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Equinox of Penitance

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The room was cold, half light illuminating the drab, blank walls. There were no windows aside from the two-way that reflected the scene with an intimidating, hidden gaze. The chair was metal, cold and hard.

Captain Tucker sat across from her, rearranging his papers and adjusting the microphone in front of her. He hit the record button with a jab and sat back, his icy blue eyes burning holes into her.

“Ed Tucker, Captain of the Internal Affairs Bureau, investigating the events of August 6th, 2016 which lead to the death of Ronald Duvall in the state of New Jersey.” He leaned back and clicked his pen before gesturing to her, “Detective, please state your name, rank, and precinct.”

“Amanda Rollins.” Amanda leaned forward, returning his unwavering gaze despite the less than hospitable conditions. “Detective of New York City's Homicide Division.”

“Homicide.” Tucker repeated. “But you were working an SVU case...your old precinct.”

Amanda folded her hands on front of her tightly and leaned into the mic. “I was cleared by my captain to remain on the case. It originally landed on mine and my partner's desk and we called SVU after the nature of the crime was ascertained.”

“And the nature of it?” Tucker asked.

“Seven children...little girls...murdered.” Amanda said, evenly. Tucker damn well knew the specifics of the case. He was asking her these questions to discomfit her in order to find some weakness in her statements.

“How long have you been in Homicide?” Tucker asked.

“Six months.” Amanda replied.

“And how long were you at SVU?”

“Almost five years.” Amanda said, more softly, her gaze darting away despite her best efforts to remain resolute.

“That’s twice as long as the usual tour there.” Tucker commented.

“And not half as long as many of the detectives who are still there.” Amanda snapped, sitting back in her chair.

Tucker raised a brow and she cursed herself for showing emotion. If Tucker thought for a second that she was emotionally compromised he was going to pick at the tiny string of self doubt until she completely unwound.

“Why'd you leave SVU?” Tucker asked, flipping through a manila envelope. “I have your jacket here…. You spent your first three years as a detective in Atlanta and then suddenly you come all the way up here to SVU for five years before making a sudden request for transfer…”

“I don't really see what that has to do with anything…” Amanda's voice trailed away as Tucker's eyes rose from her file to stare her down.

“I've seen you twice already about officer involved shootings.” Tucker stated. “This is your third kill in as many years.”

“In all of those situations, I used the force necessary to subdue the suspect.” Amanda replied. “I was in fear for my life or that of a hostage or victim.”

Tucker nodded slowly, “The magic words, huh?”

“I'm not just saying that to cover my ass.” Amanda replied quickly. “Duvall attacked his daughter and was going to attack me. I made a judgement call.”

“Three bullets at point blank range is a judgement call?” Tucker asked, leaning in. “How about overkill?”

“You're going to run at me with excessive force over a man that raped and murdered seven children and his wife?” Amanda asked, sharply.

“So you're saying he deserved to die?” Tucker asked.

“I'm not sure you'd blame the parents of those children for saying anything less.”

“I'm not asking the parents.” Tucker's voice rose over her own. “I'm asking you. A member of the police force who is responsible for maintaining an impartial attitude of innocent until proven guilty.”

“He confessed to the crimes he committed before he died.” Amanda ground out slowly.

“After which you shot him.” Tucker finished.

“I told you…” Amanda said, precisely, “He attacked his daughter. He came at me with a knife and every intent to injure or kill me.”

“But you thought he should die before that.” Tucker said, jabbing a finger down in the table.

Amanda breathed out and leaned her head back, “He deserved to pay for what he did.”

“And you made sure that happened.” Tucker said, his judging tone burning her conscience.

“I guess you have your mind made up too.” Amanda shrugged.

“I'm trying to get the facts here, Detective Rollins.” Tucked said, spreading his hands. “I've seen you become emotionally involved to a point that that your judgment was corrupted…. I've heard witness that you were extremely overwrought by this case.”

“From who?” Amanda snapped, leaning in on her elbows again. Her mind raced, cycling through the possibilities. Fin wouldn't betray her and she hadn't thought that Jensen would either but after the way he had left, she wasn't sure.

Then there was Olivia. Saying that she was emotionally compromised was the least that Olivia could say to destroy her career and she wondered sickly if Tucker had interviewed the lieutenant yet. She had little doubt that Olivia was going to lie for her despite her threats of disclosing their relationship in the twisted light that it truly was.

“I'm not at liberty to disclose that.” Tucker replied. “But your responses here today more than convince me.”

“Of course I was disturbed.” Amanda returned, vehemently, feeling her hands tremble and a cold sweat break out on her back. “I saw seven dead children butchered in a ditch on the side of the fucking road.”

Tucker's brows rose at her outcry but he remained silent as if waiting for her break.

“I watched a man returning to abuse a little girl's corpse and then almost get away with it.” She breathed. “I saw his wife lying dead on the floor and his daughter terrified that she was yes, I was a little disturbed .”

Her heart was pounding sickly in her chest and she knew that she was only digging herself a deeper hole for Tucker to bury her in, but she couldn't stop the emotion that spilled from her lips. Her thoughts of Olivia and the possibilities of what she might say were destroying the last of her self control.

“Is this why you left SVU?” He asked, fixing her with a cool gaze. “Because you couldn't handle it?”

“No!” Amanda rubbed the heels of her hands against her forehead, trying to breath.

“Then what would cause you to suddenly request a transfer?”

“My career is not on trial here.” Amanda replied, “This is about me putting down a serial killer and child molester.”

“Your career is on trial if you made this decision based solely on emotions.” Tucker cut in. “And as far as I'm concerned, you're not only a danger to civilians but to yourself.”

