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Here in the Silence

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Once James has settled in to watch the kind of trashy TV that she only allows when they stay in hotels, Olivia makes her way down the hall to Elliot’s room. She’s not sure if he’s back yet, but he hasn’t responded to any of her texts, and what she has to say to him, she doesn’t want to say over text anyways – or in front of James, regardless of whether he knows about them or not.

He looks wary when he answers the door, and Olivia feels even worse. Jesus, she’s fucking up left and right today.

“Hey,” she smiles at him. “Can I come in?”

“Sure,” he nods, stepping back to let her through. His expression hasn’t changed though, and Olivia knows she needs to fix this.

“El, I’m sorry,” she says, trying to catch his gaze. He’s ducked his head down and his eyes seem to be focused on the mini bar instead of her. That’s not a great sign.

“Nothing to be sorry for,” he shrugs. “I get that I’ve been pushing.”

She shakes her head, grabbing him by the bicep and steering him to sit on one of the beds with her. “No, you haven’t. Or-” she pauses. “If you have been pushing, it’s been warranted. There’s no reason not to tell people – I’m just nervous, is all.”

He finally looks up at her, and the look in his eyes kills her a bit, it’s so uncertain. “Why?” He asks. “What are you nervous about, Liv?”

“It’s stupid,” she sighs, shrugging.

“Tell me anyways,” he says, tucking a flyway strand of hair behind her ear, almost absentmindedly.

She shrugs again. “It’s one thing for people to think that we’re together – people have thought that for years – but once we confirm it and it’s out in the open, I just worry that- I dunno,” she sighs. “I worry that people will think that-” she pauses again, trying to work out how to phrase what she’s thinking. “That I’m your mistress or something. That this is the reason that you and Kathy got divorced, or that I’ve broken up your family.”

“Liv, nobody thinks that,” he tells her. Logically, she knows he’s right, but it’s something she hasn’t been able to stop thinking about.

“I know,” she nods. “And now that I’ve said it out loud, I feel a bit ridiculous. But when it was just us who knew, it felt safe. Having everybody know just feels like opening up a part of myself to the world that I always thought would stay hidden – even if it was badly hidden, in hindsight.”

By the way that he’s tilting his head at her and furrowing his brow, Olivia can tell that Elliot hasn’t understood much of what she’s just said. She’ll just have to be more straightforward, then.

“Elliot, I’ve loved you more than twenty years, but I’ve always loved you quietly – secretly. I couldn’t even tell you, and I definitely couldn’t ever tell your kids, or Kathy – Jesus, can you imagine? Now, you’re asking me to do that – to come out and tell the world something that I always thought would be a secret I took to my grave. And I want to – it's time – but it’s also scary. So, I guess I’m freaking out about it a bit, and I’m sorry if that’s come off as me not wanting to tell people, or being ashamed of you, or anything like that. Because that’s not it. I do want to tell people, I’m just scared.”

Elliot looks dumbfounded, and just sits blinking at her for a moment, before: “You telling me you love me, Liv?”

“Yeah,” she nods. “That was my very roundabout way of telling you I love you, El. Because I do. I love you so much.”

He’s giving her that dopey, beaming smile again, and Olivia suddenly feels as though all is right in the world. She’s more than willing to open up the private, long-hidden part of her that’s loved him quietly all these years if he will just keep looking at her like that.

“I love you too,” he smiles. “So much. But then, you knew that – I haven’t been able to shut up about it.”

Olivia can’t help her laughter, and she presses a quick kiss to his lips, nodding. “I do know that,” she says, kissing him again. “And I’m withdrawing my objection to you telling me all the time, because I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of hearing you say it.”

Elliot grins at her again, pushing her hair out of her face and leaving his hand cradling her head. Olivia recognizes that they are moving into dangerous territory, given that she’s left James alone in her room, only intending to be gone ten minutes.

“I love you,” Elliot murmurs, before leaning in to capture her lips with his. God, she can hardly breathe when he kisses her like this. His hands are everywhere – in her hair, on her face, skating down her back and sides – and she’s flat on her back underneath him before she’s even aware that he’s moved. It is only the knowledge that she’d told James she’d be back soon that keeps Olivia from fully giving in to him and shimmying out of her pants, hoping the neighbours don’t mind the noise.

“El,” she groans. “We can’t. I told James I’d be ten minutes – he'll be nervous if I’m late.”

Elliot stills above her, and she knows that – if it were anything other than their son expecting her back – he'd be telling her to just stay and deal with the consequences later. Instead he nods, pressing a quick kiss to her lips and rolling off of her, standing up and holding out his hand to help her up.

