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Go It Alone

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Olivia watched on as Carisi led Amanda towards the elevator. She wanted nothing more than to follow them, to make sure Amanda got home safely.

Olivia hadn’t slept since she discovered Amanda had been taken hostage by Bucci, nor did she feel like she could breathe. When Amanda had walked into the precinct with Bucci, she finally felt like she could breathe again.

There were questions she wanted answers to. Where did he take her? What did he do to her? Amanda said he didn’t touch her, but Olivia saw through that lie. Not knowing what happened made her anxious, but not knowing how Amanda was really feeling hurt even more. Amanda used the fire range as a cover story for her therapy sessions. Why didn’t she tell Olivia?

There would have been no judgement. Amanda knew Olivia had gone to a therapist herself, so why didn’t she feel comfortable admitting the same? Didn’t she trust her Captain? Or at least Fin? Carisi? Was there no one Amanda felt she could trust? And why was she going to therapy in the first place?

All of these questions needed to be answered at a later date. Olivia knew how important it was for Amanda to see her girls. She had gone through similar circumstances before and easily empathized, but it still didn’t put her at ease. Amanda had once told her she was “covered in armour” which was like the pot calling the kettle black.

Dumping her problems or concerns onto other people made Olivia feel as if she was burdening them. When she was a child, a part of her wanted to prove to herself that she could handle any situation she faced all by herself. She never had a mentor to look up to, her mother was distracted or drinking, and her father...

She learned the hard way just how detrimental it was for her to refuse help from others which is why she sought therapy in her adulthood. A different, non biased opinion was exactly what she needed to help guide her through troubling times. Therapy became her safe space and quite honestly something she began to look forward to.

Try as she might, Olivia had failed to relay the importance of therapy to Amanda, or so she had thought. The trauma therapist her detective had been seeing was the one she had recommended.

It clicked — trauma therapist. Trauma. Amanda must have discussed a past trauma with Dr. Hanover using their new interview technique, and it must have worked so well that Amanda or Dr. Hanover asked for another session.

Olivia briefly pondered as to what traumatic event Amanda had been asked to revisit. There had been so many in Amanda’s life. She was forced to watch her father abuse her mother, then forced to watch her mother repeat the pattern with with men, she took care of her mentally ill sister, was raped by her former Captain, and now she had kidnapping to add to the list. Amanda was apprehensive towards therapy before Bucci kidnapped her; Olivia hoped it didn’t deter her from continuing once she came back to work.

If not for herself, Olivia needed Amanda to continue therapy so she could be mentally, spiritually and emotionally healthy enough to care for her girls. And as her detective, her responsibility, Olivia had to know Amanda was going to be competent enough to do her job. Post-traumatic stress disorder was a living hell and it was going to be a challenge for Amanda, but there also wasn’t a chance in hell she’d be battling it alone.

Amanda might not have believed she could tell her squad about her therapist before, choosing to go it alone, Olivia would make damn sure her detective knew she never needed to feel that way again.

Chapter Text

Jessie and Billie had been asleep for a few hours while Amanda sat up in her bed, trying to focus on a book she’d bought herself for Christmas but hadn’t had time to read. Her eyes glazed over after rereading the same paragraph for the fourth time and she tried to push down a yawn.

The book was put back into her nightstand and her free hands went to cover her mouth as she yawned again. Rubbing her eyes, Amanda wondered what time it was and if sleeping was even still an option for her. She turned to pick up the cellphone she normally left on her nightstand while she slept, before she remembered Frank had broken it. Great. She’d have to go out and buy a new one later that day.

Looking outside her bedroom window, it was clear to Amanda it couldn’t be later than 4am. Her street was still busy with cabs, and the sky was beginning to lighten. If she fell asleep now,  it would make her feel groggy and grumpy. She had to be up with the kids in a couple of hours anyways, so what was the point?

Amanda didn’t want to scare her kids, or for them to notice any changes in her, which meant she needed to avoid sleep. Sleeping brought on night terrors. After what happened with Patton, they had tortured her for months. She woke up screaming, drenched in her own sweat, and breathless on too many nights. Thinking about her kids seeing or hearing her like that sent shivers down her spine.

