DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
SERIES: This story follows on from Victims of Circumstances.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Victims of Circumstance 2:
Time, Space & Perspective

By Heathers

She had ten long months to question her decision to leave New York. At the time she had convinced herself that she was merely accepting a well-deserved promotion. Now she was fairly certain that it was just a lateral move career-wise, but more importantly it had been the perfect escape from Olivia Benson.

She uprooted her life to run from a woman. The thought nagged her incessantly. The worm of doubt had been planted and left her questioning her choices. It was the worst feeling in the world, being unable to trust herself or anyone else.

She had promised herself all those years ago that she would never be a victim again. That she would be more vigilant, that unspeakable violence was avoidable. She scrutinized every person that entered her life and the few people she let in, she trusted implicitly. Olivia was one of the few.

How had she missed it? She couldn't shake the feeling that she had been betrayed despite the completely irrational nature of her reaction.

Olivia had ordered in. It was a Saturday night and she wasn't on call for the first time in a month. That fact alone had relaxed the women, knowing they wouldn't be called in to deal with whatever particularly heinous acts the citizens of New York might perpetrate on one another. At least not that night.

Abbie had arrived with her overnight bag, a luxury because, more often than not, their moments together were unplanned. The nature of their work didn't afford them consistency and so their relationship had been made up of stolen moments, rare days off, and late night visits. Sometimes Olivia would knock at her door in the middle of the night on the way back from a crime scene. She'd smile wearily and say that she was in the neighborhood and Abbie would invite her in. It wasn't ideal, but it was something.

After dinner they'd enjoyed the quiet comfort of low light and candles. It was one of those moments a person never forgets, the way candle light illuminates a lover's face, the intimacy, feeling like you are the only two people in the world. The world just stops and everything is perfect.

So why had Olivia chosen that very moment to tell her? Her mouth had hung open for a few moments, trying to find the words, the corner of her eye crinkled and her eyebrow lifted in a half smile and then she said it. The words that changed everything. "My mother was raped. My father was her rapist." She felt like she had been punched in the stomach.

In hindsight, Olivia had probably been wrestling with telling her for quite some time. Abbie could distinctly remember two other occasions when Olivia had looked at her the way she did just before her revelation that night. Maybe she had felt the same perfection that Abbie had and thought it might soften the blow. It didn't. It only made it worse. Because Abbie couldn't run away and process what her lover had just told her. She had to pretend to be okay with it and that turned out to be the worst thing she had ever done.

Maybe if she had been able to escape she could have come to terms with it, but instead all she could do was scrutinize Olivia from that moment on. All those months they shared a bed Abbie never saw it and that scared her. She had betrayed herself. She let her guard down too soon; perhaps she had let Olivia off too easily because she was a police officer. The compassion in her face when she comforted a rape victim or spoke with a child had touched Abbie and she was drawn to the woman. She had pursued Olivia.

Part of her couldn't help but wonder if she had subconsciously sought out a predator. It was the same part that questioned how much of the rape was her fault. She had trusted the wrong person. She was so naïve, so blind to the dangers of the world. It could have been so much worse, she knew that now. And that scared her more.

She had stayed that night. She didn't sleep and they didn't make love, but she stayed. She was up and showering the moment it started to get light out. She couldn't stand the weight of Olivia's arm across her any longer. She felt trapped. She tried not to imagine Olivia's features angry, but she was so strong. Just the thought that another woman, especially the one she had been sleeping with for eight months, was stronger than her and had… that… inside of her was absolutely terrifying.

But she put on her game face, like she did every day and choked back the memories. Her pain was what made her strong. It drove her to the extremes that she was so often prone to as a prosecutor. It motivated her. She started making excuses. She made sure they weren't alone more than a few times after that night.

Vigilant, once again.

She pulled farther away. She knew it was tearing Olivia up but she couldn't be the one to comfort her and that ate away at her. Olivia, after all, was the one that listened to her story, accepted her as she was and looked at her with those eyes. She was so convinced Olivia felt her pain, empathized so thoroughly, that she allowed herself to feel safe with the detective. She had found her great protector, despite her best intentions to deny the need for one.

