Spoilers: Through Inconceivable, just to be certain, but set some vague time in the near future
Disclaimer: Hey, I'm unemployed, a writer, and non-union. Anybody want to hire me to finish the season?
Warning: This isn't really easy to write because my first instinct is to make things light and fluffy (think Redi-Whip, people). This fic is… well… not.
The unhappy words were pretty much all she had left.
She closed her eyes to block it out. She'd prided herself on being independent and resilient and capable of defending herself. But those solid, strong words no longer suited her. She was weak and helpless and pathetic. Having been stripped of all her defenses, all her strength, all the deeply ingrained ways she defined herself, she had no pride, no dignity.
She clung to the vestiges of humanity remaining, pulling the filthy sleeves of her once-cream colored top over her fingers. There was nothing she could do with the skimpy panties she wore, their white cotton stained a disgusting gray she didn't have the luxury of contemplating. There weren't even hers, something that had initially tuned her stomach, except after the hideous exposure she felt before he'd brought them when she'd been left in only her shirt, she was willing to overlook it.
She told herself it was her own fault. Her stubborn pride, unperturbed by sense, had refused to allow her to ask for permission to use the bathroom. There was no way for her to tell time, no predictable pattern to her captor's behavior, so she had no way of determining how long it had taken. She'd fought the urge so hard, suffering through the pain in her kidneys, the pressure in her bladder. But eventually, her will bent to base physical function. Olivia hadn't wet her pants since she was three years old. And her reaction had been practically the same – she fell apart, sobbing and hysterical over her loss of control. She thought that was the worst feeling in the world, trying to ignore the sickening, clammy wetness that seeped between her legs and stained her pants.
He'd been angry at her, shouting and yelling and demanding to know why she'd done such a thing.
But the true low had followed when he pulled her pants from her body, along with her own ruined panties. With her experiences in her career, she feared that she would be raped, violated in an almost familiar way. Somehow it was worse when he produced baby wipes, forcing her legs apart and cleaning her intimately. Her stomach heaved violently and futilely as his hands ran over her private parts, along the insides of her thighs, even spreading her folds to make sure she was thoroughly cleaned. He'd talked to her, of course, the whole time, as he'd done the whole time she'd been his prisoner, talking as if to soothe a soiled baby, saying nonsense in a silly voice, promising that he was making it all better.
Having learned her lesson and desperate to avoid another violation, which in her mind, had been as brutal and intrusive and debasing as rape, she allowed her abused, destroyed pride to crawl away and lowered herself to follow his rules, weakly ringing the buzzer attached above her handcuffed wrists to ask him to let her relieve herself.
She'd done so six times before he produced the replacement underpants. After so long spent exposed to his eyes, the used, skimpy cloth seemed almost decadent, except that he insisted on putting them on her.
Survival instincts took over then, letting her rationalize anything she needed to do or say or wear. She needed food and water to live, for example, so that made it ok to endure him holding her fork and raising her glass to her lips. It was even ok that she not feel upset or scared or sad for any of it because she might cry for all the frustration. Crying was dangerous because it would stuff up her nose and make it difficult to breathe. Her mouth was always thoroughly gagged, a washcloth in her mouth, covered by duct tape. Her skin was raw and torn from his repeated removal of the gag, but she didn't complain. She had no idea what doing so would merit her.
But sometimes he went to her, comforted her, assured her he'd protect her.
It was all she had to look forward to, nauseating as the idea of snuggling with the bastard was. So she told herself his shoulders were wider and stronger. She imagined the soft flesh under her under her arm was hard and defined. She pretended the squishy, unworked muscles of his chest were hard and distinct. She convinced herself that the arms holding her were warm and loving and strong.
And even as he forced her cuffed arms to encircle his crushing, overweight frame, she would close her eyes and sleep safely in Elliot's arms. But there was always something slightly off, no matter how hard she tried to make herself believe.
The fact was that he simply never smelled quite right. She knew Elliot's scent. She knew the way it would linger on her clothes after a long day at work. She knew the way it would permeate the car whenever they rode together, especially the way it would nearly choked her when the heat was on and the windows rolled up. She knew the way it changed, mingled with sweat and anger when he went on the attack. She even knew the most powerful combination, the one she couldn't resist, when it combined with the sweat and anger and mixed in desire while he was pounding into her.
No one else could ever be Elliot.
And that was the point she reached, every time he held her, when she couldn't hold on any longer, when her terror and pain and fear and shame took over, when she crumbled into herself and sobbed into an exhausted, horrified sleep.
It was just before three on a Thursday afternoon. The bullpen was relatively quiet, for a police station at least, and Olivia was looking for a way to avoid doing anymore paperwork. Cragen would have been quite happy if she'd plugged along steadily all day, but the boredom had overtaken her before she'd finished her first cup of coffee and she'd been forcing herself to keep trying for hours.
Normally, she would have had the distraction of Elliot's elusive humor to help her out. Not that his jokes were ever funny, except for the occasional one that didn't make her roll her eyes, but even rolling her eyes would be welcome. Anything to take her mind off the monotony. Paperwork was not something people who wanted to be cops were good at.
Of course, if anyone asked, Olivia Benson had joined the police force to help people, to comfort victims in a way her mother never had been, possibly even to find her father.