So, no sleep. But she couldn’t rely on her old coping mechanisms either. Amanda gave up smoking before she had Jessie and she was tremendously proud of herself for it because it had been hard as hell. Four attempts were made until she felt strong enough to get through the day without caving to buy a new pack of cigarettes. She didn’t even think about them much anymore. The same couldn’t be said about drinking.

Amanda missed going out to her favourite bars, letting loose while lonesome men bought her drinks in hopes of getting in her pants. It was easy for her. She had a lot more energy and time back then.

Now when she finished work, she had two beautiful baby girls to come home to. Jessie was finally passed her stage of jealousy over her little sister, and Billie had just started walking which meant Amanda needed to watch her every move or else she’d do a nose dive off of the kitchen table.

It was humourous to Amanda that she was a helicopter mother, probably because her own mother was the complete opposite. Her shrink would tell her it was her overcompensating for being neglected as a child, but Amanda couldn’t comprehend any other way to do it. Was it not simply a natural inclination to want to protect them from harm? She’d give her life for her babies. It wasn’t like she had a partner to share the responsibilities with, so sure, maybe she did overcompensate a little. Her intentions were good natured.

Amanda resigned and sighed. Maybe a few hours of shut eye wouldn’t do too much damage. She could call her sitter in the morning and have her take the girls for a few hours so she could nap later, but that would mean giving up the girls and right now, she wouldn’t be able to sleep knowing they weren’t there with her. They’d spent too much time apart as it was.

The clock on her nightstand read 2:05am and she groaned before switching her table lamp off. With the covers pulled up to her neck, she turned onto her side and pulled her knees up close to her chest. She breathed in quickly, held her breath, then closed her eyes and released it.  Frank’s voice echoed in her thoughts.

You tell me my kids need a dad? Don't you forget, your girls need a mom. I'll shoot you right here if I have to.

It finally sunk in to Amanda just how close she had gotten to death’s door that day. Frank could have killed her. She could have died without ever seeing her girls again. For the second time that day, she let out a sob. Her hands instinctively went to wipe the tears away, but it was fruitless. The harder she cried, the harder it became for her to breathe and she knew she had to control herself or else she’d go into a full fledged panic attack. It would be nearly impossible not to wake the girls if that happened.

Amanda rushed into the bathroom and grabbed a roll of toilet paper to wipe her runny nose. She stood in front of the mirror with a hand on either side of the sink and counted to three while she inhaled deeply, then again as she exhaled, and repeated the counting until she felt she was calm enough to return to her bed. Her throat was tight, her shoulders stiff, and a migraine at the base of her neck made her vision blurry.

Still standing in front of the sink, Amanda swayed on her feet. Her stomach growled, reminding her she hadn’t eaten since that morning but her desire for food was absent.

You left your gun in your car. You shouldn’t do that.

Amanda closed her eyes and willed Frank’s voice to leave her alone. She didn’t have time to deal with this right now; she had kids to take care of. There was no room in her life to be a screwup anymore. She had to be a role model for her kids. She couldn’t be like her mother. 

Amanda seized up, remembering what she had said to Frank in the motel room.

[My mother] spent her entire life chasing dirtbags. That's all she thought she was worth, and I hated her for it. I'm just like her. Now I got two little girls.

I'm terrified They're gonna grow up the same way feeling like they don't deserve to be happy.

Amanda grabbed a hand towel to quiet her convulsive gasp before she fell to the bathroom floor in another fit of sobs. Part of her wished she had her phone so she could call Sonny or Olivia, hell she’d be happy with Fin’s company right now, anyone to make her feel less alone. But then she’d have to deal with them constantly asking if she was okay, which she wasn’t, but she didn’t want them to know that. Being handled annoyed Amanda to no end.

