Disclaimer: I own the massive cramp in my hand. That's about it.
A/N: All right, I feel like making people feel sorry for me, so here goes - this fic, not kidding you, is 16 pages (single sided) handwritten in teeny tiny writing. I started around 8:40 last night and didn't finish until around 1:20 in the morning. Needless to say, I'm kinda wiped right now, so please don't kill me for any typos. Oh, and feel free to bash my good friend Kerri, who wasn't in school today so I couldn't show her. Grr to you, Kerri.
Oh, and I apologize if Kathy and Maureen seem a bit out of character. They're not people I typically work with, and I missed the majority of last season that dealt with the separation and all.
Shot Through the Heart
You never think it's going to happen to you. You see it everyday, the pain, the suffering. BUt you never think it can happen to you. When it's someone else's child or loved one, it's so much easier to deal with. But when your own kids are the ones who get hurt, everything's different.
It started out just like any other day - got called in at four, didn't have time to stop for coffee, got to the crime scene, saw the horrible things we always do, questioned some people, headed back to the station-house, yadda yadda yadda. All was normal. Munch made his typical smart-ass Munch quips, Fin ignored him, Olivia pretended to work while secretly listening to Munch, I finally got my coffee. Everything was perfectly normal for the better part of the day. Then the call came.
Olivia was the one who picked it up, answering with her standard greeting of "Benson." She reached for a pen and paper, just like she always does, ready to take down the necessary information. Her hand started moving as she got it. She asked if the girl had any ID, and that's when her hand slowed to a stop. Her eyes went wide and her jaw unhinged slightly. She thanked the informant and hung up. Then her gaze shifted to mine.
I'd never seen Olivia look at me like that before. Her eyes were full of sympathy, and that, more than anything, set off the terrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
"Elliot," she said, empathy lacing her every word. "I'm so sorry." At her words, my heart began to pound. I stared at her, waiting for the next bit of information.
"It's Maureen." She said something else, but I was no longer listening. All I could think about was how my baby girl could be lying dead on a street somewhere, a victim of the menaces I deal with every day. I had had this dream - nightmare, really - many times before - one of my beautiful teenage girls violated and left for dead in some dirty alleyway. But it was always only a dream, and I always woke up. BUt now I am awake, and there's no light to chase the darkness away. This is my life. This is real.
"Elliot? You okay, man?" Fin's hand was on my shoulder. If I didn't know him as well as I do, I would have thought he was simply offering his support. But I do know him, and he knows me. That hand was on my shoulder partly for relief, but mostly to keep me in check. He knew I could go off at any second and wanted to be prepared.
"Elliot?" Olivia asked, concern filling her eyes. I hated being looked at like that. There was no way she could have known that, since this kind of thing had never happened before. When Kathy and I spilt up, Olivia knew, but we never talked about it. She knew I didn't want to talk about it and she respected that. But this... this wasn't something we can avoid.
"Elliot, you don't have to come if you don't want to." Munch offered his support in that rather roundabout way of his. I vaguely remembered shaking my head, saying I'd go. I had to go. This was my baby we were talking about here.
"Elliot, my office, now." Cragen motioned me into his office. I think I might have say down, but I might not have. I don't really remember. Everything was kind of a blur. "Elliot... I don't really know what to say in this situation. I can't tell you everything's going to be okay, because I know you won't believe me. You've been doing this job too long not to know. But if you want to take some time, no one here will object."
I shook my head. I had to go. Nobody else would just walk away after finding out their kid was gurt or worse. Come to think of it, I didn't even know if Maureen was alive or not. The though was just too much for me to bear.
"I'm going, Captain. End of story."
Cragen nodded, his mannerisms oozing sympathy. I left the office and grabbed my coat.
"Let's go." I said to Olivia. Olivia and the others stared at me for a second before she grabbed her coat and followed me out to the car. She cut me off before I could climb into the driver's side seat.
"You're in no condition to drive." Olivia said gently, pulling the keys out of my hand. I reluctantly let her take them and went over to the other side of the car.
