Disclaimer: The characters in this story are the property of Dick Wolfe and NBC.
A/N: I do appreciate constructive feedback if you've got any to offer. If you think it's terrible please feel free to let me know and I'll stop.
"Liv?", Alex called out tentatively as she knocked on the door.
Alex pressed her ear to the door and when she didn't get a response she exchanged a quick look with Casey before slowly turning the door knob.
"Liv?", she said again as she poked her head into the room.
As the two women cautiously stepped into the bedroom they saw Olivia sitting on the edge of her bed in the dark with her face in her hands. As Alex's eyes adjusted to the dark she noticed the detective's shoulders moving up and down gently and it became obvious the woman was crying.
The older attorney gently placed a hand on Casey's forearm signaling her to hang back for a minute while she slowly approached the detective.
"Liv?", she said for a third time.
Alex was sure that this was the first time that her friend had heard her when she saw Olivia futilely trying to wipe the tears from her eyes though they continued to fall.
"Hey…", Alex said softly as she slowly sat next to the detective on the bed. "It's okay to cry, Liv."
Olivia continued to scrub her hands over her face until Alex reached out slowly and took hold of Olivia's wrists.
"It's okay…", Alex repeated compassionately as she pulled the woman's hands down away from her face.
Still looking at the floor Olivia slowly turned her body toward Alex before leaning forward and resting her forehead against the blonde's shoulder.
Alex felt her friend's tears wet the fabric of her t-shirt as she cautiously lifted one arm and wrapped it around Olivia's shoulders.
Seeing that it was seemingly safe to approach the older woman and her demons, Casey silently slipped the rest of the way into the room and slid onto the bed behind Alex and Olivia.
After a minute or two Olivia pulled back and turned away from the two women.
"I am so s-sorry.", she said in a raspy voice.
Alex let out a small sigh, "It's okay to cry, Olivia…"
The brunette shook her head and dropped her chin to her chest.
"I let you down.", she said quietly.
Shocked by Olivia's admission Casey quickly tried to move further down the bed to face the detective but stopped when she saw Olivia turning insisting on keeping her back to the two women.
Casey gently laid her hand on Olivia's shoulder and was a little surprised by the quiver in her own voice when she spoke.
"Olivia… what on earth are you talking about?… After everything that…", Casey's voice broke and she sniffled, "You… you saved my life, Olivia. How could you possibly think you let us down?"
"It should never have happened.", the brunette whispered quietly still staring at her lap.
Trying desperately to catch on to Olivia's train of thought Alex replied, "No, honey, it shouldn't have happened. But Casey's right… you didn't let anyone down, Liv."
"I could have stopped it", the detective admitted as she began to cry softly again, "I was drunk."
Casey inhaled sharply realizing what Olivia was saying.
"Oh god Liv no…", the red head said quickly.
"I never should have let him get that close.", Olivia interrupted, "If I wasn't d-drunk I would have reacted s-sooner."
Alex rose off the bed and knelt down on the floor in front of the detective.
"Liv, look at me", Alex instructed but Olivia squirmed to turn away.
"Olivia.", Alex said in a commanding tone that made the detective look up.
Alex softened her voice and reached for the brunette's hand.
"Olivia this is NOT your fault.", the attorney said, "You weren't on duty. You weren't armed. That guy came out of no where. No one could have seen him coming. You are in NO WAY responsible for this, Olivia Benson."
Casey was now crying quietly behind Olivia and slowly slid her hand off the detective's shoulder and onto the mattress.
"Alex is right, Liv", Casey whispered, "I can't… I can't believe…".
Casey looked down and shook her head cursing herself for falling apart when she should be comforting Olivia. Olivia was the one who was tortured not her.
Hearing Casey's voice break Olivia momentarily forgot about her own guilt and winced in pain as she turned on the bed to face the younger attorney.
"What you went through…", Casey tried again as tears slipped off her chin, "I can't believe you…"
Casey choked on a sob.
"It should have been me, Liv. It should have been me…"
Both women now openly crying, Olivia put her arms around the young ADA.
"I am so SO sorry, Liv.", Casey whispered, "I am so sorry."
Olivia couldn't speak but she found Casey's hand and squeezed it tightly.
As the women's crying subsided Alex, who had returned to her spot on the bed, gently touched Olivia's arm.
"Liv?", she asked, "listen Casey and I already changed… why don't we get you cleaned up too huh?"
Olivia reached up to touch her hair but stopped before actually touching it.
Alex grabbed the hand that Olivia raised and gently lowered it.
"We'll take care of that", she whispered, "come on…"
Alex started to stand intending on pulling Olivia up with her but the detective remained seating.
"I can't shower", Olivia said softly almost ashamed. "I can't get the stitches wet."
"That's okay", Casey said lightly slipping off the bed as well, "we'll figure something else out."
Casey reached over and put her hand under Olivia's elbow waiting for her to stand.
Olivia groaned in pain as she used both Casey and Alex to pull herself up.
Casey moved her hand to Olivia's shoulder.
"Are you okay, Liv?", she asked, "The doctor prescribed some pain medication.."
