disclaimer: I am not Dick Wolf, he is an ass. You can just tell because anyone whose name involves the words for a male part and a solitary woodland carnivore is trying to imply something. plus, he makes OE shippers scream angrily, so for that, I flame him.
but thanks for letting me borrow em dickie...
if you're not into OEness, just don't read this. it's going to get worse as the fluff rolls on.
At one time, she had considered it. At one time, she had even hoped for it, considering it one of those long-time goals that you're supposed to secretly nurture while going about your daily basis. But now that sort of thing was out of the question; she had grown too used to her life, and a change like that could bend her or break her.
On days like these, she could only consider being broken in half. No, she wasn't a girl for relationships. So why was she suddenly thinking about them?
The alarm hadn't gone off. Her hair dryer was broken. Her coffee was cold. Little trifle things that would hardly matter to anyone else. But she had become so dependent on these things, simple things that had filled the gaps in her otherwise empty lifestyle, and when they were absent she always felt it.
It was going to be a horrible day.
For one thing, she was thinking about relationships. She had dreamt (oh christ, she had dreamt) about dying alone. What the hell was that about? She never had dreams like that. She never even thought about the future, except for things like ramen or salad tonight, or the number of weeks until vacation. Yes, she definitely thought about being alone. When your relatives are either dead or non-existent, you will end up spending a number of days alone, especially holidays and important dates when the people you would otherwise be with have prior engagements.
Instead of coffee, she had a bottle of water, and she knew for a fact that Aquafina was not going to do the trick that morning. Her desk looked more like a pillow than a workspace, so the first thing she had done that day was fall asleep on it.
She woke up to a tap on her shoulder, the smell of hazelnut coffee, and Beatles' lyrics.
"Five more minutes, mom." she grumbled, covering her ears with lazy hands.
"I'm not your mother, and you can't have five more minutes." Fingers wrapped around her palms and gently pulled them from her ears. She lifted her head, and blinked into the light. She was glad to find a familiar face smiling at her, complete with a coffee in his outstretched hand. She took the coffee first, gulping down what she could until she came back up for air.
"I owe you again," She set down the coffee, smiling at the warmth now filling her insides. "Uh, is that music?"
"If you can call my singing music," Her partner gave her a small smile before singing again. "Imagine all the people-"
"That's enough Mr. Lennon, I'm awake." She gave him a sheepish grin. "Anyone else notice my nap?"
"Only our boss."
Her smile disappeared with a groan. "Is Cragen pissed?"
"I think he's still convinced you're an alcoholic insomniac." Elliot shrugged. "I never should have made an excuse for your tardiness."
"That was two months ago. What was he, an elephant in another life?"
"Judging from his angry faces, I would say a very grumpy baboon."
"Benson. Stabler." They looked over at the door where Cragen's head had appeared. They both winced when they saw his frown. "The very grumpy baboon needs you in his office."
"Very smooth," Olivia whispered to her partner as they entered the office, flopping into the uncomfortable chairs and trying not to laugh.
Six and a half hours later, she could not laugh. Packing her clothes was something she rarely did. Sometimes for vacation, when she bought herself a hotel room and visited the mountains for a weekend hike. Sometimes for when she had to move out for the weekend when her landlord did his repairs. And rarest of all, when she was going undercover.
Unfortunately, this was for the latter occasion.
Cragen had told them what he considered to be hopeful news: they were finally going to nab 'the big one.' A hotel upstate had been the site of five rapes in the past six months, and whenever police had run investigations, they had found absolutely nothing to connect the hotel or an individual to the rapes. It was obvious that whoever was behind it had covered their tracks after the media hype being thrown at the case, but now that the hotel had remained quiet for four months, they needed to send an undercover agent to the site to further investigate without putting pressure on the criminals involved. Or two agents.
"If they found nothing and abandoned the case, why are we going back in?" Elliot had asked Cragen, only to be handed a photo of an attractive blonde's bruised corpse.
"Tara Johnson. 32, mother of a five year old daughter from her previous marriage, and on her honeymoon. Just like all the others who suffered the same fate."
"They were all over 30?" Olivia asked, taking the picture from Elliot's hands. A good-looking girl was an obvious target for rape, but the coincidence was a bit puzzling.
"They were all on their honeymoons." Cragen said, pulling out another file. "This makes six new brides, all honeymooning at the Greenridge Resort and Spa, all ending up raped and dead. Whoever did this covered their tracks, and they covered them well when the police started making a big deal about the case. We weren't involved until Tara came into the picture. We've remained quiet about it. In fact, the employees we've spoken to have no idea that we're onto the case, and the only people who know about Tara are her husband and the squad."
"No one at the hotel saw her body?" Olivia asked, raising an eyebrow.
