Sorry about the long delay in updates, I kinda lost my way with this one. Hopefully it's still worth reading.
Written by Shay
Her head throbbed, her bound wrists ached and her obliterated nails were so numb they were agonizingly painful again. The physical ails of her situation, however, were nothing compared to what swam through her when his voice sounded in her ear, caressing her name. Her eyes slid shut as the threat of tears became imminent and she tightened her hold on the phone.
She had always prided herself on her strength, her determination, her inherent independence no matter what circumstances presented themselves, both in her everyday life and on the job. Even when things seemed to be too much, she swallowed it gracefully and handled it internally, refusing to lean on anyone else. It was easier that way; easier not to have to depend on anyone, less chance of being hurt. She preferred it that way, really. But just then, in that moment, for the first time since she was a child, she felt the desire for someone other than herself; the need to rely on another human being. Him.
His name escaped her parted lips like a prayer, an answer from heaven and she heard his sharp intake of breath. The sound was so familiar, so comforting, that she felt some of the tension of the moment melt away.
"Olivia - thank God. I thought you - I - are you okay?"
The relief in his voice caused a small smile to curl her lips upward.
"I'm okay. A little worse for wear, but I'll survive." There was a brief pause. "El, he - he's my -"
"I know," his words were gruff, "Liv, listen to me. We're coming, okay? Cap's working on tracing the call, so I need you to stay with me a little longer. Is there anything you can tell me about where you are?"
Grateful that he was managing to keep his wits about him when she felt like she'd all but lost hers, she straightened slightly. "I'm in a basement; glass-block windows. They're too high for me to try and reach. I can't tell you much more than that."
"Okay. It's okay. That's good. Where is he, Liv?"
Opening her eyes, her head tilted slightly as the hunched over form of her captor - her brother - came into view. He grinned, wagging his fingers at her. She cringed, returning her focus to the man on the phone.
"He - he's right here. Watching me."
Elliot couldn't hide his surprise. "He let you call me?"
He insisted," she shrugged, " threw the phone at me and told me to dial. I didn't argue."
"Shit. What the hell is this guy up to," he mused, more to himself than her. "Did he say anything; make any requests, demands?"
He heaved a frustrated sigh and she could just imagine his brow furrowing as he tried to decipher the perp's intentions. She could only hope he had better luck than she did; she as beyond baffled.
"Has he said anything, done anything, that might indicate what he has planned?"
"Oh you're going to suffer, sis. Suffer like we all did because of you," his eyes twinkled with something she couldn't quite place, but was positive she didn't like. She bit back a yelp when he tossed the small, non-descript cell phone at her, the instrument colliding with her damaged fingertips. He smiled at her obvious pain and proceeded to further confuse her. "Now, call your partner."
His panicked utterance sprung her free of her daze and she exhaled shakily. "I'm here, El. I don't - just please... how much longer?"
"Just a little longer, Liv. I promise. Are you okay?"
Releasing a shuttering breath, she closed her eyes against her surroundings again, concentrating instead on his voice.
"I'm - I don't know. Just get me out of here, Elliot. I want to go home."
The uncharacteristic sound of defeat in her voice should've angered her; she wasn't one to give up without a fight. But the emotional upheaval of the past few days had suddenly become overwhelming and she found she didn't care anymore. Playing Superwoman wasn't going to get her anywhere now.
"I know you do, Sweetie," he said soothingly, the endearment slipping out almost naturally. "We're coming for you; just hang in there for me. I'm gonna bring you home. Can you -"
Olivia tensed abruptly when the soft sound of footsteps on the natural carpet she sat on approached unexpected, missing Elliot's last words. Sam shot her a feral grin as he pulled the phone from her grasp, despite her growl of protest. She could hear Elliot's frantic voice calling out her name as the other man lifted the phone to his ear.
"Hello, Detective Stabler! How are you on this fine evening?"
She couldn't make out Elliot's reply but she could imagine. A frown appeared on her lips when Sam's face split into an amused smile.
"Oh, oh! That's not very nice, Detective. Didn't they teach you manners at the Academy?"
The mirth suddenly all but faded from his face, replaced instead with fury and his voice dropped an octave.
"No, you listen to me! She's going to get everything she deserves. I run the show here, Detective, not you! You've got until six am or she's dead."
With that he flipped the phone closed and dropped it to the floor, smashing it with his foot. He glanced from the now scattered pieces to Olivia, his eyebrow cocked before settling back down in his chair and returning to his crossword puzzle.
Olivia closed her eyes.
"Fuck!" Elliot's fist came down hard on his desk, causing everything scattered across the top to wobble precariously. His cell phone sat uselessly in front of him; the glowing screen still blinking the duration of his last call. A mere four minutes and fifty-two seconds.
He could still hear her voice in his mind; her desperate pleas for him to come, to bring her home. Something he'd never expected from his normally vivacious and fiercely independent partner. She'd begged him to save her, with the unmistakable sound of tears lacing her voice. The memory was like a punch to the gut.
But she was alive; able to breath, to talk; just alive. The threat was far from over though, only just beginning really and it scared the shit out of him. She was counting on him to come to her, shit he'd promised, sworn, that he'd find her; that he'd be her fucking knight in shining armor. Yet the seconds continued to tick on by and he couldn't seem to move.
