Her hands were shaking.
She tried to grasp the phone from its cradle on the wall, but her blood soaked hands were shaking too much to get a firm hold.
Her hands were covered in blood. She tried not to think of why.
No. She wasn’t going to let such a simple task get the best of her, not now.
She let a breath sharply out and tried to focus on reality, on the feel of the wall underneath her hands where she steadied herself; the breeze of the wind seeping through the kitchen window; the dull throb of her head encroaching on her senses. Anything to focus on the task in front of her, as opposed to the nightmare she had just faced and the man bleeding out upstairs.
Her hands grabbed hold of the phone tightly.
The room span a little.
She didn’t know if it was because of her head injury or the copious amounts of alcohol and drugs that she’d been forced to consume, she assumed a little of both.
Her hands pulled the phone out of its cradle towards her.
Who should she phone? Her instinct, still was to call him. It was instinct she’d been trying to forget. An instinct that was borne from twelve years of having each other’s sixes.
But the small part of her, one that was growing louder every moment, was telling her that she didn’t want the first time seeing him in three years to be when covered in cuts and bruises and as the blood of her attempted rapist still stained her hands. She, also, didn’t want to be confronted with a reality where she called and called and Elliot never picked up. She remembered that feeling well and she knew with every fibre of her being that if that happened now, she wouldn’t recover.
Her next instinct would be to phone Nick, her partner, who no doubt was frantic at her disappearance.
She was longing to hear Cassidy, as well, have him hold her and tell her that it’d all be okay. But ultimately, she couldn’t. Not when she knew that the moment he picked up she’d lose all semblance of control she had.
Making a decision, Olivia finally dialled a phone number, brought the receiver up to her ear and listened to the glaringly loud dial tone.
Her hands stilled as she waited for the other person to pick up.
The SVU team were spread out across the Police Station office, a Long Island office they had commandeered as their current base of operations.
A map lay out in front of them, pins tacked into it in the neighbourhoods they had worked through so far. Additional information they had gathered, his MO, the receipt from the store owner, the description of the last known car he traveled in and last known sightings were splayed out on the table along with them.
Amaro was pacing the side of the room, evidently keen to get back out into the fray instead of being cooped inside an office in the middle of nowhere.
Rollins was hunched slightly over the table of information, eyes scanning doggedly in the hopes to see something the others had missed.
Fin was on his phone relaying any new information they’d gathered back to the SVU office, to Munch and Cassidy.
In the corner, Captain Cragen’s phone buzzed loudly.
Cragen glanced away from the amassed team of uniformed cops and detectives that he was debriefing, to answer his phone. The number was an unidentified number: unhelpful.
“Captain Cragen speaking. Unless this is to do with my missing Detective, I would suggest you call back later.”
“Ca-Captain.” Cragen’s eyes pricked with tears and he closed his eyes, silently thanking God. He hadn’t known if he’d ever see his surrogate daughter alive again, so hearing her voice was a Godsend.
Amaro’s head snapped over instantly and Fin’s diatribe to Munch and Cassidy halted, ”Olivia, tell me you’re okay. Where are you? Are you safe?”
“I-I’m okay. He, Lewis, is unconscious and-and detained upstairs. I’m okay.”
Olivia’s voice cracked midway through the sentence. While he knew the realities of what Olivia might face, the mention of upstairs and the implications behind it sent a chill down his spine.
“Where are you? Tell me.”
Amaro had already holstered his weapon and was gathering the uniformed officers into assigned squad vans when Cragen passed over her location.
“I want radio contact immediately when you get to her location. I want to be kept in the loop. Now go.”
Not needing to be told twice, Amaro hurriedly slammed the car door closed, with Fin close behind, and switched on the ignition.
He saw Cragen in the his rear view mirror, still glued to his phone and their one connection to Olivia.
The only thought bouncing through his head was, thank God she’s alive.
Elliot sat in a rickety chair in the SVU office, scanning the room. The officers were bustling around him and, not for the first time, he wished he hadn’t left. If he hadn’t, he wouldn’t be confined to the waiting room chairs, instead he would be out there leading the charge in the search for Olivia.
Actually, if he hadn’t left at all, maybe this whole thing wouldn’t be happening in the first place. He flashed back to the moment he discovered Olivia was missing.
—Two days Earlier—
He had just finished a night shift. He was working as a P.I. these days and a lot of that involved night work, not that working night shifts was all that unusual for him.
He sank into couch; he didn’t want to wake Kathy up by coming in late. So another night on the couch would have to do.
