The Meaning of Family: Kinship
Prologue: Phone call of Hope
This is a Lie to Me/ Law and Order SVU crossover. It picks up in the middle of season two of Lie to Me and will follow the rest of the show and then beyond. For SVU it picks up in season eight when Olivia finds she has a brother but is au from that point. Instead of illegally running her DNA she speaks with Melinda about her thoughts who directs her to a research group. In this story the facts in the show about her brother and father are ignored as if it didn't happen.
Disclaimer: I do not own Lie to Me or Law and Order SVU and not making any profit besides elevating my own boredom.
(The analysis lab is empty except for a lone individual musing as he leans back in a computer chair, legs kicked up casually. The room illumination soly coming from the monitors that surround him. There is no sound except for the rhythmic humming of computers running preset tasks in the background.)
A false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive is a lie as defined by the dictionary. A simple meaning in theory but found to have many complex layers in reality. For a lie can be anything used to create a false or misleading impression. It might be done with the best of intentions but those intentions are relative to all involved. Even if that was not so could good intentions ever really condone that the end is supposed to justify the means? No that is only a tragic lie that people tell themselves in order to ease their seared conscience. For lies have consequences that are rarely anticipated and cost more than imagined.
“You touched your ear.”
“Does that mean I'm lying?” she asked looking relieved and guilty at the same time.
“Are you? “ Eli asked disappointment radiating through his chest as his eyes took in every detail possible, “What part of your story isn't true?... Is any of it true?”
Mugisha poorly deflected, “Who would make up such a terrible story?”
“But it's a lie it never happened to you, “ Eli stated.
“It happen, it's happening, but nobody listened until there was a face. My face. My story.”
“Every lie has consequences that you can't see coming,” Eli tried to make her see.
“Someone needed to speak. I was educated in the west. When I talk people like you hear me. My country is being torn apart by violence and shame and I would do anything to stop the killing.”
“What are you going to do Eli?” She asked him but they both knew there was only one choice. It was why they were there, what she was silently begging of him. Who was he to not to comply.
Truth, on the other hand, is absolute. It is genuine and based on facts and reality. It often can be quantified and analyzed. Even though at times it might not be pretty and might seem to cause more pain than it’s worth, it is an unshakable constant in a constantly changing world. Truth also has consequences but these consequences are ones that could be faced with the clear conscience of knowing that what you did was the right thing even though the outcome might not be preferred.
“I'm sorry. She could have written a different book. She didn't have to say those things happened to her.”
“No, she's right. Nobody would have paid attention. And the funny thing is she went out with me even after she found out what I do for a living. Somehow I think on some level she wanted to get caught,” Eli threw out there unconsciously testing her.
“Or maybe she just liked you,” Torres tried to sooth.
Tilting his head down before looking straight up at Ria he barely breathed out, “Well I really don’t care, “ before standing and walking passed her.
“Hey Loker,” Torres called out to him, “You just lied.”
Eli looked back at her and made no attempted to mask anything he was feeling, “Yeah. “
He turned back and continued to walk away. Ria may have caught the lies…. And the truth but she completely missed the point. A debatable point if it was a small mercy that Eli was too heartbroken to notice.
Radical honesty - a philosophy that he has lived by since his teens - came from such thoughts while observing the experiences of his childhood. A rebellion of sort as he began to recognized the lies of the surrounded and controlled his life. Although, even at 26 Eli could only bring himself to take a clinical look at himself in order to avoid the emotion. A sign that, for all his honesty, he still couldn't help but lie to himself, whether directly or by omission. Still, years of observing the carnage left by lies was a great part of why he clinged so eagerly to the idea of always telling the truth no matter how rude or unpopular it made him. Any other reason he ignored as projections of his unresolved and neglected issues. For if anyone ever asked the questions that he could not even ask himself then he would have to honestly answer. A pointless exercise though since those questions would never come, not even spending nine years with the world's leading deception experts had brought them to light.
