Elliot stepped off the elevator and waved at the various nurses, knowing most by name, as he walked toward Olivia’s room.
Just before he got to the room, he noticed Jillian walking out the door. She ushered two small blond boys out of the room before her and stopped dead in her tracks at the sight of Elliot.
The older of the two boys stared up at Elliot with a look so reminiscent of Jillian that it was uncanny. His eyes were bright blue and round just like Jillian’s and his eyebrows created a small vertical crease in his forehead when they were furrowed, like Jillian. By contrast, the younger boy, whose hair was paler and presumably looked more like his father, gave Elliot a wide, toothy grin.
my boys,” Jillian said. “
Detective Stabler,” they said in unison.
Jillian cleared her throat. “Boys, you can wait for Mom at the elevators, ‘kay? But, don’t press the buttons. Just wait for me.”
Jeremy immediately bounced off in
the direction of the elevators while
“Detective Stabler…It’s, uh, good to see you now that things have turned okay…more or less.”
Elliot nodded. “Um…yeah. It’s nice to see how Olivia’s progressing.”
“Well,” Elliot said shifting on his feet. “Is there something you needed from me?”
“Kind of. I’m…I’m…” Jillian shook her head and sighed again. “I didn’t like the way things turned out during all of this. I mean, in hindsight, it seems pretty obvious that you of all people wouldn’t have harmed Olivia, but I’m sure you can appreciate where I was coming from.”
“Okay, good. I just wanted to say this to you because I don’t want there to be any hard feelings or animosity. My hope is that…you don’t see me as some horrible person. I’m actually not all that bad. I’m just really protective of the people I care about.” She then glanced beyond Elliot in the direction of her sons who had begun playing red hands with one another.
“Trust me. I completely understand.”
Jillian gave him a small smile and hurried down the corridor.
“How you feeling?” Elliot asked as he stepped into Olivia’s hospital room.
“Good today,” Olivia said.
“I saw Jillian in the hall. I think...I think she apologized to me.”
“You think?” Olivia rolled her eyes. “What’d she say?”
“That she didn’t like the way things turned out and that she hoped there weren’t any hard feelings.”
“Hmpfh…Well, that’s probably the closest thing to an apology I’d ever heard Jill give. Normally she gives these, ‘this is actually your fault, not mine, so you should be apologizing to me’ kind of apologies, so that’s actually a big step for her.”
He chuckled. “How’s the aloe?”
“Still alive so far. You might be right about me not being able to kill it. How’s your case going?”
“Done. Alexa and I collared the guy this morning. I’m just taking the rest of the day to play catch up on some paperwork.”
“Has she been doing better lately?”
“I thought so for a while there, but this last girl…I mean she was about Lizzie’s age and after we talked to her, I found Alexa crying in the crib.”
“She might get over it. We all had it rough those first few cases.”
Elliot shook his head. “She’s on the ropes. If the victims get any younger, she’ll be done.”
“I wish you’d let me help you out with something.”
“It’s out of my hands.”
“Not if you really tried. I’m getting brain rot here Elliot. The only stimulation I’m getting is day-time TV.”
“It’s out of my hands,” he repeated and she rolled her eyes.
“Any news on Kreider?”
“McCoy wanted you to testify about a week ago.”
“Why didn’t anyone tell me?”
“Because you were running a hundred and six fever, Liv. Like it or not, you were in no shape to testify.”
“Won’t that hurt the case, though? I don’t want to be the reason he walks.”
“He’s not going to walk. We’ve all testified, Drover testified, Lucas Roy testified and so did the Lewendales. Casey says that his lawyer may try to buy a little sympathy with a shrink or two, but he’s done.”
“How about Drover? What’s he getting?”
“Serving twelve to twenty. It was twenty to life after what he did to you and Dickie and when he admitted to abusing several other boys including Everett Dyseki and about three others that Casey and McCoy were able to prove were also on Kreider’s list, but…his legal aid got it dropped down some since his testimony was arguably beneficial to Kreider’s case.”
Olivia nodded her head, deep in thought. “And Mark?”
“Gruenbaum is asking for a continuance before his closing. The judge gave him 48 hours, not that it’ll do any good.”
“Is he still pushing for the affirmative defense or is changing his tune?”
“Still going, but I doubt the jury will have a hard time coming back with a guilty verdict. His…theatrics may have some effect on your case, but not for the boys.”
“I still don’t see why I couldn’t testify.”
“He’s insisting he did it to protect you from yourself and there was no reason to put you on the stand so that his attorney could goad you into saying something that could sway the jury.”
“I’ve testified before, Elliot. That wouldn’t happen.”
“I’m just passing the message. Besides…you were sick. But, you’ll be nice and healthy by the time the sentencing comes around and I think you should be there for that if you’re up to it.”
“Of course I will. He stole a month…No, he stole months of my life away from me. I want him to see me just like this when he gets sentenced.”
Elliot squeezed her hand. “We got him, Liv. It’ll be all right.”
“What about that guy he was talking about?”
“Well, Landon isn’t being too forthcoming with the details anymore, but so far, no one else has come up.”
“Elliot, I remember somebody being there. He wasn’t Landon. He was strong.”
“And, if he surfaces we’ll get him. If there is somebody else, maybe Landon will be ready to talk once he’s staring down several life sentences. I don’t want you to worry about it for now.”
They were silent for a moment as he held her hand and Olivia searched his eyes for some window into his thoughts.
“You know,” she began, “I’m not sure if I ever said it, but I really appreciate everything you’ve done for me.”
“No thanks necessary, Liv. I just wish I could’ve done more.”
Olivia smiled and, as she continued to hold Elliot’s hand, she realized that they had been simply staring at one another in the silence. Another minute passed without a word spoken and Olivia shifted uncomfortably.
“Well,” Elliot said, releasing her hand. “I’ve got a mountain of paperwork to get to…and I’d love to let you help, but it’s out of my hands. I’ll call you a little later tonight.”
Olivia nodded as he left the room, not liking the feeling the feeling that had suddenly descended upon her; something was not resolved.
She sighed deeply and sifted through the sheet music until she found one of Jonathan’s favorites. She then took a long drink of water and prepared herself to play the song over and over until her fingers hurt.
Thursday May 10th
Jonathan smiled as Olivia ran her fingers through his soft hair. He lay with his head on her thigh, though the rest of his body was in a chair, and together they watched the plot grow thicker in Primal Fear on the television mounted to the far wall.
She sighed as she leaned against her pillows and elicited a snort from Jonathan.
“You’re not sighing about Richard Gere again, are you?”
“It was only that one time. You should’ve been here when Maya and I were watching Pretty Woman.”
He snickered against her leg and she smiled, but repressed another sigh. Jonathan had slept beside her in the hospital bed over the past three nights. She was not sure it was going to work at first as the bed was slightly narrow and they had to maneuver to ensure Olivia’s IV lines did not get tangled, but Jonathan was determined and she was glad he was. She had forgotten what it felt like to sleep next to him and, for the first time since their very first night together, she enjoyed the fact that he slept comfortably with his arms wrapped tightly around her.
Since the day she became aware of her surroundings, Olivia had rarely slept through an entire night without waking from either a loose nightmare or the feeling that someone was coming for her in the dark. Sleeping against Jonathan’s chest made for the soundest sleep she had ever experienced and while she initially worried that her doctor would say something, it passed quickly when she remembered that she loved a member of the Halloway family.
In the past several days, she also found herself feeling a familiar itch that had not been even close to mind in the recent months, but had returned in full heat since Jonathan had been spending every moment with her.
On the screen, Edward Norton professed his innocence to Richard Gere, and a sly grin spread across Olivia’s face.
“Jonathan…” she said in a sultry, sing-song voice.
He turned his head so that his chin rested on her thigh. “Yes?”
She reached for the remote control, turned up the volume on the television, but leaned very close to him to whisper.
“How would you like to do something incredibly naughty…?”
Elliot strode down the bright corridor with a small smile on his face as he carried good news for Olivia. Owen Kreider had been convicted on all charges and Mark Landon was also convicted of two counts of first degree murder, two counts of sexual assault, one count each of kidnapping, stalking and assault and battery by a jury of his peers. It was barely and already a good day.
Every cop associated with SVU had been in the courtroom to see Mark convicted. Elliot had expected that Jonathan would be amongst the throng vehemently glaring at Mark from across the aisle, but would not allow his absence to dissipate his mood. A sentencing date had been set for May 17th and he nearly skipped down the hall in a hurry to inform Olivia face to face.
He approached the door toward the end of the corridor where a different uniformed officer sat reading a newspaper and turned the door handle, but nearly bounced off the door as he tried to step inside the room.
“Why’s this door locked?” he asked.
The officer glanced at him, but returned to his paper. “I would give them another ten minutes or so.”
“But why’s the door locked?”
“Elliot. Halloway’s in there with her. So, I’d give them another ten minutes to do what they have to do. You get my drift?”
“This door shouldn’t be locked.”
