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Mastaba

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Mastaba


Metropolitan Correctional Center – June 2021

Richard Wheatley was no fool.

Obviously, neither was Elliot Stabler – just seeing the woman, Elliot’s Liv had solidified that fact. ‘Morales was right,’ Richard smirked to himself, ‘Captain Olivia Benson’s eyes were – breathtaking.’ Olivia Benson was, without a doubt, the most beautiful police Captain he had ever seen. He believed that if he had met her at a gala or some other fundraising event, he might’ve been able to charm her. Not so much anymore, things were not looking very good for him at the moment. Richard couldn’t help but smirk at the thought of the things he had found out using his old program, Mastaba from his Faraday Cage. The things he had found out by utilizing the Domain Awareness System that he had used to track Gina Cappelletti, well, he’d been watching the other woman in Elliot Stabler’s life.

If that fool didn’t make a move soon, chances are he’d never pull his head out of his own ass.

Richard sat at the table, he had asked to speak to the fool, his Liv, and Sergeant Bell after hearing about the unfortunate demise of his darling ex-wife. Or he had hoped that they weren’t lying to him. He had some things to say on the matter.

Unfortunately, due to incompetence he had gotten his items taken away from him in his cell a couple of days ago. But not before he had damaged the phone to the point that they wouldn’t be able to obtain ANYTHING from it. After he had placed the call to his house, he had smashed it, opened it, and cracked the board. Such a shame, but he would have his attorney slip him a new one. He had a company to run, he had to save his own ass – even if that meant dismantling the organizations that his own father had helped perpetuate over the years. Things were changing, and the old ways of thinking just simply weren’t cutting it anymore. Their blatant racism was disgusting. People should be allowed to marry outside of their race and class.

As the three very important people walked into the room, he glanced down at his handcuffs. Elliot Stabler took up his sentry near the door, Sergeant Bell pulled up the chair next to Olivia Benson and they were seated across from him – this was just fantastic to him.

“Detective Stabler, I don’t bite.” Richard smiled, his blue eyes dancing mischievously as he looked at Olivia, “Hard. Unless you want me to.” He winked at Olivia. Stabler’s jaw twitched ever-so-slightly.  

Olivia Benson watched Richard Wheatley appraisingly, her brow quirked when he added the part about whether or not anyone wanted him to. The words he had spoken to Elliot outside of the plaza echoed in the back of her mind, and she wasn’t sure what to make of it all. Ayanna took a deep breath next to her and rolled her eyes. That was the thing about these rich, suave, slimy mobsters, they all believed that they were God’s gift to women.  

“I’m doing pretty well over here by the door, Dick.” Elliot responded. “What did you want to talk about?”

“I just wanted another opportunity to thank you for your undying devotion to justice and to thank you for taking such great care of my ex-wife. And to find out the answer to the question I posed while they were unceremoniously dragging me away…So you never said yes to dinner, Captain Benson.”

“You didn’t ask me, Richard.” She answered, leaning forward on her elbows, smirking, “You assumed I was interested. Besides, it appears like you owe Elliot a dinner instead of me…it would only be nice of you, seeing as how he saved your ass.”

“No, I doubt it was my ass he wanted.” Richard leaned back, a smirk on his face. Ayanna watched, attempting to mask her interest in this situation. “I bet he didn’t tell you about my hot mess of an ex-wife Angela and his relationship – did he?” Richard brought his cuffed fingers up below his chin, “He is just so confused about everything, your old partner, Detective Stabler.”

“Did you just bring us here to blow smoke up our ass?” Elliot asked, beginning to lose his patience.

“Perhaps you should’ve worried about saving your children’s asses.” Bell interjected. “Ritchie is going to go away for the murder of Gina Cappelletti, she was a cop.”

“Well, perhaps Ritchie should have spent time studying the object of his obsession before acting like a damn fool.” Richard shook his head, turning his attention from Ayanna back to Benson. “Perhaps he should’ve spent years getting to know her, finding out everything there was to know about her. Perhaps he should’ve fallen for her slowly but all at once at the same time.” He paused, “But she was never his one true love. The love of his life, the one woman he would’ve died for. Because when it came down to it, he pulled the trigger.” Richard turned his attention to Elliot.

“Unlike some people, Ritchie took the shot.” Richard’s smile widened as he saw the twitch in Olivia’s eye out of the corner of his own. “I suppose he’ll get over her, eventually. They didn’t really fight and make up. It was all puppy love, the two of them. Not at all what some people in this room have experienced - you know what I’m talking about, Elliot, that all-consuming fire within your soul that you just cannot imagine your life without that person for one. Single. Day. And every single moment you spend away from the person just kills you a little more inside. The elation you feel when you can work alongside the person to achieve something greater than yourself.”

Olivia’s boot hit the side of the table’s leg. “You alright, there, Captain?” Richard’s eyes studied the woman in front of him. He sighed melodramatically. “My wife, Pilar, she’s a lovely, exquisite human being, very cultured…But it’s not that feeling you get where when you put your arms around the person, even for a moment and you feel like you’re at home.” Richard looked down, “I don’t think I’ve ever been lucky enough for that – to live in the memory of the smallest touches, the affectionate solitude from knowing someone’s soul almost as completely as your own. The burning flame in your heart that bursts into a wildfire when that person is near you. No, I don’t think that was the relationship at all.”

“What about your ex-wife, Richard?” Olivia asked, her voice wasn’t as strong or authoritative as it had been a moment ago. Richard smirked – he knew she knew at that moment just what game he was playing with her.

"Well, I can’t say our marriage was happy, it was in the beginning, but it became old-hat, and more of an obligation than anything. I was just being a good father until I wasn’t a good father or husband, so we separated. I’m sure you know all about that, right, Elliot?”

“Wow, you are awfully tight-lipped over there, Detective.” Richard looked over at Ayanna, “Tough crowd, right?”

“The worst part about fighting with someone you love? When one bleeds. That’s heartbreaking. When your fingers have felt their blood beneath them, that’s a feeling you can never forget. Angie fell one day and cut her arm on a vase that had been thrown at the wall during one of our blow-out fights – man, there was so much blood. I didn’t know whether or not I was going to lose her that day…she came out alright, though.” He sighed, “My father and my mother – they had a beautiful love story. He used to say that it was only with her that he could do anything at all.”

Olivia’s brow quirked at this last statement. She wanted to test a theory, and she wasn’t going to turn around to look at Elliot to gauge his reaction to it – “Do you miss your wife? I can’t imagine you’ve been away from her for more than a few nights since you’ve gotten married.”

Richard’s smile widened, “I miss her in a simple, desperate human way. I miss her more than I ever thought I could have believed I would. I mean, I was obviously prepared to miss her a great deal, but this – wow. This is just straight up agony being away from her. Love persists regardless of sacrifice, even when the person doesn’t demand anything in return. Love persists when someone gives you the strength to be better than the person you were yesterday. Love grows and flourishes even in the darkest places – in all honesty, that’s where we begin to feel the light of love radiating from within. Just four days is bad enough being away from her – she’s my true and only treasure and I will miss her with every single fiber of my being while we’re apart.”

“Too bad it will be for a lot longer than ten years.” Olivia stood up away from the table and walked to the door where Elliot was standing – she looked up at him as he moved to open the door.

“You know, Captain Benson, there are so many words that could be said but sometimes, the brain doesn’t find the right words. The world is a beautiful place, and people are sometimes too stupid to take advantage of the beauty until it’s too late. Did you know, you are the one true love of his life. Even though he made out with Angela, he was most definitely thinking of your pretty brown eyes. I would’ve lost all resolve if I’d have seen your pretty eyes as well. You would’ve broken down all my defenses.”

“You know, Richard…” Olivia met eyes with the criminal. “I hope you enjoy the rest of your pathetic existence in whatever hell-hole they throw your ass in.”

Richard Wheatley leaned back as Olivia and Ayanna walked out, but Elliot closed the door quickly behind them and turned to the man. “How?”

“Elliot, the photo you have, saved in your phone – the one of her sleeping? That’s a little creepy, even for me.” Richard Wheatley smiled as Elliot Stabler stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.

Love is wasted on the hopeless.” Richard spat out as the three people disappeared around the corner. “Mastaba, Elliot Stabler.” He whispered to himself, an evil grin spreading across his face.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Mastaba -

Revelations - Part II


Foley Square
Ten Minutes Later…

As soon as they had exited the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the three officers made their way to Foley Square near the fountain. Sergeant Bell was walking next to Olivia Benson as Elliot Stabler walked behind them both.

No one wanted to break the silence between the three of them. Ayanna was confused, but Olivia and Elliot were both visibly shaken as soon as they had exited the facility.

Olivia was busy checking her e-mails as she walked, her brow furrowed and sighing every few seconds as she flagged the ones that she had to follow up on, and quickly typed out responses to the ones she could before deleting them. Once she’d reached the end of her new notifications, she sighed and slid the work phone in her pocket.  She reached into her other pocket and pulled out her personal phone, unlocking it and opening her photos.

Scrolling through the photos she’d taken at Fin’s not-wedding, and past the ones for the last month she came to the photos she was looking for.

As soon as they stopped by the fountain, Elliot shifted and spoke, finally.

Liv.” His voice had an edge to it.

“Elliot. I know.” Olivia said, clicking on the photo she was looking for. “Son-of-a-bitch.” She whispered.

“What’s going on, you two?” Ayanna looked between her Detective and the Captain.

“Olivia, did you – “ Elliot walked next to her, his shoulder brushing up against hers as he reached forward and took her phone, looking down at the photo, and scrolling to the next photo in the gallery.

“I don’t even know how he would’ve – “ she began. “El, if he knows… “

“He said something about mine, after you two had walked out and I asked him how he knew.”

“Hold Up. Wait a damn minute. I don’t understand your shorthand…so, what are you two talking about?” Ayanna asked, quickly starting to feel lost in this half-conversation the two of them seemed to be having. She had witnessed their interactions three weeks ago and was enraptured by the way they spoke to one another and gravitated toward one another’s space, but at the same time, there was a quiet tension between the two of them – she guessed it had stemmed from their time apart and things that were seemingly unsaid still.

Olivia sighed and ran her hand down her face, “Do you think we could have –“

“We can.” He nodded, “We need to get back to our building, Sarge.” Elliot handed Olivia her phone back. “If he knows this…who knows what else he knows. We might need to have all our electronics examined at this point.”

“Is someone going to tell me what the hell is going on here? Captain? Detective?”

“What Richard Wheatley just said in that room, Ayanna, wasn’t just him waxing poetic. He wasn’t just trying to blow smoke up our asses.” Olivia seemed slightly agitated. “He has access to our phones. To our messages, to our call logs, to our photos.” She bit her bottom lip as she paced back and forward in front of her former partner and her mentee. “The words he was saying – they were related to a very personal letter I have saved in my phone so I don’t get caught pulling a piece of paper out of my bag to read a million times a day.” She gave Elliot a pointed stare and he just looked up like he was looking up at the buildings.

“I knew as soon as he said about missing his wife - missing her in a simple, desperate human way, more than he ever thought he could have believed he would. He was reciting the letter. That had nothing to do with his wife. No, those were verbatim lines from the letter I have saved in my camera roll.”

Elliot sighed, as Ayanna turned her attention to him, “Is that why you slammed the door behind us, Stabler. You knew about this letter?”

“I’m the one that wrote the letter.” He pressed his thumb along his eyebrow. “He was spewing my private words that I had written to Olivia back to us – letting us know that he knew everything about us, all the intimate details that were penned along the paper. It makes sense now, what he said in interrogation when Angela had asked to speak to him with me there. He’s not lying. I think he does have recordings of every conversation. Just like I think he has all the photos saved from our devices. We need to have encryption software put on everything.”

Ayanna was taken back by the realization that everything Richard Wheatley had just spewed back to them was an apology, an explanation, and a love letter. She looked between the two of them suddenly understanding the dynamic between the two of them. She knew Olivia after Elliot. She had just met Elliot, a somewhat broken Elliot, but he was working on fixing himself. She had suggested a good therapist for him to see to deal with the trauma – the new Elliot after having left Olivia. She had started to see the two of them interacting with one another around the Organized Crime Headquarters and when they had been in the Hospital. They made a great team, they made great partners – but from everything Richard Wheatley had just said, it sounded as though someone had some more than professional feelings for his former partner.  

It wasn’t any of her business.

Olivia suddenly realized something else that Richard had said. “El – “

“Hm?” He caught her eyes and saw the fire that was suddenly blazing behind them, her jaw set in place as though she was clenching it.

When?” She asked, her eye twitching. “When did you have time to – but you haven’t even...” She placed her hand over her heart. He knew, he was in deep shit. “Did you even mean –“

“Liv. I’m sorry.

“I tried to save her.

Liv.”

“You know what, I can’t.” Olivia shook her head, “Can we just get back to Organized Crime and have Jet look at our phones and then – I need some time.”

Ayanna looked over at Stabler and shook her head, as Olivia walked toward the spot where they had parked. After Olivia was out of earshot, Ayanna reached over and smacked Stabler on the back of the head. “You’re a damn fool, Elliot.”

Ouch. I know. PTSD, Sarge.”

Chapter Text


Hard Truths 


 

The ride back to Organized Crime was a tense one. Bell kept looking over at Benson while she drove, her jaw kept clenching and unclenching, her eyes narrowed. Getting increasingly agitated, she finally cursed and turned on the lights to make her way through the traffic of NYC quicker. ‘We’ve all been there,’ Bell thought to herself. Though, if she were honest, she knew it was because Benson just wanted to get back so she could get away from a certain Detective in the backseat who might’ve just screwed up the best thing he’d ever have.

When they were almost back, Stabler actually dared to open his mouth earning a glare from the driver into the rearview mirror. “Look,” he began, hesitantly, “I made a huge mistake.

Olivia’s left brow arched elegantly before she narrowed her eyes and it fell again, “Detective, shut up.” Benson’s voice was full of anger, hurt, and something else Ayanna couldn’t identify.

“Yes, Captain.” He responded, leaning his head back against the headrest in the back seat, putting his hands over his face. It sounded like he was muttering something along the lines of calling himself an ‘idiot’ and saying ‘I should’ve mentioned this the other day.’ But, no one could be too sure and they weren’t going to argue with his estimation of himself at the moment.

After parking in the lot, they made their way into the building and to the elevator. Elliot thought better of it, though, when Olivia looked up at him, expressionless, and so he opted for the stairs.

A minute later, when the door opened, Olivia made her way over to Slootmaekers and began speaking to her.

Ayanna waited by the door to the stairway as Elliot walked through, and motioned toward her office.

Once he sat down in the office, Ayanna figured the gloves were off. She shut the door with more gusto than she had originally intended, but then leaned back against her desk. While watching Olivia talking animatedly with Jet, she observed Jet was nodding holding both phones in her hand, as Olivia leaned on the desk, while Jet plugged in her personal phone.

Ayanna turned her attention back to her problem child. Even though the man was older than she was, he was an idiot sometimes.

“You know, Stabler, when I told you in the car that day that you had to find a way to move on – I didn’t mean making out with a suspect slash witness in our case. I should cut your balls off with a rusted steak knife.” She began, her hands clasped in front of her, “I meant seeing a damn therapist.” Elliot began to open his mouth but Bell cut him off, “Don’t. Speak. Until I am done. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes ma’am.” He nodded, his blue eyes looking a little watery.

“You are an idiot in the worst sense of the word. Now, I’m guessing from the things Richard Wheatley was just spewing, you poured your heart and soul into a letter to that magnificent, kind, generous, patient, fierce woman standing by our computer technician in the other room. I don’t know what your intentions were with the letter - or what you had planned on her reaction being – but what I do know is that regardless of your shared history, she’s been through it in the last ten years, and you have no idea.” She studied Elliot, almost appraisingly. “That’s not my place to tell you.”

After a moment, she continued on, her voice raising in volume ever-so-slightly, “What I do know is that I wouldn’t forgive your ass if you poured out your heart and soul to me and then went and made out with another woman. I do know that in order for you to get back in her good graces, you will have to grovel, beg, plead, and pledge your undying servitude to that woman. She deserves someone who will put her on a pedestal and worship the ground she walks on.”

“I wasn’t thinking clearly,” he began but Ayanna shook her head.

“Clearly, you weren’t thinking at all, Stabler. I mean it when I say you will have to grovel. Plead. AND BEG. If she wants your balls in a blender after discovering what we just discovered, I would support that motion.” Her volume intensified as she yelled at him, because Washburn’s head popped up to look in their direction, as well as Olivia, leaning backwards to look in the direction, a smirk on her face because she knew Ayanna was probably giving Elliot an ear full. Sergeant Bell took a deep breath and sat down in the chair next to Stabler. “Look, I don’t know what the two of you have discussed, and it’s not my place to tell her story for her, but do you think she identified your PTSD on a whim? Do you think she reached out to me because she wasn’t concerned for you?”

“Well, I assumed that she’s a Captain, so it’s her job to make sure that her team is solid.” He regurgitated Olivia’s words back to Bell as Bell rolled her eyes.

“Are you purposely trying to piss me off today, Stabler?” She asked, shaking her head. “Do you really believe that, deep down? Look,” she clapped her hands together, “Elliot, after being mentored by Captain Benson, I know a thing or two about her – probably not as much as you know about her after being her partner for twelve almost thirteen years, but I do know her after you, without you.  What I can tell you, Stabler, is that you’re an idiot and she’s the most forgiving person I’ve ever met.” Ayanna took a breath, looking the man in the eyes, “You’re raw, I get that – your wife was murdered, you made a stupid mistake, and now the love of your life is pissed off at you and you probably deserve radio silence until you’re 70…but I know that if you apologize profusely and talk to the woman, chances are – she’s going to understand you were going through a lot.”

“I don’t think she’ll understand.”

“Then do you really know her?” Ayanna shook her head, “That woman, the way she looks at you, Elliot Stabler, she is smitten by your dumb ass – that’s why you have to apologize profusely. That’s why you have to grovel. That’s why you have to beg. She’s your partner, but she wants to be more than that to you. The glances you both sneak at one another, that tells me all I need to know about the two of you. Damn, why do the gays always have to tell the straight people when they’re in love?”

She stood and walked out of the office, leaving Elliot sitting there staring up at the window, confused.


Meanwhile – At Jet’s Desk

“So, he had access to your camera roll.” Jet reiterated, as Olivia’s brown eyes met Jet’s Hazel ones. “And he recited what to you guys?”

“A letter. There’s a photo of a letter on my camera. I need to know what else he saw as well.”

“Was it a good letter?”

Jet.”

“Sorry, was just asking – for Science.” Olivia smirked as she watched the younger woman plug in the phone. “You know, Detective Stabler really likes you. I saw it the last time you were here.”

“I know.” Olivia answered, “I’ve known him a lot of years. I can read him.”

“He’s dense then, because he obviously has no idea how much you like him.” Jet shrugged. “Sorry for being blunt, Captain. I didn’t mean any disrespect.”

“No, it’s fine. The letter that Wheatley actually recited, was a letter he wrote me. I didn’t want to carry around the paper copy.”

“Copy.” Jet watched as code scrolled up on the screen and her brows went up. “Wow. Okay, so it looks like he’s been monitoring you since Stabler came back.”

“Is there a way to get him out of my phone?”

“Yes.” Jet nodded. “I’ll fix this for you if you give me five minutes. Hopefully you didn’t have any delicate photos on here.” Suddenly they heard Bell’s voice rising from the office. “Sounds like he’s getting reamed out.”

“Well, better her yelling at him than me at the moment.” Olivia stated, looking at her manicure that was chipping. “He’s an idiot sometimes.”

“But your idiot, right Captain?” Jet asked, smirking.

Olivia glanced down at her, “Don’t tell anyone. I’d forgive him if he was just honest with me. That’s all I want. Honesty, full-disclosure.”

“That’s not too much to ask for. Here you go, Captain. Your phone is all safe now. Fully protected, no more Wheatley eyes.”

“Thanks.” She tucked her personal phone in her pocket, and handed the work phone over. “Can you check this one?”

“Sure.” Jet took it and plugged it in, just to make sure.

The door to the office opened and Ayanna walked over to the two women, as Washburn looked over his monitor to see Elliot still sitting in Ayanna’s office.

“Well?” Ayanna asked Jet, who spun in her chair to look at her boss, “Was it a similar situation to Washburn’s phone the other day?”

“Yes.”  

“Liv, you good?”

“Yeah.” Olivia answered, a sad smile on her face, “I’m fine.”

Chapter Text

Mastaba
Chapter Four – Reckoning


After leaving the Organized Crime Headquarters with her now encrypted phone in her pocket, Olivia Benson made her way back to her own precinct. It was still early in the afternoon and she had a lot to think over before the end of the day. As she sits behind her desk, she stares at her screensaver – the one with various images of Iceland. It looks peaceful and magical there, she thinks, as the photos cycle through various waterfalls and black sandy beaches and large stone structures that look chiseled but are natural formations.  

Something bothers her about the whole situation with Richard Wheatley and Elliot and the reason she was asked to show up. Yes, he knew what was in the letter she had a photo of on her phone – but why was it so damn important that she hear it? And what was his goal in informing her that Elliot had – she swallowed and took a deep breath, the earpiece of her glasses pressing against her lips – kissed Richard’s ex-wife.

What the holy hell had she ever done to piss off Wheatley? She wasn’t worried about competition; Angela had succumbed to the hot shot from Morales. She placed her glasses down on the desk and started playing with her bottom lip with her pointer and thumb, squeezing it as she zoned out.

It was the fact that Elliot had been saying all these things since he’d gotten back and then he goes and seeks out Angela-fucking-Wheatley. What did she have that Olivia didn’t?

She wouldn’t be able to ask her. No wonder the woman had looked at Olivia funny – what Richard had said to her in front of Foley Plaza before he was carted off to the Correctional Center, didn’t make sense to me – Poor Angela. If she and Elliot had just kissed – she had questions that she didn’t trust Elliot to answer honestly. She didn’t think Ayanna had any answers for her either. Would she find answers if she pulled the footage from the Correctional Center? Too bad it was a Federal Center, she would never get the answers she was looking for because they kept that closed up tight.

Wait a damn minute, what was she doing? She’s a Captain. She was just there. Perhaps she could see if Richard Wheatley would be willing to give her answers – after all, what did he have to lose? She bit the inside of her mouth as she tapped her finger on the desk. Exhaling sharply, she picked up her bag and walked out of her office.

“Fin, I’m leaving for the afternoon. If anyone calls, just take a message.”

“Everything alright, Cap?”

Olivia looked at her Sergeant. “Everything’s fine. I have a meeting I have to go to. I’ll have my phone, just text me. If I don’t respond, it’s because I’m in the meeting.”

“Alright, Liv.” Fin turned back to the file he was reading and proceeded with making notes off to the side. It was a semi-quiet day around the 16th Precinct, and those were the best type of days. However, just when things seemed calm enough, that’s usually when shit would hit the fan.

She had questions. She wanted answers. She wasn’t going to sit around and wait for it.


As Olivia walked to the SUV in the parking garage, she pulled out her phone and dialed the Metropolitan Correctional Facility’s number. “Hello, this is Captain Benson, I’m calling to speak with Agent Patrick Faulkner.” the person on the other end patched her through. “Hello, Agent Faulkner, this is Captain Benson, I’m calling because I was there earlier this afternoon with Organized Crime – I had a few more questions for Mr. Wheatley, and I’m on my way there now – I was wondering if he could be prepared in an Interrogation room?”

She pulled the vehicle out of the garage and into the busy streets of New York City. “Fantastic. I’ll be there in about 30 minutes – traffic willing. No, his lawyer doesn’t need to be present, but you can ask him if he would like that. However, it’s unrelated to the case pending against him. He mentioned something earlier that might help me with something else, so it’s not necessary.”

“Good. I’ll see you when I get there.”

With that, she gripped the steering wheel and made her way through the city streets.


Captain Benson checked in her weapons and personal effects at the desk and took the card, and her badge with her through the labyrinth of the Metropolitan Correctional Center – down to the same interrogation room she had been in earlier in the afternoon with Elliot and Ayanna. If they knew what she was doing, well, Elliot would probably flip out – but he lost his rights to flip out about it earlier when Richard had said that Elliot had made out with Angela.

Before the door opened, she tried to adopt a stoic face. This was going to be…interesting. To say the least. As the door opened and she stepped into the room, she walked over to the chair and pulled it out, sitting down and staring into the blue eyes of Richard Wheatley.

“See, I knew you couldn’t resist me.” Richard smirked, his arms folded on the table. “Captain Benson. Olivia. Liv.” He turned his head trying to figure out just why she had come back.

“You can call me Captain Benson.” She provided, mirroring his body language with her arms folded on the table as well. “You’re right, I just couldn’t contain my curiosity.” Her brown eyes sparkled mischievously as she quirked her right brow. “There’s something intriguing about you, Mr. Sinatra.” She smirked as he winced at his birth name. “But that’s right, you changed your name.”

“Yes, I changed my name because I couldn’t stand my father or anything he stood for. But you and I have that in common, don’t we, Captain Benson?” Richard rested his chin on his right palm, licking his lips as he smiled. “You are stunning.”

“I’m dangerous, Mr. Wheatley.” she paused, “But you knew that already – didn’t you?”

“Yes.” Richard leaned back now, resting his hands on the bar he was handcuffed to. “However, I also know you are a woman of impeccable taste. And I can’t help but wonder just what it is about Detective Elliot Stabler that seems to have you absolutely enamored. You strike me as the type of woman that would like to visit museums and take long walks in the park. You also strike me as the type of woman that would like to travel to exotic and beautiful places and drink very expensive wines.” He winked. “I have quite the collection of rare wines in my cellar at home. Perhaps if I get out of this place, you’d visit me?”

“See, you overestimate yourself, Richard.” Olivia leaned back in her chair, crossing her arms, careful of where she had them placed because the shirt she was wearing today did offer a slight peek of her cleavage. “I’m a woman of exquisite taste, yes, but I am also a woman with very strict morals.” She pouted a little, studying him, “So it doesn’t matter if you have a bottle of 2000 Château Lafite Rothschild Bordeaux in your cellar, you’re married. And I’m no one’s mistress.”

“Touché, Captain. Touché.” Richard clicked his tongue as he shook his head. “But, you have been someone’s emotional mistress, if you get my drift.”

“Ah. Yes,” Olivia’s flat hand tapped the top of the table, “Thanks for that, by the way. I hope you enjoyed yourself while you looked through all my photos, Richard.”

“Oh…I did. Detective Stabler is a very lucky man.”

“Well, time will only tell.” She asked. “I am actually here because of something you mentioned earlier this afternoon…Detective Stabler’s relationship with your recently departed ex-wife.”

“Well, thanks for that. I was wondering whether or not the rumors were true. Such a shame. She was such a brilliant woman.” He sighed, “My poor children are now without their mother.”

“What exactly do you know…about the relationship?”

“I know that Angela was disillusioned and mistaken to believe that Detective Stabler could have even fallen in love with her. She felt that after her son’s unfortunate demise this last summer that someone had to be responsible for it – and she wanted that person to suffer. Detective Stabler had been involved with some business transactions in Puglia – and you know how these things work out, Captain. You’ve been around…a lot of years. So, she made the mistake of mentioning it to someone who specialized in that sort of revenge…” He looked down at his hands, “I had no say in the matter, because I would’ve told her revenge is just…pointless.” He looked back up at Olivia, smiling, “Don’t you think?”

She stared at him for a moment. “Revenge. So, she wanted him to suffer just as much as she had. She wanted to take away something he loved, if I’m understanding this.”

“You’re very intelligent, dear Captain Benson. May I call you Olivia? It’s a much more beautiful name, more fitting of an exquisite creature like yourself.”

Her face was unreadable at the moment, but her jaw gave her away, she was gritting her teeth with every arrogant answer he was giving her. Thankfully, he wasn’t speaking in riddles at the moment. She might lose her temper if he started doing that. “Fine.” She conceded. “Flattery will get you nowhere, Richard.”

“I’m just stating facts. Because I know you like to have honesty.” Richard paused, “When the men in your life lie to your face, you always kick them to the curb. Don’t you get tired of being alone, Olivia?”

“I’m never alone.”

“No, I suppose you aren’t.” He leaned back, “Such a shame what happened to you a couple of years ago. Naturally, no one should have to experience something so horrific. You’re haunted, Olivia.”

“I just didn’t change my name to run away from my ghosts, Richard.”

“Wow, you are feisty.” He nodded, “Now I see what else Elliot likes about you – you put up quite the fight. That’s sexy in a woman with power.”

“You were telling me about Angela and Elliot, Richard.”

“I know.” He shook his head sadly, “You see, Elliot was so confused after his dear wife was killed that he latched onto the nearest grieving person he could. To try to find some semblance of an understanding – he felt like if he were to have come to you that because it’d been so long since he’d spoken to you – you would’ve refused him. You wouldn’t understand the grief. But he didn’t know about your grief, did he?” Richard paused, wiping the corner of his mouth with his thumb, sighing, “Look, Olivia, I’m going to give it to you straight up – he sought her out a couple of times. He arranged meetings with her in grocery stores, he would watch her teach, he would go to her place…usually when things hadn’t panned out with you.” He leaned forward on the table again, running his finger along the top of the bar on the table he was fastened to.

“Do you have record of the dates?”

“Well – no. That I don’t have. However, I can tell you that on one of the dates that he ran to her, you were seen coming out of his building. He was only at her place for a few moments…but I am unsure as to why he ran to her.”

She sighed, fucking Elliot. He told her he loved her and then he ran to Angela.

“Don’t worry, Olivia. Because you see, I know something Angela didn’t know. While she was busy finding out just what an utter gentleman Detective Stabler really was…what a devoted family man he was….I was busy figuring out that he wasn’t grieving properly. Because she hadn’t taken away the most important person in his life. No, that was a position that was afforded to someone else. That position was afforded to you.

“You don’t know anything, Wheatley. I’m nothing to him – he just walked away from me.”

“Obviously, you are. Or else he wouldn’t be trying to protect you from me. He wouldn’t have become so protective of your identity when I threw out the accusation in front of Angela.”

“You don’t scare me, Richard.” Her eyes suddenly darkened and Richard took note of just how feral and dangerous she looked. This woman, this breathtakingly beautiful woman was incredibly dangerous. He knew about her. He read all about her, about her excessive force she had used against the person who had kidnapped her years ago – about how she had saved herself. “What did you say in front of her? Because all I got out of her before she died was the phrase, ‘it’s you.’”

Richards smile was twisted, and it made something within Olivia coil up like a snake ready to strike, “That. Is justice in its sweetest form, of course it would be the last thing she sees. I hope it was worth it for her.” He paused and took a breath, his smile fading as he met her dark eyes again. “I suppose I wouldn’t scare you. I’m not like any of those monsters you face daily.”

“What. Did. You. Say.”

“I asked if she told him she ordered the hit on his wife. I told her that Elliot seemed to be a fairly intelligent man. I also told her that I recorded our conversations and her conversations. I told her that she had ordered the phone call that made it possible for him to witness his wife’s demise. I told her that she wasn’t the love of his life, nor was his wife the love of his life. I told her that he’s a good God-fearing Catholic, and that there was someone else. Another woman, who was the one true love of his life, and that every time he was looking into her pretty brown eyes and touching her face, he was thinking of you.”

