Rating: R for langugue
Six months later
“Good morning!” Eliot Stabler called out to Melinda Warner as they walked up to where the ME was squatting low to the ground of the sidewalk, staring down at a pool of what looked to be dried blood.
“Hope you have had your coffee and not your breakfast yet.” Warner replied smoothly and just at that moment two paramedics came rushing with a young woman strapped to a gurney, the only thing showing was her face and it was so bruised and had so much dried blood covering her face you could barely make out it was a person, let alone a girl.
“Oh god.” Olivia muttered out without thinking. She turned back to Melinda, “Has she said anything?”
Melinda shook her head. “She’s unconscious, massive blows to the head, face, neck and pretty much the rest of her body. I called you in because of the massive amount of blood from between her legs; it looks like she was raped pretty bad. You’ll probably get more information once she’s examined by a doctor.”
“Is she going to make it?” Eliot asked, looking down at his pad of paper as he scribbled down notes. When an answer didn’t follow right away he looked up, curious to why Melinda was silent.
When Eliot finally looked up at her Melinda answered quietly but truthfully. “Probably not.”
“Who found her?” Olivia asked.
“An early morning delivery man.” Melinda said, pointing to where a young man in a uniform was talking to several police officers.
Eliot and Olivia exchanged looks, communicating without words.
“I’ll ride with her.” Olivia offered, her voice grim.
Eliot nodded and the two parted ways.
Several hours later the two detectives met back up in the squad room to compare notes.
“How’s is the vic doing? Did she make it?” Eliot asked as Olivia took off her jacket and placed it on the back of her chair.
“She’s alive.” Olivia answered. “But not much more than that. She took a lot of blows to the head and now she’s in a coma, doctors don’t think she’ll pull through.”
Eliot moved over to where he had drawn up a rough version of a bird’s eye view of the crime scene. “By the amount of blood, it looks like the rape and beating took place here.” Eliot pointed to an alleyway and handed Olivia some pictures that were taken. “Then there’s a blood trail that goes for a few dozen yards, the partial hand prints in blood tell us that she was dragging herself along the ground.”
“She couldn’t even get up.” Olivia mumbled sorrowfully.
“She loses too much blood, passes out and is found this morning.” Eliot played slightly with his pen as he clicked it absentmindedly. “I ran her prints, nothing, not even missing person but Warner puts the time of attack around one this morning so it might even be a day or two before anyone releases she’s missing and reports it.” Eliot shrugged and went back to his desk chair, sitting down.
“One of the blows burst a kidney and there was some internal bleeding but she made it through surgery.” Olivia started.
“Do they know what caused the injuries?”
Olivia shook her head. “No but I sent everything over to that lab, she was defiantly raped by a foreign object, it went so deep it ruptured her civics.”
“No ID, nothing on her, prep probably took everything with. The only distinguishing mark was a small tattoo on her right shoulder.” Olivia handed Eliot a picture.
“Upside down black triangle?” Eliot said, looking at the picture.
“It’s not much, but it’s something.”
Eliot looked at Olivia questioningly.
“It’s the sign for lesbian.” She explained.
“I thought that was an upside down purple triangle.” Eliot said, scratching his head.
“It’s from the concentration camps. All of the prisoners were marked. Jews, star of David, gay men had an upside down pink triangle and woman a black one. Any woman with less than four children was considered a lesbian or antisocial.”
“Less than four kids?” Eliot asked, raising his eyebrows in surprise. “Damn, that’s harsh.”
“I got a list of clubs and bars in the surrounding area that she might frequent at. Maybe she met her attacker there.”
“That would make sense if she was raped with a foreign object, her attack could be a woman. Remember that case about five years ago? There was that couple, the woman would go into gay bars, clubs, drug the girl’s drink then lead her outside where her boyfriend would rape her?”
Olivia nodded slowly. “It’s a sick world out there.”
“And we’re right in the middle of it.” Eliot said with a sigh.
“Well, let’s go.” Just as Olivia was putting on her coat her phone rang and she picked it up. “Benson.”
Eliot watched as Olivia nodded and then hung up.
“Lab said they got something.” Olivia said, unable to keep a tiny bit of hope from her voice.
“We found her cell phone in a dumpster a block away.” Charles Ink told them the moment Olivia and Eliot walked into the room.
“You were able to get something off it?” Olivia asked right away.
“Sort of.” Charles allowed. “It looks like someone threw it against a brick wall as hard as they could; or beat the phone with a brick. Most of the SIM card was damaged but I was able to pull up these.” Charles hit a few keys on his keyboard and a picture of their victim with another young woman popped up. They had their arms around each other and they were both smiling brightly at the camera.