Underneath her strong, brash nature, was an underlying lack of confidence, and as she admitted to Frank, a fear that she might be unworthy of love. Having never experienced it until she met Fin and Olivia, Amanda still wasn’t sure what it meant to be in love. On several occasions she’d felt lust or a strong liking towards another person, but never anything more.

Even with only a few days off work, Amanda knew Fin and Olivia would make an appearance to “check in” on her. Amanda knew the guise was code for a mental health check, so she planned on keeping herself busy until it inevitably happened. It would be easier to convince them she was doing just fine if she had less time to think.

Briefly she considered joining a gym, maybe trying a kickboxing class so she could forget about how hurt she was, by channeling her anger constructively. The idea was quickly squashed. Chasing her kids around was enough of a workout for now; she barely got in a morning run anymore. Olivia had hired a personal trainer a year ago that worked around her schedule. A personal trainer would make things easier, especially if they could come to Amanda instead of her leaving the girls to go to a gym. She’d ask for his contact information the next time she saw Olivia.

It surprised Amanda when her boss didn’t show up at her door that night. A part of her was disappointed when she didn’t, nevertheless she appreciated the time to process.

After Lewis kidnapped Olivia, Amanda, feeling like the situation was partly her fault for arresting him in the first place, gave Olivia her space. It was obviously annoying Olivia to invariably be pestered by her colleagues and captain when surely she wanted to be left alone. Amanda respected that.

She was good at keeping her thoughts and worries to herself when it came to Olivia because Olivia’s opinion of her meant a lot to Amanda. She didn’t want to jeopardize it in any way. More than that, Amanda didn’t want Olivia to see her crying and helpless after her ordeal with Frank. She only ever saw Olivia cry once over William Lewis and she was the one who forced the reaction out of her, after Olivia accused her of never having experienced terror.

If Amanda didn’t understand the feeling of terror then, she sure as hell did now. The more she thought about what Frank put her through, the angrier she got, until her dissociative state passed and she realized she was still sitting on her bathroom floor. Her ass hurt and her legs had pins and needles from staying cross legged on the hard floor for too long.

Amanda reached up to grip the bathroom countertop for support while she raised herself up.

“Jesus,” she muttered with a groan.

With her head down towards the floor, Amanda avoided looking at her reflection. She didn’t want to see how bad she looked. She already felt awful and that was enough. Her hands smacked her legs a couple of times to encourage them to wake up, and her shoulder shrugged forward while she limped back to her room. She quickly checked in on the girls only to see them fast asleep in their beds. At least her meltdown hadn’t interrupted their sleep, she thought in the time it took for her to climb back under her bedcover.

“What time is it now?” she wondered, reaching towards her nightstand for the cellphone that wasn’t there, again. “For fuck’s sake, Frank.”

Chapter Text

Her depression was slowly building. It was like a gravitational force that pulled her further and further down into a dark pool of choking paralysis.

Being stuck in her apartment made Amanda claustrophobic. It happened every time Amanda wasn’t allowed to go to work. She felt isolated from everyone and everything she knew. After only two days off, her sense of self slowly deteriorated.

She knew herself well enough to recognize she was a confident, courageous, and determined woman. Amanda thrived under pressure which is why she was good at her job, and why she loved working. Her work gave her a purpose. It made her feel like she wasn’t worthless because she was doing good by helping people.

The trauma Frank put her through shattered the perception she had of herself. Amanda began to question everything she thought she knew. If she was so good at her job, why didn’t she take notice when Frank became unhinged. The signs were right in front of her. Why didn’t she do or say something at the hospital? Maybe she could have saved Dr. Hanover from getting dragged into the mess.

None of it would have happened if they had gathered enough evidence to put Getz behind bars where he belonged. Frank would have been at home, safe with his girls, and Amanda would have been home with hers, instead of hiding out at a cheap motel in upstate New York; A cheap motel that reminded her of the one Patton took her to.

If someone asked her how she was doing, she couldn’t be sure she wouldn’t rip their head off. She was angry. Anyone in the path of that anger would unintentionally end up becoming her punching bag. Not only would someone telling her how to feel or what to do make her feel worse, it would make her feel like she wasn’t capable of taking care of herself.

