A/N: I have had this idea for a post-finale fic for a while, but had writer's block. This is pretty much Jossed already, but oh well. Hope you like it anyway!
Warnings: Graphic violence and torture, mentions of rape/sexual assault. More will be added if needed.
It wasn't often that Rafael apologized- to anyone, for any reason. Most of the time, he simply didn't feel that he should be obligated to.
But here he was, on the phone with Olivia, feeling like no amount of apologizing would be enough.
"I'm so sorry, Olivia," he said, clenching his fist around the corner of the desk. "The judge declared a mistrial, and he's out on bail, and... I don't think McCoy's going to let me retry him unless we get some new evidence."
An overwhelming wave of guilt came over him. Olivia and the others had put so much into getting Lewis. Rafael almost always came through for them, but this time, when it mattered more than any of their previous cases, he'd failed.
And the thought of what Olivia's reaction would be was almost worse than the failure itself.
She didn't show much anger to him, though; she just huffed and said, "Great."
An awkward silence fell for a few moments before Rafael said again, "I'm sorry. If we can find anything more on him-"
"We'll get him. I know," Olivia cut in, sounding disheartened.
Rafael sighed, deciding there wasn't any point in continuing their conversation. "See you, Olivia."
"See you," she said before hanging up.
Rafael let out a slow breath and gazed down at his phone. He didn't take his surroundings in; instead, he lost himself in his thoughts.
He had never felt guilt like this when he lost cases in Brooklyn; he would always just shrug it off and vow to win next time. It was only after joining the Sex Crimes bureau that he'd began to feel any attachment to the cases. Or, rather, the people affected by them.
He thought about Alice Parker, and all of Lewis' other victims, past and- potentially- future. He remembered the team telling him about Alice's photography, and he started recreated the scene in his head; the old woman contentedly snapping pictures of Central Park, only to be tortured at Lewis' hands days later, and then dying from a heart attack shortly after that.
And now her torturer, her killer, might never see the inside of a jail cell.
Rafael ground his teeth, then forced himself to calm down with a few deep breaths. It was still so fresh in his mind- he'd never be able to figure anything out with his emotions like this. Once he cleared his head, surely he could find some sort of loophole. Maybe there was some DNA that hadn't been tested that he could have redone, eliminating the worries of cross-contamination. Maybe he could get Jose from Lewis' halfway house to testify against him for burning his hands.
The Bureau Chief for the unit, Mike Cutter, was smart. Between the two of them, there had to be a way they could convince Jack McCoy to let him retry the case.
He looked at the clock and stood, realizing that he could have left a half hour ago. He retrieved his things and headed out the door.
At first, Rafael considered going to a bar, but he ultimately decided to unwind at his apartment. After taking the subway to the closest stop and working his way through the building, he entered his home, stretching his muscles and shrugging his suit jacket off.
He didn't want to think about work, didn't want to think about what the detectives must be feeling at that moment. So instead, he thought about the delicious leftovers from the previous night, and his mouth was watering by the time he came into the kitchen and flicked the light switch on.
A loud noise came from his left side. He jumped and turned towards it just in time to feel something collide with him.
He grunted and struggled to keep his balance, but the other's momentum sent him tumbling to the ground. He blinked up at the solid figure, shock preventing him from registering what had just happened.
"Counselor," a male voice breathed.
Dread settled in Rafael's stomach as he recognized the voice.
He lashed out, but Lewis overpowered him easily. He dragged Rafael to one of the kitchen chairs, then produced a length of rope, and, despite Rafael's struggles, had him tied up to it within minutes.
His heart started pounding. He thought about everything Lewis had done to his victims, and he pushed against the ropes wrapped around his torso, panic overriding any rational thought.
Something hard landed against his head, striking him dumb. When his vision cleared, he noticed the gun Lewis was holding, and he tried to shrink away, but Lewis hit him again.
He stopped struggling. Instead, he started to pray, begging the powers that be for his life. After all, asking Lewis himself would be useless.
"Counselor," Lewis said again. Rafael looked to the side. "Look at me," he snapped. Rafael shook his head.
Lewis struck the side of his head with the gun once more, making Rafael's vision go black for a moment. His head started pounding, nausea rising up in his stomach.
"Look. At. Me," Lewis hissed. Rafael complied this time, gazing into the face of the last man he wanted to see.
"Now, I don't have much time for you- can't let Detective Benson come home to an empty house," Lewis said. "But I have enough."
No, Rafael thought desperately. He started struggling against the bonds again, which only made Lewis snicker.
Lewis pulled a lighter out of his pocket, lighting it with a smooth motion. "If only I had more time, I would get a hanger and do this right," he said wistfully. "But this will be enough, don't you think?"
