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{maybe she thinks I know something
maybe she thinks it’s fine
maybe she knows something I don’t
I’m so tired, I’m so tired of trying}

The credits are rolling on the Daily Show when Brian finally walks through the door. In his first week as Tucker's protege, there's only been one evening where he got home before ten, and naturally that was the same night you were knee deep in a multi-day missing child search. Altogether, you've seen each other for about three hours since last weekend and you're pretty sure all but maybe five minutes of that were spent fucking.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Nick," you announce loudly before cutting Elliot off and putting the phone down. No doubt he would be sulking over that for the rest of the night. "Hi baby. There's leftover Chinese in the fridge if you're hungry."

He shrugs and says nothing, just stalks into the kitchen and grabs a beer. You assume he must be tired, so you decide not to push it and lie back down on the couch, mentally retracing your steps from earlier to make sure you remembered to dump your empty wine bottles outside. "So what happened to the wall, Olivia?"

"You mean that?" you ask, frowning and nodding toward the infamous hole. "I already told you."

"But now I'm asking you again."

"Bri, I really don't think we need to-"

"Answer the fucking question!" he shouts, slamming the bottle down on the counter.

"Don't talk to me like that," you say in surprised indignation, sitting up and turning around to give him your best disapproving look. "What the hell exactly is your problem?"

"My problem? Well, let's see. Something just didn't sit right with your story, y'know, but I couldn't put my finger on it. And then this morning, all of a sudden I'm thinking...you didn't do it. There's no way."

"Okay..."

He walks over to the scene of the crime, pointing to the hole like this really requires a visual aid. "It's too tall. See? Nobody raises their arm like that to throw a punch."

"Wow, you're really putting those investigative skills to work, detective."

"There's no 'skill' involved, it's called common sense," and you resist the urge to ask why, then, did it take a week for him to figure it out?

"Brian, if there's a point to this..."

"Oh, I'm not done! Cause see, then I thought- hmm. Who do we know that would put a hole in someone else's wall? What kind of douchebag does that?" he asks, and between the rhetorical questions, the pacing back and forth, and the accompanying hand gestures, it was almost like he was enjoying this buildup to a dramatic conclusion.

"Brian."

"It was Elliot!" he barks back at you, and you could hear his imaginary audience gasping in shock. "What the fuck, Liv? Why was he here to break shit in the first place?"

"Why else? He was in the neighborhood, he came by, I opened the door and let him in. Listen, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have-"

"Oh, you think? But what the hell was he doing punching things? I swear to christ- did he hit you? Because if he even raised a hand in your direction-"

"Woah, woah," you say, head starting to throb, and God you would've had a few extra drinks before he got home if you knew this was coming. "First, he would never, ever hit me, and even if he tried- I'm a big girl, I can defend myself. But it wasn't even like that. We weren't fighting, we were talking about trial stuff and...you know how he gets."

"Crazy and violent?"

"No. He just- he was upset that I was upset. If it makes you feel any better, I slapped him and kicked him out after that."

He smiles in a proud, 'that's my girl' sort of way before remembering that he was still pissed at you. "So why the fuck did you tell me you did it?"

"Uh, I don't know, maybe because I knew you'd lose your shit and start accusing him of attacking me? Thanks for proving me wrong, by the way."

He gives you this loud, put-upon sigh, hand resting on the wall as he inspects it again for- what? Was he expecting the hole to disappear? "I thought we kinda agreed he wasn't gonna come around here anymore."

"We did? Where was I when 'we' decided this?"

"You know. That one morning he was hanging out on the couch because you two had a sleepover or what the hell ever."

"Can you not- never mind, I already explained to you what happened that night. But I remember you said you think he's shady, and you don't trust him, we didn't say anything about him being banned from the apartment." You took it on yourself to make sure that Brian didn't know when Elliot came around after that, but it was your own choice, and even before then you had usually decided not to mention it to Brian when you and Elliot were spending time together. It just made things so much simpler when you didn't have to hear him bitching about how he doesn't get why you'd want to hang out with your ex-partner so often, that you didn't see him calling Munch every day to shoot the shit.