He turned on the TV, listened to the hum in the background, closed his eyes and waited for the eventual oblivion of sleep.
“Elliot!” He jerked upright, as Kathy stumbled into the room. “I’ve been trying to contact you all night. I-I-”
“I’m sorry, I’ve been on a stakeout, I turned off my phone. What was so urgent?”
Kathy’s face crumbled in apprehension, “You haven’t seen then.”
His spine tingled at his wife’s tone. “Seen what? Kathy, I haven’t seen what? The kids, are they alright?”
“They’re fine, the kids are fine...I-Just-This-“
Kathy seemed to struggle for words before she made her decision.
His wife grabbed the remote from his slack hand and flicked through the channels until she found the news.
“We go back to breaking news. A Detective of the NYPD has been kidnapped. Intel suggests that Detective Olivia Benson was abducted from her home two days ago by man known as William Lewis-“
The photo of a man popped up onto the screen. He looked like an average con, the kind of man that Elliot and the team had confronted again and again on the job, except this time it was different, everything was different.
Olivia was in danger.
“The accused rapist is thought to be armed and dangerous and was last seen during a car snatch in Long Beach, where he is thought to have murdered Officer Jimmy Hamilton during a routine traffic stop. Do not approach if seen, but contact the number-“
The blood was pounding in his head and he felt unable to breathe. He stared at the newscaster uncomprehendingly. Two days. How could it have been two days and he was only just finding out about it? How could it have been two days and they hadn’t found her yet?! Anything could have happened in two days.
His brain cut out as his mind supplied, from his extensive experience in the field, just exactly what could have happened to Olivia in two days.
“El.” He looked over at Kathy, his face ashen and head roaring.
“El, you have to go. You have to find her.”
He has never loved Kathy more than in that moment, for all the issues Kathy had had with SVU, with Olivia over the years, she knew that at this moment none of that mattered. She knew that she had to put all that aside and focus on her husband because no matter the situation, if anything happened to Olivia and he hadn’t been there to try and help, she knew he would never forgive himself.
Adrenaline pumped through his veins as he fumbled for his keys he’d thrown on the table and hastily stuffed his feet into his shoes.
“For any information that results in the safe return of Detective Benson, a reward shall be offered-“
He glanced back as he closed the door and saw a flash of Olivia’s picture on the screen. She was in full uniform, her face lit up with a smile. He vowed, then and there, that whatever it took to get Olivia back, he would do it.
—End of Flashback—
That had been two days ago. Since then he had shown up to SVU, the one place that he never thought he’d return to, to find the SVU team was elsewhere and the only familiar faces that he could see were Cassidy and Munch. Cassidy.
Brian Cassidy had taken one look at Elliot and punched him in the face.
He’d got up into Elliot’s face, shouting that he was a ‘bastard for abandoning Olivia without a word after twelve years together’.
The indignation on Olivia’s behalf was rife, and for once, Elliot couldn’t deny that Cassidy was completely in the right.
Elliot hadn’t even felt angry about the punch in the face, though maybe he should have; he had just accepted that he had deserved that, in the present, there were much more important things to be focussing on.
In the end, he thought his lacklustre, passive reaction was probably what calmed Cassidy down, snapped him back to the awful reality that they found themselves in and, ultimately, forced him to accept Elliot’s help.
In fact, Brian’s quick grateful acceptance of his help spoke volumes, almost as much as the bags under his eyes and haunted look on his face did.
While they couldn’t send him out to physically look for Olivia, as a civilian, they could get him to look over William Lewis’ MO and all information they had. Giving him everything and hoping that his experienced eyes would see a pattern, something, anything, they hadn’t.
He almost wished they hadn’t allowed him to look. With a more in-depth knowledge of the man who currently held Olivia captive, he could paint a more vivid picture of what could be happening to Olivia at that very moment.
Working through all the information they had gained, bit by bit, he knew that rapidly his eyes had reflected the haunted look that he could see in Cassidy’s.
Even if they got Olivia back, they both knew she wouldn’t be the same Olivia as they one they knew.
In the past two days, Elliot had, also, got more of an inclining into everything else he’d missed.
Olivia’s new life without him. Her new partner, Amaro, her relationship with Cassidy and her unusual friendship with their new ADA, Rafael Barba. He’d spoken briefly to her brother, Simon, who’d been informed of her disappearance. He hadn’t been aware that they’d got back in touch, but he was glad that they had. It was comforting to know that Olivia had people looking out for her. He just hoped to God that he had the opportunity to re-introduce himself into that new life she’d built.
In the present, Munch’s phone rang, interrupting Elliot’s quiet despair.
