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Out Into The Light

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«ah, look who it is. I was wondering when you'd finally come around here. Knew it was just a matter of time. Although, I have to admit I thought you'd show up much sooner.»

«Know you? I know all about you. You're the one who didn't love her back.»

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{Is it getting better, or do you feel the same?}

The text comes earlier than you expect. [be home in 10. mb we can talk??]

You hesitate, debating whether Brian would actually believe that you were asleep at this time of night, but then you remember that for all he knew, you'd worked nonstop through the weekend. Deciding it didn't matter when he'd soon know you were awake anyway, you type [ok] without specifying what it was that you were agreeing to and toss the phone onto the other side of the bed, getting undressed before lying down again.

He wanted to talk. You did not. You'd been avoiding that very thing ever since that night when he walked out on you, only to come back an hour later to find you (pretending to be) sleeping. The next morning he was gone and there was a note sitting atop your phone saying [hey I shouldn't have left like that. I wanna work this out ok?]

You returned to an empty apartment again that evening, but he must have come home at some point because there were flowers sitting on the dining room table next to a post-it with a smiling face on it. Chrissakes.

When he finally got into bed next to you sometime after midnight, you yawned and rolled over to face him like you had just woken up. "Hey."

"Hi babe," he said, not moving any closer to you.

"We're okay," you promised, reaching out and brushing his hair back from his forehead. "We don't...there's nothing to talk about, we're okay. I won't lie to you like that again."

He had just frowned and nodded in response, too tired to take the conversation any further, and you'd hoped that could be the end of that. But apparently he hadn't given up, because now after days of successful avoidance you have this latest text.

Good thing you have a plan. You close your eyes as your hand lazily wanders to one of your breasts, circling the nipple with your fingers and tugging at it a bit as it hardens. Giving yourself a head start was crucial, as you needed to be ready to go when he got home so that he had as little time to think about it as possible. The longer you spent messing around, the more chances he had to catch on to what you were trying to do, so it would be best to just get straight to the fucking.

As your hand drifts down lower, your mind also starts drifting. Elliot might not believe it, but you honestly didn't find yourself thinking of him when you were having sex with Brian. When you were alone, though...well. That was a different story altogether. You let out a soft sigh, paging through your mental dream scrapbook. You're still having the same dreams almost every night, usually revolving around Elliot either holding you down or pinning you against the wall and fucking the hell out of you, fast and rough. You haven't yet figured out what all that says about you, and frankly you're not about to ask your therapist (or anyone, for that matter).

Getting yourself worked up is easier than you thought it would be, so you slow down the motion of your fingers, going back to teasing yourself lightly and imagining Elliot's mouth in their place. He hadn't called or texted since morning, which was unusual for a Sunday but you hadn't thought too much of it. It did make your evening a little lonely, and you're thankful that you had resisted the urge to compensate by having a few extra drinks, because otherwise you might have found yourself in the position of having to Talk. You still couldn't even stomach the idea of doing anything remotely sexual if you were more than a little buzzed, and you didn't know if that need to be in complete control would change anytime soon. Hell, there were a lot of things you didn't expect would ever change. Welcome to Olivia 2.0. New and imp- well. Maybe just new.

A knock at the door comes at just the right time, when you're getting restless and struggling to hold back, and you hold your breath as you listen for anything to suggest he was headed in this direction. Leave it to Brian to decide that this was the night to go straight to the kitchen and start in on making some five course meal.

Fortunately for all concerned, your absence from the living room seemed to make him curious enough to go investigate where you were hiding. God help him if he was assuming that you were locked in the bathroom again.

Your lucky streak continues when he looks to the bed first, not the door at the far side of the room, meaning that you don't have to strangle him before you even have the chance to get off. "Babe?"

"Mmm? I'm here," you answer, and the breathy edge to your voice catches his attention right away.

"Oh?" You push yourself up on your elbows when he comes to sit down on your side of the bed, waiting for him to catch a glimpse of your bare chest. "Starting without me again?"

"More like trying to keep myself busy until you got your ass over here to fuck me."

If he's aware that this is an attempt at distraction, he doesn't appear to give a shit. You figured it wouldn't be that difficult- after all, he had to be tired after a long day and finding his naked girlfriend in bed had to be more appealing than having a Serious Conversation. "Yeah? Fuck...show me."

