Disclaimer: I own none of the characters from Law and Order or from any version of The Ring/Ringu. Nor am I making any money from this.
FYI: This is a cross over with The Ring. A pre-dead Samara Morgan comes within the purview of the SVU. Overthemoon2139 has a crossover with The Ring called Well Girl, but she's okay with there being another one. Thanks, OTM! I have a non-crossover Ring story, but I'm stuck on it right now and this one will cover much of the same territory.
Detective John Munch noticed her on his way back from the break room; a youngish woman with a pale, unhappy face and the violet smears of fatigue under her eyes. Long experience told him she was on the verge. The SVU's squad room was full of busy, hardworking people. Without meaning to, it sent the message that they had no time or attention for any more complaints right now. In another moment she might leave as silently and invisibly as she came, and judging by the tight lines of pain and stress marring the smoothness of her brow and pulling at her mouth, she needed help like a heatstroke victim needed ice.
"Whatever it is," he said, keeping his voice pitched low and private, for her alone, "we're here to listen and help. Don't think about not wanting to bother us. We live to be bothered. That's why God put us here on this Earth: specifically for the purpose of being bothered. I'm Detective Munch, by the way. Special Victims Unit."
She shook her head, raising her eyes to his. "It's not that. I know I'm doing the right thing—the only possible thing, under the circumstances. But it's probably going to cost me my career and my future. Just like at a funeral, I needed a moment to say goodbye, and now I've said it. I'm ready." She closed her eyes and swallowed hard.
"Perhaps this would be easier in private," he suggested.
"Yes," she admitted. "It probably would."
"This way," he said, indicating an empty interview room. "Mind if my partner joins us?"
He caught Fin's eye. Fin was on the phone, but he nodded, holding up an index finger to say he would be a moment. Munch nodded back, and continued. There was something familiar about this woman, and as he showed her to a seat, he realized what it was: her hair, warm caramel with hints of butterscotch and chocolate, was the same color as Sara Logan's.
Victim of a double rape, her case had fallen to him, and he had pursued it intensely not so much because she was beautiful but because she was good, a newscaster who promoted charities and causes, giving back to the world. He had been more than half in love with Sara Logan.
Four times married and divorced, John Munch knew he had problems relating to women. His four ex-wives had, as a department head-shrinker pointed out, all been beautiful (he was only human), spoiled, and intellectually his inferior. Until he met Sara, he hadn't understood why he repeatedly fell for women most men would ward off with religious symbols, but she illuminated everything. He had chosen women who needed to be cared for and protected, because he needed to care for and protect—no sooner had he retired from twenty years with the Baltimore PD than he signed up for the Manhattan SVU, which was proof enough right there.
And he had chosen women who were less intelligent than he because as much as inevitably losing their love hurt, he could offer himself the consolation that they had never really understood him. To be understood and rejected all the same would be a mortal wound.
With one statement, Sara showed him she saw through him—saw through his sarcasm and anger for the defenses they were. "You know your voice changes just the tiniest bit when you're spinning? I know you." Then she asked him out to dinner. Reeling a little internally with shock, self-realization, and hope, he accepted.
They never had that dinner. Within hours she was dead, slain by a stalker who could not forgive her for having been raped, who saw her as soiled, spoiled, contaminated. The memory of Sara still hurt.
Fortunately this woman did not otherwise resemble Sara. Her eyes were blue, where Sara's had been brown, and her face, while a nice enough face, lacked Sara's classic beauty.
"Would you like a cup of coffee?" Munch offered, to give Fin a moment more to join them.
"No. No, thank you."
He sat down opposite her. "May I ask your name?" Fin entered as he said it.
"Doctor Judith Weiss."
"Doctor Weiss. Pleased to meet ya. I'm Detective Tutuola." Fin introduced himself, taking up a pose against the wall. "How can we help you?"
"I'm working up to it." Her mouth twitched into a half-smile.
"Start where ever you feel comfortable." Munch advised.
