Elliot sat at the table looking at his “crazy wall” as Kathleen had called it. How could his life have changed so drastically in just a matter of weeks? He could still remember sitting out on his porch or loggia as Italians called it each morning drinking his coffee watching the sunrise for a few hours before Kathy and Eli awoke.
Now he was trying to find his wife’s murder. His kids were all worried about him while dealing with their own grief. Elliot did what he did best. He pushed everyone away so they couldn’t see.
He didn’t want his kids to see his pain, his anger and his vulnerability. He knew his job is what cost his children their mom.
“Dammit, it's all my fault.” Elliot screamed as tears streamed down his face. He tore the pictures off the wall and threw them across the room. “My kids are suffering because of the enemies I have made over my career. I promise you Kathy I will find who did this to you. I will make them pay.”
Elliot walked into the kitchen and grabbed a few beers from the fridge before laying on the couch. The couch had now become his bed. He couldn’t sleep in his bed because it was a sad reminder. He was all alone. Kathy was gone forever.
He had been with Kathy since high school. He didn’t know his life without her. So many days he felt he didn’t deserve her. They fell in love young and had gotten married after Kathy became pregnant. Kathy had raised five kids who he felt blessed for every day.
He never cheated. However not always was his family his top priority.
Olivia. Olivia Benson. Liv was his only weakness.
He broke her heart. He saw the damage he had caused everytime he looked in her eyes since his return. Olivia would never understand he had to leave for both of them.
He was a coward. He had left without a goodbye because she was the only person who could make him stay. He had owed Kathy and the kids for all the years he had placed the job and his Liv before them.
So he ran as far away as possible. He broke both of their hearts the day he walked away. Liv always had a piece of his heart. She had his heart from the day he first saw her. Only once he walked away did he understand the depth of their connection which was never spoken aloud.
Kathy always knew. She knew far before he and Olivia even would admit it to themselves. After some time he and Kathy fell in love again in Italy. He never deserved her.
Elliot drank until he could fall asleep as his dreams were his only safe place. He could see happy memories of Kathy and his kids. He cried all night as his heart felt completely shattered.
“Ow! Noah, please come pick up your backpack and put your cars away. I just stepped on one. Living room should not be a place where we leave our toys all over the place. Noah where are you?” Olivia asked as she walked in the hallway.
“Sorry, Mom. Can I play on PS4 for awhile?” Noah asked as he ran from his bedroom into the living room.
“Ok, sure but you need to go get ready for bed. Brush your teeth and wash your face. I’m going to finish loading the dishwasher and then lay on my bed for a while. When I come and get you time for bed and no arguing or no PS4 all weekend. Deal? “
“Deal, thanks mom.”Noah said as he ran past her again. If only to have an ounce of that energy again Olivia thought as she walked in her bedroom.
Olivia loved being a mom. She had wanted it for so long and then feared it would never happen. She came close once adopting a boy before Noah but wasn’t meant to be.
Past few weeks have been a whirlwind. It had felt like she was drowning.
Drowning in everything Elliot Stabler. He was her best friend, partner, and the meaning and extent of their bond was beyond words explaining. She didn’t even know how much he had meant to her until one day he disappeared.
She always remembered what Elliot’s mom Billie had said. Elliot walks away from those he doesn’t care about. But never did Olivia think the person she loved and trusted the most would be the one who would ever break her heart. Never did she think Billie’s words would be her.
Twelve years they had been partners on the force. She knew what he was thinking with just a look. She could anticipate what his next move would be. They had gone through shootings before.
She would have been there.
She would have helped him through anything .
She would have died to save him if his life was in danger. He had a wife and kids. He was her everything.
And one day he just disappeared.
He walked out on her like she was nothing to him. Like everything they shared meant nothing. Day he left a part of her heart had shattered. She had never felt pain like that before or since he left.
And then a few weeks back she gets a call for an incident on her route to a silly award she was to receive. And then she sees her. Kathy.
Kathy Stabler. Her friend. But also the person she felt insane and mind numbing jealousy over for every day Elliot Stabler was in Olivia’s life. Kathy was hurt. She could die. As she saw her placed in the ambulance she was so confused. Why was she in New York?
And then the man she had loved and hated reappeared. Elliot.
Of course Olivia would be there for Elliot and the kids. She could always fall back on work and do her job. She needed to know what happened and who would kill Kathy. Anything personal would have to wait.
His words he had said made no sense.
Liv, you mean the world to me.
If I heard your voice I would not have been able to leave.
Ten years ago to hear those words she would have felt happiness, love and even though complicated she would have known they would get through it together.
She would have known maybe just maybe Elliot loved her as much as she loved him.
But to hear those words now made her angry and seemed convenient because Elliot needed her. Where was Elliot when she needed him? When she was a broken shell of herself after William Lewis.
He was gone.
If she had meant that much to him he would have told her he was leaving. He would have returned a call or sent a Christmas card in the ten years he was gone. He would have shown some resemblance to the man she knew.
Elliot had given her a letter but she had yet to open it. She had gone to talk to him and he didn’t have time. She could tell he wasn’t well and probably looking for info on Kathy’s murder.
Last she saw him in her car three weeks ago she told him he needed help. He of course brushed it off in a normal Elliot response. He was superman and could do everything himself. Once again he told her to back off. So she did even though she would have helped.
Olivia snapped out of it at the sound of her phone ringing. “UGH, where is it? I’m coming. Hold on.“ she was saying as she searched near her dresser for her cellphone.
“Benson. Can I help you?” She didn’t recognize the number.
“Olivia, it’s Kathleen. Can we please meet tomorrow. Dad needs help.”
“Kathleen, hi honey. Sure, would dinner at Joe’s cafe work around five?”
“ Yes, it would. I really appreciate it Liv. Dad really needs you and needs help. He is doing really bad right now.” Kathleen said as she was sobbing on the phone.
“ Honey, thank you for calling. You know no matter what I’m always here for your dad, you and the rest of the kids. You are my family. Bye, honey. See you tomorrow.”
Olivia knew she meant those words. No matter how much of a son of a bitch Elliot Stabler was he was her family . She didn’t know what would happen or how close she would let him back in her life. But if he and kids were ever in need she would always be there.
Olivia was tired. She had rushed after her meeting with Garland to get to the cafe on time. Of course Garland had to remind her Elliot was having trouble. He told her Elliot had been beaten outside his apartment a few weeks back.
If everyone wanted her away from Elliot why was she always given updates? She wondered as she walked in the cafe.
“I’m meeting someone soon. Can I please have a coffee and your special for the day? Olivia asked as she followed her waitress to a booth near the back of Joe’s Cafe. She had chosen the cafe because she knew the owners who were parents of Noah's best friend. And she needed privacy because she knew this would not be an easy conversation.
Elliot was suffering and in denial. He needed help…
“Olivia, I am so sorry I’m late. I should have known to leave a few minutes earlier." Kathleen was saying as she walked in the cafe. Wow, where has time gone Olivia thought. She still remembered Kathleen when she was eight and playing softball. And the time she had gotten in trouble as a teenager and how Liv had gone to Billie asking for a favor to help Kathleen.
Now Kathleen was an adult. And wow, did she look just like Kathy. But her personality was all Elliot.
“Kathleen, hi. I just got here a few minutes ago as well.” Olivia stood and gave her a big hug. “I wish we were seeing each other in happier times. How are you?”
Kathleen slid on the bench across from her, brushing a loose hair away from face. “ I’m just trying to go day by day. My work has given me time off. Some of the other employees each gave some days so I could have a longer break. I have another month before I go back. Not sure I will use all that time but it's comforting to know how much they care.” Kathleen said as she looked out the window.
“I am so sorry you are going through this. It never should have happened.” Olivia said as she reached over and gave Kathleen’s hand a gentle squeeze.
“Please let me know how I can help you and I will do it. Olivia asked when she saw Kathleen tearing up.
“Everything is so different without mom. She was one who was always there. Dad worked long hours and they had their issues. But they were happy the last few years. Mom was my best friend. I just feel so lost. “
“ I am very sorry. Your mom was a special person. I know how much she loved you and your siblings. All of you kids were her whole world.” Olivia said as a single tear fell from her eye.
“Everyone is dealing with it differently. Maureen and Lizzie lean on each other, Dickie has been working more and Eli is just in shock. Dad is handling it the worst. Kathleen bent her head as she sobbed. Olivia held her hand and rubbed it softly.
After a few minutes Olivia asked, “Is there some way I can help? I know it's been a long time since I’ve seen everyone but I am always here if any of you need anything.”
“ Yes, but I am not sure you will like it. I know you and dad have issues. He never said what happened. But he would become sad anytime we asked where you were or if we could call you. Dad needs help. All of us have asked him individually and he just says he is fine. He may listen to you. Mom always said you were the only one who he could never say no to. Please liv.” Kathleen said as she looked at Olivia with the same look her father would use when he wanted something.
“ What are you thinking? And to be honest I’m not sure your dad wants me in his life even now. But I will try for you.“ Olivia held her breath as she waited for Kathleen's answer which felt like an eternity.
“Can you come over to dad’s apartment tomorrow? All of us would like to convince dad to get counseling. He had told me last week you said he could have ptsd. And I know he has been drinking each night to fall asleep. We are supposed to have dinner around six. “ Kathleen looked very defeated.
“ I will if you think I can help. But I will warn you he may become very angry. Your dad never was good at asking or receiving anyone’s help. And he may feel ambushed by all of us being there.” Olivia knew Elliot and knew how stubborn he was going to be.
“Liv, we will try anything. Dad has a crazy wall in his living room. He has been investigating every night after work on leads for mom’s murder. He barely eats anything, he drinks each night and is lucky if he gets a few hours of sleep each night. Few days ago he almost got into a car accident because he wasn’t paying attention. And he was beat up outside his apartment. I am afraid we will lose him. He is all we have left. Kathleen sobbed uncontrollably. “Liv, please.”
“ I will be there and I will make him get help. I promise you will not lose your dad.” Olivia's heart broke as she finally realized how lost Elliot had become.
Elliot got up around noon. He had a rare week off as he was doing so much overtime the past few weeks. Bell said he was not to be seen anywhere near the office. He was really liking his new boss. She was a firecracker which he needed. Never afraid to put him in his place when he needed it. He respected her work ethic and loved her sarcastic humor.
He needed to pick up the apartment. He had been eating take out when he came home from work. Now that Eli was at Maureen’s he didn’t even feel like grocery shopping unless to pick up more beer and snacks. As he looked around he saw pizza boxes, chinese containers, beer bottles scattered on the floor and armchair.
Kids were obviously worried because each in the past two weeks had a talk with him about getting help. He knew he was struggling however he had to find Kathy’s murderer. Noone else would care as much as him to make them pay. Pay for taking away his kids mother. Pay for making her suffer and pay for every day she was gone from their lives. Elliot never felt he could cross the line in his career. However with Kathy’ death he would do whatever necessary to find the people responsible.
As he finished the dishes he had only four hours left before kids came. He had asked each of the kids to bring something for dinner. Kids had decided they wanted Italian food. He would make a side salad. In the background he could hear there was a special report on the television. A hostage situation. He prayed everyone would be ok.
“Local authorities are saying all five hostages know the person. Person of interest is a prior owner who lost her business last year when she had to close due to restrictions from Covid19. Four of the hostages are employees of the restaurant. And one police captain from the 16th department who also heads the Svu department. Olivia Benson.
“What, Liv" Elliot screamed as he dropped a dish in horror as he heard her name. "No, please no” as Elliot rushed in the living room.
Elliot frantically called Fin’s number as he watched the newscaster repeat the details. “Fin, please call me back. I need to know Liv is ok. Please." Elliot couldn’t imagine losing Olivia.
Elliot had been foolish and careless. He had left without a goodbye or explanation. And he had disappeared from Olivia’s life for ten years. And now he could lose her.
After an hour Fin called. “Elliot it’s Fin. Olivia is ok. She was able to talk down the person and have her turn herself in. Noone was hurt. Liv is tired but ok. She is going home to rest."
"Fin, thanks for calling. Sorry for being a pest but I had to make sure she was ok. And thanks for always being there for her."
“Yeah, man I know. But here some advice you need to stop shutting us out. Remember we are your family. And you are not alone. Gotta run, Liv gave me paperwork to finish. See you soon.” Fin said as he hung up.
Elliot could feel his heart racing and it was beginning to become harder to breathe. He had to sit. “She ok, i’m glad she ok" he repeated.