Her independence helped Amanda survive her childhood. She became accustomed to doing everything on her own well into her adulthood. Because of this, when others offered her help, she never let them. Help from others made Amanda feel insecure and vulnerable. Help from others made her feel weak.

It felt like a slap in the face to be pitied, for someone to assume she wasn’t capable of handling any situation on her own when that’s exactly what she’d been doing her entire life. She never needed anyone’s help before; why would she need it now?

All the stress and tension from the past few days made her feel abnormal and overwhelmed, mentally and physically. Her solution was to avoid thinking about it, to distract herself from feeling. To feel nothing. Feelings were a luxury she could not afford to indulge herself with.

Amanda used to have vices to help her feel numb, to help her feel nothing. Alcohol, cigarettes, and casual sex made for a great distraction. But now, she had to make better choices for her daughters sake. She had to control herself and ignore her urges.

But she wasn’t so sure she was in control anymore. She wasn’t sure she was in control of anything. Frank took that from her when he cuffed her to a desk, held a gun to her head and threatened to kill her. Being held hostage produced anxieties in her she’d never had before about who she was as a mother, as a detective, and as a woman. It scared her. 

What scared her even more was facing the truth. She often jumped to conclusions to avoid reality. It was easier for her. As a child, she had to be strong to keep everyone else together.  She didn’t have time for her feelings because she was busy keeping everyone else alive. Even before her father left, it was her job to look after Kim and her mother, to cook, and to clean, to be the adult even when she was still just a child.

Beth was the definition of a codependent parent. Her and Kim were two sides of the same coin. They did everything together. Kim wanted so badly to be a carbon copy of their mother that she fell into the same pattern of dating abusive men. It never made sense to Amanda, who was proud she wasn’t anything like her mother and sister. But she was like them.

After Kim moved out, Beth called her every single day to chat. Beth didn’t even call Amanda on her Birthday. Their mother let Kim get away with everything because in her eyes, Kim could do no wrong. The same treatment did not apply with Amanda, who often wondered if her mother even liked her. Amanda grew up feeling like a burden to her mother. Nothing she did was ever good enough for Beth.

When her father was still in the picture, Amanda didn’t mind being her mother’s second favourite; she was her father’s first. They did everything together. He was her best friend. Everybody loved her daddy. He knew everyone’s name, all their kids’ names, who went off to what college, who was recovering from what illness.

It’s part of the reason Amanda never forgave her mother for ostracizing him. It was her mother’s fault Amanda lost her best friend.

And there was no arguing with Beth about any decision she made. Beth’s decisions were absolute. Even when Amanda became an adult, her mother was always right.

Amanda is terrible at arguments. Immediately, she becomes hotheaded and opposed to engaging in a discussion where neither party is presumed right. Beth never listened to Amanda’s feelings or problems. She saw Amanda’s personality as a threat to her own authority.

There were times where Amanda actually wanted her mother to yell or cry. Any reaction at all was better than Beth’s silent treatment.  Before she knew better, Amanda often tried asking her mother what she did wrong. Beth always feigned ignorance or said Amanda was too sensitive, especially when Amanda cried or showed she was hurt or angry.

Every day living with her mother felt like walking on eggshells. Beth’s rapidly changing mood swings sometimes changed minute-by-minute, and sometimes happened over days or weeks. As she grew, she got tired. Tired of the crying. Tired of the anger. Goddamn tired. So she learned to keep it to herself.

Talking to her mother was like talking to a brick wall. Amanda never spoke with Beth; she spoke to her. Beth respected Amanda’s opinions as much as she respected herself: she didn’t. It was almost as if Beth’s only known way of communicating was through manipulation.

Besides the silent treatment, Amanda grew used to hearing passive aggressive comments from her mother about everything she did or did not do. For the longest time, Amanda believed she was the one at fault, that she was “the bad guy,” until she eventually recognized Beth used control tactics and manipulative power plays. Her mother rarely needed to use a switch on her daughters as a punishment. The weapon Beth favoured was her mouth.