“And?”

“Then I saw you the other day – when Bell called you Liv. And I knew. I understood why Elliot must’ve had such a difficult time being your partner for all. those. years. I mean, you are a knock out…Captain Benson.”

“Do you think he cared for Angela?” Olivia’s voice is quiet, and she doesn’t know why she’s asking the criminal before her this question now, but he hasn’t lied about anything she’s asked.

“I think he’s grieving over the loss of his wife. While he might not have been in love with her, he did love her. That’s apparent. She was the mother of his children…no matter how much he might’ve wanted that title to be yours.”

Olivia’s eyes closed as she steeled herself to dig deep down and forgive Elliot for his mistake. For his stupidity.

“Thank you for your enlightening perspective, Richard. Good luck with the hot mess you’ve made for yourself.”

“Good luck to you, Captain. And the hot mess you’re in love with.” Richard yelled as the door shut behind her. She leaned back for a moment against the steel door before swallowing and making her way to claim her effects."They're all hot messes." he whispered to himself in disbelief.

Chapter Text

Chapter Five: Transparency


As Olivia walked down the cold halls after retrieving her checked in items, she stopped at one of the doors to wait for the buzz when she felt the presence. The very presence that she had been hesitant to seek out. The very presence that belonged to the man whom she could both throttle within an inch of his life and would take a bullet for in the same sweeping moment. The man whom had gotten so intrinsically burrowed in her skin that she questioned a long time ago where he ended and she began. The man that’s actions and secrets had driven her to this Correctional Facility instead of the precinct he worked out of.

They used to not have so many secrets, between the two of them. However, now that she thinks about his letter that started this whole damn snowball effect resulting in her current physical position, she had come to the conclusion that maybe there had been secrets between the two of them. The secret knowledge that each of them shared but neither would admit out loud because it would signify the ending of one thing and the beginning of something else that morally and responsibly they couldn’t undertake ten years ago. She knew deep down that if he would’ve said the right thing, made the wrong move, or had shown up at her doorstep all those years ago after the shooting – her willpower had been whittled down to nothing more than a toothpick.

“Captain?” The voice spoke from behind her. “What are you doing here?”

Shit. She’d been caught red-handed. She closed her eyes and tilted her head so that it looked like she was looking up at the fluorescent lights lining the hallway. Opening her eyes again, she brought her thumb up and smoothed her eyebrow with her nail. This was a recent nervous tick she’d begun to notice after Kathy’s funeral. She wasn’t sure whether or not it was the beginning of a migraine, or if it was just an anxiety thing. Rolling her eyes, she did an about-face in the hall and came face to face with the person she’d been avoiding actively.

“I forgot something.” She lied. “I forgot to ask something. I’m leaving now.” She made a move to turn back and walk to the exit, but her eyes were locked onto the blue ones staring back at her.

He ran his hand over his head and down the back of his neck, squeezing at the base where his shirt met his skin and she watched him, carefully. “I’ll walk you out.” He stated, taking three steps forward and closing the distance between the two of them, falling in step with her as they walked out of the building silently.

“Was it something related to my case, or was it something else?”

“Something else. He knows organized crime rings – I was hoping he’d have answers about a prostitution ring that was disguised as a Night Club.” she lied. “Boring things.”

As they stood next to her SUV he raised an eyebrow, his arms crossed in front of his chest as he leaned against her door, preventing her from opening it. “Yeah. I’m sure that’s what it was, Liv. So tell me what part of that entire conversation was about a Night Club, because I didn’t hear it.” He shook his head. “Don’t lie to me. Please. I can take a lot of shit, but not from you, Olivia.”

“You’re one to talk, Elliot.” She shook her head quietly. “Detective, I’m ordering you to move from in front of my door.”

“Yes Captain.” He gritted his teeth as he stepped out of the way. Leave it to her to pull rank. Fucking ranks.

“How’d you know I was here?” She paused with her hand on the door handle, not yet opening the door to her vehicle. She turned her head to look at him, confused, all of a sudden.

“I went to the 16th and spoke to Fin. He mentioned you had to go to meetings, but I didn’t recall seeing it anywhere on your schedule that you show to everyone – I found it…off. So, I put two and two together.”

She bit her bottom lip as she studied the man in front of her. What the hell was she doing? She should be beyond pissed at the man in front of her, but she couldn’t find it inside of herself to feel anything other than – what the hell kind of an emotion was this she was feeling? Whatever it was, it didn’t feel like anything she’d ever felt toward him before. Yes, there was the feelings of fondness, familiarity, and protectiveness. But, there was something beneath it all, something much more primal, something that felt like it was coiling itself deep in her bloodstream.

“How’d you get here?”

“Taxi. I didn’t feel like driving.” he answered, his hands in his pockets.

What the hell was she doing? “Get in.” She nodded her head toward the passenger side and it didn’t take him twice to know that he should probably listen to her.

Once they were both in the vehicle, she hadn’t started it yet when she turned her body in his direction. “What did you hear of that conversation? I know you were watching.”

“I heard it all, Liv. What the hell were you thinking coming here to talk to him alone? He’s dangerous.”

“I’m fucking dangerous, Elliot. You don’t know the first thing about me anymore.”

“You’re wrong. I know who you are, Olivia, I just don’t know what the hell you’ve been through in the time I’ve been gone.”

“You’re right, you don’t. You don’t have a single goddamn clue, Elliot.” She shook her head.

“I know, Bell reamed my ass out in her office earlier telling me that you’ve ‘been through it’ and asked me how I thought you knew I had PTSD.” He sighed. “Liv, I feel like such an ass.”

“You are an ass.” Olivia shook her head, her hand resting on the wheel in front of her, her eyes meeting with his again. “I just…El, - “ She swallowed, “I don’t understand how you can be so reckless sometimes. I mean, I expected it back when we first started working together. We were young and had that drive and determination to do whatever it was we had to do to make sure the bad guys went away. You would’ve never, -“ she closed her eyes for a moment, “You would’ve never allowed anyone to get that close to you back then. You would’ve pushed them away…you did push women away whenever they would come onto you.” She shook her head, “I can’t believe the sheer audacity – Elliot. You knew she was connected with the suspect in your investigation. Even when my PTSD was at its peak I never went looking for William Lewis’ brother to have sex with.” She let the words tumble out of her mouth before she could stop them.

Immediately Elliot turned to look at her. “Who’s William Lewis?”

“FUCK! See what you do to me? I have absolutely no filter where you’re concerned.” She ran her hands through her hair and put them over her nose and mouth as she turned in her seat, away from Elliot.

“Does – is this related to what Bell was talking about earlier to me in the office? When she said you’d been through it – Liv, I swear on, -“

“Don’t. Just. Don’t.” She put her hands in her lap. “This is not the time nor the place to discuss this. And I swear if you look into the case files I will never speak to you ever again. Do not look at them, do not search for them.”

“Files? There’s more than one? What the hell happened? Liv you’re scaring me.”

“Elliot. Promise. Promise me you won’t look.”

“Is that what Richard was alluding to in the interview you just did?”

“One.” She held her finger up in his direction, “It wasn’t an interview. It was a discussion.” She whispered. “Two. You really fucking sat there and listened to the entire discussion?”

“Yes…Olivia, I sat there and listened to the entire discussion. He’s a key piece in my and Ayanna’s case.”

“That discussion had nothing to do with your case.”

“You’re wrong. It had everything to do with my case. He only targeted my family because I interfered with his business in Italy. I can’t – Liv, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if anything happened to you because of me.”

“Elliot.” She shook her head, “I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself.”

He watched her for a moment, trying to find the right words. “I guess you can. But…Liv, what happened to you? What ghosts was Richard talking about?”

“I told you to drop it.” She glared at him, daring him to say something.

“I told you to drop it.” He countered, almost immediately, “I told you to back off that day you asked to meet me to discuss my PTSD, before the intervention.”

“I was in his sights before you even said that to me. And you don’t want to talk about the intervention, but you have the nerve to bring it up? What the hell is that?” She retorted. “Elliot, I don’t know what to believe anymore.” She sounded exhausted, “You tell me you love me in front of your children, and then you run to Angela Wheatley?”

“I didn’t know about how you’d lost Simon.”

“I lost you ten years ago, and I also lost Ed this last year with Simon.” She whispered. “You never asked me whether I was grieving – you never once asked me if I would talk to you.”

“We didn’t ever talk like that – Liv. It was little mentions and little stolen glances when someone said something, but it was never full conversations. We just didn’t.

“Because I couldn’t El. You were married to Kathy. No matter how much she told me I gave you stability and you couldn’t move forward until you were on solid ground, I couldn’t allow myself to cross that threshold. If I did, I wouldn’t have come back and you would’ve left me anyways.” She shrugged, “Everyone leaves me when they start to feel something.”

“I wouldn’t have left – Liv.” Elliot shook his head, “Did you read the letter? I mean, you said it was in your phone because you didn’t want to be caught reading it a thousand times a day – but, did you actually read it?”

“What the hell were your plans with it, Elliot?” She asked, now the sadness had turned into anger, “You said you wrote it out because you hate speaking in public but that letter wasn’t what you were going to say at the event, was it?”

“No. That was the second letter. The one I wrote – it doesn’t matter when I wrote it or the circumstances. What matters is that every single word I penned in it was true.”

“Yet you still didn’t seek me out to talk about it, you’ve been avoiding me, and you went to Angela. And then I tried to save her in the hospital. If I had of succeeded, would you be sitting here right now talking to me?”

“She ordered the hit on Kathy.”

“Funny.” Olivia looked at him with an expression that sent shivers down his spine. It wasn’t a very funny look, and to be honest, it scared the shit out of Elliot as he looked at her. He knew Olivia was a force to be reckoned with, but this expression, the look in her eyes, it was something that seared into his very being. It made him want to be sick. It was dark, dangerous.

“Liv?”

“You heard me tell Richard I’m dangerous, Elliot. You have no idea.”

“You’re not going to tell me, are you? Liv, don’t run from me, don’t retreat.”

“I won’t tell you for a while.” She looked out of the windshield at the various officers and agents walking to and from vehicles in the vehicle pool area. “I don’t run anymore, Elliot. I stay right here. I’ve always been here, waiting. That’s what I do, and I feel so damn pathetic because this entire time, even though it looks like I’ve moved on, I haven’t. I’ve moved up the ranks, I’ve dated, I even have a son. A beautiful boy that means the world to me, - “ she took a deep breath, “But none of the relationships worked out because they all had one thing in common.”

“Liv?”

“Brian Cassidy told me I was the love of his life. You and he have that in common, I suppose.” She smiled a sad smile, and continued on, her voice unwavering, “Ed and I knew it wasn’t going to last – I was happy, for a while, but it wasn’t meant to be. Then, there were the people who I didn’t date, but meant a great deal to me. My partner after you, Nick, he allowed me to grow in ways I didn’t even realize. Maybe it’s because I had to look after him, so I matured in a way…there were some attorneys – they all gave similar speeches to me on the Courthouse steps – always the courthouse steps – about how I’d become more important to them than the cases they were working, about how I made them see colors they didn’t know existed – and they all would just kiss me on the forehead and walk the fuck away. I’m so easy to walk away from…you walked away. But they all had one thing in common, do you know what that is?”

“What?” Elliot’s eyes studied her as she closed her eyes and gripped the steering wheel, still not having started the vehicle.

“They weren’t you.” She bit the inside of her mouth, “They were all substitutions.”

“You don’t – “

“Jet said that you were an idiot because you didn’t realize how much you meant to me, and I have to agree with her. Even though I told you that you were the most important person in my life and you disappeared, I don’t think you realized just how much you meant to me. You used to take up so much space in my life, Elliot. I thought I closed the door off to that room.”

“I missed you, Olivia. Every single day.”

“Did you?” She asked, “Because your actions as of lately have been less than transparent – and I’m not sure I can trust you just yet. That’s why I had to come here instead of going to see you for the answers to the question I had. That’s why I told you I needed time. Yet, here you are.”

“I know you.”

“Do you?” She asked, “So you know that I’ve already forgiven your stupidity and temporary lapse of judgement as far as Angela is concerned? She’s not a threat to me anymore, but Elliot, I don’t know if I can trust you or your intentions yet. Whatever the hell they are. You have a lot of making up to do. You have a lot to learn about me that you haven’t been around for.”

“I promise, Liv, I’ll do my best to make it up to you. To be more transparent. I’m going to therapy, you know.”

“Good.” She nodded, reaching for the key and starting the vehicle. “That’s a good step.”

“I hope you’ll tell me what it was you went through, Liv.”

She glanced over at him before shifting the vehicle into gear and pulling out of the garage.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 6 – Mortified


Previously:

“I hope you’ll tell me what it was you went through, Liv.”

She glanced over at him before shifting the vehicle into gear and pulling out of the garage.


“So you’re seeing a therapist.” She finally spoke after five minutes, she wasn’t sure where exactly she was driving to, because they hadn’t really spoken about where they were going. It was still early, “I’m glad to hear it.”

“Yeah, she’s really helping me deal with the PTSD and coming to terms with…everything.”

“Including kissing Angela Wheatley?” Olivia retorted, turning down a street.

“Including all the…bad decisions I’ve made…yes. She’s helping me focus on dealing with panic attacks.”

“I’m glad that you have someone to talk to that is helping you deal with panic attacks, they’re a bitch. So, what’s included in those bad decisions?”

“Liv.”

“I know.” she quit pressing him for information, because she knew the importance of speaking to a therapist, on working through panic attacks – and working through everything that was an effect of PTSD. It was a daily struggle, dealing with PTSD, this was something she knew for a fact, and he’d have to identify and focus on dealing with the triggers when they happened. “It was worth a shot. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t part of these bad decisions.

“No. You’re not. You could never be a bad decision.”

She pulled the left corner of her bottom lip between her teeth as she furrowed her brows, as they came to a stoplight. “That’s…reassuring. I suppose.”

“Liv, you seem…off.” Elliot studied the side of her face as she stared out of the windshield, looking up at the stoplight, willing it to change quickly.

“I am never off, Elliot. I’m a Captain.” She stated. “Have you had lunch?”

“No, I was too busy trying to decipher Sergeant Bell’s intention in telling me I had to make things up to you and figuring out where you would’ve gone if you weren’t at the Precinct or in Court.”

“Would you like to get something to eat?” Olivia asked, trying to figure out whether or not this was a good or bad idea, them going to eat together. “We could grab something quick or we could go to a Diner or Café, maybe grab a booth in back, sit, talk?”

“As nice as that sounds, I don’t think we should go anywhere public at the moment, I mean, there’s a lot that has to be said, between the two of us, and I am still kind of uncomfortable in public places. It’s slightly over-stimulating.”

“Okay, raincheck. Did you want me to take you back to your precinct?” She quickly glanced over at the clock on the dashboard, “Or did you want to come back to the 1-6 and have your Sergeant come get you? Or did you want me to drop you off at the hotel?”

“I think I’d rather just go back to my precinct, and we’ll get lunch soon – but, I uh…Liv, I actually moved into my new apartment.”

“I can take you back to your precinct, that’s not a problem. Did you want to tell me where your new apartment is?” Olivia turned her head to glance at her former partner, the pain the ass, the man she had always held a little closer to her chest than anyone else, the one who unequivocally held her soul and didn’t even realize it. It was this glance that told her everything she needed to know. Her eyes immediately narrowed at the realization as she watched Elliot take a deep breath and look up, his eyes traveling to the roof of the car, his hand squeezing his knee to avoid making eye contact with her. He then made a similar noise to the one that Noah usually made whenever he had done something wrong that he didn’t want her to know about. She pulled the truck over to the side of the street and looked at him, he was still refusing to meet her eyes. “You have got to be fucking kidding me. El…seriously?” She reached over, punching him on the arm.

“Ow! Seriously, Liv, what the hell?”

“Of all the buildings in New York City…” she began, her eyes flashing dangerously as she glanced at him out of the side of her eye. “You had to move into mine?”

He held his hands up in a defensive position as he finally made eye contact with her, “In my defense, when I looked at the apartment and signed the paperwork – I had no idea it was the same building. I didn’t even know you had moved.”

 She had to concede this fact, he had absolutely no idea she’d moved, because he knew nothing about the whole situation that resulted in her moving.

The only thing he knew was that she’d been through something and now of course, he knew the name of the person responsible for the biggest thing she’d been through – but he absolutely did not know that she had moved.

“What. Floor. Elliot?”

“The Fourth?” He stated, which sounded more like a question to her, she leaned forward in her seat, resting her head on her arms. She sat back in her seat and reached over to punch his arm again, “Seriously?” He asked, in disbelief.

Of all the buildings in New York City, of all the apartments, of all the floors…how the hell did this even happen?

'I am going to die.' She thought to herself.

Or, she thought it was to herself. But the look she was currently receiving from a pair of blue eyes staring at her in disbelief, a look of mirth in them, told her that she must’ve said it out loud. "SHIT."

She was mortified.

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven - Surveillance


Jet Slootmaekers loved all technology. To be perfectly honest, she like technology better than people because technology dealt with absolutes. When a computer wasn’t working correctly, it was usually because a small piece of code, a small piece of programming hadn’t been properly compiled. All you had to do was go back, and look over the code to troubleshoot where the error was, fix it, and move on. People, they were all over the place, there was no figuring out where their messy emotions came from.

Computers – they processed things quicker than humans could, so when you typed in a command, they typically followed through. You could tell a person to do something, and because humans were programmed with free-will…well, it was all up to them to decide what they were doing and typically they decided to go against their better nature and choose the wrong thing over the right thing – but not because they didn’t know the difference, but because people are inherently flawed.

Technology allowed for an escape, and the processes were all similar when it came down to the bare bones. But what she understood beyond just the fact that she preferred technology over human beings was that people were sensitive to reprogramming just as much as computers.

True, most people would be uncomfortable with the idea that they could be reprogrammed, and as much as they might want to deny this truth, it was a fact. All you had to do was socially program them through algorithms that target their habits and browsing and social interactions - to look at things in a different way by feeding them information contrary to what their beliefs or current habits were. If you feed it to them enough, they can be reprogrammed.

But, actually, she loved programming things because it was like art to a painter, or music to a musician, a sculpture. It’s why she combined her love of art and programming to make digital art pieces. It was once thought of as an exact science – with methodology and a strict set of guidelines. Rules.

It was only a matter of time before some law enforcement agency sought her out and employed her because of her particular talents for reverse engineering code and her curiosity to figure out what people were hiding or how things worked. She had never worked on a team before, and she was more of a lone-wolf when it came to doing what she had to do, but her brain – she felt – worked in a way similar to the computers she would invariably use and worm her way into. Where others saw code or 1’s and 0’s, she saw images, and doorways, pathways, hallways – and they opened up a world for her to explore.

When she was approached by Detective Stabler, well, she wasn’t sure what to make of the man…but he gave off serious dad vibes to her, and it was reassuring that he sought her out when he had at his disposal so many other options. When Sergeant Ayanna Bell approached her requesting her expertise and offering her a job working in Organized Crime, she was intrigued. She’d seen millions of mafia movies, read about the bad guys in organized crime rings, and knew just what kind of large crime rings operated on the darker side of the internet. She was intrigued by various encryption software and surveillance programs that were open-source out in the world…and knowing that one of the creators of one of the largest and most beautiful encryption programs that could hack into any surveillance system in the world was one of their targets – she agreed to take the job.

Richard Sinatra wasn’t your typical mafia bad guy – he was smart with technology and knew how people could be easily persuaded and reprogrammed to think or believe certain ways when technology was mixed with human emotion.

She wasn’t surprised that he was digitally attacking them at Organized Crime, especially when she had found the information cloned from Washburn’s phone to the Wheatley house.

When she had been sent to the Wheatley residence, and she had Angela Wheatley on the phone telling her how to get into the Wine Cellar and into the Faraday Cage – she marveled at how ingenious this really bad man really was. She was even more convinced that Mastaba was a thing of beauty.

He’d been using it to monitor Elliot Stabler. He’d used it to monitor Kathy Stabler.

One day, after everyone had gone out and left her to hold down the fort, she had turned on her music and was going through the papers that Ayanna had left her and she ventured over to Elliot’s desk, looking down at the photo of his wife. She knew that Kathy Stabler was the reason Elliot was working so hard on bringing Richard Wheatley down, but she’d seen Elliot tuck a photo in the top right drawer of his desk and wondered for the first time, what secrets Elliot Stabler was hiding. So, she pulled the drawer out and looked down at the photo. There was a woman with brown hair and brown eyes that seemed warm and welcoming with a smile on her face, her cheek pressed next to his – his blue eyes sparkled in a way that she couldn’t explain. She had seen this woman before, on the news. She knew that this woman was a cop – but who was she to Elliot Stabler?

It would be easy to pull up Elliot’s personnel file in the system. If she had any questions – she could always find out.

Olivia Benson. That was the woman’s name. It came to her without having to look it up. They looked like a better couple than he and his wife had, not that she’d ever tell him that to his face. Rest in peace, Kathy Stabler. Below that photo there were three others – one of them was Olivia Benson holding a child, in the hospital, her shirt bloody. This must’ve been one of Elliot’s children, because Olivia wasn’t wearing a hospital bracelet so she knew it wasn’t Olivia’s child. She flipped the photo over – ‘Liv & Eli’.

Ah, his youngest.

The second photo beneath that one was one of all five of his kids when Eli was really young, and then the last photo was one of his kids during what must’ve been a holiday or something while he lived in Italy.

She’d known Olivia’s name before she had seen her in person, mainly because anyone who was alive had seen her on the news or holding press conferences…including a few years ago when she had been kidnapped. Nothing had ever prepared her for the moment the woman walked into Organized Crime. Jet had stood there, staring at the woman – she was even more beautiful that Jet remembered from seeing her on the television.

Washburn and Morales were watching her as well, star-struck. It was easy to be completely start-struck, she demanded respect and admiration just from her very presence. They’d have to replace Morales on their team now. They were going to get more people working in the office after they took down Wheatley.

But Olivia Benson in the flesh, was nothing short of magnificent.

Elliot Stabler had a photo of his wife on his desk, and she’d observed him looking at it occasionally, playing with his wedding band, spinning it between his fingers. But the moment she saw him looking at Olivia Benson, it was like looking at a piece of code that was perfection – he looked at her differently than he looked at the photo of his wife. He was in love with Olivia Benson. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

Richard Wheatley had used Mastaba to monitor Olivia Benson. After he had figured out that there was someone Elliot had been seeing and speaking to since his wife had gotten blown up. Someone other than Angela. Wheatley really monitored the shit out of Olivia Benson.

Jet was right, about Elliot being a total simp for Olivia Benson, especially when she saw what was in that letter. She wished someone would write her a letter like that – because wow. If they would just write her the letter without any of the other attachments, that would be fantastic. Too bad computers couldn’t write love letters.

The photos that he had access to – some of them were boring mom photos, about three hundred of her kid, who oddly enough, looked like he could’ve been a combination of Elliot and Olivia – but she knew he wasn’t. She’d heard Elliot talking about how he’d been gone for 10 years and Olivia’s kid was about 8 or 9. The other photos weren’t graphic, but there were a few of her in various dresses, almost like she’d tried them on and sent them to a friend asking for advice – some of the dresses were amazing, and were absolutely stunning on the woman. That was the advantage when you were 5’8” tall, she supposed. If Olivia Benson hadn’t of become a cop, she could’ve always become a model, she could tell in her youth, she had been a total knockout…she was still beautiful, Jet had decided. There was nothing wrong with thinking women were beautiful.

Her favorite photo from Olivia Benson’s camera roll was one that she had saved quickly, without Olivia noticing – it was one of her sitting on the bench with her son next to her, she wasn’t wearing make-up and her freckles were bright on her face, and her smile was radiant– she decided that this photo was one she’d leave somewhere for Elliot to find with a note attached when the time was right.

Reprogramming people was a task she was curious to see if she could accomplish. And because of the conversation that she’d had with Olivia briefly had verified that Olivia Benson was already in love with Elliot, but he just didn’t know it yet. Or if he did, he played the part of an idiot in love very well.

She didn’t need Richard Wheatley’s program to spell it out or to spy on them to realize that.

She didn’t need Mastaba to tell her that Olivia Benson was the true love of Elliot Stabler’s life…just watching the way he acted around the woman was proof enough for her.

She didn’t even need to practice a lot of surveillance to tell her that either. Human emotions be damned; they were the most perfect infinite loop ever written.


Richard Wheatley sat in his cell, naked of technology for the first time in his life – because they kept sweeping his cell and removing anything that had been brought to him while he was staying at this facility and he was thinking. It wasn’t uncommon for a man such as himself to think, but he was considering his position at the moment.

Elliot Stabler had made out with his now deceased ex-wife. Big deal, not. Richard was all about equal opportunities. If he cooperated with the government and gave up mostly everything he knew, there was a chance he could cut a deal. Angie wasn’t around to testify against him that he was the one that ordered the hit on Kathy Stabler, so chances are New York was losing their case against him for that particular transgression. But he wasn’t the one that had ordered it. No, that was all Angela and Izak.

She always did wear her heart on her sleeve.

Richard looked at the light in his cell, and began to pace, his fingers interlocked behind his head. Olivia Benson. He wasn’t lying, she was stunning. He also had seen some of her photos in her phone, the ones of her in various dresses – she was a beautiful, intelligent, powerful, very dangerous woman. He knew about her. He’d looked her up after he’d realized that Elliot Stabler had a…how could he put this delicately – hard on – for the woman.

Elliot Stabler would probably sell his own children for Olivia Benson.

He’d had Morales do digging, he knew all about her. He knew about her kidnapping years ago, he knew her statements from the files that Morales had dug up, he knew about her violent tendencies that had been identified by multiple therapists over the years. Olivia Benson, was a hellcat. Olivia Benson was also a single mother, a Captain of the NYPD, and had been giving awards by the President. She was a very notable woman who had piqued his interest when he figured out just what she was to Elliot Stabler.

The woman who never wanted to be someone’s mistress had become someone’s emotional mistress.

The fact that she’d come to see him alone without anyone else to ask questions about Elliot and Angela, well, Richard was quite taken aback by this bold move, but then he realized what Elliot Stabler was to her. He was the one true love of her life as well. Fucking hot messes.

He should’ve expected it of her, though. Because something else he had turned up in his research was that Olivia Benson never gave up on people. She never gave up until she got justice for them. She would burn the whole world if it meant achieving justice for the people she cared for. And she obviously cared for Elliot Stabler a lot.

He found out through his research that Elliot had left the NYPD ten years ago after an event – and hadn’t contacted Olivia at all. That was the first thing that made him take notice of the woman who could be described as an Amazon warrior – because who worked with someone for twelve or thirteen years and had been through as much as they had and could walk away from such an exquisite creature such as Olivia Benson.

There was only one answer clear to Richard Wheatley. It was sex. Elliot Stabler had wanted Olivia Benson in ways that he couldn’t act upon lest his religion smite him. Richard smirked, at this train of thought. Anytime he’d ever wanted something, he went for it – religion, marriage, family be damned. He was selfish, and possessive. That’s why anyone that got in the way of his extra-curricular activities with Purple Magic usually got cut down.

It’s why his adopted son earned a bullet between the eyes from Izak. The fool had made an inferior product and was pushing it as the original thing. Rafiq was an idiot.

He didn’t want to think on this too long, because his thoughts were going back to the dangerous woman that Elliot Stabler was in love with. He could see how easily it would be to fall in love with a woman like Olivia Benson. He couldn’t help but wonder if she’d told dear Detective Stabler about the worst days of her life, how she was haunted. He couldn’t help but wonder if she’d told Elliot about the relationships she’d embarked upon after being left by him all those years ago.

That prick IAB Captain that had made their lives hell from all the documents he had managed to get hold of.

He would wait for Elliot to come to him so he could enlighten him about the very dangerous game he was playing with a woman who had a tendency to chew men up and spit them out.

He would wait, patiently. He had time.

Something Richard had realized while watching them all over the last month was that for answers, you always would go to the person who had found out everything about you. The person who knew all your secrets and had found them out and was keeping them in a special place. Mastaba was keeping all of Elliot Stabler’s secrets and Olivia Benson’s secrets.

Surveillance typically revealed a lot of secrets, and sometimes the best currency was secrets.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 8 - Proximity


Olivia was seething.

No, seething didn’t quite cover the depth of the emotion she was feeling. She was absolutely livid with the man who was sitting in the seat next to her. She knew that he wanted to be taken back to his precinct, but to be perfectly honest, she didn’t want to take him there at the moment.

What she wanted to do was take him somewhere down by the water and toss his ass into the East River. Maybe she could call Fin up, he had offered to cut him for her once…when she was pissed off at Elliot.

Almost as pissed off as she was now. The man whose blue eyes were focusing on her laughed.

He was laughing. She turned to glare at him, realizing that for the second time, he was laughing at her.

“You know, Elliot. I don’t find this situation very fucking funny.” She shook her head, resting her temple against the knuckles that were clenching the steering wheel in front of her. “How could you move into my building? On my floor?”

He had stopped laughing long enough to meet her eyes, his lips pressed together as he studied her face. “I didn’t think you owned the building, and like I said, - I didn’t even know you had moved. You never mentioned to me that you had moved. And the odds of me landing on your floor? I didn’t have a single clue that you had moved onto the fourth floor.”

“You know I like the fourth floor.” She retorted, turning her head so that she wasn’t looking at him, but was looking down at her lap, her forehead still resting on her knuckles. 

“Yes, I know you like the fourth floor. I hadn’t even thought about that when I signed the paperwork, I was hoping for a sixth floor apartment, personally. You loved your old apartment, so…why’d you move?” Olivia took a very deep breath as she shook her head, her hair swaying back and forth.

“I’m not going to talk about this right now.”

“Lack of space? Was it for a boyfriend?”

“No.” She shook her head, inhaling sharply. The response barely came out in a whisper as she closed her eyes, fully aware that he couldn’t see her face. Before she could react, he had leaned over and moved her hair out of the way, tucking it behind her ear and resting his hand on the back of her neck, leaning over the middle console, his face inches from hers.

“Liv? What’s going on?” His voice dropped and softened as he searched her face with her closed eyes, trying to figure out what she was thinking, what she was going through. “Does this have to do with William Lewis?” He thought back to the thing she had said before they’d left the garage. She instantly tensed up.

“Don’t talk about him. Don’t mention him.” She snapped, without looking at him, “I told you I wasn’t going to talk about this right now, Elliot.” Her voice lowered considerably, and yet again, he found himself slightly taken aback by the sudden right turn.

Usually, it was a left turn that things took, but this – this was unexplored territory between the two of them. It almost gave him flashbacks to standing in front of the lockers with her talking about how she’d broken federal laws and aided her brother all those years ago. Her eyes were still closed, but she could feel Elliot’s fingers resting on the back of her neck. “Drop it.”

As much as she wanted to tell him to move his hands away from her neck, she wanted him to keep his hand there – it was helping ground her. It helped her quell the anxiety attack she could feel bubbling up in her stomach. She focused on keeping her breathing steady.

