Pairing: Olivia Benson (SVU)/Lilly Rush (Cold Case), first time
Rating: R (Graphic violence - death of children, mentions of rape, Graphic sex - vanilla)
Category: Drama, Romance, Angst
Summary: When the murder of a baby girl in New York matches the modus operandi of a case Philadelphia cops thought they been solved four years ago, Detective Lilly Rush heads to the Big Apple to see if a serial killer is on the loose.
Cragen gestured to the blonde who stood beside him with a polite smile on her face. "This is Detective Lilly Rush, from Philadelphia. She's got a cold case with a similar MO, came up in the database."
"And you came up here in person?" Olivia Benson's tone was on the accusatory edge of incredulity.
Lilly's smile grew wider. "If we can close the cold one in Philadelphia, I want to see it. I'm willing to help you out on your case to make that happen. And--" She gestured to a cardboard box on the edge of a desk. "I brought the files."
"You know how New York feels about dead little girls," Cragen interjected. "Words like 'cooperation' and 'coalition' will keep the press off our backs."
Olivia furrowed her brow.
"Well," Detective Stabler said from behind his partner. "Let's take a look at what you brought." He stepped over to the box.
"The mother of our girl is in prison for her murder," Lilly reported. "She was raped, had the kid..." The blonde seemed to speak to a self-defense poster on the far end of the wall in the station house, not looking at the group around her. "We figure, the trauma was too much, the daughter was a constant reminder... She snapped. We found her fingerprints around her throat."
Stabler looked up from a sheet of paper. "What does she say?"
"Blackout." Lilly lifted one shoulder in a shrug. "She was so distraught... The investigating officer took it as guilt, and she didn't testify in her own defense."
"But there were other markings..." Olivia spoke. "Not released to the public, and not explained, and they just showed up on our victim."
Lilly exhaled. "We thought they were just extraneous injuries from the event, but now... ritual?"
"Okay." Cragen leaned forward. "I'll put in a call to Huang, see if he can profile the type of creep that carves into a kid. Munch and Fin, do follow-up on the canvas. Stabler and Benson, I want you working this like a regular case. I don't want to hear the word 'serial' on the lips of any reporter. Take a look at the mother. See if it really could be just another case of rape. Rush, you'll be with them."
Everyone nodded and broke for their tasks.
Olivia Benson walked out of the bathroom to see Lilly Rush at her desk, doodling in a notebook. She walked over. "You look... uncomfortable."
"Are you guys always so casual?" Lilly sighed, and lifted her pen to nibble on its tip. "Rape is something I see as... more than a motivation."
"That's all we see, every day." Olivia perched on the edge of her desk. "No matter what we do today, tomorrow's the same thing. Another victim. It's like we're a dam against a sea, but we've already been breached."
Lilly tapped the pen against her teeth. "Why not crumble?"
"Then the whole city would be lost, not just the coastline." Olivia flashed a grin that didn't touch her eyes. "That's what we tell ourselves, anyway. But there's turnover, burnout. Must be the same for you. Old cases... Ghosts. Must be depressing, to see things go unavenged for so long."
"On the contrary." Lilly leaned forward. "Sometimes I interview people who have been holding onto secrets for so long... five years... twenty years... That letting the grief or the shame go is cathartic. There's a rebirth of sorts."
Olivia looked across the room, where Stabler was emerging from Cragen's office and coming toward them. "Sounds nice," she murmured."
"It is," Lilly affirmed. "But lonely."
Olivia looked back at Lilly, responding to the wistful tone of her voice. She saw the blonde as more than an intrusion for the first time.
The three detectives got out of a car on 55th St. Olivia tucked the car keys into her pocket and scanned the area. "Not the greatest neighborhood to raise a kid in."
Lilly shook her head. "Looks just like the first vic's street in the Badlands."
"The Badlands?" Stabler inquired.
"Slums," Lilly clarified.
Olivia sighed. "World's the same all over, I guess."
Lilly nodded solemnly.
"It's the basement apartment here. Cragen wanted you to get a good look at the crime scene before we started interviewing." Stabler headed for the railing. His cell phone rang. He stepped away a few steps to answer it.
Olivia and Lilly examined the stairs.
Stabler returned. "Mary's puking at school," he sighed. "I gotta go sign her out. Wife's in..." He glanced at Lilly. "Philly."
Lilly smiled, standing up. Olivia stood also and brushed off her slacks. "We got this."
"You sure?" Stabler cleared his throat.
