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As Blue As I Go

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{and now this weighs on me
as heavy as stone and as blue as I go}

"Aren't you going to turn into a pumpkin soon?" Nick asks, sitting down at his desk with a fresh cup of coffee.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm going," you mumble, engrossed in what you're reading.

"Actually, you're sitting still. Dunno if you knew."

"Do you have any idea how tired I am of being babysat?" you snap, instantly regretting it. "Sorry. I'm sorry. I know it's not your fault, but I'm so fucking sick of this."

"I've got a stack of paperwork you're welcome to take with you if it makes you feel better about being sent home."

"Yeah, give it to me."

He looks surprised. "You serious?"

"I owe you after Saturday, don't I?"

"We'll consider that debt erased if you just tell me who you were busy not hooking up with."

You are not sure what possessed you to tell Nick you'd give him a recap in the first place, other than wanting to assure him that you weren't heading off to carry out a hit or meet up with some covert fuckbuddy. Of course, when you made that promise you were planning on simply having a few drinks with Elliot and then saying fuck you and goodbye, end of story. You are in the midst of thinking up a believable alternate version of your evening when Barba approaches.

"Olivia- just who I wanted to see. Can I have a moment?"

"She actually has all the moments you want, because she's just about to leave," Nick pipes up. "Unless she has to hurry home to let the dog out."

"Nick," you groan at the same time as he congratulates himself for being such a comedian and Barba says "Wait, since when do you have a dog?"

"Who needs pets when you have this guy as a partner?" You gather up your stuff and give Nick a smug grin, because you can play that game every bit as well as he can. "Don't forget tomorrow's my day off- but give me a call if anything happens. I mean it."

"Yeah, yeah. Tell Cassidy I send him my love."

"Is this what I miss out on all day while I'm trapped in my office alone? Witty banter?" Barba asks as the two of you head toward the elevator, looking amused.

"Oh yes. Between that and the inappropriate flirting from certain people, it's a wonder that we accomplish anything sometimes. So what's going on? Is it about the Navarro case? If you came to tell me that she's a real treat then believe me, I already know."

"Well- she is," he agrees. "But this is...I wanted to tell you personally instead of over the phone. Could I give you a ride home and we can talk on the way?"

"Yeah, of course," you say, instantly imagining any number of terrible things he could have to tell you. You're silent on the trip down, your stomach plunging several stories before the elevator even descends a single floor, and by the time you get to the car you are sucking your bottom lip into your mouth to try and stop the bleeding from where you had been chewing on it a bit too forcefully. You turn to him as soon as you shut the car door behind you. "Okay, I can't- just tell me."

"I got a letter from Lewis's attorney today. A notice to appear for a deposition."

"And- wait. For me?" He nods. "Why the fuck would they do that? They never do that."

"To try to trip you up, try to find holes in your story. They're going to try and push the idea that it was consensual."

"You don't think I know this? It was a rhetorical question, jesus. Does no one understand those anymore?"

"I know it's not the best news. But it's not in a courtroom and only in front of a few people. He won't be there."

"I'm aware of how it works! I don't need you to explain it; I've seen it all before," you say, massaging the bridge of your nose in a futile attempt to get rid of the headache that you've felt coming on since you woke up.

He frowns sympathetically. "I'm sorry, you're right. I realize this is difficult. But I also know you've already survived the worst of it, so you'll get through this."

"Oh my god. No," you say firmly. "You don't get to tell me that, okay? Do you know how many people have said that to me? Hell, do you know how many people I've said that to? Because guess what, it's bullshit."

"You don't feel like things are getting better as time goes on?"

"No. Yes. I don't fucking know. I can see some things where- I know I've made progress. But I can't depend on it. I might be having a great day in the morning and by noontime it's all shot to hell and I feel like this is it, this has to be my rock bottom, but it never is. It gets better and it gets worse at the same fucking time and I am so goddamn frustrated. So if you know when I'll finally bottom out, I'd love to hear it."

"I wish I could, Olivia. I wish there was a lot more I could do for you."

You shake your head. "There's nothing anyone can do. Not even me, I don't think. At least when it was happening, when he was...I got myself through it by thinking okay, this isn't going to last forever. Someone's gonna find me, or I'll be dead, and that'll be it. It'll stop."

"And it did."

"Yeah. But now...I see it in my head all day," and you don't know why you are volunteering all this, but there's a certain comfort in thinking that he already knows everything. He's not going to be shocked or horrified or press you for details you're not ready to give because there are really no secrets between you two when it comes to your whole ordeal. "I try to stay busy, to not give myself a chance to think, but it's there. I see the same things over and over again and I think of all the shit I should've done differently and how could I have let this happen and. I can't even tell myself it's going to be over soon, because no one's going to rescue me from my own mind, not when I sure as hell haven't been able to. It just doesn't stop."

And it won't stop, even in your dreams.

{I've this creeping suspicion
that things here are not as they seem}

You didn't expect to doze off.

Seeing as how it normally takes a concerted effort for you to fall asleep, an elaborate ritual where something as small as an unfamiliar shadow on the wall can mean the difference between actually getting some rest and lying awake all night, it was a rare occasion indeed when you drifted off all alone on the couch, the book you had in your hand falling to the floor.

