A/N: I have always thought that Season 11's "Shadow" would have had a much more interesting ending if Elliot had been kept out of the loop of what was happening after Liv decided not to drop the case. So I wrote the alternate ending, as I saw it in my head, if El had to face Liv's 'death.'
Spoilers: Major spoilers for Spooked, Shadow
"You goin' somewhere?" Elliot asked, joining Liv in the locker room.
"I've just got a few errands to run," she lied.
"Yeah?" He pulled a bullet-proof vest from her duffel. "Your, uh, dry cleaner have, uh . . . anger issues? Liv, don't do this," he insisted gently, trying to catch her eyes from the seat he'd taken on the bench.
Liv's anger was high. She was sexy when she had an axe to grind, but he didn't want to encourage her.
"I'm not going to let that bitch scare me off," she told him.
"Maybe you should," El suggested. "I sent my family away."
"They're civilians," Liv said, matter-of-factly, as if that settled everything. "I've got a job to do."
"Ash Ramsey put you up to this?" he asked as she slammed her locker shut, trying and failing to hide the territoriality in his voice.
"No. It was my idea," Liv told him, getting impatient.
He believed her. "Wait a minute - wait a minute," El stopped her from going out the door, "And you were just gonna deal me out?"
"I'm trying to protect you from the fallout," she defended.
"While you and Sir GQ just cowboy it up, huh?"
Liv narrowed her gaze. "You have a problem with Ash?"
"No," El lied. "But you're my partner. If anybody has your back it should be me." Any effort he'd hoped to make in disguising the possessiveness in his voice had failed, miserably.
"El, it's fine. I can handle Anne Gillette. You handle the Captain."
With no more reasons to keep her from going out the door, Elliot heaved a deep sigh, rubbing a hand nervously against the back of his neck. He was jealous, and it wounded him to admit it. Since the start of the Gillette case, Liv had been working with Ashok Ramsey, and Stabler had been fumbling and angry like a high school boy with a crush.
It wasn't the first time he had been jealous, and it likely would not be the last. As a married man, he walked a fine line when it came to Olivia, and how he interacted with the men around her. But unlike with Agent Porter, around whom Elliot had felt confident even after Porter had saved Liv's life - with Ramsey, Elliot felt unsure, unsteady.
And he sure as hell didn't trust Ramsey to keep Liv safe. That was a problem.
Pushing himself to his feet from the bench, El knew he had to try and convince the captain to play this out - and to let him help.
"Cap'n - " Elliot started and came through the office door all at once.
"Elliot." Cragen's tone was firm and fatherly. "This is not open to debate."
"But Captain," El tried again, "I need - "
"What you need is to go see your family," Cragen informed him. "Things are handled here."
"Olivia's not going to let this one go. You know that." Elliot put his hands on his hips.
"We can handle that too," the Captain assured him.
"No way can Ramsey keep the both of them safe." El hoped Cragen couldn't see right through his concern to his jealousy.
"Elliot," Cragen sighed, "go home. That's an order. Gillette will be handled, and so will Olivia, if need be."
The two men locked eyes and El knew arguing would be pointless. He left the office, unable to shake his concern as he shut the door with another sigh.
Stabler had turned Kathy down at her suggestion he drive all the way back to Jersey and sleep at his sister-in-law's. He'd gone home instead, to what he knew would be a sleepless night, tossing and turning in the empty bed.
He knew something was wrong. Liv had been his partner for more than a decade - they could both feel it when things were off. Which partially accounted for his earlier frustration at her stubbornness. Why couldn't she feel the danger he did?
Elliot's blood rushed. His pulse was wild, painful in his chest, nearly making him get up to pace the floor. He tossed to see the clock. It was heading for 3AM. He turned, trying to calm his breathing. Suddenly his cell phone rang, and El had to bite his lip to keep from screaming aloud.
"Stabler," he panted.
"Sorry to wake you." It was Cragen, not Liv like he'd been hoping, and that made it infinitely worse.
"You didn't." El was up without even thinking about it, searching for clothes. "What happened? Where do you need me?" He shot off questions as he shrugged into a shirt.
"Elliot." Cragen's voice was sombre, but demanding. It made El's blood run cold.
He saw visions of hospitals, of bullet wounds and surgery. "How bad?" he asked, his voice thick. "Tell me."
