Chapter 4

Alex sat down heavily on the couch for what seemed like the millionth time that night. She had paced the living room floor countless times since Olivia had stormed out of their apartment a couple of hours earlier but to Alex, it had felt like days had passed. She sat forward and perched on the edge of the couch, reaching for her iPhone to call the detective once again. It didn't ring at all before going straight to voicemail, she'd already tried calling a number of times but each time she received no answer. That wasn't like Olivia, even when she was angry; she always picked her phone up so Alex was slightly worried to say the least. The blonde stood up and began to pace again and vowed that if she hadn't heard from her other half in the next fifteen minutes then she was calling Elliot and then if needs must, Cragen. Alex chewed on her fingernails nervously, her brain whirling with the thoughts that something might have happened; the sudden possible threat on their lives feeling very real at this point.

Five minutes had passed; Olivia had another ten minutes to get her ass back home before Alex called in the big guns. The blonde caught sight of her half eaten dinner on the dining room table; she stopped pacing and took the plate to the sink to wash it. After she had done that, another three minutes had gone. Alex threw the dish towel onto the bench in frustration. Time was going way too slow and her anger was only building more.

Alex knew that her words had caused Olivia to storm out in the first place but that didn't stop the younger woman from wanting to rip her a new one right at that moment. Alex checked her watch again and padded forcefully back to the living area to retrieve her phone. She was about to dial Elliot's number when she heard the lock on the front door click open. She turned around to find Olivia entering the apartment.

"Where the hell have you been?" Alex yelled, much louder than intended.

"Out." Olivia repeated her earlier statement curtly, deliberately avoiding eye contact with the blonde. She headed straight for the bedroom.

Alex's anger bubbled again. "You don't think it would have been nice to answer my calls or I don't know; maybe let me know that you're not dead?"

"Oh so you care now!" Olivia said, her words dripping with bitterness as she took off her jacket and tossed over the back of the couch. "Why do I have a hard time believing that?"

"Do you think I would have worn a whole in the floor if I didn't care?" Alex sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose, forcing herself to calm down a little. "Look, I know what I said earlier was unfair, of course I care, I didn't mean what I said." She said her voice softening with each word.

"Alex I'm tried, I'm tired and I really don't want to talk about this right now." Olivia said dejectedly then disappeared into the bathroom. Alex threw her head back, rolled her eyes and blew out a large puff of air. Alex did not want this argument dragging on much longer, she hated it when they fought but a sadistic part of her liked it, mostly because the makeup sex was mind blowing. But she figured this time there would be no makeup sex, not yet anyway.

Olivia closed the bathroom door behind her and sunk into the wood. Maybe Alex had a right to be angry at her, but Olivia hadn't said the hurtful things that the younger woman had. She was also pretty sure if Alex had called her, she would have heard her phone ring and she most definitely would have answered it. The brunette dug into the pocket of her pants and pulled out her phone, she pressed the button but the screen didn't light up meaning it needed charging. She quickly brushed her teeth, washed her face and then slipped into the bedroom to change into a white tank and grey pyjama shorts for bed.

Olivia plugged her phone in to charge and then pulled the covers back off the bed and slid under them, searching for the warmth needed after her long walk in the cold night air. She knew it had been stupid of her to go out when she could possibly have someone watching her but she had needed to get out, away from the blonde she loved so much. She curled onto her right side and closed her eyes.

Ten minutes later, light from the hallway engulfed the dark bedroom and Alex stepped into the room. Olivia watched her get undressed and then head for the bathroom. Olivia hated fighting with Alex but she was as stubborn as they come and Liv was damned sure she wasn't going to be the one to apologise first. The detective heard the water stop running in the bathroom then Alex exited said room and cautiously climbed into bed next to Olivia. Olivia remained facing away from the blonde. Alex lay on her back and turned her head to glance over at the brunette.

"Liv, are you awake?" she asked quietly.

"Yeah."

Alex debated her next move before giving in and rolling over closer to her detective and wrapping her left arm over the trim torso. Alex pulled Olivia to her and kissed her shoulder tenderly. "I'm sorry, I don't want to fight anymore."