The officer rolled his eyes. “A nurse already walked in on a little something, so I told him to lock the door.” They could hear a woman’s voice sigh loudly and Elliot stepped away from the door.
“Like I said,” the officer laughed. “I’d give them another ten minutes or so.”
Elliot sat in the chair across from the door, staring at it with a frown now displayed on his face. “She’s still got that thing on her side, you know?”
The officer shook his head. “I’m sure they can be careful. Besides, she’s getting out of here on Monday anyway, right?”
Elliot suppressed a sigh and made small talk with the officer for several minutes before leaving to talk to Olivia’s doctor and the nurses on the floor.
Four hours later, he returned to the hospital room and knocked on Olivia’s door.
“Yes?” he heard Olivia call.
“It’s me,” he said. “Can I come in?”
“Of course. When have you ever asked?”
He stepped into the room, his previous smile greatly diminished, and found Olivia upright in her bed with a glowing face.
“I have some good news for you,” he said trying to keep the disheartenment out of his voice. “Landon was convicted today. His sentencing date is May 17th.”
Olivia closed her eyes and sighed. “On all counts?”
“Every last one of them.”
“Good. With any luck he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison.”
“With any luck he’ll be shanked in the shower on the first day and the taxpayers won’t have to pay to keep his ass alive.”
“I see Halloway’s been here a lot more often,” Elliot said, hoping the sudden tension in his chest would release. He noticed her grow tense and continued after her cheeks went slightly pink. “You two are doing well, then?”
“Yes…we’ve talked a lot and I think we’re on the right track now.” She paused, not sure how to phrase what she truly wanted to say. “I do love him, Elliot. I think I’ve been in love with him since the night we met.”
Elliot sighed. “Olivia…I’m sorry about what I said. I am. Halloway’s a decent person and…I shouldn’t have brought up all that with Matthew.”
“It’s okay. It’s fine. I’m just glad that you can both be in the same room now with starting another brawl.”
With his eyes focused on the floor, Elliot went silent for a long time before finally raising his eyes to meet hers.
“So, he’s the one…”
“Seems like it.”
“You gonna get married?”
“One step at a time. I’ve got to be walking first before I can think about walking down the aisle. He’s, um…he’s asked me to move in with him, though.”
“What’d you say?”
“I said yes. I know you guys got all those cameras out of there, but I just…I can’t live there anymore. First with my mother and then with Mark. It’s just too much.”
“Is that why you’re living with him?”
“Of course not. It’s been a long time coming and I think it’s best for both of us. He’s having my things moved this Saturday.”
“You trust him to move all your stuff?”
“I should hope so since I trust him enough to live with.”
“Yeah…yeah, of course. You want me to at least take you down there when he’s moving the things out of your apartment? I mean I know you trust him, but it would be better to make sure the movers don’t leave something or take things he doesn’t notice.”
“Why don’t you go for me? You can be my liaison to the scene and if you have any questions, you can give me a ring. Besides Weiss doesn’t want any mishaps before my scheduled departure.”
Elliot nodded. “You’ve got a birthday coming up. Any plans yet?”
“Not that I know of,” she said shrugging.
“Is there anything you want?”
“A long, healthy life.”
“Anything that’s feasible for me to get you?”
“You ask me this question every year and how do I always answer?”
Elliot spoke in his best impression of her. “‘Oh you don’t have to get me anything, Elliot.’”
“That’s right,” she said slapping him playfully.
“Okay. I suppose as long as you and Halloway have a nice, quiet evening together, you’ll be all right.”
“I’ll be happy as long as I get to see the day…outside of a hospital. What about you, though. How are you getting along without me?”
“Lousy…but you’ll be out soon and then sauntering into the 1-6 not too long after that.”
“Saunter? I coolly stride. Maybe even swagger, but never saunter.” Olivia felt her heart jump when Elliot smiled at her. “How about the rest of your family? How are your brothers doing?”
Elliot shrugged. “Same old, same old. Nolan asked about you the other day.”
“What about your sister?”
“Didn’t return my last call.”
“Are you going to try again?”
“She’ll call when she wants something from me.”
“What about Kathy? Have you talked to her lately?”
“I don’t think we’ve got that much to talk to tell you the truth.”
Olivia frowned. “Has she submitted the papers?”
“Well, that might be something you could to her about. I mean, if she hasn’t submitted them yet, then maybe-”
“And, that’s my cue to leave.” Elliot stood from the sofa.
“Elliot…” Olivia said. “C’mon, sit back down.”
“Seriously, I do have to leave though. If I leave Alexa by herself too long, she’ll get into trouble.”
“Are you going to…oversee my move on Saturday?”
“Yes, with Jonathan.”
Elliot paused. “I’ll think about it.”
“I supposed that’s better than a straightforward no.”
“It’s not a no and it’s not a yes,” Elliot said as he approached the door. He smiled once more at Olivia’s smiling face and then turned to leave. “I’ll think about it…”
As he walked towards the elevators, Elliot finished the thought in his head.
…if I can think I can go without strangling the bastard…
“…and it sounds very promising since it has a very low dependency rate, but its side effects of drowsiness and lethargy are on the heavy side of common.”
Olivia nodded at Dr. Weiss as he
spoke animatedly waving a small pharmaceutical bottle in his hand. He had
spoken with the new set of doctors Jonathan had “invited” to
With the ability to stand aided for longer amounts of time, Olivia had renewed her vigor for walking and as did Jonathan who found a way to make it for every one of her sessions in the Blue Room. There were times when Olivia wondered if Jonathan’s desire for her to walk outweighed her own, and the idea of allowing a drug that was designed to help one ailment diminish the speed of her recover was abhorrent to both of them.
“Is this the last option we’ve got?” Jonathan said, arms crossed. “I mean, if it’s new, who knows what else might happen to her, especially with the painkillers she’s still on, not to mention the antibiotics.”
“Well, we’ve been weaning her to a heavy aspirin instead for the past two weeks,” Dr. Weiss said, “and there are just two more intervals with the antibiotics before Olivia should be clear from just about anything. My main concerns are the effects of the aspirin and the anticonvulsant.”
“Are they severe enough for us to keep shopping?” Jonathan said.
“They’re not life threatening and there are alternative drugs out there, but I think this might be the best solution in Olivia’s case.”
“Why’s that?” Olivia said, eyebrows high.
“Most of the time when seizures develop as a result of trauma, it takes close to six months to develop. In your case, it seems more and more likely that they are due to that concoction you were subjected to and, since we’re looking at a more unique situation, a more radical drug may be the best overall.”
“What can I expect in regards to the drowsiness and such?” Olivia asked, before Jonathan could interject. “Am I going to turn into a narcoleptic or something?”
“You’ll experience a…dramatic decrease in your physical abilities. Your efforts at walking are going to slow and, some days, even pushing your own chair will seem overwhelming.”
“So, no wheelchair races for a bit?”
“’Fraid not. Also, no alcohol. I would have recommended the discontinuation of any alcohol use either way though. The last thing you need is something else to acerbate the problems.”
“What about in the long term? Will this be something I’ve got to take for the rest of my life?”
“I can’t say for certain, Olivia,” Dr. Weiss said. “I can say that I am skeptical of those who are claiming this to be a non-surgical cure for epilepsy, but since yours has not been a normal case at any point, I’m willing to wait and see. With the seizures developing as quickly as they did, I imagine we’ll experience several caveats to your treatment. It’ll be a remarkable case study someday, but those are only fun once the patient’s got well.”
“Case study?” Olivia said smiling. “Am I New England Journal of Medicine journal material?
Dr. Weiss laughed. “Absolutely.”
Elliot parked his car down the street from Olivia’s apartment and was stunned to see Jonathan already barking orders to a myriad of hired movers. They seemed to be working quickly, but not to Jonathan’s satisfaction and Jonathan looked like he was ready to jump out of his skin as one of the movers set Olivia’s cello and case on the ground hard enough to clink on the sidewalk.
“Easy!” he yelled. “If you expect to be paid, that thing had better not have the slightest scratch! Oh, hello, Detective.”
“Halloway,” Elliot said as he approached. “How’s this going?”
“Good, good. I’m trying to get this all done before two.”
“I see. Need any help?”
“No, it looks like they’ve got it about covered.”
“Mind if I supervise anyway?”
“Sounds fine to me. Maybe they’ll get a move on if you flash a badge. I’m pretty sure a couple of them have done some time. Hey! Be careful with that! I bought that for her myself! Get two people on it! C’mon! I thought you were professionals!”
Elliot rolled his eyes and stepped aside while Jonathan continued his accost of the movers. As they day worn on, Elliot oversaw the movers, occasionally turning into Jonathan when he noticed one of them sitting on her hope chest or carrying a box that read “Music” too loosely.
At ten minutes to , Elliot turned around to see Jonathan staring at him. It was far different from previous occasions; no burning hatred or rage. Jonathan walked towards him and, while he wanted to pretend to look into something else to avoid Jonathan, Elliot stood his ground.
