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Last Breath of Evil

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The first thing he sees as he rounds the corner, walking down the hospital corridor towards where he was told her room is, is Fin.

Standing in the middle of the corridor, his old colleagues’ eyes widen; in shock or disbelief or anger he’s not sure.

Knowing Fin it might be all three.

“Look who the cat dragged in,” Fin says, raising his eyebrows as Elliot reaches him. There’s another man standing next to him, young, dark haired, exhausted eyes and wearing a shirt that looks at least two days old. “Who called you?” Fin asks, not unkindly.

“I did,” the other man - Nick Amaro, Elliot realises - says. “I uh… it was me.”

Fin turns his head, looks at Nick. “You called him?” He asks, incredulous.

“I’m surprised you didn’t,” Elliot retorts. “Considering.”

“I thought about it,” Fin turns his attention back to him. “But I wasn’t sure you’d pick up.”

The barb hits, stings. Elliot purses his lips, nods. “I deserved that.” He acknowledges.

“And then some.” Fin says darkly.

Nick sighs. “Liv was asking for him in the ambulance,” he explains. “She was out of it, but she kept murmuring his name… so I got his number from her cell. Figured if she doesn’t want him here, then she can tell us and we’ll kick him out ourselves.”

Protective, Elliot notes, silently impressed at the young detective’s gall. “Where were you?” He asks. “You’re her partner…” He trails off. You’re her partner, you should have protected her, should’ve saved her from him, stopped him getting anywhere near her. Like I would’ve.

Like I should’ve.

Nick swallows thickly. “Trust me, you can’t make me blame myself any more than I am already,” he says. “I failed her.”

“You helped find her,” Fin reminds him. “And you’ve barely left her side since we got to her. You didn’t fail her. Failing her would’ve been giving up, and you didn’t.”

Nick nods, unconvinced.

“So where were you?” Fin turns back to Elliot. “Did you know and just not bother, or…?”

“I didn’t know until Amaro called me this morning,” Elliot tells him. “I was out of state. Got here as fast as I could once I knew.” He sighs. “And if anyone had called me earlier, then I’d have been here earlier.” He gives Fin a look. “How’s she doing?” He asks, looking at the closed door to the hospital room that they’re standing beside. There’s a viewing window, but the blinds are drawn, preventing prying eyes.

“He had her four days,” Fin tells him. “But I guess you already know that part.” He grimaces. “Cuts, bruises, burns… he forced her to drink vodka, made her take drugs…”

“Was she raped?” Elliot asks bluntly, and it’s testament to the job the three of them are intimately familiar with, the cases they’ve investigated, or in his case, used to investigate, that neither of the other two men flinch at his directness.

“No,” Fin replies. “She was sexually assaulted, and forced to watch while Lewis raped another woman.” His expression hardens. “He also made her bear witness while he killed a rookie cop.”

Elliot closes his eyes; swears. “Fuck,” he shakes his head. “She’s not in there on her own, is she?” He asks.

“She wasn’t,” Nick tells him. “Brian was in there with her at first.”

“Brian?” Elliot asks. Liv has a boyfriend? Or is this another detective?

“Cassidy,” Fin elaborates. “Don’t ask.” He adds as Elliot’s eyes widen.

Filing that revelation away for later, Elliot shakes his head lightly. “You said at first?” He asks.

“She kicked him out,” Fin tells him, a slight grin on his face. “Don’t ask.”

“So she’s in there by herself?” Elliot asks again. She shouldn’t be on her own, he thinks. Not right now.

“She’s sleeping,” Nick says. “The doctor just left, and Munch went to get coffee, he’ll be back any minute.”

Elliot nods, satisfied for now. “Where’s Lewis?” He asks.

Fin and Nick eye each other. “ICU,” Fin tells him after a pause. “Liv did one hell of a number on him.”

Good girl, Elliot silently praises her. Spying Munch rounding the end of the corridor, coffee cup in hand, heading their way, he nods his head to a door to the left. “A word?” He asks. “In private?”

