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Our Atoms Collide

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can we change or is this surrender

[ 1 9 9 3 ]
The 16th Precinct
Locker Room Deviation


It’s something that rests within her bones. Within her very blood. She yearns for it, she can taste it, she can just feel it saturating her soul like a bruise that blanches out beneath the skin. The need for it almost is overwhelming at times, and with every single person she encounters, it grows. It makes her…want for it.

She’d just transferred to the 16th Precinct in Manhattan a year ago, and had been partnered with Officer Choi. Until, he’d gotten transferred to Major Crimes six months ago, and then they gave her Officer Brenden O’Keefe. O’Keefe made her miss Detective Choi, despite his abandoning her, she hoped he really had a successful career in Major Crimes. But Officer Brenden O’Keefe? She had to roll her eyes, and had invested in a bottle of ibuprofen…because Brenden’s partner had been promoted and transferred to the Bronx around the same time as Choi had left her and his personality left much to be desired.  

“Listen, Benson…” he’d announced one afternoon while sipping on his cup of coffee (light and sweet…disgusting) looking out the windshield of the cruiser they were occupying in Midtown. “Domestic Violence calls? Usually it’s one big misunderstanding.” She turned her head and looked out the window. Please, Brenden, shut the hell up now. “Like, usually it’s a husband and wife and you know how that is, bein’ a woman and all, yeah?”

Your observational skills are impeccable, O’Keefe.

Yawning, she made a show of covering her mouth and glancing at the dumbass in the driver’s seat from behind her hand, “Yeah.”

Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Shut. Up. O’Keefe. You are an idiot.

It wasn’t two hours later they found themselves at one of those calls. As soon as they’d arrived, the man, Mr. Martin Sterrick was seated on the front stoop and that’s where O’Keefe had stopped, Olivia, deciding to check of Mrs. Sterrick, climbed the stairs to the third floor and knocked on Apartment 3C. When she was told to enter, she wasn’t surprised to find Mrs. Sterrick seated on the couch, with a split lip, a black eye, and holding a bag of peas to her face.

Standing up a little taller, she rolled her shoulders back and stuck her thumbs in her belt loops.

“Listen, it’s all one big misunderstanding,” Mrs. Laura Sterrick tried to defend her scumbag of a husband, “He just lost his temper a little because I burnt his dinner.” Olivia nodded, trying to understand why women stayed in relationships where men just “lost their temper” and then would say the dreaded next phrase she often heard as a beat cop, “It’s the first time something like this has happened.” The woman stated, readjusting her peas on her eye. Olivia had resisted rolling her eyes.

It was never just one time. She’d been a cop for three years and in that time, she’d learned a few things about people, and human nature. One of the things being that if a person used physical violence against you just one time chances were pretty damn high that they’d do it again. If they did do it again, it usually escalated. Escalation was rarely ever pretty.  

She knew Laura Sterrick was not going to press charges against her husband, Olivia could just tell. She wishes she would, because no one deserved this sort of thing. No one.

She glanced over toward the hallway and her eyes softened, because standing there in the middle of the dim hall was a little girl wearing a nightgown and holding an ALF doll close to her chest. Her large brown eyes looked red and puffy as though she’d been crying, herself. Her base instincts seemed to kick in, because she smiled down at Laura Sterrick understandingly, and then turned to walk toward the little girl.

“Hello there.” She crouched down so she was the girl’s height, reaching out and wiping away the tear tracks on the girl’s face. “My name is Officer Benson. Olivia. I see you have ALF, did you feed him a cat today?” She asked, smiling at the young girl who looked absolutely petrified.

The little girl looked down at her stuffed alien and then back to Olivia, “He’s stuffed. Why would I feed him a cat?”

“Because that’s what he likes to eat.” Olivia winked at the little girl. “What’s your name, sweetheart?”

“Jessica Schultz.” The little girl spoke with a determined and proud tone. Olivia turned to look at Laura who smiled sadly at the female officer. “Is my step-daddy going to get arrested?”