“Look,” Jonathan said as he approached. “I, uh…I want to apologize to you…about the gun thing…”
Elliot shook his head. “Don’t worry about it.”
“No,” Jonathan said. “I need to say this. I…I know myself and I know that I’m at a point in my life where I’m not likely to make any big changes in my personality. I also know that I’m never going to like you. We’re never going to be golfing partners or bowling buddies. I don’t see myself ever inviting you over to watch a basketball game outside of Olivia’s presence either. However…I think I am big enough to admit, that while I’ll never feel comfortable with you, you’re still, uh…a good person, and I need to apologize about pulling that…on you.”
“Seriously,” Elliot said. “Don’t worry about it. I probably would’ve reacted the same way.”
Jonathan nodded that he understood and they fell silent for a moment, allowing the grunts from the movers to replace their voices.
“It’s just…” Jonathan began again and Elliot suppressed a roll of his eyes. “When I see you, I just keep thinking to myself...God...he's got everything. He's not just a cop...he's a detective with the NYPD. Just by wearing a badge he's revered across the country...across the world. He tracks down the guys who rape women and molest kids and he puts them in jail. He rescues children and he saves lives...everyday. He has this honorable job and I...I just get money thrown at me for helping companies avoid prosecution, even when they really deserve it. And, on top of that, you’ve got this perfect family with great kids from what I hear from Olivia. You know, I look at you and I see a guy who isn’t struggling with never being able to trust a single person throughout his life and isn’t trying to get over the all the innocence he lost as a kid because his family didn’t seem to care about the youngest one.”
“Everyone struggles with something, Halloway.”
“But I still get frustrated when I think about this because it’s like you have everything and, I know that even if she married me…she was yours first."
Elliot shook his head. "She's never been mine, Halloway. I meant what I said months ago. She told me herself that you're the one.”
"I may not have a lot of street smarts, Elliot, but I've still done my research and I know that cop partnerships are like marriages. Competing with you is like competing with the first husband."
They stood silent for several minutes, Elliot not sure how to respond, Jonathan's eyes focused on the movers working on his orders. He suddenly felt ridiculous standing on the sidewalk and talking to someone he would rather hold in a headlock until he lost consciousness.
“Look...I know you're completely fine at...letting your feelings or whatever out in the open, but I'm not. It's just not me.”
"Okay,” Jonathan said and began to walk toward the moving truck.
"But," Elliot continued, causing Jonathan to pause. "I'll say this much…She's yours, okay? She's yours."
Jonathan nodded and turned towards the movers who appeared to be dawdling on the truck. “C’mon guys. I’d like to get this done, while I’m still young.”
As the movers put the last of Olivia’s belongings on the truck, Elliot put a hand in his pocket and felt something round and cool within the depths of the denim. Jonathan had tossed Olivia’s would-be engagement ring across his coffee table in a fit of anger, madness and grief three months earlier and, periodically, Elliot would stare at it for hours simply mesmerized by it.
He had gone to Cartier the previous month to have it appraised, but it was not the sheer value of the ring that awed him, only what it represented. Like the one he had given Kathy decades earlier, the ring was the ultimate symbol of friendship, unity and love; it was perfect eternal bond.
As he held the ring in his hand, Elliot visualized where his own wedding ring lay unworn for eight months; second bedroom, in the third dresser drawer, underneath six inches of blank manila folders and the notepad Lizzie had left on her first visit to the apartment.
The vision disappeared as quickly as it came, but as it did, Elliot suddenly remembered Father Denis’ words as if he were speaking them directly in front of him.
“I think it’s time that you ask yourself what you really want.”
He squeezed the ring in his hand and sighed.
I want, he thought, Olivia to find the same love and happiness I had a chance to find.
“Halloway,” he said a few minutes later as Jonathan started sarcastically applauding the movers for finally completing their job. “I thought you might want this back.”
He tossed the ring into the air and Jonathan caught it with one hand. Jonathan looked at it for a moment as if trying to recollect its purpose.
“You…you kept this?”
“I figured you might need…when you’re ready.”
“Yeah, well,” Jonathan said as he began to roll the ring in his hand. “I’ve been thinking about this whole thing…including the ring. So, I don’t know if I’ll need it. You want to keep it? A little reminder of things?”
“I’d rather not,” Elliot said, letting his desire to inquire about what was meant by not “needing” the ring pass without further incident. “Maybe give it as a Christmas present or something, eh?”
Jonathan smirked at him, gave a little wave and walked down the street to his car to guide the moving truck to his residence.
Elliot sat in his car for a moment before he rubbed a hand over his face and started his engine.
“I still say he’s a bastard,” he muttered aloud as he began his trek across the river.
Elliot traced the base of his wine glass with his finger as Kathy took a sip from her own glass. They had been chatting lightly after dinner and a dark silence had fallen over the table.
Their children were each spending the evening with their respective friends and, when he and Kathy had run out of things to say, Elliot prepared himself for the conversation they needed to have, but had tap danced around for two years.
“So, Katherine,” he began, catching her attention having not called her by her full name since they were in their twenties. “What’s it going to take to get you to tell me why I have to leave every night?”
Kathy pursed her lips and stared at the table.
“You never even gave me a reason, Kath,” he continued. “You just left. And we never talked about it.”
“We talked about it…”
“No, you said you were tired of me being angry all the time, but you never gave me a legitimate reason for leaving. You never even gave me the chance to change.”
“I-” Kathy began, but paused, wringing her hands on the table.
“Elliot…I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? You don’t know why you walked out on twenty years of marriage? You don’t know why you took my children away from me? You don’t know why you served me with divorce papers?” He was trying not to get angry, but her lack of a valid answer felt more like impudence than simple uncertainty. “What did I do, Kathy? What could I have possibly done to drive you away like this?”
Kathy shook her head as her eyes grew wet. “I don’t know how to say this to you…I was alone, Elliot. I just felt so alone even though we were together.”
“That doesn’t make any sense to me.”
“Elliot, I’m forty-two years old and I don’t feel like I’ve lived a day. We got married so soon and then, everything was all about the kids. It’s like I never even had time to think, let alone figure out who I am.” Elliot sighed and crossed his arms as she continued. “And, then…when I took a second to look at my life…I saw that I was all alone.”
“The kids are growing up…Maureen’s about to graduate from college, Kathleen’s…well she’s clearly left us and Lizzie and Dickie are following behind right out the door. My whole life has been about the kids and now they’re all about to leave and I’m alone.”
“What do you mean you’re alone? We had each other.”
“Did we?” she asked, the tears now welling on the brims of her eyes. “Elliot, I saw you for probably a total of two hours on any given day. When you kissed me goodbye as you left for work and when you slipped back in the bed at three in the morning. My children were off living their own lives, my husband was at work all the time and I was all alone.”
“And, this is the resolution you came up with?” Elliot said, his voice rising slightly. “To cure your loneliness, you just up and leave?”
Kathy sighed and put her head in her hands, but Elliot shook his head.
“This is not a reason to take everything from me. You and the kids were the only reason I could do my job, to put food on the damn table and keep a roof over our heads!”
“Oh, don’t give me that bullshit!” she yelled. “Nothing made you stay in that unit! You could’ve done anything with the NYPD, but no. You had to stay with the one unit that kept you up night every single night, that kept you away from your family for every holiday, every birthday, every special event in their lives. You made a decision long ago about what was more important to you and you chose the job. So, don’t you dare tell me that you worked so hard for me and the kids! I don’t need you to lie to me.”
“Then why don’t you tell me the truth! You’re giving me all this garbage about being lonely, but you left me. You brought this loneliness on yourself!”
She ran her fingers through her hair as an errant tear ran down her face. “I left,” she began softly, “because I needed time to think…away from you.”
Elliot shook his head and stood from his chair. He had had enough for one night. As he began to walk out of the kitchen, Kathy called back to him.
“There was someone else!”
He stopped mid step and tried to breathe, yet it felt like someone had knocked the wind out of him. He closed his eyes as his heart ached and he slowly turned around to face her. Tears were now streaming down her face, but impassiveness waved through him instead of attrition for his wife’s pain.
“It was just once and I just kissed him, but I knew…I knew if I had gone so far to allow another man to kiss me, our marriage had deteriorated more than either of us really knew.”
With his legs growing weak and bile gathering at the back of his throat, Elliot slumped back into the chair at the table.
“Elliot,” she continued. “Do you remember when we met?”
Despondent, Elliot shook his head slightly as he stared at the table.
“I remember like it was yesterday. You were walking across the park in that uniform…that dark blue uniform…and one of my girlfriends pointed you out as you were coming toward us. You looked so good. Everything about you, from the way every curve of your body moved under that uniform to the curves of your face. God, Elliot. You smiled at me and your eyes were just…it seemed like we were the only two people in the world.”
Elliot closed his eyes and rubbed his temples unable to see the moment of which Kathy spoke, his ears still deafened by the words “someone else.”