He couldn’t decide whether or not to push her, but he knew better than to press her too hard about why she moved because honestly, he didn’t want her to shut down completely. Deciding he valued his life, he removed his hand from her and sat back in the seat. “Maybe just take me home.”

“What apartment do you live in? Please tell me you aren’t my literal next-door neighbor. Tell me you are down the hall a little.”

“Would it be so bad if I were?” He asked, watching her as she sat back, still squeezing the steering wheel with her fingers, her knuckles white. And for a moment, she had to sit there and mull over the question he had just asked. “I mean, c’mon, Liv? Wouldn’t you feel secure and safe knowing that your next door neighbor has your back?”

She opened her mouth slightly, and she kind of looked like a fish, with the amount of times she opened and closed her lips together, before she bit the inside of her bottom lip, her chin dimpling.

A couple of years ago, she had actually wished that he had lived next door to her. That he would watch out for her, and always protect her. That was before he had left, before he had disappeared. Then, Lewis happened, and she couldn’t help but constantly wonder whether it would’ve happened had he been around.

She had promised herself to never ask this question. She had always told herself that asking this question would only lead to heartbreak and being stuck on the answer she was afraid to come to. She glanced at him before turning to look out of her driver’s side door window, removing her left hand from the steering wheel she rested her index finger against her lips, her thumb resting under her chin as she exhaled.

She had to admit it, the answer she didn’t want to admit. “No, it’s not. It’s just…you have been gone for ten years, Elliot. Ten years.

“I’m fully aware of the time that’s elapsed since I was here last, Liv.”

“Let me talk, Elliot.” She glared at him, reaching her hand over to rest on his arm. “You have no idea the things I’ve been through during those ten years. I’ve been in hell while you’ve been living the life in Italy. You spoke about looking out over the palazzo at night, and how beautiful it was…while I was here, in New York City, night after night, day after day, trudging through the trenches, dealing with heinous crimes and violent criminals.”

“You could’ve always stopped, Liv. You could’ve put your papers in.”

“No.” She shook her head, “I’ve told you this countless times, - I cannot stop doing what I’m doing.”

“Why not, Liv?” He asked, staring at her, “Why can’t you stop? Can’t you find another Department?”

“I’m not having this conversation with you…yet again, all these years later, Elliot. I do my job because I love my job. I love being able to bring peace of mind to the victims, the survivors. The women and men and children who need someone to fight for them.”

“Are you fighting for them? Or are you fighting for yourself, Liv?” Elliot asked, never missing a beat. She suddenly stared at him with an expression that he couldn’t quite place.

Had he spoken to Lindstrom? What the hell. Where did this observation come from?

“Look, ten-year absence aside,” he began, his hands in front of him, just far enough apart that he was shaking them as he spoke, “I know you, Olivia Benson. I know that you always fought for yourself because you always saw the little girl that no one fought for every single time you looked at a victim. You fought for the little girl that lives inside your heart and soul and that’s why you’re such a great mom, why you’re an amazing Captain – you care. But you can only give so much of yourself away before you’re left with nothing, - before you’re running on empty.”

“Elliot. I love what I do.”

“I don’t doubt that, but Olivia, you have a son now – how many times can you go out on a call and put yourself in direct danger?”

“You think I don’t think about these things, Elliot?” She asked, shaking her head. “God, I can’t believe we’re having this conversation at the moment. I should just take you home and drop you off.”

“I want to know what hell you’ve been living in the last ten years, Olivia. I want to move forward. I want you in my life in whatever capacity you’ll allow me to be.”

“I just…need time, El.” She sighed. “Since you’ve come back, - it’s just been a lot.”

“So you go speak to Richard Wheatley about me?” Elliot asked, his right brow raised, incredulous.

“You haven’t exactly been up front about everything. But you should take caution with him, he knows a lot more than he’s letting on about.”

“Obviously, Liv.”

“He knew a lot about my past.” She whispers. “I don’t want him to tell you anything that I’m not ready to tell you. I have my secrets from the last ten years that I’d like to tell you myself.”

“Well, whatever he knows, Liv…I have to know because if he brings it to the court of opinions – we both might have issues.” Elliot sighed, running his hand along his face. "I don't want you going back to speak to him, I don't like his intrigue with you."

"Do you think I want you in his proximity?" She asked, "He knows my secrets."

Chapter Text


MASTABA
Chapter 9 – Glances


Ayanna Bell had tried her absolute best to not lace into Elliot Stabler too harshly in the office. She found herself at a loss, however, because damn, that man was infuriating.

She understood everything he was going through, hell, she’d been there for him when he’d called a week and a half ago during the night because the PTSD was suffocating him. He’d offered her those damn salty-ass Triscuits (not even the Garden Vegetable kind, which at least had some discernable flavor) and some water. The man didn’t even have block cheese to make the Triscuits remotely better.

She’d told her wife that maybe they should get him some blocks of cheese just so he had some calcium to go with the fiber.  

She could only assume that his youngest child was staying with one of his other children because his cabinets must’ve been pretty bare for him to only have Triscuits & water and laugh about it. Yet, when he had called a few nights later, he had food in his house – he’d offered up a beer & some chicken strips that he could just throw in the oven. He was working with the therapist she had suggested, and she was seeing differences in how he was acting. When she’d go over they’d just sit there – in a companionable silence.

She was grateful that Elliot felt confident in calling her when he felt an episode coming on. She just wished it wasn’t always between the hours of 11:30 pm and 3 am. The last time, he’d actually spoken quietly about his kids. She had to give it to the man, he was all about making sure his family was doing well – but the attention had gotten lost on himself. The man needed to learn how to practice self-care.

He’d moved into his new apartment a few days ago and she hadn’t gotten a call in a few days to sit up with him.

Thank goodness, because she was going to need all the sleep she could manage when her son was born. She’d teach him to be brave, kind, patient, inquisitive, responsible, respectful – all the things she felt a young man should be. And Passionate, -  she wanted with every fiber of her being for her son to be a kind, passionate, and loyal soul.

Every single snap-judgement she had made about the man seemed to be wrong. It was vexing, but the more time she spent in his presence, the more she saw just what kind of a person he really was.

The NYPD had the wrong impression of him.

She wasn’t sure when they’d decided to label him as a loose-cannon, he had a drive for justice and to see it carried through. If that meant his investigative techniques were slightly unorthodox, then so be it – he somehow knew how to approach people in their element, and knew how to interact with them, read them, make them aware that he had their number. It was impressive, she had to admit, watching the man work people to get the answers he needed.

Elliot Stabler was passionate, but calculating.

Passion and loyalty were things that were extended to all sorts of relationships. There were different kinds of passion just as there were different levels of loyalty. The passion in the letter that Richard Wheatley was describing was one that crossed all sorts of boundaries, if she were being honest – she was surprised to learn that Elliot Stabler had been the one to pen the words – paraphrased, of course, in the way she was receiving them…but damn. She almost wanted to ask Jet to save the letter when she had heard Benson say she’d taken a photo of it on her phone so she wasn’t pulling out a letter a million times a day.

It was curious, how the Captain and the Detective communicated, - without even speaking they could anticipate one another’s movements and what the other was going to suggest. They were ridiculously in sync to the point where it almost was as though they were one person - and it was scary.

She watched how the two of them interacted, Captain Benson and Detective Stabler. When they were around one another, it was as though the entire world could be on fire and they wouldn’t notice a single thing out of place. They would only see and hear one another. At the same time, this focus on one another also made them hyper-aware of everything going on around them and it made them an excellent team. Ayanna could only hope that Stabler would have her back as much as Liv had his back and he had Liv’s.

Liv had her back when they brought Wheatley in, drawing out the largest support she possibly could – lawsuits and tempers be damned in the NYPD, if Captain Benson asked for something, everyone jumped. It wasn’t until Elliot had mentioned that the officers were there for them that she realized why Olivia had brought all the officers down there. It wasn’t solely for her – no, it was for Elliot and her. It was in pursuit of justice for what had happened to Kathy Stabler. It was support for Elliot’s children.

The power that Benson wielded in the Department was unparalleled. It was amazing she wasn’t a Chief yet, but Ayanna knew why Olivia wasn’t the Chief – Olivia Benson was always about helping the victims. She was all about getting justice. Ayanna had worked briefly with Olivia when the NYPD had implemented a Mentoring program for Women who were seeking to rise through the ranks – she was her mentee.

It wasn’t until they’d experienced the Hospital that she realized that both Elliot and Olivia had her back.

Sitting in the interrogation room with Benson and Stabler today – that was different from when they were dealing with Uncle K and Simon’s death. That was Olivia getting justice for her brother and when she had walked into the room, her presence filled it and damn the woman was frightening – but then, today happened.

Today was an eye-opening and informative experience listening to Richard Wheatley speak about love and emotions so openly only to find out he was reciting a love letter written by the surly Detective Stabler. Who the hell knew that he was a closet hopeless romantic behind the façade he so flawlessly exhibited?


She thought back to this afternoon after they left the interrogation room.

It wasn’t until they were in the hall that she saw the look on Olivia’s face, and the horror that momentarily flashed across her features as Elliot had slammed the door shut behind them. She had stopped there, in the middle of the hallway and looked up toward the light while exhaling a deep breath all while closing her eyes and shaking her head. She was trying to focus – Ayanna knew this without a doubt. When she had opened her eyes again she blinked a couple of times, and just as she was going to spin around to grab the door, it opened again and Elliot exited.

They’d walked back to the square in a silence that could only be described as a bated one. Ayanna kept sneaking glances over at the Captain as she made herself appear to be going through her e-mails on her work phone. She wasn’t fooled by this action though, because she was guilty of doing it herself every once in a while. A distraction from whatever it was she didn’t want to address or think about for the moment. Ayanna turned around to look at her Detective as they were walking but got no reaction other than a stressed looking smile, no teeth.

She kept glancing over at Olivia. No doubt the news that Elliot had kissed Angela Wheatley was running through her mind. It was probably the only thing Benson was thinking about. Combined with Richard’s words from the plaza a couple days ago there was probably a lot going on in that brain of hers. She can’t deny that Elliot earned the smack on the back of the head she had given him that afternoon before ripping into him when they had gotten back to the Organized Crime building.

Olivia’s ‘I’m fine’ wasn’t convincing enough for her. When she’d asked her after she’d ripped into Elliot. She knew that I’m fine, and what it really meant. It really meant fucked up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional. She was worried just what Olivia was going to do with the information she had been given, and as she glanced back over at Elliot after Olivia had taken both of her phones and left. She’d hoped that she would go back to the 1-6 and stay there for the rest of the day.

Elliot took a few moments to come out of her office, but when he did, he grabbed his wallet and walked out – Ayanna could only hope the man was going to follow her instructions to plead, grovel, and beg for forgiveness from Captain Benson. They were both a hot mess. That’s one estimation that Richard Wheatley had 100% predicted and called them out on. The both of those two love-sick fools, were hot messes.

Their stolen glances, the looks they gave out of the side of their eyes when no one was watching…they were meant for one another. Ayanna was willing to bet that that’s how they’d always been, that’s what they’d always done – and it was a miracle that more people weren’t aware of their love for one another just based off of those looks alone.

Olivia Benson was the love of Elliot Stabler’s life, and Richard Wheatley had picked up on it. She almost wondered if Kathy always knew she was second to Olivia.

She knew Benson though; Benson was never anyone’s mistress.

She knew everything Olivia had been through in the last ten years because of her position. She also knew because Olivia had either shared the experience with her as part of training to let her know things don’t always go as they are planned and you have to remain vigilant. Olivia had discussed how to identify PTSD in people and explained the situations she’d been in that had triggered her own PTSD. Knowing those things about Olivia, she also knew that it was unlikely she was ever going to share any of the details with Elliot. Because Olivia had told her flat out that the people she cares the most about never knew all the details. Olivia needed to share everything with Elliot, because one thing Ayanna could be certain of is knowing everything would encourage Elliot to take his head out of his own ass and talk to Olivia.

Actually talk to her, because he would know what a badass she really was and what a survivor she was. Maybe, if someone spilled all the details to Elliot, he would start listening to the woman who obviously had his full attention.


She looked over at Jet, who was sitting in her chair with her legs pulled up to her chest, clicking and typing away and then her eyes roamed over to Washburn who was staring at Morales’ empty desk. She was going to have to hire two new detectives to replace the two she’d lost in connection with this case. Rubbing her forehead, she nodded to herself as she walked over to Jet’s desk.

“Sloot.”

The young woman stopped clicking and glanced over at her boss, who was leaning on the railing next to her desk.

“Yes?”

“What do you know about that letter?” Ayanna asked her brow raised. A smirk formed on Jet’s face as she nodded for her boss to stand behind her.

“I know he is in deep when it comes to emotional attachment to the Captain.” Jet answered. “Enough that he has photographs in his top drawer. I also know he had a hidden folder in his phone with photos of Olivia. And he also had a photo of a picture of her sleeping in these rickety looking bunk beds.”

“The Crib in the 1-6.” Ayanna nodded. “It’s just what I thought. That man has been in love with the Captain for years. What did Richard Wheatley have access to on her phone?”

Jet spun around in the chair as Ayanna hopped on the table next to her. “He had access to a lot. He somehow got access to the NYPD case files, Personnel files, Captain Benson’s photographs, her text messages, her contacts.”

“Anything we should be worrying about?” Ayanna asked.

“Only if Richard Wheatley decides to tell Elliot about William Lewis.” Jet paused, “I don’t know who to worry about more in that situation. Elliot or Olivia or Richard.”

Why Richard?”

“Because if he does tell Elliot and it doesn’t come from Olivia directly – she might go kill him. Point-blank.” Jet answered. “She expressed in one of the text messages between her Sergeant and her that under no circumstances was anyone to mention the man to Elliot – nor any of the details.” Jet shook her head. “I remember the news at the time, boss. I wouldn’t want him finding out from anyone else either.”

Ayanna studied Jet for a moment and pulled out her phone, finding Olivia’s contact information as she pressed the call button. She was going to have to tell him, Olivia was going to have to share the information she had been trying like hell to prevent him from seeing.

She knew it was only a matter of time before he would go looking for the information, especially if he’d heard the name anywhere. Especially if Richard Wheatley had taken an interest in Benson and Stabler as a couple.

Even if they hadn’t put an official title on anything yet, there was no mistaking this - they were headed for a relationship eventually. It was inevitable. 

The vault had been opened and secrets were bound to pour out.

Chapter Text


Mastaba
Chapter 10 - Irrefutable


Previously:

 
“Well, whatever he knows, Liv…I have to know because if he brings it to the court of opinions – we both might have issues.” Elliot sighed, running his hand along his face. "I don't want you going back to speak to him, I don't like his intrigue with you."

"Do you think I want  you  in his proximity?" She asked, "He knows  my secrets ."

 

 


 

Elliot and Olivia were staring at one another, her last statement hanging in the air between them like the Hindenburg on its way down to the earth after catching fire. His blue eyes were searching her brown ones – and the conversation they were having with their eyes was almost as intense as the waves crashing against the shoreline during a hurricane. His eyes the ocean and hers the sand.

Secrets. There were things she hadn’t wanted him to know until she was ready to tell him. There were things that she wanted to keep close to her chest that could potentially destroy everything they’d been working on fixing. She wanted them both to be in a better place before she could even remotely think about disclosing the things on her list. Deep down she knew he was right, though, if Richard Wheatley knew things about them – things that each of them were withholding from one another – he potentially had the power to destroy them both.

Richard Wheatley had the most valuable form of currency in the world of Organized Crime at his disposal. Secrets. Elliot went to open his mouth when all of a sudden her phone started ringing and she looked at the caller ID, her eyes flashing from the phone to the man sitting next to her. He too glanced over at it before closing his mouth and looking out his window as she reached forward to grab the phone out of the holder.

“Benson.” She answered. He smiled, she still did answer it with her last name. But then again, this was her work phone, so chances are it was work-related. As she listened to the person on the other side of the line he watched her eyes widen and then close as she leaned forward again, resting her forehead on the steering wheel. “Yeah, he’s right here.” She exhaled as she listened to the other person talking. “I realize that.” She responded a moment later, followed by a curse, “Fuck.

‘Real professional, Liv.’ He thought to himself, but went back to listening to this side of the conversation.

“Yes. I realize that. I also know how important this conversation is to have – but I wasn’t planning on it being forced out of me. You realize what will happen, right?” She looked out of her window with the phone to her ear as she changed the side the phone was on. “Yeah. I’ll let him know.” Another minute passed. “Yeah. I’ll definitely follow up.” She scratched her lip with her thumbnail and reached for the water bottle that was in the cup holder. “Okay. I know. Yes. I will. Alright. See you around. Bye.”

She turned and looked at him after hanging up and shook her head. She closed her eyes as she rubbed her temple with her thumb and Elliot had the urge to reach over to massage the back of her neck because he just knew that she always carried the majority of her stress there, but he knew if he attempted to reach over, with how pissed off she was with him right now she’d probably punch him again.

Being hit three times in one day was more than enough for him. It was a moment later that she pressed her fingers against her closed eyes as she nodded. She must’ve been ruminating over things in her brain because the actions she had just made were almost a silent conversation with herself.

She hung up and let out a long breath. “Alright, listen. Here’s what’s going to happen, and I know you’re not going to like it, so just go with it for a minute. I’m going to drive us to our building.” She glared now, because obviously coming to terms with the fact they lived in the same building was a bone of contention at the moment. Saying “our” building felt foreign on her tongue.

She willed herself to speak with a bit more oomph, “You’re going to go to your apartment and I’m going to go to mine. I’m going to have someone bring me the files I need and tomorrow you’re going to stay at home. I already spoke to Ayanna. We won’t speak to Richard Wheatley at all. Unless it’s absolutely pertinent to your case – and tomorrow evening, I’m going to have to tell you the things I believe are relevant to what Wheatley might have on me.” She allowed her gaze to leave his for a moment. “Do you understand?”

He nodded.


He didn’t speak one word on the way to the building but when they pulled into the garage she got out of the vehicle and reached in the back, pulling her bags out and walked over to the parking garage elevator. He followed after, his hands in his pant pockets as they stood in the elevator he reached forward and pressed the number ‘4’ as she glared at him.

“I really didn’t know you moved, Liv. If I had, I wouldn’t have chosen this building.” He offered, shrugging. She just looked up at him, taking a step closer and then pressing the button to stop the elevator. He glanced down at her in surprise.

“El, listen. I’m just still feeling all sorts of ways about the whole Angela thing. I’m trying to be an adult about it, because I’m a grown-ass woman, and I want to talk to you about this, - but it’s going to take time. Just like I am going to have to get used to the fact that you are literally on the same floor as me in my building. I’m not really as mad as it might seem, because deep down it makes me feel safer. I’m just going through a lot of processing at the moment. I just need your patience.” She sounded so sad, and broken that he wished he could take back all his mistakes in the almost two months since he’d been back. He almost wished he had the right to lean down and sweep this incredible woman into a kiss. He wished the last lips he had touched had been her own. He was standing next to the panel, so when she reached back around to release the elevator he just nodded, looking down at her, taking in the familiar scent of her shampoo.

She hadn’t moved, and had actually brushed against him for a moment and he wasn’t going to react because he wanted her to make the contact with him because he realized just how badly he had fucked up. He meant every single word he’d written to her, he meant every single thing he’d said to her during the past two months. He knew he should feel guilty about the whole thing, but he was honestly relieved when Richard had called him out for his bullshit and made the accusation that Olivia was the love of his life, because he couldn’t deny it. It was true, she really was the love of his life.

The woman who he had hurt the most by simply just disappearing, the woman whom he’d never kissed, the woman who had his back and had saved his life more times than he could count – she was the love of his life. It wasn’t the mother of his five children, it was his partner. The partner he abandoned. They’d both abandoned one another at some point, but when it really mattered during the years he was at SVU, they’d been there for one another. She’d had more faith in his abilities as a husband and father than he believed he had in himself. She was someone special. She deserved the entire world to be handed to her.

He thought about the look in her eyes when she said she was going to have someone bring the files and couldn’t help but wonder just what it was that this Lewis asshole had done to hurt her. If she was guarding the files, it must’ve been bad.

As he began to open his mouth to let her know that whatever it was he didn’t care – he didn’t want her to hurt anymore, they had arrived on the 4th floor and stepped out. She realized she hadn’t asked him what door was his until he stopped at the door just before her own. She stopped next to him as he pulled his keys out of his pocket and looked down at her, a small smirk playing on his lips as she watched him go to insert the key. “Un-fucking-believable.” she whispered. “You see that door right there?” She pointed at the next door. “That’s mine.”

“Okay.” He managed to choke out. He was looking down at her, she was beautiful. He wanted to apologize profusely for not talking to her about the places he was looking at in the city, but he wanted to prove that he was making strides of his own and could move forward. He didn’t want to have to check with everyone before he made any decision, he was a grown adult, after all. He’d chosen this building because it was a good proximity to a good school and had safety precautions put in place so he could feel good about leaving Eli there by himself if he had to work late.

She didn’t want to lose this. She didn’t want to lose him after he found out about everything she’d been hiding for the duration of the time they’d known one another. She’d have to lay it all out on the table, and she’d have to hope that he would accept her as she was. That he would meet her where she was and they could move forward together.

She didn’t want him to feel bad about moving here, because the more she thought about it, the more she realized that he was right. She hadn’t told him she’d moved. She hadn’t told him her new address. He had no way of knowing that he was her next-door neighbor.


Richard Wheatley was exhausted. He’d had quite the day entertaining those two detectives that were hopelessly in love with one another. He thought about the photos he’d seen on both of their devices. He thought about the conversations he’d seen from both of them. He thought about the Domain Awareness System he’d hacked into to watch all the people he needed to keep track of. The city really did have the most advanced surveillance system. It’s a shame they didn’t utilize it in a more productive manner.

He thought about the fact that he’d gotten access to the NYPD personnel files, the IAB paperwork, the Court files. Nothing was out of reach for Richard Wheatley. He had irrefutable evidence that even the most respected members of the Police Department had shadows and ghosts in their closets. He knew that some of them had things they’d done that had been swept under the rug, he knew that some of them had struck deals with the government to wipe those things off their record.

He knew things about their families.

Richard knew all these things as well as secrets from the Organized Crime syndicates in the city. He leveraged this knowledge to benefit him, most of the time.

He was playing the game of Secret broker and was waiting to see who the next contestant would be. He was hoping with every ounce of his being that it would be Detective Stabler again. He had more to say to that man, interesting things.

He had irrefutable evidence that Captain Olivia Benson was a very smart, very dangerous woman. He had knowledge of just what she could do when pushed to the limits. He kind of wanted to play, if he were being honest to see what kind of a rise he could get out of her.

He was willing to bet she was even more stunning while beating someone within an inch of their life.


It wasn’t thirty minutes later that Olivia found herself standing outside of his door, knocking. What the hell was she doing here?

He opened the door and looked around the hallway, “Liv?” He asked, unsure of why she was standing there. “Everything alright? You okay?” He reached forward and put his hands on her shoulders.

“I’m sorry – I don’t know why…” she shook her head and turned her face to where his hands were on her shoulders. “I’m…have a good night, El.”

“Liv, wait.” He stepped out of the doorway, and she suddenly realized he was shirtless. He was shirtless and wearing gym shorts standing in the hallway on the fourth floor. She was standing in the hallway wearing a pair of yoga pants, tank top, cardigan, and house slippers. “I – I’m sorry about today. I just wanted to tell you that I did mean every single word I wrote down. You mean the world to me. I don’t want to lose you. I’m so sorry that I left you – and I just want you to know that I’m trying to do better. I’m sorry I moved into your building.”

“El, you don’t have to apologize, not right now. It’s fine. You’re fine. I’m fine.” She shook her head, as she eyed her door, trying to avoid looking at him because of his lack of clothing, he spun her around and placed his hands on either side of her face, looking into her eyes.

“Yeah, you are."

 Her breath caught in her throat as she looked up at him and she felt butterflies in her stomach as she watched his face. He dropped one of his hands from her face to her waist and pulled her closer, his fingers skimming along the bottom hem of the tank top she was wearing. He backed her into the wall directly in front of his door and without a second thought her arms found themselves wrapped around his neck as she pulled herself up on her toes and closed the distance between the two of them, their lips crashing together as he reached down and pulled her up, wrapping her legs around his waist.

“Seriously?” A voice came from the elevator – as they opened their eyes and he sat her back down their foreheads touching. It was Fin, standing there, with a file folder in his hands. “I’m gonna collect my two hundred bucks.” He pulled out his phone and began typing. She couldn’t say anything and was just staring up into those blue eyes, which had darkened in the forty-five seconds of their first kiss.

Chapter Text


Mastaba
Chapter Eleven - Fracture


After she’d walked through her door, she immediately yanked her blazer off and made her way to her bedroom, depositing her bag on the chair next to the couch. Walking into the room, she pulled her hair back into a messy ponytail. She opened the drawer, planning on wearing a pair of leggings but found herself staring at only having yoga pants available because she’d yet to do the laundry. Rolling her eyes, she pulled the pair out and tossed them on her bed.

She couldn’t believe that he was literally right next door to her. She’d had ten years of his absence, almost three months of him being back, questioning whether or not he was going to just disappear again. But he’d been working on getting better. He’d been working on fixing himself. He’d written her the letter. He’d assisted with solving Simon’s death. He’d thrown himself over her while they were shot at.

He’d kissed Angela Wheatley. She couldn’t imagine the massive amount of guilt that he must be feeling about this action – Angela had ordered the hit on Kathy. And then, Elliot had his worlds collide when she’d been called to the hospital by Richard Wheatley being a puppet-master from inside the Correctional Facility. At the moment, Olivia wasn’t sure what Wheatley’s ulterior motive had been in luring her there – maybe having her killed instead, to destroy Elliot completely. Or maybe to torture Angela if his little jab at ‘poor Angela’ was anything to go off of. If Elliot’s letter was anything to go off of – losing her from the planet itself would ruin him for the rest of his life. Elliot, well, he’d watched Kathy and Angela die, screaming for help in the hallway while there wasn’t a single soul in sight.  

Richard Wheatley had said something about her being the love of his life – and then regurgitated parts of that letter to her in front of Sergeant Bell and Elliot. Richard Wheatley knew their secrets. Richard Wheatley had somehow bypassed the safeguards that had been set in place to guard her secrets, and this wasn’t good. It wasn’t good at all.

She’d had a good night at Fin’s not wedding with Elliot. They’d been texting almost daily and they’d spoken almost every single night on the phone. But the one thing he’d neglected to tell her when he told her he was apartment hunting, was where he was apartment hunting. So, as she pulled a tank top out of the drawer, she rested her head against her arm – he was next door. She should be mad, but the more she stood there, yanking her clothes off and pulling on the ones she had just taken out – she found herself oddly at peace with it.

She checked her phone, Fin was supposed to be bringing the files over in the next hour – and Noah was at Dance and Lucy would be bringing him home after 6:30. She had time. She bit her bottom lip, she felt bad that she’d hit him twice in the car earlier that day. She was worried about what sharing her secrets would mean for them.

She was hoping that the time they’d been apart had resulted in both of them gaining some sort of secondary perspective and they could act maturely. She knew she couldn’t leave their parting the way she had left it, sliding on her slippers, she grabbed her cardigan off the back of the chair and walked to the door, unlocking the lock so she didn’t have to take her keys with her she walked out into the hallway and to his door. It had been thirty-minutes since they’d parted ways.




Knocking on his apartment door, she had to ask herself, ‘what the hell am I doing here?

As she heard his footsteps coming to his door, she took a deep breath. When he opened the door he looked both directions, as though he was checking to make sure that no one else was in the hall, that no one was threatening her. He looked concerned, “Liv?” He asked, shifting to lean an arm on the door frame. “Everything alright?” His eyes scanned her, looking at her physically, “You okay?” He reached his hands out and put them on her shoulders.

She felt the warmth from his hands radiating through the material of the cardigan. She wanted to apologize for the way they’d parted, but every single time she tried to open her mouth, it was like word vomit just came out. “I’m sorry – I don’t know why…” Yes, you do, Liv, you wanted to apologize. You wanted to say you were sorry for being a bitch about him moving into the building. It’s not like you own it and it’s not like he knew. You want to apologize for not telling him. She turned her head and looked at his hands on her shoulders. His hands even looked strong, it was enough to make her head feel dizzy in his presence. “I’m…” she couldn’t say she was sorry…it just wouldn’t come out. “Have a good night, El.”

Okay, well, at least she managed to get that out before looking like an incompetent fool.

“Liv, wait.” He stepped out of his door, softly closing his door behind him, but turning the handle to make sure it was unlocked. She broke eye contact with him and suddenly realized what he was wearing. It wasn’t much, because he wasn’t wearing a shirt. No, he was only wearing a pair of mesh gym shorts with NYPD on the left pant leg. She suddenly became aware of what she was wearing. She hadn’t honestly planned on running out of her door dressed in such tight clothes, she was dressed for comfort and a quiet night in – but there she was. He looked her over, his eyes trailing from the scoop neck of her tank up to her lips and to her eyes. “I, – “ he was stuttering, how uncharacteristic of him, “I’m sorry about today. I just wanted to tell you that I did mean every single word I wrote down.” Really? I hope so. God, I hope so. He continued, “You mean the world to me. I don’t want to lose you. I’m sorry that I left you – and I just want you to know I’m trying to do better.” He was trying to do better, that was true. “I’m sorry I moved into your building.”

She stared into his eyes, feeling slightly out of sorts. “El, you don’t have to apologize, not right now. It’s fine. You’re fine. I’m fine.” She shook her head, eyeing her door – she felt her cheeks flush. Her flight response was kicking in again, she wanted to bolt. He grabbed her face in his hands his thumbs resting on her cheeks, looking into her eyes. She wasn’t guarding anything about herself in this moment, and he could see that.

“Yeah, you are.” She’s what? Fine, like okay? Or Fine like…oh god, he was leaning closer.

Her breath caught in her throat as she searched his eyes and felt her stomach tighten. He allowed one of his hands to trail from her cheek down her arm, she felt the weight of his hand through her cardigan. He snaked the hand around her waist, beneath the cardigan as his fingers landed where the hem of the tank met the yoga pants, his hand slipping beneath the line, and splaying his fingers out on her lower back. Just this skin contact made her head feel like she’d been drinking for hours, she felt drunk. She didn’t even realize it but when her back landed against the wall across from his closed door, she had reached up and wrapped her hand at the back of his neck, bringing both of her arms up as he adjusted his grip on her, and before she knew what had happened it was like a magnetic force had just pulled them together, and in one swift movement he had captured her against the wall and she had lifted her legs up to wrap around his waist.

She felt his skin beneath her hands as the kiss deepened and then before she realized just where she was, he had placed her back down on the ground, and they were breathless. Staring into one another’s eyes, taking inventory of one another. Elliot’s eyes had darkened and looked like the storm clouds that would roll into the New York Harbor before a storm. When Elliot had glanced over at the elevator her eyes followed his line of sight and she saw Fin standing there, texting with a grin on his face, file folders tucked under his arm and Elliot was smirking, his hands resting on her hips as she broke out of the odd spell that had been cast over her.