All of sudden he could hear ringing in his ears and he started seeing flashbacks of Kathy’s car bombing in front of him. “Kathy, no" he screamed. Next he was seeing a girl in his old squadroom with a gun. "Jenna, please drop your gun." He repeated over and over. And last he saw Olivia’s face as she had a gun to her head. "God, please no. Make it stop.” After what seemed like forever he slowly became aware of his surroundings again. Elliot was exhausted, his body drenched in sweat with tears streaming down his face. He sat dazed and feeling numb. He could only remember fragments of the flashbacks.
Olivia arrived at Elliot’s apartment parking her car on the road. She looked down at her watch hoping time could stand still. She was scared, nervous and unsure what would happen when she would see Elliot. Would he accept help or would he try pushing Olivia even further away? If there was a lesson learned from today’s earlier hostage incident it was that time is precious. We are not guaranteed tomorrow so we should hold those close who mean the most to us. We should try to forgive those who have hurt us. And never leave words unsaid even if hard to say.
So Olivia came for the intervention because she made a promise to Elliot’s kids. She came because she promised herself if Elliot ever came back she wouldn’t let him go without a fight. She came because she loved him and her heart broke seeing him in so much pain.
8:18 p.m. Almost ten minutes had passed since she had arrived. She could feel her hands shaking as she looked out the window. “Breathe”, she whispered. “You can do this. You helped someone earlier. It is no different helping Elliot.”
However it was very different when you are helping someone you know. Stakes are very real when it is someone you care about. You can feel the hopelessness wanting to fix the issue. However when someone is suffering they need to want and accept help or it wouldn’t work.
“Here we go”, Olivia whispered. She sent Kathleen a text telling her she was there. All of the kids came earlier to have dinner with Elliot prior to Olivia arriving. Olivia's phone buzzed with a new text.
Liv, I will meet you downstairs at the door. We told dad you were coming over after dinner. Heading down now. K
He knew she was coming. Maybe he will be more open if he thought it was a casual visit? Or would he feel more hurt and blindsided? Well she was about to find out.
“Liv, hey.” Kathleen said as she opened the door.
“Hi, honey. How are you doing? Are you ready to talk to your dad?” Olivia asked as she hugged Kathleen.
“Yeah, I’m ready. It will be hard but we all want him to get help. Dickie said Dad had an episode earlier. He saw something on the news which made him upset. Dickie came here earlier in the afternoon to drop off some groceries and dad was still out of it. Kathleen said as she wiped another tear away.
Did Elliot see the news about the incident earlier? Olivia wondered as they arrived at the door of Elliot’s apartment. As they entered Olivia could see a hole in the wall of the hall leading into the kitchen.Looked like Elliot must have recently did it as she could see few specks of paint on carpeting. As she walked thru dining room she could see what looked like a wall with pictures and leads for Kathy’s murder investigation.
“Liv, so happy to see you” Maureen called from the living room. Olivia smiled as she entered the room giving Maureen and Lizzie a hug. As Olivia looked around she was impressed by how nice the apartment was. It had a cozy feel while still having a masculine appeal.
“ Where are your brothers and dad? Olivia asked.
“They left a few minutes before you came. Eli wanted ice cream so they decided to get some for everyone. Lizzie said as she turned the tv off. “I think everyone is on edge and we all need a break before we talk to dad. He is never easy to talk to about things that are affecting him. He would rather be helping us.”
“ I think we should have a quick game plan for talking to your dad. First we can do ice cream in hopes Elliot is more relaxed and open. However I like to warn you he may feel ambushed and defensive. If he says something hurtful try not to take it personal. It’s his fear and anxiety. He loves you kids more than anything. Olivia said as she looked at each of the girls who were now grown women.
“ Also may be a good idea if we each go around one by one and talk to your dad. So everyone can express how you feel. Be honest about how you feel and ask him to go for counseling. I will be here as a mediator for you. I will go last talking to him.”
“Thank you Olivia. We really appreciate you being here tonight. I’m also worried over Eli. He was barely sleeping at night worrying over dad. I know he wanted to stay here so he could take care of dad.” Maureen said just as the apartment door opened.
“Liv, happy to see you tonight.” Dickie said as he walked in the living room. Eli was quickly behind him. Eli gave a small smile. Olivia could tell how nervous the teenager was.
As Olivia looked up she saw him. He was standing in the entryway of the apartment door. Olivia could see the bruises which still covered his face.
“Are you ok? I heard the news. I called Fin. I didn’t, I.. um.” Elliot said as he looked at Olivia.
“Dad, can you bring some bowls and spoons in here. Ice cream is going to melt. Eli asked impatiently.
“Yeah, buddy. Coming right up” as Elliot walked in the kitchen.
“I can help you,” Olivia said as she walked to the kitchen. “Elliot, what happened to your face?” Olivia reached out and slightly touched his face. At the touch of her hand Elliot stumbled back.
“ Sorry, I haven’t been sleeping much. Glad you were able to come over. I was..” Elliot paused.
“Dad come on.” Eli called from the living room.
Elliot and Olivia joined the kids in the living room. Olivia remembered how much she missed going to Elliot house for the kids birthdays and holidays. And how easy it was picking up right where they had left off. “ I want chocolate ice cream and sprinkles,” Olivia laughed as she sat down on the armchair.
It was so good seeing Olivia and his kids in his apartment together. Dinner with all his kids and having Olivia here now had ended up being a really good time. He really should do it more often. And maybe one day soon Olivia would introduce him to Noah and he could be here as well.
“Elliot, your kids would like to talk to you tonight. And they asked me to come here for support.” Olivia said as she glanced at Kathleen to begin.
“Dad, we are worried about you. We would like you to get some counseling.” Kathleen said as she squeezed Lizzie's hand.
“I should have known better. So dinner and spending today together was all a lie? I understand you kids are worried but why couldn’t you tell me you would like to talk?” Elliot felt blindsided as he could feel he was quickly ready to push everyone away.
“Olivia, you have no right. You came for? What? Revenge on me leaving ten years ago without a word?” Elliot screamed as he glared at her. Olivia was on the verge of tears as Elliot quickly looked away.
“ Dad, stop. Give us one hour and after we will all leave. But you need to hear what we are feeling. We are scared dad.” Maureen said as she reached over and rubbed Elliot's shoulder.
“Fine, whatever one hour. So who is going first?” Elliot waited impatiently.
“I will go.” Lizzie said as switched places with Maureen so she would be seated next to Elliot.
“Dad I love you. Please look at me. Lizzie said as she nervously smoothed her hair. I know you would like to avenge mom’s death. But we don’t need a superhero. We need our dad. You are all we have left. Please let the police in mom's case investigate.”
“Lizzie, I would never risk anything so I wouldn't be here for you.” Elliot said as he sighed.
“Dad you can’t honestly say that. You are now a detective for Organized Crime dealing with mobsters. And mom died in a car bomb which could have been meant for you. Please let the police handle mom’s case. And please go for counseling. Eli, your turn. “
“Dad, I um, things haven’t been good. Last week you punched the wall and then a few days ago we almost had a car accident. I’m not sure I want to come back here for a while or see you until you get help. I’m going to take the rest of my stuff to Maureen’s.” Eli said as he looked around nervously.
“Eli, you are my son and no you will not shut me out of your life.” Elliot screamed.
“Elliot, listen. Eli is trying to tell you how he is feeling.” Olivia said calmly.
“Who is next?” Elliot said as he glared at Olivia. How could Olivia of all people turn his kids away from him?
“I’ll go.” Kathleen said quietly. “Dad, the intervention was my idea. I asked Olivia to come here. We all care about you and want you to get counseling so you can get better. Please don’t be mad.”
“Honey, I am ok. I have some hard days but mom just died, I have a new job and we are getting used to moving back.” Elliot looked away unable to look Kathleen in her eyes.
“Dad you are not good right now. When I came earlier I could tell you had just had a ptsd episode. Do you remember what caused it?” Dickie asked.
"I was doing the dishes and heard of a hostage incident. I was a little worried but I was fine.” Elliot said as he bent his head down. He no longer wanted to hear them. He wanted to leave.
“Dad that is not true. Your shirt was drenched in sweat and you were confused. You kept asking where mom was and if Liv was ok. And when I went in the kitchen I saw a broken dish on the floor.” Dickie replied with a concerned look as he looked at Maureen.
“Elliot, did you hear of my incident earlier? Was that what made you nervous?” Olivia asked as she looked at Elliot.
“No, yes. I mean I heard on the news. So I called Fin and he said you were ok. So I was relieved and I was fine.” Elliot was tired. How much longer until this is done he thought.
“Are you sure? Because it sounds like you may have had a panic attack followed by a ptsd episode.” Olivia replied.
“ So everyone here thinks I’m crazy. Very nice.” Elliot laughed.
“Dad, no we don’t. We see you struggling and want to help you before it becomes worse or you get hurt.” Maureen said as she moved closer to Elliot and reached for his hand and held tight. “I love you,'' she whispered.
“I’m fine. So who next? Olivia? Can you hurry up so we can be done?” Elliot said impatiently.
“Ok, sure. I will go.” Olivia sighed as she knew how hard this would be. She moved her armchair so she was across from Elliot who was sitting on the couch.
“Elliot, I am worried. When we were partners we had gone through many incidents however I never seen you like this before. I can only imagine how much Jenna’s shooting still affects you today. And now Kathy died in front of you in such a tragic way. Sometimes as hard as it is, we have to accept help from someone who can help us deal with our pain.” Olivia wiped a tear away and she looked away from Elliot.
“Liv, I know. But I’m fine.” Elliot said in a whisper.
“Please, I need to continue. The past year I’ve gone to many cop’s funerals who commited suicide because of the stress of the job and the ptsd became to debilitating for them. Many felt hopelessness, alone and a burden to those who loved them. Even though we haven’t talked in ten years I knew you were somewhere. Somewhere out there with Kathy and the kids. I always hoped you were happy. I’m not sure I could lose you. If you would do something or get killed. I..” Olivia paused as more tears came.
“Liv, please.“ Elliot's voice cracked as he said her name. He bent his head down. He couldn’t look at her because she would see his tears.
“I know ptsd because I have dealt with it. Last year I had a relapse when Simon died. So I understand the struggle you are in. A few years after you left..” Olivia paused. “There was an incident. Worse than anything I had gone through before. I broke in half and barely survived physically and emotionally. I struggled a long time before getting help. I was afraid to admit I needed help. Only thing that helped was having support from my friends. And my sweet boy Noah who came in my life when I needed him the most. He saved me in so many ways.”
“At first I went to counseling to keep my job which was the only constant thing in my life. Next I went for Noah so I could be a good mom. Finally I went so I could heal.” Olivia broke and sobbed uncontrollably. Dickie and Kathleen both rushed over. Dickie rubbed her back as Kathleen held Olivia in a long embrace.
Elliot's phone buzzed. Perfect timing he thought.“I’m sorry, I need to go. Bell needs me.” Elliot said as he got up from the couch.
“Dad, so what if work needs you. We are your family and we need you now.” Dickie said as he stared at his father in disbelief.
“Dad, you can’t go now. Olivia just shared something really hard and personal.” Maureen said as she followed Elliot.
“Elliot, please let us help you.” Olivia said as she walked in the dining room blocking Elliot from the door.
“I’m fine. I have had a few hard days but i’m ok. Bell knows what is going on. And work helps keep me busy.” Elliot said as he could feel himself growing more anxious.
“Elliot, please stay. But if you need to go here is a letter I wrote. Please read.” Olivia said as she reached out for him. Elliot grabbed the letter and backed away from her reach.
“I love you…” Elliot said as his eyes teared up. He couldn’t believe he said it. He said those words to Olivia. Elliot knew he messed up. He could see a mix of shock and disappointment on Olivia’s and his kids faces as he looked around the room. “I um... I have to go. I love all of you. I promise I will take care of myself. Noone has to worry.” Elliot backed away and slowly walked towards the door.
“Dad, please be careful” as Maureen followed him to the door. “Give me a hug and promise you will call me every day. I love you with all my heart. I can’t lose you.”
“Sweetheart, I love you. I promise. I will call. I have to go.” Elliot gave Maureen a hug and kiss on the cheek and walked out the door.
Olivia was in shock. Did she just hear those words? I love you. Did he mean it as he loved her as a friend? Did he love her as his partner for twelve years? Did he love her as someone who… She couldn’t go there. Her heart wouldn’t open up to that possibility. Her mind was going in a million different directions after he said it. She couldn’t hear anything he said after he said those words.
