Author: Arabesque01 PM
What happens when a hidden past becomes hopelessly intertwined with the present? Our favorite detective may finally crack... “Docket ending 1762. People of the state of New York versus Olivia Benson. One count murder in the second degree.“Rated: Fiction K - English - Angst/Crime - E. Stabler & O. Benson - Chapters: 33 - Words: 104,424 - Reviews: 216 - Favs: 86 - Follows: 58 - Updated: 10-17-09 - Published: 12-20-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4729156
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Olivia froze midway through pouring a cup of coffee at the sound of the familiar voice. She let her eyes flutter shut, allowed the accusation and hurt in those two words to settle deep within her. Her mind raced for words of comfort, for anything that might help Laurel to cope with the reality that everything she had just been through had been for nothing. Olivia set the mug down, turning hesitantly toward Laurel. She felt the sting from the hand that swept across her face long before the words sank in. "You're gonna make me go through this again."
Olivia stepped back stunned, her hand instinctively coming up to protect her jaw. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Elliot rising from his desk to come to restrain Laurel. With a sudden sense of panic, her hand shot up again, motioning for him to stay back. "I'm fine," she whispered quickly. Olivia took a deep breath as she saw Elliot freeze in place, his posture still guarded, ready to spring to life at any moment. When she realized he had stopped, she finally allowed herself to turn back to Laurel. "It was my duty to turn those photos over," she began softly.
Laurel drew in a shaky breath. "I thought your duty was to protect victims like me."
Victims like me.
Olivia stared back into the haunted eyes that mirrored her own and cringed inwardly. "Believe me Laurel, the last thing that I want to do…" Her eyes darted back and forth as she suddenly realized that Elliot had stepped closer again and was now within earshot…" is to hurt your case," she finished shakily.
Olivia could hear her breath quickening, could see the words forming in Laurel's mouth, words that Elliot was now close enough to hear. She closed her eyes, bracing herself for the final straw—the final defeat. She had done everything she could to keep him from finding out, and now it was going to happen. Oh, God, not like this. Not here, not now. She wasn't ready for that. She wasn't ready to admit what had happened. Telling Laurel had been a mistake. She had wanted…no, she had needed to say the words out loud. She had needed to pretend that they could be true, pretend that her life could fit into some neatly defined sense of normalcy. She needed to convince herself that everything could be okay, that she could be strong again. She needed to convince herself that she had her life back, that somehow she could once again maintain some sense of control over her life.
Laurel gulped for air, fighting against her tears. "You made me remember…relive that awful night. And now for the rest of my life, I will never get those horrible images out of my head."
Olivia's mind was still racing. She barely heard the words Laurel flung at her. Oh, God, she couldn't let this happen. She had to stop her. Olivia raised her hands quickly in an effort to calm Laurel down. "Laurel…" she begged softly. A look of resolution crossed over Laurel's face and complete and utter panic swept over her.
To survive, she had to be tough. She had to be better.
Pruitt's words swept over her now as tears sprang to her eyes. Olivia had tried to be tough. She had tried to be strong. That was her job. If she couldn't be strong, how could she help other victims find strength? Olivia's eyes swept back over to Elliot, and she ducked her head ever so slightly, unable to meet the accusation, hurt, and pain that would be reflected in his irises when Laurel's words sank in…when he finally understood. If she couldn't be strong for other victims, how could she be strong enough for him?
How can a man trust you to watch his back until you prove that you can?
Olivia felt her breath constricting in her throat, heard the ragged sounds that escaped from her mouth. This was it, the final straw that would take away every last bit of her control. This was the moment when Elliot would realize that she wasn't strong enough to protect him. This was the moment he realized that she was no better than any other victim that walked in off the street. No, wait…she took that back. She was far worse than every victim that walked in off the street. Because at least the women who came into the 1-6 were strong enough to tell their stories, were strong enough to confront their attackers. She let her eyes drop away from Laurel's accusing ones as the shame rolled over her again. Her own words rang out in her mind.
Admitting that it happened and putting the man that did it behind bars…
Olivia wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. She had wanted to believe that helping Ashley put Harris behind bars would be enough. But she was nothing more than a hypocrite. She had told herself that she would always come forward. She had told herself that healing came from confronting her attacker. But when it came right down to it, she hadn't been able to do anything more than try to protect everyone around her from the truth. She wanted to believe her reasons for assuring Fin he had arrived in time to stop anything from happening had been noble. She wanted to believe that she had been protecting all of them when she told Cragen that of course she hadn't let Harris touch her, but she had let him take her to the basement with the intent to rape her. She wanted to believe that all of them believed her when she said that nothing had happened. But it had all been a lie. She wasn't protecting them—she was protecting herself.