“When he…when he leaned over to kiss me and I didn’t back away, I was expecting that moment again. I wanted him to be you, looking at me the way you did that day. I wanted us to be back where we were, but when he kissed me, I knew that was never going to happen. What we had was just gone. Instead of the beautiful person who tipped his white hat to me as he passed, you had become this cold shell of human being who had seen too much in too short a time…and I couldn’t live with him anymore.”
Elliot ran a hand over his face, utterly astounded by what she had said. A full minute’s silence passed over them, though it felt like an eternity.
“So,” he finally said. “You threw me out because you had an affair?”
“It wasn’t an affair, Elliot.”
“Kathy, if I walked in here and told you that I just kissed another woman, you would’ve smacked me across the face, called me a philanderer and had your brother and your sister over here ready to kick my ass for having an affair.” He could see Kathy’s foot shaking under the table. “Who was it?”
“It doesn’t make a difference who it was Elliot. All that matters is that it was…a was.”
“Of course it makes a difference who it was. Again, if I came to you with this same story, it’d make a big fucking difference if it was…Olivia or just some woman off the street. It makes a difference, Kathy.”
“You don’t know him. He was just one of the young doctors at the hospital. Turns out he had a great love of Faulkner, too.”
“Or, he said he did just to get in your pants.”
“Elliot…it was one kiss. One time.”
“And, yet that one kiss is what’s driving this conversation right now. That one kiss is keeping us from being ourselves. From being normal. C’mon Kathy. This is maybe the first Saturday night I haven’t been called out during dinner in months. Normally, with all the kids out like this, we’d be upstairs playing a game in the bedroom to make sure the magic didn’t end, but you’re one kiss has completely destroyed everything.”
“You make it sound like there was nothing more to it. Like I kissed him and then took the kids to my sister’s the next night. The reason the one kiss even happened was because you were never around to play any games in the bedroom.”
“I’m here now. I’m right here.”
“You’re only here now because you don’t like putting in the long hours with that new girl. If Olivia hadn’t been hurt, there’d be no change. Nothing at all. You’d still be at the precinct until two in the morning with Olivia, acting like if you just keep working hard with her, you’ll-”
“Don’t make this about Olivia,” Elliot said. “This was never about Olivia. This is about you and me and what you think I did or didn’t do in our marriage.”
Kathy shook her head. “Elliot…you’re right. This isn’t entirely about Olivia, but you can’t honestly tell me that we’d be any different right now if…if I hadn’t left.”
“You never gave me a chance!”
“What kind of chance were you looking for? Did you actually need me to tell you that it was your duty as a father and a husband to spend more time at home? Did I have to actually show up at the precinct and pull the goddamn file out of your hand to bring you home to have one dinner a week with your family?”
“So, you wanted me in some run-of-the-mill job where I could drive the kids to soccer practice every single day and put gun to my head when I turned forty-five just to end my misery?”
“I’m not saying that. I just wanted you to stop working on things well after when they could have waited until the next day.”
“And, some things can’t wait ‘til the next day! If Olivia and I worked like that, we’d never catch anyone. Look, if you wanted me to quit the force, why didn’t you just tell me that up front instead of kissing some random doctor and leaving with the kids?”
“I’m not going to have this argument, Elliot. You obviously don’t want to get it or you’d stop putting words in my mouth.”
“Get what! I’m just trying to rationalize this! I ask you what really happened and you spout all this bullshit about loneliness before telling me you had an affair.”
“I wasn’t an affair!” Kathy yelled pounding her fists on the table. “It was frustration at what had happened to us. To you! Look at yourself, Elliot. You’re screaming at me…twisting my words around…I don’t know if it was the job or just life in general, but…you are not the man I married. Even though you were physically here from time to time, you left me a long time ago.”
Elliot shifted in the chair as Kathy wiped at her eyes. “So…what can I do to fix this?”
“I don’t know. It’ll just take time.”
“No, you said, I’ve turned into someone that you can’t live with. What can I do to fix this?”
She stared at him for a long while, silently searching his eyes. “Come to dinner tomorrow night. Just like you’ve been doing. I want us to just get back to where we used to be.”
“That’s it? You think coming to dinner is going to fix what you called a cold shell of a human being?”
“I’m not saying it’s going to fix anything, Elliot. I’m just saying…it’s a start.”
Elliot nodded and stood with his eyes fixed on hers. Their soft blue-green depths were blurred by her own tears and the image of how she appeared the day he first saw her eventually floated to mind.
He sighed, grabbed his jacket from the chair and left the dining room.
“Elliot?” Kathy called, but he refused to stop.
Once in his car, his hand reached for the key in the ignition, but he paused not knowing where he could go. The first person who came to mind was Olivia, but he crossed her out of mind as he pictured her snuggled against Jonathan Halloway in her hospital room. He could not face his brother; Bryce suddenly seemed to be the least sympathetic person in the world. He ran down a short list of co-workers and acquaintances and sighed.
She’s right. We really are alone.
He opted for spending the evening drowning his thoughts in scotch and headed home. When he approached his building, he spotted a familiar face waiting on the stoop.
“I thought you were done with me,” he said.
Diana Willex shook her head. “I was…am…I don’t know. I’ve been hearing things on the news and a lot of times they mention you. I thought I’d be able to just shake you off, but I…as it turns out, I end up thinking about you more often than not. And lately, I can’t seem to figure out why the only person I want is chasing after two people who don’t seem to want him.”
She focused her gaze on the black sky and he could see that her eyes were wet like the last time he had seen her.
“How long have you been here?”
“A while,” she said. “It only occurred to me in the last ten minutes that I didn’t know what the hell you did on your Saturdays since we’d never spent one together.”
He took a seat next to her on the stoop. “Well…I’m normally working a case. So, I couldn’t tell you what I do on Saturdays either.”
“What have you been doing?”
“Having dinner with my kids before they all went rushing out to live their own lives.”
“Don’t I know how that feels…”
“Also had a long talk with my ex.”
“And, how did that go?”
“Could’ve gone better. A lot better.”
“Well, I’m sorry about that. I really am.”
He shrugged. “What do you have to be sorry for, Diana? It’s like you said. She doesn’t seem to want me.”
“What did she have to say?”
“Other than that she left me because she was about to start seeing someone else…she wants to basically take it slow.”
“How slow is slow?”
“That’s a good question. We’re already going so slow we’re going backwards. Honestly, I don’t know what else she wants from me. At this rate, I’m gonna end up dying alone.”
Diana turned toward him putting her hand on his knee. “Elliot…don’t say things like that. You don’t…you know you don’t have to always be alone.”
Elliot stared into her shining eyes for a moment and, five minutes later, they were in his bedroom. He took hold of her and made love to her like he had wanted to make love to a woman for months, allowing his every frustration to melt away with every kiss, every touch and every sigh. Afterward, he lay in the bed staring at Diana as her breathing slowed and she shifted into a comfortable position.
I could make this work, he thought.
Diana was neither Kathy nor Olivia. She was not the mother of his children or his partner of eight years. She was only Diana, someone different and completely removed from any other problem in his life. He was not in love with her, but he did not start out in love with Olivia. He did not desire a family with her, but he had not initially wanted children with Kathy. She had her annoying quirks and faults, as did he, but none of those were enough to give up on her. There was no reason he could not start over and make a life with her because, as she had said, he did not have to die alone.
Elliot’s eyes slowly opened several hours later at the feel sudden cold and of something moving in his bed.
“Hey,” he said sitting up in the bed. “Where are you going?”
Diana was dressed and was preparing to walk out the door. “I’ve gotta go.”
He played the events of the past week through his head and stifled the urge to reach out for her. “What if I don’t want you to go?”
“C’mon. This was just a one-night thing and you know it. Just some type of closure for us both.”
“I don’t agree. I don’t think you would’ve waited for me if it was.”
She sighed. “You can’t have it both ways, Elliot. You can’t tell me that I was just something to ease the pain and then tell me that you want me. It doesn’t work like that.”
“Why not? People can have a change of heart.”
“Not you. You might want it in your mind, but I know what I felt. You don’t even feel like a man who’s just trying to get laid. With one or the other, I know you’re still fixated on them.”
“Diana…I want to start over. My life has gone through more abrupt changes in this past two years than most people experience in a lifetime, but it’s made me take stock of what I really…and need.”
“You want to start over…with me?”
“Yeah.” Elliot sat up straight. “I think I really am ready to move on. So, please. Come back to bed.”
Diana took a step towards the bed, but then pursed her lips and paused.
“No,” she said and walked towards the door. “I’m sorry, Elliot, but…I know how this is gonna end.”
“How would it end?”
“Your partner decides she wants you and you leave me or…your wife realizes she needs you back and you leave. Either way, you’ve got no room for me.”
“I wouldn’t do that.”
She gave him a small smile and came to his side of the bed. He wrapped his arms around her waist as she rubbed a hand against his bare back.