Even after decades of emotional, psychological, and financial abuse, Amanda frequently though she could have had it worse. At least Beth didn’t hit her, not like her father hit Beth. At least Beth wasn’t aggressive or mean when she was drunk, not like her father. At least her mother didn’t abandon her children.

A part of Amanda was attracted to dominant men like her father. Dominant in the bedroom and outside of the bedroom. She was an assertive person until a man came around and told her what to do, how to act, who to be. Suddenly she became someone she didn’t recognize.

None of the men Amanda had dated ever physically abused her. She’d have hit back twice as hard if they tried. None of them were particularly nice to her, either. Most of the guys she had been with were one night stands who never stayed around for very long. The ones that did, only did so because the sex was great.

She submitted to them. She let them use her for her body. She let them control her, take away a piece of her autonomy. Now she was letting Frank do the same. She really was just like her mother. Just like her sister.

Chapter Text

A knock made Amanda pause several treads from her front door. She listened, waited, wordlessly willing the unwelcome visitor to disappear so she could go back to her bed and book. 

Unable to get herself out of bed, Amanda had decided to succumb to her anxious thoughts for that day. Normally, the choice to get up and be productive was an easy one for her. Two sleepless nights, an inability to concentrate, and an overall feeling of fatigue left her feeling numb to interests she typically partook in. 

One mental health day was all she believed she needed to get back to her old self. There was no time for her to wallow in self-pity when she had two young children who needed their mother. 

Recalling back to when she was a child, Amanda remembered how different her mother became when she suffered through bouts of depression. It often made her mother unrecognizable in Amanda’s eyes, like she was living with a stranger. If she could just get control over herself, Amanda could spare her girls from that same pain. 

Amanda felt as if she was about to perform in a play for which she hadn’t adequately rehearsed. It was obvious to her that whomever was behind her door wanted to check in on her, ask her how she was doing by instigating conversation; a conversation she didn’t feel prepared for. 

Reluctant to check the peephole, Amanda cried out, “Who’s there? Who is it?” 

“It’s me,” Olivia announced. “I brought pizza. And beer.”

Amanda rubbed the back of her neck. Her arms trembled. A sudden terror filled her. Her heart hammered against her ribs, and for an instant she held her breath. Her head swam dizzily. 

Why am I so scared? It's only Olivia. What, she wondered, is wrong with me?

Conquering her desire to ignore her unsought visitor, her fingers clawed at the doorknob. 

Stood at Amanda’s apartment door, Olivia held up a six-pack of beer and smiled awkwardly. The pizza remained balanced between Olivia’s hip and her right hand. 

“Fin send you?” Amanda asked suspiciously. 

With a raised eyebrow and her head cocked to one side, Amanda reached out to grab the beer from Olivia. She offered a stiff smile, before she turned and headed towards her kitchen. Her stomach grumbled at the delectable smell of hot pizza, a reminder she had forgotten to eat again that day.

“No,” Olivia answered.

Olivia glanced around the abnormally quiet, tidy apartment, unsure if she was meant to follow. Feeling unusually shy, she hovered in the doorway with the pizza.

“No,” she repeated before she entered the apartment and closed the door behind her. “I’m here to check in, see how you’re doing.”

Amanda managed a “Hmm,” in response. 

A concerned look crossed Olivia’s face as she followed Amanda into the kitchen. She put the pizza onto the kitchen table and stood still for a moment. Olivia pondered whether it was appropriate for her to search through Amanda’s cabinets for plates. She didn’t know where Amanda’s plates were located, nor did she feel comfortable invading Amanda’s privacy like that. 

Instead, she pulled a chair out from under the kitchen table and sat down. Her eyes never left Amanda’s back as she did so. Olivia saw the anxiety radiate throughout Amanda’s body. Her detective’s movements were stiff, her shoulders high. Amanda was still in her pajamas, unshowered, but the dark circles under her bloodshot eyes were evidence she hadn’t gotten much sleep. 

“Where are the girls?” Olivia asked.