"Yeah." Olivia assured him. "I have a new partner now." She winked at Lilly, then dug out the car keys and tossed them to Stabler.
Stabler caught them and laughed. "Then I expect the case to be solved by the time I get back to the station."
Lilly shot her fingers at him. "You got it."
Olivia snorted. She patted Lilly on the back and they descended down the stairs. When they had lifted the police tape and entered the cramped living room of the apartment, Lilly cleared her throat. "Where's the mother?"
"Hospital," Olivia explained. "She's the one that found the body... if we believe her story. Cracked up."
Lilly nodded. She stepped toward the crib, desolate in the empty, dark room. Slits of light from the street shone feebly through cracks in the blinds of high windows, illuminating strands of dust. Trash was strewn across the floor, and what was visible of the old carpet had dark stains.
"Blood?" Lilly asked.
Olivia glanced down. "Probably urine. Maybe a pet's."
Lilly nodded. She peered into the crib. Crime Scene had taken away the blankets and the bedding, leaving the bare undermattress, white, clean nylon. Lilly could imagine how the scene had looked the day before, with the body of a dead baby inside. She had a gift for imagining crime scenes, but not in a long time had she had to face one this fresh. She could smell the metallic tint of blood. She shuddered.
Olivia's hand was on her back. "You all right?"
"I can picture it all so clearly," Lilly answered softly. She didn't react or reject Olivia's touch, so Olivia moved closer, placing both hands on the smaller woman's shoulders. "What do you see?"
"I see the kid in the crib... On her back. She's too tall for it, but she's clinging to a blanket. She likes the comfort of the confined space. It's all she's known. Maybe it reminds her of the womb." Lilly's voice was quiet and lyrical as she recreated the crime in her mind. "The perp leaned over, with a... um..."
"Box cutter," Olivia supplied.
Lilly cringed. "Box cutter, and..." She leaned over the side of the crib, and paused. "Hey, Detective Benson?"
"Olivia." Olivia leaned over her shoulder. "What is it?"
"Olivia..." Lilly echoed softly, before getting to the root of her consternation. "This is a really awkward position to be cutting someone up."
"Maybe the perp was taller than you," Olivia suggested.
Lilly nodded and stepped back. Olivia took her position in front of the crib and leaned in. "It's not the greatest posture for murder. Where's the leverage?"
"That might explain the extra cuts," Lilly speculated. "But how tall is the mother?"
"Shorter than you." To the face Lilly made, Olivia said, "Sorry. But this isn't a good plan for murder, even in a moment of passion. You're right."
"And why wouldn't the mother simply pick up her daughter and put her on the bed, or something? Surely the child wouldn't protest. It's her own mother."
Olivia nodded. "Only reason I can think of is... The perp didn't know if the child would scream when lifted out of the crib or not, and didn't want to take that risk."
"A stranger," Lilly echoed.
"Right here in the house." Olivia shivered. "We should tell the guys."
They emerged from the basement into the light again. Olivia pulled out her cell phone. "I'll call a squad car." She glanced at Lilly, watching how her golden hair captured the strands of sunlight. "You did good in there."
Lilly shook her head. "I'm not at my best doing the physical stuff. I rely on memories."
"Good thing the next stop is the mother," Olivia smiled.
The detectives on the case had reconvened in the squad room. Lilly was explaining the posture issue while they waited on Munch and Fin to get back from the lab, where'd they gotten an urgent call from the medical examiner.
Lilly was about to ask for her second cup of bad coffee when the grey-haired man and his black partner strode in, both looking like cats who'd devoured canaries. Munch settled into a chair with a smirk. "The cuts on the bodies don't mean anything. M.E. says it's just 'sloppiness.'"
"From an awkward posture," Lilly said, with a returning smirk.
"Right." Munch nodded in her direction. "Knife slipped."
Cragen frowned. "You could have told us that over the phone. What did you really find out?"
Munch's smirk intensified. Fin slapped a handful of papers onto the table. "DNA results from the girl."
Olivia leaned forward and picked up the top sheet. "Compared to what?"
Fin nodded toward Rush. "The other vic."
"What?" Lilly's eyes widened.
Munch grinned. "The girls have something in common."
"A relative?" Olivia nearly gasped.
"We never looked at the rapist in the original case. That had happened four years ago." Lilly sounded sheepish.
"We just re-interviewed the mother," Olivia said. "Didn't even ask her about her attacker. I don't want to drudge up old memories."