"Well yeah, but then we had that whole thing about you not liking people coming over-"

"No, no, that's not what I said. I said I'd appreciate if you let me know there's people here, not- you know what, it doesn't matter. You're not the one who gets to make decisions on who I can or can't be around. It's not how this works."

"This is my place too, I think I get a say. Especially about him."

"Oh, and why him?" you ask.

"Uh, because he's fucking insane?"

"I think you're exaggerating a little there."

"Am I? Who else- other than maybe a gorilla- does shit like that?" He shakes his head. "And that's the problem, because to you, he can do no wrong."

"That is not true. You know that. I call him out on his shit all the time, probably more than his wife does."

"All the time? What, you see him every day now?"

"Yeah, Bri, every day. In my free time." If only, you think to yourself. "Let's be realistic here...no, he shouldn't have done that, but that doesn't make him insane. I'm sorry. About all of it."

"God, what the hell did he do for all those years he didn't have you around to make excuses for him? Must've been harsh."

"Let's not make this about him-"

"What the fuck, it is about him. Just like everything else." When he sees your confused expression, he rolls his eyes in an Oscar-worthy display of annoyance. "You just don't get it, do you? You're so hung up on him that you can't even see it. It was bad enough when you weren't speaking to each other, but now...goddamn."

"Goddamn what? I talk to him once or twice a week, I don't really think that's excessive."

"That's not the point," he says, still scowling.

"Then by all means, let's get to it."

"Point is, why waste your energy defending him when he doesn't give a shit about you?"

"What the hell's that supposed to mean?" if someone really cared about you, they wouldn't put you in second place, you hear Nick's voice chime in unhelpfully.

"I think he's done a pretty good job of proving that he doesn't! What happens when he takes off again? You're gonna spend another two years in mourning?"

"Again, what the fuck are you talking about? I didn't...I was over it. I am over it," you correct yourself. You had moved on. You found someone else, and you were happy- no. You are happy. This is your life now, now that you've finally let go of believing that there's ever going to be a future for you and Elliot. This is how it's going to stay.

"No. No, you're not. Maybe you've let him off the hook, but now you just go and take it out on me." You open your mouth to argue and he cuts you off before you can even get a single syllable out. "Oh, c'mon. I'm never gonna measure up to him in your eyes. And if your perfect Elliot can dick you over, then what chance do I ever have of you actually trusting me?"

"Don't. Just...don't drag him into it. That's between you and me and I'm not going to have this 'I don't trust you' argument again. How many times do we have to do this?"

"I don't know, Liv, you tell me. How many?"

"It was-"

"A rhetorical question," he says. "Yeah, yeah. But you don't know the answer, because there isn't one. You're just gonna keep on punishing me cause some other dickhead who I have no control over let you down."

"How the fuck am I punishing you? And if you say I don't trust you one more time, I swear to christ...there's no conspiracy here. I'm not out to deliberately make you suffer because you think I'm angry at Elliot or...whoever," you add, gesturing vaguely toward the ceiling as if there's someone looming overhead.

"No, but you deliberately lied- don't look at me like that! You're a liar, Olivia, and I know this isn't some one-off thing."

«Liar.»

You're all but literally knocked down by a wave of dread, your head suddenly feeling too heavy for your neck to support and your throat constricting around a lump that seems to be growing exponentially second by second. "Whatever. I can't..."

«you can either shut up and let me fuck that lying mouth of yours, or I'll do you right now just like this. I don't give a fuck.»

"You can't. Are we ever going to be able to finish a conversation here?" he shouts from behind you as you head straight toward the bathroom, hand on the wall to steady yourself as you go. "What did I tell you about not locking that goddamn door?!"

"Fuck off!" You drum on the door with your fists, trying to drown out the pounding coming from the other side until you stumble backwards, barely able to keep your head from bearing the brunt of the impact as you hit the linoleum.

