waited for Jonathan to return.
The notes of the lead to Ave Maria floated from Olivia’s violin and echoed in the room. Jonathan lay length-wise on the remaining half of the sofa mesmerized and listening to her play, his eyes flitting from the slowly moving bow, her vibrating fingers and the expressions on her face.
When she had awakened that morning, nightmare-free for four days running, Olivia’s fingers felt numb. Dr. Weiss recommended a series of isometric exercises that worked slightly, so Jonathan, who said he was determined that Olivia would not suffer another set back, brought a new set of violin music for Olivia to play. Though she had already played all the songs in the new book, she loved the gesture and, within an hour, her hands had returned to normal.
Olivia’s hand faltered on the second to last stanza, but pulled the song together in the end and she sighed happily as she lay back against the sofa pillows.
“Very inspiring,” Jonathan said as he clapped softly.
“I’m rusty at best. I miss my cello.”
“Well, you’re almost out and I bet you’ll be playing your arms off when you get the chance.”
“I’ll try, but we’ve got to get you into an instrument. I’m surprised your parents never insisted.”
“They did. We were forced to learn the piano.”
“So, how come you can’t play now?”
“Olivia, when you have an eighty-year-old Welsh woman screeching commands at you in a language you’ve never heard as she tries to teach you the piano, it somehow loses its appeal. Besides, in college I took up the trumpet because I had this grandiose vision of becoming the next Louis Armstrong.”
“And, where is your trumpet?”
“My parents probably sold it…along with half my treasured childhood possessions after I refused to date Angelica.”
Olivia turned to stare at him with high eyebrows. “Who is Angelica?”
“Angelica,” Jonathan laughed, “is the spoiled brat I took to her debutante, but never called again. She had a laugh like a horse whinny, no regard for anyone who wasn’t white and at least as wealthy as her and, to top it all off, she had a giant crease in her forehead she got from always scowling. My mother thought the world of her, but I wasn’t even going to try.”
“You really are the black sheep of the family.”
Jonathan leaned across the sofa and smiled. “Baaaa…”
They chuckled together and were in the midst of a long kiss when Elliot knocked on the door. The trio stared at one another for a few seconds as the tension in the room increase ten-fold and it was only when Reeves stepped behind Elliot to tell Olivia he needed a bathroom break that the tension eased and Elliot completed walked into the room.
Jonathan kissed Olivia on the cheek as he stood from the couch. “I’ve gotta go, ‘kay? Keep playing.”
Elliot and Jonathan blinked at one another for a moment before Jonathan quickly walked passed Elliot and spoke to each other in low terse voices.
Olivia could only sigh as Jonathan shut the door. “Morning Elliot.”
“Good morning. How are you today?”
“Okay. My hands were…kind of numb this morning, but seem to have worked it out.”
“Why don’t you have a seat and stay a while?”
He nodded as he sat next to her. “Gruenbaum’s supposedly wrapping up his case today. The trial should be over soon.”
“What’s he been saying to support what Mark did?”
“Just trying to disparage you. I don’t want to get too deep into it, but you don’t have anything to worry about. Casey slammed every witness Gruenbaum could come up with and when he tried to say that Landon killed those boys because he was crazy over you, Casey shot it down the moment it left his mouth. He’s been theatrical, but it’s not enough to mask what Landon’s done.”
“I still can’t believe I couldn’t testify.”
“It’s the only thing Gruenbaum did right, but I wouldn’t stress about it too much. I’m telling you, Casey’s been working magic in the courtroom.”
“I figured she would.”
“Yeah…” Elliot fell silent and dropped his eyes to the floor.
In the few days since he had last seen her, Olivia had fully come back to herself. The natural tan had returned and her eyes were bright and happy.
Elliot wanted to inquire about Jonathan, but thought better of it. The change that had occurred in Olivia in just a few days since her apparent reunion with Jonathan proved that Jonathan had taken his advice in more ways than one and, instead of approaching the questions with which he had last left Olivia concerning Jonathan, Elliot ended the silence by bringing up the obvious.
“You look much better,” he said. “Are you feeling any better?”
Olivia smiled. “I do. I’ve been able to stand again and…I haven’t had a seizure in days. I think I’m on my way.”
“That’s excellent. We all want you to get well and soon.”