"Let me ask the two of you a question." She sat forward. "If someone were to wake you up in the middle of the night and ask you who you were, how would you reply?"
Munch turned to look at his partner behind him. "Detective John Munch, I guess."
"Provided I didn't kick his teeth in, I'd say I was Detective Tutuola."
She nodded. "I thought so. Some professions aren't just what you do; it's who you are. If someone woke me up, I'd say I was Doctor Judith Weiss. I'm in my third year of residency at Eola Psychiatric Hospital."
"Never heard of it." Tutuola shook his head.
"Me neither." Munch replied.
"It's a small private hospital. Most patients are there short-term, dealing with depression, suicidal tendencies, stress. Also alcoholism and addiction. For the most part, they're well off but not very wealthy. No celebrities, no gimmicks. The long term cases are schizophrenics and manic-depressives from families who want them to be more comfortable than they would be in a state-run facility. At Eola they benefit from more individual attention than—Listen to me, I sound like the brochure." She smiled wryly.
"It is a good hospital. A good place to work, well-run. At least it was. A bit old-fashioned in its approach, maybe, but—."
"Old-fashioned? How?" Munch interrupted.
"The head physician, Dr. Graham Scott, still believes in the value of electroshock therapy, among other things." she replied. "That's—Eola is an adult hospital. Most of the patients are in their fifties or older. They've admitted a few in their late teens, now and then. No children. Not until three months ago." She took a folder from her shoulder bag, and removed a photograph, handing it to Munch.
It was a grainy print-out showing a small figure strapped into a chair and wired almost as if for an electrocution. Long dark hair obscured most of the face and shrouded the shoulders. "Her name is Samara Morgan. She's seven years old. She's being drugged and abused, and if no one intervenes…
"If you can't help her, in less than forty-eight hours, she's going to be unnecessarily and wrongly lobotomized."
"By whom?" Munch asked.
"Doctor Graham Scott, the head of Eola Psychiatric Hospital. And yes, he has her father's consent."
"Her father's? Where is her mother in all this?"
"You mean she's in the same hospital?" Tutuola abandoned his place against the wall to lean over the table, the better to see the picture.
"So both this mom and this little girl are supposed to be crazy?"
"Normally I'd argue with you about the use of the word 'crazy'," Doctor Weiss said wearily, "but I don't have the energy. Anna Morgan is suffering from severe clinical depression, suicidal ideation, hallucinations, and has admitted to having a desire to harm or kill her daughter."
"Reason enough to check into a mental institution," agreed Munch.
"I get that," Tutuolla nodded. "but why's the little girl there?"
"She's at that hospital because Anna couldn't bear to be separated from her," the doctor explained, "and she's hospitalized because she can't sleep, she's withdrawn, moody, and insensitive to pain."
"Do you have proof of any of this?" Munch asked.
Judith Weiss reached into her bag and took out a thick folder. "While I'm still just a resident, I have eighty hour work weeks. I don't have a family, so I don't mind taking weekend shifts as much. I ran Samara's file through the copy machine during the night shift. The last item in it is the order for the lobotomy. I also have this—."
She pulled out a videotape, "—and this." She took out her cell phone and pushed a few keys. Its screen lit up with a photograph of Samara holding up her sleeve to show massive purple bruises. In this picture, her hair was brushed back to show a haunted, gaunt little face with a defiant chin. "These happened yesterday afternoon. An orderly knelt on her to hold her down for her medications. I took the pictures this morning. There are also these." Another key, another photo. Samara held up her blouse to show more bruises on her chest and abdomen. "I think she may have a cracked rib."
"Has anyone seen her—Stupid question. You're a doctor, she's in a hospital. If it was okay, you wouldn't be here." Munch grimaced. "What the hell is going on there?"
"That's where it gets weird." Dr. Weiss replied. "And I don't use the word 'weird' lightly."
"Can ya hang on for a moment?" Fin asked. "Be right back." He crossed the squad room and rapped on Cragen's door. "Captain? We got one that's gonna hit the fan before it's done. Huang and Cabot outta be here, too."