**DISCLAIMER** The show, SVU, the characters...someone told me they are not mine; that I could play with them but then they had to go home when the Wolf howled. Howl? What howl? I didn't hear anything...did you?


The Basement...bet you can't guess what this is about? LOL. I have several stories that I started at various times. This one has been around since the airing of Undercover. Decided to finished it up since I don't have anything major to post right now. I will soon... " ) Bensler


The Basement

by Bensler

SVU Squad Room - Tuesday Night - April 15

Elliot leaned over Olivia's desk inches from where she sat staring at a picture of her would be rapist. He chewed his bottom lip nervously, "What happened in the basement?" His eyes never left her. Not for a second.

The darkening bruise on her face was more than enough proof that something frightening had taken place. Elliot needed to know what. He needed the details.

Though his voice was quiet and outwardly he seemed calm, she could feel the tension running through him, off of him, enveloping and suffocating her. She could not bring herself to look at him. He would know from her eyes that she was lying. Who was she kidding? He would know anyway. She shook her head slightly.

"Nothing," whispering, she sucked in her lower lip, kneading with her teeth.

He just stood there silently, unmoving, waiting, his knuckles whitening with the iron grip he had on her desk. Glancing quickly at him, she spoke softly, "I'm fine, El."

He knew Olivia better than himself and he knew with every fiber of his being she was not truthful with her answer. She was holding back on him. And though he couldn't blame her, it angered him nonetheless.

As was the usual, when things started getting too heavy between them, when it seemed one or the other or both were about to do or say something that would reveal their true feelings, they were interrupted. The desk phone rang.

"Detective Benson." She listened a moment, "I'll be right there." Turning to Elliot, she stood, "Ashley's awake. I gotta go."

Gathering her things, she left for the hospital. Elliot still watched her, his eyes never losing sight of her as she walked out of the double doors and down the hallway. His reason for staying late gone, he left for home.

SVU Squad Room - Wednesday Morning - April 16

Fin walked into the squad room and headed for his locker. Elliot sat at his desk sipping coffee and reading something on his computer screen. When he heard Fin come in, he looked up and then around the room. It was early. Except for a couple of support personnel, he and Fin were the only ones there. He rose from his desk and made his way to the row of lockers.

"Morning, Fin." Elliot leaned against the lockers close to Fin.

"Mornin', Elliot." Fin was immediately on the defense.

He was sure what Elliot wanted and equally sure he did not want to be the one to tell him. It would all come out eventually in the trial. Olivia would have to testify as to what happened in the basement. If anyone told him now, it should be Olivia.

"You and Liv had a pretty intense day." He watched Fin's face for any reaction that might tell him something, anything.

Fin kept messing with things in his locker, not looking directly at Elliot. "You could say that."

"What happened in the basement?" Elliot got right to it.

Fin closed his locker, holding onto the lock for a moment before he turned to Elliot. "I think that should come from Liv. And I only saw what coulda happened."

Elliot inhaled sharply through his nose and shook his head. "She won't tell me."

"Maybe she don't wanna tell you. Maybe she got her reasons," Fin's eyes locked with his.

Leaning in, he was merely inches from Fin's face, "I need to know, Fin."

"Why? There ain't nothin' you can do about it, man. It ain't gonna do no good 'cept to get you all stirred up and bouncin' off da walls," Fin snapped at him.

He did not want to be dragged into this. If Olivia did not want to tell Elliot what happened in the basement, then who was he to do it for her. When he found out, and he would find out, Fin was sure Elliot would explode with a fury unlike anything any of them, including Elliot, had ever before experienced. Elliot cared about Olivia. They all did. She was like their little sister. Well, more than a sister to Elliot. What exactly, no one was quite sure. Not even Olivia and Elliot, it seemed.

"She's hurting, Fin. I've got to know what happened, so I can help her," his blue eyes pleaded with Fin.

A seasoned detective, Fin was hardened by the things he had seen and experienced. That the tortured look in Elliot's eyes, got under his skin, surprised as well as embarrassed him. Olivia was Elliot's partner. Nine years. He deserved to know what had happened. What that scumbag Harris had done to her. What he had intended to do to her. What he had failed to carry out. All because Fin had come to her rescue, and not a second too soon. Elliot should know. Before it came out in the trial or he heard it passed along the halls of the NYPD.

Fin stared at him and Elliot held the stare, his blue eyes begging Fin to give him what he needed. Fin looked around the squad room. Only three people were there besides the two of them and no one was paying any attention to them. He glanced at the clock. Seven ten. Olivia usually arrived around seven thirty. Fin knew he was going to regret doing this, but he looked back at Elliot and then over at his desk.

