McDonald, like Borden, was unaware of the connection between the scare tactic group and the murders until the Messenger turned up among the dead. Most of McDonald’s interactions had also been with Victoria, but he did meet another member of the nameless group on one very brief occasion.
In the midst of the insider trading scandal, McDonald became desperate enough to go to church and pray to get away with his crimes. He found himself in an Evangelical establishment and instead of finding God, he found a man who introduced himself only as Paul. This didn’t seem odd at first. Paul directed Greg to a particular location in Central Park, very close to where Victoria’s body had been found. Greg didn’t think twice about this.
He was told to go there and pray and that someone would come speak to him who could help him to put the fear of God in his persecutors. He was just desperate enough to try it and didn’t care if he looked like a crazy person who happened to be in a really nice suit.
He remembered several people passing him while he was in the park on the following afternoon saying his prayers. One of the people dropped a folded piece of paper telling him a second location and time in order to meet with the Messenger. This second location was the main meeting spot and is where he sent Borden. Having him pray in the park was a test. The time mentioned was only a short time later, so he hurried to the parking lot near Madison Avenue and 82nd where he ended up speaking with Victoria Blaylock. She established the terms of his agreement and set up another meeting to collect the funds at a diner that evening.
“She said two million dollars and my soul were the price of my freedom...” Greg gasped out. “I paid them in cash and everything panned out, but the Messenger gave me one more message...delivered it to me at work...”
“What was it?” Munch asked, encouraging him to finish.
“She said that one day they would need to collect my soul.”
McDonald started seeing people everywhere and they were always watching him. His increasing paranoia made him believe they were a part of the group and he slowly withdrew into seclusion. He began day trading from his home in order to feel safe. He wanted SVU to put a stop to these people because they terrified him. He said that he was never sure if they were really dangerous until the Messenger was killed and then he knew and he realized what had happened with Lindsay Borden as well.
He had been concerned that Fin and Munch were actually sent by the organization to collect his soul, though he was not entirely sure what that collection process entailed. He was fairly certain it involved them killing him. He gave the detectives very precise locations of all of his meetings as well as a description of this person named Paul, which was used to create a sketch. He unfortunately didn’t see who dropped the paper for him and had thrown it away. After everything was said and done he was put up in a hotel with a uni outside for protection.
As he was being escorted out, Whitaker stopped by the vending machine and began dropping in change for a candy bar. He said to Munch as he passed, “I thought he’d just gone crazy, honestly. He’s changed his will three times in the last month.”
“This doesn’t mean he hasn’t gone crazy,” Munch told him and then kept walking.
Fin said, “What I’m wondering is if Borden also sold his soul...”
Whitaker followed the detectives and then said, “I hear Casey Novak is back. Do either of you know if she’s available?”
“Available for what?” Munch asked. “Do you need a prosecutor for something?”
He smiled widely, not seeming to realize that Munch’s joke was on him. “She is working for SVU, right? I’m sure you see her every now and again. She’s notorious for micromanaging, isn’t she? Really hands on?”
Fin looked at him and said, “Why don’t you go over to the DA’s Office and talk to her yourself?”
Whitaker shrugged and opened his candy bar, taking a bite and jovially left the company of the two detectives at about the time that Casey got her fax. Whitaker was still lingering around the precinct for no particular reason, putting his hands on things that he shouldn’t have been. Casey called and the response time was much faster than for the first fax. Patrol cars swarmed the print shop where the fax was sent from much in the same fashion that they had arrived on the scene of where Alex received her strange call.
“Jeremiah 20:11,” Munch said as he looked at the fax.
Olivia was sitting next to Casey on the couch in her office and Elliot was pacing and grumbling, “How many of them are there?”
“They want to create an appearance of omniscience,” Munch told him.
“No shit and they’re doing a damn good job!” Elliot snapped. “And Casey just got a death threat from these lunatics!”
Fin walked in, hanging up his phone and he said, “The guy working at the print shop said a little girl came in, paid in cash and said she needed to fax something, said she knew how to work the machine and didn’t need any help.”
“A little girl?” Elliot asked, his voice nearly a squeal.
