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I'm Going Slightly Mad

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The door flew open and the cold air immediately stung her face. Her eyes shut reactively and her hands reached up to swat away at tears.

Amanda stumbled forwards, only slightly leaning on the side of the building as she intended to make her way towards the nearest subway station. 

The street lights provided a dimly lit path for her to see, but the abundant amount of alcohol she had just consumed was now impairing her vision. Amanda looked up from her feet to see a group of men loitering at a bar across the street.

She watched them closely, warily, while her eyes tried to focus on one person in the group. Her hands anxiously searched her coat pockets for her pack of cigarettes and a lighter. 

With one hand still in her coat pocket, Amanda suddenly fell forward. Her free hand instinctively grasped for something to hold onto, something to protect her face from smashing into the pavement. Her feet slipped out from under her, and she hit the ground hard.

Her free arm had saved her from face planting, but she knew she would wake up covered in bruises the next morning.  

During the tumble, her hat had been discarded into a pile of snow. She drunkenly attempted to reach for it, and get back onto her feet at the same time, when she felt someone grab her arm and begin to pull her up.

Amanda felt as if her head was spinning, so she accepted the help without knowing who was giving it.

"I must look so pathetic," she worried. 

"Hey." A soothing voice silenced the thoughts in her head. "Let me help you up; grab onto me."

Olivia Benson was holding onto her waist, still trying to help her up. "Are you hurt?" she asked.

"I'm fine," Amanda mumbled, refusing the help now that she knew who was offering it.

She was unsure of how her boss had suddenly appeared before her. She wondered if she actually had hit her head when she fell because she couldn't remember hearing anyone approach. How could she let herself be so vulnerable? 

With her vision still impaired, she was unable to stand up on her own, and while Olivia was strong, she couldn't lift one-hundred and ten pounds of dead weight by herself, so Amanda begrudgingly accepted the help. 

So many questions raced through Amanda's brain. How did her boss even find her? Did Fin let something slip back at the station?

As if reading her thoughts, Olivia tilted her head a little to get a better view of Amanda's face. "I sensed something was wrong when you stormed out of the station after work without saying goodnight, so I figured you'd be at a bar." Olivia huffed. "This is the tenth one I've canvassed."

Amanda's eyebrows rose, her bottom lip hung open dismaying her shock. Her eyes closed and she shook her head. "You... You followed me?"

She didn't think Olivia Benson gave a damn about her. Olivia Benson, the person she respected the most, and the reason she moved to New York in the first place. Olivia Benson had noticed her anxious state, and had been searching for her, while she tried to get drunk enough to forget her own name.

"Fin was worried about you..." Olivia smiled sadly. "I was worried about you." She put her other arm on Amanda's shoulder. "Lets get you home."

With Olivia's help, Amanda turned slightly, facing the street. There was a black Mustang convertible parked along the side of the road. She had never seen her boss drive a personal vehicle, but she immediately knew who it belonged to.

Amanda snorted. "Figures. Hot boss drives a hot car," she murmured. "Wait. Did I say that out loud?"

Carefully, Olivia walked Amanda towards the Mustang, hiding her smirk under her hair, all the while making sure the other woman didn't injure herself further before she got her home.

Olivia opened the passenger door and Amanda reluctantly got inside.

"Liv, I'm sorry," she whimpered. The inebriated woman sighed loudly and collapsed onto the seat, resting her head while she closed her eyes for a slight moment. Tears were beginning to form in her eyes again, but this time she didn't swipe them away. She was too tired and too drunk to fight with them. They feel freely.

Olivia stopped fumbling with the seat belt and looked at Amanda. It was obvious she was suffering to hide her emotions. Olivia understood the other woman's desire to hide and retreat when she got emotional. She was the same way.

Neither of them wanted to burden others with their emotions. Through years of therapy and a lot of self introspection, Olivia was learning that sharing personal hardships didn't make a person weak. Being vulnerable with others actually took a lot of strength.

It certainly took a hell of a lot of strength to admit the hellish things Olivia had been through. It took even more strength to forgive herself and make the changes she needed to heal herself emotionally, as well as spiritually. Olivia assumed Amanda hadn't undergone the same therapeutic transformations, recalling a conversation they had shared years prior, where Amanda had told her she didn't need to "pay someone to talk about [her] problems."

"Hey. Amanda, listen to me." Instinctively, she grabbed both of Amanda's hands. "We all have bad days. Wanna talk about yours?"

Amanda looked down, refusing to meet Olivia's eyes. She didn't respond. She hiccuped. It was becoming obvious Olivia wouldn't get through to her in this state.