The entire ride passed in silence. Neither of us said a word, Olivia because she didn't know what to say, and me because I was too absorbed in my thoughts. The first words we said were exchanged when we arrived on the scene.
"Here we are."
We just sat there for awhile, watching the other cops and crime scene unit milling about. There was a bus there, and the coroners. There were two bodies, too. Olivia hadn't told me about that. Or maybe she had and I just hadn't been listening.
One of the bodies was being zipped into a body bad while the other as lifted onto a gurney. I had to know. I couldn't wait any longer. I had to know which one of the pale forms was my daughter.
I exited the car abruptly, so much so that Olivia didn't notice I had left until a moment later. She hurried after me as I strode briskly over to the crime scene. I ignored the yellow tape, bypassing it without bothering to show ID. I suppose Olivia set things straight with the cops after that.
My heart started pounding as I neared the ambulance. From where I was, the figure on it looked like Maureen, but I had no way of knowing for sure. I hoped more than anything it was.
Finally, I was close enough to see. My heart slowed down slightly when I saw it was her. She was still alive. A wave of intense relief crashed over me like a wave. She was alive. Severely beaten, but alive.
It took everything I had in that moment not to fall to my knees and cry, thanking God for bringing my little girl home safe again. I somehow managed to maintain my composure as I came closer to the stretcher, until I was close enough to see what damage had been done.
My baby's face was a mess of black and blue, and blood was oozing from a variety of cuts. Her school clothes were town and dirty, and my heart jumped back into my throat. This is was I saw every day. But it all seemed so different not that it was my kid lying unconscious on the stretcher.
I remember asking the paramedics if she was going to be all right. They said things looked hopeful - she had a concussion and a few bruised ribs, but that was the worst of it. Relief flooded through me, but it was very short lived. Then I had to asked the question all fathers never want to ask about their daughters - Was she raped? One of the paramedics shot me a sympathetic look. I think he could tell that this poor, victimized soul belonged to me.
"No," they told me, "At least not as far as we can tell. Lab tests will be able to tell you more, though." They were exactly the words I wanted to hear. It was bad enough that this had happened, let alone having to deal with being raped.
I was so relieved that I almost missed it when the paramedics told me they had to take her to the hospital then. I wanted so badly to ask if I could go with them, to be with my daughter, but I had a job to do. I'm sure Olivia wouldn't have minded me leaving, considering the circumstances, but the cop in me told me I had to stay. Sometimes your professional side takes over before your emotional one has time to kick in. Not often, but it does happen.
I leaned over and kissed Maureen lightly on the forehead, brushing a stray lock of hair out of her eyes before straightening. I watched them put my baby in the back of the ambulance and take her away. I stared wistfully after them until they were out of sight, then returned to work.
Olivia was standing by the coroner, asking questions. I joined her over there, allowing myself a quick peek at the dead body. I groaned inwardly - it was Jen, Maureen's best friend. And by the looks of it, she had put up one hell of a fight.
"One bullet, 9mm," I heard the coroner say, "Point blank to the frontal lobe. And as if that wasn't enough, the bastard smashed her head on the concrete over there." he gestured to a spot on the ground, where a reddish grey pool had formed. I shuddered involuntarily. I prayed to God that Maureen had already been unconscious when that happened.
"Poor kid," the coroner added, "I'd hate to be the one who has to tell her family. She was almost home, too."
Olivia nodded, and I took the opportunity to survey the surroundings for the first time. To my surprise, I found that we were only a block from where Kathy and the kids lived. My breath caught in my throat. If this could happen here, so close to home, it could happen anywhere.
Olivia had moved on to questioning a witness that I hadn't noticed there before. I heard the witness give a relatively detailed description of the perp, and I jumped in immediately.
"Would you be willing to come down to the station and work with our sketch-artist?"
"I guess. Don't know how much help I'll be, though. I only saw him for a few seconds."
"That's all we need." A thought abruptly crossed my mind and I turned to the nearest uniform and asked, "Do we have plates on the getaway car?"
