Disclaimer: All original characters and such belong to NBC. I own the characters I created as well as the new plot.
Summary: Elliot and Olivia respond when a teenage girl is attacked by a serial rapist. Her medical exam, however, brings another crime to light and starts them on a complicated path for justice…
Chronology: No specific time
Pairings: None right now.
Rating: T for situations and probably some mild cursing.
Author's Note: I know I start every one of these off with an apology, but…it happens. Less than stellar summer, senior year insanity, take your pick. I really am sorry. I hate disappointing people. I'm really trying to do better—see end note for more details. Thanks to Jisbonforever for giving me the motivation to write this!
Tuesday, May 3
Elliot brushed ash from his suit jacket and shook his head as Olivia spread out the dozens of evidence bags containing the singed papers they'd recovered from the Morse family apartment.
"What is all this?" Cragen asked.
Olivia straightened up and sighed. "Sophie's entire life, as far as we can tell."
Fin frowned at the stacks. "Damn."
"And you found it all lit on fire?" Munch asked.
"Yep, but they didn't do too good a job," Elliot replied, picking up a simple watercolor of a flower on a hill with a sun and a rainbow and fluffy clouds in the background that had one singed corner. "Looks they tried to douse everything in gasoline but they were in such a hurry almost nothing got wet. Plus they only used two matches."
Munch picked up a math worksheet with sOPhiE written sloppily across the top. "Why would someone try to destroy her entire past?"
"Excellent question," Olivia said. "But I think a better one is: Where the hell are the parents?"
"Fin, how're you coming on those records?" Cragen asked, striding towards a white board they'd set up in the middle of the room, displaying a picture of a frightened and uncertain-looking Sophie from the hospital and the little information they'd gathered on her and her family.
"Can't get anything outta the housing authorities," he said tapping the phone on his desk. "Parents' names don't appear on any rent agreements, and the rent was always paid with an envelope of cash left in the landlord's mailbox. Guy's not even sure what they look like."
"Great. Where's that leave us?" Olivia tossed a legal pad on her desk in frustration.
Munch stood up from where he'd been leaning against his desk, arms crossed, absorbing the conversation and gave her a meaningful look. "We've got Sophie."
Tuesday, May 3
Olivia gently guided a wide-eyed Sophie, looking much younger than fifteen as she clutched a jacket to her neck and hunched over as though to appear smaller, over to a chair she'd pulled up next to her desk. She gestured for the girl to sit, but it took her a minute to follow the detective's instructions, seemingly frozen by all the organized chaos of a police station in midday.
"Can I get you anything honey?" she asked gently.
"Uhh…" Sophie bit her thumbnail and stared at Munch as he brought a cup of coffee to his own desk.
She looked back at Olivia, her blue eyes seemingly paler.
"Are you hungry? Thirsty?"
"I…I'll be okay."
"Did you have anything at the hospital?"
Liv smiled, trying to break through the strange protective shell that seemed to encase the teenager. "You must be hungry then. Breakfast was a long time ago."
"I can't cause any trouble." She spoke to Olivia's knees.
"Sophie, it's no trouble. What do you like?"
The question startled her and she stared at the desk, eyes darting, fingers twitching.
"Sandwiches? Soup? Chinese? Mexican?"
"I…" she looked up, again so oddly like a small child. "I like…pork-fried rice?"
Olivia smiled. "We can do that. Let me make a phone call." She dialed a local place that they often used and arranged for it to be delivered within the next twenty minutes. She hung up the phone and turned back to the girl. "It'll be here soon. I got a little something for me too. I completely forgot about lunch, it's been so busy around here."
Sophie nodded, distracted.
"Are you okay? Did you get some pain pills from the hospital?"
"Yeah, but they said I can just use the ice packs if I want. They said everything should go away soon. Nothing's broken, just bruised." She looked at the floor, probably recalling what Olivia had told her earlier about her x-rays, then shook her head and glanced up at the detective. "Why am I here again?"
"Well, for one, we'd like you to identify the man who attacked you. We have very strong evidence, including DNA, but we might be able to get him to confess sooner if you pick him out of a lineup. That way he'll go to jail sooner and he can't hurt anybody else."
Sophie sat up straighter, as though outside conflict weighed so much less than the internal variety.
