Her phone beeped, drawing her distracted gaze away from the paperwork in front of her. Seeing the text message notification lighting up the screen, Olivia took off her glasses and put her pen down, picked up the phone, and leaned back in her chair with a sigh as she unlocked it.
Can I buy you dinner? There’s news.
She frowned, trying to tell his mood from those few words. Realizing it would be impossible, she glanced out at the nearly empty squad room before hitting the call button instead.
“You didn’t have to call. I know you’re at work still Liv.” Judging by the voices she could hear in the background, he was still at work as well. She knew they’d been dealing with the lawyers and IAB ever since Morales turned out to be a mole and decided suicide by cop was the best way out.
“It’s fine El. I needed a break from the paperwork for a minute anyway. The one thing they never prepare you for is just how much paperwork you do when you’re in charge of a squad. So, what’s going on?”
He chuckled, and she could hear the creak as he leaned back in his own chair. “That’s what dinner is supposed to be for Liv. If I tell you now, what would be the point of dinner?”
She smiled, recognizing his tone as the slightly flirty one she’d been hearing more of ever since what was supposed to be Fin’s wedding. Neither one of them was ready to jump into a relationship, but they’d come to a silent understanding that night by the water. “I don’t know Elliot. We’ve never needed a reason for dinner before. Why don’t you just tell me the news now, and then you can come over to my place later and we’ll get Chinese. Noah’s taking advantage of it being summer vacation and is at a sleepover so his friend’s mom can take them to an early show of a ballet she worked on costumes for. Apparently, they allow friends and family to come for free on Tuesdays, but it’s normally during the school day.”
“Oh, I bet he’s excited. Sleepover during the week and going to a professional ballet performance?”
“Yes, he’s thrilled. It’s all he talked about all weekend. Now quit stalling Elliot. What’s going on?”
“I never could get one by you, could I? Okay. Well, Angela Wheatley woke up earlier today, and is expected to make a full recovery. Bell and Washburn went over to the hospital once they cleared her for visitors. And we’re finally supposed to be done dealing with IAB and the lawyers over this. We still have to wait for IAB’s official report, but I got the feeling none of us were going to get in trouble for what happened. They told Bell they’d already spoken to you as well, so you should be done with them for now too. And then on a more personal note, you remember I told you I was looking at apartments in the city? At Fin’s not-wedding and then that I had some more appointments the rest of that weekend? Well, I found one, and I went down and signed the lease today during lunch.”
“El, I’m glad things are working out with the case, and that IAB will be out of all of our hair. It’s still bothering me what exactly Richard Wheatley was planning with that fake text sending me to the hospital. But I guess we won’t know unless he decided to tell us. But way to bury the lead! El, that’s great! I can’t believe you found a place in just a week. You didn’t just settle for something did you? You need a good place for you and Eli to make a home.” She knew he’d been anxious about getting out of the one bedroom short-term he’d rented after Kathy’s death, so she hoped he’d taken his time to find something he really liked.
“It’s nice, knowing you worry about us. And thanks. Don’t worry, it’s actually a great place. Rent’s a little higher than I’d planned, but I can make it work. It’s about halfway between here and the one six actually. About two blocks from the school Eli will be going to, assuming they’re back to in person by then. And it’s a three bedroom two and a half bath, which I figure will come in handy if any of the kids decide to visit and don’t want to drive home ever. And it’s near a park, in case anyone else wanted to visit. I take possession this Sunday, and Bell gave me Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday off so I can get some stuff moved in. I’ve got some furniture scheduled for delivery on Monday.” The calm she’d been hearing more and more in the last few weeks shone through, which she knew was at least in part because he’d finally started talking to someone. But she thought a lot of it had to do with settling back into the city, since he’d confided that as much as they’d been happy in Italy, the energy had just never been exactly right to him.
“I’ll always worry El, you know that. I’m glad though. Now you and Eli have all summer to get settled in. Hopefully he’ll meet some of his future classmates, so he won’t fell so new when school starts back up. And you know, it just so happens, I might know someone who could come help you get things set up. You know, if you were interested.” She made sure to infuse her voice with a hint of suggestion, upping the playful flirting they’d been indulging in just a bit. She mentally patted herself on the back when she heard the hitch in his breath followed him clearing his throat. His next words, voice lowered and with a hint of a growl, proved he hadn’t lost a step either, as she felt herself flush with arousal and a corresponding dampness between her thighs that she was fast becoming reacquainted with that caused her to cross her legs and shift in her seat to try to alleviate the pressure.
“Is that so? Well, far be it from me to turn down someone willing to work up a sweat with me. Why don’t we discuss it more over dinner? I should be able to be to your place by 7, if that works for you.”
She checked the time, then the stack of papers she needed to finish, then glanced into the squad room. Seeing her people were now at their desks, folders open in front of them, she quickly calculated it’d be at least another hour before she could even think of leaving, especially if she planned to take three days off next week. “Make it 8?”