Olivia froze momentarily before succumbing to the warm embrace. She didn't speak, allowing Alex to continue.

"I didn't mean those things I said, I was . . . I was just scared about what you were telling me about the photo and I was angry that you hadn't told me . . ." Olivia was about to butt in and plead her case again of why she hadn't told her, but Alex shushed her. "-It's ok, I know that you couldn't at the time, I understand that now. I'm also sorry about the Velez thing."

Olivia closed her eyes briefly before opening them again. "You have to know I only had Harper watch out for you because I couldn't handle it if something bad happened to you and I could have done something to stop it. Just like when you were shot."

Alex winced at the memory of her shooting. "Baby you did everything you could for me when I was shot, if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be here today." She said softly.

"I could have stopped it from happening."

"Liv, listen to me, what happened to me that day was not your fault. I know you over compensate your protectiveness now because of then; I understand that, and if I'm honest I love how protective you are of me . . . despite what I said."

"Well the let me protect you, let me make up for not doing my job properly then." Olivia whispered, her voice threatening to crack.

Alex was about to protest but knew it wouldn't make a difference and might even start a new fight so she just nodded and kissed the detective's neck tenderly. "Ok."

Olivia breathed a sigh of relief and turned in the attorney's arms to face her. "Thank you."

Alex smiled and wiped away a stray tear then fell from the brunette's eye with the pad of her thumb. "I love you."

"I love you too and I'm sorry."

"It's ok, its resolved now, let's move forward."

Olivia nodded in agreement, scooting closer to Alex and draping her right arm over her waist. "You have to know that I'm going to do everything I can to make sure you and I are both safe during this case."

"I know. You're my hero." Alex sighed dreamily trying to lighten the mood.

"I think the correct term would be heroine." Liv said matter of factly.

"I apologise, my heroine." The Attorney repeated smiling and then leaned forward for a soft sweet kiss.

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

The next day, Olivia was back at the precinct, combing through records of employees along with Elliot. So far, they had a list of employees with misdemeanours and nothing else major. Elliot sighed in frustration. Elliot through his pen down on the desk and leaned back in his chair with his arms crossed behind his head. "Looks like we need a new lead, if it was one of these employees's that committed this murder, they'd have a prior."

Olivia looked up from her computer screen, "Not if they just got into the country."

Elliot shrugged, knowing Olivia was right.

"Or what about employees that just got to this state?" Malinda asked as she walked up to the two of them. She held a stack of papers in her hand and handed the file to Olivia. "I ran similar MO's to this case in the database . . ."

Elliot cut her off as he leaned forward in his chair, "We did that already, but there were too many dismemberment's around the country, none could be aesthetically linked."

"I was getting to that part," Malinda said in her tone of dry humour. "After calling a few different morgues, I found a few cases scattered throughout the states with similar abrasions to the neck wound. These details aren't always released to the database, but it looks likes if you find that knife you find the killer."

Olivia stared up at Malinda in admiration; she got out of her seat and placed a hand on her arm, "What would we do without you Malinda?"

Malinda raised an eyebrow and looked to Elliot, "You'd be chasing your tails." And with that, she sauntered back to her morgue.

Olivia walked around her desk and placed the file down in front of Elliot. "See if any of these employees were in any of these states around the time of the murders."

Elliot began typing away on his computer while Olivia stood watching over his shoulder. One hit popped up on the screen. Elliot hit print and Olivia rushed to the printer to retrieve the document. "Looks like he's here in town now, let's go check him out." Olivia said and the two of them headed out the precinct.

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

Blue and red lights flashed from police cruisers. Elliot pulled their squad car up close to one of the other police cars. The two of them shot a look at each other, instantly concerned. They climbed out of their vehicle and were halted by another cop that stood outside of the yellow police tape. The two of them flashed their badges. "I'm Detective Elliot Stabler, and this is my partner Detective Benson." He pointed at the house that behind the cop, "Can you tell me what happened here?"