“She’s was a pretty girl.” Eliot observed.
“She looks happy.” Olivia added grimly.
Charles hit a few more keys and pulled up four more photos, all of the victim with a different girl in each one. In the last one it was the victim and another young woman kissing for the camera.
“Looks like your lesbian angle was correct.” Eliot told Olivia who didn’t seem to be jumping for joy over this.
“Okay, go ahead and print those out.” Olivia said with a sigh.
An hour later Olivia and Eliot were walking up to their third place their list. A dance club catering exclusively for woman called, Rain.
Just as they were about to go in Eliot noticed that Olivia had stopped and was now staring at the outdoor neon sign that was off for the time of day. “What is it?” He asked.
“Look at this.” Olivia pulled out the picture where the two women were kissing and held it up. The same sign they were looking at now as partly in the back round of the picture.
“Well isn’t it our lucky day.” Eliot muttered sarcastically and the two detectives made their way inside.
“Good afternoon detectives.” The woman who was wiping down the bar greeted them.
Both Olivia and Eliot raised their eyebrows.
“Been in this line of work long enough, you can just tell.” She sneered at Eliot.
“Benson, Stabler.” Olivia said, taking the lead as Eliot took a step back. “SVU.”
“SVU?” The bartender asked, slightly shocked. “Who got raped?”
“Someone who we think was here last night. Did you work last night?”
“No but I was here.”
“Anything out of the ordinary, any fights or something out of place?” Olivia asked.
“No, pretty quiet for a Wednesday night. This place is pretty good considering…” The bartender trailed off.
“Considering what?” Eliot asked, chiming.
“The rep gay clubs get. But no, this place is clean. Just local girls really. It’s been over a year since we’ve had to kick someone out because of drugs and even all the girls obey the bathroom rule.”
“Bathroom rule?” Eliot asked inquisitively.
The bartender pointed behind the detectives and both turned to see a large sign posted on the bathroom door that only one person was allow in at a time.
“Do you recognize her?” Olivia asked, handing the bartender a picture of their victim that had been taken at the hospital.
“She looks dead.” The bartender said grimly.
“Close to it.” Olivia said. “What about these girls?” And handed her the five pictures they had gotten off of the young woman’s cell phone.
The bartender looked at the first one, got a worried expression on her face before quickly looking at the others, then back to the original and gasped. “Oh my god that’s Gwen!”
“You know her?” Olivia asked.
The bartender shook her head. “Not really. Just to know she likes Stone Sours. Her,” The bartender showed Olivia one of the girls in the photo the victim was smiling with.
“What do you know about her?” Eliot asked, readying his pad of paper and pen.
“Just that they’re in their all the time together.”
“Girlfriends?” Eliot asked.
“No. Cousins or sisters or something like that.”
“How do you know?” Olivia took the pictures back.
“Because Gwen and Karen always come in together but Gwen leaves with a different girl each time.”
“And last night?”
“Last night I finally got up the nerve to go talk to Karen. We were hanging out and then Gwen got a phone call, came back a moment later, said goodbye to Karen and left.”
Olivia glanced at Eliot, thinking they needed to get Gwen’s call records, find out who called her.
“Do you know Karen’s last name?” Eliot asked.
“No.” The bartender said disappointedly but then quickly brightened up. “But I did get her number last night.” She said proudly and pulled out a slip of torn off paper from her pants pocket and handed it to the Eliot.
When they started to leave the bartender called out, “Um…can I get that back?”
They found the address of a Karen Wislow and made their way over to her apartment that was only twenty minute walk from the club Rain.
They knocked on the door of the apartment number and waited a moment before the door opened.
Karen was young, early twenties, tall, slender and pretty with long jet black hair that she wore down and high cheek bones, clearly pretty even without make up on.
“Karen Wislow?” Olivia asked.
“Yes?” Karen replied, looking slightly annoyed that they were announcing the reason of their presence a little faster.
“Do you know Gwen?” Eliot asked.
“I should.” Karen scoffed. “She’s my cousin.”
“Do you know where she is?” Olivia asked.
Karen stared at her with eyes filled with hatred for a moment before putting her weight on one leg and crossing her arms defiantly over her chest. “I’m not telling you.” She said in a voice that made it clear she had made up her mind.
“Do you know what obstruction is?” Eliot asked, not liking her attitude.