With shaky hands, Amanda clumsily discarded the beer onto her countertop in search of the bottle opener. 

“They’re at daycare. It’s already paid for, so...”

Amanda opened the drawer that held her utensils and saw the bottle opener clinging to the side amidst a disorganized mess of metal. She grabbed it, shoved the drawer closed with her hip, and expertly removed two caps from the bottles of beer. 

Amanda held a beer out for Olivia to take and sat down at the table beside her. Hesitantly, she crossed her arms and slumped down in her chair, her legs wide open. She closed her eyes. Her forehead furrowed. With a soft exhale, Amanda opened her eyes again to find Olivia staring back.

The smell of the pizza enticed Amanda enough to take a peek from under the box. Amanda took a sip from her beer and put it down on the table. She crossed her legs, agitated at the delicacy with which Olivia was handling her. 

“The pizza smells good. I was so busy tidying up; I forgot to eat today.”

“That happening a lot lately?”

“Huh?”

“It’s just…” Olivia winced. She frantically pushed her hair out of her face, behind her ear. “You look like you’ve lost weight.”

“Now you sound like Carisi,” Amanda snickered.

“We’re worried about you, Amanda.”

Amanda let out a frustrated sigh. Olivia’s assumptions, although correct, made Amanda feel uncomfortable. It was an unusual occurrence for her to have others sincerely care about her well being and for the most part, she preferred it that way. 

Her body language mimicked her guarded emotions. With her legs crossed, her arms holding her sides, and her head turned away from Olivia, she made it blatantly clear to Olivia how she felt about their current conversation. 

“I‘m fine. I just wanna be back at work.”

“Carisi told me you’re thinking about quitting therapy.”

Olivia put her hands together and collected her thoughts, like she was about to lecture a child. 

“Do you really think that’s wise?”

“I can handle it now.”

“I’d love to have you return to the precinct, of course, but only after I’ve seen some progress in your treatment with Dr. Hanover.”

“I’m not a victim. I don’t need help. It’s a waste of everybody’s time.”

Amanda knew what Olivia wanted. She wanted her to blow up, wanted to get a rise out of her. I shouldn’t be so catty, Amanda thought, but the pity in Olivia’s voice annoyed her. 

Both women thought they were astute at hiding their emotions, at wearing a mask. With years of experience working alongside one another, they were skilled at noticing any sudden change in each other's personalities. 

“I want you to know that you’re not alone, Amanda,” Olivia said before she reached for Amanda’s free hand. 

Olivia craved physical contact with Amanda, who she assumed hated to be touched. Her need to nurture overwhelmed her anxieties about Amanda’s need for personal space. She squeezed her hand tightly and was surprised when Amanda didn’t instinctively pull away. 

Having grown up in a house where physical touch resulted in bruises, it was an arduous effort for Amanda to accept any intimacy. She yearned to be touched by Olivia, to no longer feel lonely, but every fibre of her being told her it was wrong. 

Olivia dropped her beer onto the table so she could cover their entwined hands with her free one. She stroked Amanda’s hand and hoped her gentle encouragement was enough to convince Amanda to open up.

Continuing, Olivia whispered, “I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere.”

“I know that this is difficult, Amanda.”

It was Amanda’s idea of torture: Olivia repeating her name, sat there, tight-lipped and stubborn, concerned about whether she was in therapy or not. 

“Frank didn’t do anything.”

“I get that but after a trauma, survivors can experience a wide range of reactions, from stress to fear to numbness.” 

“I'm okay. I’m fine.”

“Are you feeling angry right now, Amanda? Do you feel like you’re in control of your emotions?”

Olivia looked her over with concern. 

“You think I’m not.”

“Your face is red, your hands are balled up in fists. I’m concerned.”

There was no point in arguing further, Amanda realized. It was foolish of her to expect anything less than compassion from Olivia. It was foolish of her to shield herself from the compassion she craved. 

“I think you’ve been through a traumatic experience. You’re not a superhero. You are not invulnerable, Amanda. Maybe therapy is exactly what you need. I know you’re anxious to get back to work. But..”