“Maybe he’s taking the blame for everything to hide whatever part his daughter had in the scheme, “ Foster jumped in seeing where he was going.
“I just figured if his daughter was guilty a man like Hollin wouldn't hesitate to eat his young,” Eli added confused.
“Look at a man like he is the devil and you will never understand his motives, “ Foster rebuked him deeper then she knew.
Shaking the image of his out of his head, “Well everyone knows he's a liar. “
“Then we listen to him lie. “
(the sudden silence of the computer was as noticeable as a boom.)
Breaking the spell of his inner musings, Eli became aware that the rhythmic sound of the computer had stopped. Now ready for him to start checking over its findings before loading the next set of video data for the computer to search through.
After stretching his legs out onto a different desk he tried to redirect his thoughts away from his inner speculation. Without luck as his eyes kept being drawn back to what had him on this track in the first place: an old letter written by his mother before her death. It held the only details available for him to determine who his father truly was. Was it the man he had until five years ago always thought it was? The man who lied and cheated every person he came across, who had more women than he could count but always came home to his mother because she bore him a son? Or was it the man who brutally raped his mother on her way home from the library but who was never caught? He was now free to find out if he so chose.
“Imagine your sister or husband made a mistake. And you knew you could a small sacrifice to protect them,” Hollins interrupted.
“You know the worst lies we tell are out of love. But I'd want my family to learn from their mistakes,” Foster supplied.
Five years ago his mother had lost the battle with breast cancer but not before revealing her doubts on his paternal DNA. She begged him not to let his father know or to try to find the truth out while he was still alive. Out of fear for Eli life for she didn't know how badly James might react to the secret she kept from him all these years. So Eli kept her secret since it was one of her last requests and it wasn't really that hard considering he never spoke much with his father. It could be called a philosophical difference on life since Eli desperately hung unto truth while to James truth was a fool's last resort. Though the reality was James Loker didn't appreciate being called a thieving sociopath and Eli preferred not being hospitalized. Overall they both agreed it was better to avoid each other.
“Your going to let him go to prison for his daughter, “ Eli challenge in disgust.
“We're going to get these people there pensions back. There livelihoods that's what matters,” Foster firmly stated trying to direct the matter to what she say as the point.
“What's that say to all the Bernie Madoffs and all the Carolyn Hollins waiting in the wing?” Eli tried, being the most open with her then he had ever been before.
“You think the victims should just lose everything?” Foster said too focused on what she wanted to accomplish to see the rare vulnerability being displayed.
“You have to put these people away or they will keep coming back like a cancer. You cannot let them think they can do this and not get punished,” Eli knew this to be certain, had seen what happened otherwise. The victims to come would have no restitution or means of justice and there would be many.
“When your the boss, make whatever call you want. “
After his mother's death five years ago, dealing with the violent side of his supposed father wasn't actually the biggest concern for him. No, Eli's biggest fear at time was what he would say to Lightman when he returned to work. Eli was so sure that his mother's revelation would be written all over his face and if Lightman questioned him, he would answer honestly and the game he and Lightman had been playing the previous four years of ignoring Eli's upbringing and pretending he was just another rich preppy with Ivy league dreams would end and Lightman would learn just how truly broken he was inside. It was a moot point though because like most fears it never came to fruition and the question never came. It was a blessing mixed with a curse though because while he was mostly relieved at leaving things statuesque what did that say that not even a great psychoanalysis like Doctor Gillian Foster cared to look deeper and try to fix the brokenness?
“But you on the other hand. What you did is inexcusable. And involving her is selfish, disrespectful, and it's just plain stupid, ” Each of Lightman word was true, fully expected and deserved but still cut like a knife.
“I’ll empty my office, “ Eli turned and started walking to do just that.
“No, you can stay, “ Lightman called out stopping him, “You can stay, but from now on, you'll be paid what you're worth, which is nothing. You're an unpaid intern”
“It's that or you can leave.”