“Yeah. About eight or nine,” Fin said with a sigh. “And she left right before the uniforms got to the scene. We got a description, but I doubt it’ll do much good.”
Casey let out a loud and annoyed groan before leaning her head back and staring up at the ceiling. “I can’t believe Borden set this shit in motion and now it isn’t stopping.”
“Hey, let’s talk to whomever was investigating McDonald’s insider trading and see what this group’s tactics are. Maybe we can be prepared for whatever they throw at us next,” Olivia suggested to the other detectives.
Everyone pretty much agreed, but didn’t have much hope that it would actually lead anywhere. Casey cancelled all of her meetings for the day, went to her second arraignment of the day then packed up her briefcase. She locked her office and then let Olivia take her to a hotel.
“Huang said that things are personal now and they’re likely going to behave differently than they planned according to Borden’s arrangement...” Olivia told her sounding disappointed enough for the both of them.
“Great. That bodes well for me,” Casey mumbled as they rode in the car. “Do you think Alex is ok in Washington?”
“Do you think they’d follow her to DC just to freak you out?”
“I don’t know what to think, Liv. They have eyes everywhere and all.”
Olivia sighed slightly, “So Huang says that we might be getting close to catching them and they’re trying to get us to back off. That’s sort of good, right?”
“Sort of,” she forced an agreement. “Can you hang out for a little while when we get there?”
“Yeah. I’ll need to brief the uni anyway. Is there something you want to talk about?”
“Nothing in particular, no.” But there was something.
They pulled up to the hotel and Olivia helped Casey with her bags. She only packed two plus her briefcase. The hotel room was alright. It wasn’t Alex’s suite, but it would do for the next few days. She was hoping there would be an epic break in a case, an even more epic one than what unfolded with Greg McDonald. If they could just catch one of the people in this group, they could break him and then get them all or find their cult headquarters or something. Cults always hung out together. Then she could go back to her life and more easily determine whether or not she was dating Alex Cabot and if she even wanted to date Alex Cabot at all.
Casey realized she’d been staring off at the window and thinking absently about Alex. She turned and looked at Olivia apologetically. She sat her bag down on the bed and then took her briefcase to the desk. She looked down at the desk and said, “There is something I want to talk about, but I’m afraid it pales in comparison to everything else going on.”
“What is it, Case?” Olivia sounded concerned. She always sounded somewhat concerned, but it was cranked up a few extra notches and she got that glossy, worried look in her eyes.
“Nevermind,” she immediately regretted mentioning it. She had no idea what she planned to say as it was anyway. Hey, Olivia, I might be attracted to Alex? Hey, Alex seems to like me or something? Olivia, Alex and I were going on a date when that guy followed us?
“If there’s something you need to talk about-”
“It’s nothing like that...” She walked to the window and looked out at the view of the street below for a moment before drawing the curtains closed. She kept her back to Olivia. “Nothing’s wrong, per se...aside from some sort of bizarre cult wanting me out of the picture for no good reason.”
“Are you planning on leaving SVU?”
“What? No.” She turned around, “I mean, maybe I should if everything is going to be like this.”
“Are you...terminally ill?”
“No. Jesus. I said nothing was wrong.”
“Then what is it?”
Casey didn’t know what to do with her arms, so she left them stiffly at her sides as she took a deep breath and said, “I might be dating someone...or I want to. I don’t know.”
Detective Benson opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out.
“That wasn’t the response I expected,” Casey was mildly disappointed and then sat on the edge of the bed with her hands in her lap. She didn’t look at the detective and talked toward the window still.
“How? How do you have time? Between how much you work and then spending all of your free time with Alex, how do you possibly have time? And who? Christ, are you dating someone online? Don’t you know the dangers of the-”
“Stop, Liv,” she spoke quietly, hopelessly.
Olivia didn’t stop, “What does ‘might be dating someone’ even mean? Are you just sleeping with someone? Is it a suspect? Detective Jeffries and...”
Casey rubbed her temples, “Don’t worry about it. Forget I mentioned it. I need to wrap up some work from the office and reschedule my meetings from today.”
