Chapter Twenty Three – The Step Beyond

Olivia slowly lifted her head from Morgan's arm and dropped her hands from his wrist. She was still pale but looked much better than she had.

"You okay?" Morgan asked.

Olivia shook her head weakly, fighting tears. "Not really."

Morgan wasn't all that surprised by her answer. He hesitated for a moment, debating whether he should ask what he wanted to. It would bring back everything she'd just suffered if he did. She noticed and watched him intently, silently giving him permission to ask.

"What's Sealview? Why was saying your name so important?"

Olivia bowed her head, looking pained. She hadn't shared what had happened in the basement of Sealview with anyone besides her therapist. Fin had been down there, but even he didn't know the full story. After all this time, she still wasn't sure she could share more than surface details, and she knew she couldn't share any of her fears about her father.

"Sealview is a women's prison in New York. I went undercover there to find the guard that was raping the inmates."

Short, unemotional, and to the point. She continued bitterly.

"I found him."

Olivia dropped her head and a few tears escaped her control and snaked down her cheeks.

"Did he…?" Morgan trailed off, not wanting to say the words.

Before Olivia could even begin to form a coherent answer, which would have taken awhile since she was having trouble determining what was only dream and not memory, Bill strutted in. He had a big smile on his face and seemed particularly pleased with himself.

"Oh, don't not answer because of little old me!" he insisted. "The agents were kind enough to fill me in on what they thought happened~. Unknowingly~ of course."

His hand fluttered about in a "it doesn't matter" type of motion before he dropped it and stared at Olivia with shining eyes.

"So, tell me, tell me. Were you raped?"

Olivia gasped and was sent hurtling into the dark abyss where she felt unclean and vulnerable. His eyes pinned her. His hands were all over her. His body was pressed up against her. She couldn't escape. Before she had even realized what she was doing, Olivia found herself standing and swinging at him, yelling incoherently. That wasn't like her at all. Her rage slowed, and she stared at Bill, horror stricken. Had she just…? Yes, she had.

The image of Harris' face flashed into her mind again, only this time the features were distorted. It took her a moment to realize how. His face had suddenly taken on characteristics of her own.

Apparently her genes didn't just make her a target; they also made her the attacker. The one that could lose control and destroy another life. If she hadn't been chained, how far would she have gone? Her darkest fears simply laughed at her. It wasn't even a question of how far. She knew the answer to that. With a pained whimper, she collapsed to the ground.

Morgan growled angrily when he saw Olivia shatter. She curled in on herself, crying and repeatedly mumbling "no" and "help me." Unable to stand it, Morgan whirled on the unsub.

"You son of a bitch! You knew that was going to destroy her and you purposefully said it anyway!"

"No, no. I was testing~ a theory~. It's different~."

He smiled warmly at Morgan, the man's anger sliding right off of him. Paying Morgan no more regard than he would an ant, Bill headed toward Olivia. When he reached out to pull the monitor from her she screamed and started clawing at his arms, eyes rimmed white from her terror.

"Hey! Knock that off, you!"

When Olivia didn't, he huffed and scowled down at her as the heart monitor blared.

"Fine. Be that way. We'll just have to do it the hard way."

He grabbed the monitor and pulled hard until it peeled off her skin. Olivia whimpered, trembling visibly.

"Well, my dear detective~, I had a lot more to say to you, but alas, you're in no condition to hear me."

He sighed and shook his head like it was such a tragedy. Spinning away from her, Bill bowed to the others in the room.

"It was such~ a pleasure~ to meet all of you, and I thank you for your service. Always remember~ that you have contributed significantly to science!"

With one final wave he disappeared from the room, leaving only the sound of Olivia's sobs in his wake.


Emily kept her eyes firmly fixed on Olivia once Bill had left the room. She'd picked up on something curious earlier, but it wouldn't be right to discuss it in front of Olivia. After all, it was about her. So Emily waited until she was sure Olivia was too separated from everything else before she turned to Hotch. Making sure to keep her voice down low just in case, she shared her observation.

"What did you make of her reaction after Bill called her out on the rape?"

Hotch's eyes flickered to Emily and he frowned a moment. It hadn't been a fully abnormal reaction. He understood attacking your accuser, especially after everything they'd all been through. Nerves were frayed and tempers were easy to set off. The odd part in Olivia's behavior came after. She'd looked utterly distraught over attacking him.

"I would say it would make sense if it came from a person with anger problems who is trying to control them, but Olivia doesn't strike me as that type of person. Rage is in everyone if you pinpoint the right spot. There has to be a deeper reason for her reaction."

"Like she hadn't been expecting herself to do that? She didn't seem very coherent when she did."

"No, she didn't. It was like she saw some part of herself she feared was always hidden. That anger. The question would be why. Something in her past that gave her that idea."

Emily nodded but didn't share any of the possibilities. She knew Hotch was aware of all of the ones she could come up with without her needing to say anything. They were at a dead end though. Unless Olivia gave them more clues, all they could really do was guess at the source.


"We are never getting out of here," Morgan growled furiously.

"He's done with us, and we aren't dead yet," Rossi pointed out. "That's a good sign."

Though how long they would remain that way he didn't know. There really was no chance of coming up with a plan either. With the unsub listening in they would have to either talk in code or create separate plans.

"Rossi," JJ whispered, drawing his attention. "He might have his guard down around me. If we can get him close enough, I might be able to knock him out."

