Olivia thought she had pulled herself together, but apparently she hadn't. She followed Fin to Cragen, who was observing the interview through the one-sided window. Nick and Maggie could be seen through the window. Maggie's face was flustered with tears.
"Liv, there you are," Cragen said, but when they met eyes, his eyes widened. "Are you okay, Liv? You look like you've been crying."
"Everything seemed fine when I entered the room," Fin testified, with a smirk on his face. Cragen raised a brow at Olivia.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Olivia released a sigh and looked in the interview room.
"I want Livvy!" Maggie was whining. "I'm not talking to you anymore."
"So, I take it you've got nothing out of her?" Olivia inquired toward the captain.
"The minute Nick brought up her parents, she started bawling and asking for you. Liv, you're our last hope at getting anything out of her. She's completely shut Nick out now, too."
Olivia shook her head, sighing. What had she done to make Maggie so partial to her? She may never know. Olivia didn't view herself as anything special, but for some reason kids always seemed to take a liking to her. Yet, she was denied eligibility to adopt. Although the agency's reasoning was logical. She worked long hours. How did she have time for a kid? Of course, if she had a child, someone to love her as much as she loved them, then maybe she wouldn't have to work such long hours. Olivia hated going home to an empty apartment, which was the reason she dedicated her life to the job. Moreover, she hated being alone. At work, there was always someone she could talk to. For years it had been Elliot, but over the last couple years she'd grown partial to Nick and Amanda, and she had developed a much closer friendship with Fin. Of course, there was Don and John, too.
"I'll try my best," Olivia said, trying to force a smile at the captain. She wanted to know just as bad as the rest of the squad what had happened in that apartment yesterday. Whatever it was, Olivia was certain that Maggie hadn't murdered her parents. She'd only spent part of the day with the little girl, but Olivia had seen psychopaths; and Maggie wasn't a psychopath. If she was, she was the world's youngest psychopath and a damn good actress.
Olivia was reminded of a story Elliot had told her years ago, about a little girl who Dani Beck—the name made Olivia shudder—had grown close to and brought home for a night. The little girl had then gone on to set Dani's curtains on fire. Sure, anything was possible, but Olivia saw nothing but an innocent, sweet, confused little girl when she looked into Maggie's eyes. Olivia knew that Maggie had a dark secret, but it wasn't that she'd murdered her parents.
She opened the interview room and Nick beamed, "Olivia's here, Maggie."
"Livvy!" Maggie's sad face instantly turned upside down. Her eyes were still red and shiny from the tears. She pounced from her chair and wrapped her arms around Olivia. Olivia bent down and scooped the child into her arms. She sat next to Nick with Maggie on her lap.
"Now, Maggie, I'm under the understanding that you're upset. What's wrong, honey?"
"I don't wanna talk about it," Maggie crossed her arms and buried her face into Olivia's chest.
Olivia glanced at Nick, who shrugged. He then stood up and said, "Maggie obviously doesn't want to talk to me, so I think I'm going to get out of here. Nice meeting you, Maggie."
Maggie didn't respond to Nick, who then exited the room.
"Can we go back to your place?" Maggie peered at Olivia.
Olivia set Maggie on the chair next to her and replied, "No, sweetie. We need to talk about some things first, okay? You need to help me understand something."
"I don't know anything," Maggie whimpered.
"But you do, honey. Your daddy didn't hurt your mommy, did he?"
"I don't wanna talk about it, Livvy. Please don't make me," Maggie's tears started to roll again.
"Maggie, I know this is hard to talk about. But you have to, baby. You know something, I know you do. Just tell me, sweetie."
"I can't tell you! He said he'd kill me too if I told!" Maggie said, crying. She set her head down and buried her arms around her face. She's been threatened, Olivia knew she was right, and there was a fourth person involved.
"Who, sweetie? I promise you, he can't hurt you. I'll protect you, I promise. I'm not going to let anyone hurt you." Olivia gently rubbed Maggie's shoulders, hoping that Maggie would open up.
"He said that he'll break out of jail if the police pick him up. I'll always be in danger," Maggie said.
"Who, Maggie? He won't be able to do that, Maggie. The security guards won't let him, I promise you. I'll make sure he's in jail forever and will never be able to hurt you again."
"People break out of jail all the time. I see it on TV."
"TV isn't real. It's just for fun. Maggie, you have to tell me who hurt your parents, so I can make sure he never hurts you again. Otherwise, he's going to be out on the streets and he might hurt someone else."
She started to cry harder and harder. "It was my big brother, Mikey! Please don't tell him I told you!"
Olivia hugged her arms around the tearful child. "It's going to be all right, Maggie. Tell me, baby, what did Mikey do?"
