Elliot stood with the rest of the team around a table as the facts were laid out in front of them. Pictures, cases that Emily was working, lists of people she knew. This was always where they started. The last moment she was seen and work backwards. “She left around six.” Fin was the last one of them to see her, when she left for the day. Elliot looked at him when he spoke. Yes Fin was the last one to talk to her, but he was the last one to communicate with her. She had called him twenty minuets after she left asking him to give a file to Cragen before he left for the day. And the moment they got her phone records everyone would know that there was more than just work phone calls going back and fourth.
Phone records take time so they had to work with what they had. “Was she going straight home?” Cragen asked Fin.
“She didn't say.” Fin answered looking over the photos in front of him. He'd grown fond of Emily. Her brutal honesty and the way she didn't take any shit from anyone. Her natural instincts were on point and the way she always seemed to get through to the victims. It seemed as though she herself had once been on the other side of the questioning.
“Assuming she went straight home and there was an intruder waiting for her, they only have a five hour head start on us. They couldn't have gotten far. It was clear that Emily didn't go willing, She was either drugged or bound some how. Either way it couldn't have been easy to get her anywhere.” Cragen turned to the map. “Go through every abandoned building, check every camera. Find something.”
Cragen turns after Elliot and Liv leave. “Go through everything on her computer, find anything that stands out.” He ordered Fin before he went to his office. A missing officer meant a lot of notifications. Emily didn't have any family. But he spread the word and every black and white was looking for anything that could lead them to their fellow comrade.
Fin started combing through Emily's files. Nothing odd or out of place. But then a file popped up in the middle of the screen. The words 'Open Me' on it. He clicked it and leaned back as a video began to play. It was clear that someone was holding the camera. A room with hard wood floors and dark wood paneling appear. The camera pans around to a bed. In the middle of the bed lays a woman bound to the iron bed frame. Her hands and feet to each corner. Fin stops the video.
Cragen looks up from his desk as Fin bust through the door. “You need to see this.” Fin turned and went back to the desk. He and Cragen watched the video in full before they called Stabler and Benson in to watch it again with them. As soon as he saw her dark hair down and knotted around her face Elliot knew it was her. That was Emily tied to that bed. His Emily.
As the camera moved closer to Emily they noticed something on her stomach. The closer it got the clearer it became it was a news paper. But the camera moves before they can make out any of the print. The person running the camera slowly moves around the bed. Zooming in on each of her limbs. They could see her wrist and ankles were bloody and raw from her struggling against the rope. After a moment the lens moves to her face.
Emily had duct tape on her face. A strip across her eyes. She also had a ball gag in her mouth. But on each side there was more duct tape. A piece on each cheek. This person wanted to be sure the gag stayed where they put it. Elliot's face begins to turn red as he balled his fist in rage. He had to watch this video and know that he couldn't pull her from that bed at that very moment. Just scoop her up in his arms and take away the pain.
It was unmistakable the person behind the camera was enjoying his directorial debut. After a few closes ups of Emily's face the camera finally zoomed in on the news paper. It takes a minute for the font to come into focus and as it does each of the detectives hold their breath. The head line at the top of the paper read 'Suspected murderer released on technicality' and they knew right then and there who was holding the camera. “Ellis Nickels” Olivia said without hesitation. And without warning the video just stopped. '
Ellis Nickels was one of the worst the unit had come upon. Just a year before, they arrested him after months of a sick game of cat and mouse that left them with a body count of five. The problem was that they had no way to prove Nickels had anything to do with the victims. They had one person come forward and say they saw him with his last victim. But they were a drug addict and they couldn't count on their testimony to hold up in court.
Everyone at SVU went at Nickels with all they had. But he had an IQ of 165 and knew the law inside and out. He knew that they had nothing but the word of a druggie and they would have to let him go at the end of 24 hours since they couldn't charge him. So all he had to do was keep his mouth shut. All though he did enjoy mocking them at every turn. Every person that questioned him knew that he'd done everything they were accusing him of, but a gut feeling wouldn't hold up in court either, no matter who they were, or how long they'd been a cop.
In the year since their dealings with Nickels, news paper clipping began arriving. Addressed to different members of the squad. Each one talked about a woman found raped, some had even been brutally tortured before finally being murdered. Each woman was taken from a different city, no two women had the same body type, or were killed the same way. And he never did the same thing twice. Tracing all these crimes to one person was all but impossible.
“Get his mug shot out to every news station. If he's in the city someone has had to have seen him.” Cragen order Fin as he was already turning to leave to do just that. The sooner the picture got out the sooner the whole city would be looking for Nickels.
The boxes of evidence against Nickels were placed on a table. The grotesque pictures of his victims laid out as Elliot looks at them. The thought that at that very moment Emily was going through what these women had went through was enough to turn his stomach. He had to walk away if he had any hope of maintaining his composure.
Walking into the bathroom he shut the door behind him and locked it. Standing over a sink he turned the water on and watched as it circled the drain. For a moment he felt that was his life and all the good things he had going for him were circling the drain and about to be lost to him for forever. If he wasn't able to save Emily he wasn't sure he'd ever be able to come back to this job.
Emily had been at SVU for just over three months. The cases never got any easier, nor did the work. But she liked the people she worked with. She truly felt she could trust them, even in the moments she didn't agree with them. And every once in a while after closing a hard case they would get together for a drink a bar close to work.