She'd kept her voice low enough that she hoped whatever monitoring devices Bill was using to listen in wouldn't be able to pick it up. Rossi nodded. He knew what JJ was capable of doing. Plus, she was right. The unsub would likely underestimate her.

"If you do, you're only going to have one shot. If he doesn't go down the first time…"

"I know," JJ responded, determination flickering in her eyes.

There was no way of sharing the plan with the others, but Rossi knew Hotch, Morgan, and Emily would pick up on what he was trying to do if he gave the right clues when Bill returned. If it didn't work, the only thing they would be able to do was buy time for Reid. None of them doubted he was still looking for them and wouldn't stop until they were found. Of course, they could do nothing to help him aside from giving him the best chance to figure out where they were, which was time. Just like Rossi's and JJ's plan though, it wasn't guaranteed to work. Hopefully they wouldn't need to worry about plan B and JJ would be able to take Bill down.


Only Bill didn't return. After hours of waiting, his prisoners had fallen into silence. Plans of escape had long ago been fleshed out as much as they could be. Without that to focus on, the only thing left was the remnants of their nightmares.

Rossi remained relatively quiet and listened to JJ talk about Henry. How big he was getting, what they had done together recently, what she still wanted to do with him. From time to time he would ask a question, usually when she fell silent. He could see how much she was using the conversation as a distraction, and when it lagged the signs of her soul shattering terror returned to her eyes.

His own nightmares weren't anywhere near JJ's. The case he'd dreamed about was over. While the case JJ had seen was also long over, her fears for Henry were not. They had been buried within her ever since he was born, and the dream had brought them to the forefront and shown her how real a possibility they were. If distraction was what helped her, Rossi would provide it.

Hotch and Emily had fallen into an unspoken agreement to simply by there for each other. They sat as close as their chains would allow, but neither said a word. Both knew what the other was going through and there were no words of sympathy or comfort that could make any of it better. Instead they remained in their own thoughts most of the time, figuring out how to deal with reopened wounds. Considering neither one was much for asking for help, it worked well.

Morgan and Olivia were spending their time the same way. The only difference was it hadn't been agreed upon. Olivia had become increasingly withdrawn since Bill had left the room. After her second round of panic had faded, Morgan had coaxed her into talking. That had slowed to his talking and her providing short answers, then one word ones, and finally nothing. She'd pulled away to the end of her chain and sat unmoving.

He desperately wanted to help her. While his own dream had been devastating when he first woke up, the simple fact that he was alive proved what he'd suffered hadn't been reality. When the guilt over Ellie crept up on him and started gnawing on his conscience a few firm reminders of where Ellie was now and that she was okay usually did the trick. At least enough to allow him not to dwell on it for the time being.

Besides, right now Olivia needed him. If only he could find a way to get her to let him in.

But Olivia didn't even know he was trying. She felt like a hollowed out version of herself. Empty. Worthless. Lost. Everything that had happened was too difficult to deal with, so she'd pulled away and remained staring at nothing. For her, everything she had suffered wasn't a dream. It was real and painful and suffocating. Unable to escape it, her only option was to disassociate or else it would crush her. If it didn't anyway. She could feel the weight of it bearing down on her, and she shuddered. Maybe not escaping here would be alright.

She vaguely heard Morgan's voice telling her she was going to get through this, that it would just take time. Tuning him out, she retreated once more to the box she'd built inside her head. There she didn't have to think, didn't have to feel. She didn't have to taste him on her tongue or hear his words. It was just white nose, sweet and blissful.

Yet even through that box she heard the quiet whispers inside of her, reminding her who she was. Olivia tried to ignore them, as she usually did, but her defenses had long ago crumbled. Nobody was exactly like their parents, but everyone has some similarities. That meant even if she wasn't her father completely, some of him would come out in her. Whatever that was, it wouldn't be good. How could it be?


None of them knew how much time had passed since the door to their cell had last opened. Awhile probably, since they were all starving and stiff. At first the new sounds that filtered through the door to them didn't mean anything. JJ and Rossi were the first to notice the difference. Running, hurried footsteps weren't normal. Neither were frantic shouts.

Hope blossomed across JJ's face, lighting up her eyes.

"You don't think…?"

Just from the look of excitement on Rossi's face, she knew he agreed.

"Aaron, listen," Rossi insisted as he nodded toward the door where the sounds continued.

Hotch pulled himself to his feet, ready and waiting. All but Olivia followed suit. One way or another, their captivity was coming to an end. The next word that reached them snapped with power and authority.


The sound, obviously from another member of law enforcement, sent joy spiking through all of them. Even Olivia glanced up, though her eyes were still dull. It was over. Help was here, and they were safe. Soon they would also be free and able to walk out of the room that had been their own personal hell for days. The only thing left after that would be to face the resurfaced demons from their worst nightmares. It would take time and effort to put them to rest once more, but it was possible.

A possibility that they would fight for until it was reached. None of them would allow themselves to be beaten in the end. It was simply what they did and who they were.

Author's Note: Well, there you go. That's the end! Thanks to all of you reviewers. I actually like this story a little more than I did when I first finished it thanks to you guys. You probably won't get anything from me for a little while as I've hit a bit of a block on the whole writing thing. I do have a story from a new fandom started, but I haven't gone back to it in weeks... I'm hoping I will find some inspiration on vacation and get that finished. At some point I'm sure I'll go back to the remaining ideas I have for CM and SVU stories, but it might take some time. Thank you all for reading!