You push back the blanket you had draped over your lower half and go back to stroking yourself slowly while he looks on in appreciation. He doesn't waste any time in getting undressed himself, still perched on the edge of the bed with his hand wrapped around his already hard cock, and you know he can't see all that much in the darkness but he seems pretty mesmerized anyway.

"How do you wanna do this?" he asks a few minutes later, fingers crooked slightly inside of you while his mouth travels along the outside curve of your breast, and you tilt your head to the side to signal that you were trying to turn onto your stomach. You still (wouldn't? couldn't?) do it face to face, but this was better than being on your side when you seriously wanted to be fucked. Like right now.

You both fall silent once he starts rocking into you, save for quiet sighs and groans and the occasional drawn-out moan. It's getting better every time, and you know he's still consciously holding back, but he keeps promising it's even better than he remembered, god you're so fucking tight, you feel amazing.

So he's thoroughly enjoying himself, and you are...getting there. He pulls out right away after he's finished, knowing you're not going to come like this, and he's still touching you and you're still shuddering when the phone rings.

It's Barba, who doesn't usually call late on a Sunday night just to catch up on how your weekend's been. Tonight is no exception.

"You'd better get down here as soon as you can- it's not something I want to discuss over the phone," he says, and his voice makes you feel cold all over.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

«So what is it that finally brings you here? Just envy that I did her first? Jealousy can be a powerful thing...but it's not like you didn’t have the chance. You just didn't take it, and now she’s always gonna be mine.»

«Really? You think you'll fuck her without thinking about me? Without wondering what we did? Because I know damn well she won't tell you on her own, if it was up to her I'm sure no one would ever know. Maybe I should do her a favor and fill you in on it?»

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

{will it make it easier on you now that you’ve got someone to blame?}

When you get to Barba's office, the suspicion you had about this being Really Bad only magnifies tenfold. You'd seen him on stressful late nights before, but never like this, pacing back and forth behind his desk and rubbing his temples with both hands.

"Hey, I'm here. What's going on?" and you know this can't be about any other case, this is about you.

"Please. Please tell me you had no idea whatsoever about what your boyfriend was up to."

"Brian? He was at work, I don't-"

"Not him. Your other boyfriend." You frown and he looks exasperated, eyes closing briefly. "A Mr. Stabler."

"What? Elliot? He's my ex-partner, not my-"

"Yeah. Whatever he is- I never thought I'd say this, but I like Brian better. Much better."

"Will you please just tell me what's going on here and what Elliot has to do with anything?" you ask, and he stops moving, holding onto the back of his chair and staring directly at you.

"You really don't know."

"No, I don't. He doesn't exactly consult me before he makes decisions."

Barba seems satisfied of your ignorance and sits down, motioning for you to do the same. "Elliot went up to Bellevue to see Lewis this afternoon."

"He." The room is silent and yet your ears are ringing, temporarily deafening you as if someone had struck a gong right behind your head. "I. He. I."

"You really didn't know," he says, a look of mild panic on his face.

"No! I told you I...no. No, no, no. He didn't."

You're gripping onto the edge of the desk like it's the only thing keeping you upright, still shaking your head, and he puts his own head in his hands briefly. "Olivia, I'm sorry. I thought maybe he had mentioned the idea at some point, that you might have known-"

"I told you I don't know anything!" you shout, and now it's your turn to stand up and start pacing on unsteady legs, your knees feeling like they might buckle with every step.

"Okay. I believe you, I do," he says, getting up to move over to the couch and gesturing for you to do the same thing. "Maybe you should sit down? Do you want some water?"

"I'm fucking fine, just tell...me what happened," you bark at him, pausing mid-sentence when you very nearly lose your footing over nothing.

"Your- Elliot has friends, or at least sympathizers, working at Bellevue that helped him arrange this little tete a tete. Evidently he thought that he could, ahem, persuade Lewis to take the plea deal by leaning on him a bit." He presses his lips into a thin line when he sees your disbelieving expression, nodding in agreement. "I strongly suspect this plan was hatched with more emotion than reason."