"We suspected someone inside the hotel, so the investigations were never done at the site or in an obvious manner. No one saw her body leave the room with the exception of the ambulance drivers and the husband that found her."
"And he didn't make a big deal about finding her? He didn't run downstairs screaming for help or anything like that?"
"He was in complete shock. He dialed 911 on his cell phone, and when the technicians came he was wrapped around his wife's body in complete mental shock. He was admitted to the hospital for three days as a mental trauma patient."
"Has anyone talked to him?"
"Fin and Munch spoke to him at his house in Brooklyn last night, but they couldn't get much out of him."
"And what did they get?"
Cragen pulled out a sheet from the file. "He noticed absolutely nothing before the murder. On the third day of their vacation, they were getting ready to go out for dinner. He was taking a shower and she was in the bedroom. They were staying in the honeymoon suite, so there are three separate rooms: the bathroom, the lounge and kitchen, and the bedroom. When he came out, her found her on the bed, bloody from the waist down and smothered with a pillow."
"He couldn't hear her screams? Even with a pillow over her face, she had to have struggled." Elliot said, reviewing the contents of the file.
"It's doubtful she made any noise. They found traces of multiple drugs in her system."
"She was high?"
"She was asleep. They were all sleeping medications taken in extreme dosages. She was knocked out by the time he got to her, and with enough of the medication in her system, she would have been dead in a few hours anyway, regardless of the pillow."
"So the perp drugged her before he raped her, or the overdose was self-inflicted."
"Sounds like she was having a bad honeymoon," Olivia said, staring at the bruised face of Tara Johnson.
"Not as bad as her husband. Now he has to live with the fact that the greatest nights of his life ended up taking the life of his wife." Cragen took the file from Olivia's hands. "That's why we need you two to take the case undercover. The suspect preys on wives in couples who are on their second marriage, mostly with children, and all honeymooning at the Greenridge Resort. We've kept it quiet enough to put you two in without arousing any suspicions. While you're there, you'll need to find out what's going on and who's doing it. Tara was not the first, and she certainly will not be the last."
"So you're essentially setting us up for bait." Elliot frowned, folding his arms across his chest. "And since we're expected to be innocent, we probably won't be well-prepared for attack."
"You'll have back-up and you'll be well-armed, don't worry." Cragen said, drumming his fingers on the desk. "Olivia will just have to watch what she eats and drinks."
Olivia rolled her eyes. "That's reassuring."
"Go in there, find the perp, get out." Cragen was beginning to look angered. "When have I ever asked anything differently of you?"
"We'll do it, don't worry." Elliot said, nodding slowly, though not without restraint.
"Good, because you're leaving tonight." Cragen shot back, causing both of them to do double-takes.
Olivia had no idea what to pack. The provided clothes were extremely expensive and very uncomfortable looking. Apparently, her alter-ego was doing pretty well and able to afford pointless clothing. She wasn't completely sure she wasn't going to add her own clothes to the luggage, just for the sake of something comfortable to wear.
The buzzer for her room rang, and she pressed the button beside the door.
"This is Daniel Tracy."
Olivia bit her lip. She'd never heard of that name before.
"I'm sorry, but I don't know a Daniel Tracy."
"Then you obviously didn't do your paperwork, Mrs. Tracy."
She groaned. Elliot. She hadn't looked at her file yet, true, but this wardrobe thing was occupying too much of her time at the moment.
"You're early." She snapped, and unlocked the door. When she returned to her bedroom, she frowned. "To hell with it," she said, and shoved all of her clothes into her luggage, clearing out most of her bathroom as well.
She heard the knock on her door and pulled on a sweatshirt, opening it up to find Elliot well-dressed before her.
"Lauren Tracy, you look mighty fine this evening," he said with a Texas twang.
"Good god, we're not from the south are we?" she asked, looking horrified. That was one thing she knew she could not keep up for long.
"Try Ohio," Elliot said, stepping inside as she shut the door behind him. He glanced at her sweatshirt. "You're the successful owner of a jewelry chain. Are you really going to show up to the spa in your sweats?"
"I could have changed on the highway," she snapped at him, pulling out her three suitcases. "Can we fit this in the car?"
"It's an Escalade; we can bring the bed if you want." He raised an eyebrow at her suitcases. "Unless of course you already disassembled it and brought it with you."
"I had no idea what to wear, alright? The clothing Cragen brought over didn't look very user-friendly, so I packed some of mine as well." They exited her room, and she locked the door behind her before heading down the stairs. A random thought hit her. "There are pictures of our marriage, right?"
"Yes, photo manipulation is not just for cheap porn anymore."
"Do I look good?" She asked, grinning lopsidedly at him.