“8 it is. Want me to pick up our usual on my way over, or are we having it delivered?”
“Hmm, better pick it up. You know how busy they get. If you call it in when you leave, it’ll probably be just about ready by the time you get there.”
“Sound good. I’ll let you go so you can finish up all that paperwork. See you in a few hours Liv.”
“Alright. Bye El.” Hanging up, she pressed the phone against her chest a moment, savoring the warm feeling she always seemed to get when she talked to Elliot these days, before standing up and walking out into the squad room.
“Anything you guys haven’t finished by 7, you can leave until tomorrow. Short of a new case, you can all clock out then, since we’re currently between cases.” She turned to head back to her office and the stack of paperwork, but turned back around when Amanda spoke.
“Are you clocking out then too Cap? I know Noah’s at that sleepover. You shouldn’t stay late finishing paperwork anymore if we aren’t.” Her detective’s voice was concerned, and she realized just how much her stress and worry over the last three months must have shown, despite how hard she tried to hide it.
“Yes, he’s already called me to say goodnight, because apparently they will be too busy the rest of the night with sleepover stuff to worry about me. But don’t worry, I’m clocking out then too. Even if that pile of paperwork is only going to grow when you all turn in your paperwork.” She turned again, hoping to make it into her office before anyone thought too hard about her clocking out when she didn’t have to, but Fin’s teasing voice told her she was too late.
“You? Clock out early when you don’t have Noah waiting at home? What’s up? You got yourself a hot date or something?”
She was a Captain. Had been a police officer for over twenty years. She’d had to keep her cool when being questioned on the stand by lawyers all the time. But she knew, she knew, that she couldn’t hide the hitch in her step or the slight wince as he asked his question. Even as she turned back around, her face carefully blank, she knew he’d caught her. “Date? No, I don’t have a date. Who would I even have a date with?” Internally, she winced again as she heard a voice that sounded suspiciously like Elliot Stabler tell her that asking that many questions just made her sound defensive, and therefore all the more suspicious. Registering the varying degrees of shock on the three’s faces, she smirked to herself for surprising them at least.
“Oh, I don’t know. A certain Detective, maybe? I saw you two together at the ceremony, off in your own little world by the water. Almost like old times, ‘cept the flirting was a little too obvious.”
Trying to control the embarrassed flush she could feel, she internally cursed. She’d hoped everyone had been too preoccupied to pay attention to her and Elliot, but knew that had probably been too much to hope for. She knew the rumor mill had picked right back up when he’d returned, and people realized they were talking again. “Alright, yes, I’m meeting Elliot for dinner. But it’s not a date. We’re just going to do some catching up over Chinese. We haven’t really had much time to just talk since he came back.” She ignored the pointed look he shot her, and appreciated that Amanda and Kat at least pretended not to be interested, as she finally made it back into her office. She heard his footsteps though, saw him shut the door behind him as she sat down behind her desk.
“You sure about this? I just don’t want you getting hurt. Don’t forget, I was here when he left.” She could see the worry clouding his face, and resigned to give him the truth. After all, he’d been there for it all.
“I’m sure. We’re…Taking things slow. We’ve talked, and while neither one of us is ready to just jump straight into a relationship, we’ve discussed it, and have agreed that’s where we’re heading. So we flirt some, and we spend time together, and we talk. We’re not defining it yet. I know it sounds like dating, and maybe in a way it is. But what’s important to us is rekindling our friendship, first and foremost. We’ve already talked about why he left, how he left. And I’ve told him not only what it did to me, but I’ve told him what he missed. He was…Devastated. It turns out the whole family was in France at the time, and by the time the kids came back, it had already become old news. He swore he would have come back had he known, and I believe him. I’d always wondered if he’d just stopped caring, but if you’d seen how he looked, you’d have had to believe him too. So yes, I’m sure about this. We’re going to take things slow for now, but we know where we’re going to end up, even if we aren’t sure when that will happen. Speaking of Elliot though, I’m going to take a few personal days next week to help him get moved into his new place. He gets the keys on Sunday, and his furniture comes Monday.”
He still looked a little worried, but she could tell he would take her at her word. “If you say so. I have to say, I’m surprised you guys already talked about that. But I’m glad. You deserve to be happy Liv, and I think he’ll make you happy. And don’t worry, I’ll cover next week for you. And I’ll let the others know you’ll be taking some time, and make sure they don’t ask you any questions.” He turned and left the office, leaving the door open behind him as he went back to his desk, stopping to talk to Amanda and Kat on his way.
Putting her glasses on and picking up her pen, she smiled to herself as she went back to her paperwork. She still had a lot to work through before it was time to head out, though she was hoping the anticipation would make the time pass faster. Afterall, it wasn’t every day she got to head home to a hot meal and an even hotter man, not that she’d tell him that. His ego was already inflated enough.