At that moment, Elliot appeared in the doorway and nodded at the pair of them. "They're ready whenever she is."
Sophie stood up and crossed her arms. "Show me."
It had taken her all of thirty seconds to identify Gordon Wallace as the man who'd attacked her. That knowledge led the suspect to break down and confess, and he was in booking before Sophie and Olivia made it back to her desk to pay for their lunch.
The teenager, for all her earlier protests, dug into her pork-fried rice like a polite but starving animal. Olivia sat back for a moment with her chopsticks and just watched her.
When she came up for air, something appeared to have triggered a memory that was pulling her back into her shell. "Where…where are my parents?" she asked, barely more than a murmur and painfully hesitant.
Olivia stabbed at spring roll. "Well, Sophie," she cleared her throat. "Like we told you, we still can't get in touch with them."
"You tried calling?"
She nodded. "Many times."
"Well," Sophie said, suddenly fascinated by the writing on the side of the takeout container. "You know. Sometimes…they get busy."
The detective bit her lip thoughtfully before she decided to proceed, with extreme caution. "Sophie…they weren't at the address you gave us either."
Her eyes finally met Olivia's. "Wha—well, maybe they…they're out, you know, sometimes they go for…they like to get groceries, you know together…"
"Sweetheart…your house was empty." She leaned forward and gently rested a hand on the girl's arm. "There were no people, there was no furniture, no books, no pictures, just…nothing. We don't know where they are."
Sophie looked like that cliché deer in the headlights, betrayal and fear etched into every contour of her face. "But they…"
The girl tried to speak, but her voice caught and she had to try again. "Maybe…something, something bad happened to them. Are you looking?"
"We are considering that," Olivia fibbed gently. Truth of the matter was, they'd considered it and mostly rejected the notion, given the empty apartment and massive amounts of childhood paraphernalia that they'd attempted to dispose of. Unless they received a ransom note or saw some video footage to convince them otherwise, Sophie's parents were now their number one suspects for a crime that had been committed against the girl. What crime, they couldn't yet be sure. But something terrible had happened, and the entire SVU was committed to finding out what it was and giving this girl back some semblance of a normal life.
Sophie nodded slowly, returning her gaze to the floor.
"You miss them," Olivia stated, trying not to let her suspicion of the couple show through in her speech.
Sophie murmured, "They're my parents."
"Of course…" The detective removed a legal pad from a desk in her drawer and located a pen hidden among the debris cluttering the top of her desk. "Can you tell me about them?"
The girl raised her head a little, a partial smile creasing one corner of her mouth. "Mother has the prettiest hair. It's dark red and it goes all the way to her waist. She likes to sing. We sing together sometimes, hymns and things."
Olivia gave her a little smile back. "Is she the one who taught you about work and modesty and stuff like you were telling me about earlier?"
She nodded. "She wants me to be a good person."
"That's a good goal." Liv scribbled a few notes. "What about your dad?"
Her eyes darkened a little. "Father is a lot older than mother. His hair is gray, and he wears glasses. He doesn't like to sing, and he doesn't talk a lot. He prefers to read the newspaper." She seemed to realize how dark a picture she'd painted, and quickly added, "He also wants to help me be a good person. He makes rules to keep us safe. And he's a very good salesman. He started his own business on the computer."
"Oh yeah? What kind of business?"
"What kind of things?"
"Just…lots of little stuff. With personalized writing on them. And symbols and stuff."
"Okay. Can you think of any reason why they would suddenly have to leave, take everything with them, not tell you where they were going?"
Her voice shook and an infant tear swelled in each eye. "No."
"All right," she replied gently. "What else do you remember about your parents? Tell me about when you were little." Olivia toyed with her pen, making a determined effort to keep things light and pleasant. There might be a lot of dangerous things in this girl's past, things that could tell them what crime they needed to be prosecuting, what had happened to this girl, where her parents had disappeared to, if they were involved in something, why every bit of this girl's young life had been dumped into a metal barrel and set on fire, intended to disappear forever into the sky as soft gray ash.
Sophie furrowed her forehead deeply. "I…I remember going to the park to do my first biology lesson. We caught frogs and minnows."
She made a little note on a legal pad. "That's good…how old were you?"