“You’re a good man, Elliot,” she said after a minute. “I just wish I’d met you sooner.”
She released him and walked to the bedroom door. “I would’ve been good to you. No drama. No bullshit. Just love. You remember that if things don’t work out.”
As she left, he lay back in his bed with his mind wiped of thought. A vision of Olivia floated to mind after several minutes of staring at his ceiling and he remembered how she looked right after she had hugged him in the locker room so many months earlier.
He let out a long sigh as the vision changed and he saw Olivia the way she appeared the night he found out Kathleen’s secret. She had looked so scared of him and Andrea’s words, “I am not afraid of you,” suddenly took on new meaning. Olivia’s face melted into Kathleen’s on the same night who then turned into Dickie. Kathleen and Dickie were so much alike and so much like him that it hurt. Both were headstrong and stubborn, but easily susceptible to let downs, just like their father. Dickie turned into Lizzie who, in turn, became Maureen who eventually became Kathy.
When Kathy left him, he had no one and, when he was ready to reach out to Olivia, she had someone else in her life. He and Kathy had had four children together and he could remember no other life before he had her with him. The idea of becoming angry over the slightest brush of infidelity seemed laughable as he considered the number of times when he had been more or less prepared to rip off Olivia’s clothes throughout their years together. Months earlier, one small jingle was all that kept him from stepping into the depths of serious with Olivia.
Elliot shifted as the moonlight poured through his blinds. While he had brushed against the topic just once, he and Olivia had never had a conversation akin to the one he had had with Kathy regarding their relationship and, with each day that passed, it looked less likely it was going to happen.
A choice needed to be made; one would make half a dozen people happy for years to come while the other left those same people in a state shock, hurt, anger and regret.
Reaching across the bed, he set his alarm clock early enough to take a morning run, but also have to time to make it to church with his family.
Huffing slightly as she pushed her hands against her wheels, Olivia slowly made her way up the ramp that led toward the doors that were a lattice of glass and wood. Jonathan stepped patiently behind her in case her arms grew weak, though she had told him repeatedly that she was “fine.” Even after the Americans with Disabilities Act had been passed, the building would not comply until some of the “newer” tenants complained several years later. Olivia was glad the ramp had already been installed before she arrived. The last thing she wanted was to draw more attention to herself with the installation of a ramp just for her.
At first, it was simply the points and stares of those who had either seen her picture in the paper or on the news that caught her off guard. -something girl actually came up to Olivia and asked for her autograph, calling Olivia her hero. Many of the passing tenants in Jonathan’s building seemed very interested to at least see “the woman who saved herself from her kidnapper,” also known as “that lady cop that the youngest of the Halloways is seeing.”
Then, came the reporters who wished to know how she was doing and constantly pressed for her to give a statement regarding Mark, and then on the boys, and then on Kreider and then on Morse, and then on Elliot in regards to Morse’s videos. She had been open to the idea the previous day, but the longer the questions came, the more she realized what a toll the last four months had had on her body. Within a few hours, she was tired and irritable and pushed away the very mention of speaking to the press.
Later that night, she ran a high fever and was delirious from the exertion. Dr. Weiss feared that she would have need to stay another few nights to ensure she would not grow sicker, but Olivia, intent on not spending any additional time in the hospital, faked her way through several tests saying parts did not hurt when they ached and that she did not feel cold when she was nearly shivering even though temperature in the room was causing the others to break into a sweat. Maya, feeling again that chocolate was some magic cure for all, spent the better part of the evening handing Olivia piece after piece until she had regained some colour to her face.
Olivia had planned on spending the day preparing herself to testify at Mark’s sentencing trial, but between her health and the fact that Mark’s lawyer won his motion to preclude her as a witness for the sentencing as well, Olivia spent most of the day trying to keep her body from non-stop shivering.
Her hand pressed against the wheel of her chair, but she soon lacked the strength to push the chair forward on the elevated ramp. Her body’s vigor had been spent trying to keep from coughing up her lungs throughout the morning and the immediate effects of the newest drug and, with a final sigh, Olivia resigned to allow Jonathan to push her for the rest of the journey into the building.
Several minutes and eleven floors later, the elevator doors opened on the eleventh floor and, as her arms had regained some vivacity during her short rest, Olivia pushed herself down the hall toward the last of the four apartments on the floor. Her nerves prickled at the thought of not only being in the building, but the aspect of living within it. She had visited Jonathan’s apartment sparingly throughout their relationship and, as he unlocked the door, she tensed trying to keep away a panic attack, but the wave of nausea, fear and doubt passed as soon as she cleared the doorway.
She could see several of her pictures hanging on the walls of the foyer and on a small table sat a gift basket with a card from Adam wishing her well. They foyer alone made it look like home.
“Okay,” Jonathan said standing in the doorway. “I wanted to really wait until tomorrow, but I suppose one day won’t hurt.”
She narrowed her eyes at him, but with a curious smirk on her face. “What have you done now?”
“Just got you a little something.”
She wheeled down the foyer, and then grabbed her wheels to come to sliding halt. The sitting room had a large Oriental rug that stretched from the fireplace to the opening of the room and touched every piece of furniture except for something large that stood in the corner.
When Olivia had first noticed it, the object appeared to be nothing more than an expanse of black, but her skin tingled as her eyes focused on the baby grand piano and she rolled toward it with her mouth gaping. The rich ebony of the forty-thousand-dollar instrument glinted across the room as sunlight spread through the large windows on the far wall of the sitting room and she gasped as she ran a hand across it; the cool polished wood of the Bösendorfer felt akin to soft skin beneath her fingertips.
“I’d searched through some of my grandfather’s houses,” Jonathan said, “looking through all his instruments hoping to find something that would be perfect for you, but nothing seemed right. Then a friend of a friend of a friend told me about this one and…well, I just imagined the look on your face when you saw and I knew this was it, especially since I had to sell the Strad.”
Olivia clapped a hand to her mouth as a single tear made a daring escape from her eye and she smiled at him trying to keep its brothers at bay. It was the single most exquisite gift she had ever received in her life.
“Happy Birthday, Olivia,” he said and was forced to bend down as Olivia had thrown both of her arms around his neck.
A moment later, she had shifted out of her chair and onto the piano bench and took a deep breath as she lifted the key cover to take in the odor of the wood. It felt like it had a life of its own.
“You’ll have to learn to play again,” she said as Jonathan sat beside her.
He rubbed a hand over her back as she brushed her fingers over the pristine ivory keys. “Well, I’ve already got such a good teacher, so with my skills at it…I suppose I’ll get the hang of it by the time I’m sixty.”
They laughed together and Olivia threw her arms around him as they shared a long kiss.
The next day, Jonathan showed that he had pulled out all stops for her birthday. At first Olivia protested, but Maya, who arrived to join the festivities early in the morning, insisted that they needed to throw her a party since they had worried if she would even live to see her next birthday. Maya helped Olivia into the beautiful black dress she had bought for her, proclaiming that it was “simply fabulous” the entire time.
Jonathan had arranged a grandiose
birthday dinner for her at a restaurant on the
When she and Jonathan returned home, Olivia changed clothes and they prepared to settle into the rest of a quiet evening.
“Okay, Liv,” Jonathan said, handing her a wine glass. “Which are we going to have? I think 1989 was a good year for the Sauternes, but I’ve been kind of slacking in my wine connoisseur-ship, so I’m not entirely sure.”
Olivia smiled as she looked into the wine glass. “Well, unless you want me back in the hospital tonight, I’d better not have any wine.”
. “Crap!” Jonathan said as he smacked his forehead. “I can’t believe I forgot. That just doesn’t seem fair. I mean, no alcohol…?”
“It’s okay,” Olivia said. “I can drink OJ in this glass. Or…I’d really like a glass of some sparkling white grape juice if you had any.”
Jonathan gave an exaggerated roll of his eyes. “The one thing I haven’t got a drop of in the whole apartment.”
“If you had any,” she said laughing. “Orange juice is fine.”
“Nay, I say! You sit tight and comfortable, it’s your birthday after all, and I’ll run out and to grab some.”
“You really don’t have to.”
“Nope. For your birthday, you get every single thing you want.” He bent and kissed her hand, erupting a fit of giggles from her. “I’ll be back in a bit. Get the movie started and we’ll plunge right in.”
Olivia turned on the television once he had gone, fumbling with the remote control that was so different from her own television that now lived in their bedroom. She turned on Breakfast at Tiffany’s and had coursed through some of the extra items on the DVD when the telephone near her rang.
“Benson,” she said automatically.
“Yes. Hello Miss Benson,” a high-strung woman’s voice echoed through the phone. “There is a Detective Elliot Stabler here demanding that he be let up.”
“Oh, absolutely,” she said. “Can I add him to a list or something?”
“That won’t be a problem, Ma’am. Thank you.”
She hoisted herself onto her arms and into her chair and greeted Elliot at the door minutes later.
“You just can’t get enough of me, can you?” she said as she hugged him.