Years passed and what started out as a game with Lightman might as well be his identity, even though he knows what kind of impostor lies behind his grad-student exterior. An imposter but one that was now free to investigate the darkest truth that was inside him because as of yesterday his father was dead. He got a call from Chicago police telling him his father had died of a heart-attack while in custody. After verifying that his DNA was in the system he confirmed that they could do whatever they wanted with the body as long as they left him out of it. His promise to his mother was now fulfilled.
“Well that is one sick puppy but that's not our guy,” Eli told her.
“And how can you know that?” Reynolds demanded again and Eli was starting to feel very disrespected and annoyed.
“I can know that because he is fantasizing about past actions,” Eli answered with a tap of his pencil to the papers before directing his attention to Tia, “You want to look for someone who is making plans for the future.”
“Let me see that,” Ria pouted as she took the papers back and looked at them.
“How is it I'm the unpaid intern and you're the highly paid professional, “ Eli snipped misplacing his frustration of having to deal with Reynolds towards her.
“You're the one Lightman got sitting in the front row. So… I’ll just put this in the ‘no’ pile, “ Ria shot back annoyed.
He knew there might be something wrong with him in how he was handling the news; he felt more relieved than sad which didn't seem right to him. James... he couldn't handle thinking of him as his father at the moment. He might not have been a good man - far from it in fact - but he did always make it a point to be in Eli's life. Even if it was only to teach him how to pickpocket or yell at him during his little league game for throwing like a girl. Some children didn't even have that, arguments of absence versus abuse notwithstanding. It was so confusing especially when you add in the fact he might not even be his real dad. It might be a rapist instead. Either way he definitively drew the genetic short straw.
“Lightman just hung up on me. He wouldn't even listen, “ Ria fumed.
Eli couldn't contain the smirk caused by her response to Lightman.
“But I'm right,” Ria said menacing before storming off.
“Hey, whatever you're thinking about doing, don't,” Eli tried half-hearted, knowing how to spot a lost cause.
“I'm going to need your help! “ Ria called back to him.
“Yeah kinda figured that. “
“So Camille is not dead?” Torres stated more than asked.
“We don't know yet,” Reynolds supplied.
“Lightman knew from the beginning it was all a setup. He planned the whole thing, all of it. Even letting Jenkins see through him at the prison,” Ria stated in awe.
“Yeah, he set up a false power dynamic- build Jenkins confidence, lower his defenses,” Eli explained to her clearly seeing now what he had sensed.
“Lightman played me too. He pushed me to disobey him ‘cause he knew it would trigger Jenkins,” Torres stated not liking the fact.
“The long con. One of Lightman favorite moves, “ Foster said making her presence known.
“You knew?” Torres asked suspicious.
“No idea, “ Foster told them.
“He is scary good,” Torres said breaking the momentary silence that fallen over the fact.
Eli was still contemplating looking over what little clues he had one more time when there was a knock on the door before opening to reveal the Lightman group's receptionist, Anna.
"Hey Eli a carrier just delivered this for you. A New York police file?" Anna said as she handed the package over to him with a curious smile.
Noticing her look Eli took the package from her and turned away under the guise of putting it on his desk, "Yeah a dead cold case that has passed the statute of limitations. They were nice enough to send me a copy of one for some research I'm starting."
"Oh, I see. Good luck with that," Anna told him as she backed out of the office and left him alone once again. Eli let out a breath of relief, thankful she left before he had to make the choice to be honest about it or lie since he was using company resources for personal research. He was surprised how fast it arrived since he only made the request yesterday afternoon but the Lightman Group letterhead had a way of opening doors sometimes.
“Um Mr. Loker. You have been very quiet. Do you have anything to add?” The Irs agent asked annoyed.
“No what Foster said was accurate, “ Eli said as earnest as possible.
“You tell Lightman he is going to have an auditor with a microscope up his British Keister for as long as I have a job,” She declared before storming out of the office.
“Why did you do that?” Foster asked genuinely confused.
