Take These Broken Wings
When I was growing up, there weren't too many things I could do to relieve pent-up stress. I had a few close friends at school, but none of them knew anything about my screwed up family. I had, and still do have, tons of trust issues but that's to be expected. I couldn't relax at home since chances were that my mom had been out drinking. In one aspect, I guess that I was lucky that she didn't bring men home when she wasn't sober, but I could still never relax fully. If I needed a break I would sneak out of the apartment and walk through Central Park.
As a cop with insane hours, hiding in the park isn't such a good idea though, because my only free time is at around two in the morning. From countless cases I've run, I know very well the dangers of being out in public in a running bra and track pants in the middle of the night. It's not that late now though, only around eight thirty according to the digital clock sitting on the mantel over my brick fire place. It's warm out, I'll take a run.
Without paying attention, I quickly get up from my chair, spilling my befuddled pet onto the rug. Poe rubs against my bare legs and looks up at me mewing softly. I pluck her into my arms and listen to her purr contentedly. This is what I want, someone who unconditionally loves me. She squints at me with large, yellow eyes and I drop a light kiss on her nose where she has a furry cowlick. She yawns and I set her down, watching her scamper onto my bed coverlet. I scratch her stomach before pealing off my shirt.
A few minutes later I clip my cell phone onto the waistline of my green soccer shorts, before I unlatch my door. I don't bother with hailing a cab. Central Park is just a few blocks away. I start jogging when I reach the path, slowly making my way up to the big green where concerts are often held. The delicious burn that accompanies these long runs is a welcome warmth as it courses through me. It's like tongues of flame are dancing through my veins and nipping out the cold I've been feeling for a couple of days. I should call me doctor; I'm feeling Elliot withdrawal symptoms. As I pant up the small hill by the Shakespeare Theatre, I slow to a jog. A girl's body was found here about a year ago.
I'm still gasping for a breath of air when my phone rings into the empty night. I fumble for it, not bothering to check the caller ID, it has to be Cragen. I'm very tempted to forget the call and say that I had my phone turned off, but I can't do that. We're still trying to
find Mr. Newman to ask him about our suspect who turns out to be the second ingredient in my formation. I refuse to call him my father, he's figuratively not. If Cragen is calling this late, there must have been a break. If we don't find something soon, this case is going to end up cold.
"Benson," I gasp into my Nokia phone. Elliot has the same one.
"Liv?" His voice is enough to make me melt like chocolate kisses that you forget you put in the pockets of your jeans until a few hours later. Thank you for not being Cragen! "Did I call at a bad time?"
I try not to laugh, "No," I quickly reply. He thinks I'm with a man. I hold back my chuckle, the tone of his voice indicated that he wouldn't have cared if he had interrupted my personal moment. He's jealous!
"Are you sure?" Elliot isn't. He wants me to confirm that I'm alone.
I'll humor him, "Yeah, I'm exercising!" If I tell him where I am he'll fly back here and personally lock my in a convent to keep me safe. He's more protective of me than he is of his daughters.
"My ass Liv. It's ten o'clock, your gym closes early on Sunday." I wish he didn't know so damn much about me. Elliot pauses and I know he has figured out where I am. "Are you in the park?"
I don't need to answer that, he knows where I am.
"I'm a cop El,"
"And you don't know the danger you are in." Surprisingly, he sounds scared and that's not like Elliot. He usually skips that emotional level and goes straight to angry.
I almost snort in response. "El, I'm standing outside in a bra and soccer shorts and I'm still alive."
"I called the precinct today," he says, deliberately ignoring what I had to say. "Talked to a Tommy Lancaster."
I groan. This is not gonna be good.
"I'm sorry El,"
"Liv what is going on with you? Lancaster said that you talked to a suspect alone and let a rapist go."
I want to grab his shoulders and shake him hard. I want to tell him that this is what happens when he leaves me alone, I get sloppy on the job, I screw up big time, but first I need to find out what he is talking about.
"Elliot," I start, "the only person not working with me that I've talked to since you left is Timothy Newman, and he was the man who made the dispatch call." I pause, "What rapist?"
"Timothy Newman doesn't exist," I suppress a shudder, "I searched the database, no such guy, dead or alive!"
"What rapist?" I repeat,
Elliot sighs; I can almost see him run a hand through his dark hair. "Lancaster said that there was a picture on you desk, a drawing. The guy in the drawing was the man you talked to at the crime scene."
My breathing shallows and spots dance before my eyes, the dizzy spell attacks with a vengeance.
"Are you okay?" he sounds so caring,
I nod, then remember he can't see me. "It's under control,"
If I had waited a little longer before closing my flip phone I would have heard the short phrase he whispered to me, unfortunately I didn't.
Cragen was already at the precinct when I staggered in. I had finished my walk and promptly threw up. While I was heaving into the bushes, I guess I realized that I had to pull myself off of this case. I called Cragen and told him that I had to meet him about something; we agreed the precinct was good neutral ground.
His head is bent over the case file and I suddenly feel the nausea return. I swallow hard and knock on the door. I can't do this. No one but ME Warner, and now Elliot, knows that our 'Timothy Newman' is my father; I've been stalling on telling people.
"Something wrong?" he asks, seeing the paleness seeping into my face.
I nod and collapse into the fluffy chair in front of his desk.
"Want to tell me?" he soothes, pushing the file to the end of his desk.
Slowly, I feel a solitary tear glisten down my cheek and the dam breaks. Cragen rushes to my side and holds me against his chest, not minding the tears that are soaking into his dress shirt. He shushes me quietly and rocks me gently. My captain is acting like the father I never had and I feel my heart crumbling at his kindness. When my tears have calmed a bit, he lets me go slowly and fetches a small glass of scotch. He hands it to me and I down the liquid, allowing myself to embrace the satisfactory burn.
I set the glass down on his desk and unclip my badge and gun from my waist. I toss them onto the desk. Cragen lets his eyes ask me why and I find my mouth spilling the whole horrible truth, including what I've tried to hide for years.
"Jeezus Olivia" he whispers, "You could have said something!"
I shake my head, "Makes it all the more real."
He gives me a pleading look. "Don't do this Detective," he looks ready to cry, "What would Elliot-"
I cut him off, "It doesn't matter what Elliot thinks. I love him too much to drag him down with my problems."
"Partners have each other's backs!" Cragen states firmly, as if to make my mind change. "They protect each other."
I smile sadly, "That's why I have to go,"
Leaving my life as a cop on his desk I turn to the door. I hear it close behind me with a dull thud and when I listen, I can make out my old captain's faint sobs. I get out of the station house before I break down, and toss my cell phone into the closest trash can. I'll
change my home number tomorrow.
The self loathing kicks in when I reach my car and I sit in silence, staring at the brick building. Munch will nab the bastard, I tell myself, Elliot will get a partner who would rather break a case than jump his bones and I can start over. I start the engine and turn out
of the small parking lot.
"Goodbye," I whisper, to no one and everyone at the same time. "I love ya!"