DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This just popped into my head after that fantastic ep, and my muse wouldn’t let it go. It’s more of an exercise than anything, but I just thought the chemistry between Julia and Olivia BEGGED to be explored a bit further. And yes, I realize that the plot bunnies have started a colony in my head and are now multiplying exponentially.
THANK YOU: As always, a shoutout to my wonderful cheerleader and beta serenitymeimei.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Philadelphia and Florida.

By racethewind10


I'm not entirely sure why I am here. Julia's people certainly looked at me like they didn't know what the hell to do with me. Of course, after it came out during the hostage situation that she had framed Simon, my brother, and damn near run me over: well, I don't think they know what to do with her either. Elliot didn't say anything; just gave me that look – the one that says maybe we have been partners for so long we really do know more about each other than ourselves. But he just nodded. Thank God, because I couldn't really explain why I felt the need to be here.

I know I should be angry. Hell, I should be furious. But sitting here, in this cold, echoing hospital room, I look down at this woman and feel only…regret, sadness, and a bone deep, weary understanding. It is only too easy to see myself lying in that bed, pale and small, oxygen tube in my nose and monitor leads on my chest. They say she came through surgery fine, but the doctors are still worried about the blood loss. It took a long time to get her help. It took a long time because she confronted Simon and things went south.

Now I feel the creeping heat of anger in my blood, pushing back the icy numbness created by sterile white walls and the smell of death. I'm not angry at her though. I can't be. How can I? In so many ways, the woman whom I watch breathe could be me. How many times have I almost gone too far? How many times have I been sure I was right and that the perp was escaping justice. And how far had I been willing to go for family: family that I barely knew? My brother, who might or might not have been a rapist when I met him. What this woman did, she did out of pain, out of love, and out of grief, and though once I might have denied it, as I sink my heavy head into my hands, I know damn well that I am as capable of doing what she did as she was.

Hell, I almost lost my job and beat a suspect because of family. What would I have felt if I had watched my sister, my own flesh and blood, destroy herself?

No, my anger is at Captain Julia Millfeild's father: the man who raped and molested her sister, the man who set this entire chain of events in motion.

God, but she was passionate. Even when she was out to get my brother, I admired that. Her energy and drive crackled around her in a living aura. I remember thinking the first time we met that she might be fun to work with under different circumstances.

That fire is gone now, leeched away into the fathomless emptiness that is every hospital room I have ever visited. Maybe that's a part of why I'm here. I know what it is to wake up, alone cold and in pain. I know the crushing ache of being at your most vulnerable when it seems like no on cares. And no matter that I should be angry, I'm not. I know only too well the pain of a gunshot wound. Worse though, so much worse than that though are the emotional wounds: what it cost her soul to admit she had been wrong about Simon, even as it was costing her body to lose so much blood.

Looking at my hands, I can still see the red stain escaping through my fingers in my minds eye - still feel the fearful heat of it. I pressed my hand on her abdomen, trying to keep the pressure on, trying to stem the deadly tide. She writhed under my hand, and her eyes had latched onto mine, begging for it to end. I cradled her head, calling for her to stay with me, and I meant it.

I have been witness to many deaths in my time on the force, some peaceful, many not. I have heard dying confessions and I have seen people steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the truth, even as their last breath rattles in their throat.

Julia was different. She held my gaze, pleading with me to understand as she confessed her sins and her mistakes to me; taking the blame and absolving my brother. Her pain nearly broke me.

Raising my head, I look at her again and can't help but marvel a bit at her courage in the end. The physical pain of the gunshot would have been nothing compared to the soul tearing anguish of realizing that your sister was molested by your father, and not only were you spared, but that your sister had told you…and you had not believed her. It didn't matter that it wasn't' Julia's fault; that her sister had been far gone into darkness and drugs by the time that confession came to light – the anguish in her eyes told me that a terrible, heavy cross had just been added to the burdens she already carried.

And yet, in that moment, with her life slipping away between our entwined hands, she picked it up unhesitatingly, taking that burden onto herself and freeing my brother.

Without conscious thought, my hand reaches out to cradle hers. It's too cold, and I wrap my fingers around it, hoping to lend her some of my warmth. It's all I can do now.

Which brings me back to my original question to myself: what am I doing here?

Before my thoughts can chase themselves around any more, the heart monitor

beeps, and the hand resting in mine twitches; she's waking up. I watch her face as she slowly battles her way to consciousness. Her breathing increases, and I can tell she is in pain – the lines of it are etched into her elegant features.