The uniform shook his head. Just as I was ready to explode at his incompetence, he added,
"That's because there was none."
I swear my jaw must have scraped the floor.
"He was on foot?"
The uniform nodded.
"Then why aren't you out there looking for him!" I exploded, frustrated that there was so little I could do.
"Easy chief," he said, nervously backing away. "We have people on him now."
"Well get more people on him! I want this bastard found so I can personally wring his skinny little neck!" Every moment that passed was one where my daughter's attacker went free.
"Elliot, easy." Olivia's hand appeared on my shoulder. I jerked away, irate.
"'Easy? Easy', you say! Well, you wouldn't be so damn calm if this was your child's potential rapist on the loose!"
Olivia didn't even bother to protest.
"You're right," she said calmly, "I wouldn't. Now let's get you back to the station to cool down."
"I don't need to cool down!" I snapped, becoming more and more frustrated by the second. "What I need to do is to catch this bastard and make sure he's locked up for the rest of his good-for-nothing life!"
"What you need to do is go spend time with your family." I don't go off often, but when I do, Olivia knows just how to handle me. She took me by the arm and led me to the squad car. "Go to the hospital. See your kids."
I stared at her. I almost couldn't believe that she was sending me away when there was work to be done. I guess that just goes to show how serious the situation was.
Eventually, I conceded. I let her hand me the keys and wish me good luck, and then I left.
The ride to the hospital was the longest one I had ever taken. Given, that could be partially attributed to an accident backing traffic up half a mile on the Queensborough bridge, but that wasn't the point. The point was, here I was, sitting in some massive traffic jam, heading in the exact opposite direction of where I needed to be. I had half a mind to turn around right there and then, but the prospect of standstill traffic in both directions was somewhat daunting.
Finally, I arrived at the hospital. I practically ran inside, panting slightly by the time I reached the reception area. I hurriedly told them Maureen's name, they told me what room she was in, and I took off.
It didn't take long before I found her room and slowly opened the door. I had been in hospital before - who hasn't these days? - , but everything seems so much different when it's someone you care about lying on that bed in a hospital gown.
An image of the day Maureen had been born flashed through my memory. Kathy and I had both been so scared, terrified, eve, of the responsibility of literally holding someone's life in your hands. Now we had four beautiful children, every one of them a blessing. Sometimes, I suppose, things do work out for the best.
I was so caught up in my thoughts that I barely noticed when a doctor entered the room. She introduced herself as Doctor Rasgotra and spouted some nonsense medical babble about what the paramedics had already told me. Eventually, she got to the part that I cared about the most - whether or not my baby had been raped.
"I'm sure you'll be happy to know that Maureen's rape kit came back negative." She said something else as well, but I was too busy being relieved to listen. Eventually, she stopped talking and left, allowing me to be alone with my daughter.
I sat on the bed beside her, picking up and holding her hand in mine. Her fingers were cold, so I rubbed her hand between the two of mine. Once I was satisfied she was warm enough, I began to relax slightly. THe doctor had said that Maureen was unconscious, but would probably wake up sooner if she heard the voice of someone she knew. I decided to follow the doctor's advice and began to talk.
"Maureen, honey, can you hear me? It's Daddy. I'm right here, honey, and I'm not going anywhere, all right? I'm gonna be right here beside you when you wake up." I paused, at a momentary loss for what to say. "You know, when the call came into the station, I though it was just another case. Then Olivia told me it was you and my heart stopped. All I could think about was you being hurt, or worse, having to live your life carrying around the burden of something so terrible as being raped. Well, Is suppose you will anyway, but believe me, it's not as bad as it could have been. And believe me, I know. I know what goes on in this city day after day, night after night. If there was some way to protect you and your siblings from it all, I would jump at the chance in a heartbeat. I just want you to know that."
I stopped, tears welling up in my eyes, a lump fully formed in my throat. I took a moment to compose myself, during which time I reflected. I though about the kids and Kathy, how happy we all used to be together. They had been good times, but they were over now. Now, everything was different.