It only took about twenty seconds of her standing there, with her hands still resting on Elliot’s chest before she broke out of it. “Shit, I can’t be standing in the hallway of my building making out with a half-dressed man.” She moved her hands off of him and brought them up to her face, her fingers touching her lips which were still tingling from the contact that had been initiated moments before, “Fin, don’t you dare.” She was pointing at the man who’d stepped out of the elevator.

Fin grimaced as he looked between the two of them, “Cap, you’re taking all the fun out of this, I wanna collect some of my money – take Phoebe out to a nice dinner…Damn, I’ve been waiting years to collect on this.” but tucked his phone back into his pocket. “What are you guys doing making out in the hallway like a bunch of horny teenagers?” Fin asked, “She’s a Captain, Stabler, have some respect, get some damn clothes on.” He shook his hand. “I don’t even want to know why you’re both in the hallway. Or why you’re here at Liv’s.”

“I live here.” Elliot answered, taking a step back away from Olivia allowing her room to breathe. Fin looked like he wanted to laugh, but looked at Olivia who was nodding and looking at the door behind Elliot as he turned the handle and stepped into the doorway, leaning against the doorframe.

No shit. You got balls, Stabler.” Fin shook his head, walking up to Olivia and handing her the files she’d asked him to bring over. “Don’t worry Cap, I won’t spill the beans as long as you promise that when it comes time to tell everyone about the two of you you’ll let me collect.” He shook his head, handing the file to Olivia, “Just know I’m glad that you finally took the leap. As long as I don’t walk in and find Stabler’s white ass in the air somewhere.”

Fin.” Olivia’s voice had dropped, “That was the first time we’ve even kissed.”

“My white ass?” Elliot laughed, looking at the man who had been looking out for the love of his life while he was away. “I think I could arrange for that.” This statement earned a glare from Olivia who was rolling her eyes.

Elliot.” Olivia’s glare was actually kind of cute now that he watched her, now that he’d kissed her, “Go inside. I’ll see you in the morning.” She motioned for Fin to follow her into her apartment. Elliot didn’t go inside the apartment, but stood there in the door, watching as she opened the door and made her way through, Finn following. When she went to close the door she met eye contact with Elliot who had leaned out so she could see him. He’d raised a brow and still had a smirk on his face. Cocky bastard.

Once safely inside her apartment she walked over to the couch, placing the file folder on the coffee table in front of her. Fin had taken a seat in the chair after he moved her blazer.

“So…you and Elliot, finally.” Fin nodded.

“Fin.” She had a warning edge to her tone. “It wasn’t like that.”

“No offense, Liv, but I’ve known you and Stabler for over twenty years, and I’m here to tell you that it’s always been like that – but there’s always been a line in the sand that neither of your dumb asses wanted to cross.” He shook his head, “Especially when he was separated from Kathy before you disappeared to Oregon.”

“I didn’t just disappear, Fin.” She leaned forward, placing her elbows on her knees.

Fin pursed his lips but shook his head, “You did. The minute things felt too real or too much Liv, you ran. You went to Computer Crimes, and there was no living with Stabler. Then, you disappeared to Oregon – and did you know that even though you’d spoken to me while there, the minute he picked up the receiver, you were a ghost. I haven’t ever said anything, because it’s not my place – but baby, I’m getting tired of seeing you alone. That’s why when he called and said he was going to be in New York for trainings and a trial – I knew he had to know about your award ceremony.”

“Fin, are you saying you’ve been trying to set us up?”

“Someone had to do it.” He shook his head, “Look, Liv, I know you’ve had some losses in the past few years – but every single time you have shit figured out, it always goes south. I mean, I didn’t like Tucker because I’d sat across from him too many times to count, but at least he made you smile for a while. You dated him for almost two years, - but even that ran its course. Liv, we’re not getting any younger.”

“Hey! That’s rude. You should never tell a woman she’s getting old, Fin.”

“Liv. C’mon.” Fin shook his head. “Listen, I’m not going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do – but be careful, alright, I don’t want to see you hurt – and I know he’s still dealing with the loss of his wife. But, Liv, he does love you, deeply.”

“I know.” She whispered, shaking her head. “Fin, there’s a case he’s been working in Organized Crime, if you remember, it has to do with Richard Wheatley. The reason I asked for this file folder is because somehow, the criminal, Richard Wheatley, managed to get information about myself and Elliot and has been parroting it back to us. He will bring our secrets out into the open if it benefits him. But, he enjoys using them to toy with us. Earlier today, I was sitting in the interrogation room with Ayanna and Elliot and we listened to Richard recite Elliot’s letter he had written to me out loud.” She shook her head, “I went back later because something else he said struck me as odd – and I found out that in one of his irrational PTSD fits, he made out with his target’s ex-wife…the woman who ordered the hit on Kathy.”

“That’s fucked up.”

“Yeah. So, when I went back for more information, as I was leaving, Elliot stopped me in the hallway and I let his name slip out in a fit of anger…and Elliot kept asking me who he was and what he did. Then, Ayanna called and told me that I would have to tell him. I’d have to come clean about everything I’ve been avoiding because if I didn’t – well, we wouldn’t put it past Richard to tell Elliot.”

“And you don’t want it to come from him. I get that. But, Liv, are you sure you want to tell him? Do you want me to talk to him about anything?”

“No. I think it’s best if it comes from me, Fin.” She ran her hands over her face. “I need to control the situation. I need to be the one.”

“Liv, you know what this is gonna do, right?” Fin asked, studying her. “I mean, I don’t think it’ll change anything, but he’s going to go full on protective mode.”

“We’ll be okay, Fin. He’s really trying, making leaps and bounds. A lot has happened since he got back – and I feel like we’re moving into a better place, the two of us.” Olivia smiled kindly at her friend.

“Yeah.” Fin nodded. “I have to stop by the store on the way home, Phoebe is out of herbal tea.” He laughed, standing. “Liv, you’re a grown woman, so I’m not going to tell you what I think you should or shouldn’t do – but I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

“I’ll be fine, Fin.” She followed him to the door, "I have Elliot."  watching as he exited the floor and stepped into the elevator. As she began to shut her door, she glanced over at Elliot’s door. Whatever happened tomorrow, she was sure of one thing without a doubt, her feelings hadn’t changed for the man in all the time he’d been gone. If anything, they’d deepened and intensified. No matter what secrets they had to spill tomorrow, they wouldn’t lead to their ruin because for the first time in three months, it felt as though they were standing on solid ground. 

That kiss. Dear God, it would take every ounce of self-restraint to not march over to his door and knock again. It was as though it had mended fractures deep inside of her soul that she wasn’t even aware had existed.

 

Chapter Text

MASTABA 
Chapter 12 – Reticent


Nighttime

Lucy had brought Noah back after his dance class and Olivia had made a simple meal for the two of them, one that she was getting tired of, but Noah seemed to appreciate. Spaghetti. She’d gotten the frozen meatballs to put into the dinner tonight because she wanted something extra…other than just pasta and sauce.

“Meatballs? Mom?” Noah asked, pushing the meatball around on the plate.

“I wanted something extra in the spaghetti.” Olivia shrugged, her leg folded underneath her other as she reached forward and took a sip of the glass of wine she’d poured for herself. “How was dance?”

Noah shrugged, swirling the spaghetti around his fork, “It was okay.” He took a bite, some of the sauce landing on his chin. Olivia smiled as she watched him take his finger and move the sauce off of his finger, licking it clean…kids. “Mom, who is Elliot?” Noah asked, as Olivia went to take a bite of her spaghetti – she froze.

“Where’d you see that name?” She asked, placing her fork back down on the plate and resting her head on her fist.

“Your phone went off a couple of times while you were cooking dinner. Normally everyone’s names come up with their last name but the person messaging you was called Elliot.”

“You know you aren’t supposed to read my messages, Noah. We’ve spoken about this.” Her tone changed, and her son narrowed his eyes, studying his mother.

“You’ve been leaving a lot lately to spend time with him, I just wanted to know who he was. You said it was team Mommy and Noah.”

“We are team Mommy and Noah. Elliot is…an old friend.”

“Why haven’t I met him?”

Olivia studied the boy sitting next to her. Being a mother was the best thing that had ever happened to her, and she was grateful that the universe had decided to gift her with this precious child. True, they’d had their share of ups and downs, near-misses, and they’d almost lost one another a couple of times…but he was her world. She’d been hesitant on introducing the two of them because when he first got back from Italy he wasn’t in a very good place. She didn’t need to subject Noah to any further levels of crazy than what he was used to. It’d been so long since she’d tried dating. Ed was the last serious relationship that she’d had and she usually avoided introducing men to her son until she was certain that they weren’t going to just disappear.

Elliot’s track record wasn’t great when it came to disappearing. She wanted to be sure that he was going to be around. Everyone always left her. She didn’t want Noah to get the same abandonment issues she had.

“Mom?” Noah asked, ripping her from her thoughts. “If he’s an old friend, why haven’t we met? I saw him a couple of times get into the truck in the morning when I turned around while going into school.”

“Those were small meetings related to work.” Olivia answered, rubbing her temples. “He was my old partner. He’s been going through a lot lately, and I wanted to make sure he was going to be okay before I introduced you to one another…formally.” She ran her thumbnail along her lip. “He actually just got settled into a new apartment, in this building.”

“Really? So are you going to let me meet him? He seems important to you. Does he have kids?” Noah asked, curious. Who could blame the kid. “He smiled at me a couple of times and looks like he’s nice.”

Olivia’s breath caught in her throat as she looked at her sweet child. He seems important to you. Well, that was the understatement of the year. She’d heard that kids say things with honesty and a lens that no one else could comprehend…but this honesty was a bit much, even for her. You have no idea, Noah, this man has the half of my heart that you don’t. “If that’s what you want, I can introduce you tomorrow. He has five kids.” Olivia nodded, studying her son’s face. “They’re all mostly grown though. His youngest son is 14. His name is Eli and he plays soccer. He is nice.”

“That’s cool. Where in the building?” Noah took another bite of pasta.

“Why do you want to know?” Olivia asked.

“In case of emergencies, mom. I have Uncle Fin, Sonny, and Aunt Amanda’s numbers…but if someone lives in the building. Wouldn’t it be better?” He paused, “You always said be prepared, mom.”

Olivia’s mouth gaped open as she studied her son. Maybe she’d done too good of a job of teaching him about emergency preparedness and having contingency plans. Taking a deep breath, she bit her bottom lip. “Alright. Well…” She was staring into her son’s eyes as he stared into hers. “He lives in 4D.” She nodded, knowing full and well that if an emergency ever arose, Noah would have no problems going next-door to knock and ask for it. She hoped that it never came to that. “All done with your dinner?”

“Yeah. I’m going to go take my bath. Will you read me a story tonight?” He asked, and she smiled at him.

“I’ll read you three chapters, if you make sure to do a great job washing.” She winked at her son and watched as he jumped back from the table and ran to his room, stripping off his shirt as he went. Boys.

Afterward she had tucked him into bed and read the three promised chapters from one of the chapter books he had on his shelf she decided to make her way back into the living room to make herself comfortable. Glancing down at her phone she saw the time, it was only 10:45 pm and she needed to decide what she should bring up with Elliot in the morning to ensure that she’s covered all bases before whatever Richard decided to drop next came out.  

She thought about opening her notes app on the phone to type the things that he might’ve discovered or dug up on her, but in light of the recent realization that Richard was able to see everything in her phone, regardless of whether or not Jet had disabled his ability to do so. She decided that perhaps that wasn’t a good idea. Sighing, she pushed herself off of the couch and walked over to the bag she had sat down on the barstool when she’d gotten home earlier in the afternoon. There, in the front pocket of the bag was a legal pad – she grabbed it out and then fished further down for the pen she knew she had thrown in during the last court case she’d had to attend.

Sighing, she placed them both down on the counter top and walked over to grab the bottle of red wine that was sitting on the counter from dinner. As she reached over she grabbed her glass she’d left on the counter and poured herself another glass. She looked over at her bag while pouring her glass and saw the envelope that Fin had dropped off earlier in the evening.

When he’d caught her and Elliot in the hallway making out.

She put the cork back into the bottle and sat it down on the counter, staring at the file envelope.

She’d made out…with Elliot Stabler. It was this thought that suddenly sobered her up. Not that she was drunk, no, she wasn’t even feeling a buzz. That glass of wine she had with dinner nightly was enough to make her feel relaxed but not buzzed. She’d often wondered what it would be like, in another lifetime, to have kissed him. She would wonder, every single time they’d gone undercover during the early years as partners, whether they’d have to cross that boundary line. She’d been grateful that they never had to cross that line…she was grateful because she knew that if he had kissed her, she wouldn’t have been able to work with him anymore. She would’ve drowned in the feelings and realization that there could never be another person for her to kiss for the rest of her life.

He owned that part of her soul, and he never even knew it.

Gitano had been an awakening for them both.

Fin’s words echoed in her brain, ‘It’s always been like that.’ she furrowed her brows. ‘You disappeared to Oregon.’ 

She hadn’t disappeared…had she? Without saying a word? She thought about it for a moment, and found herself at a disadvantage because she realized that she was just as guilty of disappearing as the man who lived next door to her. Fin was honest with her. Her eyes widened as she realized she was in denial and that Fin was nothing if not the silent outside observer that had a better view of the two of them than anyone else had, ‘The minute things felt too real or too much Liv, you ran.’

We were partners, nothing more, nothing less. He made that perfectly clear in the hallway following the whole incident.’ But there was a nagging voice in the back of her mind that was yelling at her, telling her to wake up. To realize that it wasn’t as simple as them being just partners.

No, the silent conversations that they’d had with their eyes that night, her holding the gun trying to get a clear shot, and his tearful eyes staring back at her, whispering that it was ‘okay’ for her to take the shot. She could never take the shot because she had realized that she had fallen in love with her partner. She was sorry because she realized it, she couldn’t do it. It would kill her to kill him. When she had looked into his teary blue eyes that night she realized in the moment he had fallen in love with her as well. It was inevitable.

She looked over at her bookshelf and caught sight of some of her mother’s old books. There were lines upon lines in every single one of them that she could use to describe the depth of her feelings about that moment, about him. None of which were adequate enough, in her opinion, to explain it…none of which could possibly cover the depth of emotion.

Fin was right, she did run away because things became too real.

Just like that, her heart had broken that night when Elliot had said they couldn’t work together if they chose one another over the job. He’d closed her out. She couldn’t breathe, so she ran away. She ran away because she didn’t want to feel the heartbreak of what he’d said to her. She didn’t want to stick around to find out that she meant absolutely nothing to the man whom she would die for.

 “Because when it came down to it, he pulled the trigger.” Richard had said, “Unlike some people, Ritchie took the shot.” That son-of-a-bitch knew about Gitano. He knew Olivia was too much of a coward to take the shot. She’d almost stood and walked out of the room at that moment, but there was another part of that speech that he’d given…Gina wasn’t the love of Ritchie’s life.

The love of his life. The one true love of his life. It had hung in the air, in that small room…he’d told her straight up that that’s who she was to Elliot.

She had never allowed any of the criminals they’d dealt with to get into her head. ‘Liar.’ Sure, there’d been small fragments of things they’d said to her that had stuck. But not one perp had ever truly gotten deep beneath her skin, burrowed so intrinsically deep that she’d not been able to eventually shake them. Even Harris hadn’t gotten that deep inside her mind.

She sighed, the one exception was the one in that envelope.

It’d taken a lot of therapy to get him out of her head. As she glared out of the corner of her eye at the envelope she could feel her heart drop three floors and her body recoil as she remembered how long it had taken to get him out. She felt her skin crawl and suddenly felt as though she needed to take a hot shower to scrub her skin raw. She felt bile rise in her throat as she swallowed, her hair brushing against her cheek made her shudder.

She didn’t want nor did she need him to come back into her head. She had tried to keep telling herself that it was okay to share this information with Elliot…that the bastard in this envelope, she’d seen him die. He couldn’t hurt her. He was incapable of hurting her anymore. His body was rotting in an unmarked grave at Rikers Island – his soul was hopefully experiencing eternal damnation and torture. Hopefully, it was similar to the torture that he’d inflicted upon all of his victims during his damnable existence on earth.

Her eyes suddenly felt itchy. She’d forgotten to blink while she was staring at the envelope. What other secrets could the slimy bastard in the Correctional facility have dug up on her?

The fact that she was an officer of the law meant she had to live beyond reproach. Most of the things in her IAB jacket had been in connection with things that Elliot had in his – there was honestly no secrets there, except for the thing with Harris. She would have to think hard to figure out what he possibly could have found that could be thrown in Elliot’s face to tarnish his opinion on her.

As she tapped her finger on the counter she stared down at the legal pad – she wouldn’t need the legal pad. Her relationships. That was going to be a serious bone of contention. Maybe there was some way she could persuade him to not be too pissed off with her. A smirk formed on her lips because of this thought.

‘No, Olivia. It was a mistake. You are a Captain of the NYPD, and you cannot just turn into a hormonal teenager just because your crush decided to pin you against the wall and lift your legs up around his waist…to make out with you.’ But something, whether it was a flame or a damn forest fire deep within her had been ignited and she was now yearning for the warmth that his fingertips had provided on her lower back.

It had almost been like a sleeping dragon had been prodded awake deep within the caverns of her heart and soul. She bit her lip and looked at the envelope again. Closing her eyes, she tipped her wine glass back and took a large gulp, downing the rest of the red liquid. It was now 11:15 pm and she had a lot to do in the morning before she spilled her secrets and hopefully found out about Elliot’s as well.

She’d have a problem going to sleep, and she knew that her nightmares would probably find themselves invading her dreams for the first time in a few years that night. She could only hope that they wouldn’t be the worst of the bad ones, especially because tonight Noah was at home, and usually she tried to reserve the feeling she was going to have bad ones when he wasn’t around. The poor kid didn’t need to be traumatized more than necessary.

Shutting off the light, she left the one plugged into the outlet on the counter lit and made her way into her bedroom, where she pulled off her yoga pants and tossed her cardigan on the bench at the foot of the bed. She was way too tired to find a pair of pajamas to sleep in.


1:30 AM

Elliot Stabler lay in his new apartment on the floor. He had a bed, and he had a couch, but at the moment, - the bed felt too big, and the couch wasn’t as comfortable as the one had been in the Air BnB that he’d been staying in since returning to New York. He’d asked Kathleen to go with him to find a new couch next week sometime, and she had agreed. The times he’d slept on the bunk beds at the 1-6 and the time he’d spent in the Marines had conditioned him to be able to sleep pretty much anywhere.

His current thoughts weren’t on sleep. He was staring up at the ceiling, his arm thrown over his head. It was quiet inside his apartment mainly because Eli hadn’t moved back in yet from Maureen’s. Otherwise, it was safe to say he would probably be awake in the second bedroom, getting up and ready for his classes virtually. Carl and Maureen were a godsend in the time since he’d had Eli put on a plane and sent back for his mother’s funeral.

Elliot turned his head to the right, looking over at the wall where the couch was pressed against.

Beyond that wall, was the woman who had never once left his mind in the last ten years. The very woman who had not left his mind since he’d met her 23 years ago. At first, it had been a senior detective looking out for his junior detective, showing them the ropes. He’d never once thought about Olivia as weaker or delicate. She was a solid detective, good with victims, and a bitch to all the perps. She was a badass.

He would watch her speaking Spanish to some of the victims and be in awe because she knew more languages than she let on. Genuinely talented with her language skills. He’d learn later that her mother was a college professor and had felt it necessary to teach her multiple languages to appreciate the literature in its mother language…when her mother wasn’t drunk. Olivia had shared parts of herself with him that no one else had any idea existed. She was an enigma. In the time since he’d been back, he’d learnt that the last ten years hadn’t been necessarily the best ones without him in her life, and he hoped that she had understood why he had left. They’d still not discussed the letter, but yesterday morning they’d sat there and allowed Richard Wheatley to recite the highlights from it.

Richard Wheatley. What a jackass. Maybe. Elliot was torn because for the first time in his adult life, he was alone. And for the first time in his life, someone had called him out on the thing that had been an elephant in the room for the longest time. He loved Kathy, they’d married when they were 17 years old. He’d joined the Marines. He’d stayed with his wife through everything – even when they’d separated he had found himself back with her and they’d had five children. He’d more than fulfilled his vows to her…but somewhere along the way, during the growing up and the getting older, they’d grown apart. Yes, he loved her because she was the mother of his children, but Richard Wheatley had somehow figured out that the love of his life was not his wife. No, the love of his life was his former partner. The woman on the other side of the wall. He knew when he realized it. He knew when he realized his resolve was slipping.

He'd kissed Olivia.

He looked at his hand. When they’d been in the hospital, he saw her walking down the hall yelling at him, when she’d called him ‘El’ again, he’d fidgeted with his ring. He was ready to take it off, he’d spoken to his priest earlier in the day and had felt better. There were no clear rules for grief, his priest had told him, that we all cope in different ways. His priest also knew his history with Olivia and knew she’d been an ever-present and conflicting part of Elliot’s faith for years. Father Hogan knew about Elliot’s feelings for his former partner. He also had told him that God works in mysterious ways and as much as it hurt to lose Kathy, perhaps it was divine intervention, and the fact that Olivia hadn’t walked away from him when she saw him standing in the street was perhaps a sign that it was time to mend fences, to pursue things which had been pre-destined…Elliot had to laugh at the divine intervention part – so God decided he’d been a good long-suffering husband and decided to grant him permission to pursue the woman whom he’d fallen in love with that he wasn’t married to…by killing his wife? Elliot wasn’t so sure about it, but Father Hogan had told him to stop feeling guilty because he was pretty sure we’re only given so much time on earth and we should all be happy.

Maybe Olivia wasn’t with anyone because she wasn’t supposed to be with anyone, maybe she was holding out for the love of her life. There were a lot of people throwing around that term, the love of someone’s life.

He’d taken his ring off while sitting in the Organized Crime office after his superior had ripped into him about begging and pleading for forgiveness. It felt weird staring at the tan-line.

He’d kissed Olivia. He’d felt her skin beneath his fingertips and he wanted more.

But he knew they had to speak first. There was a lot he had missed. Divine Intervention be damned; it was going to take a miracle after he saw the look on her face when she realized how much she’d let her guard down in the hall earlier. He was doing his best, he was trying to be better. He was seeing a therapist.

He closed his eyes and thought of her deep brown eyes. When the light hit it in a certain angle, he could see the color adjust to certain shades and highlights. They were beautiful, and when he’d looked at them earlier after he’d lifted her up - god she was marvelous, - her eyes had darkened and he’d wanted to crash back into her but knew that if he’d tried anything further with Fin standing there, he would’ve gotten decked. Maybe.

Suddenly, there was a knock at his door and he was confused, rolling himself over and pushing himself up by the knuckles as though he was doing a push up, he walked over to the door and looked through the peep-hole. Quickly, he turned the handle and opened the door, “Noah?” He asked, confused. “What’s wrong?”

The little boy was staring up at him, a worried expression on his face as Elliot heard a scream come from the apartment she shared with her son. He’d suddenly become hyper-aware of everything as Noah looked up at him, “Elliot? I think my mom’s having a nightmare – but I can’t get her to wake up. It’s scaring me.” Elliot looked down at the boy with his eyes suddenly softened as he moved in the direction of her apartment.

“Go to your room, alright Noah? I’ll take care of your mom.” Elliot nodded quietly as they walked into the apartment, “Which way?” Noah pointed down the hall and then made his way into his room, closing the door quietly behind himself.

Elliot walked into the bedroom and saw her, moving around violently, her legs wrapped in the blanket. Muttering, sweat beaded on her forehead. He tried to figure out how to wake her up without getting shot at. He walked to the side of the bed and quietly said her name, “Liv. Olivia.” She stopped moving for a moment, but then swung her fist around as Elliot caught it and suddenly knew the only way to wake her up and make her relax, he wrapped his arms around her and pinned her arms together at her side and kept repeating her name. Her eyes snapped open, and the expression in her eyes was wild and one he wouldn’t forget for a long while.

“Shhhh. Liv, I have you. Relax. I have you.” She began to cry as he released her arms as she brought them up around his neck and curled into him, he had to pull himself off the floor and sit next to her on her bed, holding her. He looked down at her legs, trying to untangle the sheets and when he looked down at her hip his breath caught in his throat. There was a scar there that looked pretty gnarly. But he quickly covered her legs over and held her tight against his chest.

“Noah?”

“In his room. He knocked on my door, worried.”

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” She was hyperventilating. “El. I’m sorry.”

“Liv, you’re okay. You’re going to be okay.” He whispered, “I’m here." He looked at her, "hold your breath for ten seconds…exhale. C’mon, you’re hyperventilating. You have to relax. Liv, look in my eyes…I didn’t know you had PTSD. I’m such an asshole for laughing that day. Just hang onto me.”

 

Chapter Text

Mastaba
Chapter 13 – PRELUDE

 


Previously:

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” She was hyperventilating. “El. I’m sorry.”

“Liv, you’re okay. You’re going to be okay.” He whispered, “I’m here. He looked at her, hold your breath for ten seconds…exhale. C’mon, you’re hyperventilating. You have to relax. Liv, look in my eyes…I didn’t know you had PTSD. I’m such an asshole for laughing that day. Just hang onto me.”


She allowed herself to be pulled onto his lap and gave herself permission to wrap her arms around him. His right arm was firmly pressed around her back, his left hand on her cheek as she looked into his eyes while he guided her through the breathing exercises that would regulate her breathing. He needed her to maintain eye contact. It wasn’t really necessary, but he knew that while having a panic attack or waking up in the throes of one it was vital to find something to anchor yourself to in the world around you, not the treacherous precipice you were teetering on in your very own mind. It was important to find something that would allow you to ground yourself to the here and now.

When she wasn’t hyperventilating anymore, he removed his hand from her cheek electing instead to thread his finger in her tousled hair, his fingertips massaging her scalp in calming and small circles. She rested her head against his chest, her fingers gripping the material of his white tank with a death grip. 

She had not allowed anyone to touch her hair or scalp since she'd been attacked almost eight years ago. The simple fact she was allowing Elliot to maintain this small, intimate contact and trusted him was huge. It spoke volumes to the sort of trust she was placing in him to not hurt her physically. She had never really allowed anyone to cradle her head or neck the way she had always allowed him to. Before she could dwell on this any further, she was broken out of the calm and contentment by Elliot's voice, "Liv? I don't want to move you at the moment, but I think I should just go check on Noah." 

His voice was calm, measured, soft. The voice he usually reserved for the victims of violent crimes. It always was comforting to hear that tone. He continued speaking, "He was pretty frightened when he knocked on my door." His ginger movements with his fingers in her hair was so relaxing he could have proposed marriage at the moment and she would have accepted. 

It was in this second that she realized two things. The first one was that her son had gone next door to get Elliot because he was scared, and obviously couldn’t wake her up or get close enough to wake her up that it frightened him and made him feel as though it was an emergency. The second was that even though he and Elliot had never been formally introduced, Elliot took the child’s pleas for help seriously and was offering to check on him now. He was what a father should always be to their children. It was one of the things she loved about her partner. Former partner. 

Reality came crashing back down when she also realized what she wasn’t wearing beneath the sheets. Pants. Her cheeks flushed at this realization and she still hadn’t found her voice since calming down so as she released the fabric beneath her fingers, and he took this release as a silent yes that she wanted him to check on her boy. 

 When he reached the door, he turned back to look at her, his eyes studying her for a moment, she still looked frightened, if he didn’t know her better he would say she looked absolutely horrified to be left alone, “I’ll be right back, okay?” she swallowed and nodded, quiet. 

As Elliot walked out of the room, he ran his hands over his face, and knew without a doubt that she had mentioned, ‘Even when my PTSD was at its worse…’ yesterday in the vehicle. Little things she’d said over the past few weeks began to creep beneath his skin, ‘I can’t.’, ‘Elliot, I’m a Captain. It’s my job to make sure my people are solid.’, ‘You have PTSD.’, ‘Grab onto us.’, ‘Go home, eat something, get rest, do it for your kids, for yourself.’…and her eyes on the last one had also added for her. So he listened. He found a therapist, at Bell’s suggestion, at Liv's suggestion.

Tonight, seeing her thrashing about, muttering, screaming, crying- seeing the scar when he’d untangled the sheets from her legs, he found himself confused. He’d like to say he’d never seen anything like that before, but he had. Scars like the one he’d caught a glimpse of were only caused by branding irons or some extremely hot metal items. 

He’d seen scars and wounds that he’d never once imagined while he worked with SVU and could easily identify most of them, but he never imagined he’d see one of those scars on his Liv. He never imagined anyone would get access to her to make those sort of scars. 

He had to remember to breathe, because if he didn’t he was going to have a panic attack of his own.

He had offered to check on her son, and he wanted to follow through.  He’d still not met the child officially, and it had shocked him to see the kid out of bed at 1:30 in the morning. But, he figured that the kid probably wouldn’t have knocked on his door unless his mother had told him it was okay and only for emergencies.

He took a second before he opened the door to his room and when he peeked in, he saw that the child had fallen asleep on top of the covers. Kids were resilient and this one probably was so exhausted that he just couldn’t keep his eyes open much longer. It had been at least forty-five minutes since Noah had knocked on the door, so Elliot figured that poor boy had probably fallen asleep once he’d heard his mother’s screams stop. Elliot walked into the room and pulled the blanket that was bunched up at the foot of the bed and draped it over his body before turning around and shutting off the light and closing the door over.

Before he could go back to Liv, he had to do something he’d forgotten to do, he opened the front door of her apartment, ensuring it was unlocked as he made his way over to his door and reached in to grab his keys off the hook and locked his front door before walking back into her apartment. When he had walked into the front door, he locked the locks and placed his keys in the dish by the front door. Stopping in the kitchen, he grabbed a glass from the cabinet and a cold water bottle out of the fridge before he poured the water in the glass and made his way back to the bedroom.

She was curled on her side with a pillow tucked up against her, eyes staring straight ahead at her bathroom when he walked back into her room. His lips tightened as he studied her. She looked so damn broken at the moment that it made his heart feel as though it was catching in his throat. He swallowed the lump that had gathered in his throat, croaking out her name softly, “Liv?” He asked as she slowly turned her head, her eyes meeting his. “I brought you some water.” He sat it down on the coaster next to the bed as he stood there, looking down at her. Her eyes closed as she turned her head to rest on the pillow again. Staring toward the bathroom once more. 

Shit. He thought, as he sat down on the edge of the bed, studying her expression. He wasn’t going to force her to talk, because he knew that would be futile. Here she was, the strongest person he’d ever known, and he’d been so eager to get her back into his life that he’d failed to notice all the times she’d placed her hand over her own heart, held back a moment, tried to steady herself, or had taken a deep breath. Now that he was looking at her, he realized just what a struggle it had been for her, his reappearing. He knew the last ten years hadn’t been all sunshine and daisies, and she’d said she had PTSD, but he wasn’t sure how severe hers had been. She always held things that had happened to her close to her chest for as long as he’d known her.

She refused to be seen as weak or needing help. She wasn’t a damsel in distress, she was a fearless Captain of one of the hardest departments to work for in the NYPD, and she sure as hell didn’t need anyone to save her. Ever.