“Yeah I do.” Karen quickly snapped back. “But that means shit to me, so you can go back and tell him to send whoever the fuck he wants, I’m not giving you guys anything about Gwen!”
Karen started to slam the door but Olivia hit it so hard with her flat palm it kept Karen from closing it. Without saying anything Olivia handed Karen the picture of Gwen that had been taken at the hospitable.
The moment Karen saw it she choked down a sob; covering her mouth and turning away back into the apartment.
Olivia and Eliot made their way in, softly shutting the door behind them as Karen all but collapsed onto a sofa, crying.
“Is she dead?” Karen asked, looking up at Olivia with pleading eyes.
“No.” Olivia said gently. “But she is in intensive care at St. Marcs. She’s in a coma.” Olivia added softly.
“I have to see her!” Karen cried out, jumping up and rushing to the door.
“We’ll give you a ride.” Olivia said gently, holding out her hands, trying to calm the young woman down which seemed impossible at that moment.
In the car ride on the way over Olivia asked. “Gwen’s your cousin?”
“Through marriage.” Karen replied easily. “Her aunt married my uncle when we were five.”
“So you’re known each other a long time then?”
“Yeah,” Karen swallowed hard. “Best friends for the last seventeen years.” Karen turned away, trying to control her emotions, afraid she’d break down again right there.
“Where are you two from?”
“Jersey.” Karen answered. “All we ever wanted was to get out and come here, it pretty much the only thing we talked about in high school. I’m an artist; she’s a screen play writer. The moment we graduated we came here.”
“Can you tell us what happened last night?” Olivia asked, turning around in the passenger seat to talk to Karen directly.
“What do you mean?” Karen asked, genuinely confused.
“We think she was attacked after leaving Rain.” Eliot offered.
“Fuck, figures.” Karen whispered.
“Who called her?” Olivia asked gently.
“Her name’s Billie.” Karen said, turning and looking out the window. “Billie Hester.”
“Who’s Billie?” Olivia asked holding out the other pictures they had for Karen to take.
Karen looked through the pictures before holding up the one with Billie and Gwen kissing. “Some…psycho chick with abandonment issues. Her boyfriend-” Karen said the word like it tasted awful in her mouth “has been harassing me and Gwen and our friends for over a year now. That’s who I thought sent you.” Karen finished quietly.
“What’s his name?”
“Asshole as far as I’m concerned.” Karen bit off harshly. Then off of Olivia’s look Karen said. “Dale. That’s all I know. That and he thinks women shouldn’t be speaking their minds or come out from the kitchen or bedroom.”
“Do you know where we could find him?” Eliot asked.
“I know nothing.” Karen said hopelessly. “That was Gwen’s world, I let her know I disapproved and tried to stay out of it.”
“Where does she live?”
“With me. I mean, we live together but we’re not together.” Karen laughed “not that everyone thought we were, kinda a running joke actually, how we’re so perfect for each other.” Karen laughed again, humorlessly. She glanced up and saw Olivia looked at her. “We’re best friends; we don’t work in a relationship. We tried, when we sixteen and then again when we first came out here but it just didn’t work out that way.”
“Okay.” Eliot announced as he pulled into the hospitable parking lot and watched as Karen didn’t even wait for the car to come to a stop before jumping out.
Olivia and Eliot walked into Gwen Stadford’s room and saw Karen by her bedside, holding her friends hand and crying softly.
“You have to get him.” Karen said, not even looking up.
“Who?” Eliot asked as gently as he could.
“Dale!” Karen practically exploded. “He’s the one who did this to her!”
“Why do you say that?” Olivia asked softly.
“Because he beat the crap out of her a year ago, six months ago and then last week. He didn’t like having a dyke for a girlfriend and he blamed Gwen for turning Billie. Every time Dale found out that they were still seeing each other he’d go nuts and come after Gwen.”
“I thought you said that Billie was just a psycho with issues.” Olivia said gently.
“That’s what I told Gwen. But she just wouldn’t stay away from her. That girl was like a drug for Gwen and Gwen was hooked.”
“Can you tell us where we can find Billie?”
Karen gave a rough nod. “She’s a security guard at York Ville Shopping center. Gwen works for the company that fixes their cars, that’s how they met.”
“Thank you. We’ll be back later to check up on her.” Olivia and Eliot moved away before Karen’s almost shrilled voice rang out again.
“Please, you have to catch him!”
Eliot nodded. “We’ll find him.” He promised.
After being told by Billie’s superior where they could find her they made their way down towards the shoe store where Billie was told to wait for them.
“What do you think?” Eliot asked easily as they walked.