To Rafael's utter disgust, Lewis reached a hand into Rafael's lap and stroked from his thigh to his penis. "Guys don't do much for me, but if it wasn't for her... we could make this work. But," he gave a quick sigh, "We'll have to make due with this. Unless you want to come with me? I bet she'd like some company."
Rafael swallowed hard. He replayed the last half-hour in his head, trying to figure out how it had come to this. None if it added up.
Lewis smiled- not smirked, smiled- at him and held out one hand for Rafael to see. "I'll take that as a no. Shame. But in that case, we'll have to get started fast. See this?"
Knowing that Lewis was referencing the burned-off fingertips, Rafael nodded, cringing at the pain in his head. He could barely think, it was so intense. That, he knew, was going to hurt his chances of making it out of this alive. And if he didn't make it out of this alive, he wouldn't be able to help Olivia.
Lewis continued speaking, and Rafael returned his attention to him. "It isn't as bad as you'd think. You just gotta focus. Think you can do that?" He picked up Rafael's right hand and held the lighter close to it. "How long can you take this before you chicken out?"
Rafael tried to pull away, biting his lip at the uncomfortable heat, but Lewis kept it firmly in place, chuckling softly. "Need some more incentive? How's this?" He held up his gun. "You can stop at any time, but I think a bullet may feel a bit worse, huh?"
The discomfort was turning into pain, and Lewis took Rafael's expression as his cue to move forward. This time, the lighter actually made contact with his skin, and it took all of Rafael's determination not to try to jerk away or cry out. The gun was in clear sight, and he kept remembering Olivia. She didn't know what Lewis had planned for her. He had to get out of this, had to warn her somehow.
The pain faded from his palm, instead becoming concentrated on one fingertip after the other. His thumb, then his pointer and middle fingers. He tried to find something else to focus on besides the blistering pain, but the closest he could get was silently screaming at the pounding in his head. His breath was getting quicker, but he managed to keep quiet.
"There, that wasn't so bad, was it?" Lewis said, letting Rafael's arm fall. Rafael shook his head once. "You know, Counselor, I'm getting a little tired of basically talkin' to myself here."
"N-No, it wasn't... that bad," Rafael ground out.
"The next one will be easier, now that you know what to expect," Lewis promised, moving to Rafael's left hand.
Rafael looked away and once again tried to focus on something else, and once again failed. His hands not only burned, but itched as well, creating a maddening sensation. He didn't know what he wanted more; to plunge them in some cold water, or to scratch them.
"Hmm, would you look at that. Still a lot of lighter fluid left. I would've thought you'd have tougher skin than that," Lewis said. Ignoring Rafael's expression- or, Rafael thought, fueled by it- he continued, "Guess we'll have to find something else to use the rest on, hmm?"
Rafael wanted to give some sarcastic remark, but he couldn't think of anything, couldn't do anything but play along. "I guess..."
Lewis turned away. He rummaged in Rafael's drawers for a few minutes before he found a pair of scissors and returned to Rafael. It didn't take long for him to cut away Rafael's shirt, leaving his torso exposed except for where the ropes covered him.
"Same rules apply," Lewis said, flicking the lighter on again. Once again, he brought it to Rafael's skin, this time on his chest. Rafael gasped in pain, unable to control himself any longer.
The flame found its way over the rest of his body, burning his chest, stomach, and legs before returning to his arms. It was obvious that Lewis knew the human body, knew the best places to make a burn hurt worse. He paid special attention to any particularly sensitive areas, as well as any places his skin was creased- the folds on his elbow, behind his knee.
Tears slid down Rafael's face as Lewis carefully burned the soles of his feet, and his cries grew loud enough that Lewis forced a length of duct tape over his mouth to quiet him. He struggled to breathe through his nose. Panic and the tears made it almost impossible, but he managed.
Sometimes Lewis would only keep the lighter in place for a few seconds; other times, he would hold it until they could smell his flesh burning. Rafael almost preferred it that way, because the pain always vanished from those spots. He knew what it meant, but couldn't bring himself to care, not even when he saw the blackened skin.
Later, if he got out of this alive, it would bother him that Lewis was giving him second and third degree burns. But now, he couldn't work up the energy. All he cared about was trying to make the pain stop, and the damaged nerves were the closest he'd gotten since this nightmare had started.
Rafael looked down at his arm, then back at Lewis, wondering how much more he could take. Wondering how much longer he would last before he let Lewis kill him.
Wondering how much longer it would be before he gave up his only chance to help Olivia.
Lewis pressed his thumb into just the wrong spot, the outer edge of one of the worst burns on his left arm. Rafael groaned, clenching his hand into a fist and immediately regretting it when the pain seemed to triple. Tears stung his eyes again and he cried out, the sound muffled and distorted by the tape.