He must mean he loves me as a friend. Olivia convinced herself as Elliot walked out the door. She was left alone with Elliot’s kids. How awkward. She needed to make things right and let them know she would help them through this.
“Olivia, I’m sorry. Dad was unfair. But we know he cares about you. I just wish he would take care of himself. He is really starting to scare me.” Maureen said as she walked up to Olivia.
“Maureen. I have never seen him like this before. I don’t even know how to help. Anytime I feel I see a breakthrough of him opening up he pushes me away again.” Olivia said as she and Maureen walked back in the living room.
“I think we should all figure out what we do now with dad.” Lizzie said as she looked out the window and saw her dad getting into his car.
“Should we go outside and stop him from leaving?” Kathleen asked as she moved next to Lizzie so she could see out the window. Eli quietly came and stood at the far end of the window.
“I’m not sure. Your dad may need some space so he can absorb what we all said to him today. It seems me coming didn’t really help. I’m so sorry.” Olivia said as looked around at each of Elliot’s children.
“Liv, you are not to blame. Dad has been doing the same to us as well since mom died. It has always been hard for him to open up and say how he is feeling. All he can see is his anger and he has been burying himself in work and working on mom’s case.” Dickie said as he came to Olivia and gave her a hug.
“I feel it is important we all stay in touch. And that includes you Liv. You have always been family.” Maureen said as she looked at Olivia and smiled.
“I have missed all of you so much. If one good thing came out of today it is reconnecting with each of you. We will get through this together. Olivia said as she walked near the window to see Elliot’s car drive off.
10:00pm Elliot looked up and as he drove away. He could see his kids in the window. He didn’t need counseling. He had been a cop for thirty five years and dealt with many hard things in his life. He knew his kids were worried but he would be ok.
Elliot drove. He wasn’t sure where he was going or when he would stop. He just needed air. He needed to go home. Home… Back to where he had so many hopes, dreams and memories. “Bell, hey stabler here.” Elliot made a call to his Captain in Organized Crime. Ayanna Bell. “Do we have any updates on Wheatley?”
“Hey, Elliot,” Bell answered. “I love how you listened to me about having time off. My undercover Gina was able to place a bug in Wheatley’s house. Now we just need to wait and see if we gain any useful info.”
“Anything I can do to help? With Eli gone it’s too quiet being home. I would rather work.” Elliot said as he pulled over to the side of the road. He had reached his destination.
“Ok, if you like to do something. I would like you to visit Angela again. Keep building a friendship with her. Maybe ask to meet her in a park and go for a walk. Choose somewhere public. Keep me updated and please get some rest.” Bell said as she hung up.
Elliot looked around to see his old neighborhood. Right in front of him was his first home. He remembered how happy and proud he was the day they moved in. They were two young kids with a baby and so much in love. A whole world ahead of them with so many possibilities. He saw all his five kids grow up here. If only time could have stood still.
1:03 am. Elliot arrived back at his apartment. He could see the kids had cleaned up some since he had left. All of the leftovers were in the fridge when he grabbed himself two beers.
Elliot remembered he had Liv’s letter she had given him. He sat on the couch and opened it.
As I write this I am unsure if I will be at your intervention. Honestly, I'm not sure I deserve a place there tonight. We have been apart for ten years. So many memories, experiences and time spent apart. So much distance. Part of me already feels like I know how you will react. You will feel blindsided, angry and put a wall up. You will not listen to our concerns determined to prove you are ok. Elliot, please. Please get help. Your kids need you. You all have suffered a terrible loss and need each other to lean on more than ever. They are scared of losing you. They love you.
Honestly, I’m scared of losing you. I will give you space as you have asked.
He called her number. His hand was shaking. Voicemail. “Liv hey, it’s me. Elliot. I’m sorry. I messed up. I read your letter. I just keep disappointing you. Please call if you can.”
Elliot was growing anxious again. He was worried he may have pushed Liv too far. And then saying I love you. When he had been gone. Disappeared as Liv had said. For ten years. He would try calling her again. Maybe she was busy. He knew she never went to bed early. “Liv, it's me again. Please call. I just like to talk. Please. Bye.”
Elliot waited ten minutes and tried again. “Olivia, please call me back. I .. I need you. Please” he said as he began to cry.
2:30 am Forty minutes passed by. He drank two more beers. He would call again. Now she was just being rude and pushing him away. When she said she would be there. “Olivia, hey he said angrily. So now you are pushing me away? I bet you never even read my letter explaining why I left? How can you say you will be there and then screen your calls?” He hung up and paced the room. He grabbed two more beers and downed them quickly.
Elliot waited another hour and made his last call to Olivia. He was beginning to slur his words when he spoke. Elliot screamed in the phone angrily “Liv, no I should call you Captain Benson. Your silence is clear. Message received. I will leave you alone. Bye.” Elliot hung up and threw his phone across the room. “Dammit” Elliot yelled. His anxiety was worse. His hands were shaking and tears were streaming down his face. He grabbed the remaining beers and drank alone in the dark until there was none left.
5:30 am Elliot walked into his bathroom staring into his mirror. He took off his shirt and threw it on the floor. He could see he had lost some weight as his muscles were more defined in his arms and chest. He needed a change. Elliot grabbed his beard trimmer and decided to trim his hair. He started small and soon he was shaving more and more of his hair. Until he was completely bald.
Olivia was running late as usual in the morning. “Noah, are you ready? I need to drop you off for school before going into work. Have you seen my phone? I had it charging on the counter last night when I went to bed.”
“Mom, where are my socks? I can only find one.” Noah called from his bedroom.
“Here you go. Olivia said as she walked in Noah’s bedroom. “Here is a loose one in your clean clothes basket. After school today you need to put your clothes away in your drawers. You can’t just leave your clothes in your basket after I give them to you.”
“Ok, can we go get Mcdonald’s for breakfast. Please…” Noah said looking at Olivia with his big puppy dog look.
“Sure, but you need to be ready in five minutes. And you need to eat an apple as well for breakfast.” Olivia said as she searched her bedroom for her phone. Olivia still couldn’t find her phone as she was back in the living room searching. When she came home after Elliot’s intervention she was exhausted. She knew it would be hard however she had still thought maybe they could reach him and he would agree to counseling.
“I’m ready.” Noah said as he ran in and put his shoes on. “Let’s go.”
“Noah, have you seen my phone?” Olivia asked as she drove Noah to school.
“Oh, yeah. I forgot. I was playing games on your phone this morning before you woke up. Here. I had it in my backpack pocket.” Noah said as he was finishing his Mcgriddle sandwich.
“Thank you. I didn’t know where it had gone. Here we are. Olivia said as she pulled up to Noah’s school. “I hope you have a good day. Don’t forget your lunch.”
“Bye, mom,” Noah said as he handed Olivia her phone and jumped out of the car. So much energy Olivia thought and laughed. She turned off her phone and placed it in her purse.
When Olivia walked in work she knew it was going to be a long day. She needed to do paperwork of recent cases, start looking at new budget projections and of course meetings. She used to think Cragen had an easier job. However now she knew how stressful being the boss could be.
“Hey, guys.” Olivia said as she walked in the squadroom. Amanda and Fin were at their desks. “Please come to my office so we can have a quick check in.”
“Hey, Liv.” Fin said as he followed her into the office. “We are having a slow day. I am working on paperwork. Kat had to go to court to testify on the Roberts rape case. She should be back around two if we are lucky.”
“Liv, I am waiting to hear back from the Brooklyn D.A. We could have a possible connection to a recent case of theirs.” Amanda said as she walked in and sat in a chair.
“Good, really good. I will be doing some paperwork as well. I have two phone conferences today. Garland at eleven and accountant at two. Both should take about an hour. Other than that I’m here and able to fill in if we have a call.” Olivia said as she turned on her computer.
Garland’s meeting had gone as expected. More reports due. And a possible new committee coming. Olivia was buried in paperwork as she heard her name being called. “Yeah, Fin what’s up?” Olivia said as she walked in the squadroom.
“Liv, mail came. You have a package which was dropped off at the front desk. Also we are ordering lunch from O’Donnell’s. What would you like?” Fin said as he handed Olivia her package and a menu.
“Hmm, so many choices. I will have a reuben, onion rings and diet coke. Want to have lunch together since it's just us now?” Olivia asked Fin as she gave him money for the order.
“Sure, I should be back in about forty minutes with food. And my treat. You can get it next time.” Fin said as he placed Olivia’s money on the desk.
Olivia smiled as she walked in her office. Fin had been such a good friend over the years. He had become her brother. Anytime she needed him. He had been there. Especially the past ten years. He was there to help pick up the pieces after Elliot left. He was there for Lewis. He was there when she had adopted Noah. She really was blessed to have him in her life.
She remembered she had a package to open. Package was a square box with something inside. No return address. Olivia wondered what it could be. She shook it. Box didn’t rattle or make any noises. Hmm. Olivia didn’t like to admit it but she loved surprises and presents. Especially since Noah came into her life. Regularly she would leave gifts around the apartment for him to find. And Amanda had helped Noah surprise Olivia as well.
As Olivia opened the box she laughed when she saw what was inside. A stuffed penguin. Noah had been asking for awhile to go visit the zoo. Another hint she thought. Wait, there was an envelope included with the stuffed animal.
Olivia opened the envelope and saw the letter was from the New York Aquarium. Olivia read she was given a conservation fellow membership. Olivia looked online to see what it was. Her membership included membership for two adults and three guests for four zoos and the New York Aquarium. Also included a note her membership would be renewed and good for five years.
Olivia called down to the front desk reception. “Carol, hi it’s Olivia Benson. I just opened a package and there is no name included. Do you remember who dropped it off? Ok, thanks again.”
“Liv, hey. Here we go. Hope you are ready to eat. I also got us turtle cheesecake for dessert.” Fin said as he walked in Olivia’s office carrying their lunch order. “Cute penguin.”
“Hey, I just got a surprise gift. A yearly membership for the zoos and aquarium for five years. However, no note. And when I called Carol she said an employee from the aquarium dropped off the package. I just got off the phone with the aquarium and an employee there said the donor was adamant they would remain anonymous.” Liv said as she was puzzled who it could be.
Who would have sent her this? $525 a year was an expensive gift. Especially for five years. She couldn’t imagine Amanda doing it. She was a single mom like Liv. Fin was getting married and saving every penny. Carisi may have just done a day pass for Liv and Amanda to go and spend a day together with the kids. Rafael? No, he would have told her. Cragen? Same, he would have asked what she and Noah would like and given her that gift.
“Wow, Liv, you have a secret admirer. Add them to the list.” Fin laughed. “Did you check your cell phone? Maybe the person left you a message?”
“Good idea. No, I have had my phone off all day. I couldn’t find it this morning. Noah took it and was playing games before school. And when he gave it to me in the car I just turned the phone off. And then I just forgot about it.” Olivia reached in her purse and turned on the phone.
“Five missed voicemails.” Olivia said as she pushed replay. “First message is from the dry cleaner. My pickup order is ready. Second message. Elliot. He must have called when he got home last night. Third message. Elliot. He seems more upset. Fourth message. Elliot. Fin, he is really spiraling right now.” Liv said as her eyes teared up. She didn’t know if she could listen to the last message. Was it Elliot? Or was it the police saying he was hurt? Olivia couldn’t let herself think the worst.
Olivia took a deep breath and put the last voice mail on speaker. Elliot’s voice came on. Angrier than she had ever remembered. “Liv, no I should call you Captain Benson. Your silence is clear. Message received. I will leave you alone. Bye.”
Fin came around the desk and gave Olivia a hug. “Breathe, Liv. Deep breaths. Count to five. Breathe.” Fin repeated over and over while he stroked her back and held her in an embrace. “We will help Elliot but right now I am worried about you.”
A week had passed since Elliot’s intervention. Elliot had called and confirmed meeting Angela Wheatley at the park later that day. Elliot knew getting closer to Angela may help him bring down Richard Wheatley. Angela was Richard’s ex wife and mother to two of his children. Richard was the son of a mafia boss and was involved in some shady dealings in drug trafficking. Wheatley was Elliot’s first case with the Organized Crime Unit and he was determined to have him arrested.
He still hadn’t heard from Olivia. However after his voicemails he didn’t blame her. He was drunk when he called. He was also still angry about the intervention. He understood people were worried. However one of his biggest issues is when people blindside him. Elliot had to handle it in his own way.