Olivia shook her head. “Too early to tell.”
“Not really.” Eliot said, seeing through Olivia’s strong mask all too well.
Olivia shrugged. “A young woman’s live is ruined even if she does survive and other young women might lose her best friend.”
“You’re getting emotionally attached.” Eliot warned while keeping his voice sympathetic.
“I know.” Olivia said crisply, looking the other way. “That’s how I do my job, that’s what makes me good at it.”
“I didn’t mean it like that, I meant…you because of what we’re dealing with.” Eliot stumbled.
“What are we dealing with?” Olivia demanded, stopping fast and facing her partner.
“A possible hate crime.” He replied smoothly. “Against women, against gay women.”
“Each case affects me the same way, this one is no different.” Olivia said, walking again.
“It is different and I don’t want to worry about-” Eliot was cut off when Olivia back handed him in the chest, pointing.
“Billie Hester!” Olivia called out, recognizing the girl from the picture but just barely because she looked so different in a uniform.
“Yes.” Billie said, approaching them. “What did you need to talk to me about?”
Olivia studied her. She looked the same age as Gwen and Karen but her sincere confusion made her seem innocent but she looked shaken to the core at the same time, like that innocence had been ripped away too fast. And everything shown through her bright, wide green eyes, wider eyes then Olivia had ever seen.
“This is about Gwen Stadford, do you know her?” Eliot asked.
Billie nodded at once. “She’s my girlfriend.”
“Your girlfriend?” Eliot asked, slightly surprised, he hadn’t been expecting that after hearing Karen’s recall of the young woman with such venom in her words.
“Yeah, why, what’s going on?” Billie asked looking from Olivia to Eliot, confused and growing worried, all of it being seen through her facial expressions that hid nothing.
“That’s not what her roommate said.” Eliot said, ignoring Billie’s question for a moment.
Billie rolled her eyes. “Karen’s never liked me, she’d say anything to keep me out of Gwen’s life and vise versa.” Billie looked straight at Olivia, “Please, tell me what’s going on.”
They had taken Billie down to the present and put her in the interview room before telling her what had happened.
For a moment Billie just looked blank, then shocked, staring down at her hands for several long moments before her bottom lip quivered and she laid her head down on the table, her cheek against the smooth surface. “This is all my fault.” She whispered between sobs.
Eliot glanced Olivia who nodded.
“What happened? Was Gwen over and Dale called? You told him Gwen was there and…things got out of hand?” Eliot asked, his tone low, going for sympathy.
“What?” Billie asked, bewildered, looking frantically to Olivia, almost for support. “No! I didn’t even see Dale last night.”
Olivia came and sat down at the table in the chair next to Billie and said softly. “Tell us what happened then?”
Billie shook her head as more tears spilled down slightly. “I don’t even know where to…” She started to say.
“How long have you been seeing each other?” Olivia suggested.
“Over a year now.” Billie whispered.
“And Dale?” Eliot asked.
Billie sniffled. “A year and a half.” And quickly looked away.
“So were you cheating on him or did you two have an…open relationship?” Eliot made a hand motion as if trying to find a way to ask the question.
“He changed after a while…he use to be really sweet but then he started calling me up all the time, asking where I was, calling my friends telling them I was cheating on him and he needed them to watch me. Every time I threaten to break up he’d swear he’d change.”
“But he never did.” Olivia reached out and patted Billie’s hand comfortingly.
“When I would break up with him he’d hound me, calling me twenty times a day, calling my family, telling them these horrible lies like I was dealing drugs! Tried to turn my own family against me. When I’d confront him he had all of these great reasons why we belonged together. It was nice; the life had planned for us. Things would go great for a few weeks and then…he’d go right back. I felt trapped…until…”
“Until you met Gwen.” Olivia offered.
Billie nodded and sniffled, turning away slightly to wipe at her eyes. “She was nice. Sweet. Kind.” Billie’s voice cracked. “She made me laugh.” Billie smiled even as more tears started to spill fresh. “She made me all the time!”
“Has Dale ever hit you?” Eliot asked.
Billie shook her head, “Not until last week.”
“What happened?” Olivia asked.
“He…found out that Gwen and I were still seeing each other and he came over and started to punch her. I got in between them and tried to get him off of her but he shoved me so hard I fell…hit the side of a table and…” Billie trailed off as she lifted up the right side of her shirt to reveal a nasty black and purple bruise going across her midsection. “He left right after that.”
“What happened last night?” Olivia asked, leaning closer to her as if that would bore in the importance of the question.