"Please tell me everyone still has all their limbs."

"Perhaps a little worse for the wear, but yes. I was told it didn't get physical until- as I understand it, they were talking through the glass. When they went to take him back to his cell, Mr. Stabler went through some side door he was not supposed to, knowing that he'd come face to face with them on their way back to the psych unit. His...collaborators say they didn't know about this part of the plan ahead of time, but they conveniently met up out of range of the security cameras."

"Of course they did." You grab onto the desk for support once again, head bowed, and this time you give in when Barba suggests that maybe you need to sit down. "So what's the damage?"

"Lewis? Uh, couple of chipped teeth, broken nose, dislocated shoulder. They said they pulled Stabler off of him quickly- relatively quickly. The two guards that were there...I don't think they were in that much of a rush."

There's a part of you that feels like this news should at least give you some sort of smug satisfaction, but right now you can't feel much of anything except anger. Not yet, at least...maybe after you slap Elliot again, that might be satisfying. "But he's okay. Elliot is."

"Physically, yes. In terms of good judgment...he's pretty seriously deficient." Barba looks like he's just found out that his pre-trial workload has increased tenfold, which it probably has. It'll be a merry fucking Christmas for both of you.

"If it's...I'm going to kill him, I'm going to murder that son of a bitch. I can't believe he'd-" Actually, you can believe it. If anything surprises you, it should be that he's held off for so long. You think back to the times you've cried on his shoulder, literally, about having to testify, having to relate all the graphic details and lie under oath and be publicly humiliated by the defense without any guarantees that it won't have all been in vain. I'm sorry I can't make it go away...whatever it would take, I would do it. Anything. "I'm sorry about this, I'm so sorry. I feel like this is my fault, I never should've told him..."

The tension in his voice ratchets up a couple of notches, and you know what that means, that he hasn't gotten to the truly bad news yet. "About that- how close of a relationship do you have with him?"

"What? He's married, he's-"

"No, no," he says, waving his hands in front of him like he really doesn't want to explore this topic further. "That's...what I mean is, how much have you shared with him about- be honest with me. I'm not asking as a lawyer here. Strictly off the record."

"Um, nothing, really. I'm not just saying what I think you want to hear, I...I don't talk to anyone about it," you admit softly, as if you're afraid he's going to scold you for not opening up more.

"Yeah. I suspected as much, and that's why I wanted to see you right away, before you heard it from someone else."

"Heard what? Oh god, they arrested Elliot, didn't they? What about his wife, does she know-"

"Liv," he says, touching your arm gently to get your attention. "I wanted you to know that their conversation...well. It was pretty graphic."

You raise an eyebrow, frowning. It was Elliot, after all, you were well aware of the sorts of things that made their way out of his mouth. Hell, you'd been on the receiving end of plenty of them yourself. "I, okay? I don't understand..."

"Lewis, he was...very forthcoming with the details of what happened to you. In a hypothetical way, of course."

"But," you stammer, "he was lying. He was just making up shit to get a reaction out of Elliot, right?"

Barba's eyes are cast downward, two fingers pressed against his mouth like he wants to physically keep the words from escaping. "No, he. He was telling the truth, Olivia, I'm sorry."

“How. How do you know.”

“The conversation...it was recorded. Obviously there are some details, I don’t know if they’re true or not, but overall- I’ll put it this way, your stories match up.”

"Oh." Oh. That imaginary gong has now found its way inside your head, and the blood in your veins feels colder than the water you dove into when you were up at the cabin with Brian. he was telling the truth. He knows. He knows he knows he KNOWS and you're sprinting across the room like a shot out of a cannon, barely reaching the garbage can in time before you start retching violently.

"Shit. Olivia." You hold your hand up behind you, silently ordering him to stay back as your eyes water when the bile stings your already inflamed throat. He waits until you've stopped heaving before he approaches you again, bearing kleenex and a water bottle this time, and he sighs when he finds you sitting with your back to the wall and your forehead resting on your kneecaps. "Can I help you up and then we'll go back to the couch?"

"I wanna hear it."

"You want- oh Liv," he says, sighing when he sees your tear-stained face. "Come on over here with me and we'll talk."

