Apartment of Detective Alexandra Eames
Alex Eames had just curled up in her favourite chair, fleecy rug pulled around her shoulders, and a good book resting on her lap. This was one of her favourite ways to spend her Sunday nights, knowing that a potentially long and hard week of work loomed ahead.
She was just settling down and taking a sip of hot tea when her cell phone rang.
Scowling, Alex set her mug down and reluctantly picked up the phone, checking the caller ID before answering it. She was mildly surprised - and disturbed - to find it was not her partner calling her, but her captain.
“Alex, it’s Captain Deakins.”
Alex bit back the urge to sigh. Just what she didn’t want or need - a call out on a Sunday night.
“New case?” she asked.
“Not for you,” Deakins answered, and Alex felt a sudden chill as she sensed the tension in his voice.
There was a moment of silence, and then Deakins spoke in a quiet, grim voice.
“I was just informed a few minutes ago, a 911 call went out from Goren’s building not quite fifteen minutes ago… SVU have been called out.”
Alex sat frozen, her breath turning icy in her throat. She knew instantly what Deakins was trying to say without him actually saying it aloud, and the sudden panic she felt clutching at her chest and throat was nearly unbearable.
“Is he… Is he dead…?” She forced the question out, though she was terrified of the answer she might get.
The relief crashed down on her so hard that she barely heard the rest of what he was saying.
“…Did you hear me, Alex? I said, he’s not dead, but apparently he’s in a bad way. It looks like someone messed him up pretty badly.”
“I’m going over there.”
“No, that’s not a good idea…”
“He’s my partner, sir. Don’t tell me to stay away.”
There was a long silence, and then Deakins reluctantly gave in.
“All right. But you’d better brace yourself.”
Alex swallowed hard.
“I’m going now.”
She hung up before he had a chance to object further and, pausing only long enough to grab her coat, Alex fled her apartment.
“Man, would you look at all this…”
Olivia Benson didn’t answer as she looked around the main room of Detective Robert Goren’s apartment. Someone had well and truly trashed the place. Nothing, but nothing had been left untouched.
“All his books…” Elliot Stabler muttered. “Hell… What a mess…”
“C’mon,” Olivia murmured, leading the way to the bedroom.
The paramedics were already there when they entered. One of them stood up as Olivia and Elliot made their way into the bedroom.
“Holy mother of God…” Elliot whispered as he finally laid eyes on Bobby Goren’s broken and battered form.
“Apparently that’s what the neighbour was screaming over and over,” the first paramedic said grimly. “I don’t suppose either of you would have keys that would open those handcuffs? Because otherwise we’re going to have to bring in a handsaw to start getting him loose.”
Both detectives looked at each other helplessly.
“Every set of handcuffs is different,” Olivia said. “Our keys won’t open those cuffs.”
“I’ll go down and get the bolt cutters from our car,” Elliot offered. “Hang on, I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Olivia watched him go, then returned her attention to the injured man on the bed. She looked him over slowly, taking in all the horrific injuries that he’d sustained.
Bobby’s back was what drew her immediate attention. It appeared to her that someone had taken to him with a whip, or perhaps some sort of metal stick. Whatever had been used, the job done had been a thorough one. His back was covered in welts and deep, ugly lacerations, from shoulders to buttocks.
His left arm was very badly broken, and so too were both of his hands and most of his fingers. And though his lower body was covered loosely by a sheet, it didn’t hide the fact that both of his legs appeared to have been broken as well.
His head looked like it had suffered a couple of severe blows. His hair was matted with blood that still looked tacky, and his face was an absolute mess, badly swollen and covered in cuts and bruises.
Even worse, though, Olivia realised numbly, were his eyes. Both of his eyes were effectively sealed shut thanks to severe burns. A brief glance around revealed what she quickly suspected, that the poker from his little built-in wood heater was the implement used to inflict those particular injuries.
Olivia shuddered, unable to stop herself. From head to toe, Bobby Goren’s body was one massive open wound. Rarely in her life had she ever seen anything so god-awful.
She leaned in close, noticing through the cloudy plastic of the oxygen mask that something appeared to be stuffed into his mouth.