«shit, you weren't lying when you said you'd never...lucky me, getting to be your first»

"Jesus Christ, are you-"

"I'm fine! But what the fuck do you care?" you ask, scooting back along the floor so you can lean against the cabinet under the sink.

"You're right, as always. I don't."

«you'd pretend that this didn't happen? you're lying»

You hear him rummaging through the closet, and then comes the telltale jingle of keys. "Oh, so now you're gonna run out on me? That'll solve everything."

"Yeah, well, I learned from the best!"

«you can lie but we both know you loved it. you were begging for it.»

"Know what- if you're going, just go. Just storm away and leave me the hell alone since I apparently make life so hard for you."

«he'll say it doesn't change anything, that he doesn't think of you any differently. but he's as much of a liar as you are.»

You hear him mutter 'you fucking bitch' just loudly enough for him to be sure that you heard, and then you don't hear anything at all.

{maybe she’ll help me to untie this
but until then, well, I’m gonna have to lie too}

"Oh. Fuck that's good."

Elliot groans in response as you keep rocking against him, straddling his lap while one of his hands slides down inside your panties. "Liv. God."

"Shit. Yeah, like that, don't stop-"

*KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK*

You're both so startled, it's really quite amazing that no one's head bumped against the ceiling. "I thought you said he'd text first! Motherfuc-"

"No, no, that's not him, he doesn't knock like that," you say in a loud whisper, hurrying to the door to see who's on the other side. "Goddamnit, it's Nick! Get in my room."

"No way, I wanna meet Junior," and of course he does.

"Be right there!" you call out, closing your eyes briefly. You don't have time to argue with Elliot, not when you're trying to zip up your pants and pull your shirt back on and where the fucking hell has your bra gone? "Fine, whatever, just...please just sit there and be quiet."

"Won't even know I'm here," and yeah, you sure believe that one. You give up on finding your bra and throw on a sweatshirt of Brian's, glancing backwards to make sure Elliot's decent before you open the door and try to look casual.

"Hey, you left your phone in my car so I thought I'd drop it off," Nick explains, and he definitely senses there's something going on even before his eyes land on the figure on the couch. "Oh! Elliot?"

Nick invites himself in, breezing on past you, and you jab him in the side as he goes by as a general admonishment for him to behave (or better yet, to leave). "Um, yeah. Nick, Elliot. Elliot, Nick."

"You didn't tell me you had company, Liv," and for all the subtlety in his voice, he might as well have gone ahead and announced 'I know you two are fucking!' You were really gonna have to work on that with him.

"I wasn't planning on it, but Elliot thought he'd come by and say hello because he's got time to kill before he's meeting his daughters for dinner." It was all true, even if it's a bit difficult to greet someone in the conventional way when you've got your tongue in their mouth and they've got their hand down your pants.

"To say hello," Nick repeats, grinning like the madman he is while taking a seat right in the middle of your couch, not seeming to notice or care that Elliot doesn't particularly appreciate strangers intruding on his personal space. "What a great guy, yeah? Man, Elliot, the things I've heard about you. You're like a fucking living legend."

Elliot looks over his shoulder at you as if to ask whether Nick might have recently sustained some sort of head injury. You frown apologetically and goddamn, it's really bothering you that you still don't see your bra anywhere. It had to be somewhere between the door and the couch, so there's not that many places it could be...but where the fuck is it hiding?

"Nick, you should-" You're interrupted by your ringing phone, and you glance at it to see that the caller is a detective in Seattle who you've been playing phone tag with for days. "Shit, you guys, I need to take this."

"Go for it," Elliot says, both of them appearing way too enthusiastic about the chance to have some time to themselves.

You know this is a bad idea, but what other choice do you have? "I'm going in my room, and if I hear anything going on out here...jesus, please just don't. Don't do anything."

They each nod like children who are going straight for the cookie jar the moment Mom's back is turned, and you have the feeling that by the time you're done, they're either going to be making friendship bracelets or staging a duel to the death. You're not sure which one scares you more.