Lilly pursed her lips.
"Well, start drudging." Cragen ordered. "We have a suspect."
Lilly found Olivia in the break room. "My partner back in Philly just got the name of the perp. Date rape in 1997. Fransisco Tomas. Served four months for sexual assault, moved out of state after that."
Olivia smiled. "That's great. Munch got the information?"
"He's running it through the database now."
"Do you think we missed something?"
"Revisiting the rape, you mean?" Lilly helped herself to a stale bagel.
"No." Lilly shrugged. "It wasn't my case."
"It is now," Olivia suggested.
"True." Lilly wiped some crumbs from her lips. "And now, I won't stop until I find the bastard."
"I'll help." Olivia smiled weakly.
Lilly took another bite of her bagel, and then peered at the tall woman. "There's something else, isn't there?"
Olivia turned to the window. "My mom was raped." Her voice was tight. "That's how she had me. Just like those little girls."
Lilly put her hand on Olivia's back, rubbing the tense muscles she felt under the woman's jacket.
"You didn't say you're sorry," Olivia said, with a short chuckle.
"I am," Lilly answered. "But mothers... Mine was strung out... She could barely keep herself alive. Much less me." She felt Olivia relax under her fingers as the woman listened to her words. "So I'm sorry. But more than that, I know."
Olivia looked over her shoulder and favored the blonde with a smile. "I'm sorry." She said. "For you."
Lilly nodded, and looked past Olivia out the window. "It's just the past."
"Yeah." Olivia barked a laugh. "Just like yesterday."
"Liv!" Stabler's voice came from the other room. "We got something."
The two women walked into the squad together. Munch was standing in the center of the room, straightening his tie. "Frankie. She never knew his last name. He was a bag boy at her supermarket. He took her out to dinner, raped her, beat her. She reported it, but he'd vanished. False information on his application at the market. Dead end."
"It's a big city," Olivia offered.
Munch ignored the condemnation. "We're thinking he went somewhere upstate. Jersey would have taken him closer to Philly, where his real name was on file. There's a bench warrant out for him for robbery... We're thinking we should cash that in."
"Okay." Cragen leaned on the table. "I want a state-wide APB. We know his real name, we've got his picture, let's see if we can find his aliases."
Stabler, Benson, and Rush crouched outside of the door of a squalid apartment, guns drawn. SWAT was behind him, and more officers surrounded the building. Movement was detected inside the main room. Stabler nodded, and SWAT broke down the front door.
"Go, go!" Stabler strode into the room, gun first. A skinny man was trying to slide through a window to the fire escape. Stabler lunged and dragged him back into the room. "Frankie Tomas?"
"What's it to you?" The man growled, struggling to maintain his footing.
Stabler slammed the man against a wall. "You're under arrest for the murder of Rose Marie Roderiguez."
"Who the hell is that?" Frankie protested.
Olivia grabbed a wrist and twisted it cruelly behind Frankie's back before slapping a cuff on it. "Your daughter."
Tomas was in custody, and the paperwork had been passed off to the ADA. Lilly had typed a cursory report, promised a more in-depth email, and bought tickets for the 2 AM train back to Philadelphia. Olivia had invited her out for coffee, to celebrate the closing of the case.
They sat across from each other at a window table in a small, dimly-lit tavern, sipping black coffee and nibbling nachos. "One thing I don't understand," Lilly gestured with a chip. "How'd he know where to find the women, after all these years?"
"Neither had moved far." Olivia shrugged. "They'd stayed in their neighborhoods, tried to return to a normal life. Tried to forget it happened. But they never could. I guess he couldn't either." She took a sip of her coffee, after blowing on the surface of the drink to cool it.
"You think he killed them to cover up his crime?" Lilly speculated.
Olivia shook her head. "He'd already gone to jail for the first one. He wasn't in danger of further prosecution. Control?" Olivia frowned. "Cutting up a child in a crib takes deliberation. Maybe the memories got to him." Olivia shrugged. "He hated those girls--The reminders of what he'd done--as much as..." She stopped.
Lilly finished the sentence. "As their mothers?" She reached for Olivia, but stopped short of taking her hand. "There's a lot of hate to go around."
Olivia leaned to the side, resting her shoulder against the glass pane of the window. When she looked at Lilly, tears filled her eyes. "Those kids never had a chance."