He was struggling for breath again, unable to stop the tears, unable to breathe through his nose. The tape was tight around his mouth, and what little air he could get through wasn't enough.
Lewis waited, completely unaffected. Once Rafael's breathing was under control, he used the last of the flame to burn Rafael's nipples, going slower this time so Rafael wouldn't start crying again. Then, after he checked to make sure the lighter was truly empty, he tossed it to the ground.
Please be done, Rafael prayed silently. Please...
He was too tired, in too much pain to hold on anymore. Not even for Olivia.
Lewis' palm collided with Rafael's cheek. "No passin' out."
"I'm not," he tried to say, but what came out was unintelligible- and still would have been without the duct tape.
He made himself open his eyes, just a little, and look at Lewis.
Or was it Williams?
No, it was Lewis, he told himself. William Lewis.
He shook his head once, trying to clear it, but all he succeeded in doing was exacerbating the throb and making the nausea rise again.
Lewis glanced at the clock and frowned. "Well, I have to get going. That was fun, Counselor- we should do this again sometime. But for now, Detective Benson needs some attention," Lewis said.
Rafael watched him as he made to leave. Thoughts jumped around in his head, too quickly for him to be able to connect them, but his body reached a decision without his input. He found himself struggling to get his arm out from the rope.
Lewis caught him and laughed, returning to his position right above him. "You actually think you're getting out of that?" he snickered. "I must've hit your head harder than I thought." He backhanded Rafael, making him feel like his head was exploding.
Falling back, Rafael breathed slowly and closed his eyes, then opened them again. At that moment, as he looked down and saw Lewis' lower body, the dots connected, and he realized that his legs were tied up looser than his arms. He kicked as far out as he could, landing a hard kick on Lewis' shin.
The feeling of satisfaction ended almost before it had begun.
He felt a hard punch land on his stomach... But it couldn't be an actual punch, he realized, because Lewis' arms weren't in contact with Rafael. One arm was at Lewis' side, and the other was in front of him, hand clenched around the...
The sound of a gunshot finally reached his ears at the same time as the blood started flowing from his stomach. He blinked. He couldn't seem to comprehend anything that had happened after kicking Lewis.
"You're an idiot, you know that?" Lewis snarled.
Rafael didn't make a sound. He watched the wound bleeding, terrified that the lack of pain meant he was going to die after all.
"You know that?" Lewis repeated, striking Rafael's face with the butt of the gun. Rafael cringed, feeling a throb on the bridge of his nose and over his left eye.
And there was the pain from the gunshot wound, making him gasp and all but writhe on the chair.
Lewis growled quietly, almost shaking with rage. He struck him with the gun again and again, hard enough to make his head bleed. He moved lower after that, striking his chest, stomach, anywhere he could reach. Not even the chair falling over stopped him; he simply started kicking instead. Rafael felt ribs crack, felt the agonizing flash when Lewis kicked too close to the gunshot wound. But undoubtedly, that wound was the worst- the throbbing, the burning sensation that was worse than actually being burned, and the pain never let up. At least the others eased, just a little.
Rafael whimpered with each blow, but couldn't find the strength to do much more. He tried to send himself somewhere else, tried to remember the happiest times of his life, but he couldn't focus, couldn't think about anything else before the pain brought him back.
He was barely holding on to consciousness by the time Lewis finished and walked away to grab Rafael's phone. "Someone probably called 911," he said, scowling, as he pressed the buttons.
Rafael distantly heard Lewis saying that he'd seen a raccoon on the fire escape and had panicked. He couldn't hear the response, but judging from Lewis' tone, they believed him, and were only giving him a stern warning about being careful with firearms.
"See you soon, Counselor," Lewis taunted. "All this has made me realize just how valuable a good girl like Benson will be." With that, he strode out of the apartment.
Rafael gave a helpless, protesting groan.
He glanced at the clock, shocked at how little time had passed. An hour. That was all it had taken for Lewis to make pain his entire world, his entire existence. To turn his world upside-down and absolutely wreck it.
And Lewis would have Olivia for twelve hours at least.
And that was how long Rafael would have to hold on. That was how long it was until anyone would know he was missing. He had a court appearance at eight the next morning, and the judge was a stickler for punctuality. She'd demand to know where he was, and once they saw that he wasn't at his office and wasn't answering his phone... they'd find him.
But at this point, Rafael wasn't confident they'd find him alive.
He looked at the quickly-forming puddle of blood and felt his heart hammer.
He'd try to survive, for Olivia, for himself, but he was only human. He could only lose so much blood, and after twelve hours in his condition, it was almost certain he'd lose too much.
Another wave of pain overcame him, making him clench his muscles in protest.
No, he thought, he wasn't getting out of this without divine intervention.
He closed his eyes and silently begged for just that.