Running on All Cylinders
Life for Olivia Benson was beginning to settle back into normalcy. After breaking up with Brian, becoming a foster mother and being rid of that psychopath William Lewis, she finally felt like she had settled into a routine. That routine included juggling being a single mother and being in charge of the Special Victims Unit. She wished she had more time to spend with Noah and sometimes she was self-conscious about what the rest of her team thought about her as a leader but overall life was good. There was still one aspect of her life that still haunted her. Or better yet one person.
She found herself thinking about her ex-partner less over the years. It had been four years since she laid her eyes on Elliott Stabler. She called him several times after he abruptly retired from the force but he didn't answer and eventually she gave up. She was hurt more than she realized by his ability to cut her off so easily with no explanation. She thought about going to his house or even mailing a letter but both of those would cause her to possibly have to come into contact with his wife Kathy and she didn't want to make things uncomfortable. Olivia knew that Kathy tried to be nice to her over the years and they were always cordial with each other especially during those times Olivia helped them through personal situations like Eli's birth and finalizing their divorce. However, she always felt like Kathy was threatened or troubled by her and Elliott's relationship. It bothered her at first but when she realized how much Elliott shared with her that he didn't share with his wife she understood why Kathy had a problem with her.
Their difficult triangle had gone on for years and Olivia was a passive participant in the trials and tribulations of the Stabler household. Now that she had no contact with Elliot she wondered if it was all a waste and why she spent so much time trying to repair a relationship that clearly went on and sustained without her presence.
"Liv? Liv? You ok?" Fin asked.
"Oh. Yeah I'm fine. What's going on?" Olivia pulled herself from her thoughts and turned back around to her desk trying to look focused.
He approached her cautiously and looked worried. "Where'd you go just now? You looked deep in thought."
She regained her composure and put her game face back on. "It's nothing, just wishing I was home with Noah that's all. You have an update for me on that co-ed rape case?"
Fin bought her story and handed her the case file. "Yeah, same MO as the others. Followed her home from the school library, raped her in one of the grassy areas near the parking lot, tons of people around but no one saw or heard anything."
"Unbelievable," Olivia scoffed and slammed the file back on her desk in frustration. She rubbed her forehead willing her newly formed tension headache to go away.
"Yeah," Fin agreed. "NYU one of the biggest campuses on this coast and no one knows or sees anything."
She stood up and sat on the edge of her desk going through another case file. "That makes 3 rapes over the last six weeks, the mayor is all over this one which means.."
"He's all over you,” Fin finished for her. “ We got it Liv. You know we got your back. Rollins and I are going to camp out at the hospital and try and talk to the vic again to see if there's something else she remembers."
"Thanks Fin,” she said patting him on the shoulder. “Keep me posted."
As Fin walked out the room, Olivia got another call from the police commissioner asking for an update. Of course he also had a personal stake in the case. Plenty of cops' children went to NYU and having a serial rapist on the campus was starting to send a panic wave through the entire city and the force. She already heard rumors that some of the police officers were patrolling the school on their spare time. While she appreciated the help she couldn't help but feel like it undermined her team. The commissioner seemed frustrated that there were still no viable leads but she assured him that she was working with the school to make sure that girls were walking in pairs and campus security was on high alert but more than anything they just needed to catch this guy.
Olivia didn't pull up to her building until 10:38pm. It was going to be yet another night of not being able to tuck Noah in and another night with poor Lucy having to sleep over because she got home so late. At this point Lucy was at her house more than she was and she felt a little bad about it.
"It will all be over soon enough," she mumbled to herself as she got out of the car and headed upstairs. As she walked in the building she thought she felt a presence behind her somewhere. She turned around and didn't see anyone but touched her hip to make sure her gun was there.
"Hi Olivia," Lucy whispered as Olivia tried to tiptoe through the door.
"I'm so sorry I'm late again," she apologized.
"Don't worry about it. He just went down about an hour ago. I think he was waiting up for you," Lucy answered. She sighed, set down her bags and took off her coat.
"Oh. Well tomorrow I will make sure I'm here to put him to sleep," Olivia responded and Lucy could tell she was upset.
"Olivia, it's fine. That case of yours was on the news tonight. Is it really a serial rapist on campus?" she asked concerned. Lucy was also in school although she didn’t go to NYU.
