Disclaimer: Not mine.

Summary: This job was tearing him apart piece by piece. Inch by inch.

Author's Note: An extension to "Rage". Just wrote this on a whim, not beta'd. E/O

Piece by Piece

by e-dog

He didn't recognize who that was in the mirror. That man staring back at him. Who was that man?

The bleeding wouldn't stop. The more he rubbed his knuckles, the more the blood flowed. A constant reminder of his irrationality. His lack of patience. A reminder of the lengths he would go to when it came to making those rapist bastards pay for their crimes.

It wasn't just his hands that were bleeding; gushing that red substance and staining his clothes. It was his heart as well. His mind and his soul. This job was tearing him apart piece by piece. Inch by inch.

His locker door had certainly seen better days. He wasn't sure how he was going to explain why replacing it would be necessary to Cragen or Olivia. If he told them he punched the shit out of it therefore damaging the latch in the process, they would send him to the looney bin for sure. The last thing he needed was a shrink.

"Elliott?" she called softly from the doorway.

His eyes narrowed as his whole body tensed. He should've known she wouldn't leave. She was irritatingly supportive like that. He kept his back to her, his hands low to hide the blood. He cleared his throat and replied coldly, "I thought you went home."

"I forgot my keys," she lied horribly, leaning in the doorway. He could tell she was having a hard time deciding whether or not to approach him. He made that decision for her.

"I'm not hungry and I'm fine," he told her sternly, his voice edgy and hard. "So don't ask me again."

He didn't have to see her face to know what it looked like. Her lips were curled down in a disapproving frown. Her eyes were either saddened or hurt. Maybe both. That red hair in her face only accentuating the pitiful look of empathy and sympathy. It took her a few seconds to reply but she mustered up enough voice to croak, "Okay, I won't ask again."

"Thank you," he started to say bitingly, but she cut him off.

"I'm going to tell you to get up and get something to eat. Then I'm driving you home," she ordered, her voice much stronger and forceful.

"Who the hell do you think you are?" Elliott nearly roared as he stood up to face her. To his surprise, she was right behind him ready to meet his fury and rage head on. Her closeness shook him enough to detour the anger that had just coursed through him. What was he going to do? Hit her too? He looked away and mumbled, "I'm sorry, Liv. I just. . .I need some space."

"You need to stay healthy too, Elliott," she told him gently, folding her arms. "That cheese steak you ate while interrogating Rickett. . .that was the only thing you've eaten in the last 24 hours, am I right?"

He didn't answer her, knowing it was true. In fact, during this whole ordeal with Rickett he didn't sleep much or eat. How could he? It was hard enough to keep that rancid cheese steak down during the interrogation. Rickett was a vile man who needed a taste of his own medicine.

She reached up one last time, caressed his forearm and coaxed, "Come on. My treat."

"Let me get changed," he answered calmly, trying even harder to hide his hands behind his back. She nodded, never noticing his wounds. She was finally giving him the space he needed. She left the locker room and he wondered how long he could go without showing her the damage he inflicted on himself.

He pulled out a fresh shirt and changed. He looked at himself in the mirror again. This time the reflection was more whole. . .segments assembled into a man he knew he recognized.

Rickett was going to rot in jail. He wasn't going to hurt anymore girls. These were all facts that he couldn't dispute and the more he realized it, the more he was able to regain control of himself.

He rubbed his blood stained knuckles thanking any supernatural being for his partner. In such a short time, they had switched places. Her first year at SVU, she was the one going over Cragen's head and making irrational decisions. She was overzealous and determined to show the world she could handle this job.

Now it was flipped. He was the one losing control and breaking the rules. Today, she took the first shot to keep him from killing Rickett unnecessarily.

Once the shirt was buttoned, he turned around and saw her waiting. She jingled her keys indicating she "found" them. He finally smiled his thanks and followed her out.

Olivia was being patient, he would give her that. Slowly putting him back together inch by inch.

Piece by piece.

The End.