"Sober Amanda isn't any easier to talk to, either," Olivia thought.

Olivia almost smiled at this woman's stubbornness before her brows furrowed. She shouldn't leave Amanda alone tonight. She should take her back to her apartment until she's feeling better. It was the least she could do after failing to catch Amanda before she had left the precinct for the night, knowing she was hurting.

"Amanda," Olivia spoke softly.

Amanda turned her gaze from her lap to meet her boss's eyes. The somber look in Amanda's eyes made Olivia's heart ache.

"I'm gonna take you back to my place for the night." She could see Amanda start to protest before she had even finished her sentence. "I don't want you to hurt yourself any further than you already have tonight," she encouraged.

Amanda shook her head rapidly. "You really don't have to do that. I'm fine. I will be fine." She smiled, but it failed to reach her eyes.

Olivia let out a sad laugh. "You know saying you're fine over and over wont magically make it true? Come on. I have an extra room and could use some company tonight. Besides Noah." She smiled again, hoping she was getting through to Amanda.

Amanda nodded, but didn't say anything else. Denying her boss was not going to be added to the list of foolish decisions she made tonight.

Olivia carefully closed the passenger door and moved for the driver's side.

Chapter Text

Amanda gripped both sides of her glass and quickly emptied it's continents. The cold water soothed her throat and she closed her eyes for a moment, attempting to focus on the feeling of the cold glass in her hands and not the aches she felt all over her body from the tumble she took earlier.

"Amanda?"

She felt Olivia's hand on her back and quickly opened her eyes. Turning around, she looked at Olivia, who had been silently watching her on the couch from behind the kitchen counter.

Amanda cleared her throat before speaking. "How did you know I'd be at a bar?" 

A light chuckle escaped Olivia's throat. "I've spent my fair share of nights looking for Cassidy at bars after work. I've also spent a night or two at one myself... Until I realized there are healthier ways to cope." She paused. "Like seeing a shrink?"

It was a statement but she posed it as a question, praying it wouldn't scare Amanda off. Olivia knew how challenging it was to get Amanda to open up to anyone, let alone her.

When the Southern detective had first moved to New York, there had been a moment where she thought she could be friends with Olivia, but the absence of Olivia's former partner forced a rift between the two women. It took a lot longer for Olivia to trust again, after being abandoned by the one person she thought she could count on in her life.

Being raped by her former boss left Amanda with her own trust issues. Though neither of them ever got over what happened to them, Olivia was at least able to find the strength to ask for help from a therapist and relied on Fin more than she previously had.

In this moment, Amanda was still drunk, and not in the mood to discuss her past, so she tried to play it off. 

"Yeah, I just don't think all a' that shrink stuff is for me, ya know?"

Amanda set the glass down on the coffee table when Olivia began to move towards the living room.

Once on the couch, Olivia continued. "What do you mean?"

Amanda bit her lip. She knew being drunk, she would say something she'd regret in the morning, but right now, she was too exhausted to care.

"After... Patton... I tried going to therapy." Amanda looked down at her hands. She picked at her fingernails absentmindedly. "It just never felt right. Paying someone to listen while I complain about my life's problems."

"They want to be there, Amanda. They want to help you. You aren't a burden."

Amanda scoffed. "I don't need saving. I can take care of myself. I always have."

Amanda got up off the couch, grabbed her empty glass, and stumbled into the kitchen. She filled her glass with water from the tap and leaned back against the counter. She knew she couldn't run from Olivia, but she could put distance between them. It made her feel like she had a bit of control, even while intoxicated. 

Amanda waited for her to continue, looking up from her glass to meet Olivia's eyes. 

"I know you still blame yourself for being raped by Patton," Olivia suggested.

Amanda swallowed hard, biting the inside of her cheek. She didn't want to talk about this. Not with Olivia, her boss, and someone she used to idolize... Still idolized.

"You were raped, Amanda."

Amanda rolled her eyes. As if I don't know that. 

Now, she couldn't look up from the glass in her hands. She held it harder, her knuckles turning white. Amanda closed her eyes, but the tears fell freely. She scanned the room in a weak attempt to focus on anything other than the conversation she was currently trying to avoid. She zeroed in on Olivia's book shelf and tried to survey the titles.

Olivia continued, "This was not your fault. You are not responsible for your sister. You don't have to pay for her mistakes."

Amanda slammed her glass of water down onto the counter top before covering her face with her hands. She felt so embarrassed. She hated someone knowing her deepest secrets and she silently cursed herself for being weak enough to share them. 