Elliot went silent again and stared at Olivia as she stared in return; each knew what the other was thinking.
Olivia swallowed hoping that the nearby heart monitor would not betray her emotions. She knew what, and specifically whom, she wanted, but she still did not know what to think when Elliot stared at her the way he was.
The tension in the room was both frustrating and unnerving; frustrating because she knew no words to explain why she felt so tense around Elliot at that moment, unnerving because she knew that Elliot was her friend and always would be, but she could not explain why her heart was beating so fast as his eyes held onto hers. She had half a mind to simply remove the electrode patch from her chest, but decided she did not want the nurses to burst into the room at that minute.
“I gotta go,” Elliot finally said, breaking the eye contact. As he stood quickly, Olivia had to close to clench her hand to keep from reaching out to him. She knew wanted she wanted, but she still did not want him to leave her so soon.
“Elliot,” she said once he was at the door, but when he turned to face her, his expression had changed significantly. He seemed distant, as if whatever she had to tell him was going to be lost in the hurricane of his own thoughts.
“Just…just tell everyone back at the 1-6…I miss them.”
He nodded and smiled weakly as left the room and left Olivia to her thoughts.
Unknown Time and Place
He had not wanted to talk to him.
The man was supposed to just leave the package like normal, but instead the man stood in the alley as he talked and talked, holding the goods without making any movement to release them to their rightful owner. He just talked and talked; as if he actually gave a damn
When he had made his normal trek down the building, he was oddly surprised to find the man gaping stupidly at him and watching him as if he were watching a ghost approach. It was irritating at best. Stout, balding and freckled; it did not suit the man’s face in the least and yet, the man still had the nerve to mention his unnatural looks.
He feigned interest for a while longer as the man spoke, yet he knew time was of the essence. Ever since the flight of “O,” he did not trust his remaining treasures to themselves for very long.
He only needed a few things, but the venture outside his building proved far more than he wanted. He had been meaning to get rid of something for several weeks, but had never found a reason. Finally, he had a reason. “O” was the reason. It was always the reason.
“O” was the reason he had to put a bullet in the forehead of his favorite in the first place, but as long as his favorite lay in the ice chest hooked to the gas generator, he could relive the dominance he once held over her. Things were different now. “O” had given the others ideas, just like she had his favorite. Now, his favorite only brought back bad memories of rebellion and broken glass.
“…not for nothing,” Arriston yammered, “but the kid’s upset, you know? I mean, it’s been more than a month and he’s still moping around the house. An’ I don’t know what to tell him since it wasn’t like she dumped him. He dumped her on account o’ something with the girl’s dad or some lady she knows who got attacked or something. So, I keep saying, ‘Mikey, there’s plenty o’ girls out there,’ but he’s eighteen and he just…”
Without speaking, he let the man continue his diatribe as he gently pulled the bags out of the man’s hands.
The man then stood in the alley, again stupidly with that expression on his face as if he wanted to ask questions, but knew better to keep his mouth shut.
He turned around to face Arriston, indicating that the unwanted conversation was finished and, the stout man turned and left the alley.
Taking the bundle of rope out of the bags, he tied them to his back and made his way back into the building. Within minutes, he had grabbed his small favorite and shoved her into the over-sized duffle bag he had acquired that night so that he could silently carry her chilly body out of the building.
With his hood up, he walked East; not too fast, not too slow. He walked the perfect pace to appear like any average person, perhaps even a college student, carrying something large, but small in a duffle bag as he walked the streets. In that part of the city, the sight was not so uncommon and, as he trekked toward the river, he passed two officers in a parked patrol car without any incident.
Once he reached a secluded area by the edge of the river, he removed his folded treasure from the bag and left her sprawled on the spotted and patchy grass that led into the river. He stared at her for a moment and stifled a sigh. There was so much waste and so much more to be wasted all because of one person.
He shook his head and, carrying the empty duffle bag, scurried back into the night.
Elliot instinctively reached for his weapon when he heard a knock on his door. He was not fearful of anything in particular, but he his nerves had been on edge for the past hour as he sat on his couch reading a police report from 1991 that confirmed the newest rapist he had encountered had started his crimes far earlier than anyone would have thought.
Relaxing slightly and leaving his gun on the sofa, Elliot walked towards his door and looked through the peephole.