You refuse the proffered hand, even as you struggle to get back up on your feet under your own power. He knows. Heknowsohgodwhatdoesheknow? No. That can't be right. He didn't hear the recording clearly, this is some sort of mistake. "I need to hear it. Now."

"Why don't you take a little time to think about it?" Barba suggests gently. "Sleep on it and then in the morning, if you still-"

"You think I'm going to sleep? Are you fucking insane? I'm not changing my mind."

"All I'm saying is, you don't need to rush to a decision. Because once you do- you can't go back and erase it from your memory."

"I know that! I lived it, you think that's ever going away? You think I'll ever forget?"

"That's why I don't want you unnecessarily traumatizing yourself." His expression stays sympathetic even in the face of your tirade. "Listen. Legally, I can't withhold information from you when it pertains to your case. That's the attorney talking. But as a friend...Olivia, I really don't think you should hear this."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

«Have you seen the scars? Shit, I bet she looks fucking unbelievable. Maybe almost as much as she did when I had her tied up and bleeding. Seeing her with all those fresh burn marks, when the whole place still smelled like burnt flesh...god, I was so fuckin turned on, you know? So I told her to get me off and when she was bein a little bitch about it, I made her get undressed, handcuffed her to the bed- and I left her for a while there, just to mess with her. By the time I came back she was bawling. Pretty much begging for my cock. Telling me she'd do anything as long as I didn't fuck her, anything I wanted...you better believe I took her up on that. Now, I was a gentleman, I didn't make her blow me right then. Nah. Not until she asked for it herself.»

«So if you wanna do her now...fine, be my guest. I wish you luck. Would she even let you touch her? I bet she's a real mess, isn't she? She wants to act so tough but it doesn't fool me, I can see through the bullshit. I knew I could break her. So if you want what's left over, fine. It doesn't change that I got to her first. She'll remember me every day for the rest of her life. The nightmares, panic attacks, I know how it goes. She may be fucking you, but she'll be thinking of me. Maybe she'll lie and tell you she's not- but you'll always wonder, won't you? Wonder if you're twisting the knife a little deeper just because you wanna get your dick wet? You seem like a smart guy...you know you will.»

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

{you act like you never had love and you want me to go without}

No more than a fraction of a second passes between when you shut the door to your apartment and when you start to scream. It's a wordless wail, somewhere between a screech and a sob, and it only gets louder when you see that Brian still hasn't replied to any of your messages. He had texted you sometime while you were in Barba's office- [hey got called in I'll see you later]- and that's the last you'd heard from him. This was not going to work for you right now. After one final attempt to get him on his cell, you let go of your last remaining shred of dignity and call Tucker.

"I need you to get in touch with Brian, he has to come home now. This is an emergency," you explain- or well, that was your intent. The reality is that you're largely incoherent and unable to stop crying hysterically, and you know he'll probably reward you with a surprise psych eval the next time you walk into work, but your histrionics also are very effective in convincing him that this is serious and you're not fucking around.

He assures you that Brian's on his way home ASAP (from where, he doesn't mention). Your next stop is the bathroom, where you get into the shower and turn the hot water up as much as you can stand it, not even trying to quiet your sobs. In your right hand you clutch your prized possession, a bristle brush that was never intended to be used on human skin. You feel a wave of relief travel the length of your entire body as you reach just above your shoulder blade and start scrubbing furiously, the burn of the bristles a soothing diversion from the images that loop endlessly through your mind like a vicious slideshow. Brian and Elliot had both commented on the half-dozen patches of skin that you had rubbed raw, each of them remarking that it was counterproductive when you were still spending an hour a day applying your various scar-fading remedies, but neither seemed to want to push the issue as long as the damage stayed superficial. Still, you kept your preferred brush hidden away in the back of the bathroom cabinet just in case Brian changed his mind and decided that you needed to be rescued from yourself once again.

You're out of the bathroom by the time he makes it home, forcing yourself not to linger too long because you know he'd come barging in on you if you weren't there the minute he opened the door. He doesn't even bother to knock first like he usually does, just lets himself in and immediately starts scanning the room until his eyes land on you, wrapped up in your bathrobe with a puffy face and wet hair. "Jesus fuck, Liv, what the hell happened?"