“Well, that’s up to your mommy, Jessica. That’s a pretty name, by the way. My best friend’s name is Jessica.” Olivia wishes there was something she could do for this little girl, take her somewhere safe, take her away from the pain, the terror she must’ve been feeling while her step-father had punched her mother in the face.

It was at this moment that O’Keefe returned with Mr. Sterrick. “Alright Benson, listen, it was all a misunderstanding’, we’re gonna head out. Thanks for clearing things up, Martin.” O’Keefe reached forward and shook the bastard’s hand and Olivia felt the rage bubbling in the pit of her stomach, but turned her attention back to Jessica. “Ma’am” O’Keefe waved to Laura who still had the bag of peas over her eye.

“Alright Jessica, you take really good care of ALF and don’t forget to feed him lots of kitties.” Olivia placed her hand over the little girl’s hand and slipped a card in between the stuffed animal and the girl’s hand. “Have a good night.” She stood and walked over to where Brenden was waiting by the door, shooting Martin Sterrick a look before walking out into the hallway as the door closed behind them.

After they reached the car, Olivia slid into the seat and waited on Brenden to climb in the driver’s side before she looked out the window and shook her head.

“We’ll be back here again.”

“Nah, I think it was a one-time thing. Guy seemed sincere.” O’Keefe replied.

“They all do, O’Keefe.” Olivia bit back, rolling her eyes at her partner. “Let’s just get back to the precinct.”

“Geeze, Benson, you got PMS or something?”

She turned to look at Brenden, wanting nothing more than to tell him to fuck all the way off. Instead, she chose to be more diplomatic in her answer, and settled on the simple act of ordering him to just drive.

Drive.” Yes, Olivia was going to request a new partner. This prick could work with someone else.

As soon as they’d arrived back at the Precinct, she’d gone to the Commanding Officer and requested a change of partner. When asked why, she just told the Captain that it wasn’t going to work out between her and O’Keefe, their personalities weren’t compatible and she didn’t trust him to have her back when she needed it.

Her thoughts stayed on Jessica Schultz. She hoped with everything within her that she never would really see the little girl again. Despite this hope, Olivia had a hunch that she most likely would be seeing the Schultz and Sterrick family soon. It was a sad reality that she’d learned to accept early on in her career. He was only going to escalate. She leaned forward, resting her head against the cool metal of the locker in front of her when all of a sudden her peace was interrupted.

“THAT BITCH.” And then she saw him. The man who had just walked into the locker room shouting walked by the first row of lockers and the second and then his fist made contact with the side of the third row. She knew from the sound it made that he had to have either put a dent in the lockers, or he cracked his knuckles.

Olivia leaned back away from her locker and their eyes met one another from ten feet away. She felt the air leave her lungs. She felt like she was going to pass out. As she reached up to grab hold of her locker she suddenly found herself falling toward the ground, but before she landed she was caught.

A few minutes later, she opened her eyes and found herself looking up into the blue eyes of the man who had come in cursing about that bitch moments earlier.  While she’d just seen him punch the row of lockers, as he was cradling her head in his hands, his eyes were searching hers, which were just now coming back into focus.

“Hey.” He smiled, when she finally opened her eyes completely and they’d widened. “No. Don’t move just yet. You alright?”

“Yeah, I think so. I just…don’t know what happened. I think my blood pressure probably dropped or something.”

His jaw clenched as he glanced down at her, making sure she wasn’t injured further, his thumb slowly moving over her cheek. She felt her breath hitch in her throat as she made a move to put her hand on the ground to push herself up out of his lap.

“No. Not yet, Officer.” His smile was warm as he looked down at her, and she opened her mouth to say something but then thought better of it when she realized he was making sure her neck was alright before allowing her to move. “Do you hurt anywhere?”

“You mean, other than my tailbone and my pride?” She asked, embarrassed. “Because I’m almost positive your reflexes caught me before I hit the ground.”

“Don’t be embarrassed. I did move pretty quickly. I think you’re good to sit up, so, hang on a second, I’m going to lay you flat and then move so I can help you sit up. I’m Elliot, by the way.”