You peek into the living room several times while you're on the phone, and the tones of their voices sound way too hostile for your liking- even though neither of them are talking loudly enough for you to make out what they're saying. By the time the call is over, it's far too quiet out there for them to be up to anything good, and you've started wondering if you could throw a blanket on them to break up a fight. Isn't that how you're supposed to separate dogs when they attack each other?

You're surprised (both pleasantly and unpleasantly) to come out and find them both chuckling. "So now everybody's hanging around, right, and Liv's all 'shut up, we're not discussing this'. And her face, man, she was gonna kill him."

"Nick, what the hell are you doing?" you ask tiredly, refilling your wine glass and not bothering to offer drinks to anyone else.

"Telling my new friend here the story about Cassidy and the hooker."

"Which one?" It's out of your mouth before your brain can catch up, and the two assholes in your living room are already snickering before you can rephrase. Should've known it wouldn't take long for them to find a common interest. “Fuck you both. Storytime’s done.”

Glass in hand, you go to sit down in between them, gesturing for Nick to move over. Which he does- by scooting closer to Elliot and pointing you toward the far side of the couch like an overprotective father who's going to make sure there's no shenanigans going down on his watch. "Brian's a big shot now, Elliot, did Liv tell you that?"

"God, of course, heard all about it. Still don't get why he's the chosen one."

"I don't either," you admit, "but at least he's happy. Never home, but he's happy."

"First you bitch about how the department treats him like shit, now you bitch about how he's always gone. Women- you just can't please 'em," Nick says, ribbing you good-naturedly while you and Elliot exchange glances over his head.

"Well, Nick, thanks for bringing that by. I'm sure you're busy, you've probably got somewhere else to be," you say pointedly, begging him with your eyes to find somewhere else to be in the next 30 seconds.

"What? Nah, I'm good, thanks," and the son of a bitch doesn't even have the decency to hide the smirk on his face. "I'm not...interrupting anything, am I?"

You make plans to murder him in his sleep while he starts in on a story about his kids, silently pleading with Elliot to just stay quiet and let you handle it. While Nick is all smiles for now, you know he's just waiting for any excuse to let his predecessor have it, and he would see being told to leave so that you and Elliot could screw as a very good excuse indeed.

Fortunately, Elliot's and your telepathic conversation game is still strong. Realizing that Nick wasn't going to leave until he did, Elliot stands up while Nick is still in mid-ramble. "Kids, man, kids are the best. I've already told Liv I get to be the godfather if-"

"God, El, is it time for you to go already?" you ask for Nick's benefit as Elliot reaches for his coat.

That gets Nick moving. "Wait up, man, I'd better be going too."

"What the hell are you up to?" you hiss at him, but he just grins and pats your shoulder before leaning in to whisper back at you.

"Just so you know- your bra's under the couch."

{it seems to me that maybe, it pretty much always means no
so don’t tell me you might just let it go}

When Elliot left, you were under the impression that he wasn't going to be gone long. You guessed that ten minutes or so would be enough to get the alpha male posturing out of their systems, so when you looked out the window and caught a glimpse of them snarling at each other on the street below, you just sighed and went to lie down on the couch while you waited. If it devolved into a fistfight, you didn't want to be a witness- as one of your instructors at the academy had put it, what you don't know, you can't be subpoenaed for.

Over a half hour later, Elliot finally came knocking. "What the fuck took you so long?" you ask, relieved that he didn't seem to have any (visible) injuries.

"Junior and I had things to discuss."

He tries to divert your attention by kissing you, but you're not letting him off that easily. "Like what?"

"Don't worry about it. We're good, him and I, we came to an agreement."

"Great," you say, shaking your head because you can only imagine what sort of 'agreement' they could come up with together. You lean into him tiredly, closing your eyes and yawning as his fingers comb through your hair. "You're gonna be late meeting the girls."

"When was the last time you actually slept?" he asks, ignoring your warning.