Elliot arrived at Prospect Park a little before four. He and Angela were supposed to meet and go for a walk. Maybe also get some dinner after if things went well. More time he could spend with her may help him. She may put her wall down and hopefully give Elliot some useful info. He had to admit he liked Angela. And they had a shared bond of losing someone. Angela's oldest son had died from a drug overdose. Elliot's only reservation was he didn’t know how much he trusted her. Or how close she was to Richard.
As Elliot walked along the park’s path he felt a moment of peace. It was nice seeing people scattered around the park happy and laughing. He also could see ducks swimming on the water. And the sky was a perfect blue. Elliot took a deep breath reminding himself to live in the moment and just focus on today.
“Elliot, hi. Glad we could meet today” Angela called as she walked up. She gave Elliot a quick hug. “I really wanted to go for a walk. I find being in nature really helps my stress and I love being outdoors.”
“Same. I was just thinking how nice it is to be in the park today. I’m happy we were able to meet.” Elliot said as they walked along the path.
“I would like to get to know each other better today. How long have you been a cop?” Angela asked as she slipped her arm around Elliot’s.
"I have been a cop for thirty five years. Majority of my time was in the Special Victims Unit. Some cases were very hard and would stay with you. Each day I felt I was making a difference. Ok, only fair. Now your turn. If you were not a professor what other job would you choose?” Elliot said curiously.
“I would be an actress. I like walking in someone else's shoes. And each role you may learn something such as a hobby, language or skill. Money wouldn’t be bad either.” Angela said as she laughed. “Your turn. If you were not a cop what would you have done?”
“Hmm, I think maybe I would have stayed in the Marines and worked myself into a leadership role. Another thing may have been working in construction and eventually owning my own business. I would have liked having a family owned business I could pass down to my kids. Your turn. What is your favorite meal you like to cook?” Elliot said as he looked at Angela.
“I make really good lasagna. Homemade from scratch. Even the sauce. I will spend all day making it. I love how the aroma fills the whole house. Someday you will have to come over and try. How about you Elliot? Can you cook?” Angela asked.
“No, I’m not really a cook. I can make a good batch of chilli. I love having chilli during the fall and winter. And especially on Sundays when I can watch a good football game.” Elliot said as he looked around the park.
“Ok, if you had three wishes what would you wish for?” Angela asked as they stopped and looked out across the water.
“I would wish my children to be happy and loved. My second wish is to live one day as a celebrity.” Elliot laughed. “My final wish is for Kathy to be here. For Kathy to have never died and she would be here for our kids.” Elliot said as he began crying.
Angela stroked Elliot’s back as he cried. After a few minutes Elliot wiped away his tears. “Angela, thank you. I didn’t mean to get emotional. Nowadays any minor thing can remind me of Kathy.”
“You are ok. I remember how I was after my son died. If you need to cry it is ok to let yourself. Find ways that help you deal with your loss. Counseling helped me as well. I could talk openly without being judged. Day by day Elliot.” Angela reached over and embraced Elliot in a hug.
“How about I go get us a snack? And you can have a few minutes to yourself. I know there is a food truck not far away.” Angela asked.
“Yes, thank you. I really appreciate it.” Elliot said as he spotted Olivia further up the path. He could tell by her expression she had witnessed the past few minutes.“Can I give you money for the snacks?” Elliot asked as he quickly looked back at Angela.
“No, you can get it next time. Be back in awhile” Angela replied smiling. As Angela walked away she passed Olivia on her way to the food truck.
Elliot saw Olivia walk off towards the park’s playground. Noah must be here as well. Elliot thought as he followed behind her. He needed to talk to her and very least apologize for his voicemails. He felt embarrassed letting his anger and hurt get the best of him. He sent a text to Angela saying he saw a friend in the park and please meet him there in a few minutes.
“Liv, can we talk?” Elliot asked as he approached Olivia. She was sitting on a park bench watching Noah as he was making his way across the monkey bar rings.“Please just five minutes?” Elliot asked as he stood in front of her.
“Fine, five minutes. I’m not sure what you want Elliot. Everytime I reach out you push me away again. And your voicemails. You can’t expect me to answer at three am when your last call came. I have a child who gets up every day by 6:30 am so he has time to wake up before school. I am also now Captain of SVU. I go to bed early.” Olivia said as she sighed looking at Elliot.
“Liv, I’m sorry. I messed up with the calls.” Elliot said as he sat down next to her.
“Did you mean what you said in the voicemails?” Olivia asked as she looked ahead watching Noah.
“Yes, I need space. All I’m doing is hurting you the same way I did when I left ten years ago.” Elliot said quietly.
“Well it seems like you are not pushing everyone away.” Olivia said sarcastically as she turned and glared at him.
“Who, Angela?” Elliot asked as he looked at her.
“Yes, I saw her comforting you as Noah and I were walking into the park. She was rubbing your back and you gave each other a hug. Every time I’ve tried reaching out to comfort you.” Olivia paused. “You push me away. Or physically recoil from my touch. How do you think that makes me feel?” Olivia said as she got up from the park bench.
“Liv, please wait. Give me a chance to explain.” Elliot said as he got up from the park bench and walked towards her.
“Elliot, what a cute park. Order took longer than expected. I got us some nachos.” Angela said as she walked up.
Elliot turned and smiled as Angela approached. “Angela, hey. I love nachos. Let me carry them for you. I like to introduce you to Olivia, my old partner from SVU.”
Angela smiled as she shook Olivia's hand. “Very nice meeting you Olivia.”
“Mom, can we go get nachos?” Noah asked as he ran up to Olivia. “Who are you?” Noah asked as he looked at Angela and Elliot.
“Noah, this is Elliot. We used to work together and his friend Angela.” Olivia said as she looked at Noah.
“Hi, can we go now mom? Remember Jack coming over for dinner and a movie.” Noah asked excitedly.
“Yes, honey of course. Jack is going to be bringing us pizza. We should stop and get some dessert. Maybe ice cream?” Olivia said as she noticed Angela slip her arm around Elliot’s arm.
“Bye. Liv. Hope you have a good night” Elliot said as Olivia walked away. Elliot wanted to know who the hell Jack was. And how much he mattered to Olivia.
Olivia was nervous. Unsure what to expect. She needed a glass of wine to relax and calm her nerves. He would be here any minute and she had no idea what would happen. Olivia placed her glass of wine on the kitchen counter and walked into her bedroom. She switched into a pretty black top with her jeans and threw her hair in a low hanging messy bun. Next she put on some lip gloss with a pink tint. She looked good. Damn good she laughed which helped her relax again.
Just then there was a knock at the door. Olivia took a deep breath as she left her bedroom and walked to her apartment door. As Olivia opened her door she could see Elliot standing there. He looked really nervous. “I like your new hair choice.” Olivia laughed as she remarked on Elliot still having a completely shaved bald head.
“Yeah, I needed a change and I did it on impulse. Liv, thanks for letting me come over tonight.” Elliot said as he followed Olivia into her apartment.
“Would you like a beer or something to drink? I also have diet coke, water or red wine.” Olivia said as she walked in the kitchen.
“A beer is fine." Elliot said as he took the beer from Olivia. “I was surprised to see you today. Do you and Noah normally go to that park? Seems like a long drive for you.”
“No, Noah and I had gone to the zoo first. We had just received a gift of annual membership for the zoos and were taking advantage of it.” Olivia said as she walked into the living room and sat on the couch.
Elliot smiled. “Good, happy for you. Sounds like a great gift.” Elliot said as he sat on the other end of the couch. “My kids loved going there when they were Noah’s age.”
“Elliot, why did you want to come over? I really don’t feel like doing small talk.” Olivia said as she turned towards him.
“I..” Elliot paused. “I wanted to apologize for my voicemails. I was drunk, angry and hurt. I should have never taken it out on you. I know you and my kids are only worried.”
“I appreciate your apology and thank you.” Olivia said as she sipped her wine. “So, you never answered my question earlier. What do you want from me?”
“You are not going to make it easy on me are you?” Elliot sighed and looked around the room avoiding looking at Olivia.
“Why should I Elliot? You reappear in my life after dead silence for ten years” Olivia said angrily.
“I want you in my life.” Elliot said as he turned towards her.
“Why? And why now?” Olivia asked.
“What do you mean?” Elliot said as he rubbed his neck.
“Elliot, why do you want me in your life now after leaving with no words for ten years?” Olivia said more forcefully.
“Liv, I’ve always wanted you in my life. I just wasn’t good for you anymore. We were too close. I always chose you over everyone. Even my own family.” Elliot said as he looked down.
“How unfair. I would have taken anything from you even if you moved away. A christmas card or a yearly call. Anything so I wasn’t completely shut out of your life.” Olivia said as she got up from the couch to refill her wine glass.
“Liv, I meant what I said at the intervention. I always have.” Elliot said as he followed her into the kitchen. He reached out trying to rub her shoulder.
“Don’t.” Olivia said as she pulled away and stood looking at him.
“Liv, please.” Elliot said as he stepped closer to her.
“I’m tired, Elliot. Maybe you should go.” Olivia said as she walked back in the living room towards the apartment door.
“What? No. We need to talk.” Elliot pleaded as he walked after her.
“Elliot, you are obviously still not ready to talk.” Olivia said as she turned around looking at him.
“Yes, I am ready.” Elliot said as he walked to the couch and sat down. “I’m ready to hear you.”
“Ok, I’m here.” Olivia said coldly as she sat down on the couch.
“I never reached out because I didn’t think you wanted to hear from me.” Elliot said as he took a drink of his beer.
“Seriously, Elliot. I don’t believe that is the reason you never reached out to me." Olivia said as she looked at him. “Answer this. How many times have you visited New York since you left?”
“Five. I’ve been back five times in ten years.” Elliot said quietly.
“Nice. Really nice Elliot. And in those five times you could never ask me to meet for thirty minutes for coffee. So you could explain why you left with no goodbye?” Olivia said as she teared up.
“I should have. However as more time passed I became more scared to reach out. I was a coward.” Elliot said.
“Well you were wrong. I would have always met you. Anytime you would have reached out. I would have been there.” Olivia said as she began crying.
Both sat in silence unsure of what to say next. Olivia took a deep breath and finally said “Elliot, I’m not sure where we go from here. You broke my trust. And since you came back all you keep doing is pushing me away. You obviously still don’t want me in your life. I appreciate you coming tonight so we can have closure.” Olivia said as she looked at Elliot.
“What? Liv, you can’t mean this..” Elliot said as his voice cracked.
“What do you mean by I love you? Olivia asked. Your friend? Your partner? Your…” Olivia looked away.
“I.. I don’t know.” Elliot said as he looked away.
“How can you say those words and not know the meaning? You are being selfish.” Olivia screamed.
“Olivia.” Elliot whispered as his eyes began tearing up.
“And would you ever reach out to me if Kathy hadn’t pushed you to come to my award ceremony?" Olivia asked as she looked at Elliot.
Elliot looked away unable to answer.
“Would you ever say those words if Kathy were alive? Answer to everything is no. You are only here now because Kathy is gone and you are scared of being alone.” Olivia said as she cried.
“Liv, I can’t lose you. Please.” Elliot said as began crying.
“Your words don’t match your actions. You left without saying goodbye. You never reached out. You keep pushing me away. I will not be anyone's rebound or consolation prize. I deserve someone who will love and respect me. Someone who is there when things are hard.” Olivia said as stood in front of Elliot.
“Please, I will do anything. I promise.” Elliot sobbed uncontrollably.
“Counseling. If you want to be in my life you need to be in counseling.” Olivia said as she walked in her bedroom and shut her door. A few minutes later Olivia heard her apartment door open and close. She knew Elliot had left. However she was unsure if it was for good.
Song: Now Comes the Night by Rob Thomas
It had been three weeks since Olivia had seen or heard from Elliot. She hadn’t tried reaching out to him. Olivia needed to wait and hope her silence would show Elliot she meant what she said. For Elliot to be in her life he needed counseling so he could begin to heal. Elliot needed tough love right now Olivia reminded herself.
She still had Elliot’s letter he had given her that day in the park soon after his return. Every day she had looked at the envelope since she received it. Olivia had even gone to Elliot’s apartment one night so she could open it and they could talk about whatever it said together. However he couldn’t talk so she continued carrying the envelope in her purse. Olivia was nervous, maybe even a little scared to open the letter by herself.
