They call it a medical miracle. Sometimes a person in a coma, a person for whom all hope is lost, will just wake up. No one knows why or how. They just observe it, and they celebrate. Not this time. when William Lewis woke up from a coma no one called it a miracle. No one even observed it. And certainly no one celebrated. Instead, William Lewis woke up from a four-year coma alone, in Bellevue’s medical ward, and grinned. Finally, his time had come.
4:17pm, SVU Squad Room
It was a busy day in SVU, and Lieutenant Olivia Benson’s office had been practically a rotating door. Fin had just left after reporting about an attack at a subway station and Olivia was taking just a minute before going out into the squad room to get her team moving on the case. She ran her hand through her hair wearily. She felt so tired lately, between the cases constantly rolling in and a five-year-old at home, demanding so much energy. When she opened her eyes a photograph of Noah stared up at her and she felt the slightest of smiles pulling at the corners of her mouth. She loved her son, just like she loved her job. She just sometimes wondered if she was getting too old for all of this. Maybe she should have retired when Ed had suggested it, left all of this to the young Rollins and Carisis of the world. Olivia shook the thoughts from her mind. She was here, making as much a difference as she could, and there was a new victim waiting on their help.
Olivia walked into the squad room to see Carisi throwing on his suit jacket, and Amanda already waiting by the door. Fin handed her a file, which she flipped through without really reading, already giving orders. “Rollins, Finn, you head to the crime scene. I’ll go with Carisi to talk to the victim.” And with those directions they rolled out.
4:50 pm, Mercy Hospital
Olivia and Sonny arrived at the hospital and were promptly directed to the victim’s room. Besides having a black eye and split lip she looked healthy. After nineteen years Olivia knew that didn’t mean that she was okay.
“Bethany,” she said in her softest voice as she stepped into the room, “I’m Lieutenant Benson, with special victims. This is Detective Carisi. We heard you were attacked.”
“Yeah,” the girl answered, but didn’t volunteer anything else. She didn’t look at Olivia or Sonny, instead staring down at a hair tie on her wrist. She snapped it against her wrist once, then twice. Olivia’s phone vibrated in her pocket, and with one deft movement she swiped ignore.
“Okay,” she continued, “I know this is hard, but can you tell us what happened?” Bethany shrugged and as her dark hair moved around her shoulders it struck Olivia how young she was, how small.
“I was on the subway platform near my school, waiting for the train. I was standing next to this supply closet and he grabbed me and pulled me in. then he…” she trailed off, not finishing the sentence.
“He assaulted you?” Olivia provided the words carefully. Bethany gritted her teeth, looking up at both of them for the first time. Her blue eyes were filled with rage.
“He tied me up, gagged me. I was stuck in that closet for hours until someone found me.” Olivia repressed a shudder.
“Can you tell me anything about what he looks like?” The fire that had come into Bethany’s eyes was still there, but she looked a little less sure.
“I don’t know much. He was average height, pretty skinny. He wasn’t that strong, but he had a knife and I…” she took a deep breath. “I didn’t fight him.”
“Hey, that’s not your fault. Bethany, you did everything right. You survived. Did he say anything?”
“Yeah, he talked a lot.” Bethany’s voice was strong again, emboldened by Olivia’s reassurance. “He said that I had pretty hair and it reminded him of someone he knew. Someone he missed and hoped to see again soon.” Olivia and Sonny shared a quick look. Could there be another target?
“Did he say who?” Bethany shook her head.
“No, but he said other things. He said he wished we could have more time together. He told me,” she paused, as if gathering strength. But when she spoke her voice was steady and her gaze didn’t waiver. “He told me everything he wanted to do, if he weren’t in a rush. Things with cigarettes, and alcohol, and a blowtorch.” With every word Olivia felt her pulse quicken, and Bethany’s voice grew fainter. That sounded like… but no, there was no way. He was in a coma, had been for years. It had to be someone else and she was overreacting. Still, she had to make sure.
“That’s very good, Bethany. We’re almost done, but would it be okay if Detective Carisi finished talking to you?” Bethany hesitated, but nodded. Carisi shot her a look, clearly confused, and Olivia could understand why. He hadn’t been around the first time she had dealt with this monster; he wouldn’t know what was affecting her. And usually she wouldn’t leave a victim alone with a man. But Bethany seemed like a strong one, and Sonny was as sympathetic a detective as she could hope for. Besides, there was something she had to check on.
Out in the hall she grabbed the first nurse to pass by.
“The EMTs that brought Bethany James in, are they still here?”
“One of them. Johnson, over there.” The nurse gestured to a young man in a white EMT uniform leaning against a counter at the end of the hall. Olivia thanked her and made her way over.
“Johnson?” the man turned to her.
“Yes. How can I help you?”
“Did you find Bethany James?”
“Yeah, in the subway closet. Everything okay?”
“How did you find her? She was tied up?”
“Yeah, with duct tape. She was banging against the door with her feet. She was hanging from a peg, her shirt torn open.” Olivia felt the ground shift beneath her and she grabbed the counter for support. Darkness swam in her vision and she found it hard to breathe. Her legs gave out and she felt someone, probably Johnson, grab her under the arms.
“Lieutenant!” Carisi’s voice came as if from the other end of a long tunnel, not a short hallway. He came sprinting over, and together he and Johnson lead her over to a chair. Sonny knelt so that they were eye level. “Liv, what’s going on?” But Olivia couldn’t answer, couldn’t make her brain come up with the words or form them as one thought ran over and over in her mind. William Lewis is back.