Her office door opens and she looks up, the jerk of her head causing her glasses to slide down her nose a little, surprise on her face when she sees who it is at her door. “Nick?” She furrows her brows, taking the glasses off entirely and setting the black frames to the side, curling her fingers around the top edge of her screen, closing the MacBook with a soft thud. “This is a surprise,” she says, folding her arms on the edge of her desk. “I didn’t know you were in the city.”
He gives her a tight smile, closing her office door behind him. “It was supposed to be a quick visit,” he tells her, slowly walking towards her desk. She tilts her head, narrowing her eyes at him in suspicion. “Just checking on things over here, flying in this morning and back out to L.A. tonight.”
“Okay…” She shrugs, waiting for the punchline. “So I’m guessing this isn’t a social call then.”
His breath whistles through his teeth. “Not exactly,” he says, drawing the words out. “No. Uh…”
She sighs, losing patience. She’s got too much damn paperwork to do and McGrath watching her like a hawk, she doesn’t have time for circles. “Just spit it out, Nick.” She leans back in her chair, folded arms under her breasts. “If you’re giving me and my squad more work to do then just get on with it.”
“It’s not that,” he says, shaking his head. “Can I sit?” He asks, indicating one of the chairs facing her desk.
He sits, shifting awkwardly in the chair. He seems nervous; anxious even and it makes her heart rate pick up. “What is it?” She asks again, wishing he’d just tell her. The pauses, the look on his face, the hesitation… it’s making her anxious. She has a strong feeling that she’s not going to like what he’s got to say.
“So uh…” He starts, before stopping again. She sits in her chair patiently, trying to resist the urge to yell at him, when he starts to speak again. “Probably should give you some background here Liv,” he continues, flashing her that tight smile a second time. “So after the Haley West case, NYPD sent some evidence from a few cold cases to Forym, to see if we could get any DNA matches and hopefully solve some cases, get some closure for the victims and their families, you know?”
She nods. “I mentioned that to the higher ups,” she tells him. “Said the company did good work and maybe it was an avenue NYPD could explore, for cases with no other leads.”
“Thanks,” he nods. “So uh… we thought it would just be old murder cases, but a few rape kits were sent over too-”
“I thought you weren’t here to give me and my squad more work?” She interrupts with a chuckle.
“I’m not,” he tells her again, stony faced and more serious than she thinks she’s ever seen him. A churning feeling starts in her gut as she watches him. “I need you to know this was an accident Liv,” he tells her, quick, almost panicked. “I don’t know how it happened, honestly I don’t.”
“Don’t know how what happened?” She asks, voice low, almost threatening. Gone is the air of catching up with her old partner, her friend and in it’s place is full-blown Captain Benson, trying to get to the bottom of what the hell it is he’s trying to tell her. I’m not going to like this… am I?
“A kit got mixed up with the others,” he tells her, folding his hands in his lap, twisting his fingers together. “One that shouldn’t have been there. I didn’t test it myself,” he tells her, as if he’s trying to somehow absolve himself of guilt. “One of my colleagues did, and they didn’t realise what it was they were doing. They still don’t know; I didn’t tell them. I just saw the results and… I came here.” A beat. “If I’d known… if I’d seen before the tests were ran… I would’ve stopped it, that I swear to you.”
“Whose kit was it?” She asks, even though she can read the answer all over his face. Please no.
“Yours,” he tells her. There’s no hesitation now, he seems to have gotten the message that she’s not in the mood to be led in circles, that she doesn’t want babied, just wants him to tell her straight up what it is he’s here for. “It was yours,” he repeats. “The rape kit that was done on you after you got away from Lewis…” He blows out a breath. “The inconclusive rape kit… which my colleague managed to match tiny fragments of DNA from your clothing to Lewis.”
She scoffs, brain switching straight to damage control mode. There’s still a chance here. Take it. Grab it with both hands and hold on tight. “He had his hands all over me during those four days Nick.” All over me. “So that’s hardly a surprise.”