For ten years she had wondered why he left? She had wondered why he never even once reached out to her. Now he was back and as much as she pushed him that day in her apartment for answers, a part of her was scared to find out. Because once she knew the answers everything would become real.
11:23am the clock read as Olivia looked up. Another day drowning in paperwork here at the office. Currently SVU had two open cases they were investigating. One was a college student Mallory who had gone to a college party and didn’t remember much. Likely she had a drug placed in her drink. Other case had been a burglary and rape of a women Lori in her thirties who lived alone.
“Fin, any updates on Mallory’s case. Have we gotten any toxicology reports back?” Olivia asked as she walked into the squadroom.
“Not yet. Melinda said by tomorrow morning we should have results. I just came back from talking to Mallory’s roommate. She did say she saw Mallory with a guy not on our list. I’m going on campus around two to see if I can find him after his class.”
“Good. Please keep me updated and thanks Fin. Have you ever heard of Tom Johnson, an attorney before? I had a voicemail message to call him.” Olivia asked as she looked around the squadroom.
"Nope, the name doesn't sound familiar." Fin said as he followed Olivia in her office.
"Munch called me yesterday and we talked for over an hour. He is in Boston visiting family for a few weeks." Olivia said as she sat in her chair.
“Can you imagine Munch on a trip?” Finn laughed hysterically.
“Omg, long day trips were bad enough.” Olivia laughed. But we are family. I really feel blessed to have each of you in my life. Sorry anniversaries like this remind me of how much I have lost.” Olivia said as she teared up.
“Good thing we are not going anywhere. Even if I’m stuck having you as my boss." Fin said as he winked at Olivia. “Come here.” Finn said playfully as he gave Olivia a hug.
“Ok, back to work” Olivia said as she laughed as Fin walked out of her office.
Olivia decided to call the attorney to see what the personal matter he had to discuss with her. “Yes, hi I am calling to talk to Tom Johnson. He left a message for me earlier. My name is Olivia Benson. Sure. I can hold and thank you.”
After a few minutes Olivia was transferred. “Olivia, hi my name is Tom Johnson. I was a friend of your brother Simon. I was wondering if we could meet?”
“Can I ask what this is about? My brother died a year ago tomorrow.” Olivia asked as she wondered.
”Yes, Olivia, it's something I need to give you in person. Your brother left it for you. Are you free at all tomorrow? It is something I can’t stress enough. This is very important and you will want it." Tom replied.
“I am off tomorrow. Where should I go to meet you? Olivia asked as she wrote down the address. Thank you Tom. I hope you have a good day.” Olivia was worried as she wondered what information this attorney had about her brother.
Song: Breakin me by Johnny Lang
Olivia kicked off her high heel shoes as she sat on the couch. It had been a long day. And she still had to get supper ready. Noah would be home in an hour from soccer practice.
Hard to believe Simon had been gone a whole year. Guilt over her last call remained. Even if Simon never heard her message, it was the last words she had said to him. Olivia had spoken in anger and hurt. She wanted Simon to regret missing their lunch and know she was done. However part of her had hoped he would have called back and they could have worked on repairing their relationship.
So if anyone asked why she didn’t cut Elliot out of her life completely it was because of Simon. She could handle not talking or seeing him. But she would never say goodbye. She needed to know there was hope of having him in her life again. Even if it never happened.
Olivia decided she was making mexican food for dinner. Her menu would be a taco layered dip, chicken enchiladas, spanish rice and brownies and vanilla ice cream for dessert. Of course she had never made enchiladas before so it would be interesting. Thankfully Noah was always up for trying new recipes.
Forty minutes had passed and Olivia had a giant mess. Enchiladas took longer than she had expected putting together and she still was in the middle of making her seven layered taco dip when there was a knock at the door.
“Oh, no they came early,'' Olivia said as she rushed around her counter. “ I’m coming,” Olivia said as she walked to her apartment door. “You guys came early,'' she said as she opened her door.
Olivia's eyes widened as the person standing in front of her was the last person she had expected to see. “Elliot, um hi. I was expecting. I thought you were someone else. Why are you here?” Olivia noticed Elliot was dressed in a dark blue suit and blue shirt. It made his blue eyes pop even more.
“Olivia, hi.” Elliot paused. "I wanted to give you these flowers.” Elliot said as he nervously handed Olivia a bouquet mix of white and purple roses.
“Thank you Elliot. The flowers are beautiful.” Olivia said. As she reached for the flowers her hand accidentally brushed Elliot’s making her feel electricity between them. When she looked up at Elliot she could have sworn he was blushing.
“I also wanted to say how sorry I am. I know tomorrow is the anniversary of Simon’s death. I know my words don't mean much to you anymore. I’m here. Anything you need Olivia. I promise. You call and I will be here.” Elliot said as his eyes teared up.
“Thank you Elliot.” Olivia said as she looked up at him.
“You have some sauce on your face. Elliot said as he stepped closer and placed his thumb on her face and slowly wiped it off.
Olivia's eyes locked with Elliot’s as they both stood in silence. “Elliot, would you?” Olivia paused.
“I should go. I just wanted to.” Elliot paused. He stepped closer within inches of Olivia.
“Elliot,” Olivia whispered. Being so close to him both made her feel both scared and like a silly high school girl inches from her crush. Dammit how he always had this effect on her.
“Goodnight” Elliot whispered in her ear. He slowly turned away and began to walk away.
“El,” Olivia said as she reached for his hand. “Thank you for the flowers and for coming.”
Elliot turned and looked at her. “Always Liv. I promise” Elliot said as he gave her a shy smile. He then turned and walked down the hall.
Olivia walked back in her apartment confused. She couldn’t figure out what Elliot wanted anymore. However she was happy he reached out today. It helped her to know he would be there if she did need him.
Song: Angel by Sarah Mclachlan
Olivia was going to meet Tom at a cafe for lunch. A casual atmosphere seemed more appropriate than going to his office. Also much closer to her apartment. Noah ended up sleeping over at Jack's so Olivia was able to sleep in for a few more hours. As Olivia got ready she couldn't figure out what to wear. She was nervous, unaware of what to expect from the meeting. She was tired of her normal business clothes and instead decided on a pretty dusty pink floral wrap dress. Her hair would be in a loose bun with just a little eyeshadow and lip gloss.
Olivia arrived a few minutes before noon at the cafe. "Hi, I am here to meet Tom Johnson. Can you please tell me if he has arrived?" Olivia asked at the front counter. After a few minutes the waitress came back and led her to a back table where a man was sitting.
"Olivia, thank you for coming." Tom said as he stood up and shook her hand. Tom was dressed in a black dress shirt with jeans. He seemed to be in his forties with dark brown hair and piercing blue eyes. A resemblance to the actor Bradley Cooper with a boyish charm.
"Yes, I am happy to meet you." Olivia said as she sat down.
"Would you like to order lunch?" Tom asked as he handed her his menu.
"I have off today. So I have time for lunch. Hmm. Can I please have a chicken alfredo, side salad and garlic bread. And a glass of red wine and water. Thank you" Olivia said as she handed the waitress back the menu.
"Please add her order to mine," Tom asked the waitress. "I have never been here before. I like how you can come for coffee or have a meal." Tom said as he turned back looking at Olivia.
"Agree, I always like finding a new spot. A few friends have come here before but this is the first time I have been here." Olivia said as she looked around.
"So, Captain of SVU is very impressive. How long have you worked in that department?" Tom asked as he took a sip of his drink.
"I have been there all but one year of my career as a police officer. I worked my way up the ranks and I am proud to say I am the first woman to be captain of SVU. Every day I feel like we are making a difference by helping victims and helping them get justice." Olivia said as she smiled.
"Very impressive. Simon always talked very highly of you. We were best friends from elementary school all the way through when we graduated high school together. Then as life happens we lost touch with each other. Oddly, one day a few years back we ran into each other again at the gym and stayed close." Tom said as he looked at Olivia.
"Nice to meet one of Simon's friends. I can't believe he passed away a year ago today. We always think we have so much time and then someone passes away so young. And we are reminded how precious life is." Olivia said as her eyes teared up.
"Agree, Simon had a hard life. But he did make a difference to those who knew him. I'm glad I was able to meet you today." Tom said as he handed Olivia a tissue.
Just then the lunch order arrived. Olivia and Tom ate and shared stories of Simon. Quickly the time passed as an hour flew by. Olivia was surprised how much fun she was having.
As Olivia looked up she saw Maureen by the front counter. She smiled and waved. Maureen came over after paying an employee. "Liv, small world. Dad and I were just picking up a lunch order to eat at his apartment." Maureen said as she walked up to the table.
"Hi, sweetheart. Tom, this is Maureen. She and her family are close friends of mine." Olivia said as she stood and gave Maureen a hug. "Your dad is here? I don't see him anywhere?"
"I'm not sure. I know he saw you. When I said I was going to say hi dad said he would take the food to the car." Maureen said as she sighed.
"Ok, I'm happy I am able to see you today. Today is the first anniversary of my brother Simon who died. It has been a hard day." Olivia said as she looked at Maureen.
"I'm sorry Liv. You are in my prayers." Maureen leaned over giving Olivia another hug. She whispered "He's cute. Good for you Liv." Maureen teased. "I need to get going. I hope you have a nice lunch. I will call you in a few days." Maureen said as she smiled and walked away.
"Bye, Maureen." Olivia said as she laughed. "Tom, you said you had something you had to give me?" Olivia asked as she sat back down.
"Yes, sorry I was having such a good time I nearly forgot. When Simon died I was his emergency contact at his apartment. So when his wife didn't take all his stuff I was called to pick up the remaining items. One of the items I apologize I didn't see right away as it was tucked in his book Gulliver Travels. Simon wrote you a letter." Tom said as he reached down and opened a black duffel bag.
Tom handed Olivia the book and letter. "I also have one more thing for you. I put together a photo book of pictures of Simon from when he was a kid to present. I know you grew up apart and I thought you may like some more memories of his life. I loved him like a brother. I really miss him." Tom said as his eyes teared up.
"Thank you Tom. I had a really nice time meeting you. It was nice talking about Simon and learning things I didn't know." Olivia said as she got up from the table.
"Here is my card with my cell phone number. Please call if I can help you in any way. Or if you just like to talk. I'm sorry we had to meet this way." Tom said as he and Olivia hugged goodbye.
On Olivia's way to her car she called Don Cragen, her former boss and more important someone she considered and loved like a father. Noah even called him Grandpa. "Don, hey it Liv. Can we have dinner this week? I just got some things from a friend of Simon's and I don't want to open it up alone. Talk soon." Olivia said as she finished her voice mail.
Song: Jealous by Labrinth
Elliot walked to his car carrying his lunch order. He was a fool. After last night he thought Olivia was opening up to him again. He felt a spark between them. She would never want to be with him.
He had no right to feel an insane amount of jealousy when he just saw her. His mind was racing. She obviously was on a date. Maybe serious? Maybe the same guy she mentioned at the park? Olivia looked happy. Maybe she was in love? He was the guy he always thought she would end up with. A successful businessman who would spoil her as she deserved.
Seeing Olivia made Elliot's heart ache. The way Olivia looked in the cafe. She was beautiful. She was even more beautiful than she was ten years ago. Her confidence, her elegance and the way when she would walk in a room everyone was drawn to her. He felt a huge amount of pride seeing who she had become in the years he was gone. Olivia had climbed the ranks to be captain of SVU. She had moved on and built a good life for herself.
He only wished he could have a small place in her life now. Elliot no longer knew her. Or knew how he should act around her. He both needed her and needed her as far away as possible. What if he could hurt her again? No, he wouldn't take the chance. Instead he would keep his distance.
"Dad, unlock the door," Maureen said as she knocked on the passenger window. "You were awful rude just now." Maureen said as she climbed in the car.
"I didn't want to interrupt." Elliot said as they sat in silence on the car ride back to his apartment.
After lunch Maureen took the dirty dishes and garbage in the kitchen."Dad, so can we talk now about earlier?"
"Sweetheart, not much to say. Olivia was on a date and I didn't want to interrupt her." Elliot really didn't want to talk about this.
"Why would Liv care if you came and said hi for a few minutes? You are being ridiculous." Maureen replied, shaking her head.
"I just didn't want to go over,'' Elliot said as he rubbed his neck.
"Dad, what happened?" Maureen asked as she moved closer to him on the couch.