I gently tighten my grip on her hand, giving her an anchor - something warm in the cold darkness of drug induced slumber. Yeah, I know this part too well: the pain, the confusion, the fear and the anger at being helpless, usually followed by a fast dive into depression. I don't want that for her. There has been so much pain between all of us already - but it's more than that. She's a victim. More than Simon or even me, Julia has suffered, and while the oblivion she is slowly climbing from has shielded her from that pain, it's about to come crashing back down on her.

No one should have to go through that alone. Ever. So here I am. I reach out with my other hand and stroke her cheek, calling softly to her like I did back at the cabin. This time though, I tell her it's safe, that it's ok. Comforting nonsense: I know the important thing is the voice, not the words.

She shifts restlessly, and cries out softly. I squeeze her hand and cup her cheek, brushing my thumb across her skin, I call her name. Dark eyes open and I am struck again by how much we share. Her eyes are so similar to my own – both in color and in the haunted shadows they hide.

"Julia," I whisper, "It's ok, you're at the hospital. You're going to be ok."

Confusion slowly gives way to recognition, and then slips back to confusion. She knows me, but can't figure out why I'm here. There is a lot I can say, but this isn't the time or the place for it, and words have never been my strong point. I settle for holding the straw while she sips at the water.

"Why?" she rasps. She's not angry, but I can sense the fear just under the surface. She deserves the truth, and I don't see any reason to keep it from her. There have been enough lies already.

"Because no one should wake up alone, and because I wanted to thank you."

"Why?" she whispers again.

"Because you made the right choice Julia," I say with all the compassion and conviction I have in me.

She looks away, and I see the self loathing ambush her. In another time and place, she – being a cop – would never let me see this, but the drugs and the pain have weakened her.

I won't let her start down that path though, and with sudden clarity, I know exactly why I am here.

Captain Julia Millfeild is a victim, and she needs my help. She has lost her sister, her father and whatever innocence she might have had about her past in one day, as well as nearly loosing her life, and probably her job. All because a father was twisted enough to betray the sacred trust of a parent to their children. I know this betrayal, I have struggled with it my entire life, though it manifested differently, the pain is the same. The woman before me has overcome so much – just like I have – and just like me, she fights for those who are helpless, for the victims, and I will not let that be destroyed.

Gripping her chin gently, I turn her head to face me and twine my fingers through hers.

"Listen to me Julia, This. Is. Not. Your. Fault." I bite off every word for emphasis, trying to convey how much I truly believe that through my gaze. Some of it must get through to her, because I see the walls start to crumble. She's going to cry. She knows it, and she hates it. We are cops, and the only thing we hate worse than being vulnerable, is letting others see our vulnerability.

She's trying to get angry. I can see it in the clenched jaw and the sputtering sparks in her chocolate eyes, but this isn't what she needs right now, and if I'm being honest with myself, it's not what I need. This moment isn't just about Julia, it's about me. It's about my father's cruelty and my mother's betrayal. It's about missing out on a part of myself – my family – my whole life, and it's about realizing just how close I have come to being right where she is, so many times.

Ignoring her attempts at composure, I hold her gaze and try to explain, if I can, why I understand. I let her see a part of my pain as well, and it is her undoing.

She breaks silently. No wracking sobs or hysterics: just endless, streaming tears that call forth an answer from my own eyes.

Mindful of the fact that she is wounded, I move up the bed and cradle her in my lap as my own tears fall. She clings to me and I bury my face in her hair, and together we take the first step in letting go our pasts.

She is exhausted, and her weakened body cannot handle the emotional strain for long. As her breathing evens out, she reaches out her hand and clasps mine. Looking up at me, her eyes still glistening and red rimmed, there is the beginnings of acceptance there, and I think she is beautiful. Just as her eyes flutter closed, she squeezes my fingers and whispers, "Thank you Olivia."

I lay her down gently and stand, wiping at my own eyes. She is resting easily now, and I have to get back to Manhattan, and Elliot, and hopefully to Simon. I know, however, with instant clarity, that I will be back. There is something about this woman that calls to me. Not just the part of me that is a Special Victims Unit Detective, but a deeper, hidden part of me that still desperately seeks understanding and companionship along the road that my life has taken.

Brushing my fingers across her forehead one last time, I pull the blankets farther up her body before turning, and quietly walking out the door.

The End

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