“What do you want?” Elliot said when he opened the door to Jonathan standing the corridor.
“The same thing we both want when we show up at each other’s apartments…to talk.”
Elliot crossed his arms. There was a patch of blue under Jonathan’s right eye and his normally flawless hair was standing on end in several places.
“Look, I’m in the middle of a big case right now, so unless this is really important-”
“It is,” Jonathan said. “Can I come in for a second?” Elliot’s eye twitched and Jonathan mockingly held up his hands. “I’m not armed this time. I swear.”
Rolling his eyes, Elliot stepped aside and let Jonathan into the apartment.
“This is a nice place you’ve got here,” Jonathan said brightly.
“What do you want Halloway? You said it was important.”
Jonathan sighed. “It is. Olivia…she, uh…she had another seizure last night…this morning....whatever.”
“Is she okay?”
“Physically, I suppose so. I’m flying a specialist in from Stanford tomorrow. He’s supposed to have an in on drug to stop the seizures completely, but he and Weiss will have to hash the issue with the side effects.”
“So, if she’s okay…why are you here?”
“I’d imagine. Those seizures are no joke.”
“No, it’s different. She’s crying and crying and I don’t know what to do.” He ran a hand through his hair. “When she…woke up out of it, she was completely disoriented and…I think she thought I was the guy who did all this to her because she…well, to put it short, she’s got one hell of a right hook and it took a muscle relaxant and five minutes of me calmly talking to her before she finally snapped out of it. But then she started crying and I didn’t know what else to do, so I called Maya thinking that maybe she just needed a female shoulder to cry on, but…she just cried harder when Maya got there.”
“Are you gonna be all right?” Elliot asked.
Jonathan smiled weakly and briefly touched his eye. “Yeah, I’ll be fine. I’m sure if was at any other point in time, I’d be in a hospital room of my own, but I…I just didn’t know if there was anything you could suggest as far as Olivia goes. As much as it pains me to admit it, I don’t think I can help her all by myself and I need to know what I should expect when caring for my own special victim.”
“Well,” Elliot said as he ran a hand over his face and then crossed his arms tighter. “In a situation like this, I don’t even know what to do. If she seems worse off with Maya there, I don’t think there’s anything that anyone can do. I think she might just have to work through this as her memory returns to her and all that’s left for us to do is be there for her when she decides she needs us again.”
“Okay,” Jonathan said nodding. “I just wanted to make sure I went through every single option available, so thanks. Thanks, a lot…for everything.”
“Don’t mention it…”
Elliot closed the door and sighed as he sat on his couch facing the crimes of a man who had just murdered his niece and had apparently begun raping young girls when he was still a young boy himself. He stared at the open file for a moment more before shaking his head.
With his face in his hands, he said a short prayer for Olivia and closed the file in front of him to go to sleep.
Olivia cried fat tears onto Maya’s shoulder as her friend held her tight. She did not particularly want to be held, but was still very grateful to have a friend who was willing to let her wet her shoulder with tears when she could have been getting a good night’s rest.
Like with any other seizure she had had, Olivia remembered little of the seizure itself. What she did remember however, was the dream that followed it and, yet even the horror of the dream could not explain the tears that fell.
In truth, she had no idea what specific slice of her life was causing the tears. She could almost stand unaided, but as the old saying went “almost doesn’t count.” She had Jonathan by her side once more and was feeling stronger and healthier than she had in weeks, but there was still a long and rocky road awaiting her in the future. There were plenty of reasons to be positive, but there seemed just as many negative ideas to counter those and so, Olivia cried because there did not seem to be anything else to do.
She remembered things, horrible things, but as she still could not make out the face of her captor, she saw no reason to depart such things on those who were more like family than just friends, and so she cried.
The nightmare had started out like many of those that had preceded the dreams about drowning. The faces of the dead stared out at her and she wanted to help them, but she could not. She felt stuck tight against something and the tightness was pressing the air out of her. When she looked back at the faces, she felt if she could just grab one…just save one of them, everything would fall back into place, but when her eyes look farther up the wall of dead faces, she could see Evelyn Rivers staring back at her.