"I said I would go," Amanda moaned. "I told him I would meet him at the motel. I agreed to it. I conscented."

Shaking her head, Olivia stood from the couch to meet Amanda in the kitchen. "You can say no at any time. Consent doesn't expire; you know that. Ignoring this doesn't make it go away."

"Is that what you did?" Amanda challenged.

Olivia exhaled loudly. "After my assault in the prison... Yes. I tried to handle everything myself." She smiled sadly at Amanda. It made Amanda's stomach flutter.

"I realized, that after a while-" she smiled, morosely. "That asking for help doesn't make you weak. And to do this job, to be able to help victims, I had to admit that I was one, so that I could move on with my life. I'm a victim, but it's not the only thing I am. I'm also a mom, and a cop, and your friend, Amanda. You don't have to handle everything yourself, either. You aren't alone."

Olivia hoped this didn't sound too cheesy to the other detective because she needed to get through to her some how. She knew Amanda would end up hurting herself or someone else if she continued like this.

Amanda moved away from her again, back towards the couch, pausing, before she began to pace back and forth in the hallway.

"Growing up, Momma always used to tell us that our problems are just that. Ours. That no one else should be privy to them. So I learned to hold stuff in." She sighed and shrugged her shoulders. "Am I making any sense?"

She wiped the hair from her face and turned to look at Olivia, who had sat back down on the couch and was listening quietly. She nodded at her to continue. Amanda kept pacing.

"Whenever there was a problem, I would handle it. We would never talk about it. My sister-" She stopped pacing and faced Olivia. "Back in Atlanta, things were different," she explained.

A grimace appeared across Amanda's face until Olivia broke the tension. "Come, sit with me." She patted the couch.

Amanda suppressed her anger at the motion. She knew Olivia was trying to help, but being treated this delicately was not something she was used to. Her shoulders fell and she let out the breath she had been holding, while her legs reluctantly moved her back to the couch. She was too exhausted to argue.

Olivia moved a pillow out of the way so Amanda could sit down. 

"How was Atlanta different?"

Amanda's forehead creased into a frown. 

"My squad wasn't anything like what we have. It was a boys club." Amanda stopped and looked at Olivia, who nodded again, for her to keep going. Amanda scratched her head and picked at her jeans, fidgeting, and obviously uncomfortable.

"Let's just say being the only woman in a squad room with twenty or so other men makes you stand out. The guys down south aren't like y'all. They think they still live in the 50s where the men had all the power and the women were just there to please them. My sister got into a lot of trouble and the other guys knew about it, used it against me to-" She went quiet.

"That's what Patton did? He used your sister as blackmail to rape you." Olivia shook her head; she was furious. "A despicable abuse of power." 

"I knew not to be the last one in the office when the Chief was there. That he picked favourites, and they were usually young, naive blonde fresh-faced detectives."

Amanda rolled her eyes and covered her eyes with her hands, rubbing her temple slightly.

"I should have known." Amanda shook her head, as if she were silently cursing herself. "All of the signs were right there."

Amanda shrugged, still looking at Olivia. This time, Olivia did touch Amanda. She moved a hand onto Amanda's back, rubbing it gently.

"He should not have raped you, Amanda. This is his fault. He blackmailed you into bed. That is not consent."

Amanda sighed. She wanted a drink because she was no longer drunk, and could feel a headache starting.

"I know it's not... my fault," she stumbled. "But. It still feels like it is, you know? And no matter how hard I try to ignore it, I can't. It scares me. It makes me... think about gambling. But-I- I wont! I'm still going to meetings, and I even haven't touched a lottery ticket in months." She laughed, lightly.

Olivia grinned. "I know you're trying. You need to cut yourself some slack."

She moved some of her hair behind her ear and stopped rubbing Amanda's back. Olivia suddenly enveloped Amanda in a hug.

Amanda flinched, before hugging back. She closed her eyes and focused on the warmth radiating from Olivia.

"You aren't going to get better over night, Amanda." Olivia spoke so gently, Amanda almost couldn't hear her.

"It's going to take time and you're going to have to do things you don't enjoy doing, like talk-therapy and taking time off work for yourself."

They broke from the hug and smiled at each other. 

"You're gonna be okay, Amanda."

Amanda grinned crookedly, rolling her eyes. "I know," she said.

Chapter Text

Who's gonna believe you?

"I said no!" 

Amanda sat up straight. 

Her hands frantically grasped at the air in a half-hazard attempt to defend herself from the man plaguing her dreams; The man who always turned them into nightmares. Once she was finally able to take in her surroundings, she realized she was in her bedroom, not the office of her former Deputy Chief.