"I brought her flowers last night because it was the anniversary of her brother Simon's death today. It felt like we had a moment. I was wrong." Elliot said as he looked down.
"Omg, you are jealous?" Maureen said as she laughed.
"No, I am not jealous. I was only surprised to see her today." Elliot said as he sipped his beer.
"Dad, do you want her in your life?" Maureen asked with a curious look.
"Maureen, she has moved on. She also told me if I wanted to be in her life I needed counseling." Elliot said as he could feel his eyes tearing up. "I just disappoint her. I'm not sure I even deserve a second chance to be in her life." Elliot said as he looked away.
"Why don't you talk to her? You already said you loved her." Maureen said as she smirked at her dad.
"I'm not sure I should. Seems like she is in a relationship now. She mentioned some guy at the park a few weeks back and today we saw her with someone." Elliot said as he could feel himself becoming jealous again as his heart ached at the thought of her with someone else.
"Dad, if you even want Liv as a friend you need to do something. More distance you give her the easier it is to move on." Maureen said more forcefully.
"I will think about it,'' Elliot paused.
"Dad, do more than think. If you tell someone you love them then as a friend or something more you don't walk away when things are hard. You show up. She needs you now. She needs you today." Maureen said as she grabbed Elliot's hand.
"Sweetheart, thank you. I wouldn't have been able to survive the months since your mom died without you" Elliot paused as he tried to open up. "Your support some days is what helped me not to give up. I want to be the father you all need. I also feel blessed having you as my beautiful and loving daughter. I love you." He reached over, giving her a kiss on the cheek. Elliot and Maureen hugged tightly to each other.
Song: Now Comes the Night - Rob Thomas
Olivia was glad it was Friday night. She had the weekend off and her plan was sleeping and relaxing. Noah was gone for the weekend. He was staying at Fin's son Ken house who had a son close to Noah's age.
Don would be here soon. Olivia was picking up the apartment quickly. It wasn't messy, it just always seemed to be put on hold for the weekend. They had decided on pizza. Don offered to pick it up on his way over. A knock came at her door as Olivia was placing the vacuum back in the closet.
"Coming" Olivia called as she walked to the door.
"I hope you are hungry . I got us a large supreme , garlic knots and turtle cheesecake for dessert." Don said as he walked inside smiling at Olivia who was holding the door.
"I always have room for pizza." Olivia said as went and got two beers from the fridge and paper plates off the counter.
"I'm sorry about Simon. Anniversaries like this are hard. Especially when you never got to talk things out. How are you doing?" Don asked as he placed all the food down on the end table in the living room.
"It hasn't been easy. I've blamed myself for thinking my voicemail may have been one of the last things he heard the day he died. Simon was my only family I had left." Olivia said as she wiped away a tear from her eyes.
"Liv, please don't blame yourself. We all make rash decisions or say things we regret. Simon knew you loved him. And as far as family. You have been in my life 24 years. I have never had kids. I love you like a daughter and Noah as a grandson. I feel beyond blessed having you both in my life." Don reached over giving Olivia a hug. "I love you,'' he said as he rubbed her back as she broke down and sobbed.
"I love you too." Olivia said as she leaned back wiping her face with a napkin. "You are exactly what I always wished for in a father growing up. We should eat the pizza before it is cold." Olivia said as she grabbed 2 slices of pizza.
"How was your lunch with Simon's friend? You said he gave you some items". Don asked curiously as he sipped his beer.
"Yes, let me get it." Olivia said as she was putting away leftovers in the refrigerator and grabbed two more beers. She walked in her bedroom and grabbed the book, letter and photo album from on top of her bedroom dresser. "I haven't looked at anything yet. I'm nervous." Olivia said she sat on the couch.
'Would you like me to read you the letter?" Don asked as he moved closer to Olivia on the couch.
"Yes, I don't think I can do it. I have no idea what it will say." Olivia said as she nervously handed Don the letter.
"No matter what it says. I love you and I'm here for you." Don said as he reached for her left hand and gave it a squeeze. "Here we go." Don opened the letter and began reading aloud.
I am writing this letter the day we are supposed to meet. I'm both scared and excited to meet Noah and have a second chance for us to become close again. I don't want to disappoint you again.
I have worked very hard the past two years rebuilding my life. I waited to contact you until I knew I was on solid ground again. I wanted to show you through both my words and actions that I have changed for the better.
I look up to you for all that you have been through and overcome. You used the pain in your life to help and protect people who have been hurt. I hope I can do the same by helping give back.
For the past year I have volunteered every Wednesday night for my church which makes and serves food at the homeless shelter. Every Sunday I go to church service. It has helped bring me some comfort and I am finally starting to learn to forgive myself for my mistakes . I have been sober and drug free for 715 days. Every day I don't fall back on my vices is a small victory for me.
I'm giving Noah my copy of Gulliver's Travels which was my favorite book as a boy. It was always a reminder that anything is possible as long as I believe. And life should always be a daring adventure.
Thank you for opening your heart and giving me another chance. I know it is very hard to repair trust once broken but I can't imagine my life without you in it.
I love you. Simon
Don looked up from reading the letter with tears in his eyes. "Your brother was a good man, Liv. Sadly he was gone too soon. But he gave you a final gift today. He told you how much he loved you and how much he wanted you and Noah in his life. It is time to forgive yourself for that last call." He reached over, giving her a hug.
"Yes, I'm grateful we had another chance. It would have been much harder to find out he had died, never seeing him again." Olivia said as she wiped her eyes.
"Changing the subject slightly. I know someone else who deserves a second chance in your life." Don said as he looked at Olivia .
"I'm assuming we are talking about Elliot." Olivia said sarcastically.
"Yes, Elliot. I know this isn't fair. He is the one who left with no goodbye and no contact for ten years. I'm really worried about him. He is spiraling and I'm worried what could happen. Please if you get a call he needs help promise me you will go. He needs you Liv. And you need him just as much." Don said as he saw Olivia looking away.
"I will be there if he needs help." Olivia whispered and sighed.
"Thank you. I love you both. You two mean too much to each other to waste a second chance. Can we see the photo book?" Don asked as he picked up the album from the coffee table.
"Yes, I've been curious to see the pictures." Olivia opened the album. A few of her favorites were seeing Simon as a baby, Simon dressed as a puppy, Simon's first car and high school graduation. In total Tom had put together a photo album with all the milestones from Simon's life. This would be a cherished keepsake.
Song - Yesterday I heard the Rain - Tony Bennett & Alejandro Sanz
Elliot looked in his bedroom mirror as he finished tying his tie. Soon he would be meeting all of the kids for Sunday church service and dinner. As much as he loved spending time with them he had been dreading this day for weeks.
Today was Kathy's birthday. She had been killed six months ago. Elliot clenched his jaw, in anger at the thought . He would always feel guilt and responsibility for her death.
He could barely look at her picture even though he had pictures everywhere. He had them in his living room, on his phone, computer and his work desk. Every time he saw her face he was reminded how he was responsible. He was the sole reason his kids no longer had a mother.
His kids' lives were changed forever. Now everything was remembered differently. Before and after the day their mom was killed. Kathy would not be there for Eli getting his drivers license or high school graduation. She would not be there for holidays, birthdays or seeing her children get married. She would never meet any grandchildren.
How do you move on when you feel responsible?
Part of him would have taken Kathy's place if he could.
His faith had also been broken. How could God allow this? No, he would never agree there was a reason why it had to happen. She was a good person, good friend and a loving mother. She should have lived to be in her eighties. Instead she was gone. His kids needed her. He needed her.
Elliot had no idea how to be the sole parent to five children . Kathy was the teacher, role model and disciplinarian. Kathy was who the kids ran to when they got hurt or had something to celebrate. She was the one who wiped away their tears when they had broken hearts with a breakup. Kathy was the heart of their family.
Their marriage was far from perfect. He knew nothing else about being with anyone else. He loved Kathy. It wasn't the love you read in books. They weren't soulmates. They were comfortable. A few times they came close to divorce but they never did. Maybe because both were scared to start over. Elliot had been with her since he was seventeen .
Elliot's phone buzzed, interrupting his thoughts. He reached into his pants pocket grabbing his phone. Lizzie sent a text saying everyone was heading to the church now. He replied quickly with a text saying he was on his way.
Elliot was parking his car in the church parking lot. He saw his five kids standing near the church front stairs. Elliot looked in the driver mirror. "Breathe" he whispered as his left hand began shaking. He could feel himself on the verge of tears as he got out of the car and walked towards his family. "Were you waiting long? We still have a few minutes before service starts." He called out as he walked towards them.
As Elliot walked closer to them the sun was blinding his eyes. He closed his eyes for a minute. When he opened his eyes a white blinding light was in front of him. He felt pain in his head and all over his body. He heard yelling and sensed commotion all around him.
"Elliot, look at me. He woke up. Call the doctor." Elliot opened his eyes and heard beeping. He closed his eyes again. He saw his kids standing on the church steps and smiled. Kathleen and Maureen were laughing at something Lizzie was saying. Eli was standing near the door on his phone. Dickie walked down the stairs towards Elliot. "'Dad, stay with us. Please."
Dickie rushed in the hospital doors to the front desk. "Hi, can you please tell me where my dad is? I just received a call that he was in a car accident."
The nurse held up her index finger as she mouthed one minute as she finished her phone call. "Sorry, what is your dad's name?"
"Elliot Stabler." Dickie said as tears streamed down his face. He couldn't lose his dad. He just saw him a few hours earlier.
"Yes, he was brought in around 2:30am," the nurse said as she looked up from the computer. "If you go down this hall and take a right you will see a set of doors. Go through the doors and you will see the ER reception."
Dickie ran down the hall until he reached the ER. He still had to call everyone to tell them what happened. Dickie was called first because he was his dad's emergency contact. He was the calmest in emergency situations. His mom always said she thought he would've followed his dad's footsteps and became a cop.
"I'm looking for my dad Elliot Stabler." Dickie said as he felt his heart racing. "Please tell me will he live?" Dickie said louder than he thought. He could tell by seeing a shocked reaction from the nurse and people in the reception lobby staring at him. "Sorry, my mom died six months ago. I'm scared." Dickie shuffled his feet as he looked at the ground.
"Your dad is in serious condition but he is stable. We will be moving him into the intensive care unit so we closely monitor him. He has been unconscious since he came in." The nurse said as she looked at Dickie sympathetically.
"Thank you. I need to call my family." Dickie said as he walked down the hall and sat on a chair. He got out his cell phone and dialed Maureen's number. His mind was searching desperately for what to say as the phone rang.
Maureen arrived at the hospital."Dickie," Maureen said as she walked quickly up to him and gave him a hug. "Any change?"
"No, change. Dad is supposed to be moved into a room in the intensive care unit soon. They will be monitoring him and he needs more tests in the morning. We can go up there now. They have rooms where families can wait."
Dickie and Maureen rode up the elevator to the icu unit. There was an unsettling silence between them. Both were too scared to face the reality of what could happen to their dad. Maureen grabbed Dickie's hand giving it a squeeze. She teared up as the elevator doors opened. "We can do this,'' she whispered as tears fell from her face.
"Kathleen and Eli will be here around 8 am. I wanted Eli to get some sleep. He has had a really hard few weeks as it came closer to mom's birthday. He is also now showing signs of depression and his grades are failing. I need to get him into counseling so he can talk about his feelings." Maureen sighed as she walked into the family waiting room.
"Lizzie will be here this afternoon. She wasn't able to get anyone to cover her shift at work. Crappy in my opinion that her boss didn't let her take the day off. I wish she would quit and go somewhere else. They have always taken advantage of her." Dickie said as he walked to the vending machine. He selected some candy and two Cokes .
"Aww, she will be happy hearing you defend her." Maureen smirked. "We need to make a list of people we need to call later to let them know about dad." Maureen said as she opened her purse, getting her small notebook and pen.
"Yes, good idea. The more support dad has the better he will do. If only he stopped pushing all of us away. We need him just as much as he needs us.He looked awful today." Dickie took a sip of his Coke.
"I think he has been drinking every night after work so he passes out. Few times in the past few months I've seen empty bottles on the counter. Maybe on a good day he is lucky if he gets five hours of sleep. I know today after lunch he said he was going to visit mom's grave. He hasn't been there since we buried her." Maureen's hand began shaking from nervousness.
"I just pray he will be ok." Dickie bent his head down and cried.
"We have each other to lean on." Maureen leaned in as she and Dickie hugged.