“Well, you gotta have faith in something. I'm putting mine in you,” Eli told her.
“Thank you. “
“Doesn't mean what you did was right. “
He still hadn't opened the package yet and was in the middle of adding more video data to be sorted when Lightman came barging in without knocking to let Eli know that Lightman, Foster, and Torres would be leaving to work on a case.
"You know I could come too. I could be helpful with..." Eli tried before being cut off.
"Your job is to stay here and finish that," Lightman told him gesturing to the computer in a way that made Eli wonder if Lightman, despite assigning it himself just that morning, had a clue what Eli was working on.
"Never mind the fact I have four years of research on herd mentality and Torres has none. A trained monkey could do this! Besides I have seniority and this case could help prove..." Eli tried half-heartedly to interject before being cut off again.
"Who needs a trained monkey when I have you, eh? I want this all sorted and the analysis well into the first phase by the time I get back. Am I clear?"
"Yeah sure you betcha. Monkey see monkey do," Eli told him sarcastically before turning to put his focus back on the computer screen.
Instead of leaving Lightman pause and give Eli his trademark 'what are you' looks and for a moment Eli internally panicked before Lightman gave a disgusted grunt and left the room.
“So what really happened between you and Rader, “ Eli overheard as Lightman and Foster came down the hallway.
“I'd tell you but you would think I was lying,” Lightman quid and turned away and headed towards Eli.
“Loker, my card in case you're thinking of a life change. “
Eli made himself wait a few minutes before making sure the computer was set up for the next hour of tasks. He reached for the package and held it to just feel the weight before he opened it and pulled out an old blue file folder and a cassette tape. It looked like the original so he figured someone must have been eager to be rid of it. Picking up the tape, he walked over to set up the equipment that would convert it to a digital format. As he waited he sat back down and opened the file to find a picture of his mother. She was much younger, actually younger than he was now and covered in bruises. It made his heart lurch and a knot form in his stomach. He moved the picture to the side and started to skim the report inside. It didn't take long to see that there wasn't much in the file. The detective in charge obviously didn't take his mother seriously enough to actually do his job and catch the guy. It made him angry to think of the disrespect.
He continued to read what was there a few times until the conversion was done and after double checking on his actual job he put his headphones on to listen and brought up the voice analyzer to watch as it played.
okay sweetheart just talk clearly into the mic and we can get this over with. Please state your name.
Clearly impatient and possibly bored. Sounded like a real winner.
Elisa Engel. Is my fiancee going to hear this?
Fear. She was scared of James even back then. No he shouldn't assume that considering she was still shaken by the attack.
No, this is for investigation purposes only.
Partial truth maybe? The guy wasn't completely sure about what he said.
Tell us what happened tonight.
I was on my way home like normal from the NYU library.
I work there part time as a clerk.
You left alone?
Yes... I mean no... my friend Claire left with me. We usually leave together when she is there studying. Her dorm is on the way to the station.
Correcting herself as she tries to recall details: check . Adding unnecessary details: check. The distress in her voice sounded genuine.
You parted at the dorm?
Yes, we made plans to meet up Saturday and I went on my way.
Down the allies?
Yes, it's the only way to reach the subway without having to go back towards the front of the school.
There was no obvious signs of deception but he couldn't help but wonder what this made him, analyzing his mother this way. He couldn't help it though as it was ingrained as a part of who he was. Besides, he reasoned, it distracted him from the sick feeling growing in his stomach and this was the only lead he was going to get.
I turned the corner and was halfway down when I heard footsteps. I went to turn around but he was already behind me grabbing me...
The statement was about thirty minutes long and held many disturbing details that made him heartsick among other things. Unfortunately it did not hold much that he could use. Any evidence gathered has long since been destroyed or misplaced and he couldn't even return to the scene of the crime since that area had been built and rebuilt many times over the last 26 years. So there was no way to investigate in a conventional manner but he was already knew that would be the case.
“You want to tell me how we went from a seven figure payday to nothing?” Lightman came in fuming.