“Captain, you got any-“, Munch froze.
Silence permeated through the room.
Elliot’s heart lurched into his mouth at the stop. He shared a fearful look with Cassidy. Any other moment, he’d marvel over the synchronicity of their actions, but this wasn’t that moment.
Munch swivelled around, still on the phone and spoke the only words he wanted to hear.
“She’s alive, they know where she is.”
Amaro pulled up to the beach house.
It was a normal looking house, nothing special. Normal driveway. Normal windows. Normal door.
He knew, though, that this house would haunt his dreams till the day he died.
He took a deep breath and glanced over at Fin.
Neither knew what state Olivia would be in, all they knew from Cragen was that she was alive and that William Lewis had been subdued. They didn’t know what she’d been subjected to; they could only guess at it from the disarray of her flat, the cigarettes and keys in the frying pan and the eye witness accounts that Mrs Mayer had given them.
He’d dealt with a lot of sexual assault victims, too many in fact. But he never thought he’d be dealing with a day where he might look upon a work colleague, on Olivia, and know that she’d been subjected to that same torture.
After a moments beat, he opened the car door.
The uniformed officers vans were pulling in, he co-ordinated their movements ensuring the perimeter was secure before turning back to the house.
He hurried a few feet to the door before looking back at Fin, “You coming?”
Fin stayed where he was, not finding the strength to follow Amaro.
“I-I can’t-“, he didn’t know what the end of that sentence was.
I can’t see Liv like that, not again, maybe. After all, Fin still remembered the last time he was in a situation like this.
He remembered vividly how his heart pounded as he rushed through the prison, searching for Olivia. How he had fumbled with the keys, hoping it wasn’t too late. How he’d found her hand-cuffed and at the mercy of Officer Harris. How the look in her eyes when he got there haunted him to this day. How she struggled for months in the aftermath and only he’d truly known the reason why. He knew Stabler and, maybe, Tucker had guessed something happened, but neither he nor Liv had confirmed it.
Fin shook his head, “I’ll stay out here, make sure everyone stays put. She’ll probably do better with fewer people.”
Amaro saw the refusal for what it was, but he couldn’t find it in himself to resent him for it.
He motioned for three available EMTs to standby.
“I’ll secure the perp, then I’ll radio for you to follow up. Be ready.”
Once receiving a non-verbal confirmation, he turned back and opened the door, gun drawn.
“Olivia? You there? It’s me, Nick.”
He stepped through the front room. His eyes searching for any movement.
He heard a quiet creak from the upstairs floorboards and followed. His muscles were tense and his heart was pounding. Any second now he might see something that he’d never be able to unsee.
As he reached the top of the stairs, he spotted droplets of blood on the floor, leading towards the first door on the left. An obvious path of destruction.
Hedging his bets, he opened the door slowly, gun still raised.
The room was eerie, like something out of a horror film. A white, iron-framed bed was positioned in the middle of the room. Remnants of what looked to be duck tape lay on it.
Cuffed to the foot of the bed was none other than a bloodied, beaten William Lewis. The ghost of a smile on his face.
Amaro felt cold as his trained eye noticed Lewis’ undone flies. His loosened belt buckle.
He wrenched his gaze away and, finally, he saw her.
His relief at seeing her was doused quickly as he visually took her in.
Olivia was crouched on the floor in the corner of the room, a bloody bar from the iron bed-frame clutched in her shaking hands.
She looked worse for wear. Her hair was matted in sweat, as well as blood from a nasty head wound. Her shirt torn and frayed at the edges. She had pieces of duck tape clinging to the legs of her pants and bruises on her arms and wrists. The buckle of her own trousers looked loose, either from being hastily re-done after the fact or someone’s fumbled attempt at undoing them.
What frightened him most, though, were Olivia’s dead eyes framed by a darkened purple bruise on one-side. They were looking straight through him, unseeing and unfocused, as though elsewhere.
She’s in shock.
“Hey, Liv. Can you hear me? It’s me, Nick.” He stayed a little back, not wanting to come too close and spook her. “Can you look at me?”
Her gaze remained fixated on Lewis, as though to assure herself that he wouldn’t get back up.
Getting no response, he radioed the EMTs, letting them know it was safe for them to enter.
Two of the EMTs upon entering moved towards Lewis’ unconscious form, automatically beginning to check his vitals and loading him onto a stretcher.
He wished they wouldn’t bother.
The remaining EMT waited behind Amaro expectantly, clearly experienced enough to know better than to move forward before the victim was ready.
“Liv, we need to get you checked out.”