Your dreams have changed lately. Instead of you being the one in peril, it's Brian. They're all different, but the underlying theme is always the same, he dies over and over and your struggle to save him is always in vain. You wake up with a start and reach for him before you can even open your eyes, watching the rise and fall of his chest for minutes upon minutes upon hours, unable to look away until you convince yourself that he is very much okay or until you give in to sheer exhaustion.

You've never told him about the dreams, perhaps out of a misplaced sense of guilt that you're somehow failing him even in your sleep. But you think he knows. Sometimes you wake up and see him looking at you through hooded eyes, and neither of you have to say anything because you already understand what it's like to need that certainty, to know that the other is warm and safe and alive for as long as you can watch over them.

And then there are the other dreams, the ones where you and Elliot are screwing each other's brains out. There's really no other more delicate way to put it, and you are just grateful that the two storylines have never intersected because holy hell, you can't even imagine how many extra hours in therapy that would cost you. But for now you can deal with them, because they're better than the nightmares, and if sometimes you mentally replay them when you're alone and your hand slips in between your legs...well, you don't see how that's relevant to anything. That sort of stuff just happens now and then. For no reason at all.

Tonight's dream, though, is unlike any of the others. A red haze hangs over the scene like a filter even as your surroundings come into focus. You're standing in the doorway of the bedroom in that horrible beach house, peering around the doorframe like a little child snooping on their parents, and you've returned to this place in your dreams night after night but this time is different. This time you're looking at yourself from outside your body, watching as you walk back and forth across the room. The dream-you is talking to herself, muttering something you can't understand, yet you can hear what's going on inside her head with perfect clarity and oh god this is bad, this is really fucking bad.

He's on the ground and you remember this part, remember how you struggled to get free before you knocked the son of a bitch out. But things get murky after that. You try to send some sort of telepathic message to dream-you, urging her to run while she has the chance even though you know it's not going to happen that way. She's turning the gun over and over in her hands, and it's streaked red with blood, the same blood that's on the floor and the bed and trickling down her thighs. Run, you say. Run before he comes after you again, because he will, and you don't know when or how but you know it'll happen. You may not remember the actual moment itself, but you remember exactly what you told the officer in Cragen's office. «he managed to get to a standing position and lunge at me.» Now she's wandering around the room aimlessly and there's nothing you can do because she won't listen, she can't hear anything other than the traumatized voice in her head that's screaming makeitstopmakeitstopmakeitstop. She wants to kill him, knows a single shot is all it would take, but she doesn't trust herself to pull the trigger without turning the gun on herself at the last possible second.

It's not that she wants to die. It's that she can't be sure that she wants to live, not like this, but she doesn't get a chance to decide because he's awake again. He lifts his head and says something that you wouldn't be able to hear even if you were paying attention. You're not, because you're too busy watching helplessly, powerless to intervene or even blink because with every second that passes you become more convinced that this is it. It's like watching a horror movie and yelling at the heroine on screen to stay out of the old abandoned mansion because it's a trap- only this time it's not a movie. It's you and it's real and you know what happens but dream-you won't listen when you shout at her to stop talking and get away. You wish you could close your eyes and block it all out so that you don't have to see him get free again, don't have to watch yourself fighting for your very survival while all you can do is stand frozen in place, paralyzed and mute.

The conversation continues out of your range of hearing. You are growing more and more frustrated, aware enough to know this is a flashback but not lucid enough to bring yourself back to reality. It's okay, you say, trying to remind yourself that you know how this ends. You're going to survive. But now dream-you has turned her back to the man on the floor and you hold your breath because this is it, this has to be it. Your heart rate is speeding up and time is slowing down and your unblinking eyes turn from her to him, watching for the slightest hint of movement. You're so focused that you don't see anything but him, you don't see dream-you reaching for that metal bar until she lunges toward him and ohfuckohshitohgodohgodohgod...

You wake up screaming.

{reassure me
oh why do I feel as if I'm in too deep?}

"And now I just- I can't. I'm fucked. I'm so fucked. I'm-"

"You're fucked, I got that part. But Liv- are you listening? Liv? You're sure. You're absolutely sure that it wasn't just a dream, you're not imagining there any way this might not be what actually happened?"

"El, I'm sure." You had been sure before you even stopped screaming, a thousand pieces of previously forgotten memories falling into place like a mirror shattering in reverse.

"Wrong!" Elliot says sharply, watching you pace in circles around the living room from where he sits on the couch. "First rule of depositions- there are no absolutes. If they ask if there's any possible way, you tell them anything is possible."

"Okay, well, off the record, I'm sure. Oh god, what am I going to do? That's it, I'm fucked."

"So let me make sure I've got this straight. He's down, he's not going anywhere. Is there anything you remember, anything at all that he did that could even remotely be considered an imminent threat?"

"Anything's possible."

"That's my girl. Now we're talking," and this is why he's the one, why there's nobody else you'd call in the middle of the night with nothing to say but «get over here now, I'm fucked». "But seriously. Is there?"