The girl frowned for a long moment. "Twelve," she finally said.
"Anything earlier than that?"
There was a bit of worry in her eyes as she squinted, trying to remember. "We…visited…this big church. I was…um, eleven."
Liv kept her voice light. "Nothing from when you were…nine? Maybe...six?"
Sophie's eyes darted around. "No…" She looked up, masking the fright behind a poor excuse for a smile. "Mother says I have trouble remembering things from so long ago because I'm so mature for my age."
"I see." She scribbled another note. "So your earliest memory is…?"
"When I was eleven. Mother says there's no room in my head everything because I'm learning so much in my lessons now. And I'm mature, so I don't need all those things from when I was little."
"Okay. But surely your parents must tell you stories from when you were little?"
The girl smiled a little at that. "Of course. And they show me my old artwork. It's funny how I still can't draw trees. I was a very quiet baby, they tell me all the time. Really well behaved. Which was good for them, because they used to move around a lot. I think father used to travel to sell things."
Olivia nodded and made an underlined notation on the pad. There was no way to tell for sure how much of what the girl had been told might be total crap, but it gave them a few possible starting points. Maybe there was enough truth hidden in there to give them something.
After they'd finished their food, Olivia left Sophie in the care of a social worker and went to find her partner.
Elliot was standing with Fin outside of the documents lab when she found him. "So what did you get from her?"
"Basic physical descriptions of the parents, couple possible leads as to past identities, maybe a way to track their movements over the past couple months. She never said anything about abuse, but you can tell from her body language, her voice, that they're not precisely her favorite people in the world, no matter what she's actually saying. I got more of the religion and the work ethic stuff, but it's just so jumbled. Usually you've got your straightforward religious nuts or weird cult members…"
"But?" Elliot asked.
"But…I don't know. None of it seems coherent. But not because it's just so crazy, more like…there's no constancy to it. Some bits of it seem to contradict others. There doesn't seem to be any sort of hard and fast formula to it. There's no…bible, no manifesto, no code. Just these loose ideas." She shook her head. "I don't know. After just half an hour of hearing the stuff, I was all turned around. No wonder Sophie's so odd. Imagine hearing that stuff for years on end." She paused.
"What is it?"
"Another interesting fact came up." She looked from Elliot to Fin and back again for emphasis. "Sophie can't remember anything before she was eleven."
"What?" Fin frowned.
She nodded. "Anything before four years ago—totally blank."
"Might give us a good place to start…" Elliot said, his voice trailing into segue mode.
"What did you guys get?"
"I ran these docs past QD," Fin said, presenting the bags containing the girl's social security card and birth certificate to his fellow detectives. "Somethin' didn't feel right."
"And they're forgeries. Good ones, but definitely fake."
"Damn." Olivia stared at the intricate printing on the border of the birth certificate. "So she might not even be Sophie Morse at all. Or for that matter, we may not be looking for a Mr. and Mrs. Morse. They could be anybody." She cursed again, shaking her head at the strange revelation and the newly added difficulty to an already very strange case.
"Exactly. But if you can believe it, things get even weirder. Somethin' about the kid's pictures didn't feel right either. I ran 'em past Elliot first, and something didn't seem right to him either. And he's got kids, he should know."
"What did you find?"
"They're not kid's pictures," Elliot said with a grimace, presenting the one of the flower on a hill in its plastic evidence bag. "They're forgeries too."
"Wait, what?" Olivia stared.
"The brush strokes," Elliot replied. "The size of the smears on the finger paintings, the overtly bad misspellings and misshapen letters on the homework—all done by an adult. Or, two adults."
Olivia shook her head, looking from the forged documents to the faked paintings. What little they'd thought they'd known was false. "We're back to square one…" she murmured. "Who is this girl?"
Author's Note: Sorry again about the awful delays. I'm trying to get into the good habit of writing every day, so hopefully there will be at least several one-shots for various shows/books/movies forthcoming. Please feel free to message me and request stories to be updated. I take such requests seriously and they motivate me. That's how this chapter got up! I'm not saying that I'll only update if people get after me about it, but I am saying that you shouldn't be afraid to send reminders. With everything that I have going on, I am prone to forgetfulness. Thanks for reading! I'm grateful to each and every one of you.