"You're wrong." Lilly responded. "They could have gotten through it. They could have become detectives, or astronauts, or teachers. Or victims." She offered a thin smile. "But Frankie Tomas murdered them. He took away that chance. And he's going to prison for his crime."
Olivia nodded. She inhaled sharply, sending the tears and emotions back from where she came. "You're right." She smiled weakly. "Sometimes all this... still gets to me. I haven't reached the burn-out phase yet."
"I get that. I really do. You mentioned SVU has a high rate of burn-out." Lilly exhaled. "Well, cold cases are where the burned out detectives go. The ones who can't take the heat of a live interview anymore. The broken ones."
Olivia reached across and took Lilly's hand. "You don't seem broken to me. You're pretty sharp."
Lilly forced a smile. "I've never been more than adequate."
"Not in a man's world," Olivia said sympathetically.
Lilly nodded. "And not in a world where the criminal acts first, and then we play catch up. You guys have to follow leads within 24 hours or the case goes cold." Lilly laughed at her own word. "If the case is a few years old... What's the harm of a few more days? Takes the pressure off." She rubbed her thumb along Olivia's finger, thoughtfully, like the skin contact was helping her think.
"Takes the pressure off the skells, too. All that time has passed... They've put it behind them. Figure no one cares anymore."
"Someone always cares." Lilly whispered. "A relative, a lover, a friend... The first case I hit where no one cares is the day I'll quit."
Olivia squeezed Lilly's fingers. "Same here. That girl... was loved. Maybe we did a little good."
"I think so." Lilly looked up. They smiled at each other, and the silence grew into awkwardness.
Olivia cleared her throat, and sat back. Her fingertips brushed Lilly's. "It's a shame you have to leave before you do anything touristy. Have you ever seen a posh Manhattan apartment? They really are as small as everyone says." She grinned.
"No. I'd love to." Lilly leaned forward, capturing Olivia's hand again. "I love finding new things to brag about."
Olivia laughed, and they paid the bill for the coffee, and headed out to walk through the New York night to a studio apartment in Chelsea.
Lilly walked into Olivia's apartment, not hiding her curiosity as she examined the foyer with a detective's eye. "Do you have cats?"
"Cats" Olivia blinked. "No. No time."
Lilly smiled. "I have two. I've got more time."
"Your cases are on ice," Olivia teased.
Lilly chuckled. "Exactly."
"Want a drink?"
"Soda? Any kind."
"Diet coke, coming right up." Olivia went to the kitchen, which was separated from the main living area by a line in the carpet. She poured soda into two classes, and waved Lilly to a couch, offering her a glass and sitting beside her.
Lilly took a sip of her coke. "I came here at Captain Cragen's invitation. I was looking for an answer to a case. But now that the case is solved… I'm looking for something else." She studied Olivia for reaction.
The dark-haired woman frowned. "The answer to me? I'm not your victim." Olivia said softly. "Despite what I shared with you… I don't need rebirth."
"I'm not looking for your secrets." She set down the glass and leaned closer to Olivia. "I like what I see on the surface just fine."
Olivia reached out and cupped Lilly's cheek, studying her thoughtfully. "What, you don't want to rescue me? "Like everyone else?"
"Do you need rescuing?" Lilly leaned into the touch.
"No." Olivia smiled. "I just need a sense of normalcy. Some respect. An intelligent woman on my couch after the day's work has ended."
Lilly's lips parted and she brushed the palm of Olivia's hand.
Olivia trembled. She leaned forward, still holding Lilly's cheek, and kissed her, brushing her lips against the thin curve of Lilly's mouth.
Lilly welcomed Olivia's touch. She one arm around Olivia's shoulders, so her hand could burrow in dark locks of hair. They parted chastely. Olivia gave a faint smile. "No more saving. We did our deed for the day," Lilly said, running her fingers through Olivia's dark hair. "I just want to get laid tonight." She pressed a kiss to the side of Olivia's neck. "You're a beautiful woman."
Olivia peeked at her from tousled bangs. "You'll be gone tomorrow."
Olivia grinned slowly. She lifted herself toward Lilly's lips.
They kissed again, mouths clashing and merging as Lilly's fingers tangled in Olivia's hair, holding her close. Lilly parted her lips and Olivia's warm tongue slipped into her mouth. She felt the pointed flickering against her own tongue, her teeth, her gums, and her lips, and she opened her mouth further to moan against Olivia's kiss. She wanted to possess this beautiful creature, she admitted to herself. She wanted to create a memory of her trip to New York that would obliterate what she had seen in the morning. If only it worked that way.