"Uh, I slept yesterday."

"More than two hours at a time?"

"Few days," you admit with another yawn.

"Liv...you look exhausted as hell."

"Uh, thank you? I'll be fine, really, I'll go to bed when Brian gets back. I promise."

"Yeah, and when's that?"

You shrug with one shoulder. "Don't know. He's got a thing he has to go to early in the morning tomorrow, but he said he thought he'd still make it home sometime tonight."

"Uh-huh. Come on, let's go," he says, nudging you in the direction of your bedroom.

"El, what are you doing? I told you, I'm fine," you say, regretting that you ever told him you couldn't fall asleep alone. You still hadn't been able to do any better than dozing off for a few minutes at a time, stuck in that frightening place between sleeping and waking where you can't distinguish dreams from reality. "And you should get going or else you'll really be late."

"Nah. If you stopped being so stubborn and just laid down and closed your eyes, I guarantee you'd be fucking passed out in ten minutes. You'll be okay if you wake up with no one there?"

"I do it every day, I think I'll live."

He nods tightly, rubbing his hands together. "Yeah. So I'll just let myself out once you're asleep. Now c'mon, I'm not leaving until then."

"Okay, okay," you say, pulling a shirt and pajama pants out of the dresser drawer. As irritated as you are at being bossed around like a difficult child, you can't pretend that the idea of sleep doesn't seem pretty damn appealing right about now.

When you go to undo the top button of your shirt he stops you. "Huh-uh, I wanna do it."

You bite your lip as you watch him frown in concentration, his fingers fumbling with the impossibly tiny little buttons, and you start unbuckling your belt simply to have something to do with your hands. He reaches behind you to pull your shirt down over your arms, and now you're naked except for your underwear and he's kissing your bare shoulder and murmuring fuck, you're so perfect against your skin.

And sometimes it's these little things that seem the most insane of all, that this is you and that's him and you are really doing this. It's always been easy to imagine a time when tensions are running high and defenses are running low and you give into the temptation of a quick fuck, explosive in its intensity. But this is another thing altogether, these quiet, deliberate moments where you're almost afraid to breathe for fear of distracting from the sanctity of it all. It's not hormones, it's not desperation or sexual frustration. You understand all of those. This is something entirely different, a slow burn that's all consuming and scary as hell. These are the moments that change everything.

"You need to sleep," he says, fingertips brushing across the top of your outer thigh.

"I know, I'm getting there."

He chuckles, hand sliding up over your hip. "I was reminding myself. Because otherwise..."

"Oh?" You purse your lips together in a teasing smile, stepping closer to him so your breasts are deliberately pressing against his chest. "Something you want-" Your seduction attempt is abruptly curtailed when you can't fight back a yawn, and both of you laugh as you shake your head and reach for your pajama pants. "Yeah, okay, you made your point."

You finish changing and climb into bed, halfway on top of your favorite pillow and legs stretched out so you're almost lying diagonally across the mattress. He sits down next to you and your back rests against his side, his warm hand rubbing between your shoulder blades. "When do I get to see you again?"

"I'm off Tuesday afternoon once I'm done at the therapist's."

"I can't do Tuesday, gotta go to the airport and pick up the twins. Unless they're still trapped inside cause of the snow, then you might be in luck."

You nod, giving into the urge to let your heavy eyelids finally close. "Sometimes I don't know how much longer I can stand it, you know? Waiting. It's been a long fucking time."

"I promised you, it's your decision when...I'm just following your lead."

"Yeah. I just...after that, it really feels like the point of no return. There's no more telling myself 'but at least we haven't'..."

You can feel him shake his head as he shifts to wrap one arm around you. "Honestly? Liv...we've been past that point for a long time now."

{I know that when she said she’s gonna try
that it might not work because of other ties}

It might have just been a dream, but you could swear he said 'I love you' before he kissed your cheek and got up to leave.

You're so fucked.

{I know she knows it’s not right
there ain’t no use in lying}