“I broke up with Dale yesterday afternoon. For good! I called Gwen, told her what I did, that would could finally be together, really together, the way I…we always wanted to.” Billie shrugged. “She came over. We made love. I asked her to stay the night but she had work the next morning and her apartment is a lot closer and she didn’t want to have to get up early. If only I had convinced her to stay, begged her to stay, asked her…even one more time to stay she wouldn’t have left.” Billie stood up. “Is that all?” She asked weakly, “I really need to see her.”
Olivia nodded and Eliot said. “Just one more question. Where can we find Dale?”
Billie looked at both of them and realized they were serious. “You don’t know? He’s a police officer. At the one seven. Graveyard shift.”
With nothing more to say Billie practically ran out of the room.
Olivia and Eliot went down to the one seven to talk to the captain there first. A police officer being accused of long term harassment, stalking, emotional abuse, rape and assault and battery in the first were some pretty serious charges.
But when they mentioned Dale Hoffmen’s name they were told he had just clocked in and if they hurried they could catch him in the garage before he left with his partner for their rounds.
“Officer Hoffmen!” Eliot called out as he and Olivia walked up to the car just as Dale was about to get in the driver’s side door. “We thought you didn’t start for a few more hours.”
“Came in early for the over time.” He replied smoothly looking suspiciously at both of them. “What is this all about?”
Olivia took a good, hard look at Dale Hoffmen. He was tall, over six two at least, well built with a light brown hair that was buzzed close to the scalp. His eyes were brown but they were narrow and mean. Then Olivia glanced at his partner Greg Choice as he got out of the car as well, wondering what was going onto. Greg was a tiny big smaller in stature but he looked wirily like he cold spring at any moment and his eyes wouldn’t sit still as he kept glancing back and forth between Olivia and Eliot.
“Right now we’re questioning your girlfriend in a case we just happened to catch and wanted to ask you some reunion questions.” Eliot smiled friendly and shrugged like he was an old friend and so sorry to waste Dale’s time.
Dale shut the driver’s side door shut. “Sure, no problem. I totally understand.” He took a step closer to Eliot. “Is Billie okay? Is she in trouble?”
“Oh no, nothing to worry about.” Eliot shook his head at once. “How long have you two been going out?”
“A year and five months. It’ll be a year and six months next week!” Dale’s face lit up. “I’ve got a ring for her.”
“Oh well congratulations!” Eliot said at once, beaming brightly. “She’s a pretty girl.”
“She’s my world!” Dale answered proudly. “She’s even talking about coming into my line of work, that girl has a set of balls on her but…she means well.” Dale shrugged it off.
“So where were you between midnight and two AM this morning?” Olivia asked, finally speaking, her voice cold as ice.
Dale looked at her, surprised that she was actually speaking. He glanced at Greg and the two shared dirty looks before Dale turned to ask Olivia’s question. “Rounds. You can check the roster.”
“Oh we will.” Olivia clipped off.
“Thanks for answering our questions.” Eliot said, still smiling.
They turned to leave but Olivia turned back around. “Oh one more question. Did you start hitting your girlfriend before or after you found out she was a lesbian?”
Eliot grimaced inside.
“Billie’s no doughnut bumper!” Dale seethed, getting dangerously close to Olivia. “She’s young, innocent. It wasn’t her fault some little dyke took advantage of that.”
“Dyke?” Olivia asked, raising an eyebrow above the other.
“Yeah you know dykes. Deluded. They come and prey on our sweet girlfriends and then infect them with their sinful lives, turning them into little sluts. Just like them.”
“I don’t think you’re a homophobe.” Olivia said calmly. “I just think you have a problem with women.”
Dale sneered. “You know what I think? I think you’ve got a problem with me cause you’re a little dyke yourself.” He looked up at Eliot. “Better be careful, keep your girlfriend close or she’ll turn her against you before you know it.”
Eliot smiled. “Thanks for the tip.” He called out cheerfully.
Olivia turned and stormed out.
Eliot caught up with her at the car. “Olivia he started.”
“I know!” She said at once.
You’re letting what he said get under your skin.”
“I’ve never let my sexuality affect the job before.” Olivia said quickly.
“Good. Keep it that way.”
Stunned by how harsh her partner’s voice was Olivia couldn’t hide her shock.
“I want to get this bastard so we have to keep a cool head. I don’t want to make any mistakes that could get this guy to walk.”
Olivia nodded. “You’re right.”
Then Eliot seemed to brighten. “Let’s go check that roster!”