A nurse walked into the room."Are you Elliot Stabler's family?
"Yes," Maureen said as she and Dickie stood up. "Is there an update on how he is doing?"
"We have moved him into a private room. The dr has been running tests and we are just waiting on results which were asked to be rushed. Your dad has some head trauma which is why he was moved to the intensive care unit. He is asleep now. If you follow me I will show you to his room. My name is Shelly. I am your dad's nurse and I will be here until 7am."
Song: Heal - Tom Odell
Maureen and Dickie followed the nurse to Elliot's hospital room. "Thank you Shelly. We appreciate all the help you are giving our dad." Maureen said as she tried as hard as she could to offer a small smile as the nurse walked away.
"How should we?" Dickie was lost in his thoughts and unable to move any closer to the door. If he saw his dad everything would become real. "Who should go first?"
"Would you like to go in first? I need to call dad's boss. Also Don Cragen needs to know right away. Omg, how are we going to tell Olivia? They just reunited. I don't want to scare anyone but we thought mom had started to recover. We lost her." Maureen sobbed uncontrollably and put her hands on the wall for support to keep herself from falling on the ground. Six months felt like yesterday.
Dickie walked up behind Maureen. He laid his hand on her right shoulder and rubbed her back. "We can wait a few hours to call. Everyone will understand . Breathe. Maybe it will help if we see dad together. The unknown is always scarier."
Maureen and Dickie walked to Elliot's door. They stood there neither wanting to be the first one to go in. The room was dark. The curtains were closed and the room lights were off. There was only a small dimmed light coming from behind Elliot's bed.
Dickie took a step as he looked at the ground . "One, two, three" he whispered to himself. Dickie paused as he closed his eyes. "Four, five, six." He took six steps in the room. He turned around and saw Maureen at the door. "Maureen?" he pleaded.
"I can't. It's too hard. I will stand here." Maureen whispered.
Dickie turned back around and for the first time he saw his dad. Elliot Stabler was more than his dad. He was Dickie's hero. The one person's opinion who mattered the most to him. He told his dad when he was six that he was superman because he saved people. In this moment he felt like that six year old boy seeing his dad so vulnerable.
When Dickie looked at him in the bed he looked peaceful. As if for the first time in six months his dad was somewhere away from all the pain he carried. "Dammit", Dickie said as his voice walked next to his bed and sat in the chair pushing it to face his dad. "You are Elliot fuckin Stabler. You don't give up or quit. Dad, stay with us. Please."
Maureen walked in the hallway. Her left hand was shaking again. She didn't think she had the strength to go through this again. Losing one parent is hard. Losing both parents in six months is unbearable. She was the oldest. She couldn't break down. She had to focus on what she was feeling . She would focus on what she could control. She looked at her watch.
Maureen should start making some walked back into the family waiting room. An hour later she had finished all her calls. Kathleen texted that she and Eli would be coming in the next hour. Maureen covered herself with her jacket and closed her eyes for a few minutes.
"Maureen. The doctor will be here in a few minutes to give us an update." Dickie said as he walked in the room.
"Ok," Maureen yawned as she opened her eyes. "I couldn't sleep anyways. I'm going to have some coffee. Would you like some?" Maureen walked towards the vending machines and ordered herself a cappuccino.
"Sure, plain black coffee." Dickie said as followed her. "I hope the doctor can give us some answers about what is going on."
"Agree, not knowing is what makes me the most anxious." Maureen said as she handed Dickie his coffee. "I talked to dad's boss Ayanna Bell earlier. She is going to look into what caused dad's car accident and see if there was any foul play."
"Good. We all know dad made enemies over the years. Now working in organized crime doesn't help. They just put away Richard Wheatley and his kids. I still don't understand why the crazy ex wife got away with the hit out on our mom. They all deserve to rot in hell for the pain they caused us." Dickie left hand clenched into a fist.
"Honestly with how dad was yesterday. I don't know." Maureen paused.
"What? What are you thinking?" Dickie said as he glared at his sister.
"We have to think of all possibilities. Dad would never intentionally commit suicide. However since mom died he hasn't been himself. He feels responsible for her death. He feels his job as a cop caused Wheatley's to retaliate. It was his mission to catch mom's murderer. Now they have been caught." Maureen stepped closer to Dickie.
"Dad is lost. He has survivor's remorse. He is in so much pain. He drowns it with work and drinking. Mom's birthday and visiting her grave. I think it made everything come to the surface. I truly hope I'm wrong ." Maureen said as she looked at Dickie.
"You're wrong. We need to go back. Dad's doctor is coming any minute." Dickie turned quickly and stormed out of the room.
"Ok," Maureen sighed. She walked to her chair and picked up her belongings. She paused and looked out the window amazed how beautiful it was right before the sun rose in the morning .
As Maureen walked in the hallway she saw Kathleen and Eli talking to Dickie. Good, she thought . She was glad they were there.
"Mo," Eli said as he walked up to Maureen.
"Hey, did you eat breakfast? How are you feeling?" Maureen asked as she gave Eli a hug.
"Stop smothering me. I'm ok. I had a banana." Eli said as he shrugged . "Can I see dad?"
"Yes, let's go see dad. The doctor is coming any minute with an update." Maureen put her hand on Eli's back as they walked to the room.
"Kathleen," Maureen said as she walked up to her sister and gave her a hug.
"Hey, mo." Kathleen said as she took off her coat.
"You and Eli should go spend some time with dad. I'm going to the nurses station to see how much longer it will be before the dr comes." Maureen was partly telling the truth . She wanted to know how much longer the doctor would be. But she also wasn't ready to see her dad.
"Maureen, the dr. on his way up now. I would make sure everyone in the room when he comes. So if anyone has any questions he can answer them." Shelly the nurse said as she walked up to Maureen at the nurses station.
"Hi, everyone. My name is Jason Thompson. I am your dad's neurologist." The doctor said as he walked into Elliot's hospital room.
"Hi doc." Dickie said and walked over shaking his hand.
"Do we know what could be wrong?" Maureen asked as she moved from the door entrance to the middle of the room.
"Your dad has a severe concussion with some bleeding on the brain. He also has three broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder which we reset and bruising all over his body. It worries me that he still hasn't regained consciousness since he was admitted to the hospital. We will be monitoring him closely over the next forty eight hours. Dr. Thompson replied.
Dr. Thompson left. Maureen got up and walked out of Elliot's room. She couldn't stand another minute in that room. It was too hard seeing her dad weak and vulnerable. She had been there every day with her dad since their mom had died.
Maureen was the one who called, texted or saw her dad. Every day. She made sure he had a lifeline to hold onto. She did his grocery shopping when she noticed he had lost twenty pounds in the first few weeks. It started as a way to help because her dad was busy with his new job. Then it continued after Eli moved in with her because he once again spiraled.
She knew because she always knew.
She was the oldest. It was her role to take care of everyone. Her siblings knew their dad was bad. That was the whole reason for the intervention. But no one knew how bad he got since that day . She knew every time he tried to hide how he was feeling .
She knew how that girl dying affected him.
Jenna. Jenna Fox. She was in high school. She was an only child with no father. She was sixteen. Her mother was raped. Her mother was killed in a robbery. Jenna was alone and angry. Jenna made a horrible mistake the day she came for revenge. Her dad Elliot Stabler killed her.
Every year she knew the anniversary of the day Jenna died . Her dad would go somewhere by himself. Every year he mourned her. Every Sunday at church he lit a candle for Jenna. He would say a silent prayer. He prayed Jenna finally found peace and was in heaven with her mom. He prayed for himself that he never have to make that gut wrenching decision again.
She knew what leaving her did to him. Liv. Olivia Benson.
Maureen knew the day he left her part of his heart broke. She knew Olivia is the one person who could make him stay. She knew Olivia is someone he chose many times over everyone else. She knew he loved her. He loved her more than her mom.
As a child many times she blamed Olivia for her parents' issues. As an adult she understood. She understood because she had her own failed marriage. Her parents were kids when they married. They married because her mom became pregnant at seventeen with her.
It is both a blessing and curse to know you are the reason your parents married . Were they in love? Or was theirs a marriage started to do the right thing? Your catholic duty. They barely dated before she became pregnant. Her parents loved each other but they were comfortable. As the years passed they became more like roommates and best friends.
Thirty seven years married. That was an accomplishment for any marriage . Maureen was married four years. She had wanted to go for counseling but he saw it as a waste of time. Her ex cheated leaving her for a coworker. He now has three kids and lives in Connecticut. While Maureen is single. She couldn't even remember the last time she had been on a date.
Maureen sighed feeling alone and emotionally numb from everything around her. She had cried three times since her mom died. The day of her mom's funeral and once in her dad's apartment as they hugged. And she cried today. She wasn't ready to feel her pain or start grieving.
Maureen dialed Olivia's cell phone number. "Liv, I don't know how to say this. Dad was hurt. Could you please come to the hospital today?" Maureen asked as she explained to Olivia about the accident. Fifteen minutes later Maureen walked back towards her dad's hospital room.
"Mo, where were you?" Kathleen asked as she walked up to Maureen in the hallway.
"I needed some time alone. I also called Liv to tell her about dad. She is coming up soon." Maureen said as she turned looking out the window.
"How are you doing? You seem distant." Kathleen asked as she stepped closer to Maureen reaching out her right hand to rub Maureen's shoulder.
Maureen pulled away and walked a few steps back. "Please, don't . I'm fine."
"Have you spent any time with dad yet?" Kathleen whispered.
"No, not alone. I've been in the room a few times." Maureen said as she felt her eyes tear up. She closed her eyes, reminding herself not to break. She would not cry again today.
"Maureen, you have to see him today. What if something happens to him?" Kathleen asked as she looked down the hallway and saw Dickie and Eli standing outside of Elliot's hospital room.
"I… I already carry the guilt of losing touch with them the past few years. Not sure they ever forgave me for that. And they came back for a visit. I never saw mom before she died. Everyone else did. I.. I'm going." Maureen said as she turned walking the opposite direction of Elliot's hospital room.
"Maureen, please come back." Kathleen watched as Maureen walked quickly down the hall and turned left towards the family lobby area. She would give Maureen time and space.
"What's going on? Mo, looks upset. Is she ok?" Dickie asked as he and Eli walked up.
"No, she is in denial. She still hasn't spent any time alone with dad. And she barely grieved losing Mom. She would rather take care of all of us than focus on herself. Remember when we were kids? She has always been like our second mom. She has always been there for us. Kathleen sighed.
"Now we will be there for her." Eli said as he looked down the hallway.
"Maureen said she called Liv and she is coming soon." Kathleen said as she grabbed a container of breath mints from her purse. She shook a few in Dickie and Eli's hand.
"Good, we will give Maureen space until Liv gets here. She may get Maureen to open up to her or have a few ideas of how we can help. We have to get through this together." Dickie said as he reached and grabbed Eli and Kathleen's hand. After a few minutes all three walked back to Elliot's room.
Song: History of my heart - Jonathan Jackson (lyrics in bold below)
Just when I think I've finally found a way
To up and get you off my mind
Just when I finally got a prayer to pray
Your memory creeps up from behind
Olivia was in shock and felt numb as she sat in her car. Part of being a police officer is to expect the "call." The call that your partner or fellow officer in your squad could be hurt or killed. Now as captain she would receive a monthly call that an officer she knew either personally or in passing had an incident. She always reached out offering her support to both the officer and their captain . She hoped someone would do the same for her. Lead by example with your words and actions. Show those you supervise you care about them as a person.
This call brought her back. Back to ten years in the past. To the day her captain Don Cragen told Olivia he put his papers in. He left without saying goodbye. He didn't just leave the job. He left her. She broke in half feeling a pain she never felt before.
It don't matter
How many miles down the road
It don't matter
How many times I let you go
You're always with me
Written in the history of my heart
Olivia and Elliot were so intertwined. Their partnership was not just the job. It was so much more. So many words left unsaid. But it was there. A promise or devotion to each other . An invisible thread that kept them connected even if both denied it or pulled away. Even after ten years apart it was there.
I've a tried a little bit of everything
To start again with someone new
But every time a path seems promising
It leads me right back here to you
If she ever would go there it would only be forever and completely. She didn't let herself even dare think of it. She spent the past ten years building the life she only dreamed of as a child. Noah, her son. How those words filled her heart with love and pride. She was a better person because of him. He opened and expanded her heart. His love helped her heal the broken parts of herself that before him she buried deep inside of her. Her career had become more than just a job. She was making a difference helping survivors of rape get justice and hold onto hope. She was the first woman captain of the SVU department.