“It wasn't an ideal outcome… “ Eli started weakly.
“No it wasn't we can barely keep our head above water and you decide to go ahead and sabotage a potential elephant account. I mean what did you put in. 40 full hours on this and then there is Torres time? You have any idea where that's coming from?” Lightman continued yelling.
“Your pocket, “ Eli stated.
“Bloody right, my pocket! You promised me you'd deliver,” Lightman continued to push.
Fed up Eli voice started sounding more firm. “Shifting blame from the guilty party, that wouldn't have been the truth.”
“You see that choice…” Lightman said satisfied, “That's how you make your contribution to this firm. We could go dark for all I care. We follow the truth here. No matter the cost to our egos or our wallets. “
“So if I had taken the money…. “ Eli questioned.
“I'd have sacked you,” Lightman told him happily as he turned to walk away.
“Hey can I get one of those “arttaboy” speeches from yesterday?” Eli called out after him
“I've run out. “
The knowledge that there would be a lack of conventional leads was one of the reasons he checked to see if James' DNA was in the system. The fact that it was could potentially kill two birds with one stone: prove whether James was his biological father and, if not, perhaps find the rapist. At this, a thought struck Eli that he hadn't considered before. With all of James' philandering ways Eli was his only known child. James had been sued over paternity countless times in vain which made him wonder if maybe James Loker was unknowingly sterile making it much more likely Eli's father was the rapist. Either way he was in luck that he had a friend whose primary area of research was kinship DNA and since his friends main funding came from law enforcement looking to make the science a crime fighting tool his friend had access to the data banks that could tell him who his father was if any such record existed. All he had to do was call and explain the situation and he would have access to the only tool that could solve a 27 year old cold case.
Emily reenter the lab now that Foster and Torres had gone off and walked towards the screen that last shown her dad. Eli looked up from the desk he was working at and just watched her.
“Please… Please say something Eli, “ Emily pleaded as she looked at the screen with her arms wrapped around herself.
“What can I say? “ Eli asked in genuine curiosity as he was at a loss for words.
“Anything…. Just tell me the truth like you always do. I don't care if it's something I might not want to hear just tell me something true…. He lied to me and so did Foster but you don't at least you haven't yet. So please promise me you will keep telling me the truth. Just like when we were younger. Especially when it comes to my dad, “ Emily pleaded before turning to face him.
“Oh Em…. I… yeah okay I'll tell you what I can okay?” Eli assured her.
Eli sat there staring out in space knowing he had to get back to work before Lightman came back and chewed him out but was unable to move on without making a decision. If he did this there would be no turning back. He would either get an answer or not, either way there would be no more hiding, including using radical honesty as an excuse to lie to himself. With a deep breath he reached out and picked up the phone. There was no lie worse than what you tell yourself and he was ready to call himself out on it. No more half-hearted hope that someone else would make him face the dark part of his soul. He wanted the truth.
Four Months Later - New York Manhattan SVU
The air was energized and chaotic as the various detectives of the SVU went about their business.
"Stabler! Benson! We got one for you at the uptown bridge," Captain Cragen said as stepped out of his office.
"Sorry, Captain. I can't go. The trial dates for the Jenkins case got bumped to today and I promised Madison I would be there for her when she testifies," Olivia Benson said with an apologetic look.
"Right, that's fine. Fin is in court today too so it looks like you're with Munch, Stabler," Cragen said before going into the details he knew about the case. Olivia only heard the beginning as her phone began to ring. By the time she was done Cragen was heading back to his office and she was sitting in contemplative silence.
"Hey Liv when you get back do you think you can look over...Liv? You okay?" Her partner Elliot Stabler put his hand on her shoulder bringing her attention to him.
"Oh I'm fine. That was Dr. Matterson," Olivia explained.
"The researcher, Melinda, suggested you give your DNA, too?" Elliot probed.
"What did he want?" Elliot asked as he finished gathered his stuff to leave with Munch.
"I have a brother."