Evelyn was calling for Olivia to help her, but the arms of the dead were all around her, pulling her farther and farther away from Olivia who tried to reach out, but was still stuck beneath something heavy. She moved and shimmied as much as she could and reached as far as she could, trying to get to Evelyn. Her fingers grazed Evelyn’s hair and just before Olivia was able to get close enough to reach Evelyn’s arm, a razor appeared in Evelyn’s hand and she sliced her own neck with the small piece.
Blood flowed in all directions and Olivia cried out No! but it was too late. The arms of the dead collapsed over Evelyn, but just as they began to pull her into oblivion, her face changed. Her eyes were still grey, but the sockets deepened and her face became so gaunt, she looked like a skull among the throngs of the dead. The change was so great she did not look like Evelyn anymore, but in fact a different girl entirely.
As she changed, the wound on her neck sealed by itself and then without warning, her eyes were alert and the girl was clearly alive. She looked around wildly and, when she spotted Olivia, she reached out a hand. Olivia reached out her own hand and made contact with the new girl when she felt something pulling from behind her.
He was there and he pulled her away from the living skeleton as he his hands touched her. She screamed as he pulled her away from the girl and she latched onto a pole in the room, but she was weak, far too weak, and he broke her.
He began to pull down the pajama pants she was wearing and Olivia started shaking so hard, the world seemed to blur and she could not see or hear anything. However, when the world became still, someone was touching her hand and she renewed her resolve.
She would not be raped; not by him, not by anyone. She struggled and struggled and lashed out at him as hard as she could, thinking if she struggled for long enough he would leave her alone or just put her out of her misery. The struggling continued until she began to feel faint and her arms became so heavy she was not sure she knew how to move them anymore. Everything that had hurt, no longer hurt and the room began to clear.
By the time, she recognized that it was Jonathan holding her hand and telling her she was safe, Olivia could make out a light red blotch on his face and noticed that his right eye was red. Instantly the tears came and conjunction with the dawning realization that dream and reality had somehow blurred.
In her efforts at trying to get away from him, she had hit Jonathan and she was not sure how hard she had struck him. All she knew was that he still held onto her even after she hit him and, as she tried to pull away from him, the tears came even harder.
At some point Maya had appeared by her side to squeeze her into a big hug and Olivia had remained in that same position for a half an hour as Maya continually smoothed her hair and reminded her that she was okay and would be walking in no time.
“It’s okay,” Maya repeated. “You’re safe, Livia. It’s okay.”
Olivia squeezed Maya tighter and, though it did not seem possible, the tears flowed harder and faster. She held onto Maya as if she ever let go, she would somehow be swallowed into the same darkness that took Evelyn and the other girl and Olivia cried onto her friend’s shoulder like she had countless times.
She cried on Maya like she had the first time she had to call 911 because her mother would not wake up after finishing her bottle, when the first love of her life ended the relationship simply because he was “bored,” when she had miscarried what could possibly have been her only child; Joseph, if it was a boy, Adrienne if it was a girl, but suddenly, even Maya did not seem like enough.
Olivia wiped her face and released Maya.
“Do you want me to call anyone?” Maya asked, but Olivia shook her head.
“I just…I think I want to be alone for a bit.”
Maya nodded. “Well, I can’t leave you all alone, but I can just sit on the couch and just be real quiet.”
Jonathan returned within the hour and Maya left promising to return first thing in the morning. He rubbed her hand as he had earlier and repeatedly whispered how incredible she was in just being a survivor.
She managed a small smile and wiped the residual tears from her eyes as she whispered to him.
“Can you…can you hand me my bow?”
He nearly jumped out of the chair to respond to her request and Olivia dried her eyes again as he placed the violin and bow in her hands.
When she began to play, she was immediately frustrated. The cello was always the instrument of choice in times of strife, but when she reminded herself that the violin was portable and brought to her specifically by Jonathan, the only person who had thought to bring music to her while she remained bound to the hospital, the tears finally slowed and Olivia allowed herself to play without pause or hesitation.
She was not sure what she playing; it had neither a specific key nor a rhythm. She simply played hoping that if she just kept going, she could play away all of life’s demons.
Jonathan sat directly next to her in the chair instead of the comfortable sofa that lay several few away from the bed and his presence that seemed completely enveloped with the music had a calming effect on her mind.
This will work out, Olivia thought to herself as the violin continued to sing. I can’t see the happy ending out of all this yet, but I know it’s there.