Lips pursed together, you shake your head.

"Well. Fuck."

"See?! I'm so stupid, why the hell was I so goddamn stupid. I can't believe I lied about it." You groan, looking upward at the ceiling as though the answer might be written in the swirls of fresh paint.

"Why did you?" he asks, tone unaccusing. "Off the record."

"I. I wanted to go home." You were exhausted, petrified of every little sound or sudden movement, and the pain was overwhelming. It was a struggle to even force a single word out. You had been trapped for what felt like days in the captain's office, recounting every moment in agonizing detail. Your whole body seemed to be covered in bandages and you had stitches in places you didn't even want to think about. "I know, it's ridiculous, I know, but...I wasn't thinking. I had been sitting there for so long and I just couldn't fucking take it anymore."

"But I thought you said that you didn't remember what happened?"

"I didn't. Not really, but I remembered hitting him and so I kinda...filled in the rest because I never. I knew I must have had a reason. And all that was going through my head was, if I said I didn't remember, I would have to answer a thousand follow up questions and so..."

"So you gave it your best guess," he supplies.

"I know it was wrong, okay? It was wrong and it was completely irrational but I literally couldn't talk about him for one more second. I was reliving the whole thing again and I could still feel him all over me and." Your voice cracks, lowering to a whisper. "I just wanted to go home, El."

"No. Stop that. Nobody gets to fault you for being irrational right then. Not even you, got it?" He leans back, crossing his arms over his chest. "But yeah, you're really fucked."


"But listen. Listen. Do you remember what you said last weekend? About us being experts at fucking up? If anyone can get themselves out of this, Liv, it's you."

"So what do I do?" you ask, eyebrow raised.

"The only thing you can do. You settle on your story and stick to it."

"So, perjury. Because that's kinda what I was trying to get away from."

"It's your word against his. The 'truth' belongs to whoever's the most convincing." Upon seeing the look you were giving him, he continues. "Hey, I didn't say it was a good option. I said you don't really have any other choice."

"Yeah. I...I know. I'm already committed to it, to this version. Can't go back on it now. But I wish..."

"Should've killed him."

"I thought I did." You know that Elliot probably can't understand why you didn't just put a bullet in his head. In some ways, you can't either. But then your mind goes back to the living room in the Mayer's house, waking up on the couch with him on top of you. «hope you weren't getting jealous back there, sweetheart. Aww, don't worry, you're still my favorite», and there is blood on his hands and for once it isn't yours, «you and me, we have chemistry, don't we? I know just how to get you off», and you turn your head because you're gonna be sick and you squeeze your eyes closed, «shit you're so fucking tight, is that why you don't want me to fuck you? You saving yourself for someone? Or god, don't tell me you're one of those insecure girls, they think they've got nothin to offer but being a good lay, fucking pathetic», breathe breathe breathe this is not happening, «which way do you want me to do you?», and you are going to end up dead like the old man lying on the floor, «tell me how much you want it», or maybe you are dead already, «not good enough. Gonna have to do better than that», and you hear the smacking sound before you even feel the slap of his hand across your face, «I will fucking go up there and kill her if you don't start begging for it like the whore that you are», godgodnogodohgodnonono...

You are clutching the back of the couch to keep yourself standing, knuckles white and nails digging into the fabric while your legs struggle to not give out from under you. For a moment you don't remember that there's anyone else in the room or even remember where you are, eyes glazed over and staring straight ahead, but then Elliot's familiar form comes into view and you start shaking your head because no. Nonono. You don't want him to see you like this because no one has, no one but Brian. He needs to go away. Now he's saying something, voice quiet and steady, it's okay, Liv, you're here at home with me and you're okay, and the words start to make sense even though you still can't form a response.

"Can you hear me?" he asks, and you're finally able to give him a little nod, hand lifting slightly to warn him not to come any closer. "Got it. I'll stay back, see? Should I- do you want me to call him?"

"No." You swallow hard, all your effort focused on breathing in and out. He's still talking and you don't understand most of it, but it's okay, it's enough to keep you grounded in the present. It feels safe. He waits until he's certain that you see him before gesturing toward the kitchen, telling you he's going to go get you something to drink and making sure he gives you a wide berth as he walks past.

By the time he comes back your heart is still pounding, but you are aware enough to know that you are going to be supremely pissed with yourself for this once you manage to get your shit together. He shouldn't see you like this. Shouldn't see how bad things really get. "I. I think I need to lie down. I'm just gonna...yeah."

You're unsteady on your feet as you shuffle toward your bedroom, and he patiently follows behind you, keeping his distance and promising that he only wants to be sure that you don't fall. You wonder if he thinks you're afraid of him, and the thought makes your chest ache just that much more.

He stands in the doorway as you half-fall into bed, automatically wrapping the comforter tightly around yourself. Trying to make it all go away. When you peer over at him, you see he is looking back at you, watching and waiting as if he's prepared to stand guard there all night if that's what you needed. And you know without a doubt that he would.

You can barely hear your own voice when you reach your hand out. "Hey...c'mere. Stay."

{I was just wondering if you'd come along
hold up my head when my head won't hold on}