Of course, anyone who knew her knew that was a load of shit. Initial altruism aside, Olivia was a cop because she loved the thrill, the rush of adrenaline, the relief of still being alive at the end of a chase. Because all her life she'd battled with the pain of her conception at the cost of her mother's suffering and sobriety. So many times Olivia herself had hit the bottle in high school and college, wondering why she kept living, wishing she didn't ever have to wake up, that there was a distinct comfort in even having a fear, however transient, of death, in the joy of survival. It wasn't just a high, just a love of danger; it was the knowledge that she'd faced the danger, stared down assholes like her father, and had not simply survived, but conquered.
Some people had big houses. Some people had a gaggle of kids. Some people took drugs. Olivia locked up bastards who'd voluntarily given up their right to intermingle with the rest of society.
So there was a little bit of self-righteousness and a dash of a superiority thrown in there too. Those were the parts she shared with her partner of ten years, the partner with whom she was currently having an argument. She couldn't remember what the fight was about, who'd started it, nor who'd been the one to initiate the stand-off, but she figured if it didn't matter enough for her to remember, it clearly wasn't that big of a fight.
Bored, she lifted her coffee mug, trying to do a mental count of how many cups she'd had that day. "Bleh! God that's disgusting!" She spat the mouthful back into the mug, glaring at it as though it was to blame for her having forgotten it so long that it had grown cold.
Elliot looked up, annoyed by her intrusion into his productive day. "Haven't you had enough of that today? You're going to be up all night."
Pleased that the fight appeared to be over, Olivia immediately forgot about the coffee and smiled at her partner. "I need to be up all night. I have a date." Her eyes twinkled as she turned back to her computer.
"Who's it with this time?" It wasn't that he really cared who she was dating, but he liked to have names of guys she dated.
She suspected it was so he could run background checks on them, something she'd overcome early on in her career. "Phil."
"Dr. Phil? Again? Geez, Liv, when's the wedding?"
She laughed as she threw a balled up piece of paper at him. Phil Nicholson was a good looking, well educated, smooth talking doctor. So smooth talking and nice looking that Olivia had been willing to overlook her personal aversion to anyone named Phil, most of all someone that Elliot could so easily laugh at. He'd been engaged twice, he'd admitted, but never gone through with it. The admission had reassured her that she wasn't the only one who had no fear of commitment, provided said commitment was a bit shorter than until death do us part. She just didn't see the point. She preferred to continue relationships as long as they were fun and lacked stress. She got her fill of stressful relationships at work. "I've only gone out with him a few times." Playing down his joke, she tried not to think about it. It was hard, after all, to find someone whose schedule was as ridiculous as her own and thereby wouldn't be offended at being put off repeatedly.
"Just a few more times than you've ever dated anyone." He was looking at his computer screen, which Olivia decided was the cause of his frown.
"Are you keeping track or are you just jealous?" She meant for it to be a joke, but his eyes found hers across their desks and she shivered at the unexpected anger there.
"What the hell would I be jealous of? The last thing I want is to be tied down." He got up, stalking across the office to a row of filing cabinets, retrieving a folder, and then slamming the drawer.
Olivia rolled her eyes and redoubled her efforts to do something productive. Ever since the divorce, Elliot had been a bit touchy regarding relationships. So touchy, in fact, that she'd never managed to wheedle the whole story out of him. As far as she knew, things were hunky-dory at the Stabler house; and then one day, they'd up and decided to get a divorce after all. She'd been putting up with his mood swings for three months, giving her yet another reason to not want to get married ever.
Luckily, her phone rang, saving her from having to interact with her partner for a few minutes. By the time he was once again seated across from her, she was hanging up and reaching for her jacket. "Let's go, El. We've got a case."
Elliot swallowed half of his coffee in one gulp, pulling his blazer off the back of his chair and following his partner. "What's up?"
She tossed him the keys as she referred to her notepad. "Natalie Miller, 23. Nurse said she's not saying much, but she's been worked over pretty well."
Not saying much was just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, after over an hour of trying to get information out of Natalie, they'd learned very little. Then her father showed up, demanding that they leave her alone. It was nearly five while they sat in the car, discussing their notes. The only thing Natalie had given them was the fact that she'd been at the library all day working on her thesis. She hadn't seen anyone out of the ordinary. No one strange had bothered her. There hadn't been anyone watching her. She was sure that she didn't know the rapist; however, the thing that had caught the detectives' attention was that she reported the rapist knew her name.
Rather than returning to the precinct, Elliot drove to her door and let the ride serve as his apology. "We'll hit up the library first thing tomorrow."
Checking her watch, Olivia's first instinct was to start the investigation. "It's early. We can check it out now. Besides, you have to take the cruiser back."
"I'll take care of it. You better go get ready for Dr. Phil."
After a day of squinting at her computer and using coffee to keep her from passing out, she knew she could use a nice hot shower to revive her. But she was leery of anything that might start the next day off on the wrong note – something like Elliot having to take the car back on his own so she'd have time to prepare for her date.
Except he didn't seem angry anymore and the offer seemed genuine. "You're sure?"
He nodded. "You bring me coffee tomorrow and we're square."
With a wide smile she climbed out of the car. "Night, Stabler."
He rolled down the window and called out as she crossed the street. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
She turned back and grinned. "Oh, come on, that's the whole point!"
True to form, he waited until after the door closed behind her before he pulled away.