Six a.m. or she's dead.
"No. No, no," his words were barely spoken; he wasn't even sure they'd left his lips but he felt them in his soul. "Hang on, Liv. Please keep fighting; just hang on. We're coming, we're coming -"
"Elliot," Cragen's voice urgently forced him back into cop-mode, got his limbs moving again.
"Don - Don, please tell me something. Tell me we know where she is - that she's going to be okay. Don -"
Cragen frowned, every line on his face curving downward. "It was a prepaid phone, not that it would have given us much to go on even if it weren't. Elliot - "
"He's going to kill her, Don. That's what that sick son-of-a-bitch said to me on the phone. We've only got six hours before he kills her. I promised her, Goddammit! I fucking promised her!"
"Elliot, listen to me," Cragen interrupted, laying a placating hand on the younger man's shaking shoulder. "We'll find her. We don't know her exact location yet, but we do have a place to start. The cell phone Olivia called from hit off of three towers in Jersey. I've already talked to the Chief of Police over there; they're ready and willing to help in any way they can."
Elliot stared at his captain for a moment before allowing a small dash of hope to flood his red-rimmed eyes. With his mouth set at a hard line and an imperceptible nod of the head, he pocketed his phone and badge before moving toward the door with determined strides.
"What the hell are we waiting for? Let's go."
The drive had taken too long; two hours wasted in an already too minute time-table, as Donald Cragen's Oldsmobile ate up the miles between Manhattan and some rat hole town in New Jersey. Elliot had spent the entire drive counting the minutes, the fucking seconds; his right pointer finger tapping the time out impatiently on the ledge of the open window.
One. Tap. Two. Tap. Three. Tap.
The noise had become his companion, his constant; incessant yet oddly comforting in its repetitiveness. Something that would probably have driven him nuts had it been one of his kids on a trip to Nowhere, USA, but here it felt like his last tie to sanity. A reminder of how fucking fast they were running out of time.
It was thirteen minutes after two when they finally pulled into the small community center for the nearly non-existent town. Exactly two hours since the click of the phone had reverberated over the lines, signaling the severance of the only contact he'd had with his partner in more than three days. Exactly two hours since he'd had any kind of assurance to her safety; since he'd known for certain she was still alive.
Lieutenant Henderson of the New Jersey State Police, a graying man of maybe fifty-five, greeted them the moment their shoes hit the pavement of the parking lot. His expression was all business as introductions were made, though there was a faint twinkle in his eyes that suggested he would be a riot after a beer or two. Maybe someone, under different circumstances, Elliot would enjoy the company of after a long day; another hard case. Right then however, Elliot couldn't care less if he was Santa Fucking Claus himself, so long as they found Olivia in time.
They followed the Lieutenant into the brick building where they were met by a group of men in uniform, all called in to help a fellow officer. He only hoped it wasn't all for nothing.
"Based on the cell towers your detective's call hit off of, we're looking at about four square miles. It sounds like a big job, but not as much as you might think." Henderson led them over to where a map of the area was tacked to a bulletin board. Tracing a rectangular outline drawn in red, he continued, "The area we're looking at is mostly rural, older folk and the like. Not a whole hell of a lot of places to hide and I've already got my men out searching. If she's out there, we're gon'a find her."
His own superior responded but the words seemed too far away for Elliot to comprehend. His eyes remained locked on the map in front of him as if that alone could tell him where she was. He was close; so close that he thought if he reached out he might be able to touch her; that if he tried he might be able to inhale the subtle feminine scent that was purely Olivia. So close, yet so damn far and time was quickly running out.
Jerking free of his daze, Elliot turned his attention to where the Lieutenant was exercising his rank and doling out instructions to the few men that weren't already out looking for Olivia. Cragen stood a few feet away, his phone pressed to his ear and his expression grim; Elliot recognized it as the face he wore when dealing with the brass. He could only imagine how that conversation was going. He figured he'd find out soon enough.
"Jerry," a voice suddenly rang out over the steady hum of the room. Henderson glanced up at the name and the man continued, "We've got press. TV crews are lined up for miles out there."
"Shit," he sighed, sparing a glance at Cragen and Elliot, who had joined him before nodding toward the officer. "Keep them back as best you can. I don't want anyone talking to them; Captain Cragen and I will handle that. Let's just focus on doing our job."
Doing our job...
The words sunk to the pit of Elliot's stomach like lead. Here he was, possibly within just a short distance of his missing partner and he was doing nothing. Instead he'd spent the ten minutes since arriving with his head up his ass; ten precious minutes while a raster of officers - people that didn't even know Olivia - were out doing his job. He'd promised to bring her home and yet was doing nothing to make that happen. What the hell was wrong with him?
Mumbling a few choice expletives at himself and swallowing the loathing that cloaked him in its thick grasp, he headed toward the door, mindless of everyone and everything around him. He paused only when Cragen's voice called out to him.
Turning, he leveled the older man with a dangerously dark gaze, daring him to even try to prevent him from leaving.
"You might be all right with sitting around and waiting for someone to bring her to us, Don, but I'm sure as hell not. I'm going to do what I came here to do. I'm going to find her."
Without waiting for a reply, he pushed past the glass doors and out into the night, only one objective in his mind.
Bring Olivia home.