There was a book Kathleen had read once about five years ago and mentioned to him, when she’d told him the title it had made him think of Olivia, ‘The Princess Saves Herself in this One’ – it was a book with poems about resilience. That was Olivia, resilient as hell.

The times that he’d implied that he had to watch out for her, he’d been faced with her wrath. She was the most independent, capable, resilient person he knew. If her childhood hadn’t crushed her or dampened her spirit, then nothing on earth could crush or dampen her spirit.

“How’s Noah?” She asked, not looking up, but staring at his arms and hands which he’d crossed and wrapped around himself, not wanting to cross any boundaries or risk touching her when she wasn't in the right frame of mind or receptive to touch. He was afraid to trigger anything. 

“He was asleep, on top of his sheets but his comforter was at the foot of the bed, so I covered him and turned off his light.” Elliot answered, the urge to reach down and run his fingers through her hair was overwhelming and he wasn’t sure how he was resisting the urge to do so because before he'd checked on Noah, it had been relaxing to run his finger through the brown locks he loved to stare at when she chose to grow it out...it was just as silky as he'd always imagined. 

“Thank you.” She whispered, her voice carried within itself a weight that he could only guess came from her deepest gratitude  that he’d been concerned about not only her, but her son. The boy that he’d not been introduced to properly just yet. A few moments passed before she spoke again, “I haven’t had one that bad in…a while.” She spoke quietly. He watched her as she reached her hand out and wrapped her fingers around his forearm, uncrossing his arms and trailing her open palm down until she could grasp his hand in her own, her hand resting on top of his and her fingers finding themselves laced with his own. “Thank you for untangling me from my sheet, by the way.” She added as an afterthought.

“No need for you to cut off circulation.” He shrugged, feeling her trace her thumb over his knuckle.

She let out a sigh and he felt the air from her breath tickle the hair on his arms. “Yeah, I bet you got an eyeful there.” Her voice was heavy yet at the same time, she allowed herself to let out a small chuckle. It was almost unsettling.

“We don’t have do this right now, Liv, you’re exhausted, you need sleep and you don’t have to share anything you don’t want to with me.”

“That’s where you’re wrong.” She whispered, “It’s part of what I have to share with you. I probably would never tell you about it if I could get away with it – and you’d never press me to find out…but because of that slimy jackass I have to tell you, – I can’t let you find out without hearing it from me. It’s my story to tell, not his.” She sighed heavily and the air felt so dense in the room that it was hard to breathe.

He swallowed the saliva that had suddenly become thick in his mouth, almost as though he’d eaten an entire pint of General Tso’s Chicken. “It’s your story to tell, Liv…but, it’s almost 2:30 in the morning and I don’t think talking right now would be such a great idea. Wait until later in the morning, after you’ve had some sleep. Get some rest, Olivia.” He looked down at their hands.

“El? I know you probably don’t want to, but would you hold me?”

“Liv? Shut up.” He was studying her face, “I want nothing more than to hold you while you fall asleep. Why wouldn’t I want to hold you?”

“I don’t know,” her voice was heavy with exhaustion as she bit her bottom lip, letting it slide out as she opened her mouth to speak once more, “Maybe you realized just how completely fucked up I really am? I mean my son knocked on your door at 1:30 in the morning because his mother scared him shitless and was screeching like a banshee?” She turned her face away, breaking eye contact with him as she still held onto his arm in a vice grip.

“I’m not one to judge.” He spoke quietly in an even-tone. She smiled a sad smile.

“I’m exhausted.” she yawned and nodded quietly.

Elliot untangled himself from her grasp as he moved off the bed to grab the sheet and straighten it out before moving back onto the bed in the spot he’d previously vacated. Instead of climbing underneath the sheet, he threw his legs up on the bed over the top of the sheets. She was staring over at him, with her brow furrowed. “Am I that repulsive?” She asked, a small smile forming on her lips. The lips that just hours ago he’d been kissing.

Those lips. He might have a new found appreciation for them. Who was he kidding? He’d always appreciated her lips, ever since that fateful day in the lab when she’d saved his life by kissing that dumbass Stuckey. He’d never told her just how effective her plan had been that afternoon. How was he supposed to put it into words back then, ‘Hey, Liv…remember when you made out with Stuckey? It really did make me jealous to watch – I had no right to be jealous, but damn, it worked. I didn’t have a claim on you, but I was jealous of anyone that ever got to kiss those lips that would eviscerate a perp in a moment’s notice.’ Because, yes, that would definitely go over well.

He could honestly say without a doubt that kissing her in the hall earlier, before they’d been interrupted, had gone beyond every single expectation that he’d ever had. It surpassed every daydream, every single fantasy that he’d allowed himself to indulge in while he lived in Italy. She was perfect. Her lips fit so softly and seamlessly against his own, and her body fit with his perfectly when he’d lifted her up against the wall. He’d fallen in love with her years ago, but kissing her earlier that afternoon? He’d lost himself completely to her. Olivia Margaret Benson owned his soul.

“Seriously?” Her voice broke him out of his reverie. “Get under the damn blanket so I can cuddle next to you and you can hold me. I trust you.” She tugged at the blanket that he was sitting on top of to prove her point. So, he listened to her, - he always listened to her – and moved underneath the blanket. It was almost immediately that he found her throwing half of her body over his and she’d rested her head in the crook of his arm, her head resting on his chest, listening to his heartbeat.


The alarm on her phone went off a little after 6:15 am and she groaned as she rolled over to grab it off of her nightstand, snoozing the alarm. When she did, she rolled back over and collided back with the body that was next to her own. Rubbing her face with her right hand, she remembered just who it was she collided with. She glanced up and saw that he was staring down at her, a smile on his face. She was looking up at him and a small smile formed on her lips as well. Her eyes met his and for a moment she almost debated whether or not kissing him would be a bad idea. She had to remind herself that if she did, she wasn’t sure what might happen because the body against her own was all muscle.

Amanda would be arriving a little after 7am to pick up Noah, she’d arranged for it to be that way so she could talk to Elliot about the things that Richard Wheatley had undoubtedly uncovered. “Good morning. Sleep well?” He asked. Cheeky bastard.

“Mmhmm.” She made the sound deep in her throat as she took a deep breath and placed her hand on his chest, smacking it lightly, “You had better go back to your apartment and freshen up. Before Amanda gets here and Fin loses his bet money.”

“What, Cap? Afraid your squad is going to think their fearless leader is a nymphomaniac?” He deadpanned. She narrowed her eyes.

“Fin seems to think we’ve done more than kiss. If Amanda were to walk in and see us right now, she’d tell Fin and he’d think I was lying to him. I don’t typically lie to Fin. He sees right through all my bullshit…all the time.” She answered honestly, her finger tracing the neckline of his tank.

“Fin always thought there was more to it. Remember when I was at Quantico? He said at least he watches your back not your backside.” She smiled at the memory of their video chat. That was shortly before Sonya Paxton had been murdered. She sighed and rolled out of bed completely forgetting that she wasn’t wearing the yoga pants that were unceremoniously dumped on the bench at the end of the bed. His eyes traveled over her figure, and try as he might, he couldn’t look away. He didn’t want to look away. She was beautiful. Age and time had filled her out in all the right places, and he much preferred this mature figure of Olivia than the younger version. Not that the younger version wasn’t attractive, but this woman, she was gorgeous. She wasn’t breakable looking. He liked that about her. “Wow.” he let slip out of his mouth before closing his eyes and looking up at the ceiling.

She turned, amused, and looked at him. “What was that?” She teased, clipping her hair back and sliding her yoga pants on.

“You’re just…beautiful. That’s all.” He answered.

“You’re delusional.” She retorted. “Go get yourself freshened up, we have a lot to talk about later.”

“Is that an order, Captain?”

“Mom?” Noah walked into the room, rubbing his eyes as Olivia turned to face her son. Elliot looked over at the kid as he made eye contact with the young boy. “Hello.” He waved at Elliot, unfazed by the whole situation.

Olivia’s face was one of mortification as she looked between the two. “Noah, go pour yourself some cereal, Amanda will be here soon. I’ll be out in a minute, okay?” Noah nodded at her before turning his attention back to Elliot, who was now seated with his feet on the floor.

“Thanks for helping my mom last night, Elliot.” The boy then spun on his heel and walked out of the room before either adult could respond. Olivia watched with a confused expression on her face, and Elliot ran his hands over his face.

“Nice kid, Liv.” He spoke sincerely. “I mean it. I’ll text you later to find out when you want me to come back?” He asked. She walked closer to him and placed her hand over the tattoo on his shoulder. The crucifix on his shoulder, a sign of his faith that he’d had tattooed on since he was young. She ran her hand down across his chest as she looked into his eyes. Ever since kissing him yesterday, she’d thought about nothing other than touching his skin, feeling his warmth beneath her fingertips. She was suddenly addicted to touching him to make sure he was real, that she wasn’t just hallucinating the whole thing had happened.

“Olivia?” Elliot watched her hand as she moved it along the neckline. Her eyes found themselves locking with his as she gave him what could only be described as a very hungry look. They hadn’t spoken about where they were yet, they hadn’t discussed the nature of their relationship, they just hadn’t really discussed anything.

“I just…wanted to thank you for responding to Noah’s pleas for help…for helping me out, last night.” She whispered, aware that her son was in the next room. “It means…more than you’ll ever know.” She ran her hand back over his shoulder and down his arm, causing goosebumps to rise on his skin as she captured his hand in hers. She was flirting with him.

Holy shit, Olivia Benson is flirting with him.

“You are very welcome, Liv. Remember, I’m your partner, for better or worse.” He struggled to find the words in his brain because honestly, he just wanted to shut the door over and pin her against it, repeating the scene from yesterday with maybe a little more fervor. But he knew he had to restrain himself, practice some damn restraint. As he moved closer to the door, he held onto her hand, until their fingertips were the only thing touching. When she followed him out of the room, he looked over at Noah as he walked through the kitchen. “See ya, kiddo.” He smiled as he picked up his keys from the dish by the door and unlocked hers, exiting her apartment, leaving her standing there for a moment with a smirk on her face.


Olivia walked over to where her son was seated and took the seat next to him, reaching for the chocolatey cereal she hadn’t had in forever and poured herself a bowl and grabbed the milk.

“You okay?” She turned and looked at the blue-eyed kid next to her.

“Yeah. You alright, mom?” He looked back at her, studying her demeanor. He was observant, and always tried to figure out how his mother was really doing. He wasn’t oblivious to her body language or actions. He knew when she’d had bad days at work, when she’d had good days, and when things were just going well in general with her. But this morning, she was happy. She was genuinely happy.

“Of course I’m alright.” She reached over and ran her fingers through his blonde curls, smiling. “You are going to be good for Amanda and don’t, - uh…mention – “

“How Elliot stayed last night? Okay, mom.”

“I mean it, Noah. This isn’t like when Bri stayed…and you mentioned it. This is…more important to me.”

“I know, mom.” Noah answered, “He’s important to you.”

“You’re getting so grown up.” She whispered, taking a bite of the cereal in front of her. Noah just watched her as she chewed.

“Kids grow up, mom. It’s kind of the point.” He answered, taking a bite of his own cereal.


Rollins arrived fifteen minutes later than they’d agreed to, but it wasn’t that big of a deal because it was going to be a long day, and she had a lot to prepare for. After they spoke today, would he still want her the same way? Would he look at her the same way? Would he want to cut his losses and run away?

She was going to strip away every bit of mystery that surrounded the last ten plus years and maybe some things that happened when he was around. There was nothing she would put past Richard to not disclose. There wasn’t anything that she could think of that he wouldn’t use against them. He wanted to destroy Elliot, he wanted to expose them to hurt them both – and she would never allow that to happen. She wasn’t going to allow someone else to take away her chance to finally strip away the mystery.

She texted Elliot at 11 am. She isn’t sure just how long this whole ordeal is going to take, but she wants to get it over with as soon as possible. She doesn’t want to lose the courage she’s somehow amassed or the confidence in the last twenty-four hours. When he’s near her, she feels brave, fearless, like a badass. She also feels a variety of other feelings as well, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. He also gives her butterflies, makes her cheeks flush, and makes her feel absolutely sexy. She feels almost revered when he looks at her. It’s almost too much.

It only took him five minutes to knock on her door and she bites her bottom lip as she lets him in. This wasn’t going to be an easy conversation. This whole ordeal was not going to be easy. It was going to be the hardest thing she has ever done in her entire life…and that’s saying something, because the day she was told he had left – she wanted to give up that day. This was harder.

Chapter Text

Mastaba 
Chapter 14 - Denouement


Standing there staring at him, she noticed that he had obviously taken a shower and changed. He was wearing a pair of jeans and a plain navy blue t-shirt that hugged his frame quite nicely. She’d actually managed to do a couple of loads of laundry herself, and found herself wearing a comfortable pair of her leggings and a loose fitting t-shirt with her cardigan that she absolutely loved wearing draped over her. She’d also managed to take a shower, and set out a few things that she knew without a doubt that they’d be needing for the conversations they’d be undoubtedly having. A small smile graced his lips as he looped his thumbs through his belt loop, standing in the doorway of her apartment, waiting on her to move aside to let him in.

When she finally did step to the side, she looked down at the pile of shoes that were next to the door and he understood the silent request. She slowly shut the door and turned around to face him, biting the inside of her lip as she studied the man who was taking off his sneakers. It was the second time he was entering her apartment, - but this time, he was actually being invited in and it was light out. Her lips parted as she took in a deep breath.

“Listen, I’m not sure where to start with this.” She admitted, feeling a little out of sorts as he studied her for a moment, trying to find the right words to encourage her or even comfort her that it would be alright. “Obviously, I’d prefer we were in a better place mentally and emotionally before we had any of these conversations, but you know how our plans or the things we generally want turn out.” It was her attempt at humor. It was true, ninety-percent of the time when they made plans, they all went to shit anyways. He still hadn’t moved an inch, and was just looking down at her. “Let’s go have a seat.” She motioned for him to walk to the couch.

It was hard for them both to come to terms with the fact that just a few hours prior, they’d been wrapped in one another’s arms as she was being comforted from her nightmares. She hadn’t liked discussing her nightmares with even Lindstrom. She was worried that he would want to pull away after all this. That somehow, he would decide that she was too far gone from the Olivia that he’d once known.

Before he could take a seat, she stopped him. “El, wait.” He stopped in front of the couch and held a questioning expression on his face. She closed the distance between the two of them. His breathing hitched as he watched her movements. She was standing mere inches away from him. She brought her hand up and placed it against his cheek. He was afraid to move at the moment, - afraid, because he still didn’t know what they were to one another.

They’d still not defined what they were or where their relationship was headed. She might be the one true love of his life, but that didn’t mean that they would necessarily end up together in the end. He had to allow her to lead them into whatever it was she felt comfortable with. He didn’t have that right, not after he had disappeared for ten years.  He’d left her. He’d actually fucking disappeared without so much of an explanation. Her eyes were studying his own as she traced the contour of his cheek with her thumb. It was taking every last ounce of self-control he had to restrain himself from grabbing hold of her and kissing her senseless. He didn’t want to mess this up. He swallowed as she wrapped her other hand around the back of his neck and pulled herself closer to him, closing the gap between the two of their bodies as she brought her lips softly to his. He knew then, it was okay to touch her. It wasn’t rushed, desperate, or even furious, their kiss this time. It was gentle, soft, and timid.

Both of their eyes fluttered closed as they reveled in this physical contact with one another. He could never get tired of kissing Olivia. He allowed his hand to rest at her waist and pulled her closer to him as their breathing pattern synched up. She was the one to break the kiss, releasing him after a minute or two.

“Liv? What was that?” He finally asked. “Not that I’m complaining, but – why?” Elliot couldn’t believe anything that had happened in the last few months was real. It was as though it had been a culmination of every nightmare and daydream he’d ever had. The nightmare? His children were without their mother? The daydream? The fact that he was standing here now, looking at his former partner, kissing his former partner. He had her back in his life, and he wasn’t going to ever let this woman go.

She bit her bottom lip, does she know how it drives him crazy when she does that? taking another step back from him, walking into the other room and stopping behind the kitchen counter. Exhaling quite loudly, she spread her arms out in front of her.

“I…” She began, pausing, trying to find the right words and gather her thoughts, “I just wanted to do that in case you decide you don’t want anything to do with me or to kiss me after we discuss everything we have to discuss. I just needed you to know how I felt. I just needed you to know.” She shook her head as she turned and grabbed two bottles of water out of the fridge. She’d already sat out the bottle of bourbon and two glasses, but she figured water would be good to have as well.

“Liv, no matter what we talk about here, you have to know that I will never not welcome that sort of contact from you, ever. There’s nothing that would scare me off.”

She sat down on the couch next to him, handing one of the water bottles over to him. “So, here’s what I was thinking.” She took a moment to compose herself, willing her confidence to the forefront. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but Richard is trying to destroy you because you took down one of his many illegal PPE smuggling businesses during the Pandemic in Italy – and his adopted son got involved with his business selling inferior product of his drugs that he runs here in New York. So, he shot his adopted son and told his ex-wife that you were responsible because he wanted to take you out for your part in taking down his smuggling in Puglia. So, she wanted to take something away from you and ordered Kathy to be killed, right?”

“Looks like it.” He nodded.

“Doesn’t take a detective or a rocket scientist to figure that out.” She answered, never missing a beat, and studying him out of the corner of her eye.

“I deserved that.” He answered, nodding.

“So he’s trying to get the upper hand on us both because I’m connected to you, and he’s figured this out.”

“Sure looks that way.” He answered, “Which is why I told you to back off that day in your truck.”

She nodded while wetting her bottom lip, studying his eyes. “Fantastic. So tell me why you didn’t just say to me ‘Hey, Liv, I’m going after a very dangerous criminal and I’m looking out for you and your son’ instead of telling me to just ‘back off’?”

“Would that have actually worked?” Elliot asked, his brow raised, studying the brunette.

“No.” She answered almost immediately.

“Didn’t think so.” He nodded, “Look, Liv – why don’t we set some ground rules here. What we’re discussing here is not going to be easy and it’s not going to be pleasant.” He took another swig of water, studying her body language as she tilted her head to the left and opened her mouth to agree with him, “Neither of us can run away from anything the other says no matter how shocking or hard it is to hear.”

“No punching anything either, – “ She added, looking at him pointedly.

“Deal.” He smiled at her as she nodded.

“Good.”

“So who should go first?” He asked, his blue eyes roaming over her face, trying to decipher whether or not she wanted to volunteer.

“You. You should definitely go first.” She sat back, resting her head on her fist as she appraised her former partner. “Only because I don’t think you have as many secrets as I do.”

“I might surprise you, Captain.” he retorted.

“Try me.” Her voice wasn’t playful, but it wasn’t serious either. She hadn’t yet exhibited the dark tone that he’d heard the other day when he witnessed her speaking to Richard. So, he let the air he’d been holding out and nodded.

“Alright.“ He paused for a few minutes, studying her, trying to figure out where she was mentally. As usual, Olivia gave nothing away.


When Elliot had finished with his first two admissions, Olivia had wanted to strangle him.

The first was that when he was in the Marines he’d failed to protect teenagers and children from being brutalized by his fellow unit mates – and that was why he’d gone into Special Victims when he’d gotten back to the US and out of the Marines. He was trying to atone for his failures in a war zone. Olivia had told him it wasn’t his fault, but he kept saying something about how it was, but when she explained to him that the wouldn’t have been able to overpower his unit, he nodded in quiet agreement.

He told her about Angela. About the case, and how he was confused and had made out with her.

The next thing, well, she really shouldn’t have been surprised since the woman had hinted at it years ago – but it was a quick fling with his former partner, Jo. To which, Olivia asked him whether it was just her who was absolutely repulsive to him after throwing Dani Beck back in his face once more.

That had been an interesting conversation that had resulted in his admission that he couldn’t have thrown caution to the wind with her because he wouldn’t have been able to stop. He wouldn’t have been able to walk away, and he would’ve ruined everything to have been with her. This realization and admission almost made her die right then and there.

“You’re the love of my life.” He stated this fact as though it was just something that the entire universe had always known and it landed in her lap.

“You haven’t surprised me yet.” Olivia states, staring at him. “It seems like I know everything about you, Stabler.” She smirked as he admits the next thing.

“I knew I’d fallen in love with you when we had to deal with Gitano.” This admission, he blurts out and she just stares, her mouth gaping open like it had the night of the intervention. Tears began to form behind her lashes as she shakes her head, in disbelief. Elliot continues talking, “I realized that I was in love with you after he’d gotten too close to you and sliced your neck. Your hand was pressing to your neck and there was so much blood. When you fell, all I could think about was ‘how the hell am I supposed to survive if she doesn’t?’, and ‘How am I supposed to keep doing this job if I don’t have her to watch my back?’ Then, when he killed Ryan, - I couldn’t believe I’d gotten so damn distracted. You distracted me. I snapped at you in the precinct and blamed you for weaving yourself so deeply into my life that your safety was always going to be paramount to anyone else’s. I’d always pick you over the job. You had become more important to me than the job itself or the victims. You had become my everything. Kathy and I were fighting almost constantly because I’d ignore her calls and always answer yours.” He paused for a moment laughing to himself, shaking his head, “The funny part of it was that she wasn’t wrong. With her it took work, with you…well, damn, it was easy.”

As he spoke, she listened to every single confession, and with every single word that fell out of his mouth, she felt her heart beating more and more pronounced. She felt her perception of the whole situation that she had originally believed meant that she meant nothing to the man shift – it wasn’t that she meant nothing to him, no, it was that she had become everything to him and he had shut her out. By the time he’d finished speaking it was around 2:30 pm and she found that her appetite was non-existent.

She moved up off of the couch, making her way into the kitchen, taking out a bottle of wine.

He had already downed two glasses of bourbon during the telling of his stories. She had to remember to tell him that it was thanks to Ed Tucker that he was drinking the bourbon. He’d gotten the bottle just for her to use when shit would get real for her again. He’d left a note on it telling her to use it wisely. She figured telling her secrets was a good enough reason to break it out.

It was her turn to speak but she wasn’t sure where to begin because she wasn’t sure it’d come out quite right. So, she decided to start with the heaviest topic first. Rip off the Band-Aids and allow the stitches to rip open.


He watched her, as she paced back and forth, her hands in front of her, her fingers splayed out as she tapped them together, interlacing and pulling them apart a couple of times. Her palms never fully touched as she tangled her fingers nervously together.

“I – uh. You helped me last night when I had a nightmare.” She began, matter-of-factly, “I guess you were wondering what on earth could possibly shake me up so badly seeing as how I’m the usually unflappable Olivia Benson.” She sighed, and stopped pacing. “The answer is in this envelope.” She had stopped at the bar and pulled the brown envelope out of the bag. Her fingers grabbed the small string that was wrapped around the clasp of the envelope that was keeping the thing closed. She licked her lips, looking down at Elliot, swallowing the lump that had formed in her throat. “I’m just – I can’t talk about it.” She shook her head, “But I can hand this, my copies, to you and allow you to read it and I’ll answer your questions.”

She moved to hold the envelope out to him, and as he reached for it, he allowed his fingers to rest over the top of hers. She closed her eyes as his fingertips slid over the back of her hand and moved up to her forearm to pull her down onto the couch next to him. Removing the offensive folder from her grasp, he sat it on the table, next to the bourbon.

“Where were you in the spring of 2013?” she asks. She has to know whether he knows or not.

“Um, Spring of 2013? I was in Italy working on an Arms case.”

“And the kids?”

“Europe.”

“So when I mentioned William Lewis yesterday, you’d never heard his name?”

“No. Before I look in this, Liv…will you answer a question?” Her brown eyes had darkened, becoming an endless abyss. He’d seen that haunted, dark, cold look only a handful of times. Each time, it had been due to a part of the person breaking or witnessing something so soul consuming that they’d been fractured. Her breathing pattern upon meeting his icy gaze had slowed considerably as she found herself tethered to him in that moment. She nodded, sliding him a guarded but open look. “When I untangled your legs from the sheets this morning, I saw a scar.” He whispered quietly. “It was on your hip and went toward your inner thigh.” His hand trailed along her jawline when he saw she had sharply inhaled, “Liv? Look at me.” She opened her eyes again and he saw the moisture gathered on her lashes. “Does this, – “ he pointed to the envelope on the table, “Have to do with what I saw,” he moved his hand from her jaw to her hip, “here?”

He never broke his eye contact with her, and this was one small miracle she was thanking him for. He watched as a tear made its track down her cheek. One part of him wanted to scream, rage, and hit something as the anger inside of him bubbled up that someone was able to get close enough to her in order to hurt her so severely that she was now marked by a scar. The other part of him broke internally. He realized that his leaving had greater implications than he could ever fathom. She’d been alone. She’d gotten taken and hurt, because she was alone. There was no other explanation. The gasp he released was anguished as he let go of her and she covered her face with her hands. He did the same exact thing, his hands covering his nose and mouth as he took deep breaths, staring at the envelope on the table.

Fuck…Olivia.” he shook his head. “I, - Uh…you really can’t talk about it at all?”

The look she gave him over her hands spoke volumes. She could not bring herself to tell him about this with words. She should, but the last time she’d spoken about the events surrounding those four days, Rollins had gotten scared by her demeanor.

“I don’t know if I want to know.” He stared at the brown envelope and shook his head, “I mean, I know that Wheatley’s going to bring it up with me because it’s the game he plays, but I don’t know if I want to open this.”

She watched him as he fought the battle within himself over whether or not he should take the proffered explanation to her PTSD. “Are you serious?” her voice cracked as she watched him.

“I just mean that what is this going to accomplish? Liv? You survived whatever it was that his sick fuck did to you. You’re sitting right here, and I can see you. I know you’re alive. If that means that whatever Richard thinks he has on you in relation to this folder comes out, I can choose to ignore him because you’re alive. It doesn’t define you, Liv.” Elliot stares at her, as she shakes her head in disbelief.

“Elliot, as much as I’d love to agree with you and your reasoning on this matter…I have to disagree. What happened to me was the worst sort of terror imaginable. You just saw one scar on my hip. I have more, nastier ones.”

“They’re marks of survival. You are still gorgeous.”

“That bastard ruined my body, El.”

“No. He didn’t.”

“Just open the fucking file, Elliot.”

“Olivia, stop.” He placed his hand over hers.

“You don’t get it.” She shook her head, “You were sleeping soundly in paradise and here I was, in hell. Elliot, these four days that this fucker had me? The worst four days of my life. They almost broke me. I almost didn’t come back from this. I almost gave up.”

“But you didn’t. You didn’t break, Olivia. You fucking survived. You fought like hell – and I’m only guessing that because I haven’t seen anything to do with this yet, but I know you. I know you probably fought like hell. Why do you want me to see this so badly, Olivia?”

“Because the people who fight monsters should make damn sure they don’t become one.” She slammed the folder into his chest and stood abruptly, pacing behind the couch as he watched her. She looked like a caged tiger, stalking back and forth, hyper aware of everything going on around her. She looked almost feral in that moment. He wanted to see if she’d snap at him, yell at him. He wanted to see if she would give in and tell him about the contents of this envelope herself. He watched as the fire behind her eyes lit up again.

‘Good,’ he thought, ‘I want her to fight me, I want to feel the wrath, the anger. If I can get her angry, I know she’s still in there when she disappears into the abyss.’ He didn’t like the dead look that had been in her eyes before he goaded her into getting pissed off at him. He’d only seen that look in the eyes of someone who had stared into the deepest darkness the world had to offer. He called those eyes ‘the abyss’ eyes.

The Abyss Eyes. Vacant. Hardened. Callous. Dangerous.

Everything that Olivia Benson was not.

No, Olivia Benson had log cabin type eyes. Warm, Compassionate, Caring, Empathetic.

“You are not nor could you ever be a monster, Olivia.” his voice remained calm, even toned, and measured in the delivery of every single word he spoke.

“You don’t know that.” Her tone was suddenly that dangerously low, steely tone he’d heard when she’s spoken to Richard. “You don’t have any fucking idea just how dangerous I am. You know how you once told me that DNA didn’t mean anything? Elliot, open the fucking file. Read it. Look at the photos. Then, you tell me what you think about the DNA of the daughter of a violent, sadistic rapist when she crossed paths with a psychotic, charismatic serial rapist.”

“I am in love with you, Liv. I know whatever you went through was horrible just by the way you’re reacting and the things you’re saying. What’s me looking through the folder going to do to change that?”

“Elliot. I need you to look.” She sighed, her whole demeanor changed in the flip of a switch. “I want there to be no secrets between us.” She’d clearly reached the end of her emotional anger. “I know you’re just trying to avoid looking because you don’t want to face the truth and alter your perception of me.”

“Liv, honestly, I just don’t want to traumatize you again…just thinking about telling me about this folder gave you nightmares.” Elliot shook his head, sighing sadly.

“I’ll go to my room. When you’re done, you can come get me.” She shifted, wrapping her arms around her stomach again. Staring at him from the corner of her eyes.

“No. Stay on the couch. I’ll move to the counter.” He grabbed the folder as she sat back down on the couch, her elbows resting on her knees as she placed her hands over her nose and mouth taking deep breaths and doing her best to not panic.

As he sat down at the bar, she reached forward and took the bottle of bourbon and poured herself four fingers worth into the glass. Behind her, she heard the sound of paper being pulled from an envelope. It was now time to hold her breath, she had decided. She listened to his breathing and the times he’d shift his position she would glance over her shoulder at him. A worried expression on her face.

Son of a bitch.” was heard more than once. Followed by the occasional muttering of “Sick son-of-a-bitch.”

She sat, her fingers next to her mouth, biting down on her knuckles, her brow furrowed, watching his reflection in the black screen of the television. At one point, he muttered something about the guy being a “Sick sadistic son of a bitch.”

Olivia had responded, “That’s an understatement, El.”

“The fu-“ It was at this point he quickly vacated the stool he’d been sitting on and she turned to look over her left shoulder as she caught sight of him running into her room toward the bathroom. Taking a deep breath, she stood and walked over to glance down at the counter.

Elliot had gotten to the crime scene photos. Taking a deep breath again, because that’s all she could seem to do at the moment, take a deep breath and sigh. It was how she had to remind herself to breathe without worrying that the other shoe was going to drop. He wasn’t even to the photos of her injuries or the list of evidence. She tilted her head down and ran her tongue over her bottom lip. Looking down the hallway toward her room she moved the photos around on the counter. She could hear his dry heaves in the bathroom and knew she should check on him. She moved slowly and when she got to the bathroom door, she slowly pushed it open and leaned against the door frame.  He was in a vulnerable state at the moment, almost as much as she was. They were both out of their element here. She crossed her arms.

“You know,” He leaned back and rested his head against the shower, “I thought that being a detective for over 35 years had prepared me to see a lot of things…I thought I’d seen it all. I thought I’d be able to handle those photos.”

She chewed on her bottom lip, watching him as he ran his hand over the top of his head. She took another deep breath and walked over to her sink, wetting a washcloth with cool water and wringing it out, handing it to him to put on the back of his neck. She finally spoke.