She has a brother? Why hadn't that been uncovered when they'd been searching for Maggie's relatives? Olivia knew that she had to speak to Cragen soon. Although, she was certain that someone on the outside was searching for Maggie's alleged brother now.
"He came over right after you and Mandy left. I told him the police were at our place and he started yelling and calling my mom and dad names. He called them whores. I don't know what that means, but it doesn't sound nice. I was scared, so I went in my room and hid. The yelling stopped. I thought Mikey had left. That's when I opened the door and found my dad lying on the floor bleeding. I didn't know what to do. Then Mikey came out of the kitchen with two knives in his hands. He started coming near me and I ran back in my room, because I thought he was going to hurt me too. I ran in my room screaming. He was holding me down on the bed with the knives in his hand. I tried to grab the knife from his hand, but he jerked it away from me. He then placed the other one in my hand. He told me that when the police came I had to tell them that Daddy hurt Mommy, so I hurt Daddy. I didn't wanna do it, but he said he'd kill me too if I didn't." The little girl cried harder, falling into Olivia's arms. "Mommy always told me never to lie. Am I going to go to jail too?"
"No, honey. The only one who's going to jail is your big brother. My friends are tracking him down right now, I promise. You've done the right thing, sweetheart."
The door opened and Cragen stood, waving for Olivia to come outside.
"I've got to go talk to my captain, Maggie."
"Don't leave me!" Maggie whimpered, clinging to Olivia.
"Bring her along," Cragen said, motioning them over.
Olivia held Maggie's hand as they exited the interview room. Olivia's eyes widened when she realized Cragen hadn't been the only person watching them. The window was now closed.
"You were at the hospital!" Maggie said when she saw Elliot. She still clung tight to Olivia's hand. "You're Livvy's friend."
"That's right, Maggie. It's good to see you again. I'm Elliot, by the way."
Maggie bashfully hid behind Olivia when Elliot spoke to her.
"Actually, I was thinking, Maggie, while Olivia and her friends track your big bad brother down, you and I could go get something to eat. You have to be a hungry girl, right?" Elliot kneeled down and smiled at the little girl. He's a lifesaver, Olivia thought, hoping Maggie would go along with Elliot. Olivia's anguish and resentment toward Elliot Stabler had faded. Although, she was sure Don and Elliot had planned this out, to get Maggie away from the station while they tracked down the brother. It was the perfect plan.
"Yeah, a little. I haven't eaten since breakfast. I had cereal at Livvy's."
Elliot smiled, giving Olivia a look as though he wasn't surprised that was all Maggie had eaten while at Olivia's place. He'd always made fun of how she never had any food in her apartment. Elliot held out his hand, and Maggie grabbed it. "Well, what are you hungry for, then?"
"I like pizza," Maggie replied.
"You know, that's my little boy's favorite food, as well," Elliot said, chuckling.
"You have a kid?" Maggie asked.
Elliot smiled and laughed. "I have five kids, actually. Though, four are all grown up. My youngest is around your age."
"That's cool!" Maggie appeared intrigued. Elliot glanced at Olivia and smiled.
"Thank you," Olivia mouthed at Elliot. Elliot's sky blue eyes glowed at Olivia, and he grinned.
"It's no problem. We'll be back."
"I'll call you first to give you the okay," she said, not wanting for Maggie to walk into a bad situation. It was just second nature for her to tell Elliot she'd call him. Then, she realized something. "Wait, El, I don't think I have your number anymore."
"Yeah, I changed it. I'll call you quick and you'll have it."
"Wait," Olivia suspiciously raised an eyebrow. "You still have my number?"
"Assuming you didn't change it, anyway."
She hadn't. Elliot pulled out his phone and seconds later Olivia felt her phone vibrate in her pocket. She reached for her phone to see Incoming Call from Unknown Number: 212-555-3213. And she smiled, as if this was the official mark of Elliot Stabler returning to her life.
Elliot and Maggie waved goodbye and disappeared moments later. Olivia turned to Cragen. "So, what do we have?"
"The minute Maggie mentioned the brother's name, Munch was on the computer tracking him down. Turns out Mr. Aldridge was married before he married his current wife, Maggie's mother. He had a son from his first marriage, Michael Douglas. Michael is now sixteen and lives with his mother. Munch and Fin are on the way to the mother's house now to pick Michael up for questioning. If this checks out, your gut was right. Olivia, Maggie was just at the wrong place at the wrong time."
"This is just so disturbing. I can't imagine being Maggie. God, I want to kill this kid so bad."
"Keep in mind, he's still a minor. The kid is only sixteen."
"Surely he'll be tried as an adult, right? He brutally murdered his father and step-mother in cold blood!" Olivia cried.