"DD5s. Green folder. Suppose to get 'em ready for Cragen by nine. Liv's is in there, too." Fin nodded toward his desk. "You didn't get it from me."

Elliot looked at him for a minute, and then slapped him on the shoulder. "I owe you big time. Thanks, man!"

SVU Locker Room - Wednesday Morning - April 16

Before he could stop it, before he even knew it was about to erupt, the low guttural yell pierced the locker room, ripped from his throat by the raw emotions rising up and swirling around him. Emotions threatening to suck him into a deep, dark abyss. He jumped up from the bench he was sitting on, slinging the green folder away from him, the papers within, separating, flying in every direction, slowly floating to the floor.

He grabbed his head with both hands and began, pacing up and down, up and down, up and down. His hands dropped to his side, and became fists that clenched and unclenched. He was about to hyperventilate. His chest was on fire, burning, trying to pull in enough air to calm himself. Elliot laughed out loud. Calm himself? The only thing that would calm him would be to wrap his hands around Lowell Harris's throat! He could kill him. With his bare hands. He knew he could kill him. Given a half a chance, he would kill him!

His head began to pound; each beat of his heart, pumping blood furiously, bringing with it another hammering blow. The pain in his head was excruciating, yet it was nothing, nothing compared to the pain that ripped and clawed at his heart now that he knew what Olivia had endured. What she had faced. Alone. Without him. He should have been there! He should have been the one with her. Not Fin. Lowell Harris would never be a threat to Olivia or any other woman ever again. He would be dead and Elliot would be arraigned on murder charges.

Unable to contain the rolling, thundering anger, he turned and began pummeling the lockers in front of him. One of them was so damaged the door came open and would not close. He tore it from its hinges as though he were ripping a piece of paper in two. Finally, he stopped. Staring at the blood streaming from his knuckles and the cut that slashed across his fingers from ripping off the door, he collapsed onto the bench in front of the locker. He was so upset, so caught up in visions of what he would do to Lowell Harris if he had a chance that he did not hear the locker room door open. He did not hear the tentative footsteps that quietly, slowly approached him. He did not notice his partner standing at the end of the room, watching him.

Elliot's angry outbursts were nothing new. Olivia had seen her share of them over the years, had been the recipient of too many to count, not physically, of course. She had doctored his injured hands and knuckles time and time again wondering what he hoped to prove by beating the crap out of inanimate objects. She had seen to the replacement of locker doors and repair of sheet rock so often, she had the handyman on speed dial. She debated on what to say and whether or not she should say anything or just slip back out to the bullpen. No. She could not do that. Elliot needed someone to talk him through whatever this was. Or someone to just sit beside him and be there for him. He needed her.

"Heck of a way to start the morning. At least this way, the day has to get better," she spoke quietly, taking a stab at joking instead of being serious.

He did not look at her. He couldn't. He was afraid if he looked at her, he would jump up, sweep her into his arms and hold her close. If he looked at her, she would see in his eyes the guilt he felt over failing her. She was his partner and he was not there for her in her time of need. He wanted to run his hands over the cuts and bruises on her body and tell her he was sorry that he was not there to protect her. He wanted to push the fear from her heart, the images from her mind. He wanted to take it all away, make it as though it never happened. He wanted to tell her that he would be there from now on; that he would not let anything or anyone hurt her again. Ever.

His eyes were burning with the heightening pressure of unreleased tears. He took a deep breath attempting to both calm down and trigger the normal rhythm of breathing once again. She came to stand about two feet in front of him. No way could he look her in the eyes. Not yet. Maybe never again. He blinked rapidly, staring at his feet and the floor around them. Black boots covered with the pin-striped dark blue denim of her jeans draping almost to the floor came into view. Still he would not, could not look up.

Staring now at her boots, he saw the deep scuff on the toe of the left boot. He remembered when she got it. It was recent. Just last week they had been bringing a cuffed suspect into the precinct. Elliot was holding him and Olivia was ahead of them about to open the door to the station when the suspect suddenly head butted her in the back. Knocking her off balance, she fell up the concrete steps, barely catching herself. In the process, her boot slid across the edge of the concrete. Didn't she own any shoe wax or polish, he wondered?

"El?" she now sat beside him, mere inches separating them. "You okay?"

Fine. I'm fine. Everything's fine. He wanted to say that word, but he couldn't. Because it was not true. He wasn't fine. And he didn't know how she could always say she was fine when it was obvious to everyone around her that she was not fine. He said nothing.

Moments later her boots disappeared and he was left to stare at the scratched floor of the locker room. He heard her rummaging in a cabinet and in a short time she was back with the first aid box. She motioned for him to turn and straddle the bench. He did so, still ashamed to look into her eyes. Gently, she took his right hand in her left, turning it palm up and began to slowly clean the cuts that stretched across all four of his fingers. She turned it over and then repeated the process on his cut and scraped knuckles. As she applied an antibiotic ointment, Elliot jerked his hand away.