“You’re right. I can’t, but I needed to bring you something.”
“No…I’m too old for gifts.”
“Yeah, whatever,” he said and pulled a long, thin package wrapped in “Happy Birthday” wrapping paper from out in the corridor to hand to her.
“Why don’t you open it and see.”
She flashed him a smile and tore the wrappings of the package to reveal a plain brown box. Opening one end, she allowed the inside package to slide into her lap and gasped.
The Alfred Knoll case caught the light of the hallway and shined as she slowly picked it up to admire it.
“Are you even going to take it out of its case?” Elliot said.
“I will, I just…It’s a new bow…I haven’t played in months.”
“I know and I remembered that your last one kind of snapped in two because of me and I figured you had this coming.”
She opened the case and smiled. The bow had a twinkle to it and she felt a spark in the room as her heart longed to play the instrument that stood on the other side of the sitting room.
“I just hope Halloway hadn’t bought you one yet.”
“No, he hasn’t. I don’t think he might’ve known it was broken, but even if he did he wouldn’t have…known exactly which one to get. How did you know?”
He shrugged and grinned. “I went to a music store, told the owner what you were like and we sifted through them for a bit before I found something we thought would suit you.”
“Oh, Elliot…” She opened her arms, beckoning him and he bent to hug her again.
“What did Halloway get you because I know he had to’ve gotten you something big.”
“Yeah, that is his style, isn’t it? Follow me a second.”
He did as told, passed the living room with her and stopped short at the opening to sitting room as he gazed at the massive piano that gleamed in the far corner.
Elliot let out a breath. “Wow…Ten grand?”
“He won’t tell me, but I know it’s a least forty.”
“Wow, Liv.” He broke into a smile. “You’re a Halloway now.”
She gave him a playful nudge and moved onto the bench. “Sit down. How long has it been since you last played?”
“I played a week ago actually.”
“Really?” Olivia said, flipping through several sheets of music. “Well, good. So, you can play with me. What are we playing?”
“I’ve got nothing,” he said as he sat on the bench next to her. “Besides, you’re the musician here. You pick something.”
“All right then. How much do you remember Chopin?”
She nudged him again and smiled. “The…tenth opus, ‘kay? Number one. That’s in C.”
“No, that’s in A.”
“Number twenty-five is in A. We’re doing ten.”
“Ah, gotcha, but I can’t play that. Never could.”
“Well, you just play the base lines and I’ll play the rest and we’ll make a duet out of it.”
He nodded and set his left hand on the piano keys. Olivia winked at him and they both began to play. It seemed slightly ridiculous at first as Olivia’s fingers flew over the keys in the song, while Elliot played the lower notes that were held for two or four counts at a time and eventually he broke the tune into one of Chopin’s first nocturnes in the seventy-second opus, causing Olivia to smile at the new minor key in E.
“You’re gonna bring me down, Elliot and it’s my birthday,” she said as she slowed her hands and played the treble notes of the song.
“All right. Well, I’ll switch up. How’s Debussy?”
“No, only Chopin.”
“Debussy, it is.”
“You know it by heart?”
“And, I know you do too.”
Elliot moved closer to her to play the beginning notes to Clare de Lune and she joined the piece. At one point, he had to reach an arm around her to play a part of the harmony, but never retreated to regain the distance once the part had finished. As the song fell from its climax and reached its harmonious end, Elliot and Olivia were nearly sitting on top of one another.
She turned toward him in the silence and they simply stared, each staring into the other’s eyes as if searching for the slightest glimmer or hint of what the other was thinking. Olivia parted her lips to speak to him, but Elliot broke the contact and rose from the bench.
“It’s getting late,” he said. “I should probably go. Besides, I’m sure if Halloway catches me playing on your new birthday present, he’ll shit a brick.”
“Jonathan,” she corrected.
“Yes, of course. Jonathan.” He smiled at her for a moment, before bending down to hug her once more. “Goodnight, Liv.”
As he left the apartment, he heard Olivia begin the nocturne in E minor again and had half a mind to step back into the apartment and finished what he had started when the elevator doors opened to present Jonathan staring intently at the label of a large glass bottle.
“Halloway,” Elliot said quickly, shutting the door behind him. “I was just leaving.”
“Hey,” Jonathan said, though sounding not at all surprised to see him. “She said she wanted white grape juice, but I didn’t know which one to get. Which one of these do you think she’ll like?”
He held up three bottles and Elliot picked the one in the middle.
“Thanks,” Jonathan said. “Here. You want these other two? I’m going have a time pretending I nonchalantly chose the right one if I’ve got two others stuffed in my pockets.”
“Yeah, I’ll take them off your hands.”
Elliot stepped onto the elevator a moment later and as the doors began to close he heard Jonathan yell out a sardonic, but witty “Honey, I’m home!” causing Elliot to shake his head as he mumbled to himself.
“Still a bastard…”
McGhenty’s Bar and Grill
“Hey! What do we have to do to get another round over here!”
Alexa had stood on her bar stool at the table and shouted toward the scattering servers in the bar. The atmosphere in the bar was nothing but light-hearted and the brio was steadily growing as the drinks kept pouring into the night.
Mark Aaron Landon had that morning been sentenced to
three life sentences and also one hundred and twelve years, yet the majority of
the crowd would not have minded if it was only one life sentence. Imprisonment
for the rest of his life, for many of the officers in the bar, seemed more than
what Mark Landon deserved, but as the death penalty had been recently deemed as
“cruel and unusual punishment” in
A tall server approached the long table carrying several pitchers on a tray and struggled to set the pitchers on the table without dropping the whole lot. As soon as the pitchers hit the table, they were dispersed by a tangle of hands.
“Drink up, everybody!” Jonathan said as he stood next to Olivia’s chair. “I’m buying for everybody. Anybody who’s wearing a badge!”
“That’s the least you could do,” Fin said shaking his head, but smirking. “After the way you were to us.”
Jonathan grinned wildly. “Hey! I’m an ass. I know it. Let me fill up your mug.”
Olivia rolled her eyes as Jonathan reached to re-fill Fin and Munch’s beers and caught sight of Elliot sitting at the other end of the table talking to Andrea. She had wanted to say something to the jury at Mark’s sentencing, but that morning she had awakened feeling less than healthy and by the time they arrived at the courthouse, she could barely sit upright in her chair without Jonathan’s help. Thankfully, Elliot had been able to speak to the jury before they left to deliberate on Mark’s sentence and he nearly brought her to tears with his speech.
“I work in
He paused and pointed toward Olivia.
“The woman in the wheelchair over there is my partner. She hasn’t been back to work in months and you all know why. Years ago, her mother lived in an apartment in the Village across from Mark Landon and he became obsessed with her because, as he says, he didn’t have a mother and he naturally latched onto her. When my partner, Detective Olivia Benson, moved into that same apartment, Landon just shifted his focus onto her instead. He watched on her video cameras he installed after breaking into her apartment and then he stalked her. He obsessed over her and when the obsession grew too great, he kidnapped her…an officer, tried to assault her and when she fought back, he sold her to someone who then hurt her for days and days. Because of Mark Landon, my partner, my friend, Olivia Benson gets around the city in a wheelchair while she’s re-learning how to walk and that’s when she’s not too sick to do so.
“She takes medications daily just to get her body back to a tenth of where she used to be. Eight different pills just to keep the infections at bay, not to mention the ones she takes for seizures now. She didn’t have them before Landon burst through her apartment door and took her down with something he brewed in his sink for the sole purpose of attacking someone he knew could kick his ass if she was healthy. Together Olivia and I have chased down murderers, rapists and child molesters and look at her now. Look at her. Today, she’s too sick to push her own wheelchair.”
Elliot picked up the three glossy images that he had set on the railing that encased the entranced jury and held them up for all to see.
“See these three boys? Ryan Daly, Andrew Shaw and Zachary Calbrach. Ryan Daly was walking home one night, minding his business, when Mark Landon attacked him. Landon beat him, raped him, strangled him and then left him in a box for some curious runner to find. The same thing happened to Andrew Shaw, but as I’m sure you’ve seen throughout the trial, Landon is nothing short of a bigot and he took out the rage he has against blacks and Jews and anyone else he thinks has corrupted his world in some way and he attacked Andrew Shaw to the point that he was nearly unrecognizable to his family. Andrew Shaw, like Ryan Daly, was just going home one night and Landon took it upon himself to attack. Same thing happened to Zachary Calbrach as well, but he survived. Landon was a little too hasty to finish what he was doing and Zachary lived to point out exactly who had snatched him off the street, poisoned him with the same substance used on Olivia Benson, raped him repeatedly and tried to strangle him to death.
“Now, you’ve listened to hours of testimony and you came back with a guilty verdict for Landon and for that I’m thankful, but I know what’s going through your minds right now as you consider an appropriate sentence for him. Each of you is probably wondering “why.” Why would someone do something like this? Why are there two boys dead and two people scarred for life because of Mark Landon? I know what you’re thinking because I stood in my precinct and asked the same question and was…horrified when I learned the truth.”