“Myself?” Amanda lifted her head, feeling tears in her eyes. “You think I'm gonna eat my gun, Tucker?”

Tucker's eyes narrowed, “I wouldn't consider this so frivolous, Detective.”

“I'm a good cop.” Amanda insisted through clenched teeth. “We tracked Duvall in three days and put his killing spree to an end.”

“It was good work right up until you shot him.” Tucker said.

“You know what?” Amanda breathed. “I wouldn't have gone into that house and done what I did if Lieutenant Benson hadn't insisted on entering that house by herself. Why don't you ask her ?”

“Trust me, I'm going to.” Tucker said, lowly, “but she's not the one that shot him three times.”

“Did you not just hear me?” Amanda asked. “She went in alone and created a hostage situation!”

“So this is all Lieutenant Benson's fault?” Tucker asked. “It's very interesting that you're throwing one of your colleagues under the bus. There was a day when SVU was the most tight lipped crew in the NYPD.”

“I'm not SVU.” Amanda said slowly, through clenched teeth.

“Right.” Tucker said. “But you were supposed to be with her. Where were you when Duvall escaped?”

Amanda sat back, her words catching in her throat. What was she supposed to say? ‘Oh, yes Captain Tucker, I abandoned my partner in foreign territory in order to run back to New York to escape a sexual relationship’?

“I wasn't with her.” Amanda said at last.

“Obviously.” Tucker said with a frown. He paused before saying, “So let's get this straight. You were running around at some undisclosed location while you and your partner are in foreign territory looking for a serial killer and then when you get a location on him you two think it's a good idea to go in alone, you against a sergeant's orders… And then you shoot him. Three times. Did I miss anything?”

Amanda stared at the table, trying to breath past the tightness in her throat. She hadn't needed Olivia to destroy her in front of IAB. She was doing it all on her own.

Tucker leaned in closer to her, drawing her attention. When their eyes locked, he said in a low, even tone, “You're not telling me the entire truth, Detective Rollins. I know it and you know it and when I question Lieutenant Benson, I will be getting the entire story or I will bring you both to task.”

Amanda swallowed hard and sank further down in the chair with her arms folded against her stomach. She stared at the table, her vision blurring as the panic slowly set in.

“For now, you're temporarily suspended.” Tucker shut off the recorder and fixed her with an intense gaze, “You better be reporting to the shrink every week. Those meetings aren't optional after a shooting, Detective.”

Amanda huffed and pushed back from the table, “It's not my first time at the rodeo, Tucker.”

She rose quickly from the chair and headed towards the door. Her stomach was churning and she needed to escape from the room. Her brain was racing and all she could think was that she’d never be getting her shield back after all of this.

She yanked the door open, and in the blindness of her tears and panic, she almost slammed into the person on the other side. She drew up with a gasp, blinking quickly as her eyes climbed up the length of the impeccable suit and familiar curves.

"Olivia..?” She whispered at their eyes locked. “What are you doing here?”

“I'm here to see Tucker.” She said, lifting her chin.

Her mocha eyes were filled were determination, her expression unwavering, although Amanda could see the remnants of her anger lingering when she looked at her. Her hair and makeup were without distress, the opposite of how she had looked the last time Amanda had seen her in the hotel room. This confidence, however, was more terrifying than anything.

Amanda watched Olivia step past her, and her mouth parted as Olivia greeted Tucker with a handshake. Her stomach was twirling because this camaraderie could only mean one thing. They'd conspired against her to bury her.

She turned to leave, unable to watch, but Olivia's voice called her back.

“Don't leave quite yet, Amanda...This conversation involves all three of us.”

Amanda turned slowly, stepping back towards the open doorway. “What do you mean?”

“I need to interview you separately.” Tucker said, slowly. The confusion in his voice halted Amanda's wild conspiracy theories and drew her further into the room with curiosity.

“We can talk about the shooting later.” Olivia said, “I'm here to report myself.”

Amanda's jaw went slack, her pulse rising to slam against her eardurms. She stepped slowly back into the room as Olivia pulled out the chair and sat down.

Tucker sat down across from her, his face drawn. If he'd known about this previously, he was doing a damn good job acting like he hadn't.

“What is this in relation to?” Tucker asked after clearing his throat and rearranging his face into a professional expression.

Olivia licked her lips quickly and clasped her hands together in front of her.

“The truth.” She said at last, her voice rising above the quiver that Amanda could hear hiding beneath layers of bravado.

Tucker frowned but reached forward to turn the tape back on. “Captain Tucker of IAB speaking…Lieutenant, please state your name.”

“Lieutenant Olivia Benson of the Special Victims Unit.” Olivia said into the mic.

Amanda hovered at the edge of the table, her heart knocking as she watched the scene unfold before like a car accident she couldn't quite pull her eyes away from.

“Go ahead.” Tucker gestured.

Olivia licked her lips once more and took a breath, “On the night of September 20th 2015 I made a decision that breached the ethics and regulations of the NYPD and has since continued…” She paused, her eyes flicking to Amanda for half a second.

Amanda's stomach twisted, forcing an ill feeling up her throat. She knew that date. How could she forget the first time Olivia had taken her over the desk in her office?

“I used the power of my position as Lieutenant to manipulate a subordinate officer into a physical and….” She paused once more, catching her breath, “and...sexual relationship.”

Amanda grabbed the edge of the table to support herself, breathing heavily against bile that rose in her throat. She could see Tucker's shocked expression out of the corner of her eye and she couldn't imagine that hers was much different.

Olivia looked over at her, her darkened gaze holding hers evenly as she said, “And that officer was Detective Amanda Rollins.”