Saving Southerlyn

Author: DocCarter

Rating: PG-13 for language and violence
Category: Drama/Crossover with SVU

Pairings: None, Olivia/Serena friendship

Disclaimer: Fanfiction is for fun, kids.




Chapter 1: This Is Your Wake-Up Call

Elliot Stabler sat on the beach, enjoying a cold beer while his kids played nearby. Dickie and Lizzie ran past him, shrieking. Kathy sat under an umbrella and paged through a magazine. He looked up as he heard the buzz of a megaphone. "Everyone out of the water, please. Detective Stabler, this means your family. Everyone out of the water please, especially the Stablers."

The lifeguard continued to honk his megaphone regularly.

"Elliot."

Elliot blinked his eyes open. "Huh?"

Kathy handed him his cell phone and promptly fell asleep again.

"Stabler," he said groggily.

"It's Cragen. We've got a hot case." He rattled off an address.

"I'll be there." Elliot flipped his cell phone shut, stared at it for a moment, then checked the clock. The red twelve glowed steadily in the dark. Yawning, he swung his legs from under the covers and went into the bathroom to wash up. He kissed his wife on his way out.

When he pulled up to the crime scene in a squad car he was still yawning, but it was only his body's automatic reflex to the time. His mind was clear; it always was after a late-night call from Cragen. Such a call could only mean one of two things: either something had happened to his partner, or a rape had been reported.

Olivia was waiting for him, standing next to the taped-off area. "Hey," she greeted him.

"Hey. What happened?" He ducked under the tape, noted his partner's unusually grave face. He glanced towards the ambulance parked a few meters away. "Is the vic still alive?"

"Yeah." Olivia motioned for Elliot to move farther away from the gathering crowd. This close to midnight, people were still out. "She's one of ours. An ADA," she said quietly.

"Jesus," said Elliot. "Who?"

Olivia's head tipped in the direction of the nearby gurney. "Serena Southerlyn."

Elliot searched his memory. "Southerlyn...doesn't she work with McCoy?" They all knew the occasionally brash EADA and had dealt with his office from time to time.

"She's his assistant. She handled one of our cases a few months ago after Alex..." Olivia didn't say the rest. She took a breath and seemed to shake a few memories loose. "You good to canvass the scene? I'm gonna ride with her."

Elliot nodded, and joined the CSU officers, who were carefully picking through a long, dark alley. "Whaddaya got?"

Slowly, Olivia approached the ambulance. The paramedics were still hovering over the woman on the stretcher. One side of Southerlyn's face was a purpling bruise, and cut on her forehead had been cleaned and butterflied. Olivia showed the ADA her badge and introduced herself in a soft voice. "Miss Southerlyn, I'm Detective Olivia Benson. I need to ask you a few questions."

Southerlyn nodded mutely. She flinched slightly as her gurney clattered into the ambulance. Olivia turned to a paramedic. "How bad is it?"

The young man made a sour face. "Hit her in the face a few times. Maybe a mild concussion. Didn't do anything else except for the...you know..." He looked embarrassed.

"Thanks," said Olivia, and climbed into the rig. She offered Southerlyn her hand, and the other woman gripped it tightly. Her eyes were red from crying, but her face was otherwise blank. She stared straight up at the ambulance's ceiling until they reached the hospital.

Olivia followed the paramedics into the antiseptic hallways, listening to them rattle off stats to a doctor, keeping one eye on the ADA. The younger woman was subdued, permitting the doctor's ministrations to her body, answering monosyllabically. Olivia stepped in. "We're going to need a rape kit," she informed the doctor, who nodded and left. Olivia turned to Southerlyn. "After the doctor examines you, we're going to need you to give a formal statement."

"I know," said Southerlyn in a voice so soft, Olivia almost missed the words completely. In a stronger voice, she said, "I know the procedure. I just want to get it over with."

****

Jack McCoy sat on the witness stand, staring out at a sea of nameless faces. The judge, a nightmarish cross between the Honorable H. Seligman and a turkey, turned to him and spoke in a booming voice. "Is that your final answer, Mr. McCoy?"

"Your Honor, I'm afraid I can't answer the question," said McCoy. The judge gobbled furiously, picked up a glass of water, and threw it at McCoy. He ducked, and the people in the jurors' box booed loudly.