“DNA from seminal fluid… in your underwear?” He stares her down, and she swallows hard.
Oh. Bit late for damage control. She swallows, heart skipping. How much do you know? She wants to ask.
“Your vaginal swabs were ran too,” he adds. “DNA found on those also matched to Lewis.” He sucks in a breath. “Do you want to say anything about that?” It’s almost, no, it is an accusation, and it makes her bristle.
Definitely not. “No.” She says, voice harsh, short. I would really like you to stop talking and get the hell out of my office before I lose it…
“He raped you,” Nick states. “Didn’t he? You hid it… somehow.”
She stares at him, frozen, silent. She’s losing control; the memories are bubbling up, bile in the back of her throat and she needs him to go, needs him to get out. “Get out,” she says quietly. “Didn’t you do enough damage the last time you were here?” She snaps, fear overrode as her temper flares, her cold tone making Nick flinch. “Dragging Burton back into my life?” The horse has well and truly bolted now, and she doesn’t think she could control her newfound anger if she tried. “Wasn’t that enough for you?” She asks him, standing up, towering over him, sat in a chair opposite her desk, having sat there on a falsehood, a lie of everything being okay, everything being fine. “Didn’t drag up enough the last time so you thought you’d come back for round two?” Everything is most definitely not fine.
Her raised voice is probably catching the attention of those in the squadroom, but she doesn’t care about that, not right now. “GET OUT!” She yells at him, roars it in his face like a lioness, points at her office door. “NOW!”
Nick gets to his feet, backs away from her fury. “Liv…” He repeats, a feeble attempt to get her to calm down.
“I said,” she repeats, ignoring him. She’s not going to calm down, not after this. “Get. Out. Of. My. Office.” She punctuates each word with a point of her finger at her door. “Now!”
“HE RAPED YOU!” Nick yells back, finally losing his temper just as her office door opens, Fin and Amanda’s wide eyed expressions as they flick their gazes between the both of them telling Liv all she needs to know; they heard it all.
She rounds her desk, betrayal the only emotion she feels as she lifts her arms, pressing her hands to Nick’s arm and back, physically pushing him out of her office, through and past Fin and Amanda before closing the door on their protests, on their questions, on their concerns.
She flicks the lock, manages to close the blinds and lock the other door, the one into the interrogation room to stop them from getting into her office that way, before the panic attack takes hold. Leaning over her desk, she flattens her palms, letting most of her weight drop through her arms as she tries tries tries to remember how to breathe.
“What the hell was that?” Fin snaps, rounding on Nick. “What did you just say?” He hears the lock turning on Liv’s door, the blinds closing out of the corner of his eye, worry for his Captain, for his friend at the forefront of his mind. He knows, witnessing her reaction, that he won’t get any answers out of the woman herself, so his and Amanda’s only current option is Nick, who seems to know a whole hell of a lot. “Well?” His voice drops, mindful of other people around them, even though Nick just screamed it at the top of his lungs. “Did you just say someone raped Liv?” He asks. I must have misheard that… please tell me I misheard that.
Judging by the look on Amanda’s face… he didn’t. His heart drops, falls fifty feet through the floor. No. Not Liv… not after everything. No…
Nick, staring at the closed office door, bites his lip. “Not here,” he says, taking a few steps backwards before turning on his heel, heading for the conference room.
The memories assault her thick and fast; flashes in her mind threatening to overtake her completely. I need to get out of here, she thinks, trying to steady her breathing. I can’t be here.
Her iPhone lies innocently on her desk, and she reaches for it, unlocking it with fumbling fingers, scrolling down her contacts and hitting the one person who she knows will come to get her, no questions asked. Forcing a few long, deep breaths into her lungs, she hits call, putting the phone to her ear and hoping she can hold it together for long enough to tell him what she needs.
“Hey Liv.” He answers after just one ring. She can hear traffic in the background but it’s muted; she hopes with all her heart that it means he’s driving, and, hopefully, alone in the car.