"DA's office has been called and the ADA should be here soon. One can only hope so, if he is indeed responsible for the murders. Warner's already running the prints to see if they're a match to the second set of prints we found on the one knife. However, we still don't have an explanation as to why Maggie's prints are on both knives, and this kid's prints may only be on one knife."
"He wore gloves? Maggie said she tried to grab the knife from him, so that would explain why her prints were on one knife. She also said he placed the knife in her hand. He was trying to frame her. He could have been wearing gloves, which would have shielded any finger print evidence from being taken. Maybe he grabbed the one knife without gloves on, realized he would leave finger print evidence, tried to wash the knife but failed to wash away the full print, then put on gloves and killed his parents!"
"Liv, and this is why you're a detective… we may never know exactly what happened, but once Fin and Munch question him, we'll have a better idea."
"Let me do it," Olivia insisted. "I want to get to the bottom of this myself and give this bastard a piece of my mind. Who frames a five-year-old for murder?" She was furious. Though, none of the perpetrators that were brought in made sense. Some were more understandable than others, but this one just was sick. The cases that involved children always tugged at her heart the most. This one especially hurt, because she'd developed a personal relationship with Maggie.
"A psychopath. Liv, you know that I can't let you in that interview room. You're too attached to this girl. Let Munch and Fin handle it. You can observe with me."
She sighed and nodded, though she didn't agree with the captain's decision.
Twenty minutes later Fin and Munch returned, cuffed beside them was a teenaged boy. He had dark hair and dark eyes, sharing no resemblance to his half-sister. A hysterical woman followed behind. It was obvious that the boy had received his genetics from his mother.
"You can't do this! He's a minor! He didn't hurt anyone. His no-good-bastard-of-a-father is the only criminal here."
Cragen stopped the woman. "May I help you? I'm Captain Cragen, and you are…"
"Maria Douglas, your detectives have arrested my son under unjust circumstances. They said he murdered my ex and his wife!"
"Ma'am, can you verify your son's whereabouts yesterday afternoon?" Cragen asked the woman.
"He's a teenager. He went to school, and then I'm guessing he probably went to hang out with some friends. I can't keep track of him at all hours of the day. Do you have teenagers, Captain?"
"No, I do not."
"Then, you can't possibly understand how hard it is to parent one. Please, let me see my son."
"Since he's still a minor, by New York State law, you are allowed in the interrogation room with him." Cragen directed the woman to the interrogation room and Olivia followed.
"She seemed pretty convinced her son wasn't involved," Olivia said, after the woman was settled into the room with Fin, Munch, and her son.
"She also seemed very unaware of where her son was yesterday," Cragen noted. Their eyes and ears were directed through the observation window. Olivia had stood in this spot many times before, but more often than not she was in the interrogation herself. It was a different world in the observation room. Sometimes she felt like she was watching a horror movie.
"What kind of brother frames his five-year-old sister for murder?" Munch was asking.
"I didn't do shit, so I don't know what you're talking about. That girl isn't my sister, as far as I'm concerned. Just because we share the blood of a manwhore, doesn't mean she's my sister. She's a whiny lying brat is what she is. I wouldn't believe a word that child says. She's just like her mother."
"Your step-mother, you mean?"
"I bear no relation to that woman."
"Michael, tell us where you were yesterday afternoon."
"Around," the boy shrugged.
"Would 'around' be the definition of your step-father's apartment?" Munch asked.
"My boy doesn't go over there," Mrs. Douglas insisted.
"Mrs. Douglas, we're interrogating your son. Not you, so please let your son answer the questions," Munch told the woman.
"My mom's right, I don't go there," the boy said. "My dad's supposed to have visitation, but I haven't gone to my visits since I was thirteen. I couldn't bear to go over there anymore…"
"Why's that?" Fin asked.
"It's none of your business. It's … personal."
"No, I think it is very much our business. Do tell, why wouldn't you go over there anymore?" Munch insisted.
"It's Sergeant," Munch corrected.
"Sergeant, would you want to go to your father's house if you had to go to sleep every night listening to the noises coming from your father's room, especially knowing that the woman he was with wasn't your mother? I mean, the noises were bad enough. I was thirteen when I finally realized what they were doing, and I couldn't stand it anymore. That's why I quit going over there."
Ms. Douglas looked dumb-struck. "Michael, you never told me…"
"I figured you wouldn't want to hear it. It was bad enough that I had to…" Michael said softly.
"So, let's get this straight. You went to your father's house, heard the police had been there, and then you murdered your father and step-mother out of disgust?" Munch asked.
"Who do you think told Maggie to call the police?" Michael sneered.
"Huh?" Munch and Fin both looked confused.