Olivia drew back, her dark eyes shining in the reflected lamp light. "Have you ever seen a Manhattan bedroom?"
Lilly smiled. "Show me."
In the bedroom they stood facing each other in front of the bed. Olivia leaned down to kiss Lilly, hungry and hard and fast, and then drew back, leaving the smaller woman breathless. "You remind me of someone," Olivia explained. "Only you're warmer, and softer."
Lilly stroked Olivia's sides, feeling the muscles of her thighs under tight denim. "I don't mind," she offered. "I've never met anyone like you."
Olivia smiled. "I like that. I've never been unique before." She reached for the hem of Lilly's shirt, and with Lilly's cooperation, pulled it up over the blonde's head. She folded it neatly and set it on the dresser. By the time she turned around again, Rush was offering her a pair of polyester slacks. Olivia looked appreciatively at Lilly's bare legs before setting the pants on the dresser. "You move fast," she murmured.
Lilly stepped closer, looking around Olivia's shoulder at their reflection in the dresser mirror. "I always get what I want."
Olivia smiled at that, and consented as Lilly's hands found their way under her shirt to stroke the lean expanse of her belly. "Confidence is contagious."
"I hope so." Lilly pulled Olivia's shirt up, revealing bare skin. One hand cupped Olivia's left breast, squeezing it through the bra. "I want to catch you on fire."
Olivia moaned, her head rolling back, as Lilly caressed her. "You're off to a good start," she managed.
Lilly ran her thumb over the nipple straining against the fabric, and then moved both hands to Olivia's waist, looping her fingers in the belt loops of her jeans. "Take off your bra."
Olivia flushed, straightening to look at herself in the mirror. "Take off yours, she countered."
Lilly complied, releasing Olivia's hips to reach behind her back and unclasp her bra. The demure white cups fell to the floor, and she hugged Olivia from behind. Her exposed breasts pressed against the thin fabric of Olivia's rumpled shirt, and Lilly knew the taller woman could feel how aroused she was. She rubbed her hard nipples against Olivia's back. "Now, you."
Olivia pulled off her shirt, eliciting a groan from Lilly as the friction of the fabric chafed her nipples. She pulled off her bra, blushing as her breasts, freed from their all day confinement, and sweaty, were exposed to the mirror.
Lilly's hands immediately reached around Olivia's body to cover them again. She cupped the breasts, felt their weight, and squeezed the pliant flesh. Olivia closed her eyes, cutting off the stimulation the sight gave her, so she could concentrate on Lilly's hands.
"You are beautiful," Lilly murmured against her shoulder. "I want to touch you." She tugged gently on Olivia's nipples, simultaneously, causing the taller woman to gasp.
"Touch me, then," Olivia begged.
"I only have so many hands," Lilly explained. "And I want it all."
Olivia unbuttoned her jeans and pushed them down, not even bothering to kick them off. She covered Lilly's hands with her own. "Do what you want."
"You're eager," Lilly murmured. She pressed a kiss to the center of Olivia's back, between her shoulder blades.
"It's been a long time," Olivia whispered. "Since I've trusted anyone enough to…"
"I'm honored," Lilly answered. She freed one hand from Olivia's and slid it down her belly. She pressed the skin, feeling Olivia's abdomen contract with each husky breath, before moving lower. Her hand cupped Olivia's mound, finding the curve of her through her underwear.
Olivia lurched, and then covered Lilly's hand with her own, guiding her, forcing Lilly into her wetness. "God, touch me."
Lilly stroked her, watching the movements of her fingers and Olivia's reactions in the mirror, while feeling the woman quiver against her chest. She rubbed Olivia with steady, searching fingers.
Olivia convulsed, and came. Her hand clamped down on Lilly's to hold her in place while she moved, arching back into Lilly's warmth. Lilly held her tightly, until Olivia finally exhaled, and turned around in Lilly's embrace, reluctantly separating from her hand.
Lilly smiled. "Having a decent night?"
"Oh," Olivia purred. "It's only the beginning." Her lips descended.
In the middle of the night, Lilly Rush had her back to her destination, and watched the New York City recede. The buildings seemed to shrink, and lose their form to the defining, enveloping darkness, but the pinpoints of light never dimmed, until the train went around a curve and the city vanished.
Alone in her apartment, Olivia wrapped herself around a pillow and wondered about getting a cat.
When each woman made her way to sleep, her dreams were free of memories.