“Was he gagged?”
The second paramedic, who was monitoring Bobby’s heart rate, nodded.
“Yeah. We got it off him as soon as we got in here. Why?”
“Well, this oxygen mask isn’t going to do him a hell of a lot of good while there’s something jammed in his mouth.”
Crouching down, Olivia lifted the mask off, then gently drew his mouth open with one gloved hand and pulled a thick wad of material out with the other. She winced a little as a couple of his teeth came out with it. Suppressing another shudder, Olivia carefully replaced the oxygen mask and was relieved to hear Bobby’s breath coming a little easier with the removal of the obstruction from his mouth.
“I’m sorry, Ma’am, but you can’t go in there…”
Olivia looked up at the sound of the uniformed officer outside speaking in a quasi-authoritative voice. A moment later there was a new voice, one that caused Olivia to groan softly.
“Get the hell out of my way. That’s my partner in there.”
“S… Sorry, Detective…”
Olivia got up quickly and wheeled around just as Alex Eames strode into the bedroom.
Alex pushed Olivia away, even as the taller woman tried futilely to block her view of Bobby.
“Oh god, no…” Alex choked out, tears flooding her eyes as she got a good look at her stricken partner. Olivia tried again to manoeuvre her out of the room.
“You know you shouldn’t be in here, Alex. C’mon, come outside with me…”
Again, Alex tried to pull away from her.
“No… Damn it, you look me in the eye, Olivia, and tell me that you could keep away if it was Elliot that this had happened to.”
That deflated Olivia very abruptly.
“Okay,” she murmured reluctantly. Alex immediately pushed past to get to her partner’s side.
“Why haven’t the cuffs been taken off?” she demanded, her voice high barely-controlled panic.
“The key is missing, Alex. Elliot’s gone to get the bolt cutters from our car.”
Alex promptly pulled a small collection of keys out of her pocket and quickly found the one she wanted. Then, while one of the paramedics held Bobby’s arms, Alex unlocked the handcuffs and carefully removed the blood-slicked metal that had cut so deeply into his wrists.
“Thankyou,” one of the paramedics said as he quickly covered the wounds in an effort stop the bleeding. “But we’re still going to need those bolt cutters. His ankles are chained to the bed frame.”
Alex and Olivia both looked and, sure enough, Bobby’s ankles were wrapped in chains and secured to the bed frame.
“Elliot won’t be long,” Olivia murmured, acutely aware of how pale Alex was right then.
Meanwhile, Alex’s attention had gone to the bloodied sheet that covered the lower half of her partner’s body.
“Is he…?” she started to ask, only to falter.
“You mean, is he naked?” the first paramedic asked grimly. “Yeah, he is, but for the record, he was already covered up like this when we got here. And yeah, all that blood appears to be the result of a pretty violent penetration. It’s the main reason we asked for SVU in the first place, and not Major Case.”
“Who found him?” Alex asked tremulously as she dropped to her knees by the head of the bed, and reached out with trembling fingers to gently caress Bobby’s bruised face. She desperately wanted him to stir, to wake up, to show some definitive sign of life, but there was nothing. He remained still and silent, the only indication that he was even alive being the irregular, ragged breaths he took that were amplified in sound by the oxygen mask over his face.
“One of his neighbours,” Olivia answered, consulting the notes she had. “A Mrs Rosa Pirelli. Apparently she came looking for him when he didn’t show up at her apartment for dinner. It was the neighbours on the other side that called 911, after Mrs Pirelli started screaming for help.”
Alex stared at her partner’s battered features, feeling sick and frightened. Bobby hadn’t simply been attacked. This was no spur of the moment act of violence. This was torture, a cold and calculated act of premeditated evil. But who…? Who could have done it…? Who could possibly have caught Bobby Goren so unawares that they could do all this to him?
At that moment, Elliot strode back in, bolt cutters in hand. He faltered when he saw Alex, but quickly recovered and handed the bolt cutters to the waiting paramedics. Between them, they cut through the chains that held the injured detective in restraint. With the chains finally discarded, the paramedics launched themselves into treating the most immediate of Bobby’s wounds, in preparation for transporting him to hospital.