“You haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet.” She closed the toilet seat and flushed. “I’m sorry if I forced the issue of you looking at the case.” He looked up at her, and swallowed the thick saliva which had gathered in his mouth since his dry-heaving fit. She handed him a small pocket thing of dissolvable Listerine stripes. “It really was the worst four days of my life. I just needed you to understand. I needed you to know.”

“I want to understand. I read all the statements, I looked at all the court transcripts and the documents you had stuffed in the first section. But…” He looked into her eyes as he spoke the next words and she felt like he’d tossed a bucket of cold water over her head, “What did you leave out? Of your statement?” She shook her head, “We both know that every victim withholds some sort of information from their statement, from their exams, from everything.”

A muscle in her jaw twitched as she pursed her lips together. Her arms dropped to her side as she sat the little Listerine packet back on the sink. Sighing, because that’s all she could remember how to do at the moment, she crouched down next to him, as he slid his legs out in front of himself. She turned her body so that she could lay on the bathroom floor, her head resting in his lap with her hand flat on the cool tile and the other resting against his leg. His hand reached down and he tangled his fingers in her hair and began massaging her scalp.

A few minutes passed until a noise of contentment escaped her lips at his ministrations. He looked down at her and felt a surge of pride that she was here, alive, and breathing. After everything he’d read, he was in awe of her. His hand that had found itself on her shoulder, rubbing small circles moved to her neck where his thumb traced the spot he knew had a scar from a knife cut. The knife cut that made him realize he was in love with her.

She inhaled sharply at the contact.

“Are you just going to ignore my question I asked you, Olivia Benson?” He whispered, anxiety swirled around her. He could feel her body tense up next to him. She shook her head, opening her eyes as the hand resting against his leg clenched his jeans tightly in a fist.

“I’m a Captain. Why would I have left something out?”

“Believe it or not, Olivia, I’m not an idiot.”

“I know you aren’t. You’re one of the smartest people I know, El. I did leave something out.”

His eyes closed as he prepared himself mentally for the worst possible scenario. She would leave out something. She would’ve left out whether or not she’d actually been raped because she wouldn’t have wanted to become her mother. She never wanted to be anything like her mother. Sensing her hesitation, and tenseness, he inhaled sharply.

“Liv, I don’t care what it was you left out, I’m just asking you point-blank to not lie to me.”

“I left out the parts where I waxed poetic about what you’d do to him if you got a hold of the bastard.” She sighed, “I left out the part where he, - “ she shook her head, “I left out the part where he violated my body with his fingers. But, you have to know Elliot, he never raped me. He couldn’t. I think he was scared of me.”

“He assaulted you.” Elliot looked at her, shaking his head, “Liv, he might not have penetrated you in the traditional sense, but he – “ She interrupted Elliot.

“I’m here and he’s not.” She spoke with conviction, “I am here and I’m alive. He didn’t rape me.” She reiterated. “He couldn’t get it up. Just like Harris might have attempted to assault me by sticking his penis in my mouth, but he couldn’t get hard unless your body was almost cold. He’s got some serious issues. That’s the secret of Sealview, El. Just in case you are keeping track.”

“Liv?” He asked, looking at her, “Am I going to see anything else in that file that is going to put me back in this room?” He asked, wiping his face with the washcloth that had now dried due to the heat from his body on the back of his neck. He continued running his fingers through her hair as she turned her face up to look at him easier.

“You haven’t gotten to my injury photos. Or the second kidnapping part of the file.”

“Second kidnapping? Jesus fucking Christ, Who the hell was this bastard?”

“Dead.”

“Liv?”

“Yeah?” She rested her hand on his chest as he looked down at her, wincing.

“Can you get up? This floor isn’t that comfortable.” It might’ve been at one time, he muses, but they aren’t in their 30s or 40s anymore and this surface isn’t doing anything great for his spine. She pushed herself up off of his lap until they were eye-to-eye. He searched her eyes with his own and then nodded, “I don’t want to look at the photos of your injuries.”

“But you have to know, El.”

“Then you can show me, and I’ll kiss every last one, Olivia. I’ll kiss all the fucking scars until you know that they don’t bother me and they’re a sign that you’re a fighter. That you are a survivor.” He reached forward, his thumb stroking her cheek. “If you’ll allow me to kiss them all, Liv. I’ll run my fingers along them, and tell you how strong you are, how beautiful you are, how I’m glad that you exist because you make the world a better place.” He paused, “I’ll tell you how they remind me that you are a total badass…that you’re alive.”

“Yeah, it shouldn’t have even happened.” She shook her head, “El, if you hadn’t of left me…it wouldn’t have happened.”

“Liv. You don’t know that. You probably would’ve made me go home, telling me you were fine or some shit.”

“Home might have been with me, Elliot. We both know that before that shooting that day in the stationhouse our resolve was slipping slowly. If you hadn’t of left from IAB that day, and not answered my calls, you would’ve shown up at my front door and we would’ve slept together. I’m confident of it – El. I couldn’t keep pretending. I was willing to risk our partnership because I was in love with you. But…you left me.” She whispered the last part, smacking the floor of the bathroom with her palm. “You wrote it in your letter. You told me that we were walking that extremely thin line and you’d admitted to yourself that it was getting easier to cross it daily. You admitted that you never imagined you’d spend a day without being by my side – but you fucking left.”

She was now crying and pushed herself off the floor, walking into the bedroom and sitting on the edge of the bed, her head bowed as he walked in and sat next to her.

“What Lewis did to me, that was awful, and he physically tortured me. But what you did to me, when you left, that was worse…because I’d fallen in love with you too.” She shook her head sadly. “It was to the point where I didn’t want to date anyone because every single person I dated either didn’t understand my job, was too interested in what I did, or they were disgusted by the fact that I had a partner whom I was devoted to. They all got jealous. It was easier to not date.” She shook her head, sadly. “They weren’t you. None of them were you, El.”

He stood, pacing back and forth in front of her. She continued talking to him, “You wrote that all the touches we shared had started to linger a bit longer, and yes, I noticed that too. The looks we’d give one another with our eyes – it was like we shared a soul…Elliot.”

“I had to choose.” He croaks out.

“It was never going to happen between us. Not while your wife was still alive. How terrible does that make me, Elliot? When I arrived on scene on the night of my awards ceremony all I could think while they loaded Kathy into the ambulance wasn’t ‘let her make it’ what I was thinking, when I saw you standing there in the middle of the street was ‘Please don’t leave me again, Elliot.’…” She paused, wiping her eyes, “That makes me a bitch, because I wasn’t thinking about your children, or your well-being…I was thinking about myself. I didn’t want to let you out of my sight. I just needed you to be here. I needed you to be present. I needed to know that you weren’t going to leave me again.”

“Liv…I never meant to just leave without a word. But I realized that your voice anchored me. You kept me grounded, and that scared me shitless because here I was, married to a woman that yes, I loved…but not in the same way I loved you. I could never love her in the same way I loved you.”

Something inside of both of them had broken, because as they stared at one another, she shook her head as tears poured down her face and he paced back and forth in front of her, his hands on the back of his neck.

“You said Gitano made you realize you were in love with me? I think I always knew I was in love with you, but Gitano was the catalyst for me realizing it was serious. I asked you point blank, ‘What about me’ and you said we couldn’t work together if we chose one another over the job again.” She whispered, “I told him to shoot us both because honestly, I couldn’t imagine living my life without you in it in some way, shape, or form.” She stood now and paced on the opposite side of the bed.

“Liv?” Elliot’s voice was a little louder. As she walked back and forth her hand resting over her chest.

“You promised me you’d always be there, Elliot. You said you’d always support me. But that went out the fucking window because you had to choose. Like I was a consolation prize? Elliot. I’m not a consolation prize. I just wanted to know that you would have chosen me had you not run away.”

“I was close to choosing you. That’s why I couldn’t come back to work. That's why I couldn't hand in my papers while you were around.”

“I wished you were there, while I was tied to that bed in the beach house. I wished that you would've come barging through my apartment door with a six-pack of beer and a pizza telling me some stupid story about the twins while I was tied down to my own bed...I wished you were around when he would climb over the top of me and burn me with his cigarettes, when he’d brand me with –“ She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter, you’ll see all of them.” She nodded, her mouth closing as she studied him quietly. “I wanted you to be there. I wanted to see you one last time. I prayed that if it was my last breath, you’d show up and tell me you loved me and try to rescue me.”

He swallowed as she walked out of the room and toward the kitchen, so he followed her. “Liv. If I would've known - ”

“What was the fucking point of the letter, Elliot? Were you going to just hand it to me and walk away again? What kind of bullshit was that as an Idea? Come back, hand me a letter with beautiful sentiments and telling me what I mean to you and then disappearing to Italy again?”

“I wasn’t going back.” He whispers as she stops walking in front of him.

“What?”

“I was staying here. Kathy was going back.”

“Why?”

“We had a good run, Kathy and I...But people grow apart. We shouldn’t have even gotten the extra ten years we got, but that was because you let me walk away. If you would’ve shown up at my house, I would’ve left with you.”

Olivia looks at him with her mouth opened. Steeling herself to say something but instead she shakes her head. “You’re fucking lying to me.”

“I can never lie to you, Liv.”

“Why are you really back here in America?”

“Because I have this incredible pain in the ass former partner of mine that drives me absolutely nuts in every way imaginable that I just cannot imagine spending any more time away from her. We have a lot of years to make up for. But first, we have to put away the asshole who finally made me admit that she’s the one true love of my life.”

“You keep saying that line, but I don’t think anyone fully comprehends just what that actually means. What weight it carries to me, or how important it is to hear people say that when referring to the two of us. That it validates everything I’ve ever said about soulmates.”

“Soulmates? Olivia?”

“There’s a reason the two of us are always so in sync.” She smiles a small smile at him and for the first time that afternoon, he believes within his heart that she's smiling because she realizes that underneath all the bullshit they've been put through because of Wheatley, that maybe they really will be alright. 

“I think maybe you’re delusional.” He nods, watching her.

“Says the man who made out with his wife’s killer.”

“Ouch.” He shakes his head, "That was harsh."

"I told you, Elliot Stabler, I'm a dangerous woman." 

"You beat a man within an inch of his life. I'd say you're dangerous."

"I should've gone the extra inch." She mutters as he steps closer to her, backing her against the edge of the bed and wrapping her in his arms as she fell apart. 

"I'm never letting go of you." He whispers into her hair as he guides them down to the bed, pulling her closer to his chest.

Chapter Text

Mastaba
Chapter 15 – Felicity


"I'm never letting go of you." He whispers into her hair as he guides them down to the bed, pulling her closer to his chest.


He held her head cradled close as the sobs racked her body. The entire time he felt as though he had won the jackpot though, because she was allowing him the privilege to hold her. She trusted him, despite the anger or blame she had originally placed on him for the ripples caused by his absence, by his leaving. That was the realization he’d had while she was lacing into him. If he hadn’t of left, if he would have waited for her outside of her apartment after Jenna Fox’s shooting, as he’d done so many times after bad cases, if he would’ve come over and they would’ve ordered delivery and drank a beer together on her couch, he would’ve chosen her that night. He would’ve walked away from everything for her. She would’ve allowed him to choose her. She wasn’t going to stop him after the day they’d had that day ten years ago.

This knowledge, as well as the knowledge of the ripples that spread out in his absence, made it feel as though she had reached into his chest and squeezed his heart into oblivion.

She hadn’t held anything back, and she’d gone straight for the jugular. He was pretty sure she was trying to hurt him with her words, but at the same time, it felt as though she had also cushioned the blows and tried to stop the bleeding with her words. She admitted that even though she was in the fight of her life with Lewis, she thought only of him. He was her beacon, her lighthouse in the tempestuous storm. He was the life preserver her brain had tossed her to prevent the fracture that had been all to present in victims of similar caliber crimes.

She was extremely lucky according to what he had read in the files about the other victims of William Lewis. She had said it herself, she hadn’t been raped. But, in a cruel form of irony, she’d also not escaped completely unscathed or untouched. No, he’d violated her with his fucking fingers. That was enough knowledge for Elliot to know that if the bastard was still alive, he would’ve found him himself and taken him out somewhere in the Catskills and tortured the bastard with heated metal items then shot off his fucking fingers himself. He would’ve then disposed of the body in a way that no one would have ever found the remains.

Taking a deep breath, he placed a soft kiss at the top of her head, his fingers tangling in her silky strands of hair.

“Liv, please tell me you don’t have anything more devastating you have to tell me.”

“Other than the other times I’ve been held hostage since then?” She gripped his right forearm and pulled his hand out of her hair, tilting her face up toward his. Her eyes looked red and her cheeks were tinged pink.

He just stared down at her, dumbfounded because she literally just said that there were other hostage situations she’d been in.

“Are you joking?” He managed to ask before he could stop himself. All the air in his lungs felt like it had been squeezed out, it was either that, or he felt like he had inhaled a shit load of water. “After the – “

“We call him ‘The Beast’, El, when I do speak about him, about those four days. He was called ‘The Beast’.”

“Is that like a religious reference? What did I miss in the file?” Elliot rested his hand that she had removed from her hair onto her shoulder, his fingers pressing the sleeve up as he made contact with the freckled skin below her shirt.

“Kind of.” She swallowed, “Listen, now you know…so, there’s nothing else to say about those four days.” she nodded quietly, as his eyes kept locked onto hers.

“Olivia, you told me he kidnapped you twice.” She closed her eyes, “If you don’t want to tell me, Liv, I can always get up and go finish, - “

“He broke out of Prison.” She whispered, her eyes closed, “He called me from an unknown number on Face Time. I was getting my coffee one morning, and the phone rang and I answered it, and there he was. He had faked a cardiac episode, raped the Prison nurse, stolen her car keys, phone, wallet, and drove right out. He went to the Prison doctor’s house…where he raped and murdered her, then he – “ she swallowed the saliva that had gathered in her mouth, gripping his shirt in her first, twisting the fabric between her fingers.

“You don’t have to tell me this, Liv.” Elliot shook his head, still rubbing her shoulder with his fingers, “I’ll read your file in the other room.”

“No, this is important – you have to know that the Olivia you remember who would never lie or, - “ she inhaled, “commit perjury by providing false statements under oath, she uh, she doesn’t exist anymore.”

“What are you talking about, Liv? Please sit up, I want to see you – “

They adjusted so that she was facing him, her knee bent and one leg dangling over the edge of the bed as he was turned toward her, holding hands with her in between them. Her jaw clenched and released as she looked down at their fingers, intertwined together. She could do this, tell him the truth, because honest-to-God, she knew that no matter what she had to say here, he wouldn’t judge her for it. She hoped he wouldn’t judge her for it.

“Yeah, so he raped the doctor’s oldest daughter…and tortured her.” She didn’t look up yet, just kept staring at their hands, “He told her to ask for me, to pass on a message to me.” She shook her head, “He liked the mind games, the Beast, she told me that he told her to tell me that every single thing he had done to her, was what he had originally planned for me. Wanted her to tell me what exactly I’d missed out on. It was after this interview that they called in another officer to take command of SVU away from me. So, they called in Lieutenant Declan Murphy.”

“Murphy?” Elliot’s eyes flashed for a moment and she looked up at him because she felt the change in his posture, “He works undercover infiltrating various operations all over the world, doesn’t he? I ran into him off the Amalfi Coast while he was being debriefed. He had just come back from New York – he had said that he’d been in charge of a unit while the Unit Leader had been kidnapped and – “ He paused, “Liv, that was you?”

“So you do know Declan. I wondered.” She shook her head, and moved closer to Elliot until their knees were touching. “Anyway, they assigned him to be in charge of the Unit, and he assigned me Security Detail.” she rolled her eyes, “they were the worst sort of security detail.”

“You gave them the slip, didn’t you?”

“You know me so well. Yes, I did give them the slip. They were too busy eye fucking to notice me slip away. The Beast had sent me a message telling me where to meet him, to come alone, and he would turn over Amelia to me. We’d do a trade.”

“Olivia, he was a psycho, he wasn’t going to let her go.”

“He would have – she was too young for him. He’d already fucked with her mind and he just loved to get into his girls’ minds.” She sneered at this statement, “It was his specialty. Other than actually torturing and leaving his girls hanging in closets, like a discarded winter jacket.”

“Olivia, really. You don’t have to, - “

“So I went.” She interrupted. Ignoring his urging to not tell him. “When he got me to the granary, he took me to her. He then gave me two very distinct options. He said that he could rape her and then me, or he could rape me and then her. So I told, -“ Elliot’s eyes had widened as she spoke, he knew whatever was going to come out of her mouth in the next three seconds was likely to knock him on his ass if he were standing. “I told him to rape me.”

“Where does your perjury fit into all this?”

“Ah. That. Yes, so…prior to his giving me the location to meet him, he wanted me to tell the truth to the public about what happened at the beach house. He wanted me to admit to the public, on live television, that I had lied on the stand.”

“Fucking Christ, Olivia. If you admitted that on live television, then – “

“All my cases would be scrutinized.” She nodded, “So, I went on live Television and admitted the truth. I told them that I had lied under oath at the trial about the fact he’d broken free of his restraints and that I had to subdue him with the metal bar.”

Elliot just studied her for a moment, trying to figure out what she was saying, “So, the information in the documents out there in the other room – “

“Are a lie, yes. But as far as the State of New York is concerned, it’s the truth. I’ll get to that in a minute. I had handcuffed him to the bed, prior to beating him within an inch of his life.” Her eyes flashed the dangerous black shade for a moment as she said these words to him. “So, he didn’t get to finish the job he started, and we played Russian roulette and he shot himself. The last bullet was mine, but he took it and told me I’d never forget him.”

Elliot’s brow was furrowed as he let go of her hands. Suddenly, her eyes widened as he moved back on the bed, closer to the head. Her eyes had that feral, panicked expression flash in them for a split-second as a gasp escaped her lips. She took quick survey of the space he had opened up between the two of them, their knees were no longer touching.

“See, I knew that you’d pull away.” she whispered. Almost immediately, he realized his mistake.

“Shit. No, Olivia, that’s not what I was doing.” He reached forward, grabbing her hands in his again and almost as soon as he had made contact with her hand her eyes had softened once more, “I was just readjusting on the bed. I needed to rest my back against something solid.” He grabbed her chin, their eyes finding solace in one another’s depths.

“I just thought that maybe you understood that it meant, - “

“I would have killed the bastard after shooting his fingers off if I had been around. I’m really not going to judge you for your actions, Olivia.” He brought his other hand up to cup her face, “I don’t even want to hear the rest of the story, because what I really want to do is celebrate with you the fact that you’re alive. To show you just how much I mean every single word I wrote in the letter that I gave to you. To feel you as close as I can…I want to – “

Before he could finish his statement, she had pushed herself up on the bed and climbed up onto his lap, throwing her leg over the other side of him, hovering, and looking down into his eyes. Her eyes full of fire as she stripped away any layer he had and somehow landed right in his soul.

“I want everything.” She began, “So would I be insensitive to tell you to get over whatever issues you might have right now so I can take what I’ve waited twenty-two years to claim as my own?” Her voice had dropped a couple octaves as she leaned forward, her lips inches away from his ear as she whispered, “To show you what you passed on the opportunity to have every single day and every single night.” She brought her mouth closer until she caught his earlobe with her bottom lip and drug it between her teeth, nipping.

The warmth of her breath on his earlobe was enough to short-circuit any neurons from firing in his brain. He was doing his best to restrain himself from flipping them over and stripping her naked, but that restraint was whittling down by the second. To be perfectly honest, he wasn’t even sure that he wanted her to stop what she was currently doing. To stop the attention which she was paying to his ear and neck. Maybe they didn’t need to finish these discussions. Maybe she had a way of sharing all her secrets without speaking. Maybe she could tell him things in other ways.

She wasn’t clouded by her PTSD, and he was making leaps and bounds with his own. She had a good understanding of where she was in her healing process. She wouldn’t be doing anything that she didn’t want to do, this was Olivia-freaking-Benson. As a groan escaped his throat, she lowered her weight completely onto his lap. Her soft body pressed against the heavy planes of his chest. Her left hand rested on his back in between his shoulder blades while her right hand cupped the back of his head.

Her lips had traveled from his ear down along his stubble-dotted chin and was now trailing down his neck. Massaging the sensitive pulse-point as he felt her tongue make contact with his skin.

“Olivia?” he found his voice, swallowing yet again because his brain had apparently caught up with reality and was screaming at him that this was Olivia Benson who was sitting on his lap. His pulse quickened as his heart also got the memo and had begun screaming at him that he was in love with her and this was how it was supposed to be. Other parts of his body were screaming at him that if he cut this off now, he would be an idiot.

“Hm?” she murmured with her lips resting against his neck, and he felt the vibration from the sound she had made go straight through him.

“Are you absolutely sure that what you are doing right now is what you want?” His hands weren’t touching her, because to be perfectly honest, he was taken aback by her sudden movement and change of position from seconds ago when she had been telling him a story that was not at all something that would be something that would lead into their current position. He also knew that the moment his fingertips touched any part of her skin that she’d be burnt into the deepest parts of his soul. He knew that if they ignited that fire, there’d be an inferno that would burn the city down.

Jesus, Elliot, I’m the Captain of the Special Victims Unit. I’m pretty fucking sure I know what I’m doing if I’m doing it.” She pulled back, her dark eyes held within them a raging storm. Her pupils had dilated and he knew that at that very point in time she would be the death of him. But damn, what a way to go. “Now, shut up and touch me, El.” Her eyes searched his as all the air in the room disappeared, and his lips and hers crashed together.

For as excited and dare he say aroused as he was, his brain could not wrap around the fact that the woman currently sitting atop his lap, kissing him was Olivia. His Olivia. His Liv. The badass, resilient, brilliant, marvelous, strong woman who he had been in awe of for years. The complex woman who didn’t let anyone get too close. But by some sort of providence, she had found it within herself to forgive him for his past transgressions…for leaving her, for hurting her.

His fingers deftly moved underneath the edge of the t-shirt she was wearing and wrapped around her waist, finally finding the warm skin beneath the material. She inhaled sharply as her mouth languidly moved against his, their tongues fighting for dominance. She squirmed, trying to press herself closer to him. The groan that escaped her throat seemed to fuel his desire for her even deeper.

Somehow, he managed to break contact with her lips and planted kisses along her jaw, down her neck until his mouth had found her neck where he knew a faded scar rested. The place that years earlier had been the catalyst for them realizing just the depth of their feelings for one another. He moved his hand up and cupped the back of her head as he nipped at her neck on the scar. She’d frozen in place at the sudden contact and inhaled sharply, pulling off of his lap.

“Liv?” Elliot closed his eyes as he half-expected to see her retreating out of the room. Instead, when he opened his eyes, he saw her sitting next to him, her fingers playing with the hem of the t-shirt she was wearing. “You don’t have to do anything you aren’t comfortable with. I really don’t want to ruin this, or make you feel pressured, that’s why you’re completely in control.”

“You told me that I could show you my scars and that you would kiss and trace them, tell me I’m beautiful.” She whispered, “I’ve never shown anyone to see all of them. I’ve never allowed anyone to touch them.” She took a deep breath, her eyes meeting his, “I’m not scared to show you. I trust you. I’m not afraid, El.”

He studied her for a moment, “I will. I told you I would. But, I want you to be comfortable with it, I want to do this right. I’d, - listen, I’d love nothing more than to –“

“Ravage me?” She supplied, her brow raised, a small chuckle escaping her chest, as a mischievous smile spread across her freckled face, and for the first time that afternoon, he noticed that she hadn’t put on any make-up. She was so goddamn beautiful. Elliot rolled his eyes as he moved himself so that he was laying on his side and she lay next to him.

“Eventually, yes. I was going to say make love to you, Olivia Margaret Benson.” He leaned over and ran his hand through her hair, spreading it out over her pillow. She closed her eyes, reveling in the feeling of his fingers making contact with her head and then running down the length of her hair. A contented purr escaped her as he looked down at her face, with her swollen lips and relaxed expression. “You beautiful, and everything I’ve ever imagined and then some.”

“You’re just saying that.” she turned her face and placed her hand against his jaw, capturing his lips once more with her own. He moved and rested his hand just below her ear, his fingertips resting along the back of her head as he moved them ever-so-slightly. His other hand was folded underneath his head, as he just stared at her. Their legs intertwined when she brought hers to rest between his and moved closer to him, running her manicured toes along his calf muscle, pushing his jeans up and out of the way every single time she moved her leg.

When they broke apart their kiss, he smiled. His own lips were probably just as bruised and swollen, but it was worth it. “I’m offended, Captain. I don’t just say things to say them. If you don’t believe me, you can check with my partner.”

“Your partner sounds like they might stick up for you and lie to me.”

“Maybe. My partner is incredibly stubborn. She’s so damn stubborn and hard-headed. She also doesn’t believe anything I say and thinks I’m always wrong.”

“Not always.” She whispers as he plays with the hem of her shirt. Smiling lazily at him, she continues, “I heard your partner requested a new partner. Something about the reason on line fifteen was somewhat unbelievable to me, because here I thought your partner thought you were a total ass.”

“What did it say?”

She moved even closer to him, her eyes darting between his eyes and lips, “Says that she can’t keep her mind from wondering what it would be like to touch you, or what it felt like to be pressed against your bare chest in her bra and underwear...Says she thought she lost you when she saw you get shot.”

His face fell a little with everything she had just said. “Really?”

“She’s in love with you, Detective…your partner, that is.” she whispers, “But can I tell you a secret?”

“Absolutely.”

“I’m not separating the two of you. That would just be cruel and unusual punishment and might result in terrible results for my department.”

“Liv?” His voice cracked.

“Yeah, El?”

“I want to keep you safe.” his tone was heavy with seriousness as he stared into her eyes, “I want both you and Noah to be safe. I would like if you would consider being taken into Protective Custody until this whole thing with Wheatley is over.”

“Seriously?” her eyes shot open, “I have survived psychopaths, high-ranking corrupt government officials, and diplomats who’ve had it out for me, and you’re telling me that I should be taken into protective custody because of a medium sized fish that I could eat because I’m a larger fish. I literally just told you that I slipped the last security detail that I had been assigned.”

“He found a way to get you to the hospital from inside the prison, Liv. I just don’t want him to lure you out again and – “

“Stop worrying. You live in this building now, so no one can get to me here without walking past your door. I have the largest gang in the city, and I’ve been doing my job a lot of years, I have a lot of friends.” She scooted herself closer to him and when he pressed his hand in the middle of her back, his fingers moved against the vertebrae of her spine. They let out a synchronous sigh as her hand slipped under the back of his shirt and her fingers trailed over his warm skin.

“I just don’t want to lose you. Or anything to happen to Noah. You know what you mean to me, now.” He pressed her body closer, “I couldn’t live without myself.”

“Well, if you don’t want anything to happen to me, you are going to have to feed me soon.”

“Any preferences?” He placed a gentle kiss on the top of her head, and then inhaled the scent of her hair.

She smelled just like he remembered.

“Did you just sniff my hair, Detective?”

“Guilty.”

He had to disentangle himself from her, but they’d decided to order from one of the decent restaurants nearby that served delicious steaks and salads. So, he’d ordered himself a steak with a baked potato and creamed spinach and she’d wanted a cranberry apple grilled chicken salad with raspberry vinaigrette and they’d told him that they’d be delivering it in about forty-five minutes.

He picked up the things that he’d left on the counter and placed them all back in the envelope, moving it off to the side and into the bag she had pulled it out of. He hoped to never look at anything in there ever again. Deciding to make himself useful, he took up the position at the sink and began to wash some of the dishes that were in the sink. When she came out of the bedroom ten minutes later, she leaned against the doorway next to the bar, with her arms crossed and watched him, with her lip pulled between her teeth. With every movement he made, his shoulder muscles flexed.

“Take a photo, Liv.”

“How is it that the older you get, you get more solid and sexier and I get softer and…” she took a moment to think of a good word, “frumpier?”

He chuckled at her estimation of herself. “You’re wrong, you are not frumpy. It probably just feels that way because of all those damn heavy coats and ill-fitting ugly blazers you tend to favor.” He turned and looked over his shoulder at her, “Right now? What you’re wearing? You don’t look soft nor frumpy, you look hot.”

“What, did living in Italy turn you into some sort of fashion connoisseur?” She teased.

“Maybe. At least I know how to get things tailored, I might have Lizzie take you shopping...she is amazing at picking out clothes for people." He paused for a moment, "Did you ever travel, like you planned on?” He asked, her brow furrowed at the question. He hadn’t answered her question. “Remember when you had all those damn brochures on your counter when you had the flu and you told me that 'a girl can dream.'”

She walked closer to him, grabbed the drying towel off the counter and wedged herself next to him, drying the plate he handed her.

“Actually, yes. I did.”

“Where’d you go?”

“Paris.” She smiled sadly, and he noticed almost immediately.

“You look sad about going to Paris, Liv. Was it a bad trip?” He paused, reaching for the cup that was sitting next to the sink. “I went there to see the sights shortly before the pandemic had locked us all down in Italy.”

“It, uh, wasn’t a bad trip. Just, - “ she turned around, leaning her back against the edge of the counter. “I went with someone. It was nice.”

“Someone?” He was confused, “It wasn’t someone you regretted being with, was it?”

“Goodness, no. He…uh, - it was complicated.”

“Was it Brian?”

“No.” she laughed, “He’d never get on an International Flight. He’s too scared that the damn plane would crash into the ocean.” She grimaced, thinking about how he had been fascinated with the plane that had crashed shortly after she’d been taken by Lewis. Maybe he wasn’t afraid of international flights, but it hadn’t escaped her notice that maybe he was just trying to find something to talk to her about…he’d left SVU because he couldn’t handle the victims, so what the hell was he supposed to do when his own girlfriend had become one?

“Not going to ask you to elaborate on that one at the moment, but I feel like there’s a good story there. So was it the guy you mentioned the other day, Ed?”

“Yes.” She nodded, placing the mug on the drying towel.

“Did Ed make you happy?” Elliot was being mindful of her slight hesitancy to share much. But, he didn’t care about anything other than whether she had been taken good care of by this ‘solid relationship’ that Fin had more than once hinted at.

“He did. He treated me very well and made me very happy, for a time. He made me laugh, he looked out for me. Not the same way you looked out for me, but it was good. He encouraged me to rise up the ranks, and he was really good with Noah.” she bit her thumbnail. “He knew what a pain in the ass I could be and he still put up with me…we parted amicably.”

“Why’d it end? Why aren’t you Mrs. Ed…what was his last name?”

“Tucker.” she whispers. Elliot’s face suddenly lost all color as the buzzer for the front door went off and she moved to press it so the guy could bring their dinner up to them. He still hadn’t wrapped his brain fully around what she had just said.

“He had you arrested for murder.”

“He was doing his job.”

“He wouldn’t let me see you before I was escorted to the Puzzle Palace after the shooting.”

“He made me happy.”

“He took care of you?” He ran his hand along his face, trying to fully come to grips with it.

“Yes.” She nodded, grabbing his wallet from the bowl next to the door and fishing out a fifty-dollar bill to hand the delivery person.