"I'm fine.", Olivia said curtly.
"Okay…", the red head said knowing not to push Olivia when it came to pain killers.
Olivia took another step forward but then doubled over and grabbed Casey's hand as she hissed in pain.
"I'll get the pills.", Alex said simply and then left the room before the detective could protest.
When she returned with the bottle of pills and a glass of water Olivia was once again seated on the bed.
"Here", she said handing the brunette the water and two pills.
Olivia placed the pills on her tongue and took a sip of water but as soon as the water reached the back of her throat she immediately began to gag and coughed up both the pills and the water onto the floor.
Seeing the tears threatening to fall Casey immediately began rubbing her back telling her that it was okay.
"I'm sorry", Olivia whispered hoarsely, "When it… I don't… I don't think I can…"
Olivia tried to look away but Alex once again knelt down in front of her and placed a hand on the detective's knee catching the woman's gaze.
"It's okay", Alex assured her giving her knee gentle squeeze.
"Let's just try a little water first okay?", she suggested.
Olivia took the glass from Alex again and tried to take another sip. This time when the water hit the back of her throat she managed to swallow a little but then once again felt the overwhelming urge to gag. Choking again she coughed up the water this time managing to spray it on Alex's shirt.
Knowing Olivia was ashamed Alex quickly dismissed the water on her shirt.
"Olivia, it's okay.", she said quickly, "Remember what I said in the hospital? You're our friend."
Then she gave Olivia a small smile. "Besides this is your shirt and I saw you've got a whole drawer of them."
Although she was unsuccessful in coaxing a smile out of the older woman she did see the brunette relax a little.
Casey rubbed Olivia's back again. "It's just going to take your body a little time, Liv. Do you want to try again?"
Olivia sighed and closed her eyes briefly before taking another sip. This time she managed to swallow almost all the water in her mouth before coughing.
It took about 15 more minutes of Alex reassuring her and Casey rubbing her back before she was finally able to successfully swallow the water and the pills.
Both Casey and Alex could tell how physically tired Olivia was and the last 15 minutes of gagging and trying to swallow those pills hadn't helped.
Alex looked over at the clock for the first time since they had gotten home and realized it was after 7:00 in the morning. The attorney wanted nothing more than to put her friend to bed and allow the pain medication to kick in but the nurse had only somewhat washed her face and neck at the hospital and Alex knew they needed to clean her up.
Alex continued to sit with Olivia until Casey returned to the bedroom and nodded to Alex that she was ready.
Helping Olivia to the bathroom Alex saw that Casey had placed a few pillows on the floor in front of the tub and draped a few towels on top of each other over the side. Slowly both Casey and Alex gently eased Olivia to the floor on top of the pillows.
"You okay there, Liv?", Casey asked.
As Olivia nodded Casey began to wring out a face clothe in the sink.
"Okay, Liv, I'm just going to wash your face", Casey informed her, "just tell me if you need me to stop okay?"
Olivia nodded again as Casey gently washed the brunette's face and then her neck after making sure to check with Olivia first.
"Can you take this off?", Casey asked referring to the gray sweatshirt the hospital had given Olivia to wear home.
Olivia hesitated for a moment before nodding and pealing off the sweatshirt. Olivia accepted the bath towel Casey handed her to cover herself with while Casey made quick work of washing the exposed parts of her upper body. Once that was done Casey helped Olivia make sure the towel was secured in place before instructing her to tilt her head back and rest her neck against the towels so Casey could wash her hair.
Casey worked as quickly as possible knowing that Olivia Benson did not like to ask for help least of all when it came to something as personal as bathing.
Once she was done towel drying the detective's hair she found herself wincing for Olivia as she helped the detective up off the floor and heard the woman groan.
When they returned to the bedroom Alex had drawn the blinds to block out the sun that had risen a little while ago.
Alex handed Olivia her pajamas and the brunette managed to trade in her towel and sweatpants for her t-shirt and flannel pants with only a little bit of help from Casey.
After helping Olivia into bed both attorneys exchanged a glance silently asking each other who should stay and who should take the couch.
"Um…", Olivia began tiredly as the full effects of her pain medication kicked in.
"What is it, hon?", Alex asked.
Olivia immediately looked down. "Uh… no, never mind."
"Come on, Liv", Casey prodded, "what were you going to say?"
"Oh… um…", Olivia stuttered clearly uncomfortable, "I was just um… thinking maybe you could both stay… but never mind."
Alex glanced down at the queen size bed. It wouldn't be the first time the three of them passed out on this bed she thought.
"Of course", Casey said giving Olivia a reassuring smile, "but Alex is sleeping on that side 'cuz I don't want to listen to her snoring in my ear all night."
Alex rolled her eyes as she slipped in next to Olivia.
"Thanks, Case, I love you too."
"Ow!", Alex cried as an arm flung across her face waking her from her wrestles sleep.
Still half asleep Alex picked up the stray limb and placed it back down next to the woman lying beside her.
The attorney was just starting to fall back asleep when she was jolted awake by a woman yelling.