“How in the world are you dating someone with everything going on?”
“Exactly. I’m not. Not really. I don’t even know if I want to.”
“Who...” One of Olivia’s eyes closed a bit more than the other as she squinted at Casey. She shifted around, but remained standing. She put her hands into her pockets then took one out and stood there like that for a few seconds. “I heard someone sent you bread and flowers...was that...”
Looking down at her hands, the attorney said nothing. Olivia wasn’t forming complete sentences.
“Casey, are you sure that this person isn’t somehow connected with...”
She looked up and still didn’t say anything as Benson’s voice trailed off again as she seemed to lose her train of thought.
“I’ve never known you to actually, really date anyone. There was only...Charlie.”
Finally speaking, she only meekly said, “Yeah, it has been some years I guess.”
“Is it someone you work with? Is it a defense attorney? I feel like I’m playing twenty questions here. Give me a hint or something. Is it someone I know? Munch and Fin said that Whitaker was going on about you earlier today...”
Casey kept her lips tightly sealed and looked away from Olivia again.
“Is it a real person?”
This prompted Casey to look back at her again and roll her eyes.
“You can’t tell me this and then not actually tell me. Come on.” Her hands were on her hips again and she took a step closer to the bed like she was about to turn on her rare “bad cop” persona.
“You were wondering why Alex is who they’ve been going after to get to me...”
“Because she’s...oh.” Olivia’s voice was flat and deep for the final word of sudden understanding.
“So there’s that.”
Olivia then sat down on the side of the king-sized bed perpendicular to Casey. Awkward silence engulfed the room. Casey began picking at her fingernails and wondering why Olivia wasn’t talking. She immediately regretted the confession. She thought it would be somehow liberating, but it wasn’t. She trusted Olivia, pretty much more than anyone else in her life, but now there was this looming ominous presence hanging over them.
“Son of a bitch,” the detective finally said. “Elliot was right.”
“Right about what?”
“Softball,” she said with a laugh.
“No...don’t start talking about stereotypes. Was he who told Alex to try to sleep with me when she first got back?”
“I owe him twenty bucks now and what?”
“Are you kidding? You guys made a bet about me being a lesbian?”
“No, it was a bet about you being open to dating women. I really wasn’t expecting Alex...”
“Why is everyone so surprised about that?”
“Everyone?” Olivia whirled around, “How many people have you told? Is this a thing I’ve somehow missed?”
Casey paused, “You and well...Judge Donnelly deduced it by asking me loaded questions then answering them herself. Everyone has been surprised we’re even friends...”
“Alex sent you flowers and bread?”
She nodded sheepishly.
Olivia began to reminisce for a moment, “She always brought me coffee.”
“Oh, I like men. Alex is very-”
“Yes and I was also going to say that she’s a good friend.”
“I don’t really know what I’m doing.”
Casey forced a laugh, “Yes, that. Mainly though I’m talking about dating. The fact that this is happening in the middle of all of this other mess isn’t helping.”
“We’re going to keep you safe. Alex is going to be safe-”
“Don’t tell anyone, Liv...”
“Of course not. I won’t even give Elliot his winnings yet.”
Novak let out a huge sigh of relief and then slumped her head forward between her knees, feeling all of the awful thoughts she was having subside. “Thanks, Liv. I don’t even know if...I just don’t know. Alex seems to like me...I don’t really know why. I don’t know why Whitaker does either, and are you serious about that?”
“It’s what Fin and Munch said. I think you were saved from him coming over and asking you out by that fax, incidentally.”
“God. What is going on?”
Olivia laughed again and patted her on the back, “Your uni should be here by now. Do you want me to stay longer?”
“I need to work and you need to catch bad guys. Alex is supposed to call me tonight,” Casey remained slumped over as she was. “It’s really weird to think about and I’d like to stop thinking about it for a while.”
Laughing again, Detective Benson said, “I can’t believe Alex didn’t mention it to me. I’m a little hurt. I thought we were closer. She always told me about her dating adventures.”
“Stop laughing. You’re making me feel like a child.”
Olivia did her best to make her laugher subside and she reminded her, “If you need anything, just call.”