“Good.” He wasn’t going to say it didn’t bother him to find out just who Ed was, or that it was her solid relationship. But if he had been good to her, and taken care of her…well, he couldn’t be too pissed off about it. He was the one that left her. She had said that no one could fill the void he had left…so if she had been happy with Ed Tucker, well, good for her. What mattered the most, he realized, the older they got, was that people were happy, and taken care of. Plus, he’d heard through the grapevine that Ed Tucker had died. He can’t imagine how that must’ve affected the woman across the room from him, especially if she had in fact, cared for the man who had continually made their lives hell.

Besides, he wasn’t going to tell her, but she was the last first kiss that he wanted to have.

He watched her, as she removed their dinners from the bag and noticed that she looked lighter almost. Maybe even a little happier. And she looked a lot more relaxed than he had seen her in the months since he’d been back.

“Thank you.” She responded, whispering, as she stood on her toes to place a soft kiss on his cheek. “For not freaking out about it or saying anything derogatory.”

“Liv, we’re grown ass people.” He answered, “I’m a widower, and you are every bit the independent, driven bad-ass I’ve always known and loved. What’s freaking out over a relationship going to solve? It was in the past, he made you happy, and he’s not here anymore, so why speak ill of the dead?” He paused, “Now, let me have my steak before I get cranky.”

She ran her hand down his arm, slowly as she turned back to their dinners, preparing them on the plates that he had put on the counter.

Maybe being honest with one another allowed for a greater bond between the two of them than either could have ever imagined. Maybe it was the solid ground she’d been missing. Pouring some wine in a glass for both of them, she smiled at her former partner as she lifted her glass and motioned for him to do the same.

“Verso un futuro senza segreti.” She smiled at him as they clinked their glasses together.

He stared at her for a moment, a smile on his own lips as he took the seat next to her, “I forgot you spoke Italian.”

She just continued to smile at him, and when he had cut into his steak, she reached over with her fork and stole a piece for herself, still grinning like the cat that ate the canary.

Chapter Text


Mastaba 
Chapter 16 - Foiled


To be perfectly honest, Richard Wheatley did not have an ulterior motive tormenting the hell out of Detective Stabler and Captain Benson. It was merely…a distraction for himself. No, what he enjoyed was playing with people, figuring out what makes them tick. Richard liked the cat & mouse games. Figuring out that the seasoned Detective had his own secrets and figuring out what made him tick, well, that was fun for Richard. It was Angela who had taken the mantle of retribution at Richard’s urging. Angela, who enjoyed inflicting pain and misery on any man that she felt was simply in her way. Angela, who never took into account that she really needed to pay more attention to people before making snap judgements. If she had, she would’ve discovered the other woman sooner. Was Angela calculating? Yes. Was she observant? Not really.

And just. like. that. Richard had discovered Elliot Stabler’s sixth reason for breathing. He discovered Elliot Stabler’s little secrets. My, my, my. What a secret she was. He wondered if those two hot messes had finally decided to tell each other what they meant to one another. Richard saw it, the other officers that surrounded the two of them saw it, Elliot Stabler’s wife saw it and he’s pretty sure the rest of New York City had seen it during the years of their partnership. The only people that had no clue, - was them.

He knew Olivia probably felt it, but after studying her and infiltrating her files, life, observing her, - well, he couldn’t be too sure she really knew what she was. He hoped that maybe at his hinting and urging and suggestions and references to their personal life and all their secrets that they would finally just end one another’s suffering. They would put one another out of their miseries if they just opened their jaded eyes.

The Captain had waited twenty-some-odd years for this moment. It was the culmination of twenty-some-odd years of pining, of sacrificing her own happiness for that of the man that she secretly loved. The one she would look at from across their desk, the one she left but returned to because the thought of being away for any given amount of time was simply too painful for her. Oh, he had read far more into them than they had any idea. She was selfless. It was this reason that Richard could never honestly be interested in her – he liked his women to be selfish.

Elliot Stabler, what a man. He put so much belief, so much conviction in that little band of metal around his finger – that he had overlooked something incredibly important. The vows he spoke, he honestly believed them to be a sacrament between himself and God. He believed that the words and a piece of metal were more important than his soul. More important than happiness. More important than realizing what was there in front of him. Elliot Stabler had sacrificed his own pleasure and happiness for words and a belief.

Marriage, true marriage, is a holy thing. But it’s much…much more than words and a piece of metal. A true marriage is one that you completely surrender yourself to the other person. You put all your eggs in one basket and hope and pray that the other person is capable of walking around with them without tripping and falling and breaking all the eggs at once. The things that Richard had discovered while studying the man had revealed that while Elliot Stabler honestly believed all of the teachings that had been indoctrinated into his very psyche by the church about what a marriage should be, well…Elliot had ignored what love was. He had instead settled for duty and ignorance.

Marriage and sex were for procreation. When the sex becomes pleasurable, then it ruins the sanctity of the marriage. Go confess. Say a few hail Marys. Carry out a penitence. Make amends. Renew that sacred bond out of duty.

How. Utterly. Fucking. Boring.

Richard was sure that Elliot Stabler hadn’t wanted any more children when his wife got pregnant with their youngest son. In fact, he was also sure, looking at all the information he had been given, that at any point in time during those months – he would have fallen in bed with the Captain and seeing a photo of her during that time that he had dug up – yowza. Elliot Stabler was a moron.

Richard knew Elliot Stabler had always been a little in love with his partner.

The ring he wore around his finger for those years, it had been a noose on his brain.

Morals.

Pfth. What the hell good were morals? He knew not a soul that would have denied Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler honestly belonged together. Their volatile anger and ability to speak without speaking, - well, Richard could only surmise that would be a union of passion and fire. He was also pretty sure that the rest of the city couldn’t survive that union, that the NYPD was scared shitless of what would happen if the two of them had indeed gotten together. Olivia Benson was a cannon, and Elliot Stabler was the spark that was capable of lighting the cannon. They were a two-person demolition crew – two people thirsty for justice and seeking to right all the wrongs with their hometown.

Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson belonged together in a very real way. Richard was sure that Kathy Stabler had always known that she was not the love of his life. In fact, Richard was willing to bet that she was even a little jealous of her husband’s partner. She had fourteen years of her husband to herself, but the minute that she had seen her husband and Olivia Benson together, it had been more than clear to her that they belonged together. She just knew.

Richard had seen the way they had gravitated toward one another in the wake of Kathy’s explosion. He’d seen it, using the cameras, the moment that Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson had faced one another again. It was as though the scene around them didn’t even exist. Like they were standing there, in the middle of space and the planets and stars all had revolved around them.

He got access to their personnel files and had seen the notes from the shrinks about their counseling sessions. He’d seen that when the good doctors had asked them about their feelings towards their partner, they had both abruptly ended their interviews. He’d read it all. The notes revealed so much and yet nothing at the same time.

When he listened to the audio files attached to the records, he’d been amused. They refused to acknowledge the thing between them because they understood the ramifications of acknowledging it. It was the thing that floated in the air between them like an invisible wall – the thing that they refused to put a name on. They were so scared of losing their partnership that their unspoken burgeoning relationship just didn’t exist.

But it did. It had always existed.

How quaint. They had caught feelings for one another.

How…nauseating.

In all honesty, Richard wasn’t going to use anything that he had discovered about them against them…even though it did give him leverage. He wanted to know because he was bored and it was fun to study people. He wanted to make a point to them that not all crimes had to be dark or utterly heinous in nature. That the whole world was changing and criminals that knew how to misdirect and distract would eventually reign supreme.

He wasn’t lying when he told Olivia that she was exquisite. He also knew she was cultured. A lot more cultured than Elliot Stabler. She was intelligent. She had tastes. She was also extremely dangerous. They were both gifted at self-preservation.

When the door opened to the interrogation room and the two of them walked in, Richard just watched them for a moment. What the hell could he possibly have to offer the two of them that he hadn’t already offered them by simple throwing them a curveball by telling them he knew their secrets. That he was onto their relationship that they had refused to consummate. Shame.


Later that Morning

“I think you two are infatuated with me.” Richard smiled, his blue eyes dancing merrily in the lights of the small room.

Benson sat down across from him and he could sense something had changed in her. Something had changed with her very presence. Stabler pulled out the chair next to her and sat down, his arms crossed in front of his chest.

“Please.” Captain Benson rolled her eyes as she shook her head. “You called us here, Richard, what the hell do you have to say today?”

“That I have nothing more to offer you two. I’m sure you’ve figured out my game by now.” Richard cracked his neck as he winked at the Captain. Stabler’s vein in his neck was throbbing, and Richard could see it from his chair. Stretching his hand out in front of him, he took a deep breath. “I actually have a confession for the two of you.” He dropped his tone.

“Well, out with it, Richard.”

“You see, you think that I am targeting you because I’m guilty of something, don’t you?”

“You are guilty, Richard. Hence why the government is holding you here in this facility with the terrorists and mass murderers. Not with the small-time criminals at Rikers.” Olivia rolled her eyes.

“I knew you had spunk.” Richard pointed his finger at her and Elliot bit the inside of his mouth. “I bet when you were beating William Lewis with that metal bar while he was restrained you loved every single minute of it. Didn’t you, Captain Benson? Did you know about that, Elliot? The love of your life was almost a murderer.”

“I am a murderer. I’ve killed people with my gun.”

“Ah. This is true as well. You were a different sort of unhinged, weren't you. What was it that set you off…Captain?” Richard turned his head, his eyes studying her as she gave nothing away.

“Do you think you scare me, Richard? Think your threats mean anything to me?” She leaned forward, resting her arms on the table as she held her finger out, beckoning him closer toward her. “What set me off? Could it have been the twenty five times I was burnt with a lit cigarette? How about the six key prints that adorn my ribs and below my breast? Or maybe it was the metal coat hanger that burnt my waist and around my hip and thigh. Maybe it was the mini badge on the bottom of my gun that he heated and burnt into my lower stomach. Or the contributing factor could have been the sleeping pills or the vodka...but I don't know. I have a secret for you, though, you don’t scare me. Your threats? They mean nothing to me. So unless you actually want to talk about your case, or give me any information that can help me solve some of my cases related to sex rings operating out of clubs in the city, I cannot stand looking at your smug face any longer.”

Olivia Benson was a tigress and suddenly Richard Wheatley felt like a slab of steak that had been thrown to her.

Maybe he overstepped just a little.

“Does it bother you to know that William Lewis figured out what Elliot Stabler meant to you?” Richard asked, “Or that he smelled that you were a victim?” Richard sat back, his cuffs pulling on the table.

Olivia shook her head, laughing. "Fuck you, Richard. You don't get to speak about the man sitting next to me just like he wasn't allowed."

Elliot just watched her for a moment and then took a deep breath, releasing the air he had been holding in his lungs to see what Richard was going to try here. Whatever he threw at Olivia though, regardless of the files he had read,  couldn't prepare him for hearing the extent of the scars she'd said she had. He was going to make good on his promise to her.

“Do you know what Elliot Stabler did every single year on your birthday?” Richard Wheatley looked over at Elliot, his eyebrow raised, as Elliot just stared at him, his eyes meeting the criminal’s eyes, daring him to say something that no one could possibly know. “He would write you a letter, Olivia, while he was on a train to Palermo, in Sicily the night before your birthday. When he would arrive in Palermo, he would stay at this small bed and breakfast and the morning of your birthday, he would make his way to one of the small bakeries around the corner and get a chocolate cupcake with strawberry frosting on it. He would then make his way to the flower shop just down the road to purchase a tiger lily.” Richard smirked, Elliot was inwardly panicking and as he looked over at Olivia she was staring at him, her eyes studying the man. “He would then make his way down to the large cathedral in Palermo and stand in front of the statue of Saint Olivia of Palermo, and just stand there, looking at it. He’d make his way back to his room, light the cupcake’s candle, and wish you a happy birthday. It was a yearly trek, and he always did it by himself. Three days where he would leave his family behind because he couldn’t stand the thought that he had left you.”

Elliot just stared at the man. This was new. How long had Richard Wheatley been following him?

“Cute.” Elliot spoke, studying the criminal in front of him. “So tell me, Richard, what was your point of telling this story?”

“You could never comprehend the depth of this man’s feelings for you, Olivia. Because your childhood had been so tumultuous that you believe you really are not worthy of love. Did you know, Elliot,” he looked between the two of them, “That she has never uttered those three words to anyone she has dated? No, those three words are reserved for her son and one man alone. Did she tell you about the time she almost killed her mother when she was a teenager?”

“We get it, Richard. I’m the one true love of his life. Blah. Blah. Blah.” Olivia rolled her eyes. “Seriously, you’re just wasting our time at this point.”

“Have an important date, Captain?” Richard asks.

“Not that it’s any of your business, Richard, but I have a perfect idea for you - How about you entertain yourself with the thoughts of how old you’ll be when you actually get out of prison. Or how old your son will be when he gets out of prison. Or, how you sacrificed your daughter’s future for bringing her into the family business, as it were. You criminals really never learn, do you?” Olivia shook her head, “I’m done here. I’m tired of speaking to you, and I have much more important things to be doing.”

At this statement, Richard’s lips curled up into a devious smile as he watched the two detectives stand.

“What if I were to tell you the reason I wanted you to come to the hospital?” He asked, as they both turned to face him, at the door. “I was banking on corrupting Morales to the point where he would shoot you, Elliot. You see, Captain Benson here, she has been letting you in piece by piece since you’ve returned. She’s given you this grace that typically is only associated with marriages or close partnerships, and by whatever luck would have it – your attachment to my ex-wife allowed for an interesting development in my benefit. I like to play games with people, I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not…but I thought what beautiful retribution would it have been for Angela to meet the love of Elliot Stabler’s life after she thought she had killed that person, and for that woman to lose Elliot Stabler as well as Angela to see him die – well, that would have been justice. Justice because Kathy’s death would have meant nothing and Elliot’s would have meant everything.”

“You miscalculated, Richard.” Olivia shook her head, her brown hair swaying as she pulled the door open, “I hope you rot in hell. And just so you know, not everyone has secrets that they are afraid to share. Sometimes, the truth is a treasure that is more valuable than secrets.”

“Well, did you tell Elliot about your lovely dalliance with that former IAB Captain that you both just adored?”

“Yes.” Not that it was any of his business, Olivia thought.   

 As they both walked out of the room Richard couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.  

 Richard Wheatley had miscalculated…or maybe not. Maybe he had just pushed the two of them toward what everyone had seen for so long. Damn his tipping of his hand.

His father had been right; he would always be a stupid little meatball. 

Chapter Text

Mastaba -
Chapter 17 – Penultimate


After the Captain and the Detective gathered their items, the two of them walked out of the Metropolitan Correctional Center, for what Elliot hoped the last time, and out into the warm air. Glancing down at his former partner Elliot was trying to decide what she was thinking about when Richard had revealed to her his yearly routine. It wasn’t as though he was mourning her, but he was mourning. By Gods, he was mourning what could have been between them if he had stayed. If he had made the decision he knew in his heart was the one that would’ve given him happiness, complete and total happiness. But, he chose duty and responsibility over happiness and all-consuming love.

It surprised him, honestly, that someone could possibly know his routine. The nine-hour ride, the letter, the cupcake, the flower. The letters – they were still there, in Palermo. In a small Italian lockbox, he would pay for until the end of time, or until she asked for them. It wasn’t an earth-shattering secret, not by any means. Hell, to him, it didn’t seem to be a secret at all. His family knew he left for three days around that date yearly. No one said one word about it.

He laughed about it, once, during the third year of his yearly routine of taking the ride to the Cathedral. It was something that had popped into his head while writing the letter on the train, - thinking back to the day that Cragen had said something to him about how he didn’t know how Olivia had put up with him for so long, and Elliot had responded in kind by saying that she was a Saint. And it was true, Olivia was a Saint, it just wasn’t Olivia Benson who was the Saint.

He noticed that they were walking in the direction of the Courthouse and without even voicing the question, Olivia answered.

“I have to meet Carisi by the coffee cart, I apparently forgot to sign on one of the lines of a file that I had passed along to his office last week. There was a lot going on.” She smiled at him, tucking her phone into her bag and sucking her bottom lip in between her teeth. “So what are your plans for the rest of the afternoon?” Her eyes studied him for a moment while he shrugged.

“Moening wants to meet with me at One PP at three forty-five.” Elliot pulled his aviator sunglasses down, the sun was bright this afternoon, and it was shining in his eyes. The glare was almost too much sometimes. “I already checked in with Sergeant Bell. She gave me the news that we’re receiving a few more bodies down in the OCCB. Jet’s also getting another analyst to work with, so that will be an experience. Should be interesting.” he took a deep breath and stuck his hands into his pockets, bumping his shoulder into hers as they walked along.

“What about later this evening?” she inquired, her brow quirking slightly as she now chewed the inside of her cheek. He turned his face toward her as they stopped just short of the bottom step of the Courthouse. “Any plans with anyone? Do you have dinner plans?”

Looking at this mature, confident, unafraid woman in front of him, he suddenly felt like a bus had crashed into him when he realized that for the last two nights since the night she’d had the nightmares they’d eaten dinner with one another and Noah, and he’d gotten to spend time with the both of them. They’d part at the end of the night with a kiss, and it was the hardest thing to do, to leave her and walk back to his own door and sleep in his bed. Her expression said it all to him, as her eyes searched his. “Are you…Captain Benson, are you…asking me to come to dinner? Are you hitting on me?” he teased as she smiled brightly.

The corner of her eyes crinkled as she allowed her hair to fall in front of her face, looking down at her shoes for a moment. When she brought her face back up to look at him she allowed her tongue to dart out and wet her bottom lip, debating just how she should respond. Before she could make up her mind, they both heard a familiar voice.

“Cap’n! Ova here!” Carisi called as he walked up to the both of them, pulling out his leather pad folio and reaching into his jacket to grab a pen out to hand to her. “Sorry about this. I know you’re busy and all, but you forgot to sign this page.” He pointed to the blank line and she took the pen from him with a suspicious look on her face. “Morning Stabler.”

“Dominick.” Elliot knew that Carisi preferred to be called Sonny but he preferred the name Dominick. Maybe it had to do with the fact that he was a Junior he preferred to be called Sonny. Who the hell even really knew the answer? It was probably something similar to Eli preferring to be called Eli because he was a Junior.

“Thanks Cap’n. I’ll uh, see ya later.” Carisi took the pen and pad folio back that Olivia had been holding out for him. “Detective.”

“He’s a curious one.” Elliot commented, watching the man walk up the steps to the courthouse, away from the two of them.

“Did I ever tell you he was one of my Detectives? I threatened to give him the five borough tour when he arrived at SVU. He made a comment about how long I’d been doing my job and I took offense. How dare he call me old. He was Amanda’s partner. I think they’re partners now, if you catch my drift. I pretend to not notice. I pretended not to notice.” She smiled mischievously, “Hopefully they don’t fuck it up – they make a cute couple. When he first left us to work in the DA’s office, they got into an argument about his leaving and I almost told them to go somewhere and, – “ she stopped, inhaling a bit while catching the mirthful look in Elliot’s eyes, “Anyways.”

He chuckled. He could only imagine how she was going to finish that statement before she stopped herself. She was never one to mince her words. A spitfire, his Liv was a spitfire.

“I’d love to have dinner with you and Noah tonight, in case that’s what you were asking.” He reached forward and took her hand in his own, pushing his glasses up on his head with his other hand. “So, I was thinking…”

“That’s dangerous.”

“Cut the comments, Liv. I’m trying to be serious here.”

She laughed lightly as she shook her head, “Sorry. I’ll do my best.”

“I wanted to say something to you the other day but I didn’t get the opportunity.”

“Whatever it is, El, please…don’t tell me in this spot.” She shook her head, gesturing to this steps. Elliot’s face scrunched in confusion as his brow furrowed and he squeezed her hands between his own.

“I have to, Liv. I wanted to address this thing between us and I think we should put a label on it.”

“What the hell are we, twelve?” She asked, shaking her head. “I’ll tell you what it is. You’re my partner. My partner for life.” She searched his blue eyes, seeking an understanding in them. Her smile spread across her features and he decided that he liked this version of Olivia. This smiling, free, unleashed version of Olivia. She was fire and air all in one. Fierce and strong when needed but airy and light when the situation called for it. She was everything. He honestly didn’t know how he survived those ten years away from her. “I love you, and I guess that’s the beginning, middle, and end of it. So there you go, that’s the label. You’re my partner that I love.”

Elliot could have been knocked over with a feather at this declaration. He knew the weight of those three words. And he’d just heard them twice in the course of two minutes. She held those words tightly to her chest and he was almost positive that the only other male that had ever heard those words was her son. “You said you love me.” He whispered, not caring who the hell was walking around them at the steps of the courthouse, he pulled her closer to him and reached down to kiss her.

Olivia Benson was being kissed in public, in front of the steps of the courthouse. She was being kissed on the lips, in front of the leaving steps. She was being kissed in public by her former partner, and she didn’t care who the hell walked by at that moment because shit, she deserved this. This was happiness. He was declaring something publicly to anyone that walked by them, and didn’t give two shits who saw.

She was winning. 2021 was giving her everything she had ever wanted out of life. Ever since she had met this devoted, irritatingly faithful (though this was advantageous to her now, she would never have to worry about him being undercover and receiving a blowjob while she listened on the other end of the microphone), infuriating idiot all she wanted was to be chosen by him. To be his partner in life. There had never been space for anyone else in her life, because his presence filled so much of her space that they were one galaxy that stretched for light-years. This was all she had ever wanted out of life – to have the two most important people in her life be part of her life…all the time.

Wrapping her hand around the back of his neck, she began to giggle when her thumb hit the earpiece of his sunglasses and they almost fell off of his head. This caused him to pull back and just like that, their public display of affection was finished. Her smile was even more radiant after that kiss, and all Elliot wanted to do for the rest of his life was make her this happy. To make her smile this much. She grabbed his hand once more as they walked back to where they’d both parked their respective vehicles. Her vehicle was parked in front of his, and as she watched him walk to his, she admired the view.

“See you later, El.” She turned and slid into the driver’s seat, turning the ignition over and pulling away from the curb.


When she arrived back at the 1-6, she walked into her office, sitting down in her chair and leaning her head back for a small moment to collect herself. Shutting off her giddiness, she went to work, checking her e-mails, responding, and updating her calendar with upcoming meetings, briefings, budget meetings, everything that she never imagined she would be responsible for. Reaching for the file folders on the corner of her desk, she began to open them up one by one and check over the reports that her Detectives had filled out. But, her thoughts kept drifting to the Courthouse steps.

She had always felt that those steps were cursed. People had been shot and killed on them, people had assaulted other people on them, people had eviscerated other people’s characters on those steps. He had surprised her today, at the foot of those steps – by wanting to put a label on them. She knew unequivocally what they were, and had told him in no uncertain terms what they were. They were friends, learning to navigate the term with where they were now – because they could never be what they once were again, not with the lingering thing that they had begun to acknowledge. They were more than friends; they were cosmically tied together. They were partners.  She wanted more. He wanted more. They both wanted more.

But no one wanted it more than she did.

Their makeout sessions had only increased their intensities over the last few nights. If she were being honest, they were actually hot. They left her wanting more. God, they left her yearning for more. Being with him was exhilarating and she couldn’t believe just how much more filled out he had gotten with age. He was like a fine wine. She wanted a drink. He was in the best shape of his life, and by some form of providence or maybe mercy, she was going to be the lucky bitch that benefitted from it all. He was sculpted and cut from granite, a true Adonis.

The man had lifted her up. He lifted her up. He pinned her against the wall. She would be lying if she didn’t admit that it had once been a very vivid fantasy of hers to be kissed like that, to be taken against the wall. But now, she felt like it would probably be an extremely dangerous undertaking. She’d probably get injured somehow, sprain an ankle or something. But it didn’t mean that she didn’t want to try. Good God, she wanted to try.

Stuck in her musings, she hadn’t noticed that Fin was standing in the doorway, leaning against the frame as he watched his oldest friend.

“You look happy, Captain.”

“You never call me that, Fin.”

“Liv.” Fin amended, smirking. “When you gonna make me rich?” he took a seat across from her desk. She laughed, the genuine laugh that he had forgotten she was capable of. It was the genuine laugh that sometimes when she was talking to Noah she would let out, but this was unbridled happiness.

“How about the annual Christmas party?” she winked, “Why do you want to collect on this so bad?”

“I want to get Phoebe something nice.” He shrugged. “Cragen actually has the largest take on this whole deal, to be honest though. He was always waiting for the two of you to get your heads out of your asses. If he hurts you, I’ll cut him or call my rope guy.”

“Your rope guy?” she smirked, “You have a rope guy?”

“Don’t you have a rope guy?”

“No. I have a shoeprint guy and a knife girl.” She answered, shrugging. “Never got around to getting a rope guy.”

“Everyone should have a rope guy.” Fin laughed. “So, how serious is this thing?”

“What thing?”

“C’mon, Liv. I do have eyes.”

“How serious are you and Phoebe?” Olivia retorted.

“Alright. My bad. Has he met Noah?”

“Yes.” Olivia answered, folding her hands on her desk, leaning forward.

“And?”

Olivia smirked, remembering the first actual conversation that they’d had before dinner two night ago. “He threatened him with bodily harm and made sure to tell him that he knows other cops in other cities and he also knows attorneys.”

“Remind me to get your kid an ice cream cone.”

“They like each other. He’s been really good with him over the last few days.”

“Listen,” Fin stood up, “As long as you’re happy then I’m happy for you, Liv. I might think he’s an ass, but if he makes you happy…”

“Thanks, Fin.” Olivia stood as well, opening her arms for a hug. “Get back to work, Sergeant.”

“Okay, Captain.”


That night, she decided to leave the precinct before her Detectives. It was around five o’clock and she wanted to get home. For the first time in twenty-some-odd years, she looked forward to getting home early. She’d gotten ribbed with the fact that she was leaving the earliest she’d ever left without being sent home by a superior officer, but not before Fin had finally told everyone to stick a sock in it and smiled as he watched her walk out of the precinct with a bounce in her step.

Olivia Benson was happy.

Arriving at her apartment, she heard voices and laughter and when she opened the front door, she was met with a sight she wasn’t quite prepared for. Instead of walking in to see Lucy sitting on the couch next to Noah, she walked in to see Elliot leaning against the wall watching Eli and Noah doing some sort of dance and laughing about it as Noah directed the older boy how to properly move for the song. Smiling, she placed her keys in the bowl next to the door and as she moved next to Elliot she noticed Katie and Liz were in her kitchen, moving around one another as they were preparing dinner. Placing her hand on Elliot’s shoulder, he placed his hand on top of her and turned to smile at her.

“Wow.” She whispered, taking it all in and feeling a warm fuzzy feeling radiating through her limbs as she just stood there for a moment. This was three-fifths of his children in her apartment with him and they were including her and Noah in what appeared to be a family night. She had asked him for dinner and had been prepared to make food, but this…well, this was something she could honestly get used to.

“Why don’t you go take a shower and get into comfortable clothes for the night, Liv? We got this covered.” He spoke softly, smiling at her. Before she could really respond, her son had seen that she had walked into the door and ran over to her, throwing his arms around her waist.

“Hi Mom! I’m teaching Eli how to do this dance then Lizzie says we can watch a movie after dinner!” He bounced away before she could respond and Elliot just chuckled watching the dumbfounded expression on her face.

“I think a shower sounds delightful.” She whispered, walking through the apartment. When she reached the kitchen, Katie and Liz both walked up to her and gave her a hug, telling her they were happy to see her and she should go get a shower and changed to make herself comfortable and dinner would be ready by the time she got out. She thanked each of them and continued on her way into the bedroom.

“I hope you don’t mind.” Elliot’s voice came from the doorway as she stood facing the wall, taking a few deep breaths, her fingers interlocked behind her head. “Lizzie wanted to see you because it’d been a few weeks. And Katie called me earlier this afternoon to tell me that Eli asked her to bring him by to get a few things to take to Maureen’s until he moves back in with me at the end of August. When Katie saw Liz, they told me that they wanted to make dinner for all of us. So, I told Lucy she could go home early tonight and that we had it covered. She was grateful, I think. She just smiled and thanked me. I don’t know what she was thanking me for.”

Olivia smiled, listening to him ramble about everything and nothing at the same time. He was cute when he was flustered. She decided this a long time ago, but seeing him stumble over what he was saying just cemented her opinion.

“I’m happy to see them. I’m thrilled to see them. As long as they’re gone before 10 pm, I’m happy to see them now.” She lowered her voice as she placed her hand on his cheek, the other resting in the middle of his chest over his heart. “I think you’ll make sure they go before 10 pm.”

At this statement, she took a step back and moved about her room, gathering the clothes she was going to wear after her shower. Elliot wasn’t paying attention to anything she was grabbing, but if he had – he might’ve tossed them all out then and there. Food be damned. He walked out of the bedroom and joined the kids in the front room as Olivia walked into her bathroom and shut the door, a huge grin on her face.


Sitting at the dining room table, she was surrounded by Eli, Katie, Liz, Noah, and Elliot. It felt so right to her. Watching Katie interact with Noah, she wondered how the hell she’d survived the last ten years without any of his children or even him in her life. She had her squad, and the occasional boyfriend, - but this…this was something more. This was everything. This was family. She always loved and protected his family, they had become her family – and ten years ago, they all just disappeared along with their father. She should’ve looked up his children. She should’ve stayed in contact with all of the children.

She thought about the people sitting in the room and couldn’t help but feel like they all had defied the odds to be where they were.

 Katie, who she had helped accept responsibility for her actions, whom she had arrested and gotten help before she found herself in a grave before twenty. She loved Katie, and to see her thriving and successful and well-grounded…it brought tears to her eyes, especially because of her occupation now, helping advocate for rape survivors.

Lizzie, of whom she and Elliot had found her elementary school photo on a pedophile website back in the day – Elliot had beaten the shit out of the perp before she had gotten to him, but when she did, they managed to get the guy to delete the photo and Lizzie had been spared future harassment.

Eli, of whom Olivia held when he was merely seconds old. Eli, who’s first breath had come out of a car crash and his mother flat-lining in the back of an ambulance as his heart beat separately from her for the first time. Eli was always going to be special to her, and at the same time, he was also a painful reminder of what could have been hers, what could have been theirs. Despite all of that, she still loved the child. She knew he didn’t remember her as well as she remembered him, but she would always be his Livia.

Elliot had always tried to spare his family from his job. But it turns out his job always found a way to infiltrate his family whether or not he did anything or not. One-by-one they’d all been affected by his job.

Noah. Her sweet boy, her sweet boy that she had rescued from pedophiles after he had been put in a drawer in a hotel room. Noah, who had the biological mother who was a prostitute that had been raped and set afire. Noah, who had the rapist pimp of a father that had gotten shot in the courthouse by Uncle Nick.

Then, there was Elliot. Elliot Joseph Stabler Senior. The son of the NYPD cop who had a volatile temper. The son of a woman who had the same disorder that his second-born had inherited. Elliot who had siblings he probably hadn’t spoken to in years. She would encourage him to make amends with them in time, because she understood how important it was to have the people who witnessed your life in the earliest phases to be present. Elliot, who had gotten married at 17 years old because it was his responsibility as a Catholic to atone for his and Kathy’s lapse in judgement. Elliot, who had fallen in love with is partner at work on accident. Elliot, who always sacrificed everything for his children to ensure they had the type of life he always wanted to give them. Elliot…the one true love of her life.