“Olivia.” She took a deep breath as he gingerly lowered her head to the ground from his lap and then stood, his legs on either side of her body as he reached down, his sleeves rolled up to his elbow, gripping her hand in his own. “That’s never happened before.”

“When was the last time you ate?” He asked, sitting on the bench as she pulled herself up to sit next to him, their knees brushing. She felt a fluttering in her chest as she turned her head to look at him, her mouth opened slightly. “You don’t even remember, do you, Olivia?”

“No, not really.” She glanced down at his hand resting on his knee. There was a tan line where a wedding band had once sat, but no longer graced his finger. She felt the warmth spread from her chest through her body and down to her toes.

“Well, are you off the clock now? I’ve not had the chance to eat all day and I’d like to go grab a bite – if you wanna join me, I’d like the company.”

Gripping the bench beneath her, she tilted her head and pushed her hair out of her face. It’d fallen out of the ponytail she’d been keeping it in since being transferred to the 16th Precinct. Biting the corner of her lip and glanced down at his lips and then back to his eyes. His eyes reminded her of the sky on a clear day, and when she released her lip, she allowed her mouth to curl into a smile. “You’re buying. I’m just an officer, they don’t pay me enough to buy a plate of fries around here.”

His lips spread into a smile as his eyes flashed warmly at her, trailing down and looking at the young woman in her uniform. “Alright. Yeah, I mean, I did ask you to go with me, so absolutely. You wanna change first?”

“Yeah, I’ll uh, just go do that now. I’ll meet you in a few minutes outside the locker room?” She asked, blushing a little.

“Alright, Benson.” He reached over and placed his hand on her own and squeezed quickly, before standing up and leaving her next to her locker. She watched him walking away, he had a nice ass. This might be an interesting evening after all.

“Forgive my partner, Detective Stabler, he likes to exact his revenge by punching inanimate objects. Chill the hell out, Elliot.” The woman who had followed him into the locker room spoke, with her hands on his upper arms, staring into his eyes, nodding. “I’m going back upstairs, just, go home or wherever you’re going tonight.”

He turned his attention toward Olivia who was shaking her head. “You new here?”

“No. I’ve been here – I think about a year.” Olivia answered, reaching in her locker for the t-shirt she’d stuffed in there this morning before buttoning up her uniform, now she just wanted to get showered and changed quickly so she could go home, “Officer Benson.”

“Detective Stabler.” The man said, sticking his one hand in his pocket, the other one had cracked knuckles that were bleeding, so she didn’t blame him for not sticking that one in his pocket. “Sorry about that. Just…personal stuff.”

“Yeah. Normally I take my rage out on the lockers as well.” Olivia smiled at him, as she walked by him toward the showers. She had to wash away the conversations that O’Keefe had with her in the car all afternoon.

“I just don’t remember seeing you around here, that’s all.” he spoke out loud as she stepped into the changing area of the shower stall. “I think I would’ve remembered you.”

“Usually I’m stuck in a squad car with my now ex-partner, listening to him talk about his latest piece of ass he managed to nab.” Olivia supplied, “But luckily today was the last day with him.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. I have bad luck with partners too. Both here at work, and uh…at home.”

She stuck her head out of the stall and looked at the man. Appraising him. “I’d work with you.”

“Maybe one day, Benson. If you last that long on the streets.”

“Oh, I will, Stabler. Mark my words.”

He chuckled. “You wanna work with Special Victims?”

“More than anything.”

She was a curious one, that Officer Benson. He just shook his head, looking to the door. There was something about this woman, something interesting and he couldn’t put his finger on it. She was beautiful, witty (from what he could tell), and seemed to know what she wanted for herself.

“We’ll see, Officer Benson. Have a good evening, and I'll uh - see ya around, yeah?"

"You too. Yeah. I'm sure we will."

In another universe, he would’ve asked her out. In this one? He was a married father of two with two more on the way. But one thing was for sure, he liked this one, this Officer Benson. There was just something about her.