Alex found herself pushed unceremoniously out of the way while the paramedics worked. She stood aside numbly, helpless to do anything but watch, and yet desperate to actively help. She felt a pair of arms enclose her shoulders, and urge her gently towards the bedroom door.
“C’mon, Alex,” Elliot murmured. “Let’s let these guys do their job, huh?”
She tried to resist, but Elliot wasn’t taking no for an answer. With absolute care, Elliot guided Alex out of the bedroom.
“Oh my god… His books…”
Alex pulled out of Elliot’s grip, and stumbled over to the pile of ash and debris that had once been Bobby’s beloved collection of books.
“How could they do this?” she choked out, tears flooding her eyes. Elliot gently took her by the arm, and tried to lead her out of the apartment. Again, she resisted him, so he took a firm hold of her shoulders and steered her towards the door.
Out in the hall, Alex crumpled against the wall, her knees almost buckling beneath her.
“Here,” Elliot murmured, grabbing a chair from a little ways down the hall, and setting it down so she could sit. “Alex, when did you see or talk to Goren last?”
Alex drew in a steadying breath that, in reality, did little to calm her.
“Friday afternoon. We wrapped up the Petersen case… Managed to finish all the paperwork early for Carver… Deakins gave us the all-clear to go early. N… Normally we go to Carucci’s on a Friday night… But it was my dad’s birthday.”
“So you haven’t seen him, or talked to him since Friday afternoon?”
“Okay. Just one more thing…”
She looked up at him, her eyes already red from shedding tears.
“Do I know if he had any particular plans for the weekend, or if he was meeting up with anyone?”
Elliot smiled a little. “Yeah, got it in one.”
“No, he didn’t tell me about any plans… except… He did mention on Friday morning that he was supposed to have been having dinner on Saturday night with Mrs Pirelli, but that his plans had suddenly changed. But then Carver arrived, and he never got around to saying why they’d changed.”
“Okay, Alex. Why don’t you wait here, and then when the paramedics come out, you can go with Goren to the hospital.”
She nodded, too dazed to argue. Elliot was about to go back into the apartment when a new voice spoke.
Both he and Alex looked around to see an elderly lady coming down the hallway towards them, her attention fixed solely on Alex, who stood up to meet her.
The old woman threw her arms around Alex, sobbing noisily.
“I should have checked in on him,” she cried. “I’m so sorry, I should have checked…”
Alex hugged her back, dismayed that Bobby’s sweet, gentle elderly neighbour should feel any guilt for something that was completely beyond her powers of control.
“It’s okay,” she murmured, as much to reassure herself as the woman she was hugging. “He’ll be okay. It’s not your fault, Mrs Pirelli.”
“No, you don’t understand,” Rosa sobbed. “Last night, there was so much loud noise from his apartment, but I didn’t do anything!”
Elliot approached slowly.
“What sort of loud noise?”
Rosa pulled away from Alex, looking up at Elliot tearfully.
“Loud banging, and shouting. I thought he was just having an argument with his brother…”
“His brother?” Alex asked, startled. “Richie was here?”
Rosa nodded, her chest hitching as she struggled to control her sobs. “Yes. Robert was supposed to have dinner with me last night, but he said his brother was coming to see him. So I told him never mind about dinner on Saturday, to come on Sunday instead. I never saw his brother arrive… I really don’t like him… but last night… a bit before midnight, I think, the noise started. It sounded like furniture being thrown around… like a real fight was going on. I should have called the police, I know… But Robert is a detective, I thought he could handle it! And then, this morning, I didn’t think about it at all, but I should have checked in on him. Il mio ragazzo povero…”
Rosa broke into a fresh flood of tears, and Alex gently guided her to sit in the chair.
“How could he do such a thing to his own brother?” Rosa asked plaintively. “How could he?”
Alex looked back at Elliot. She knew the look on his face all too well. It was the same look she often saw on Bobby’s face when he stumbled onto a strong lead in a potentially difficult case. He looked like a hungry lion, whose prey had just come into sight.
“Do you know anything about this brother?” Elliot asked. Alex shook her head.
“No, not a lot. Bobby was never really willing to talk about him, and I’ve never met him.”