She had tried a few times hoping to find a man who would stay. Stay no matter how hard things were. Nothing lasted more than a few years with any guy she dated. Olivia wouldn't settle for less than she deserved . She wanted a best friend and partner. Someone she could build a life with. Grow old together. Take care of each other. Laugh. A love that grew only stronger as each year passed.
It don't matter
How many miles down the road
It don't matter
How many times I let you go
You're always with me
Written in the history of my heart
"Please god. I know I don't pray often. So I'm not sure if you will hear my voice today. Please watch over him. His kids need him. Their mom is with you. Only six months ago. He has been struggling so much the past few months . He needs you. I can't lose him again . Please ." Olivia bent her head as tears fell from her eyes.
Olivia stood outside the hospital . She looked up at the sky with the sun blinding her eyes. Part of her didn't want to go in because once she entered those doors Elliot's car accident was real. Out on the pavement she could lie to herself. Lie to herself that it was just a minor accident. Lie to herself it didn't matter if she was there. And the biggest lie was convincing herself she wasn't scared. Olivia sat on the bench to the right of the entrance. She couldn't go in alone. It was too hard.
"Liv, I'm sorry. I couldn't find a parking spot nearby. I'm not as young as I used to be. Walking tired me out." Don Cragen said as he walked up to Olivia.
"No worries. I'm in no hurry going inside." Olivia said as she looked up.
"Remember Elliot is a fighter. His kids mean everything to him. He won't give up." Don said as he sat to the right of Olivia on the bench. "We will stay here until you're ready." Don placed his left arm behind Olivia on the bench.
"Thanks, not sure why it's bothering me so much. We don't know if it is any more serious than a concussion." Olivia said as she watched people walk into the hospital.
"There's nothing wrong with admitting you care about Elliot . Ten years away doesn't erase the bond you have. Twelve years as partners is a long time. You were always connected which could bring out the best and sometimes the worst in each other." Don said as he squeezed Olivia's shoulder.
"Yeah, I now have a small idea what we put you through. Rollins and Carisi sometimes made supervising them hard." Olivia laughed and felt her body relax.
"I used to have hair before being your captain." Don said and laughed.
"Blame Elliot. He was the problem child. I never did anything wrong." Olivia said as she looked at Don smirking.
"Hmm, not exactly how I remember things." Don laughed and winked at Olivia.
"I'm ready. Thank you for coming here today when I called. I knew after talking to Maureen I wouldn't be able to come here by myself. " Olivia said as she got up from the bench.
" I'm glad we were able to come at the same time. Kathleen called awhile after you as well." Don said as they walked into the hospital.
"I have the next two days off because I worked the weekend. Noah will be staying with the neighbors tonight. Which of course he was excited about having a sleepover at his friend's house." Olivia pushed the fourth floor as she and Don got into the elevator.
"It will be okay. Whatever happens you can always lean on me." Don said as they stepped out of the elevator together.
Olivia looked down the hall as the elevator closed behind them. There was an uneasy silence with no one else around . She grabbed the piece of paper in her pocket. Room 415. On the wall it said to go straight ahead. Olivia wanted to run the closer they got to Elliot room. Finally they reached his room but the door was shut.
No way I'm meant to walk
This world on my own
Some words are only wind
Some words are etched in stone
"What should we do? I don't see anyone in the room?" Olivia asked Don as she tried to look through the small window slit in the door.
"I'm sure they will be back in a minute. Do you want to go in for a few minutes now?" Don asked as he looked around.
"No, let's just wait until the kids come back." Olivia leaned against the wall and sighed. They stood in silence waiting.
It don't matter
How many miles down the road
It don't matter
How many times I let you go
You're always with me
Written in the history of my heart
Five minutes later Dickie and Kathleen got off the elevator carrying their breakfast and coffee from the hospital cafeteria.
"Liv, Don, were you waiting long? I needed a break for a few minutes. I've been here since 2 am. I need caffeine to be semi alert. It's been a long day and it's only 9 am." Dickie said as he quickly walked up to them.
"We completely understand. It has been a tough year for your family. We are here to offer any support we can." Don reached out patting Dickie on the back.
You're always with me
Written in the history of my heart
The history of my heart
Song - Rescue by Lauren Daigle
I will send out an army
To find You in the middle of the darkest night
It's true, I will rescue you
And I will never stop marching
To reach you in the middle of the hardest fight
It's true, I will rescue you
Elliot was standing in front of a grave. The sky was black with only the light from the full moon above. The cemetery was empty with not another person around. Elliot was confused how he got there. What day is it? Who did he come to see?
Two hours had passed since Olivia arrived at the hospital. Time felt like it had stood still since she came. The nurses had done more tests. His vitals were stable. If only he would wake up. Dammit Elliot. Stop scaring me. Olivia thought as she wiped tears from her eyes.
"Liv, we can finally go in." Kathleen said as she walked up to Olivia who had been waiting in the lobby with Maureen.
"Good, I think seeing him will help. Maureen and I are going in together. We are both a bit nervous. Having extra support helps." Olivia said as she stood up. She pulled some hair behind her left ear as she nervously followed Kathleen and Maureen back to Elliot's room.
"Are you ready?" Olivia asked as she looked at Maureen reaching out her hand.
"Yeah, it's a little easier knowing he hasn't had any more issues the past few hours." Maureen said quietly as she squeezed Olivia's hand as they walked into the room.
"Take a deep breath. He is in ICU because of his concussion and because he is still unconscious. Your dad has always been stubborn and everything is always done on his terms. He can hear us. We just need to remind him he has our support. Go first. I'll sit in the chair by the window so you have some privacy with him. He loves you and he wants to hear from you." Olivia patted Maureen's right shoulder as she walked to the chair.
Maureen walked up to the hospital bed. She saw the machines hooked up to her dad keeping track of his vitals. She stood there for a minute just watching her dad.
"What should we do?" Maureen asked quietly.
"Tell him what he means to you. Now is the time to say anything you ever wanted to say but held back. He can hear you." Olivia stepped back sitting in the chair across from Maureen. She nodded at Maureen, closing her eyes as she bent her head down resting her hands in her lap.
"Dad." Maureen barely choked out his name as she sobbed . "Please wake up. I know we haven't been close the past few years. That is my fault. My life was a mess. I pushed you away. I made mom swear she would tell no one in the family about my marriage issues. Even mom barely knew anything .I couldn't disappoint you. Even though that seems to be all I ever do. I know if I wasn't born." Maureen paused, crying again." Anyways, I love you. The past few months have been unbearable since mom died. I have you again. Please don't leave me." Maureen laid her head on the bed gripping Elliot's hand sobbing uncontrollably.
"Liv, do you think he is dreaming?" Maureen asked as she turned to look at Olivia.
"Yes. I think he is stuck somewhere. Either a memory or inner battle within himself. He carries the burden and responsibility of your mom's death on his heart. He won't allow himself any peace or forgiveness." Olivia got up and walked next to Maureen.
"Cry as long as you want. It's good for you to let go of your pain." Olivia knelt down rubbing Maureen's back.
Elliot looked at the grave. How was that possible? No, that didn't make any sense? The name on the grave. "No", Elliot screamed.
"Dad", Maureen called out walking towards Elliot. She reached out her hand to him. "Come with me."
"No, this can't be happening. Why? Maureen, please tell me this isn't real." Elliot begged as tears streamed down his face. Elliot looked at the grave again.
"When? How?" Elliot screamed at the grave. "It should've been me." He turned and Maureen was gone. Elliot was all alone.
Thirty minutes later Olivia walked back into Elliot's room. She had just walked with Maureen to the family room lobby where the rest of the family and Don were playing cribbage and phase 10. Don had the great idea to bring some games from home to help pass the time.
"El, it's just us now." Olivia said as she closed the door and walked to look out the window . She knew today she had to follow the same advice she gave Maureen. Today she had to open her heart and tell Elliot the pain she had. She also needed to admit the feelings that were harder for her to talk about. "Here we go." Olivia took a deep breath and walked to the left side of the bed.
Elliot was somewhere but he couldn't remember where. It was pitch black as he stood in a room. Slowly the lights returned. He saw her. But was she real or was it a memory? No, wait. What was she doing?
Elliot was tied to a chair. He tried wrestling free but he couldn't . There was a gun to the side of his head. Olivia stood in front of him holding a gun. He whispered it was ok for her to shoot. He was scared. He didn't want to die. Elliot closed his eyes as he heard the gun shoot off three bullets. Bang. Bang. Bang.
Olivia took her right hand and stroked Elliot's right cheek. She moved her hand slowly up and down as she watched him. She knew him well enough to know he was in the middle of an inner battle with himself. Olivia moved the chair next to his bed and grabbed his right hand. "I'm here. You are not alone."
Elliot opened his eyes. Now he was in a crowded room. No the subway. He wasn't sure where he should go. Ahead of him was a group of individuals surrounding something or someone. He ran as fast as he could . When he reached the group he pushed through trying to find an opening. Finally he got in. There was someone on the ground. Dark hair. He could tell it was a woman. "No", he screamed as he knelt down.
"Liv, I'm here. You are not alone." Elliot stroked Olivia right cheek. He couldn't lose her.
Olivia took another deep breath as she got ready to talk. Opening up was hard. Especially to Elliot on things that were so personal and made her feel so vulnerable.
"This is harder than I thought. So many things I had planned to say to you if you ever returned. Now my mind is blank. Elliot. Ten years. Ten fuckin years." Olivia said as she shook her head.
"Why didn't I deserve a goodbye? An explanation? A hug? Did I mean nothing to you? I'm guessing partners for life was bullshit. I'm not good enough unless I'm useful to you." Olivia bent her head crying .
Elliot was standing in the SVU squadroom alone. It felt as if someone was watching him. They were always there but never seen. Like a shadow. "Please come out" Elliot called as he walked the halls.
He saw someone at the end of the hallway walking into the SVU squadroom. It looked like a girl with dark hair. He knew her. She was always with him. As he walked closer he became scared for what was to come. He wanted to turn or stop but he couldn't.
"Jenna, please stop. Please." Elliot pleaded as he faced her in the SVU squadroom. Jenna held up a gun getting ready to fire again.
"Jenna. No." Elliot screamed. Elliot raised his gun.
Elliot saw her fall to the ground. No, this should have never happened . She was the age of his kids.
Olivia wiped the tears from her eyes. "You threw me away. Threw away a twelve year partnership away like it meant nothing. I don't believe the reason you gave me. You were afraid I would make you stay? That was a cop out Elliot. I deserve the truth, not the version you think I want to hear. Sometimes since you've been back." Olivia paused. "I wonder if I even know who you are anymore. Maybe too much time has passed."
Elliot walked outside his brownstone. Olivia walked up, handing him a coffee. They sat on the steps for hours. Just talking about everything and nothing. It was always so easy and natural for them.
"You are the longest relationship I've ever had." Olivia laughed.
"You mean alot to me Olivia. You always have." Elliot said as he turned and looked at her. He always regretted never saying those words that day.
Olivia's face quickly turned to anger and hurt. "You threw me away. Threw a twelve year partnership away like it meant nothing. Ten years. I'm not good enough unless I am useful to you." Olivia screamed as she got up from the stairs. She wiped her eyes as she walked down the sidewalk disappearing from his view.
"Liv, come back. Liv, please." Elliot cried.
Olivia sat in Elliot's hospital room. She was just about to tell him how much he meant to her. It wasn't all pain and hurt she felt.
"Liv." Elliot's voice said roughly barely getting the words out.
"El, are you awake?" Olivia asked, jumping quickly out of her chair.
"Liv, come back. Please." Elliot said more forcefully, getting the words out.
"El, I'm here." Olivia said as she stepped closer.
Elliot's left hand shook. His head slumped forward and violently shook side to side. Next his right arm shook. Then within a minute his whole body was having a seizure.
Olivia ran to the hallway screaming. "I need a nurse. He is having a seizure." Quickly two nurses ran in his room slamming the door behind them. The nurse at the nurses station paged the doctor which could be heard over the intercom.
Olivia cried as she stood in the hallway. She had no idea what just happened or how she would tell his kids. Please Elliot. Please be ok.
I will send out an army
To find You in the middle of the darkest night
It's true, I will rescue you
And I will never stop marching
To reach you in the middle of the hardest fight
It's true, I will rescue you