"John James McCoy, I find you in contempt, and sentence you to a day's hard labor." The judge pounded his gavel.

Jack was startled into wakefulness by the sound of his phone ringing. He groped around on the nightstand for it, eventually finding the receiver and pressing it to his ear. "McCoy," he growled.

"Jack, it's Arthur. There's been an incident."

The drive to the hospital had gone by in a blur, the cool weather biting into him as he illegally passed cars on his motorcycle. Jack marched up to the nurse's desk, flashed his ID. "I'm here to see Serena Southerlyn." The nurse pointed him to a room down the hall, where a uniform was standing outside of the door. He used his ID to get into the room, and stopped short at the ugly sight of his assistant. She and the detective with her looked up as he entered.

"Hi, Jack," said Serena, looking like she wanted to throw up.

"Mr. McCoy, I'm sorry to meet you again under these circumstances," said Olivia Benson, stepping forward and neatly inserting herself between Jack and his assistant. "My partner and I are handling Miss Southerlyn's case."

He shook hands briefly with her, glanced over to Serena. "What happened?"

"If I could ask you to wait outside for just a few more minutes..."

He could see that it wasn't really a suggestion, so he did as Benson asked, pacing while he waited. After what felt like an hour, the door opened, and Benson emerged, notebook in hand. Jack fairly pounced on her. "Tell me what happened."

"Miss Southerlyn was attacked at approximately ten-thirty last night. She said her assailant was a man who'd been bothering her before, a Brian Pooler?"

Jack's eyes widened fractionally. "Yes, he was harassing her. Serena thought he just wanted a date..."

Benson nodded and made a note.

"What, exactly, did he do to her?" demanded Jack.

"He beat her, and he raped her," said Benson candidly, then changed topics. "Did you notice anything unusual around the office? Notice any strangers hanging around, receive any phone calls, anything out of the ordinary?"

Jack shook his head. "He stopped bothering her about a month ago, after he had to be escorted from the building. Brian Pooler? Are you sure?"

"That's Miss Southerlyn's assertion." Seeing that Jack was visibly distracted, Benson forced him to focus on her. "Mr. McCoy, I understand that you're very concerned for Miss Southerlyn, but I don't think she's in any shape for visitors right now."

Biting back a retort, Jack nodded once, gruffly. "Have they done a rape kit yet?"

"It's being taken to the lab as we speak." Benson looked over his shoulder, and Jack turned to see another, slightly disheveled, detective striding towards them. "Mr. McCoy, you remember my partner, Detective Stabler," said Benson by way of introduction. The two men shook hands, and then Stabler's attention was focused on his partner. Jack listened to them intently as they shared their information.

"What'd you get?" asked Benson.

"CSU found some footprints, some blood. Nobody saw anything, but a few people said they heard a scream around the time she was attacked. You?"

"He left his semen inside her. Multiple contusions on her face and a mild concussion. But she fought back. She's got fibers from his clothing all over her, and--get this. She bit him hard enough to draw blood."

Stabler smiled slightly at that.

Olivia continued. "We've got a lot to work with. She says the suspect was harassing her for a while before the rape. Name's Brian Pooler. Munch and Fin are tracking him down."

Suddenly, the duo looked up at McCoy, as if just realizing that he was still there.

"I'm sure we'll be seeing you again, Mr. McCoy," said Benson. She smiled tightly at him and left with her partner.

Against Benson's advice, Jack slipped into Serena's room a few minutes later with a cup of coffee. He walked to the side of the hospital bed, unable to stop himself from cataloguing her bruises. The left side of her face was already swollen. She had curled up onto her uninjured side and seemed to be asleep, but her eyes opened the moment Jack came in. She followed his movement warily. "Hi," she told him again.

"Serena, I'm--"

"Don't. Could you...could you please not say anything?" she asked in whisper.

He nodded.

Looking relieved, she settled down, but did not close her eyes. A minute later, she asked, "Did anyone call my parents?"

"Arthur called them," he said. "They should be here in the morning."

She didn't ask any more questions, so he drew up a chair and sat with her, not really sure of what he was supposed to do, but not wanting her to be alone.


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