Author's Note: Okay, the long awaited chapter 1. Please review! :)

Disclaimer: SVU isn't mine, so it follows that none of the characters are mine either. :P And the opening quote is lyrics, by Cartel, song: Runaway. (hence the title)


Face down; this is where it leads you - too far.
Buried covered now, you'll find peace - in the earth aground.

What had started out as a cool autumn morning was rapidly turning steamy, as Indian summer grabbed a thick chokehold over New York. And the heavy humidity, the temperatures rising near triple digits were doing nothing to help Elliot Stabler's mood.

Well he thought somberly The morning had started off with a bang, that was for sure. A knockdown-all -out scream fest with Kathy over who would pick up Dickie from practice, and then Eli had puked on his shirt.

Twice.

So now, with his shirt vomit free, and after fighting midtown rush hour traffic, Elliot finally pulled his police issue crown Victoria into the parking lot of Alexander Robertson School. As expected, the lot was crawling with cops, some he knew, some he didn't. The media hounds were scattered around also, digging for dirt on what was sure to be the day's hottest headline.

He flashed his badge to the uniformed officer at the door and stepped inside, into the carnage. He knew he was only there; SVU was only there because it involved children. Dead children. And it was in times like that when he really began to hate his job. The hallway stank of death. The overly sweet, sickly smell that permeated the air whenever life seemed to leave the body. Somehow, decomposition always smelled worse when it was children decomposing. Children weren't supposed to die. He forced himself to breath out, and began to scan the room, crime scene markers were scattered down the corridor, each yellow number marking a piece of evidence, or worse yet, a body. He was almost afraid to count them. Instead he looked for Olivia, and he spotted her crouched low over the body closest to him.

"What've we got Liv?" he asked her casually, as he snapped a pair of latex gloves onto his hands.

"Oh. Nice of you to show up El." She quipped. He got ready to make a retort, to spit back something nasty about his ex-wife and sick kids, but caught sight of her smile, and felt one of his own tugging at the corners of his mouth.

"Well," he said instead "We celebrity cops get here when we can. So, what happened?"

"Eight dead kids and one teacher." She answered solemnly.

He glanced around and noticed the gun in the hand of the little girl Olivia was crouched over. "She our shooter?"

"It looks that way. It was early, so there was almost nobody here. I guess that was lucky, but it means that we have no surviving witnesses."

"Not one?" he asked, aghast "A little girl shoots up her school, and not one person lives to tell the tale?"

"That's how it's playing." Olivia responded.

"That's just… fucked up." He muttered "Do we even know who she is?"

"School ID says nine year old Jessica Zaweski, from the upper east side."

He looked down at the body, she was thin, skinny in the way that only kids and anorexic girls seem to be. Flesh and bones. Her face was pallid, and devoid of color, it held the ghastly grey marking of death. Her eyes, still violet, were wide open, but stared blankly at the ceiling, never again to sparkle the way they once had. Elliot forced himself to look away from her face, and scan down her body. "She's well dressed, clean, and…" he opened the backpack that lay on the floor beside her body "She'd got a healthy lunch packed. So, what makes a privileged girl kill nine people?"

"Where's Warner?" he questioned, looking around for the M.E. and their mutual friend.

"Right here." Came the reply from behind them.

Elliot raised his eyebrows and stared at his partner. "And you said I was late?"

"Yeah, but I like her" Olivia joked, and stood up, stepping aside, so Melinda could work freely.

"Rigor's set, so that probably puts her TOD around 7:30 – 8 am."

Benson nodded "That fits with the timeline."

"I'll know more when I get her on the table. But…"

"But what?"

"I don't think this girl was your shooter…"

Simultaneously, they looked intrigued "Okay" Elliot said finally "Why not?"

Melinda lifted Jessica's empty left hand. "See, here, on her index, middle and ring fingers? Calluses. Most likely from holding a pen or pencil, because there's black marks around them. I think this girl was left handed."

"And the gun is in her right hand." Olivia finished the thought.

"So, if this girl isn't our shooter…" Elliot whispered, breaking the awkward silence that had ensued.

"Then you have a serious mass murderer on your hands. A child killer."

***

The squad room was a dreary place later, for nobody really wanted to face the fact that there might have been a tenth person in that school earlier that morning.

"Okay." Olivia said on a breath, finally breaking the silence. "What's the motive for another person shooting up the school?"

"A kid that was bullied?" Fin threw out "That's usually the case."

"But they also usually kill themselves too. And obviously, that isn't the case."

"What about an older student that didn't graduate?" Munch said quietly "Maybe he's bitter or something."

Olivia nodded and looked to Elliot who opened his mouth to say something, but the phone on his desk rang loudly, and he moved to answer it, mouthing a quick apology.

Fin looked a Munch, pondering for a moment before he spoke. "That's not a bad idea. Lets run the kids they've expelled in the last six months and see where it gets us."

Elliot put down the phone receiver and turned to his partner. "That was Warner, she's got something for us."

***

"What's up Doc?" Elliot joked as they made their way into the morgue. The floursecent lights made the room a little too bright, as if they were trying to bring some semblance of light back into the building.

It didn't work.

Melinda Warner smiled at Stabler's joke, even managed a small laugh. Her pretty face instantly looked better. But as quick as it had appeared, it had vanished.

"Your girl was sexually assaulted."

Olivia raised her eyebrows. "Gunna have to be a little more specific. There were four girls killed this morning."

"The one that had the gun." She supplied helpfully. "When I examined her, there were fluids in her panties, and bruising at five and seven o'clock."

"Not assaulted. Raped." Elliot muttered.

"Violently." Warner added. "Sodomized too. Her wrists are bruised, like she was held down. I didn't notice them at the scene because they didn't have time to develop yet. Whoever attacked her, it happened very shortly before she was killed."

"Coincidence?" Olivia asked quietly, visibly disturbed.

"No such thing. Not in my book." Melinda answered. "Your girl is attacked, and then killed an hour later, by someone else? Yeah, don't buy it. And look here…" she gestured back to the body laying on the cold metal slab. "See the angle of the wound? Most suicides either put the gun to the side of their head, like so" she made a gun with her thumb and index finder, motioning her thumb down, like the pull of a trigger. "so it's a straight shot. Or in their mouths, like this." And she repeated the motion, except this time, put the fake gun in her mouth, pointed upwards. "But Jessica's wound is angled down."

"She didn't pull that trigger."

"No way. And there's no GSR on her hands either. Sorry guys, but your killer is still out there."

Elliot sighed. "Great. This day is just turning out fantastic."

And without another word, the left the morgue, ready now to hunt down a rapist, a killer.