She counted to three while inhaling. Then again, while exhaling. Her breathing slowed to it’s normal pace, and she gripped her bed sheets to ground herself.

The last time she had a panic attack was months prior, in Atlanta.

Amanda was called into Patton’s office and told she was being given the opportunity to transfer up to the Special Victim’s Unit in Manhattan, New York.

Initially, she was thrilled. She was also surprised to hear her application for a transfer had been approved, knowing just how competitive it was for officers who wanted positions with such esteemed detectives as those found at the sixteenth precinct. 

She figured her background in forensic science helped, but had a feeling it came down to her Captain vouching for her. She knew he would do anything for her, and before her assault, she enjoyed using it to her advantage. She would never let things go too far because he was a married man, but it felt nice to be wanted, and she figured he was only interested because he wanted what he couldn't have.

Patton certainly wasn’t thrilled about the whole ordeal. About her transfer, or her Captain showing interest in her. Patton thought she was his and wanted to make sure everyone in the office knew it. He was never shy when it came to touching her hair, the back of her neck, her shoulders, waist, or her backside. He never feared he was ever crossing a line because he knew he was King. 

His power terrified everyone, so they kept silent. There was always whispers about their relationship, behind her back, but no one stood up for her. No one protected her. They masked their jealousy and their fear by spreading false rumours about her. 

Everyone wanted to be liked by Patton. To be disliked by him meant discovering just how powerful he truly was; in most cases it meant one lost their job. They did what they had to do to stay employed and if that meant staying silent or averting their eyes while the Deputy Chief manhandled a woman half his age, so be it. 

In Amanda's case, keeping her job meant staying silent and averting her eyes while she was being manhandled by the Deputy Chief. 

Not only was she afraid of him, but she viewed him as a father figure and hated that she desired his approval. She did whatever he wanted her to do if it meant someone was proud of her; someone saw value in her. It wasn't always bad working with him, and she knew she could learn a lot from him, so she figured she could toughen out the worst of it. 

She never thought of herself as a victim.

Instead, she saw herself as a woman who did what she had to do to make it in a man's world. There were others who had it worse. At least she went home with a pay cheque, had a bed to sleep in, and a roof over her head. It wasn't like she told him to stop or ever said no to his advances. Sometimes she even laughed when he made comments about her physique, about her sex life, in front of the guys at work.

When they invited her out for drinks, she always eventually accepted, and knew she didn't have to go drink for drink with them. She always did anyways. No one forced her to get drunk and make out with everyone, or get up onto a table and dance before taking her top off. Those were the choices she made, even if she regretted them afterwards.

It was all normal behaviour to her.

Every time she was called into Patton's office, she hoped, prayed, it was related to the case they were working on, but was promptly told to get down on her knees instead. 

He rolled his chair back and out from under his desk, spreading his legs as he did so.

Every time he'd say the same things. "This'll be the last time, Mandy. I promise. Please? You're doin' me a huge favour here, darlin'," he always whined, unzipping his pants.

She always froze when he courted her. He'd stand up when she wouldn't immediately do what he asked of her and grab at her hair or her body, forcing her to the floor.

He'd whisper in her ear, and she could smell cigars on his breath, Old Spice in his hair. She loathed those smells; they made her nauseous.

“Mandy, c'mon. Ya know I don’t take ‘No’ for an answer.”

Amanda's eyes began to focus as they adjusted to the light from the window beside the bed she was in. She looked beside her and exhaled raggedly, once she realized she was in bed alone.

Unable to recognize the sheets, she looked around for another clue that would help her identify where she was. The room was small, but quaint.

There were two bookshelves filled to the brim along the wall to her right, with a small end table and lamp situated in between. Her eyes scanned the rest of the room until the pounding in her head convinced her to get up and look somewhere with Advil and a glass of water. Her mouth was so dry, it felt like she had swallowed the Sahara desert.

Amanda removed the covers from her lap and shifted out of the bed. Her legs felt stiff. She paused to notice the spots of bruises covering her legs. At some point the night before she must have fallen, but her headache made recalling her memories arduous at this point in time.

A voice startled her from her thoughts, propelling her backwards onto the bed.

"Amanda?" 

Her head shot up towards the bedroom door. Olivia Benson opened it slightly to peek her head inside. She watched Amanda intently, with what Amanda assumed was pity on her face.

As she thought back to the night before, Amanda remembered bits and pieces of what she had done. She remembered getting drunk but she couldn't remember how she had accosted Olivia into helping her, or how she had ended up in Olivia's apartment.