"Seems that I have been held
In some dreaming state
A tourist in the waking world
Never quite awake"
Elliot found his way to the instructed Lexington’s building ten minutes after Olivia. Running upstairs, he was shocked to find everything broken down inside the three girl’s apartment. There were pieces of glass on the kitchen counter and floor, pillows thrown all around the living room and bits of expensive porcelain shattered against a wall.
Olivia was kneeling down in front of what seemed like the older girl. She was a dark redhead and her slightly opened legs lying on the ground were bruised. Blood stained clothes were clung to her thin body and the other two girls looked desperate and tired. The other teenager had visible marks on her wrists and the littlest one sat quiet on the couch.
Elliot approached his partner and touched her shoulder, careful not to startle her. She looked up and he could see Olivia was hiding tears, like the usual horrible time she had with cases that involved children. Before getting up to fill him in, she kissed the redhead’s forehead and spoke in a low tone. “You’re gonna be okay, Anne.”
The paramedics came in just as the brunette turned around. She could hear the two girls crying but somehow Grace didn’t make a sound from where she sat. On the corner of her eye Olivia could see Christina taking the little girl in her arms and the mumbled word “Alex”, and soon they were gone.
Olivia looked at Elliot. “Their mother is Cabot’s aunt, Maria. She married Grace’s father just after she was born. The girls weren’t ready to talk, but it’s clear that Anne was raped.”
The two detectives left CSU there to retrieve DNA and any weapons that could’ve hurt the girls and walked out.
“You think the stepfather did that?” Elliot asked.
“By the looks of it, yes. They’re headed to Saint Catherine’s right now to run the rape kit. Huang will be there to meet us.”
“Have you talked to Alex?”
Olivia felt her heart tighten. “The captain did.”
They got inside the car and drove away immediately. Elliot didn’t bother to turn on the radio, as it was obvious Olivia felt unset, worried and probably confused.
“She’s close to the girls.” She suddenly said.
“Hey,” he alternated his sight between the road and his partner. “If you want to be there for Cabot, we can call Fin for this.”
“No, I’ll do it.”
“Liv, Alex probably needs a friend.”
“She’s got Huang. I’ll talk to her later, but I think I’m a better help when I’m actually working.”
Elliot sighed and knew it was best not to argue.
They met George Huang in the parking lot just when Elliot was locking the car, and all three took the elevator together. Arriving in the emergency room, Christina and Grace sat in the waiting room holding hands. Grace held a teddy bear tight against her chest and appeared to be asleep when the two detectives and the psychiatrist reached their chairs. Christina was biting her nails.
While George bent down to talk to the teenager, Elliot pulled Olivia closer. “I thought Maria would be here?”
“I have no idea what’s going on either.”
The brunette gave him a nod and her eyes followed Christina’s, which lit up as the ward’s doors opened to reveal Alex Cabot. She rushed in, almost in a run, and Olivia checked her watch to not have to stare too long as the ADA approached them.
It was past 9PM.
“Where is Anne?” Alex asked out of breath. She hugged George and then Chris jumped up and into her older cousin’s arms.
“Charles, Alex- I-I’m sorry we didn’t say anything before…”
“Say what, sweetie?” Alex ran her hands on Chris’ hair and looked at Olivia with silent tears already falling down her cheeks. “Charles what?”
“Anne was raped.” Olivia gulped down and Elliot squeezed her elbow for support. “The doctors are inside with her.”
“Oh my god.” Alex put her hand over her mouth and had to let go of the dark haired teenager. Her eyes flew to Grace, who was soundly sleeping, lost in a world of her own. She did the only thing she could think of and ran towards Olivia. The brunette was hesitant at first but then instinctively put her arms around Alex, hugging her tight and closing her own eyes along. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, Alex, I’m sorry.” This is a mess, Olivia thought as the blonde let go of her and wiped away her own tears, forcing up a mask to protect her family and not look torn up in front of her colleagues.
“What happened?” She looked back at Christina.
“It would be better if we went somewhere more private to talk to your cousin, Alex.” George stepped up and said.
Alex held her cousin’s hand. “Can you do that?”
The girl held back a sob. “Yes… but I need you. Mom’s not gonna help us through this.”
“Of course. I’m here.”
Olivia looked at Grace, thinking about waking her and Elliot instantly sat beside her. “I’ll take care of her. Go.”
George took his best friend’s hand and Olivia led them to Anne’s room. She wasn’t there yet, but the chart at the end of the bed already had her name on it. Olivia was used to this kind of procedure. She also bet Anne’s family could afford all time she’d wish to stay in there. It wouldn’t be easy going back home after this.