Finally, there was her. She was the daughter of a rapist and a NYU professor of Literature who was also a raging alcoholic because of the trauma she had endured that had given her a daughter. A daughter that was selfless and fought for everybody all the time. A daughter that sought to help survivors do just that, survive and not fall victim to the black hole that their assaults have left in their hearts…in their souls. The woman who had beaten a man within an inch of his life because she had to. Because to survive meant fighting. When she was backed into a corner, Olivia never once allowed herself to give into the flight response. No, Olivia was all fight. She’d fight for Elliot. She’d fight for his children. She’d fight for justice. She was a warrior.

The easy laughter and conversation was fulfilling, healing, and restorative. She felt pieces of her heart healing. Pieces that she wasn’t even aware had been broken. Pieces that had been fractured for so long that she hadn’t even noticed. Surrounded by these people, she didn’t feel out of place, she didn’t feel pressured to say or do anything. It felt right. It felt perfect.

At one point, she caught Elliot watching her, a small grin on his face, his hand clenched in a fist resting beneath his jaw. She stared at him back. Memorizing the way his eyes would light up when one of the kids would make a joke and the rest of them would laugh at the punchline. She was memorizing the way his smile seemed to reach his eyes and the laugh lines that were evident on the skin of his face. Resting her own head in the palm of her hand she felt like her heart was going to burst.

She’d get lost in his icy eyes. She’d dive in and not give two shits whether or not she drowned. She was happy. This was bliss.

She was staring at him again, longer than necessary because of his shirt. That fucking shirt he was wearing was causing a four-alarm fire inside of her body and she shifted uncomfortably in her chair, crossing and uncrossing her legs a few times.

He noticed she was staring and his brows shot up, his eyes said it all to her. Olivia, are you undressing me?  

She was caught, damn. Utilizing their unspoken connection in a crowded room was actually kind of a turn-on, if she were going to be honest. So, reaching for her wine glass in front of her, she smiled as she took a drink, not breaking eye contact with him for one second.

He watched her actions and narrowed his eyes for a moment. Olivia Benson was a minx and she was going to be the death of him. It was a fact.

 She’s almost grateful no one got a photo of them at Fin’s not-wedding reception that they’d been to. The look she was giving him that night might’ve scared him into running back to Italy.

 She was free to devour the man with her eyes and to touch him. She still couldn’t quite wrap her head around that one…she was free to touch, without any guilt. Just like he was free to touch her now, without guilt. He was free to kiss her. She absolutely loved his kisses. She loved his hands and the way they touched her tenderly. Someday, she’d ask for the touch to be slightly more aggressive, she’d ask for wanton passion. She’d ask for him to combust with her, she’d pull him to the edge and ask for him to take the leap with her, to trust her with his life as he had done quite literally many times before.

For now, however, she’d take the quiet tenderness and sensuality because after the long, slow burn they’d had building up to now…it was absolutely perfect.

At 8 o’clock, Olivia had managed to convince Noah to take a shower instead of a bath for the first time in history, and he had gotten out twenty minutes later and was sitting on the couch with Liz, watching the promised movie on the television. Liz had made a bowl of popcorn for the two of them to share, and seemed to have a new little best friend, he had taken an immediate liking to the youngest daughter, who funny enough, was almost thirty years old.

At approximately 8:30 pm, Katie decided that she had to get going because she had work in the morning and Eli had to get dropped off at Maureen’s after stopping by the apartment next door and grabbing some of his things that he hadn’t initially taken with him after the intervention.

Lizzie seemed to be very good with Noah, and Olivia was sure that if she had asked the young woman, she would watch him in a heartbeat in a pinch. As the two older adults stood at the sink washing dishes, they glanced over to watch their two kids tossing popcorn into the air and attempting to catch it in their mouths. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you were witnessing an eight-year-old and a fourteen-year-old on the couch. Not two kids with a twenty-year difference between them.

“Liz loves to babysit her friends’ kids when she’s not busy with performances or workshops.” Elliot spoke in a hushed tone so the other two on the couch didn’t hear them. “She can’t wait for September.”

“I bet. She does Broadway now, right?” Olivia asked, her eyes had a jovial youthfulness in them that made the year seem like 2003 instead of 2021. “I always knew she would do well on Broadway.”

“Well, she also studied Shakespeare – she loves theater in general. But, Broadway seems to be her forte.”

“I see what you did there.”

“No, but seriously. She played soccer for a while in College until she broke her ankle her sophomore year. She had to reevaluate her plans.”

“She’s brilliant, El. All your kids are brilliant. You are a good father.” She nudged him, “You’re really good with Noah as well. And you two just met. I always wondered if you two would be as thick as thieves.” She winked, “Is she dating anyone?”

“I don’t think she’s dating anyone, she just got out of a long-term relationship with Charlie and I know she’s been talking to Oscar for a while.”

“Who was Charlie? Was he good to her?” Olivia grabbed one of the glasses that Elliot had just handed to her, as she dried it with the towel.

“Charlie was a very polite, respectful, kind, and talented young woman.” Elliot looked at her from the corner of his eye.

“Good for her.” She paused for a moment, “Who’s Oscar?”

Elliot shrugged, “Some coworker of Katie’s.” He now handed the skillet to her that he had just finished scrubbing. Olivia, seeing the amount of dishes she had stacked on the drying rack carefully balanced the pan on top and held her hands up, willing the thing to topple over but feeling successful when nothing moved. Elliot smiled at this odd sort of achievement she seemed to be celebrating and glanced over toward the living room. The two on the couch had gone quiet and he could only assume that Noah had fallen asleep and Liz was probably watching by herself, in quiet, her arm slung around the kid’s shoulder.

He looked down at her. If someone would’ve told him last year that he would be standing in the middle of the kitchen washing dishes with Olivia and being free to reach down and tilt her head up toward his, kissing her…well, he would’ve told them they were on hallucinogenic drugs. It was this thought that made him smirk as he did just that, tilted her head up towards his and planted a kiss on her lips.

With a contented sigh, she walked out of the Kitchen to the living room and motioned for Elliot to stand next to her. A smile was still present on her face as she watched him walk over to the couch and gather her son in his arms making his way to Noah’s room to tuck him in. Sensing that she now had no reason to stay behind, Lizzie stood and folded the throw, tossing it over the back of the couch and walked over to Olivia.

“Thanks for having us over, Liv. Noah’s a good kid, you’ve done a great job. I always knew you’d be a good mom.” she gave her a hug. “Rich says he’s sorry he couldn’t make it. He’s been picking up extra shifts. I had a good time. And anytime you need a babysitter before September just let me know.”

“I absolutely will keep you in mind, Liz. Maybe Rich can make it next time, right?” Olivia smiled at the younger woman. “Be safe getting home.”

“I will, it’s not far.” She gathered her light jacket and pulled it tightly around her, waiting by the front door for her dad to come out of Noah’s room. When he finally did, she gave her father a quick hug and then checked her phone, her ride was downstairs.

After the door closed behind Lizzie, Elliot locked the deadbolt and pulled the chain across. She reached her hand out toward him as he grasped it in his and she pulled him along behind her, “Follow me, Detective.” she glanced over her shoulder at him, squeezing his hand as they walked through the kitchen toward the bedroom.

“Watching your six, Captain.” his voice cracked a little.

This was shaping out to be a very interesting week and an even more interesting year.

Chapter Text

Mastaba
Chapter 18 – Climax


There were moments in both of their lives that neither of them could ever forget. Moments which had occurred prior to their partnership, during their partnership, and in absentia of their partnership. Now, they both were relishing in every single small moment that they spent together, committing them to memory, trying to fill all the spaces where 10 years’ worth of moments were missing. They were trying to reconnect the threads that had been tying them together that had frayed. Even though they hadn’t spoken during that time, their strings had remained connected. The connection they shared was not a simple one, - it was transcendental. It was complicated.

They had tried to ignore the pull toward one another for years, but even as binary stars that dance around one another for eons do, eventually they pull together and collide. There was no denying the pull any longer.

They were partners. They’d always been partners; from the moment they’d been assigned to one another. They balanced each other out in every possible, - he was fiery passion, anger at injustices served upon the children and women and victims of heinous crimes. She was flowing compassion and empathy, understanding that life wasn’t always fair and the best anyone could ever do was overcome the tragedies and keep on surviving. Keep on breathing, keep fighting.

He was an ocean with a storm raging and waves that would crash into one another on their way to shore.  She was the shoreline, resolute and constant. When the water would crash against the shore it would pull pieces of the ground out in the retreating waves, floating and falling to the bottom to build up the floor. For every pull the ocean provided, the land would pull another piece to it. For every push they gave one another, there was a pull. When the situation was reversed, she was rage and he was calm. It was always a give and take, a push and pull – but they had never had an outright collision. There were always borders, boundaries, walls, constraints, invisible lines.

A metal band around a finger, a piece of paper with two signatures, a set of morals, and respect for beliefs. A badge, a gun, a trust.

Despite all of that, gravity had always pulled them with such a quiet ferocity that like a river that flowed through the same rock for years, it eventually wore through. The universe deemed their bond too strong, their gravity to heavy, their lifetimes too passing to deny their collision any longer. The doomsday clock had run out, and a new epoch was about to be born. A very new beginning that like their bond would persist and resist any and all interference.

As her hand fit into his, she could feel the clamminess in his palm as his fingers twitched between her own. There had been too many missed opportunities between the two of them, too many almost moments, too much history to ignore and too much chemistry to deny. The layers she’d built to keep others out had dissipated almost instantly with him. He had the soluble material needed to melt through every single layer.

When they had kissed for the first time, it had felt like her soul had let out a huge sigh of relief, it had whispered to her that you’re finally home. You’re finally on your way to being whole…at last.

After crossing the threshold into her room, she dropped his hand and twitchy fingers, turning her back to him as she pinched the lock on her door and turned it. Allowing her hand to linger on the handle for a moment she traced the line on the lock mechanism with her thumbnail. She could hear his steady breathing behind her, and she would be lying if she didn’t admit that she was suddenly feeling nervous as hell.

Spinning around, she came face-to-face with this marvelous man, with this additional history and trauma between them. But at their very cores, they knew one another intrinsically. They’d always felt one another in their blood. Their eyes would lock and suddenly they were the only two people in the universe that mattered at that moment in time. It left them both wanting more. They were every single bit the same person. They were home to one another.

Even when they weren’t around one another for those ten years, they’d felt each other, like their souls had left an imprint on one another during the time they had spent together that persisted in the absence of their physical presence. Their instincts and words whispered into the other’s brain and heart when they had needed it the most. They’d needed one another in a desperate, human way.

She wanted to build a home with him. She was positive that because of the work he’d been doing in therapy lately that his foundation would be sturdy enough to build on top of. She was positive that their bones they’d initially erected were good enough to drywall, they were good enough to put new windows into, that they had run the necessary wiring and plumbing through. The foundation and bones were good for their home.

They’d quite literally placed their lives in one another’s hands and neither had disappointed the other in that respect. The ten years he’d been gone aside, she would still trust him with her life. She had trusted him with her life, and he had shielded her from the barrage of gunfire. When her hand had reached up and touched his warm cheek that day in the car, she was relieved that there was no blood, that they had both survived.

That’s when she decided that she would trust him regardless of the fact he had left. That’s when she decided to tell herself that it was okay for her to pursue her feelings towards her old partner. He’d always be her safe place, he’d always been her home, she just hadn’t had the opportunity to move in until now.

Her eyes lit up while she was thinking these things, the silence between the two of them was not uncomfortable for those few moments, if anything, it was almost as though they’d had the entire conversation amongst themselves. Deciding that this was okay. That they were ready for this next step. His eyes just studied her face, taking her in and a small sense of pride and relief crossed his features as she brought her hand up and rubbed her shoulder.

“Baciami.” She whispered, she could feel her heart pounding against her sternum as she spoke.

His eyes that had been watching, observing her all night lit up at her request. She’d integrated herself so seamlessly with his kids throughout the years, that seeing her interact with them always brought an immeasurable sense of contentment to his heart. She’d always had the ability to fit within his life in some aspect throughout the years. She’d always been his signal fire when it felt as though he was being attacked in the middle of the night. She was the lighthouse on the shore as the waves tossed him listlessly in the midst of a severe gale.

Her voice had the ability to bring him back to the land of the living even when he was mere seconds away from succumbing to fatal injuries. She’d been the face and voice he’d seen multiple times that he’d been shot and stabbed while on the job years prior. She would come from nowhere, cradling him and holding him near to her, her scent permeating his senses, begging and pleading for him to stay with her. She was an angel who had grabbed hold of her fiery sword of justice and wielded it for three-quarters of her life. He loved her intelligence, the sharp looks she would carry in her eyes when she knew something without a doubt. And here she was now, standing in front of him in her gray capri leggings and blue NYPD t-shirt, her hair in loose natural waves, not a smidgen of make-up on her freckled cheeks, asking him to kiss her.

His fingers were itching to reach out and touch her, to ask her to run away with him to absolutely anywhere. He didn’t care, as long as they were together, he knew he would be alright. He wanted her skin to burn his fingertips and make an even deeper impression on his heart. The threads that had tied them together for eons, he wanted them to knot a million times more, he wanted to repair the frayed edges that had been stretched during his absence.

He wanted their souls to finally find peace and solitude within one another. It felt like every lifetime he might’ve lived before had collapsed and this moment was everything that it had been speeding toward. It was always supposed to lead here. The minute she locked the door with her fingers, trapping them inside the room, into her personal space, - he knew his life and her life would never be the same ever. It was the beginning of something marvelous.

Her face was turned up looking at him as she took a step closer, and he smiled as she repeated her previous demand, “Sei un coglione! Baciami. Toccami.”

Fuck. Olivia Benson speaking Italian, whether or not she was calling him an asshole or not and telling him to kiss and touch her, he’d take that a million times over and over again. She didn’t have to repeat herself a third time.

He might’ve been an idiot, but hearing her speak Italian would never not be sexy as fucking hell.

He reached his hand down and threaded his fingers through her natural waves, his palm resting on her neck as she closed her eyes pressing her chin into his wrist. When their lips met, he backed her into the door and a soft moan escaped her lips as her lower back was pressed into the wood. The vibration of the moan reverberated into Elliot’s soul and the reaction was almost immediate. His tongue slipped into her mouth as she pulled him even closer to her with her arm wrapped around his neck. Their tongues slid against each other in a desperate, needy, yet soft and sensual way.

Their chests were pressed against one another, and as the contact became so much that nothing could have fit between the two of them, she felt her nipples harden in her bra as his chest made contact with hers through the material.

His hands began to travel from holding her head to wrap his arms around her waist, encircling her as he spun them around, backing her toward the bed. While they walked, her teeth found his bottom lip and she nipped at it as a growl escaped from deep within his throat.

Her fingertips brushed underneath the hem of that fucking shirt that was stretched so deliciously thin over his muscles, as she fisted the material in her hands she yanked it up and they broke apart so she could peel it off of his body and lift it over his head, she balled it up and tossed it on the ground. Freeing the man’s muscles and skin to the temperature of the room. Running her hands along his arms, she marveled at just how much muscle he was made of. While she was running her fingertips over his skin, she brushed her thumb over his Marine tattoo and situated her leg between his as she changed positions and shoved him back onto her bed.

Semper Fi.

He landed with a thud onto the mattress, his elbows propping him up as his knees were hanging off the edge of the bed. His six-pack was visible to her in this position and she also noticed that there was a deeply cut V disappearing just below the waistband of his jeans. Olivia’s eyes had darkened to a dark chocolate shade and held an intensity within them that made Elliot believe that he was now on the menu at some restaurant.

Holy fucking hell, he was beautiful. He was magnificent. He was quite the specimen of a man. She was damn lucky.

His own eyes had changed from the icy hue to one that resembled sapphires, as he looked at her. For the umpteenth time since he’d returned, since Gitano, he looked at her and didn’t see Olivia the cop, didn’t see Olivia the Captain, didn’t even see Olivia his friend. No, he saw Olivia, the woman.

She took a step closer to the bed, her knees between his as she maintained eye contact with him, her fingers playing with the hem of her own t-shirt. Debating whether or not she was ready to remove the article of clothing. He knew what he was getting into, she had told him. She felt safe with him. She felt like it was a no-brainer.

Understanding what a momentous decision and step this was to her, he spoke very quietly, “I won’t look down until you tell me to, Olivia.” she pulled that damn bottom lip into her mouth at this point, while tilting her head to study him for a moment as he traced the features of her face with his eyes. She was perfection, even her bone structure was sexy as hell.

He felt his body tremble with anticipation as she closed the distance further between the two of them, and climbed onto the bed, straddling his thighs, hovering over his legs. Her knees dug into the mattress on either side of him. It was his turn to study this magnificent woman before him. Her muscular thighs were clenching around his from where she was hovering, and he looked back up into her dark eyes. Her hands left the hem of her shirt as she trailed them up his body, her fingertips softly leaving ghosts of her touch behind. She dug her nails down his side as she brought them back toward her and used his shoulder to pull herself up further on him.

A quiet growl escaped his mouth as she brought her head down and kissed his scarred shoulder, right over where the small scars were from the gunshot wound that Bushido’s attack had left on his skin. As she bit down on his shoulder, he was surprised that she felt confident enough. He was having a hard time coming to terms that this magnificent sexy woman above him was his Olivia. He felt every single bit like the Parochial Schoolboy that had had been. He suddenly felt very inadequate experience wise compared to this minx.

“Stop thinking so loud, Elliot. Just toccami.” She licked his collarbone. Holy shit.

“You’re so fucking beautiful, Olivia.” he fell back flat on his back as he reached up and pulled her face closer to his to kiss her once more. After he had assaulted her mouth with his tongue again, he traced her jaw with kisses and down her neck, where he suckled on the scar left behind by Gitano. Once he had nipped at that special pulse-point on her neck, his kisses trailed down to her collarbone where he returned the favor of running his tongue along the hard plane of her freckled skin.

The sound that escaped her body was enough to drive him absolutely nuts.

Holy shit. Was all that he could keep thinking. His hands found themselves traveling underneath her shirt as they made contact with her warm skin around her waist. Years. He’d been thinking about touching her here for years, as his hand splayed out, running up her back his hands felt the solid continuous material of her bra.

That was curious. No snaps? Hm.

Years that they had been partners had resulted in many times he had thought about running his hands over her skin in these places. She would be leaning over or sitting a certain way and her skin would be exposed to everyone around but he had fantasized about touching her there, planting soft kisses along the sensitive skin just above her pants line.

They’d touched, but it was always small touches, hands, a shoulder, a hand over the shirt on the back. All he wanted to do was touch her, show her how loved she really was. Show her how a lover should treat her. Pay attention to her needs before his own. Yes, for the most part, he was pretty inexperienced, however, it didn’t mean that he didn’t have fantasies about his partner. Especially when he realized that he had fallen in love with her. Especially when he and Kathy had stopped having sex. This goddess above him deserved to be worshipped. Reverently.

She sat up, her body lowering on his. Her core, though clothed was directly above his pelvis. As she lowered herself down, she could feel the hardened length of him straining against his blue jeans. A moan escaped from her lips as she shifted herself, almost sliding in her pants. She was probably getting as uncomfortable in her pants as he was in his. This was intense, it was what they’d both been waiting for since they’d met.

Deciding it was now or never, she grabbed the bottom of her shirt in her hands and yanked it up, her hair falling out of the neckline as she tossed the material on top of his shirt that had been thrown down unceremoniously moments before.

Elliot’s jaw dropped at the sight before him. She was wearing a very simple yet sexy navy blue bra that had a strap just above the cup line and fastened in front. She filled it out nicely, the soft swell of her breasts now completely visible to him. She had freckles adorning her chest and shoulders. This was beyond anything he could ever have imagined. As though it were in slow motion, she reached up and unclipped the silver clasp, releasing the tension in the bra, but the material hadn’t fallen away just yet.

His fingers trailed up her sides, over her ribs, feeling the scars she had spoken about earlier that morning as he brought his hands underneath her breasts along her ribs. His thumbs grazing along the loosened material, brushing the area underneath the material with his fingertips. He moved his hands from her ribs to her shoulders in this instant, not touching the cups of the bra itself. Reaching his fingertips underneath the straps, he allowed his thumbs to stroke the skin beneath as he made eye contact with her.

She was just looking at him, marveling at her, curious. Her eyes were on fire, burning into his.

As he pushed the straps down, he let out an audible gasp. She almost recoiled but he grabbed her biceps and flipped them over, her hair splayed out on the bed behind her head as he looked down into her eyes, she pulled her hands out of the straps and left the bra’s cups to fall next to her as she lay there, naked from the waist up.

“You’re so fucking perfect, Olivia.” He looked down at her, almost rendered speechless. As his head bent down toward her, she hooked her leg around the back of his thigh, her foot locking him into place by resting in between his legs.

She wanted to bring her hands up to run from his neck down his muscular arms, but as soon as she brought her arms up, she decided to rest them across the muscles of his shoulders, pulling his head closer to her, biting down on her lip as his mouth made contact with her neck. Her fingers ached to press into the hard muscles all over his body. 

As his kisses trailed across her collarbone at an agonizingly slow pace, her eyes rolled back in her head. He was being so attentive to every single bit of skin that was exposed to him, not that she wasn’t relishing in it, especially when one of his hands had cupped her left breast and her hard nipples pressed against the palm of his hand. Gone was the clamminess that she had felt only minutes beforehand. His after squeezing and cupping the breast, his hand traveled between the two of them and as his mouth found that one sensitive spot on the side of her breast just above a scar, his hand slipped into the waistline of her leggings.

She moved her hand to rest on his forearm as his index finger found her clit and she squirmed underneath him.

His eyes met hers in surprise. “Fuck, Olivia.” He whispered, removing his hand from her pants as he moved from between her legs. She wanted to scream at the absence of his warmth and hard body against hers but before she could protest, he had placed either of his hands on the side of her hips and was looking her in the eyes. “Are you okay?” He asked, and she nodded, as he pulled her leggings off, discarding them with their shirts, standing and looking down at her from the side of the bed.

“Here, I feel like you’re overdressed.” She sits up on the bed now, with him standing between her legs, looking down at her with her bare chest and long legs exposed to him. She reached forward and unfasted the belt that had been pressing into her moments beforehand. Yanking it out of his loops, she unbuttons his pants and unzips them, pressing them down with her hands, her eyes traveling up his muscular legs and to the V that is all too prominent now.

He’s going to be the death of me. She thinks to herself, her eyes full of lust. Maybe we can both just die here. That’d be okay.

His boxer-briefs were straining to contain his erection, and she can see there’s a spot of wetness. She wants to savor every single moment she can with him tonight, when she sees that small spot on his underwear, she decides what does she have to lose at this point. Hooking her fingers in the waist of the briefs, she slowly pulls them down, freeing him from the material.

A smirk breaks out on her face as he looks down at her, surprised at her boldness, but at the same time, completely taken aback by the initiative she was exhibiting. This was Captain Benson. His former partner, and as his eyes and hers locked in to one another he felt the warmth of her hand wrap around him as she moved closer, as her name falls from his lips in a whisper, “Olivia.” Still smirking, she traces the tip of him with her fingertip spreading the precum from the top to just underneath his head. He jumps at the feeling of her ministrations on his sensitive tip and before he could register what was happening, he feels her tongue move over the length of him. She hums against him as his hand reaches down and brushes her hair out from in front of her face, over her shoulder. He’s looking down at her and she’s magnificent.

Her mouth closed over him as she closed her eyes, taking in this moment and allows her other hand to rest against his stomach, tracing his muscles as she licks and sucks. He feels even harder in her mouth and she doesn’t care how the rest of the night goes, she just knows without a doubt that she needs to feel him. She needs this connection; she needs to combust with him. She needs the collision. Releasing him with a slight pop, she pulls back and looks up at him as he reaches down and pulls her up to her feet, his mouth seeking hers more frantically as he kisses his way from her mouth, down her breasts, her stomach, and he picks her up and tosses her onto the bed.

This action elicits a laugh from the woman as he climbs over her, pulling her underwear over her long legs, spreading them with his knees as he lays over the top of her, drawing her breasts one at a time into his mouth, sucking and teasing her nipples as she moans and runs her hands over his head, her fingernails digging into his shoulders, her legs wrapping around his. She’s close to an orgasm when he releases one of her nipples from between his teeth as he looks down at her.

She reaches up and pulls his mouth to hers, widening her legs and scooting so that he’s pressed against the inside of her thigh, her wetness evident to him by the fact she’s slick and warm.

“El, I need you.” She moans, “I need you in my blood.”

 She wants everything from him. She wants to give him everything.  He wants to take it all. He wants to give it all to her. The world? It’s hers. His heart? She’s had it for years. His soul? It was never his to hang onto anyways.

When he situates himself at her entrance and slides in slowly, she adjusts to him and he knows. He knows. She knows. They are home. It was coming home for both of them. They were meant to be connected like this, they were never meant to ever not be like this.

Fuck. Move.” She bites his ear as his head is near hers and he brings himself down as he starts to move. His hands tracing small patterns up and down her side as he thrusts in and out of her, she bites down on his shoulder when the first orgasm hits her, with no assistance needed from either of their fingers.

This man who is inside her has always been inside of her in a different way. But now, she’s given herself to him completely and she knows that there’s no coming back from this. There’s no one else she’d rather be beneath like this, coming completely unglued. She is coming undone but he’s putting so much of her back together in this moment. As her legs wrap around she manages to roll them on their sides and as they’re facing one another, he’s got her leg hooked over his elbow.

They’re facing one another as she places her hand on his cheek, looking into his eyes as he’s languidly fucking her.

“God El. Just…come with me.” She whispers, her eyes and his locking into one another and as he reaches his climax, she pulls their heads together, her tongue invading his mouth at the same time that her walls clamp down on his shaft, which in turn pulsates as he releases.

Their bodies covered in sweat, their mouths locked, their eyes closed, and her arms wrapped around him, with him still inside of her she is free. He’s grounded.

This is really where they’ve always known it would end. They’re part of each other. As the kiss is broken she smiles at him, her freckles visible in the light as he traces the scars on her ribs. No matter what had been taken from them, they knew that there were no secrets between the two of them.

Her eyes travel to his arm where his tattoo is as she thinks about the note she had received years before.

Semper Fi.

She’d be his always faithful.

She thinks to what started this whole ordeal with Richard Wheatley at that moment and realizes that whatever Mastaba they want to build, they can put every single ounce of themselves in it together, because that’s where it always was. They were always together.

He looks into her sleepy eyes as he remembers the last letter he had written her, the one Richard had recited to them.


Dear Olivia Margaret Benson,

I know I had said that I had written out my thoughts to read that night at the Banquet for what I would say about you, about your career, about your drive for justice, - but that’s a lie. That’s not what THIS letter is. This letter, it’s different. I want to begin though, by thanking you for a few things. I know what you’re probably thinking, I was your partner, ‘it’s what partners do’…Olivia, thank you. Thank you for that day in November when you drove Kathy to the doctor and then you guys had the accident. Thank you for helping bring my son into the world that day. I’d like to think you gave him some of your compassion, fearlessness, and survival instincts that day. Thank you for devoting your life to getting justice for those who cannot fight for themselves.

I’m so confused about everything, Olivia. I knew when I left, it wasn’t under the best circumstances and for that, I am terribly sorry. I know sorry will never quite cover the hurt I caused and I’m going to do my best to make it up to you for the rest of our lives. I spent years getting to know you, Olivia. Not my partner, no, but you as a person. You guarded yourself from everyone but somehow, by some form of grace, some form of luck – you allowed me in. You told me things that you never told anyone before me, you told me things no one knew about you.

I knew after Gitano that I was in love with you, Olivia. That’s why I said I needed to not screw it up. But you left me.

Fighting for justice by your side, it was something that sustained me. When no one else could break through my barriers, you knew single-handedly how to dismantle every single one of them. I couldn’t imagine not spending a day without you by my side, but because we kept choosing one another over the public, over the job, I felt that if I would have stayed, something was going to give. Something was going to break or one of us would have to make the ultimate sacrifice and I couldn’t picture a world that you weren’t walking next to me or at least walking on and breathing, fighting, surviving.

I lived for the past ten years in the memories of the slightest touches you and I would share. The moments you’d be looking up something on the computer and your hand would stroke the back of my hand. Walking down the streets of New York side-by-side and bumping into one another. Sharing sandwiches, sharing drinks. I knew your soul and you knew mine. You were a burning flame in my heart that would consume all of me when you’d look over at me just-so.

The moments when one of us would get injured, it would break me. It’d break you, I saw it.

The moment Gitano cut you, I thought I was going to lose you. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to lose any part of you.

After Jenna’s shooting in the precinct that day, I couldn’t help but think – what if it had been you shot and not Sister Peg? I would’ve died, Olivia.

I loved you so fucking much that I had started to debate whether or not staying in my marriage all those times when I could’ve walked away to you was the smart idea. I started to suck as a father, the only reason I was ever any good at it was because you reminded me that I had kids and I was a good father. You looked out for my family, Olivia. You became my family.

But when it came down to it, I had to make a decision. It was two against six. Six won. The odds were never in our favor back then. My marriage wasn’t one of love anymore toward the end, it was an obligation. Conversation took work, not like when we would sit in a car all night and talk about everything.

I have missed you in a desperate, simple human way, Olivia. The day I left I ripped out my heart and left it in New York. I’ve tried to forget you but the truth of the matter is I cannot forget you. I thought I was prepared to miss you a great deal, but I was unprepared for the agony that I actually experienced. Love persists despite absence. It persists regardless of sacrifice, even when you never requested anything of me in return. You couldn’t. We were both bound by different beliefs. You in the sacredness of a partnership, and me in sacred sacrament of marriage in my religion. Love grows in the darkest places. You knew all my darkness, and I knew all of yours. Despite all of that, I think we both fell in love with one another. Despite all the sadness, the strife, the struggle – we loved one another wholly. When I was in your presence, you were the light that could always pull me from the darkness. .

You were the lighthouse on the shore in the middle of the Perfect Storm. You were my truest treasure, and I couldn’t ever tell you this before now. I wish I could explain this to you better, but I cannot. I think I was stupid, Olivia, because I missed what was right in front of me during the time Kathy and I had been separated. I think I missed looking at my best friend and seeing her potential in my life even greater than just a partner, greater than a best friend. I miss you as a woman, I missed seeing your eyes speaking to mine in silent understanding that we loved one another deeper than anyone could possibly fathom.

I’m sorry I didn’t say goodbye. If I heard your voice, I wouldn’t have gone. I would’ve stayed with you. I couldn’t do that to my kids. I hoped you would understand, I hoped that you knew me well enough to know I would never willingly leave you unless I had a reason.

I love you, Olivia. You are the one true love of my life. You made me believe in soulmates. I sent you my medallion and mini-badge because I knew you’d get it. I knew you’d understand that I would always come back for you, eventually.

You made me understand that sometimes hope isn’t good enough, but sometimes it’s all we have.

I hope you’ll forgive me.

I hope to be the man you trusted.

I hope you’ll let me back in.

I hope we can try this time around.

Faithfully yours,

El.