“Everyone wants to know you’re safe. Rollins, Fin, Cragen, Cassidy-“
None of the names were getting any reaction from her, so he decided to bring out the big guns.
“-Some guy named Stabler.”
Finally, a flicker of a reaction, “El?”
Her voice was raspy, from lack of use or too much use he couldn’t tell.
“Yeah, he’s back at the office. Him and Cassidy have been working together to look for you for the past few days.”
He could see from her face that she was re-evaluating whether the whole interaction was real, so he edged forward and, so she could see it coming, placed his hand on her shoulder. Offering her something real and solid to grab hold of.
“We’ve been looking for you. And I’m so glad we’ve found you.”
Olivia’s face crumpled as the events of the past few days started catching up to her. Her breath cam in short sharp bursts, as she tried to prevent herself from breaking down completely.
Nick reached out and pulled her into a hug, comforting her as best he could. He wrapped one of the shock blankets around her for warmth.
He knew that finding her had just been the beginning, the next few days, few months, were going to be tough. He just hoped she would allow them all to be there to help.
Olivia lay in the back of the ambulance, struggling to focus on what was happening around her.
Fin’s voice fluttered in her brain, “He’s alive”, and, “You did what you had to do.”
She came back to reality at the sound of Nick’s voice, “Liv, did you hear what she said?”
The female EMT, Lisa, next to her was motioning to her stomach talking as she did, clearly asking permission to check out and wrap her ribs.
“Yes, of course.”
She didn’t know to whom she was speaking but the EMT seemed to accept that as permission and moved to assess her ribs, talking to her as she went.
“We’ll be doing a full check-out for you when you get to the hospital. I know you may not want to answer, but do I need to ask for a rape kit?” Her voice was soft but firm, with no judgement or pity seeping into her voice. Just a question she wanted answered.
Olivia hesitated. She hadn’t been raped, that she knew of, but that didn’t mean she didn’t still need a rape kit. She had after all been unconscious with him there, she couldn’t be 100% certain he had’t taken advantage of her lack of fight. It wouldn’t fit his MO but she knew not to underestimate him by now. After all he had touched her everywhere, after what happened in the bathroom she knew she’d probably have his DNA all over her. She’d had parts of him touching her in places she wished he hadn’t. Bite marks and burns from her thighs to her breasts.
God, I need a shower.
The apprehension in Nick’s voice as he called out to her was clear, “Liv?”
“He-He didn’t rape me.”
Nick visibly deflated in relief at the answer, only to tense once more as she continued.
“I don’t think, but-but I was unconscious with him there for a while so I can’t be sure.” She plowed on, knowing how much this admission was affecting her partner, how much it was affecting her by just saying it. “And I think I’ve got some DNA on me, but I don’t- I can’t-“
The EMT nodded encouragingly, not showing any visible reaction to her reply.
“Okay, if it’s alright with you then I’ll order a rape kit anyway and we can get whatever evidence we can from you, okay? And if you want or need anything else or don’t want to at any time, you just say.”
Olivia nodded silently, trying to look anywhere but at Nick. Not wanting to see his response to her latest confession.
Nick turned his head slightly, attempting to hide his visceral reaction to her statement. He knew from his time in the department that there was more than one way to violate a person, the fact that she didn’t think she’d been raped didn’t minimise anything she’d been through. A big part of him was relieved that Lewis hadn’t gone that far, but he knew either way that her recovery would be a long road. He mentally shook himself and looked back to Olivia, attempting to school his face.
Olivia wasn’t looking directly at him but he could sense her gaze from his periphery anyway.
Olivia finally turned towards Nick, looking him in the eye for the first time since she got into the ambulance. There was something she wanted to know, needed to know in fact.
“Nick, Mrs Mayer... Was she-Is she?”
“She’s alive and recovering, Liv. Her daughter is with her, helping.”
She tried to stem the resentment welling up at the mention of Vanessa Mayer, who was the whole reason William Lewis was able to post bail and walk free. Was the whole reason that every time she closed her eyes, all she could hear was a disembodied voice,‘One move, lights out’.
Trying to concentrate on something else, anything else, her mind flickered to the conundrum of Elliot Stabler. His sudden re-appearance in her life. What was she going to say to him? What was he going to say to her?
She had long since accepted that they were not to be. She had moved on with her life, she was growing to love her life with Brian and Elliot Stabler was not going to ruin that. Thinking that, she couldn’t help but acknowledge that he had been her best friend for twelve years, that at points he knew her better than she knew herself.