Alex sat down on the bed with Chris beside her. Once George had started with the simplest questions, she allowed herself to cry for a little while. Deep down, she blamed herself for this. She could have just gone there during the week as she had promised herself, she should have been more careful, and how didn’t she ever imagine this could happen?
Suddenly, she felt Olivia’s warm hand on her shoulder. Just then she noticed how cold her body was, she hadn’t had time to even pick up her coat when the SVU Captain called. Alex had barely dropped her briefcase and files when she got the news about her cousins heading for Saint Catherine’s emergency. Olivia squeezed the cold shoulder lightly and she looked up slowly. They exchanged longing gazes and Alex felt the urge to hug her again, but knew it wasn’t right.
“Do you have any idea of where your mom is, Chris?” Olivia asked, reluctantly turning her eyes away from the ADA.
“She’s probably at her favorite bar downtown, or maybe at a friend’s.”
“We’re gonna need a list of her closest friends later so we can go pick her up for you in case she doesn’t turn up tomorrow, okay?” The girl nodded. “Was it your stepfather who did it?”
At that, Alex’s eyes widened. Chris looked away from her.
“Yes, it’s been happening for almost two years…”
Olivia had to release a sigh. She tried to understand, but it was hard imagining those scenes continuously happening for that long. George made a sign with his hand to let her know he could continue. Alex could barely manage to not cry.
“How did he manage to keep you all quiet, Christina?”
She took a breath. “Charles threatened us. Way before it started happening, he started giving all sorts of presents to us both, instead of just giving toys to Gracie. He’d give us make up, new sheets, new clothes, anything we asked for. Until one night he lay down beside Anne in the late hours and insisted to have sex with her. I woke up to his words and got desperate, but I didn’t move. I didn’t know what to do.”
“I heard her pleas for Charles to stop, but he didn’t. I got worried about Grace sleeping in the room next door and Anne somehow noticed I was awake. She made a sign for me to get up with her hand, and so I did. I ran to their suite and tried to wake mother up, I shook her, but she was in deep slumber. Looking around, I could see her pill bottle on the floor.”
“The next day, did you try to talk to her?” Alex asked, clutching to her cousin’s arm. The girl wore an oversized sweater.
“Yes, we tried for a long time. But as you know she’s barely ever home… our luck was that Charles travels a lot because of his work. Every time he’d come back, he would bring more gifts. He tried touching me just after he’d… forced himself on my sister, but she didn’t let him. So he wouldn’t even talk to me anymore and I spent all the bad time keeping Grace away from seeing anything. Anne made me promise to keep quiet; otherwise he’d rape me too and hurt us.”
“So your mother didn’t believe you?” George carefully asked.
“She didn’t. At first, I thought he had forced those pills in her, but we all realized that as the frequency of the nights Charles got home drunk got higher, she’d go for different doctors to ask for new prescriptions. I kept an eye…” She sobbed and started crying again. “I promise you I tried flushing all of ‘em, but… but…”
“This is not your fault, baby” Olivia took the girl’s hands in her own. She couldn’t help but notice how intelligent she was, how observant. “You did such a good job on taking care of your younger sister.” She knew the girl had bruises on her wrists they would soon have to talk about.
“Were you scared to talk to me?” Alex cried against Chris’ shoulder, but tried to not make a scene. “There were opportunities. I thought we trusted each other.”
George cleared his throat at Alex when the girl started sobbing harder and she knew she’d crossed a line. It was not time to demand answers like that. She quickly apologized. Holding the girl’s hand as Olivia dropped them both, Alex ran her thumb over the bruised wrist. Christina’s whole body trembled.
“I’m sorry, Chris…” The blonde figured the girl just didn’t want Alex to touch her, like a defense shield, but standing up, Olivia pulled up the girl’s sleeves. They were raw. Alex became desperate once again. “What happened today?”
“Charles went crazy. He had some sort of fight earlier with mom, and he drank all of the whiskey we had home… so, he locked… Gracie and mom,” it was clear the girl was holding back tears. “in their big room, and beat me and Anne up. I started screaming when he ripped off her pants, and so he got a string and managed to bind me on the kitchen table’s foot. He said “now you’re gonna regret this” to me and broke a lot of things all around the house. Anne jumped on him and hurt him in the eyes, and then he got really angry and raped her… in front of me.”
By now, Olivia was pacing back and forth the hospital room.
“And Maria? Oh god.” Alex felt as if her chest was going to explode. She had never heard something as brutal and cruel as that, and it just added five times more weight that it was her own family going through it.
“My sister… she fainted. After that, he unlocked the room and dragged mom out by her hair. There was nothing I could do… Every time he passed the kitchen table he’d kick me… He made my mom see everything she had always ignored.” The girl rubbed her nose and looked down. She was ashamed. “She spit in his face and yelled for him to leave, but didn’t stay long. Grace was the one to untie me.”
