Chapter 2

9:00am

In her office, Olivia searched through her desk drawers for her missing bottle of aspirin, her head still pounding. Waves of nausea kept coming over her, brought on by the anxiety of what she thought she heard on the phone minutes earlier.

Liv, get it together.

She closed her eyes and tried to focus on her breathing. She could feel a panic attack coming on, and she knew this wasn't the time to let emotions overtake her. The last thing she needed was Nick, or worse, Rollins, walking in to see her freaking out. She needed to show them she was a strong leader, no matter what.

A knock at her door startled Olivia back into the present moment, and she looked up to see Nick and Amanda rush in. It was all she could do to hide her annoyance.

"Hey, Liv, we have a situation-" Nick started.

"it's BX9, again, they've got a hostage, and they only want to negotiate with SVU." Rollins finished. Olivia couldn't put her finger on why exactly she was so put off by her these days. She hated seeing Nick and Amanda working so closely, so often. In a way, their stubbornness and disregard for protocols reminded her of herself and Stabler in the past. Perhaps it was a hint of jealousy, in knowing that part of her life was over.

"What do they want?" Olivia asked, taking the case file from Nick.

"Specifically? You," Nick stated, matter-of-factly, "I guess they feel like you called them out before. They've got a hostage in an old warehouse, a girl, probably about 12, we don't know who she is yet. They said they want to make a deal, trade you for her."

Olivia nodded and stood up to head for the door.

"Liv!", Nick stepped in front of her, "you can't do it. They want to kill you."

"What am I supposed to do, let them kill a child?" Olivia stared at Nick, dumbfounded. What was he thinking?

"No, obviously. NYPD's already got the place surrounded, they've got negotiations started. We need to get you under protective detail."

"Not a chance," Olivia shook her head, handing the case file back to Nick, "I'm getting my vest on and I'm going over there. BX9 wants a fight, I'm gonna bring it."

Nick stared at Olivia in disbelief. She had always been Badass Benson, but he hadn't failed to notice how reckless she had started being with her own life as of late.

"Oh, Nick," Liv turned back, "did you call over to Rikers?"

"Yeah, don't worry, it wasn't him. He still doesn't have phone privileges, it's fine."

"Alright, thanks," Olivia breathed a sigh of relief, and felt that anxious knot in her stomach start to unravel for the first time that morning. She turned her focus onto BX9 and the hostage situation, as she headed into the locker room to get her vest on.

Before she left the locker room, her phone started to ring. She looked down at the screen to see RESTRICTED NUMBER.

"What the hell?" she mumbled to herself, wondering if perhaps someone in BX9 had managed to get a hold of her cell number, and decided to skip the negotiations and call her directly.

"Hello?"

"Hey, baby." Olivia froze at the sound of Lewis's voice on the phone, for the second time this morning. She felt the panic coming on, as her heart started to pound.

Oh God, oh God, this isn't happening.

She couldn't speak, she could barely breathe.

"Still there, Sergeant Benson? Don't hang up, we've got a lot to talk about. Are you alone?"

The room seemed to be getting darker, as the panic got stronger. "Yes," she managed to choke out.

"Good. Now listen, I have a little story to tell you. See, I made some friends here at Rikers Island. They're a tightknit little gang that likes to call themselves BX9, maybe you've heard of them? They've sure heard of you. Now, my new friends and I, we have something in common – or should I say, someone? Want to take any guesses who that might be? No? Well, that's ok. But here's the deal: you're going to go into that warehouse, alone. Unarmed. And when you get inside, there's going to be a surprise waiting for you. And you better not tell a soul, because I've got a guy with a loaded gun on that little girl's head, and he's got an itchy trigger finger. Have fun, sunshine."

Click.