But she was wrong. At least that's what she had decided when she left New York. Olivia just gave up and that was probably the single most alarming thing about the situation. It was like she had just resigned herself that Abbie's reaction was coming. It wasn't until recently that Abbie had unraveled the conundrum. Olivia was just as she was… a victim. Not a victim of violence, but a victim nonetheless. Their demons knew each other, they simply weakened them in different ways.

Thinking back on their time together, Abbie was acutely aware of Olivia's hesitance the first time they slept together. She was so gentle, almost afraid she'd break Abbie. She didn't push, she let Abbie control how far it went and at what pace. Abbie thought it was because Olivia was afraid of spooking her, always the good detective. But now she could see that Olivia was afraid of herself and what it meant to be with a rape victim. It was a concession that didn't come easily, she was sure of that.

And what had it meant? Olivia had bandaged her wounds and held her close only to rip the bandages off the night she confessed. Confessed? She couldn't stop thinking of it as a dirty little secret, an indiscretion, something that could be helped. She knew blaming Olivia for her genetics was as fundamentally wrong as blaming a rape victim for their rape. But she still fell into that trap, too.

Abbie had single-handedly left their relationship in ruins. She turned her back to Olivia and walked away. The end. Clean and easy. But it was messier than any break-up she'd ever been a part of. She was haunted not by things that Olivia had done to her, but things that she could have done.

Sometimes she had nightmares of the night that changed her life and it was Olivia brutalizing her, taking her body and bruising her spirit. The eyes that had drawn her in with their kindness burned with a rage that paralyzed Abbie. She couldn't bear it when those same eyes looked at her the morning after. She always wondered when it would happen. It was only a matter of time, she had told herself.

So she had made her escape and never looked back. Until that day that Olivia came to her office to say goodbye. Her eyes sparkled with pain when she looked into Abbie's. The kiss she pressed against her cheek was reminiscent of their first time together, so soft, so considerate, so full of emotions she wouldn't dare speak. And then her voice trembled as her words blew across Abbie's ear. "I would never hurt you."

So honest.

Abbie knew at that moment she had made the biggest mistake of her life. She had given her fear power. She had sacrificed her relationship because of an imaginary boogey man. And all this time she had blamed Olivia when she should have been blaming herself.

She never saw her eyes again. She couldn't imagine them angry anymore. All she could see was the pain she put there. The guilt for something she never did. The sorrow and loneliness was all Abbie had left her with.

It haunted her. Washington wasn't as she had expected it. That wasn't true. Her only expectation was that it would be without Olivia and it was. But she missed feeling like she made a difference. The justice she found in Washington wasn't satisfying but she stayed because it was a fitting punishment.

Her time alone had allowed her to work through what had happened and she was ready to make things right. She could never tell Olivia what she had imagined, certain that it would do more damage than good. But she could apologize. She had no expectations of rekindling their relationship. She just couldn't bear the thought of leaving things so bitterly between them.

She parked her rental car in front of Olivia's apartment building. Resting her forehead on the steering wheel, her hands squeezed the leather as she gathered her strength for what would be the most difficult conversation of her life. She took a cleansing breath and forced her body from the car, she couldn't let the temptation to drive away win this battle.

Abbie was locking the car door when she saw them. Olivia's hand was on the small of the blonde's back as they pushed through the front doors of the building. They were laughing, smiles so big, so happy. Abbie braced herself with a hand on the roof of the rental car as she watched them walk away. They didn't see her, too focused on each other to notice the dark eyes across the street following them.

Olivia had made her peace the day Abbie had left her. It appeared that Abbie was never going to get her chance and she had nobody to blame for that but herself. But oh, how she would have loved a chance to blame it on that all-too pretty blonde. It wasn't fair. Olivia had moved on. She was happy. As much as Abbie had convinced herself that it was all she wanted for the woman, she was utterly destroyed that Olivia was happy without her.

Abbie slid back into the rental car and turned the key. Not one to put off the inevitable, she pointed the car towards the airport. The ticket could be changed. It was time to return to her self-appointed exile. There would be no escaping this time.

The End

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