Olivia ran her hands through her hair and licked her lips, for they were completely dry. She made a sign with her head to talk to Alex and Huang outside, and they followed.
“We have to find him.” Olivia talked once they were back with Elliot.
“Will you prosecute?” Elliot looked up at Alex.
The ADA opened her mouth to speak, but Olivia stopped her.
“No, not Alex.”
“Cabot, look at you. There’s no way you could do this even if the Captain was to allow you. This little girl right here,” she pointed at Grace, “and those other two that think they’re big enough to protect themselves…”
“They need you.” George finished for the detective.
“But I can’t let that bastard get away with this!” Alex shouted in the middle of the hospital, earning a warning look from one of the nurses who were around. “I’m not sure I can do this for long anyway. They don’t trust me, Olivia. What’s the use?”
“Alexandra, I know you care about them as if they were your own.” George commented, not letting an argument rise. “I know it. I’ve seen how happy they make you.”
“You don’t understand how this is making me feel right now. I didn’t even know my aunt was addicted to pills. The literal one thing I knew about all of this was Charles’ addiction. This is absurd.”
“It still has to sink in, I know.” Olivia caressed her arm lightly and Alex sighed. “I know. You feel powerless. Hell, I can barely believe all of this cruelty this man’s done to your family. I can’t imagine how Grace feels like now that she’s seen who her father is.”
Alex wanted to scream. She barely knew this woman she was attracted to all of a sudden in the last couple of weeks, and everyone was already trying to tame her down, including Olivia. She had gone to law school to protect those who needed their rights in favor of them, and just when her family needed her she couldn’t do anything about it.
Huang and Stabler let the two solve their problem and turned around to talk about the case. Elliot still needed to be filled in, after all. They decided to go back to Anne’s room and wait for her there.
Olivia and Alex walked away a little and as they reached the nearest free wall, Alex leaned in and looked up. She was completely exhausted. Olivia understood that, and for a while chose to not say anything else. She didn’t stop caressing Alex’s arms though, moving down only to hold her hand and squeeze it.
“Here, take this.” She removed her coat and handed it to the blonde. “Wouldn’t want you to catch a cold.”
Alex was hesitant to take the piece of clothing, but thought she was already being a hell lot stubborn for one night.
“I just can’t believe they never said anything.”
“They were happy when you were around.” She squeezed the cold hand again, and this time Alex actually let herself give in to the comfort. It felt nice. She knew she would’ve smiled under different circumstances.
“Did you already call for another ADA?”
“Yeah.” Olivia felt the woman ready to push her away, and so she held on tighter. “First thing.”
Alex cried again.
“Shhh,” Olivia whispered, closer. “Please? We’re gonna get him.”
There was a strong beat in her heart, and Alex felt scared for the thousandth time that night. Another tear rolled down before she could stop crying. It was a different kind of fear though: fear of being this close to Olivia. She looked up again to avert her eyes.
“Do you want coffee?”
Olivia’s voice was perfect. She used a similar tone to the one she’d use on her victims, and though it made Alex feel anxious, it gave enough comfort. The voice also did other things to her body, like tickle her stomach. She had never felt anything like it, despite her previous lovers.
On the other side, it was also difficult for Olivia to see her coworker sad like this. She didn’t exactly know how to act, since Alex always appeared to be a closed person. She didn’t let go of her grip on her though, and felt a strange sensation as she wished to hold Alex more intimately.
“Do you think you can stay a while longer?”
“Yeah,” Alex’s eyes were drawn to the floor. “Actually, we should go back… Anne’s probably there by now.”
“Okay. If you wanna talk later, I’ll be here.”
They completely let go of each other and Alex could finally release the breath she was holding.
Before entering the hospital room Alex could see through the blinds her cousin Anne already there, underneath some blankets. She looked like hell, even her eyebrow was cut. Little Grace was on Christina’s arms, and they both slept sitting down on the chair.
Alex decided she hated hospitals when she turned the knob to go in. She received a small smile from the weak girl and quickly reacted with another one, and both George and Elliot decided they should leave when Olivia didn’t follow Alex’s steps. They excused themselves and let the family have some time alone.
“I’m sorry for not telling you.” The redhead said, patting the bed for her oldest cousin to join her.
“I’m sorry for not being there.”
“Not as I would’ve liked to.” Alex smiled, not fighting the tears when she bent down to hug Anne. “You didn’t deserve this, Annie. I’m extremely sorry. I don’t think I’ll ever forget what happened to you.”