“Are you near the precinct?” She asks, cutting straight to the point. I don’t have time for pleasantries, she says silently. I can barely string a sentence together. I have to get out of here.
“Uh… yeah…” He tells her after a brief pause. “I’m close by, I can be there in a few minutes. You need my help with something?” A beat. “You okay?”
She’s either not hiding her distress as well as she’d hoped, or he can still read her this well even after ten years of absence, and almost a year of somewhat fragmented reconnection, the attempt at rebuilding their friendship punctuated by both grief and the ill-advised undercover operation that she’s still irritated with Ayanna about. “I need you to pick me up,” she tells him shortly. “Don’t come up, I’ll meet you out front.”
“Okay,” he tells her. She hears the engine of his SUV revving as he speeds up, clearly trying to get to her as fast as possible and it makes her heart warm, a calm feeling settling over her at the familiarity. It’s not enough; she’s not sure anything will be right now, but it might just help her hold it together enough to get out of the precinct and to his car. Fake it ‘till you make it, she tells herself. “I’ll be there in a minute Liv.”
She hangs up without saying goodbye, briefly thinks about grabbing her laptop, the files she’s working on so she doesn’t have to come back but her brain isn’t cooperating; she can’t think of what to pick up.
I just need to be out of this building, away from here, away from questions, she decides, her phone in a white-knuckled grip as she crosses her office, unlocking the door and fleeing across the squadroom, not even taking her coat with her. I just need Elliot.
They’ve been in the conference room for barely a minute, Nick shuffling from foot to foot, restless and wound up tight on the other side of the table, Fin and Amanda staring him down. “Well?” Fin repeats, sparing a quick glance towards Liv’s office, which he can see from where he’s standing. No signs of movement… he notes. At least she hasn’t run. Let me see what Nick has to say, then I know what I’m dealing with when I go talk to her. Best to be prepared, as much as possible anyway.
Nick sighs heavily, leaning forward, resting his hands on the conference table. “I uh…” He starts, only to get interrupted by the clash of a door opening outside. Fin glances up, sees that Liv’s door is now standing wide open and swears under his breath, catching only a glimpse of long dark hair as it flashes past the windows at speed. “Shit.”
He makes for the door, Nick and Amanda hot on his heels, barrelling out of the conference room and through the squadroom, turning the corner just in time to see Liv disappear into the elevator, the silver doors closing firmly behind her. “Stairs,” he turns to the other two, swiftly switching direction.
He’s never ran down stairs so fast in his entire life, and that includes when chasing suspects but even at top speed they can’t beat the elevator, and emerging breathless from the stairwell, their only view of Olivia is her back, clad only in a sweater, as she heads through the front doors of the precinct and starts down the stone steps.
Concern for her mental state, especially given what Nick yelled - the context of which he has no clue, and really needs to know ASAP - spur him on and he sprints across the lobby, the three of them making it to the top of the steps just in time to see a familiar black Tahoe come to a halt in the middle of the street, Liv striding straight across to it, pulling open the passenger door and hopping inside. There’s a very short pause as the car idles, before pulling away at speed.
“Where’s she going?” Nick exclaims, worry evident. “Who’s just picked her up?”
Someone safe, Fin wants to say, but Nick doesn’t know Elliot from Adam, so he can’t tell him that. “Don’t worry,” he says instead. “She’ll be okay.”
When he’d gotten Liv’s decidedly odd, very short phone call, Elliot hadn’t known what to expect when pulling up to the 1-6.
Liv, bursting out of the front doors and down the steps like she’s being chased by wolves, clad only in a thin sweater with her gun and badge visible at her hip, her phone gripped tightly in her hand… is not it.
She climbs into the passenger seat, and, very aware of the cold February day that it is, Elliot turns the heat up. “Liv?” He prompts. “What’s happened?”
She’s shaking, shivering and her eyes are red. “Just drive,” she tells him. “Please.”
Eyeing her with concern, he decides whatever this is can wait five minutes, and stomps his foot on the gas.