"Did I hurt you?" she looked up alarmed.

Looking at his hand, he shook his head, and let her take his hand again, "Stings."

"Sorry," she finished it up, as he grimaced.

"This will have to have gauze wrapped around it. The cuts are too deep to leave unprotected," she looked up at him but he avoided her eyes.

Taking the gauze from the package she began to wind it around his fingers then secured it with tape, which she tore with her teeth. Her hands were so soft, so tender with his injured ones. Memorizing each touch, he watched every move she made until her eyes would lift to his. He simply could not look her in the eye yet. She released his right hand and took his left, doctoring it as she had the other one. When she finished she put everything back in the first aid kit and returned it to the cabinet.

As she turned back, she watched him for a minute. He was still staring at the floor, scattered papers all around him. She knew he was very upset about something or he would never have been having a punch out session with the lockers. She wanted to ask had he and Kathy been fighting. She heard the rumors that things were still rough between them. Once upon a time she would have asked. But somewhere along the line she had lost that right. Somewhere along the line they had created a new unspoken rule. No talking about their personal lives. No talking about anything that really mattered. And how she missed that. How she missed him.

Walking toward him, she noticed he visibly tensed and would not look at her. Was it her? Was he angry at her? Had she done something to upset him and was yet unaware of it? Stopping once again near him as he sat still straddling the bench, she placed her right hand on his left shoulder.

The spot where her hand rested was on fire; her voice was so tender, so soothing. He wanted to scoop her into his arms, bury his face in her hair and hold her. He wanted to apologize for Sealview and the bomb and the slasher who broke into her apartment. He wanted to tell her he was sorry about the failed adoption and Lauren Cooper and the accident and for choosing Kathy again. He wanted to be able to tell her she didn't need Kurt Moss or some schmuck she met in a bar or on a blind date because he would be there for her. Always. And in all the ways she wanted and needed. He wanted her to know she was still the rock in his life, the one thing he could always count on; the one person who knew him better than he knew himself and yet still cared about him. Still accepted him.

"El…talk to me. What's wrong?" she asked softly, leaning her head down to try to see into his eyes.

Unsuccessful, she sat beside him again, but still he would not look at her. Taking a deep shaky breath, he still averted his eyes from her burning gaze. As he shook his head slowly from left to right, she caught sight of the papers on the floor. Bending to pick one up, Elliot stilled, his breathing ceased as he braced for the impending verbal assault when Olivia realized what she was now holding in her hands.

The soft gasp as she sucked her bottom lip between her teeth had to be just the preliminary of the angry tirade that would erupt any second. Still holding his breath, he waited. And waited. With her right foot, she slowly pulled another sheet closer to her, leaned down and picked it up, glancing over it before she put it with the first one, matching the edges of the two sheets. Her hands began to shake and right before him she seemed to shrink in size. Her confidence and strength drained from her. Right before him the self-assured Detective Olivia Benson seemed to fade away and in her place was just another woman. Just another victim. A special victim. His stomach churned at the thought of his Liv being a special victim. What had he done?

They sat in silence for a long moment. Finally, he dared to shift his eyes upward to look at her. Staring at the papers in her hands, her eyes shimmered with tears, but she did not cry. Her lips were slightly parted and she was barely breathing. Her eyes were empty, her expression blank, and he could not read her. And it scared him. He wondered if it was only because of Sealview or had it been longer than that since he could hear the silent words she spoke to him. So long that he did not even know when things between them changed. Again. Or had she simply chosen to no longer speak to him with her beautiful brown eyes.

Someone needed to say something, but he had no idea what to say. He had breached her trust by making Fin give him those reports. Right now he hated himself. He was no better than the man she had written about in her report. In a way, he had raped her as surely as Lowell Harris had tried. He had taken her choice away. Instead of waiting for her to tell him what happened during the undercover assignment, he had forced the issue. Now this might just be the final straw that would break their partnership, their friendship forever.

He had to say something, anything. "Liv…"

Now it was her turn to shake her head. Biting her lower lip, she looked up at him and then let her eyes fall back to the papers in her hands. "I…I would have told you, you know."

Nodding his head, he whispered, "I know."

"I just…I didn't want you to think that I…that I was…that I couldn't…" she broke off, shaking her head again and her hand rubbed over her mouth.

"What, Olivia? What didn't you want me to think?" he pushed a strand of hair from her face, tucking it behind her left ear. Now she evaded his eyes as he sought hers.