He sighed and let silence fall over the room as every eye in the courtroom remained fixed on him.
“Mark Aaron Landon kidnapped a cop and when he couldn’t handle her, he sold her to somebody he expected to kill her. He cleaned up most of the evidence and wiped away any trace that he had been focused on her, but what he didn’t count on is how much cops look after their own. Detective Benson is a seasoned officer of the NYPD and myself, along with every other cop available, pulled out all stops to find her. And, when he realized this…When he saw that we were bearing down on him, about to find out what he had done, he took note of one of the cases Detective Benson was working on and murdered a young boy just to take the heat off of himself. And, you have to admit, it worked. For weeks, we thought that we were dealing with a copycat of a killer that Olivia had helped put away and just like he wanted, most of the focus shifted off of her and onto Ryan Daly and then Andrew Shaw. But, he screwed up. Olivia Benson saved herself from the guy he sold her to and he knew it was only a matter of time before we all knew what he had done. He sat in our interrogation room and spilled his whole story because he knew. He knew exactly what he had done and he knew exactly where he was going.
“Today, we all know just what kind of man Mark Landon is. He attacked a cop, beat a twelve-year-old boy to within an inch of his life and murdered two others all because his neighbor across the way didn’t like him the way he thought she should.
“I don’t want any of you to feel sorry for Landon when you go back to deliberate. I know he’s fed all of you a bunch of bull about his upbringings and how he was trying to save people from themselves. Don’t buy into it. Mark Aaron Landon willfully and purposefully murdered two young boys. Twelve-year-olds. Just babies…He killed them and destroyed the lives of two other people. If there was ever someone who deserved to spend every minute of his life in a cell, Landon is it and I trust all of you to make the right decision.”
“You want another Pepsi?” Jillian asked brightly.
Olivia broke out of her reverie and smiled at her friend. “Sure, why not?”
“Don’t worry, Liv,” Jillian said. “The day you stop taking that drug, Maya and I are going to take you and get you good and drunk.”
Olivia laughed and crinkled her nose at the fizzing soda. The celebration went on for hours and the owner even kept the bar open for another hour as mumbled sayings of “Get home safe” and “You better not call out sick tomorrow!” wafted through the air near three o’clock in the morning.
As Jonathan paid the hefty tab with a black American Express card, Olivia laughed as she watched Maya tried to find a cab for her and Amit. The festivities had been long and kept an effervescent beat throughout the night that made Olivia glow when she thought about how far she had come through the entire ordeal with Mark. He was convicted and would never spend another moment outside of prison.
In comparison with jury deliberations that went on for hours or sometimes days, the jury in Mark Landon’s case came back with their sentence in just forty-seven minutes, including a thirty-minute pause when it was time for lunch.
Elliot walked down the hall of
Jonathan’s floor in a light-hearted mood that seemed odd considering the new
case he had caught the previous night. In the past month, he had watched his
eldest child walk across the stage with her
“It went down on the bus to Sing Sing,” Fin had said.
“Really? What happened?” he had asked.
“They’re still piecing it together, but apparently people were messing with Landon because of his size and something somebody said about a hooker who knew him. Some words were exchanged, a racial slur was said and the next thing anybody knew, Landon was dead and nobody knew how it happened. You did all that talking for nothing.”
“Just more rats in the woodpile,” he had said and the memory seemed to bolster his steps more as he approached the large door at the end of the corridor.
When Maya answered the door of Jonathan and now Olivia’s apartment, both he and Maya seemed caught off guard to see one another.
“Hey there,” she said.
“Hi. Is Liv in?”
“‘Course she is. Do you think I’d just be hanging out with Jonathan if she wasn’t?”
“No, I guess not,” Elliot said as he stepped through the doorway.
He and Maya stared at one another for a moment, somewhat awkward, though Elliot could not understand why. Her eyes darted toward the large envelope he carried in his left hand and she appeared inquisitive, yet she did not question it.
“Son of bitch!” Olivia’s voice rang, floating into the hallway and causing them both to break into smiles.
“Maya, this is crap,” she called again. “Who’s at the door?”
Maya walked down the hall and, with her hand on her hip, stared at Olivia, who sat in the living room. “What am I, your doorman?”
“Yep,” Olivia said, “and you’re the maid too since she’s gone for the day. Could you make me a tea? Please?”
Maya rolled her eyes, but left in the direction of the kitchen. Elliot quietly walked into the large living room to see Olivia playing a game on a Wii. She flung the controller outward and a character on the screen threw out a fishing line. She moved the controller for a just another moment before coming up empty handed.
“Just crap,” she mumbled.
Elliot snickered. “Hard at work, I see.”
She whipped her head around and smiled at him. “Well, I start back with Computer Crimes on the twenty-fifth and I’m just resting up before then. It’s hard being a lady of leisure.”
“Why don’t you get your own tea then?”
“Meh. She hasn’t done anything all day anyway.”
“I heard that!” Maya called from the kitchen and they both laughed.
“What brings you this way?” Olivia asked.
He shrugged. “Nothing specific. Just wanting to see how you were doing.”
“I’m fine,” she said as she turned off the game. “What have you got with you?”
“Case file for my most recent case.”
“Just my case? What happened to Alexa?”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah. Andrea won the pot. It was up to almost a grand.”
“What happened? Was it a case or did she just push back from her desk and leave?”
“The little girl we found on Monday, I suppose. She looked just like Alexa. Same red hair, brown eyes, freckles and everything. She took one look at the girl and she was done. I found her crying in the crib again and, by the end of the day Wednesday, Cragen said she’d gone to Vice.”
“Wow. Well, we all knew it was going to happen.”
“I just wish I’d’ve gotten in on that pot. Andrea’s been gloating non-stop for the past two days.”
Olivia smirked at the thought, but it faded quickly. “When’s Cragen going to approve my coming back to the unit?”
“He says his hands are tied by the deputy inspector.”
“I’m not asking to go out on assignment in the damn chair.”
“Liv, he says his hands are tied.”
“I could just answer phones. Do some grunt work.”
“You’re preaching to the choir, Olivia. I’d like you back. I’d love you back. First thing I’d have you do is write up some of this stuff up for me, but the Cap says his hands are tied and it’s all up to Felton.”
“Well, it’s crap. My mind is turning into mush as we speak.”
“Probably because you’re playing video games all day.”
“Hey! I’m playing video games now. Maya and I just had a harrowing game of Scrabble a little while ago, didn’t we Maya?”
“Sure did!” she called from the kitchen. “Livia cheats!”
“I do not!”
“Whatever,” Maya said popping her head out from around the corner. “Since when do people spell out ‘consanguineous’ and land on the damn Triple Word Score.”
“She’s just mad ‘cause she can’t spell.”
“I heard that too,” Maya called, having stepped back into the kitchen.
Elliot laughed as he shook his head. “How’s the therapy been coming?”
She shifted on the couch and set both feet on the floor. Over the course of a minute, Olivia pushed herself upward using the back of the couch and her chair that sat next to the sofa. Elliot could barely hold back the genial laughter that was brewing in his throat as Olivia pushed and pulled herself into a standing position and then shifted slightly on her feet before allowing herself to flop back onto the couch.
“That’s not good, Liv,” he said. “That’s amazing.”
Olivia grinned on the sofa, proud of her accomplishment. “Finally got myself up without any help yesterday. Dr. Weiss is very confident. He thinks I’ll be shuffling along on braces by the end of the month.”
“God, Liv… That is so great. I couldn’t be happier.”
“Me either. Except I wish I had something else to do right now aside from think about it. Let me see the case you’re working on and don’t feed me that ‘hands are tried’ bull.”
He sat beside her and pulled several items out of the large envelope.
“There was a woman found by the
“How long had she been there?”
“About week, maybe ten days.”
“Any word on a name yet?” Olivia asked she looked at the photos.
“No. Melinda’s running her prints to see if she can come up with something and-”
Elliot stopped as he noticed the immediate change in Olivia’s demeanor. She had clapped a hand to her mouth, her body was shaking and tears were suddenly streaming down her face.
“Oh my God,” she whispered and the tears fell harder.
“Olivia, what’s wrong?”
The images of the crime scene that lay in her lap vibrated as her whole body shook and she put her other hand to her forehead. Tears were coming out of her eyes so quickly they looked like rushing water.
Elliot pulled her into a hug and rubbed her back.
“It’s too soon, Liv. I know. I’m sorry.”
“No,” she said sniffing and pushing away from him. “It’s her…it’s her…I can’t believe…Oh God, it’s her…”
Maya came running into the room and knelt in front of Olivia who quickly collapsed onto her shoulders. Maya glared at Elliot with a look that read What did you do to her?
“I can’t believe it’s her,” Olivia repeated.
“Who, Livia? Who did you see?”
Olivia let go of Maya and stared at Elliot with large wet eyes. “I need to see her. I need to see her right now.”