Amanda shifted uncomfortably in her chair when Olivia didn’t continue. “But what?” she spat.

With her voice low and calm, Olivia whispered, “Is SVU the best place for you right now?”

Even though Olivia’s intentions were good, anyone who inferred they knew what was best for her infuriated Amanda. 

Unable to speak without yelling, Amanda stayed quiet. She tried to focus on her hands, which gripped tightly around both of her knees to keep them from shaking.

Olivia leaned her head to one side while her eyes searched Amanda’s face for answers. Amanda had barely maintained eye contact with her but she hadn’t run away yet. 

“Healing takes time, support, counselling. You know that. If you don’t do anything about it, it won’t just go away.”

Amanda’s eyes swept the room. She couldn’t face Olivia and say the words out loud. Her eyebrows creased, but her lips remained sealed when she looked back to find Olivia still waiting for her to answer.

Olivia nodded, knowing Amanda wasn’t ready to take off her armour.

“After Lewis...” Olivia paused to control the shakiness of her voice. “After Lewis, I was terrified of walking back into the squad room. Of seeing everybody look at me differently, wondering if I was okay, treating me like I was broken.”

Amanda’s interest peaked. It was rare for her to hear Olivia wantonly discuss William Lewis, especially with her. In recent years, the women had comfortably connected through motherhood. Seldom were they privy to personal information separate from that. It was an honour for Amanda, who deeply admired her boss, to finally be trusted by Olivia. 

“My therapist once told me,” Olivia pondered for a moment. “...to forgive myself. I used to blame myself for things that were out of my control. I get the feeling you might do the same?” 

It was a statement phrased as a question. Olivia hoped Amanda would take the bait and finally let her guard down. 

Amanda pursed her lips. She swiped at the hair in her face and tilted her head to the side. Amanda wrapped her arms around herself, as a form of self soothing. 

“Yeah,” she sighed begrudgingly. 

Olivia smiled sadly, knowingly. “Healing takes time. The first step in finding a pathway out of darkness is to track what’s alive. In my experience, one small spontaneous action led me to another and so on, until I was finally back in the light.”

“I’m not following.”

“Change your routine. Instead of taking the subway to work, walk. Instead of checking your phone, pick up a book. Whatever makes you happy. Concentrate on the good things in life. Eventually, they outweigh the bad.”

“I'm trying to let things go, to forgive. But I am so angry Liv, and it scares me.” Amanda hesitated as if she wanted to say more before she stopped herself. 

“It’s okay. Whatever you’re feeling is okay.”

“You were right, you know. I do hate my mother. She was supposed to protect us.”

“Protect you from your father?”

“No, he never hurt us.”

“Okay, but... someone did.”

“I can’t. I don’t want to think about any of them.”

“I know how hard this is, but you gotta try to find a way to deal with it, okay?”

“I don't— I don't want anyone to know. I don't want anyone to know.”

“There's nothing you could say that would make you any less of a detective in my eyes. Amanda Rollins, stand up.”

“Why?”

“Just stand up.”

Amanda hesitated for a moment, but obliged and stood up straight. She faced Olivia, anxiously expecting a reprimand of some kind. All she could think about was how embarrassed she was to have let herself be a victim, and how disappointed Olivia must be in her. She stared at the floor.

Olivia hugged her, firmly. 

Amanda’s petite frame made it easy for Olivia’s arms to grasp around the detective’s back. The bear hug was awkward at first, with Amanda’s stiff arms still at her sides.

Part of Amanda wanted to backup and run, but another part ordered her to stay, that she needed the physical contact. The former won and her arms reached up to hold the back of Olivia’s shoulders. Amanda’s fingers dug into Olivia, but the lieutenant made no move to stop her.

They stood there, embracing each other. 

Oliva wondered when the last time was that Amanda had been hugged, while Amanda fought the tears that threatened to escape.

She bit her lip, and cried out, “I’m scared.”

Hugging the blonde tighter, Olivia whispered, “I know.”