"You look great," he said, smiling sincerely. She wondered how truthful he was being.
"Anything else important I should know before I get in the car?"
"You have a nine year old son."
"Yeah, that's a biggie." She pushed the suitcases into the back of the car, raising an eyebrow at the interior. Lauren and Daniel Tracy were definitely doing well. "What's his name?"
"Taylor Nelson. He lives with his father on the weekends, and right now he's at your parents' house."
"I would not have named my son Taylor."
"Neither would I."
They got into the front seats, Elliot immediately electing to drive.
"What does Taylor look like?" she asked, staring over at her partner. It was odd, thinking about what a child of theirs would look like. But then again, Taylor had a different father and would only look like her.
"Dark brown hair, brown eyes, freckles." Elliot nodded at the file on the dashboard. "Just read your papers already."
She pulled out the file, three photos falling into her lap immediately. One was of herself and the boy named Taylor, both of them smiling.
"That's me at last year's holiday party, right? I recognize those earrings; I think I lost them when I puked the next morning." She grinned to herself. Good thing I wasn't drunk at the time of the picture, or little Taylor might not look so happy. Her eyes had fallen on the boy next to her, smiling widely and proudly holding up a drawing of a dog. "He's awfully cute, isn't he?"
"Yeah, you popped out a nice one after all."
"That's rather crude of you." She said as they turned onto the freeway. "I think you're just jealous."
"All parents think their children are perfect."
"Well, I'm not a parent," she said, but she could not think of anything else to say to that. She had just basically shown parental instinct. Oh god, another sign I'm going to end up an aging cat lady.
Olivia looked at the next picture. She was wearing a black dress, sitting at a candlelit dinner and leaning close to Elliot, who was kissing her forehead.
"How did they do that one?" She asked, pointing to the picture in her hands.
"There's a picture of me kissing Kathy like that." Elliot said quietly, his eyes never moving from the road. He must have known exactly what picture she was talking about.
"Oh," she said, flipping through to find the next one. It was a wedding photograph. "My dress is gorgeous," she said, smiling at their beaming faces. "You cleaned up nicely in your tux too, Mr. Tracy."
"Yeah." He looked down at the photo, and a small smile touched his lips. "We look pretty happy together, huh?"
She stared at the photo, not saying anything. She couldn't think of anything intelligent-sounding to say, actually.
"You make more than me." Elliot said, finally breaking the silence. "I'm just a corporate admissions officer."
"What is that?"
"More official word jumbling."
"So the victims all made more than their husbands?"
"Either that or Cragen is just playing a cruel joke on me."
"I can't believe the old bastard is setting us up like this."
"What?" Elliot turned to her, his eyes widening. He looked as though she had just stumbled on him naked.
"I just meant setting us up as potential victims." She raised an eyebrow. "What did you think I was talking about?"
"I just thought…well…never mind." He mumbled, his eyes back on the taillights ahead of them. "There's a rest stop in a few miles. Do you need to use the bathroom?"
"What I need is a Cinnabon," she said, grinning. "Or a frozen yogurt. I sort of skipped dinner."
"We have to check in by six, you know."
"How long does it take to order a Cinnabon?"
"Long enough. We can eat at the hotel."
"What, so they can drug me? Let me at least have one meal before I start taking risks."
He let out a long sigh. "How hungry are you?"
"Did you hear anything I said about skipping dinner?"
He nodded towards the back seat. "There's food back there. I brought something along in case you wanted to eat. I knew we wouldn't have a lot of time."
"Bless you for always being prepared," she said, grinning at him before pulling a bagel from the bag on the seat behind her.
Two hours and many miles later, they pulled into the Greenridge Resort and Spa, a large colonial-style manor with sprawling buildings, oak trees, and a beautiful view of the Adirondacks.
"That's not too shabby." Elliot said, waking her up. "I can see why business hasn't dropped. The place is gorgeous."
"Great, I'm glad I can spend my last hours here." Olivia said sarcastically, rolling her eyes as they stopped in the circular driveway, complete with a spiraling fountain in its center and a rose garden. "Ambience can make all the difference in rape."
"You're not going to get raped," he whispered, squeezing her hand for a moment. She stared at him, confused, but he got out of the car before she could say anything. "Don't forget," he said, poking his head back in. "You're happily married to me now."
"Right," she said, and smiled back.
When she got out of the car, he took her hand, awkward as it seemed, and they walked in together. The lobby was spacious and exquisitely decorated, with a roaring fire in the hearth, portraits of men in powdered wigs, and a plate of sweet-smelling cookies at the main desk. Olivia couldn't help but take one.
"They're delicious," she said, handing the plate to Elliot.