"Maggie called me in tears while I was in school. She said loud scary noises were coming from her parents' room and she thought our father was hurting her mother. So, I told her to call the police. I knew what they were doing, and I wanted them to suffer for what they'd done. It was bad enough that I had to endure the noises…I didn't want Maggie to suffer what I'd gone through…"
"I thought you didn't consider her your sister?" Fin noted.
"I didn't, but that doesn't mean I couldn't relate to her…I used to share a room with her when I spent the night. She was only two when I quit coming over on a regular basis, but she still calls me all the time, usually when her parents were too busy to pay attention to her."
"Did your father ever hurt you or Maggie, physically?" Fin asked.
"Ew, gross, no. He never touched us. He only touched her," Michael said, referring to his step-mother.
"Michael's father left when he was five. Five years later, he was married and has a new baby on the way. Michael never liked this woman, but I had no idea…no idea what was happening while my son was in their care. If I'd known, I never would have let him visit his father." Mrs. Douglas stroked her son's shoulder, tears flowing from her eyes.
"I went over to Dad's place to see if Maggie was all right. She told me she called the police, but he said that everything was all right, that Dad hadn't hurt her mom…I lost control, knowing that it was just going to keep on happening…and I wanted to do something before Maggie was old enough to realize what was really going on."
"Michael!" Mrs. Douglas cried. "Don't say another word. We're getting a lawyer."
"I took two knives from the kitchen, and then I realized that prints could be tracked to me if I didn't have gloves on…so, I grabbed some of the plastic gloves out of the drawer. Dad and she were still in the bedroom…they didn't know I was there…she was an easy target. So feeble and weak…" an evil grin took over Michael's face.
Olivia's stomach lurched and she turned around. Casey Novak was standing behind her, and she hadn't even noticed.
"Long-time-no-see, Casey," Olivia greeted the Assistant District Attorney.
"Yeah, I'm back…and, God, this is sick. Of course, having sex in the privacy of your own home, whether your children are home or not, isn't a crime unless they're watching. There's no crime against hearing noises…"
"It's clear this boy has no remorse for murdering his father and step-mother," Cragen said, glancing through the glass. Michael had continued to confess.
"I almost feel sorry for him, but I have no remorse for the fact that he framed his five-year-old half-sister. If he was really looking out for her, he wouldn't have done that."
"Once a jury hears this sob story, you know they're going to want to go lenient on him," Casey said. "But, given the crime, there's no doubt in my mind that he should be tried as an adult. He murdered his father and step-mother in cold blood."
"This case is yours now, Casey," Don said. "Do what you have to do to get justice."
"For Maggie," Olivia added. "All I want is justice to be served for Maggie."
"We need to get him to plead guilty, so there won't be a trial," Casey said. "Then, the little girl won't have to testify in court."
Olivia's heart raced, terrified at the idea of putting that little girl on the stand. She was emotionally a wreck, the way she had closed Nick and Amanda out so quickly. Who knew what would happen if she was placed in front of a jury. The only two Maggie seemed to trust were her…and Elliot.
Cragen placed his hand on Olivia's shoulder and whispered, "Liv, call Elliot and fill him in."
She nodded and stepped outside the observation room. She began heading toward the elevator, figuring she'd meet Elliot and Maggie wherever they were. Her gut instinct told her that they hadn't gone far.
She clicked to her missed calls on her phone and highlighted the last call she'd received, then she pressed "Call."
"Stabler." Elliot answered after one ring.
"Hey, El. It's Liv…" Was this déjà vu? "You're not gonna believe this…"
And suddenly everything felt like it was back to normal, though Olivia knew in her heart that nothing would be the same again. Elliot Stabler was no longer her partner in crime, but he was her partner in life. Was it destiny?
As for Maggie, Olivia knew there were still plenty of hoops she would have to jump through to get permanent custody of the child. Though, with Elliot's help, maybe, just maybe, she would have a shot. Perhaps she would become a mother after all. She could always dream, right?
Author's Note: Thanks to everyone who reviewed this story. I really appreciate it. I know you all wanted Maggie to be the world's youngest psychopath. I will confess, as I was writing earlier chapters I kept getting images of the little girl who set Dani Beck's apartment on fire.
I do have two questions for you guys, though:
1) Would you be interested in reading a story called The Woman behind the Screen, which would be this story taken from Elliot's point of view.
2) Would you be interested in reading a sequel to this story? I'm not going to make any promises yet, because I have yet to fulfill sequel requests. However, I do have a sequel in mind that would follow the aftermath of this story.
Stay tuned for more! My next mission is to update Second Chance, which I placed on hold to finish this story (since I knew it would take less time to finish this story than that story).