"Yeah, looks like it. But we are going to catch the son of a bitch so don't worry. It's late why don't you just stay here again tonight?" Olivia asked as she yawned.
She felt guilty that the nature of job affected Lucy at times. She seemed a bit more paranoid about everything since being exposed to the negative aspects of Olivia’s job and the crimes she investigated.
She helped Lucy pick up the toys and baby gear that was laying on the floor. "I'm just going to peek in on Noah and then head to bed. Thanks again."
Olivia headed down the hall to Noah's room to give him a kiss goodnight. Every night since she bought him home she found herself watching him sleep sometimes and this night was no different. The world around her was surrounded in craziness but when she walked in Noah's nursery everything seemed so calm and serene. She felt like she could keep the rest of the world shut out. He slept peacefully and he seemed so well adjusted and happy considering her crazy schedule and the tumultuous first year of his life. She didn't want to stay in the room too long to allow Lucy to come in and sleep on the day bed in the nursery.
While in bed Olivia tossed and turned throughout the night. It never seemed to amaze her that no matter how tired she was it had become increasingly hard lately for her to sleep. Her mind was running on all cylinders and while this may have been a stressful time for most people, for her this kind of life was standard. However, with this case she knew she had to be at her best so she began to rummage through her nightstand to find a book to read hoping that would help put her to sleep.
As she dug through the drawer her fingers rubbed across a familiar piece of metal. She didn't have to take it out of the nightstand to know what it was. She ran her hands across it often but kept it in the drawer. Tonight for the first time in a few months, she took it out. It was the badge that Elliott gave her when he left with a note that said simply ‘Semper Fi’. She remembered the day it arrived at the station in an unmarked envelope and how it almost brought her to tears to see it was from him. One message that he hadn’t bothered to pick up the phone to tell her but sent in the mail. She immediately googled the term to see what it meant. It was a marine term that meant "Always faithful."
She rubbed her hands across the badge and the note he wrote to her and immediately felt the sadness take over her. She hated that he still had this effect on her when it was evident that he was able to easily leave her and not care. She used to carry the badge with her but felt betrayed that even after what happened with William Lewis she had not heard from him. She may not have thought of him as often as she used to but when she did, it left a huge weight on her shoulders.
"Always faithful my ass," she said finally shoving the badge back into her nightstand. She laid down in her bed and softly cried herself to sleep. She felt like she had only slept an hour when she heard her phone going off. It was Nick.
"Hey Liv sorry to wake you but we have another rape on campus,” he reported. “This time though he killed her.”
She rubbed her eyes and sat up on the edge of the bed. "Dammit. I'm on my way."
The clock next to her bed read 2:04 am. She dressed quickly and left a note on the counter for Lucy and headed to the scene.
There were ambulances everywhere and students gathered around to see what was going on. She saw that press was starting to arrive. "Hey Nick what we got?"
"Twenty two year old victim Katarina Vickers. She was walking home from the music building right across from the library. Looks like she put up a hell of a fight but he cut her throat," he explained walking her over to the young girl’s body.
She bent down to check over the body. She saw the defensive wounds and the young brunette was dressed conservatively with her flute not far away from her. "Any fluids?"
"ME is checking her out now but it definitely looks like she was raped. I think it's the same guy," Nick confirmed.
She shook her head looking over the girl who had lost her life. She felt guilty that the perp was escalating and someone paid for it with their life. "I can't believe this."
"Well there is some good news. We have a witness, the girl's roommate. She's keeping it together pretty well under the circumstances."
"Ok, take me to her," she declared. They avoided the press that was now there in full force and walked around the back of the music building.
Nick continued to give Olivia more details as they walked in to talk with the victim's roommate. He looked around when he didn’t spot her right away and they were both worried that she fled. He asked one of the deputies if they had seen her and he pointed them towards the seating area.
"Oh there she is," Nick called out as the young woman with blonde hair approached them.
He approached her and pointed to Olivia, "Elizabeth this is….."
"Olivia?! Oh my god," the young woman squealed clearly happy to see her.
She stood still in shock not believing who was standing before her. She hadn’t seen her in years and the familiar feelings began to run through her.
"You two know each other?" Nick asked confused looking between both of them. He hadn’t seen his boss this startled in a long time.
"Yes we do," Olivia finally spoke up taking a deep breath. "This is Elizabeth Stabler. My ex-partner's daughter."