Shrugging, she looked away from him. Finally, the words came, "That I was…weak. That I couldn't do my job anymore…couldn't watch your back…that I was…was damaged. If you want a new partner I…I understand…"

"What? I don't think you are weak, Olivia! He had a weapon, and handcuffs. You were overpowered because he abused his authority, not because you are weak! And what happened to you has nothing to do with your ability to do your job or watch my back. Whatever you are going through, you'll put it behind. And I'll help you, Liv. I'll be right here with you. You're crazy if you think I'd want a new partner. You're my partner. I couldn't do this job without you, Liv," he took her by her shoulders, "I couldn't. You're stuck with me for better or for worse. Remember?"

She couldn't help but smile at his reference. "You're the one who's stuck."

"Well, I like being stuck…as long as it's with you," he retorted with a smirk.

Her smile grew bigger before she turned serious again, sighing, "I shouldn't have gone down there with him. I should have fought him. I knew better than to let him take me down there…I knew better…"

"Olivia…you were doing exactly what any of those women prisoners would have done. There is nothing you could have done differently. Nothing. You had no choice. He took that from you," he hooked his finger under her chin and turned her to face him.

Her eyes remained downcast and she shifted uncomfortably. "Liv, I'm sorry. I should have waited for you to tell me. But, I just…I knew it was bad…and I wanted to help you, to be here for you…but I didn't know what you needed. I thought I had to know what happened before I could be any good to you."

Repeated sniffles were her only response, and she still would not look at him, so he went on, "I…I should have waited til you told me…I..t-took that choice from you, Liv…and that makes me no better than Harris…I'm so sor…"

Her head jerked up, her hands shoving roughly against his shoulders as her eyes now met his in a scathing glare, "No! You are nothing like Lowell Harris, Elliot! Nothing like him! Don't you ever say that again!"

His hands went up as he tried to calm her, "Okay, okay…"

"Ever. Nothing like him… you never would have…he was…I almost…he would have… but he didn't, I didn't…because Fin got there in time. Elliot, I almost became my mother. I…I don't think I could have handled it. I'm not sure I can handle this and I wasn't even raped," her voice had fallen to a barely audible decibel.

"It was still sexual assault. You know that, Liv. Don't try to minimize what he did and don't lay the blame on yourself. It's not your fault. You should talk to someone. I'll go with you if you want. Sit with you, or in the waiting room, whatever," his eyes were full of concern and he chewed his lips as he waited for her to answer.

"I don't want to talk to anyone. I need…I need to figure this out myself. I need to figure out just what he stole from me," speaking softly she covered her face with her hands.

The thought of Lowell Harris stealing anything from Olivia sent his mind reeling again with thoughts of physical violence toward the worthless creep. He had no right, no right to hurt Olivia, to assault her, to steal her choice, her peace of mind, her confidence, her security. Beyond any doubt he knew he could kill Harris is given even a fraction of a reason to do so within the realm of the law.

"Okay…maybe you're not ready to talk about it. But just know that you don't have to go through this alone, Olivia. Promise me if it gets to be too much, you will talk to someone. Even if it's just me. Okay?" his eyes were narrowed and he leaned down to try to get her to look at him.

She glanced at him and nodded.

"Promise me, Liv," he pressed, touching a hand to her shoulder.

At last she looked up at him and smiled, "Promise,"

It was a small smile but it made his heart leap, and relief to wash through him. She would be okay. Someway, somehow Olivia would survive this. She was, after all, a survivor. Of her mother's alcoholism; her mothers' rape. Of her job; of her life in general.

If only he had been there, she would not have to go through this. He would have found a way to protect her, to keep Harris away from her. He would have to deal with his guilt just like she would have to deal with the assault. He wondered if he could take his own advice and talk to someone. He doubted it.

Still looking into her eyes, he was overwhelmed with the feelings he had for her. The need to put some space between them and some perspective into the thoughts he was having snapped him back to the present. He pulled his eyes from her wishing his circumstances were different.

"We better get out there before Cragen comes looking for us," he said as he nodded toward the door.

In response, Olivia stood up and began picking up the scattered papers. Elliot followed her lead and in less than a minute they had all the papers gathered. As she handed him the pile she had collected, she caught his hand in hers, gently wrapping her slender fingers around his bandaged ones.

"El, it's not your fault, either," her brown eyes were soft, full of understanding and what he most needed. Her forgiveness.

Smiling a closed lip smile, he nodded once.

No matter what was between them – frustration, anger, exasperation, confusion, irritation – for better or worse they still knew the other inside out; still wanted the best for each other. There may be times when the connection wasn't as easy to read, or it faded for a time, but it never completely disconnected. Nothing would ever change that intrinsic part of their relationship. Not even what happened or didn't happen in the basement.

~ ~ ~ eoeoeoeo ~ ~ ~