"And maybe they're for the employees." He frowned, putting it back on the desk. "Really, we ought to ask."
"It's alright." An older woman had appeared at the door behind the desk, smiling warmly and pushing a strand of short golden hair behind her ear. "The cookies are complimentary from our kitchens, and especially for our guests."
"I'm afraid my stomach got the best of me." Olivia said, shrugging sheepishly. "They taste wonderful."
"Well, you'd be surprised how many voracious appetites can be developed on honeymoons." The woman winked knowingly at her. Olivia and Elliot exchanged glances. "The number of children conceived on our property is unrivaled."
"Is that so?" Elliot put on a willing grin, laughing heartily. "Well, I'd hope Lauren could give me a little time before we have any kids." He wrapped his arm over Olivia's shoulder, hugging her. She tried as hard as she could not to blush. It wasn't that it was uncomfortable; in fact, she hadn't felt that good in ages, but it was a new feeling and definitely felt with resistance by her cold body.
"How did you know we were on our honeymoon?" Olivia asked, changing the subject.
"Your manner, I suppose." The woman said, "I have an eye for these things. I've worked here for 13 years and I can spot a couple from a mile away. You two are definitely very in love."
Olivia knew she wasn't the only one blushing at that comment. Wow, she must suck at her job.
"I'm sure the new ring was a dead giveaway. My wife's in jewelry- didn't she pick out a lovely one?" Elliot held out his hand, laughing again. Olivia knew he was trying very hard to get off that subject.
"It looks exquisite." She smiled at Olivia. "You have good taste, ma'am. And do you have reservations?"
"They're under Tracy."
"Of course," she said, pulling the name up on her computer. "Four nights, five days. And the honeymoon suite. That's our finest room."
"Well, we'd only want the best." Elliot said. He was hugging her shoulder again, and now she was not so resistant to it.
"If you'll give me your keys, sir, our valets can park your car and take your things to the room. In the meantime, I'd suggest a tour of our grounds."
"Sounds perfect." Elliot said, handing her the car keys. Taking Olivia's hand again, he led her down the hall to where the blonde now stood. His hand felt alien within her fingers, but she was pretty sure she could get used to it.
"Well, that was informative." Olivia said, going through her suitcase until she had found her own pair of pajamas. An oversized shirt and plaid pants had never done her wrong before. "The woman directed us to all the programs the other victims were involved in. Sound fishy?"
"Probably not." Elliot was already in the bathroom, brushing his teeth. "We're the same age as the others, on our honeymoon, and we fit the same job and recreation profile. Why wouldn't she think we'd be interested in tennis or couples massage?"
"I don't know. It was almost like she was expecting us."
"That's called good service, considering we made reservations ahead of time, and told them when we'd be there." He gargled his Listerine. "Are you going to be this suspicious the whole week?"
"Excuse me for doing my job." she snapped, standing outside the door. "Are you done yet?"
"Yes," he said, stepping out. "I know we want to be careful, but it's not like we're being bugged, Olivia." He was right. There'd been equipment in his luggage that they'd run through the room to check for sound and video bugs, but there had been no trace in the suite.
"I just can't help feeling like we're out in the open here. Everyone who came in our situation was nailed the same way; the same massages, the same recreation programs, ate at the same restaurants. That was not a coincidence- the people working here directed them to do that. All the things that connect the murders are going to be connected to us too now, and that makes us sitting ducks as far as the murderer is concerned."
"Did you ever think that the murderer picked them because they did these things, not the other way around?" He took off a sweatshirt, revealing nothing more than a white tank and sweatpants. "There's no grand conspiracy making potential couples take certain classes."
"We should still be careful."
"Well of course we should still be careful. We're working on a case here. I don't plan to screw this up."
"I know." She left the bathroom, and her eyes fell on the bed. "Do you want the bed tonight?"
"Do you want the bed tonight? There's a couch in the other room, and I can take that if you want."
"No, you don't have to take the couch. I'll sleep on the couch, and you take the bed."
"But I don't want you to be uncomfortable all night-"
"I don't care about that. It's fine; I'll take the couch and you take the bed."
"Come on Liv, I'm not taking the bed from you."
She stared at his face; hard, defiant. He could be so goddamn stubborn sometimes.
"If your back starts to hurt, promise me you'll wake me up and we'll switch, okay?"
"Alright, I promise. If anything happens, you know who to call. I'll be right in here." He took one of the pillows and headed into the other room. "Goodnight Olivia," he said quietly before closing the door behind him.
"Goodnight Elliot." She climbed into bed, and shut off the light beside her. This was the same bed five other women had met their fate in, and she couldn't help feeling at least a little afraid. The room suddenly felt very big, and she felt very cold.