"Casey! NO!", Olivia yelled in her sleep.
Now fully awake Alex sat up quickly and looked over in the darkness to see that Casey was no longer lying on the other side of Olivia who was sobbing hysterically in her sleep.
"Casey! Please! No! I'm sorry!", Olivia continued to yell as her voice became hoarse.
Alex reached over and held down the brunette's arms to avoid getting hit while she tried to coax her awake.
"Olivia? Liv, honey, wake up…", Alex said as the detective continued to thrash.
"I'm so sorry Casey!", Olivia sobbed, "I'm so sorry!"
"Olivia!", Alex said loudly while shaking the detective's shoulders, "Olivia! It's okay! You're having a nightmare. Wake up honey!"
Olivia sat up suddenly almost knocking the ADA off the bed. Her eyes darted around wildly trying to get her bearings while tears continued to fall from her cheeks. Eventually her eyes found Alex sitting next to her on the bed staring at her with an alarmed but concerned look on her face.
As soon as she saw Alex she fell into the attorney's arms and began sobbing again.
"Alex! I'm so s-sorry!", she cried hiccupping with each sob, "She's gone! She's gone!"
"Shhhh…", Alex said soothingly as she brushed the damp hair off the detective's forehead, "Olivia, honey, no one's gone… It was just a dream, sweetheart. You're home. Everything's okay."
As Olivia continued to sob and occasionally gasp for air Alex knew that the dream must have been intense if it was this difficult to pull Olivia out of it. She tried to pull Olivia back so she could look her in the eyes but Olivia was fiercely clinging to the ADA with her face buried in the crook of the blonde's arm.
It was then that Casey came running into the room flicking on a lamp and practically jumped on the bed next to Alex.
"Alex! What happened?", Casey asked hurriedly, "I was sitting on the fire escape and I heard screaming. What's going on?"
"I'm not sure, Case. She had a nightmare. She kept yelling your name and saying she was sorry.", Alex said softly still cradling the woman in her arms.
Casey reached over to stroke Olivia's back and realized the woman was drenched in sweat. Casey ignored this as she moved in closer and alternated between rubbing the brunette's back and her hair.
"Olivia.", the red head said firmly but caringly over the older woman's sobs, "Olivia, it's Casey. Please look at me honey…"
Both women became increasingly concerned as Olivia continued to keep her head buried in Alex's arm while murmuring incoherently. Casey looked up at Alex and with the blonde's help managed to pull Olivia from the attorney's arms.
"Liv, look at me sweetheart.", she said taking Olivia's face in her hands and forcing the brunette to look at her. "You're at home honey. Alex and I are both here with you. Everything's okay."
Olivia's sobs reduced to slight tremors as her bleary eyes clouded over with confusion.
"Case?…", Olivia whispered hesitantly as if she was trying to get a grasp on reality.
"Yah sweetheart… I'm right here…", the young attorney replied softly while pulling the detective into her arms.
Olivia began crying softly against Casey's shoulder. Alex rubbed small circles between the brunette's shoulder blades as she made eye contact with Casey over their friend's head. Both women exchanged a look of both concern and relief… thankful that Olivia finally seemed to know where she was.
Casey gently kissed the top of Olivia's head before resting her cheek against the detective's head and lightly rocking her friend in her arms.
"Talk to us sweetheart…", Casey said softly, "what happened?"
When Olivia didn't respond right away Alex moved in closer and kept rubbing the detective's back.
"That must have been some nightmare…", Alex said sympathetically.
When Casey heard Olivia mumble something she tried to pull back but Olivia just held her more tightly.
"Not yet… please…", Olivia said sniffling.
Casey immediately held her tighter and kissed the top of her head again.
"Don't worry sweetheart… I'm not going anywhere… I promise…", the red head reassured her.
Casey exchanged another concerned glance with Alex.
"I thought you were… he… it was so real…", Olivia stumbled.
"I know.", Alex said softly rubbing Olivia's shoulder, "it sounded pretty terrible…."
"I… I… couldn't m-move and… he… he w-was hurting you…"
Alex felt the muscles in Olivia's arms tighten as she held the young ADA in a death grip.
"He s-said… all I had to do was s-say s-stop… and he would let you go", Olivia sobbed, "Casey!… I tried! But… but… but… I c-couldn't talk and you were… you were begging me to save your life but… I… I couldn't."
Olivia's whole body was now shaking again as the two attorneys tried to calm her down.
"Shhh… it was just a dream, hon…", Alex said.
Olivia continued to cry hard.
"All I had to do was say stop…", Olivia said hoarsely, "… I… I… l-let you die!"
"Oh Liv…", Casey said, "honey you didn't let me die. I'm right here with you. It was just a dream. You SAVED my life tonight sweetheart. You didn't let me die."
"I was so scared.", Olivia revealed in a barely audible whisper.
Both Alex and Casey recognized that the admission was not solely a result of the dream.
Sitting to the side of her two friends Alex reached out and wrapped her arms around both Casey and Olivia resting her forehead on the other side of Olivia's head.
"I know, love…", Alex whispered, "I know…"