Sitting around the bar the four detectives talked about other cases like the one they just closed. How the perps tripped themselves up. The few moments in their line of work that truly made the drudgery of everyday worth it. After a few drinks Fin and Olivia called it a night. Emily was to worked up to leave just yet, so she stayed and ordered another soda. She'd never been a drinker, so at the bar she stayed away from anything with alcohol.
Elliot's divorce was final just a few months before Emily started at SVU. He wasn't in any hurry to return to his empty house. So he stuck around for one more as well. When Emily was ready to head home, Elliot being the kind of man he was, offered to walk her home. And she was more than happy to have the company.
“What do you think of the city so far?” Elliot asked as they walked. They had worked cases together as a group with Fin and Olivia. But he'd never been alone with her until this moment. For whatever reason he wanted this time alone with her. The fleeting glimpses in the squad room where they would lock eyes would cause a primal feeling deep within him, and he wanted to explore that. He'd been single for over six months at this point, so really what could it hurt?
“ It's big.” Emily looked him in the eye for just a second before she bit her lower lip and looked away. Her heart began to pound in her chest and she knew her face had to be turning red.
“Think you'll stick around for a while?” He smiled at her.
Emily felt her hands tremble at the sight of his smile. “I might.” Her answer was more flirty than she wanted it to be. Stopping at the steps to her building she stood in the cool night air, just watching the air leave her body.
“How do you like the job so far?” He stood six inches taller than her, looking down into her gray eyes. He was close enough to reach out and touch her. And he wanted to, he wanted to so bad.
Her breathing sped up as she bit her lower lip. “I like the people.” She was trying to be subtle. She liked him, even if she didn't know him that well, she liked him. Watching him with Olivia, the way he seemed to stumble over himself to protect her at times. It was funny and cute all at the same time. She knew Olivia didn't need him to protect her, but his need to take care of her was completely out of his control. “
Yea, there a good bunch.” He looked into her eyes as he moved closer waiting for her to stop him. But when she didn't he just kept moving.
The two moved in unison until their lips met. Stopping and leaning back Elliot looked to her for approval. The desire in her eyes was all he needed. Tucking the few loose strands of hair on her face behind her ear he put his hand on her cheek and pulled her back to him.
Emily enjoyed the feel of his lips against hers. His kiss was forceful, but slow and tender. She put one hand on his neck rubbing his ear with her thumb. As his tongue found it's way into her mouth. Running her other hand along his belt till she had his hip and was pulling his body as tightly against her as she could. Neither of them expected this when he offered to walk her home. But were both very okay with it.
After a moment they stopped kissing and just rested with their foreheads touching, their hands still on each other. Licking his lips Elliot could still taste her on them. He wondered if the rest of her tasted that sweet. Emily moved her hand from his neck to his chest. Through his shirt she could feel his accelerated heart beat. Not to mention his muscles, she couldn't believe how great his chest felt under her hand. She felt her face blush as she wondered if the rest of his body was as muscular as his chest.
“ I should go.” She bit her lower lip again. “I need to get back early, finish some paper work.” “
Yea.” Elliot didn't want things to end there. Really he wasn't sure what he wanted to have happen. Whether it was just the beer, or something about her that was drawing him to her, he wasn't ready to call it a night. But she'd made it clear that that was as far as it was going to go, at least for that night.
“Thank you for walking me home.” Emily still had one hand on his chest and the other on his hip. Every inch of her body was screaming at her to invite him in. Luckily for her, her brain was winning the fight. She still had to go to work with him in the morning.
“Anytime.” Elliot moved his thumb across her cheek.
“ I'll see you in the morning?” Finally she stepped back and took her hands off him. In doing so he dropped his hands back to his sides.
“Yea, have a good night.” He stepped off the steps to her building.
“Goodnight.” Emily turned and unlocked the door. Elliot watched her step inside and stayed until he could no longer see her. Satisfied that she was safely inside he began the walk back to his car.
The short walk back he found his head spinning. It wasn't the few beers he'd had. He was far from being drunk, or even buzzed. Something about Emily and that kiss. Since the divorce had become final he hadn't even thought about dating. And honestly he wasn't sure that's where this would end up. Hell for all he knew the following day at work Emily might regret everything.
The following day Elliot walked into work surprised that Emily was already there. Just as he sat at his desk Cragen came into the squad room and gave orders for Fin and Emily to track down a lead on a case. He watched as she grabbed her jacket from her chair and began to follow Fin out. As she passed him she smiled at him with a sweet and innocent but some what deviant smile and he knew she didn't regret a thing.
“Are you okay?” Olivia's voice broke his train of thought.
“What?” Elliot turned back to his partner.
“How much did you drink last night?” She asked half joking about the previous night, but still concerned that he seemed to be unable to focus. “
What?” He looked at her trying to pretend he was listening to her.
“Are you okay?”
“I'm good.” He smiled at her then quickly started to shuffle through paper work on his desk.
“Good, cause were due in court in an hour.” Liv stood up and he followed suit.
Elliot had no idea what would happen between he and Emily. Whether that kiss was the last he would ever get from her, or just the beginning of something. Either way he was looking forward to finding out.