Olivia observed the scene, there were too many police officers here and too many of them were standing outside of the house merely loitering. A few of them talked to each other, but others stood off to the distance looking out at neighbourhood. Something was amiss.

"They say there's one dead body inside, but not many have the stomach for this type of murder."

Elliot looked at Olivia and they both had that gut instinct that this murder was linked to their case. They ducked beneath the police tape and headed for the house. The front steps were littered with what looked to be junk, and the door to the house was left standing wide open. Even from several yards away, Elliot and Olivia could smell the stench of rotting flesh.

Elliot was about to take his first step up the front stoop when a detective rushed out the front door. He ran as far from the house as he could and then doubled over and began vomiting wretchedly.

Olivia eyed the detective and then headed toward him. "Detective Harper?" she asked.

He swiped at his mouth and then gave another hacking spit to the side before he looked up to her. "Benson," he said, "I'm glad you showed up." He rubbed his forehead, wiping off the sweat that trickled on his brow as he walked away from his vomit. "It's bad in there, but I think it may have something to do with your case."

Olivia nodded as she half expected that was coming. "Alright Harper, you might want to go have a seat for a while."

"I think I will have to, heads up before you go in there, prepare yourselves." He said as he walked back to his police cruiser and got behind the safety of his wheel.

Elliot chuckled, "looks like your buddy over in homicide needs to grow a pair. Are you sure he's the guy you want looking over Alex?"

Olivia sighed, "Let's not get into that right now." She stepped into the small foyer. The house was messy and dirty, but did not show any trace of what she knew lingered beyond the walls. She expected to see a similar scene to what had been left behind at the previous house, lots of blood and a decapitated body missing a limb or organ.

They walked into the living room, still nothing out of the ordinary. The one thing that the house lacked was cops. No one seemed to be in the house. No one wanted to be in the house because no one wanted the image of what they were about to see ingrained in their memory for life.

The stench grew stronger as they rounded the living room into the kitchen. A large pool of blood lay in the center of the kitchen, barely in view. Their eyes followed the blood up to the walls where several arterial sprays hit, telling the tale of a brutal slaying. Cautiously they walked into the kitchen, careful to avoid any blood splatter on the floor.

Olivia kept her eyes on the ground, watching her step, but paused when she saw a blood trail where the body had obviously been dragged. Her eyes followed the trail through the kitchen and down the hall. She followed it until she got to the master bedroom. The door was wide open and she entered the room. When her eyes lifted up, she gasped, horrified and stumbled backwards a few steps, bumping into the door behind her and covering her mouth with her hand.

Elliot was close behind her, "Jesus, Mary and Joseph," he mumbled under his breath.

It was a body, but it wasn't a complete body. The arms were separated, and nailed to the wall, flayed of skin and with thick nine inch nails to hold them in place. The palms lay open in surrender. The torso was split down the middle, the skin peeled off and the ribs snapped in half. The same nails held the torso to the wall. All of the organs laid scattered on the floor beneath. His heart, his lungs, kidneys, liver, and intestines each gashed and split. His legs lay on the floor with his organs, each separated from the body. There were cut marks between the toes indicating torture.

The two of them stared at what used to be a body. "Where's the head?" Elliot asked.

Olivia gulped, but her stomach stayed steady. She shook her head and then looked toward the bed. The white comforter was pulled all the way up, but tiny red stains caught her attention. She stepped closer to the bed and ripped back the covers.

There was the head, without eyes or eyelids, and his lips were cut off, and tongue was cut out. The head sat there staring at them, taunting them, terrifying them. But it wasn't the head Olivia focused o;, it was the object beside the head.

Elliot noticed Olivia's gaze and followed it to the item. "What is it?" he asked.

Olivia scowled and stepped closer, it was a ring, but not just any ring. "I've seen this ring before," she said as she looked to Elliot.

"It looks like an expensive ring," he said.

"It was," Olivia answered, "It belonged to Alex's mother."

A/N: OooOOOOooooo terrible cliff hanger we know! Reviews make us super happy! Sorry this update took so long, one of us *cough Liv-and-Love cough* was in the hospital for a week with a sick baby who's all better now eek.