***

“Isn’t Kathy wondering where you are?” Fin asks as Elliot closes the door to the small office behind the three of them.

“I doubt it,” Elliot tells him. “We split,” he adds. “Over a year ago now.”

Fin nods once, eyebrows raised. “So, why’ve you dragged us all in here?” He asks, swiftly changing the subject.

“To figure out what we’re gonna do about Lewis,” Elliot replies. “He’s in ICU… how bad off is he?”

“What do you mean, what we’re gonna do about Lewis?” Nick asks. Fin and Elliot turn to the younger man in unison, give him a look, and realisation hits. “Oh,” he murmurs. “Right. Okay.”

“He’s on life support,” Fin continues, as if Nick’s interruption hadn’t happened. “Watched pretty closely.”

Elliot shrugs, tilts his head in thought. “Anything can be worked around, given a little effort,” he says. “You with us?” He turns to Nick to ask; Fin’s involvement in what they’re about to do is a given, his protectiveness of Liv, his loyalty to her second only to himself.

“Am I with you… what?” Nick asks, wanting, needing clarification.

“In making sure that Lewis can’t hurt Liv, or anyone else, ever again.” Elliot says, catching Nick’s gaze. “You in?”

Nick nods slowly. “I’m in.”

***

They’re standing in the corridor outside Liv’s hospital room again two hours later when Cragen arrives to join them. “Elliot,” he greets. “Not that I’m not pleased to see you, but who called you?”

“I did Cap,” Nick replies before Elliot can open his mouth. “Liv was asking for him, so I decided to try calling, and he picked up this time.”

“Better late than never,” Cragen mutters under his breath. “William Lewis is dead,” he continues a moment later, voice loud and clear.

“What, his injuries?” Fin asks innocently.

“No,” Cragen replies. “There was a hole in his ventilator. He slowly suffocated.”

Elliot shifts awkwardly from foot to foot. “Didn’t any alarms go off?” He asks.

“Unplugged,” Cragen tells him. “Somehow it had become dislodged. Was mostly in the monitor but not completely.”

Nick takes over the questions. “Do they think it’s foul play?” He asks.

Cragen shrugs. “Security cameras on the floor were down for maintenance,” he says. “No-one saw a thing.”

“Oh well,” Fin shrugs. “Would’t like to be the detectives on that case.”

“Considering what the bastard did, I don’t think they’ll be trying too hard,” Cragen lets them know. “Is any of this going to come back to bite any of you three?” He asks suddenly, bluntly.

Knowingly.

Elliot, used to quick thinking and quick coverups, especially in front of Cragen over the years, recovers first, fastest. “Don’t know what you’re talking about Cap.” He says, catching and holding Cragen’s gaze.

Cragen eyes each of the three men in turn. “I don’t want to know,” he says eventually. “But… good job.” He says very quietly, before turning on his heel and leaving.

***

Elliot settles himself in the chair at the head of Liv’s hospital bed. He’s the only one other than her in the room; everyone else having been banished to the corridor outside.

Taking her hand in his own, he settles in to watch over her.

He doesn’t have to wait long; her eyes start to flicker under their lids as she begins to wake only fifteen minutes after he took up residence at her bedside.

Stroking her hand in silent encouragement, he quietly wills her on. Come on Liv, he thinks. Open your eyes. 

She does eventually, blinking owlishly at him. “El?” She frowns, as if she can’t trust herself, can’t believe what she’s seeing.

“Hey you,” he says quietly. “Been waiting for you to wake up.” She opens her mouth, goes to ask more questions. “Shh Liv,” he tells her. “Don’t worry about anything, just go back to sleep, yeah? I’ll be here when you wake up.”

She frowns at him, shaking her head slightly, but her eyes are drifting shut and he knows she’s lost the battle. “You’d better be.” She murmurs quietly, almost threatening him.

“Not going anywhere Liv,” he promises her. “Never again.”

She makes another tiny noise; slipping back into sleep as he strokes the back of her hand with his thumb.

For the first time since he left SVU, he feels like he knows exactly what he’s supposed to be doing, and…

He’s exactly where he should be.