I was startled out of my reverie as Maureen's hand closed around mind. I looked down to see that she was conscious and smiling up at me.
"Hey." I said gently, banishing the tears from my eyes, "How you doin'?"
Maureen smiled weakly.
"Pretty good, I guess. Considering."
"Mm." We both fell silent for a moment, collecting our thoughts. The next thing I knew, I was hugging her slim frame as if she would disappear if I let go.
"Daddy, you're choking me," Maureen said after a moment. But the moment had been all I needed to pull myself together.
"Sorry," I said, reluctantly pulling away.
Maureen shrugged lightheartedly.
"I'll live. I've gotten through worse, I suppose."
We both fell silent after that. We sat there in silence until the door swung open again to reveal Kathy.
"Oh, my poor baby!" Kathy rushed over to Maureen and hugged her tight. "Are you all right? Is she all right?" The last question was directed toward me, as if she wouldn't have believed Maureen's answer.
"She's fine," I assured her. "Minor concussion, few bruised ribs, nothing worse."
"Then she wasn't..." Kathy trailed off, as if the possibility was too horrible to even say.
"No," I said firmly. Kathy looked relieved. "Well, I'll let you have some time to catch up. I have to head back to the station anyway." I turned to go out the door, knowing full well that Kathy would try to somehow blame this all on me.
"Elliot, wait." she called, following me out of the room.
"Look, I said before she had the chance to go any further. "This is not my fault. There's nothing I could have done to prevent it, so I don't even want to hear it."
Kathy looked slightly taken aback.
"That's not what I was going to say. I just wanted mto make perfectly sure that Maureen's really all right and you weren't just saying those things so you wouldn't scare her."
I gave Kathy a reproving gaze.
"Kathy, she's fine. Really. Now I have to go back to work to catch the sonofabitch who did this to her. Feel free to stay with her, though." With that, I re-entered the room and said goodbye to Maureen before heading back to the station house.
Everyone looked surprised when I walked into the station. They recovered quickly, though, and started with the questions.
"How is she?" Olivia asked, beating the others to it.
"She's fine, wasn't raped. Did we get the sonofabitch who did it yet?"
The others exchanged looks.
"Yes," Cragen because slowly, "We have 'em. Munch and Fin are in questioning him now."
"I want to watch," I said, determined to see the face of the bastard who dared lay a hand on my daughter.
"Elliot, I don't think you should. You're too close to this."
"Which is exactly why I need to!" I exclaimed, temper flaring. "I'm not asking to be put in the room with him, I just wanna listen."
Cragen though about this for what seemed like eternity.
"All right, but if you start getting feisty, you're out."
"Got it. Thanks, Cap," I said gratefully, heading off for the room with the one-way mirror.
In the interrogation room, Munch and Fin were double teaming the guy, making him sweat. Well, at least, that's what should've been happening. Instead, he was sitting there like he didn't have a care in the world, hardly flinching when Fin yelled in his ear.
Hot rage bubbled inside me. How dare this filthy bastard just sit there like nothing happened. At that moment I wanted nothing more than to go in there and smash his face in with my fist.
"You sure we got the right guy, Cap?" I asked, a sinking suspicion tugging at the corner of my mind.
"Two eyewitnesses saw him fleeing the scene of the crime. Good enough for you?"
I nodded, grateful that they hadn't needed Maureen's first-hand account to get him in cuffs. I resumed paying attention to the interrogation just in time to hear "I'm not saying anything else without my lawyer."
I swore loudly as Munch and Fin left the interrogation and joined us.
"Spineless bastard," Fin said bitterly. "He knew we had 'im and called for his lawyer."
"How's Maureen?" Munch asked, a concerned look plastered on his normally-placid features.
"Considerably better than she could be," I replied. "Rape kit came back negative."
"Glad to hear it, man." Fin said, pulling me into a hug.
"Thanks. So, when can we prosecute?"
"As soon as we have Maureen's statement." Cragen said.