“You’d better get back then,” he smiles, not dropping her hand.

“Come with me?” She hadn’t intended to say that out loud, but really, James already knows they’re a couple; surely it wouldn’t be the worst thing if Elliot stayed the night with them?

“You sure?” He asks, tilting his head at her.

“Yeah,” she nods. “As long as you bring pyjamas and don’t try to feel me up, I don’t see why it would be a problem.”

Elliot laughs, pulling her in close to him and sliding his arms around her, resting his hands very much on her ass.

“What did I just say?” She laughs.

He presses a quick kiss to her lips, still laughing. “Just getting it out of my system,” he shrugs. Olivia swats at him half-heartedly, but she really doesn’t mind. As long as he doesn’t do it in front of James, Elliot can grab her ass all he likes.

--

James looks up only briefly when they return to the room, and he doesn’t seem at all surprised that Elliot is with her. Jesus, they really haven’t been fooling anyone.

“What’re we watching?” Elliot asks, dropping down onto her bed and climbing under the covers as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. He has already changed into pyjamas, so she has no reason at all to scold him for it, and the domesticity of the whole thing throws Olivia a bit – but in the best way.

“First 48,” James mumbles. That is decidedly not what he had been watching when she’d left.

“Absolutely not.” She shakes her head.

“Come on-” James starts, but cuts himself off when he sees the look on her face. She’s not usually strict about what he watches, but Olivia has a firm ‘no murder shows’ rule. She thinks that’s more than fair – he is still only nine.

“Change it,” she tells him, firmly. He huffs a bit, but ultimately switches the channel to some home renovation show.

Olivia ducks into the bathroom to quickly change and brush her teeth, and when she returns, she finds James and Elliot laughing about something on TV. She has no idea at all what’s prompted their amusement, but the visual chokes her up a bit and she internally chastises herself for having gone soft. James just looks so comfortable with Elliot, and it’s everything that she’s wanted for her son – since before he was born, really.

Elliot notices her standing frozen in the doorway though, and raises an eyebrow at her. “You good, Liv?”

She shakes herself out of it and nods, climbing under the covers with Elliot and trying not to blush at the way that James is watching them with an amused look. They are doing nothing at all inappropriate, and she knows that she’ll have to get used to people seeing her and Elliot doing couple things, but – really – James doesn’t have to look so smug about it.

“So, you guys are a couple then?” He asks, smirking in a way that is far more Elliot than Olivia is strictly comfortable with.

“Yes,” she nods. “But we’re not making any big announcement about it; it’s Liz’s day, and – as you’ve so helpfully pointed out – we've been doing a bad job keeping the secret anyways.”

She can feel Elliot’s rumbling laugh from where he’s pressed up against her side, and James just snorts from his own bed, turning back to pay attention to the TV again.

“Kathleen’s going to be so mad,” he says, shaking his head.

“What? Why?” Olivia is shocked by the comment – there has been nothing at all in her interactions with Kathleen to suggest that Elliot’s middle daughter would take issue with her and Elliot being together.

“She owes Rich and Maureen like fifty bucks,” James shrugs. “She said you guys wouldn’t admit it until we got back to New York.”

Elliot is very clearly trying to smother his laughter, but Olivia’s jaw has dropped open. Elliot’s kids have been betting on them? She supposes she ought to find that reassuring.

“Just how much money is riding on this?” Elliot asks. James shrugs again.

“I dunno,” he says. “But I think Maureen’s won – everybody but Rich owes her at least ten dollars.”

“Who exactly is involved in this racket?” Olivia asks her son, curling into Elliot’s side and not bothering to hide it.

“Everyone,” James says, looking as if she’s just asked him a profoundly stupid question.

“What do you mean ‘everyone’?” She asks.

“I dunno, everyone,” James shrugs. “Maureen, Kathleen, Rich, Liz, Paula, Kathy, Uncle Fin. Eli tried to join, but his mom wouldn’t let him.”

Olivia isn’t sure at all how to react to that. She’s fairly sure she should be embarrassed, but, at the moment, all she feels is shocked – and amused. Elliot is clearly leaning more towards amused, because he has lost the battle to control his laughter entirely, and he’s shaking enough that it’s beginning to jostle her. Olivia just huffs and smacks him, but it only makes him laugh harder.

“It’s not funny,” she grumbles, even though she knows that it is funny – she's just not able to laugh about it yet.