She couldn’t forgive him for leaving so abruptly, with no explanation or even a goodbye, but she could acknowledge that his reappearance was something she had longed for.
This hadn’t exactly been the scenario she had pictured but she was grateful that he was coming out of the woodwork the moment she might need his friendship most, even with him knowing that her reaction to him might not be favourable.
At the hospital, awaiting Olivia’s arrival, sat Fin, Cragen, Rollins, Munch, Barba, Cassidy and Stabler. Cassidy had recently got off the phone with Simon, who was on his way over know, clearly relieved to know Olivia was alive.
Fin had shed what little light he could on the state Olivia had been in and what he’d seen of the perp, William Lewis.
Cassidy felt immense satisfaction when hearing of Lewis’ current condition, the only disappointment was that he hadn’t died on route. From Stabler’s reaction when he heard the news, he could only imagine that he felt the same way.
Elliot Stabler. Now he was a situation that Brian had not seen coming. He and Olivia had talked briefly about Elliot’s departure from her life, how resentful Olivia had been. He could only wonder what her reaction would be now, whether it be good or bad. His mind had pondered on what Elliot’s arrival meant for his relationship with Olivia, but ultimately he remained focused on Olivia and what she may need of him. She was his priority, he had more faith in the relationship they were building than that; he loved her enough that he would be there either way throughout this. Besides, he knew beyond a doubt that Elliot’s presence would be a good thing for Olivia’s recovery and that’s all that would matter.
The silence was broken by the commotion on the other side of the hospital double doors; Olivia had arrived on her stretcher, Amaro walking alongside her clutching her hand.
The voice of her EMT talking to the attending doctor was quiet, but Brian could just about make it out above the humdrum of the hospital noise.
“Female, 40s. Needs an IV with fluids, believed to have been drugged heavily over the last few days. Suspected concussion, broken wrist, cracked ribs and a number of superficial burn marks. Requires a SANE nurse and we should order a rape kit done when she wakes.”
Brian’s eyes clenched shut, wishing he hadn’t heard what he did. He rested his head in his hands trying not to think of what had happened, how he could have done something differently to prevent it.
He looked up at Elliot Stabler and saw the fire in his eyes, the familiar righteous anger.
“You should probably see if she wants you there.”
He nodded, knowing that she might want his company. But he just needed a moment to compose himself.
Nick chose that moment to re-appear, clearly having been dismissed from Olivia’s side while they tended to her.
He looked haggard as he faced the apprehensive group, his eyes paused on Elliot Stabler as he did. He had been informed about Olivia’s ex-partner’s re-appearance from Munch but hadn’t had the opportunity to actually meet the man until now. He didn’t know what to think of the man who up and abandoned Olivia out of nowhere.
But remembering her face from the Beach House and knowing that just Elliot’s name had stirred her from her shock made him grateful. At least he is here now.
“Hi, I’m Nick. You must be Elliot.” He nodded curtly towards him and got a nod returned back.
“How is she?”
He paused, trying to find the words. “She’s- she’s in shock.”
“Was she-?” Elliot couldn’t find it in himself to finish the question.
“I don’t think-don’t want to think she was raped but she was probably assaulted in some manner. The sick bastard had her for four days. And after what we’ve seen from the other victims, she’s lucky to be alive.”
The group seemed to quieten, everyone trying to process what he’d just said.
The ward doors were opened once more, the handle reverberating off the side of the wall.
“Brian! Brian!” Simon had finally arrived, his agitation obvious as she rushed over to the group of vaguely familiar faces. “Oh thank God, I came as soon as I could, where is she? Is she okay? Where’s the guy who-?”
Simon had met Brian a few times now. Olivia had invited him over for dinner with Brian and her a couple of times and he’d heard her mention Brian when she’d come over to see Olivia and Ty. He’d been glad that she found someone reliable. They’d become much closer as siblings, ever since she’d helped him out with Social Services a year or two back. But while they were getting to the closer stage, he’d been happy to know she had someone to rely on when he couldn’t be there.
Looking over, he spotted the familiar face of Captain Cragen - who had never really been overly fond of him - and Elliot Stabler - who he was certain had up and left a few years ago but he guessed that wasn’t really important right now.
He stopped his litany of questions and looked back towards Brian, taking in his red-rimmed eyes and run down look. “She is, you know, okay, right?”
“She’s alive, Simon. She’s alive.”
There they all were, stood in a random hospital in Lond Island. Olivia’s friends and family. They knew that finding her was just the first step, one of many that would hopefully lead to Olivia’s recovery. And that every single one of them would be there for her the entire way. Whatever it would take.