Anne nodded and didn’t let her eyes water for a single moment, but just held her cousin against her bruised body. It didn’t hurt anymore. She felt numb after today’s events plus the rape kit plus all of the humiliation she felt like she was going through. But Alex’s hold felt good, almost safe.
“Do you think you can put him away?”
Alex nodded and snuffled, which made the girl laugh a little. “Not me, sweetie, but somebody just as competent as me. They will.”
They lay quietly, and when Alex thought her cousin was falling asleep, she spoke again. “I guess I just didn’t want to be sent away.”
Alex eyed her, narrowing her eyes. She stopped crying. “What do you mean?”
“They won’t let us stay with mom.”
Alex hadn’t thought about that yet. It seemed to be so much, bomb after bomb hitting her back. She hurt. “That’s true.”
There was silence, like an obvious request the girl wanted to make. Alexandra knew the girls would happily stay with her, but no judge would allow that. They all knew Alex, her work schedule, how she was barely home. She would definitely be happy if she was allowed to have them until at least Anne was legal, but it was impossible. Work before family, I chose this.
She sighed and kissed the girl’s wrists in a loving manner. “I’m sorry I can’t have you.”
As if reading her thoughts and much more, Anne smiled. “I know. We’ll go back to grandma, or maybe go to the State.”
“I know how much you hate grandma.”
“Don’t you? She barely feeds us.”
“We’ll see about that.” Alex gave away a sad smile. “I can’t help but say you’ve been brave. If that was me, I wouldn’t have survived it.”
“I’m a whole lot more worried about Grace than myself.” The redhead looked at the girl’s closed eyes, beautiful face, so innocent. “I wish she didn’t have to know the monster her father is.”
“Even if she didn’t see anything, she would’ve wanted to.” Olivia said, and both cousins looked up, as they weren’t aware of the detective’s presence.
The redhead agreed. “I guess…”
“Detective Olivia Benson,” Alex made the introductions. “Anne, this is my colleague at Special Victims Unit and the kindest woman I had the pleasure of meeting in my new job.”
“I was at their house earlier.” Olivia smiled anyway, touched by the words she didn’t expect to hear from the blonde. She took out a personal card with her number from her pocket and handed it to the girl.
Alex felt a blush rising to her cheeks. “I wasn’t aware.”
“You can go, Alex” Anne said, trying to smile. She kissed her cousin’s cheek. “You need to sleep too. I’ll be dead in two minutes, don’t worry.”
“Don’t say that!” Alex actually worried but kissed the girl back. “Alright, if you need anything call me, but I bet Olivia’s better at this.”
“I’ll be at the trial.”
Alex excused herself and said good night to Olivia when they left the room.
“Hey,” George approached her as she was going straight for the elevator.
“You’re still here? God.”
“Of course, someone needs to take you home.”
“But I’ve got my car…” Alex said. Her heart still hurt and now that she was finally heading home there was no reason for her to hide her emotion.
“Well, I don’t. I’ll drive, counselor.”
“Yeah, sure. Thanks.”
Once at the Upper East Side building, George hugged his friend while they waited for his cab.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Do I ever stop you?” Alex got back at him. She felt drunk, stumbling on her own feet. She needed to sleep this off.
“Why didn’t you bring them home?”
It took her by surprise. Alex pushed him away and felt an anger rising in her throat. She could be sick right there.
“I can’t.” was all she managed as an explanation. She was brainstorming. “I need to go away for a few days.” Every sentence was paused. “See dad. I don’t know.”
“Where is this coming from? I thought we’d agree you’d take their side.”
“I need to find my own answers, George. You know how I work. Today was a lot to take in, I need my own time.”
“What do I tell them?”
“I’ll make sure I’m back for the trial. Just let me know when it happens. I don’t think they need an explanation…”
“Yeah, since you always run from everything.” He mumbled.
“Nothing, Alex.” The taxi arrived and they exchanged goodnight wishes. “Just do you thing. Go pick yourself up, because I can’t do it right now for you. And come back soon.”
Alex sighed as she turned back to take the elevator to the highest floor. George’s constant sincerity was something Alex was not really fond of, something she never really got used to. She was an independent person and always had been. What was the use of getting closer to her cousins if she would have to let them go anyway? She was terrified of losing.
Once inside her apartment, Alex felt like a bad person, someone accustomed to leaving. She needed her dad. He was the only man she still trusted after so much heartbreak, the only one she could listen to and not feel pressured. She needed advice. God, she needed to sleep.
After stripping down to take a shower, Alex hugged Olivia’s coat and smelled the older woman in it. She didn’t know what the hell she was doing. These feelings were so wrong. She tried to wash today's memories away.
It was 2:30AM when Alexandra sank in the couch, not even able to reach her bed. She didn’t deserve the comfort and thinking that, she cried herself to sleep.