But I've learned to deal with it…and I have my life back.
Olivia forced herself to look at the hurt in Laurel's eyes. It had all been a lie, some myth perpetrated by those who promised that recovery was possible. Recovery… how the hell had she managed to convince other women that such a thing existed? How the hell had she managed to convince herself? She was crumbling—slowly, painfully, as if peeling away every thread of a defense system that up until now had always managed to fool everyone else. One step at a time, she felt the guilt pulling her under until she had lost her ability to swim upward. And as soon as the words escaped from Laurel's mouth, as soon as the truth came out, the tenuous life ring keeping her afloat would go under too, and Olivia would have nothing left to cling to.
"And I won't testify again," Laurel interrupted her quickly, spinning around and walking away just as suddenly as she had come. As Olivia watched her go, she felt her shoulders slump forward dejectedly. Laurel's final words echoed in her head. Laurel hadn't said a word. She hadn't betrayed her confidence. But Olivia had betrayed her. She had made her believe that everything was going to be okay. She had told her that they would be able to stop Lutz. She had given her hope only to pull it away from her again. Olivia wasn't sure which emotions were worse—the terror that Laurel would reveal the truth about Sealview in front of Elliot, or the utter heart-wrenching guilt that was consuming her now.
I can protect her from the damage.
Olivia had wanted to believe there was some truth behind her words. She had wanted to believe that she could protect Laurel from going through the hurt, the pain, and the guilt that consumed her now. She wanted to believe that somehow, she could change things. But she had failed miserably. And now, Olivia wasn't sure at what point protecting others from this pain had become more important to her than closing a case. She wasn't sure at what point she had lost her ability to fight back, or to do her job. She felt an overwhelming sense of helplessness. She had needed to believe that she could save others from the pain, but one by one she had failed. She wasn't sure which was worse…the pain of knowing she hadn't been able to protect Laurel, or the reality that Lutz was going to continue to victimize other women.
"Are you okay?"
It took Olivia a moment to realize that Elliot had spoken. She stared back at him, finally allowing herself to meet his eyes, and she faltered. She didn't have the strength to fight back, didn't have the strength to pretend that Laurel's words hadn't affected her. "No," she whispered. Before he could question her response, she knew she needed to escape. She couldn't listen to him tell her it hadn't been her fault because it had been. She couldn't listen to him tell her she had just been doing her job because doing her job was supposed to help people. Forcing Laurel Andrews to relive her rape, forcing Linnie Malcolm to confront her past, and allowing Mia Lorimer to make her own decisions had done nothing but hurt them.
If that's what doing her job meant, she wasn't so sure she could handle what the next case might bring. If that's what doing her job meant, she had no idea who she was anymore because she had let her job define her entire life. She wasn't ready to confront what would happen if she lost that. She wasn't ready to deal with how doing her job was affecting others. And she sure as hell wasn't ready for Elliot to judge her, to make that decision for her. So she did the only thing she knew how to do. Without giving him a chance to respond, she ran. She spun on her heels, allowing her footsteps to take her further and further away until she could finally figure out how to breathe again. She needed to escape—escape from this case, escape from Elliot, escape Laurel's accusing glare.
Without any clue where she was going, Olivia allowed her feet to take her further away, allowed the tears in her eyes to blur each step forward and send her crashing backward again. She didn't stop until she reached the roof. Olivia didn't care that it was December, and that the biting cold felt as if it were assaulting her body at every turn. She didn't care that the rain falling down mingled with her tears. She needed the pain to make things real again, needed to feel something more than the hollowness that consumed her now. She needed perspective, needed some way to force Eric Lutz's hand and prevent Laurel from reliving the horror of her own attack.
Olivia needed closure because without it, she wasn't sure she could take that step forward to the next case. She needed closure to move forward, needed to feel as if something she did could somehow help others again. Olivia stopped at the edge of the roof, vaguely wondering at what point, she had lost perspective, lost her ability to maintain distance from the victims. She let her legs drop out from beneath her, allowed her body to crumble to the ground and wrapped her arms around her knees. She barely felt the wind that ripped past her body, barely felt the way the tears seemed to freeze on her cheek. She buried her face in her knees and finally allowed herself to let everything go.