"I'll take it," I volunteered immediately.
"No, you won't. You're still too close to this, Elliot. We can't afford to have your emotions get in the way and taint her statement. Munch can do it."
As much as I hated to admit it, the Captain had a point. If I in any way swayed Maureen's testimony, the whole case would be down the toilet.
"How soon can we get it?" Cragen asked.
"Doctor said she should be okay for answering questions as early as this afternoon."
"This afternoon it is, then."
We all set about preparing for the events that would be taking place in a few hours.
In a matter of hours, we were back at the hospital for the second time that day. Munch was asking Maureen to recount what had happened, while I could only stand there and listen. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the Captain had made a good choice in choosing Munch to get the statement. All my kids loved Munch, but he and Maureen were particularly close. I suppose I would have figured that out sooner if I had been thinking clearly before.
"Jen and I were walking home from school when this guy came at us."
"Can you point him out from these pictures?" Munch interrupted, pulling out a photo spread. I watched with bated breath as Maureen looked them over. I prayed she would choose our guy. She did. "All right, you may continue."
"He told us to go into the alley and that if we screamed he would kill us. Then he pulled out a gun and pointed it at us." Maureen paused, tears mounting in her eyes, threatening to spill over. "We did and he told us to get on our knees. He dropped his pants and told Jen to..."
"Go on," Munch prompted gently.
"He told Jen to... suck his dick. She tried to refuse and scratched and bit him, but he put the gun to her head and shot her, just like that. Then he..." The tears started to flow freely. "He grabbed her by the hair and smashed her head on the ground. Then he told me to get on the ground and drop my pants."
I couldn't take this. I couldn't just stand there and listen to my daughter talk about how she was brutalized and her best friends was killed. I stood up abruptly and left the room.
Munch came out a few minutes later, apparently finished.
"I'm sorry, Elliot. It had to be done/"
"I know, I know. It's just..."
"It's your baby who's being interviewed, not some stranger. I get it, Elliot, I really do."
"Mm." John clapped me on the shoulder and walked away to get coffee. After a moment of composing myself, I went back in Maureen's room, where she was crying. I sat on her bed as I had before and took her in my arms.
"I'm sorry, Daddy," she sniffled through the tears.
"Shh, honey, you did fine. You didn't do anything wrong."
"But-but you always told me how you never wanted to see something like this happen to me so you wouldn't have to go pick up my body parts in Jersey," she sobbed.
I paused, amazed she still remembered that.
"Baby, I only said that so you wouldn't do anything stupid. What happened wasn't your fault."
Maureen still didn't look convinced, but didn't press the matter further. We sat there in silence for a few minutes before she spoke again.
"Daddy, you're going to get this guy, right?"
I hugged her tight and smiled grimly.
"Of course we are, baby. Of course we are."
Trial, sometime later
The trial for Maureen's attacker was one of the most difficult I've ever been to. Things really do change when it's you kid or loved one who has to sit up there recounting every horrifying detail of the terrible things that happened to them. When Maureen testified, I came very close to having to remove myself from the courtroom. But Maureen was depending on me to be there for her and so I stayed.
The trial seemed to drag on forever, even though it was considerably shorter than most. The most excruciating part for me, as a father and as a detective, was, of course, waiting for the verdict. Sometimes I think they drag it out as long as humanly possible just to torture people. But that wasn't my concern at the moment. My concern was whether or not they found the bastard who had traumatized my daughter guilty or not.
Finally, it came time for the decision. The judge began.
"Has the jury reached a consensus?"
"We have, Your Honor."
"On the first count of the indictment, murder in the second degree, how do you find?"
"We find the defendant guilty."
"And on the second count of the indictment, attempted rape, how do you find?"
"We find the defendant...guilty.
All right, time to go ice my hands now. Cuz you know, idiot me, I just HAD to do a oneshot, and couldn't be bothered to break it into chapters. That took FOREVER to type up, and I haven't even proofread it. So again, I apologize for typos and the like. Reviews are always appreciated.