"Liv's gone," Cragen replied.
Elliot's world went black.
An earthquake of shock and grief rocked Elliot from crown to toes. When he did take a breath, he bolted for the half-bath in the Master, crashing against the toilet as he went to his knees. He heaved until nothing was left, until his diaphragm ached.
Finally, El dropped back onto his ass on the cold tile floor. His face was streaked with tears - he had been sobbing without making a sound. His stomach was cramped, his temples pounding. Each time he opened his mouth expecting a cry of grief to escape, nothing came out.
There was no hope of even thinking straight. In one moment he wanted to hurt physically - wanted someone to knock him the fuck out, so he didn't have to feel. The next, he wanted to scream, to hit someone else, taking out his anger and brokenness on them.
Losing track of time, Elliot remained in the bathroom for he didn't know how long, his head against the tile wall, face blank with shock. Every now and then, his face would contort with anguish, his empty stomach would heave. The tears rolled and dripped - he let them.
Hours later, when he slipped into a numb, quiet place, El finally managed to get up. He finished getting dressed and retrieved the phone from where he'd dropped it on the floor. It was almost 5:30AM when he left the house.
He had to see her.
El wasn't watching where where he was going when he walked into the morgue - he functioned only in a perpetual daze, now. When someone stopped him by pressing both hands to his shoulders, he blinked slowly and looked at them.
"Elliot," said Fin Tutuola, "you're not goin' in there."
"I am," El argued. "Let me go."
"Listen. Cragen put me here. He knew you were comin'. You can't see her."
Elliot's rage bloomed anew. "Can't see her?!" he growled through gritted teeth, "The hell you say! I'm going in there, Fin. I'm only gonna warn you once."
"Stabler, c'mon man . . . " Fin tried again, but Elliot was far beyond reasoning. He responded with his fists, and the two men hit the floor in a scuffle. On any other day, the two men would have been more equally matched, but Elliot was filled with equal parts rage and grief. His movements were sloppy, desperate.
"Stabler!" Fin shouted, subduing him without having to return blows. "Listen. You can't see her. It won't help, you gotta believe me. It's better this way - you don't wanna see her like that."
An audible sob escaped El then, causing both men to freeze mid-squabble. Fin squeezed his coworker's forearm. "I know, man. I know. It's okay." He didn't even come at Elliot for hitting him, just made sure the rage had passed, then got up and helped El up from the floor.
"You should talk to Cragen," Fin told him.
El met his eyes finally, embarrassed and hollow. "He can come find me," he replied.
"Where?" Fin asked as El headed out, but he didn't get an answer.
"Are you drunk, detective?"
It was Cragen. He came quietly up behind Elliot where he sat at the bar.
"I'm very drunk," El mumbled. "Plastered, even. I may never sober up again."
Cragen slid onto the stool next to him. "How do you think that'll go over with your wife and kids?"
El shrugged. "Haven't really thought about it."
"Maybe you should start thinkin about it. Eventually you'll have to go home."
He looked at his CO blearily. "You won't let me see her," he said flatly.
"For good reason."
"No reason could ever be good enough! Or right!" El hissed.
"D'you think that's what Liv would have wanted? For that to be the last time you saw her?"
Talking about Olivia in the past-tense was making El nauseous. For a moment in his drunken stupor, he considered the very real possibility of turning his head and throwing up on his captain's shoes. He wanted to open his mouth and ask what happened, but was surprised to find himself afraid. So for the moment he said nothing.
When he did speak, what came out was, "I want to kill him."
"Yeah, well, lucky for Ramsey and for me, he's dead too."
Elliot sighed with frustration. "I tried to tell you - "
"This way or another way, it wasn't something you coulda stopped."
As drunk as he was, El still respected his captain enough not to respond with rage. "Now we'll never know, will we?"
"You should go home," Cragen pushed again. When El just ignored him, Cragen slid from his seat with a final sigh. "Service is in a couple'a days. Clean yourself up. She deserves better."
But Elliot knew he wasn't going home. He had even less interest in going home than he had in sobering up, and was thankfully too drunk to examine what that truly meant. He checked into a crap hotel instead, managing some fitful sleep when exhaustion took over - broken only by guttural sobs that escaped him in the night.