“I’ve met him,” Rosa spat, a sudden vehemence in her voice. “Piece of filth, that’s all he is! Always in trouble, always coming begging to Robert to get him out of it. Piece of filth!”
“What’s his name?” Elliot asked, scribbling something in his notebook.
“Richard,” Alex answered softly, her gaze going to the door of Bobby’s apartment. Elliot saw her attention diverting, and looked around to see the paramedics coming out, guiding the gurney to which Bobby had been secured. Olivia and the uniformed officer followed close behind, watching grimly.
“Detective Eames is going with you,” Elliot told the paramedics firmly, who nodded in agreement. They were in too much of a hurry to get their charge to hospital to argue with the formidable SVU detective.
Throwing a grateful look in Elliot’s direction, Alex left Rosa with him and hurried after the paramedics.
“Holy crap, look at this.”
Elliot and Olivia looked around as Munch and Fin made their way gingerly into the trashed apartment.
“Cragen called you guys out too, huh?” Elliot asked.
“He was in a real state,” Munch answered, shaking his head. “Ranted something about all hands on deck. So what’ve we got?”
“Violent physical and sexual assault,” Olivia answered. “From what we’ve got so far, it started some time last night, before midnight.”
Fin picked his way across to the bedroom, peering in at the CSU officers who were there. He turned away a moment later, whistling softly.
“Sorry son of a bitch must have pissed someone off big time. So who’s the vic?”
Olivia stood up slowly from where she’d been crouching to examine the burned pile of books.
“Cragen didn’t tell you?”
“All Cragen told us was the address, and to get our asses over here as fast as possible,” Fin replied, his face creasing into a deep frown.
“And I, for one, am not happy about getting called out on a Sunday night,” Munch added.
Elliot paused in his own examinations to favour the tall detective with a flat stare.
“Not even when the victim is a cop?”
Fin and Munch stared at him, taken aback.
“A cop?” Fin asked tensely. “Who?”
“Bobby Goren, from Major Case,” Olivia told them.
“Goren?” Fin echoed incredulously. “You’re not serious…”
“Deadly serious,” Olivia said grimly.
“Shit,” Munch muttered. “The Press is gonna be all over this like a rash. So who found him?”
“His neighbour found him,” Elliot explained. “And believe me when I say that poor woman is going to need therapy.”
“Not good?” Fin wondered.
“Massive understatement,” Elliot answered. “The guy was beaten more than half to death, then chained and handcuffed to his own bed, and had the hell sodomised out of him. He’s got two broken legs, two broken hands, his back was whipped to hell and his eyes have been burned. And that’s just for starters.”
“He was tortured?” Munch asked, and Olivia nodded.
“That’s what it looks like. This was a deliberate, planned attack, guys.”
“You realise we’re looking at more than one perp?” Munch asked. “There’s no way in hell that one person could bring down a guy like Goren. Not like this. The guy is over six foot, for Christ’s sake. He’s built like a brick wall.”
“Good luck to us finding a suspect to start with,” Fin muttered as he looked around. “Half of New York’s criminal fraternity could be viable suspects. Goren’s just a little too good at pissing people off.”
“You’re not wrong,” Elliot agreed, “but we do actually have a starting point. Goren postponed having dinner with his neighbour last night because he was apparently expecting a visit from his older brother. And that same neighbour was woken up last night some time before midnight by the sounds of fighting coming from Goren’s apartment.”
“But she didn’t bother calling the local uniforms,” Munch said with a shake of his head.
“She figured that Goren is a cop, and he could handle it, whatever the problem was,” Olivia said.
“We’re going to need you guys to talk to her again,” Elliot told them, “so try not to make an issue of it. She’s feeling guilty enough as it is.”
“Hey, has anyone thought to call Goren’s partner?” Fin asked suddenly. Elliot gave a short laugh.
“Are you kidding us? Eames got here about five minutes after we did. Near as we can figure, Cragen called Deakins, and Deakins called Eames. Anyway, she went with the ambulance to the hospital. We’re going to head there ourselves after we finish here.”
“Okay,” Munch said wearily. “Let’s go talk to the neighbours.”
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