Within thirty minutes, Elliot stood just behind Olivia as she slowly rolled closer to the window beyond which was Melinda who, standing with a grim expression on her face, was prepared to pull away the sheet that lay across a long thin body. Olivia tried twice to come to a stand, but when she struggled, Elliot stepped around the chair and held her upright.
She pressed a hand to the glass to steady herself and nodded. Melinda nodded in return and quickly pulled the sheet away from the victim’s face.
Olivia turned and crumpled into her chair as Elliot wrapped his arms around her and Melinda covered the woman’s face again.
“It’s okay, Liv,” Elliot said. Olivia cried into his chest and Melinda came around the corner several minutes later, shaking her head.
“Do you know her, Liv?” he asked softly and Olivia nodded as she untangled herself from him.
“Amy…” she gasped. “Her name is Amy. Amy Kettering.”
“How do you know her?”
“She was…there. She was in the place with the other three…and him. Oh my God! I can’t believe she’s dead.” She fell back into Elliot’s arms again. “I couldn’t save her, Elliot. I tried so hard, but I couldn’t save her. She wouldn’t come with me! I tried so hard…It’s like Evelyn all over again.”
Elliot allowed her to weep openly for the next twenty minutes and then pushed her into Melinda’s office where she was able to recount every detail of her immuration.
She could clearly remember the darkness that overwhelmed every room, the other women “he” had been using and how they reacted to her how Amy looked when she showed Olivia that she had broken through her chains. When she recalled the room in which the bodies lay writhing with maggots, Elliot had to hold her hair back as she coughed up the remnants of her lunch in a trash can.
Olivia could also remember “him” in great detail; a man, tall and pale, with floppy blond hair. Elliot’s thoughts made an immediate jump to the films that had been handed to him months earlier and the face of the thin woman who lay on the examiner’s table melted into an old image of a healthy Amy Kettering.
Memories flooded back to Olivia as she cried and she spoke more about how “he” had come at her with a cheap gun, how she was able to later defend herself with it and continuously reiterated that there were three others that she could not help.
Elliot eventually brought Olivia
home where she cried on his shoulder for the rest of the night. At , Olivia was still crying and
Jonathan silently spread Olivia’s afghan over both Elliot and Olivia before he
went into the bedroom, shutting the door harder than Elliot would have liked.
By the time he left the
“I’m sure we could get her talk to a sketch artist a little later,” Elliot said. “We should have a face for him by the end of the day.”
“Yeah,” Cragen said. “Now, it’s just a matter of figuring out who he is.”
“Well, between the DVDs and Liv’s description…”
“But, if what she’s saying is true, this guy has been murdering women for years and he could be anywhere.”
“With a face though-”
“We had most of his face with just the DVDs.” Cragen shook his head and sighed. “A face isn’t going to help us find him.”
“But, he’s got to be in the city.”
“Liv was found on East 119th.”
“But we searched the area. Those buildings have been empty for years. We only found two that were locked and boarded up from the outside and those were almost two blocks from where she found.”
“She had to’ve fallen out of a window somewhere. You know how badly she was hurt.”
“But, we still have a problem with where, Elliot. I agree that she fell, but we can’t say she fell on 119th. We can’t even say she fell in the city. From what it sounds like, she was kept in some kind of warehouse, fell and was put in that dumpster.”
“CSU found glass in it.”
“But, they didn’t find any other evidence, did they? And, the kid who found her said he had to move bags out of the way to get to her. That means someone had to pile something on top of her after she was already in there, otherwise she would’ve been found earlier in the day.”
Elliot ran a hand over his head and sighed.
“Look,” Cragen said. “I want to find the guy, too. How’s Olivia doing? Do you think she’ll be ready to give an actual statement later today?”
“Maybe, but she was still in bad shape when I left.”
“Well, we need to question her. As bad as it sounds, we need to treat her like a victim and get as much out of her possible.”
“You know she’s not gonna like being treated like a victim, Cap.”
“It doesn’t matter, Elliot. She’ll get over it. She’ll understand, just like you need to. There’s a killer on the loose. Now, Liv got out. She escaped, but this girl, Amy Kettering, didn’t and from what I’m hearing, there are three others out there somewhere that are in the same amount of danger. We just need to find out who this guy is. We need to find him before he does anymore damage.”
Unknown Time and Place
He walked the stairs to the fifth floor in a complete daze. His hands were shaking, as they had for the past three hours and her face swirled in his head.
It seemed so long ago that he had been happy, but he could remember it clearly. At one point, he had happy, very happy, but now everything was falling apart. Every single thing.
He had tried to literally smack the vision of “O” defiantly staring at him as she clung to the pole in the corridor out of his head, but it remained and he could almost envision her lying on the floor in front him; her chest heaving as she sat in a black cami, one leg sticking in an odd angle, her temples bleeding slightly from being pulled by the hair.
His life’s work was falling apart just because of one person. Whenever he had had a chance to encounter a possession stronger than normal, he could always return to his favorite who had always given him the strength to break the unbreakable ones. Now, he had disposed of her, but what was more alarming was he knew he had a “her”…not an “it.” His favorite was a “her,” but he no longer had her. She had no doubt had been found by now and he felt the loss, but the sensation of loss was immediately overwhelmed by anger when he approached the fifth floor.
He could see pieces of the door that maintained the place where the rest had been kept. The flies that were breeding were everywhere now, instead of confined to one area. It made it difficult to get anything done with them buzzing everywhere, not that he wanted to do anything.
The remaining few were up to something. Of that he was sure. He had not got any work completed in weeks due to the constant disruptions and, as his hand continued to shake, he thought he saw a blinding white light glowing in the darkness.
He stepped towards it, but when it did not flicker when he blinked, he saw the white light for what it was. Absolute rage.
He wanted “O.” He needed her. He wanted to tear into her repeatedly. He wanted to hear her scream. He wanted to see her blood. He wanted to slowly cut her throat and watch the life leave through her eyes.
The rage burned intensely and he knew he needed an instant release. He reached out and threw his fist against the wall of the corridor. The stone did not move, but it bloodied his knuckles and yet, he did not care.
Hand over hand, he hit the wall, trying to release the same tension and when both knuckles were sore and bloody, he threw back his head and screamed out the frustration that someone had left him.
He was used to control; accustomed to dominance. Never had one left on her own. And, yet the first time was causing more strife then even the strongest fighters of the past.
His screamed echoed up and down the corridor and three rats scurried out of their hiding place in a crevice in the wall, surprised by the sound. Their scratching slowly faded as did his own voice and that was when he heard it. Whispers.
There were whispers coming from beyond the door where the remaining three were kept.
Pacing in front of the door, he stopped for a moment, listening to whispers coming from within the room where he kept them. Never before had there been whispers, only the sounds of crying and screams.
It was the redhead this time; he knew it. Ever since his favorite had been scrapped, the red-haired one had taken up her place and had been enticing the other two into more rambunctious antics.
The last time he had approached the room, they had tried to jump on him at the same time, but he quelled the rebellion with re-emergence of his silver weapon that glowed even through the darkness. Everything fell back onto the primordial escapee. If he could just have her back, the rest would stop pestering him so.
The whispers stopped and he heard a series of shifting behind the door. The light of rage glowed once more and he unlocked the door and stepped into the black room, his eyes searching for the three.
The sound came from the redhead and, at once, all three ran to him from separate directions. They scratched and bit at him, each trying to pull him toward the ground, but he had learned one thing from his lesson with the officer. He grabbed the black one by the hair and twisted and turned until he gained enough centrifugal force to propel her into the wall. The white one immediately withdrew to the far corner of the room and rolled herself into a tearful ball.
“C’mon!” the redhead yelled. “We can do it just like she did!”
He shook his head and clenched one hand around her throat as he dragged her to the middle of darkened room, his hands leaving bloody smears on her neck. Cars honked and tires rolled across the pavement outside the building and the redhead’s eyes widened in terror as he pulled his weapon of choice out of its holster and aimed it directly at her head.
Her mouth formed the beginning of the word “no” as he pulled the trigger repeatedly into her face. The bullets formed a jagged, gaping hole in what used to hold blue eyes and freckles and the body fell into a quivering mass on the floor with a ray of dark blood stretching out from where she had once stood.
He glanced toward the other two that sat crying with one another in the far corner and, even pointed the Smith and Wesson at the pair, yet did not pull the trigger. Perhaps the smell of gun powder commingled with coagulating blood and various innards would keep them in line until he acquired others. Then, he would get rid of them as well.
There was still the matter of “O.” The one who would not be shaped and manipulated. Therein lay his original problem. Instead of taking a moment to consider what was proposed in getting her, he simply took her. His eyes were, proverbially, larger than his stomach.
Everything fell upon that first one however; and he had to find her. It was imperative. Perhaps he would start small by just searching newspapers in the alley for some semblance of what had happened to her and then pursue her at night, but he had to find her.
Once he found her, everything would fall into place once more.