Once again the words come out incomprehensibly, lost inside a mess of tears and sniffling and gulping for air. "Hey, it's alright. It's alright." He reaches out to hold onto your forearms, trying to calm you down, but all he really succeeds in doing is stopping the hand motions you're trying to use in order to explain what had happened.

"He knows. Elliot. He." Heknowsheknowsheknows. Oh god what's he thinking of right now, what's he going to see when he closes his eyes, he'll look at you but he'll be looking through you, straight to the ugliness because that's all he left behind. It's not enough for that psychotic bastard to take up permanent residence in your head, now he's in Elliot's head too and your last safe haven has been destroyed, you had this one good thing to take you out of this hell and now he's there too, he burned it all down just like he burned you and now...now that's all gone. You let Elliot see your scars because you couldn't show him what was in your head, not yet, not when someone would inevitably get scared and run afterward. But he still kissed you and told you how perfect you were, told you he loved you even through the mess. He said you were everything he'd waited for even as the morning sun streamed in through the blinds, highlighting all your (visible) imperfections, both of you lying naked and tangled together...but then you blink and Elliot's gone and he's there instead, reminding you that he'll never go away, and then you're choking on your own gun and you can see the flames from the blowtorch and he's shoving his fingers inside of you and he laughs and laughs and laughs. "It's like he's still there. It's like it's happening all over again and-"

"Hey, hey. Sssh," Brian says, cutting you off before you can start hyperventilating. "He's not here, he's locked up and he can't get to you. Remember? You're here, he's not."

"No he's here. In my head and you can't get him out. No one can. Goddamn Elliot, why'd he have to? He didn't!" You shake your head as violently as you did when you sat alone in Barba's office, listening to the disembodied voice that was the same one you heard in your mind all day, the same one that taunted you every night in your dreams, letting you know that he always wins.

"No, he didn't. He shouldn't have, but...it's okay. It's gonna be okay, babe."

"It's not, not okay." Now Elliot's going to hear that voice just like you do and you know him, you know he doesn't let things go easily, if he lets them go at all. That sadistic son of a bitch, he's never going to stop, whether he's free or locked up or his corpse is being picked apart by vultures, he already broke you and he'll keep finding a way to do it again. "It's like I'm back there and...I wanted to die. I should've done it and then it's all over. I should be dead."

"I...what were you going to do?" You feel him tense up from where you’re sitting, curled up on his lap with your head ducked against his chest like a frightened child.

"Not now," you promise as he starts looking around the room for any potential dangers. "When I. I wanted to shoot him but then I thought...I had to put the gun away because I might've shot myself and I...he had to die first. Then me. Then no one would ever know. It'd all be over and no one would ever have to know."

"But you didn't, Liv, you're still here. You survived," he says, and you're clinging to him like you've never really done before, because only now is it so starkly apparent that he's all you have left. Maybe he's all you've ever had.

"Yeah. I did. But I wish I didn't."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

«you ever been in her bedroom? She's got these pictures of you and her right next to her bed and she'd just stare at them while she was lying there. I told her she could think of you while I fucked her if that would help...but I don't think she really needed it. She screamed and cried but in the end- she fucking loved it. Kinda sad, actually, you would think the poor girl must not have been getting any for a while, it was that easy. She *really* gets off on being eaten out- I bet you didn't know that, huh? But you've wondered. You've thought about what she must taste like...but I'm the one who actually knows.»

«It's like I'm the first person who gave a shit about her in a long time, you know? I was at her apartment two whole days and no one calls, comes over...not even a fucking text. Especially not from you, huh? Where were you all this time? You're a little late if you think you're gonna fix things now- she was waiting for you then. I could tell. She never stopped hoping that you might come save her. I tried to set her straight. I told her you didn't love her. You didn't, that dumbass boyfriend didn't...after a couple days I said sweetheart, look around. No one came for you, they didn't even notice you weren't there. No one cares, no one wants you- and she tried to hide it but she knew, she knew I was telling her the truth. And still, right up until the very end, she kept talking about you like you'd be there any second now. Like maybe, if she kept thinking about you long enough...you might rescue her. I mean...man. How do you even sleep at night?»

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{well it’s too late tonight
to drag the past out into the light}