The second Richard Wheatley says, “another woman”, it takes everything in him to not react. He can’t stop staring at him, his brain trying to catch up while his body is screaming.
The roaring in his ears is deafening and he feels his hands start to tingle with the need to just find her. Make sure that she is okay. But first he makes sure to catch every word that comes out of Richard’s mouth. He looks down after Richard turns his attention back towards Angela. He hears “pretty brown eyes” and his teeth grit tighter together. To Angela, it seems like Richard is complimenting her, but Elliot knows he's seen her.
Elliot tilts his head back, tries not to let either of them see how affected he is. But in reality, he is planning his escape. Does he just call her? Or does he go to SVU, grab her, grab Noah, and hide them?
“What was her name again Elliot?” Angela is walking out as he and Richard stare each other down. Elliot’s eyes almost dare him to say her name. To make any reference to her. But Richard decides otherwise, which is probably good for both of their sakes because Elliot isn’t sure if he would’ve been able to hold himself back.
He can’t bring himself to escort Angela back to her cell. The second he passes a uniform, he hands her off to him.
“Elliot.” She calls. He ignores her, the need to hear her voice overwhelming his senses, his entire arms are tingling now, his chest tight. He wonders briefly if he’s having a heart attack.
He walks briskly down the hall, not wanting to seem in any hurry in case Angela knows more than he’s previously thought.
The second he’s outside, he’s got his phone to his ear, waiting for her to answer. He paces back and forth, unable to stop moving because fuck what if something happened. Her voicemail picks up and he almost throws his phone in frustration before he takes a deep breath.
He tells himself that throwing his phone will only further fuel his anxiety, make him take longer to make sure she’s fine, but she’s fine, he’s sure of it.
He calls SVU next. He tries to remind himself she’s a captain, she’s busy, and he hasn’t given her much reason to want to answer his calls as of late. Yet, when she doesn’t answer there, the tingling takes over his entire body. At this point, he runs to his SUV, flooring it as he spins out of the parking lot.
When he enters the street he calls Fin. Luckily for him, he answers on the second ring.
“Fin.” Elliot spits out, his eyes darting back and forth as he weaves through the mid evening traffic.
“Elliot, what’s wrong?”
“Is Liv there?” He hears Fin shuffle, presumably to look in Olivia’s office.
“No, she had something to do and then she was on her way to pick up Noah. I just got back so I must’ve missed her leave. Why what’s wrong?”
Elliot curses and slams the palm of his hand against his steering wheel.
“Richard Wheatley knew about her Fin.” He can almost hear Fin shake his head.
“Elliot, it’s not like Liv isn’t a well known figure, it’s not a surprise he knows her.”
“No Fin, he knew about her. Knew what she was to me. He knew too much. He’s in custody and I’m wondering...” he trails off.
Fin luckily picks up his sentence. “If he used her as a backup plan for when things went south.” He hears Fin’s chair scrape against the floor and hears him walking. Unbeknownst to Elliot, all Fin can imagine is William Lewis.
“I’m gonna call Lucy, see if she’s been to pick up Noah. Try her cell again, maybe we’re both just overreacting. Are you on your way here?”
Elliot nods before remembering Fin can’t see him. “I’ve got a 2 minute ETA.”
“I’ll meet you out front, if we don’t get answers, we’re going to her place.” The phone clicks and Elliot tries her again. It rings and rings, and with every ring, he feels his pulse rise. When her voicemail picks up again, he waits, feels the bile rise up his throat when he hears her voice and waits for the beep.
“Liv, you gotta call me back. It’s important, I, I just need to make sure you’re okay.” He hesitates for a second. “Liv, please, I need to hear your voice.” He’s hanging up as he pulls up to the 1-6 and Fin is standing outside, though looking decidedly calm. Fin walks up to his SUV and Elliot decides to roll down the window. Fin leans in, arms crossed on the frame.
“Lucy said Liv’s with her.” Elliot lets his head drop to his chest as a breath of relief escapes his body. He feels Fin’s look of concern, his stare burning into him.
When he finally feels his heart rate begin to fall, he looks over at Fin, who begins shaking his head.
“What the hell did he say to you?” Elliot guesses he must look like he’s lost it. And he has. His heart wasn’t going this fast during the chase with Richard, not hours earlier.
Elliot debates for a second on if he shouldn’t tell Fin. But he knows this man knows him, knows both of them, more than he cares to admit at times.
“He called her the love of my life. Described her eyes and I knew.” He trails off. It’s the first time he’s admitted to anyone, well, besides accidentally to Liv and his kids, out loud that he loves Olivia. Fin smirks, and Elliot tries not to let out a laugh with him.
“Well give her a minute or two and she should get back to you.” Fin begins to lean off the door before pausing for a second. “You sure you’re good?”
Elliot nods, realizes that his limbs have stopped tingling, his heart rate falling.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m good.” His phone rings then, Olivia’s name filling the screen. Fin removes himself from the door, and he taps it twice.
“Touch base with her. Let me know if I can help.” Elliot nods and begins rolling up his window and swiping to answer her.
“Elliot.” She blurts out before he can even say a word, sounding a little out of breath. “Elliot, what’s wrong?”
“Do you have Noah?” He can almost hear her confusion, can picture her looking at her son.
“Yeah, why?” Elliot shakes his head, trying to clear it of the anxieties from earlier.
“Can we meet somewhere? A diner, my place, your place. I just... I need to check things with you.” Olivia only hesitates for a second before she responds.
“How about my place? Noah is getting sleepy since he just had a late dance practice.” Finally, his body is almost fully relaxed. The sound of her voice, the knowledge that both she and Noah are fine, it brings him back down to Earth, able to calm most of his fears from earlier.
He drives to her place and pulls up right as she does, and she waves and gives him a small smile as she helps Noah out of the car.
He goes to open the door when he stops. He’s never met Noah, not officially, at this point. Olivia watches him as he freezes and she holds a single finger up at Noah, leaving him where he stands as she walks over to Elliot’s car.
She opens the door and leans in. “Are you coming?”
He nods, but looks over at Noah again.
Olivia sighs. “I know, but it will be fine. It’s only a matter of time anyway.”
With that, he finally brings himself to get out of his car, walking towards Liv and Noah, but looking up and down the sidewalk as he approaches.
“Noah, honey, this is my friend Elliot.” Elliot smiles at him and gives him a wave and Noah leans towards his mother. Elliot’s heart pangs as he watches Liv run her hand down his head, smoothing his hair down. “He’ll be having dinner with us tonight.” Noah nods.
“Hi Noah, it’s very nice to meet you.” Noah looks up at Liv once again and she shakes her head, looking up over Elliot’s head, a small smile gracing her face.
“Well let’s go in. Not gonna get dinner any sooner standing out here.” Noah races ahead of them then, typing the passcode to the door and holding it open for Olivia, running up the stairs once Liv’s hand is on the door to hold it for Elliot.
They head up the stairs, Elliot trying to stay close to her, even though he knows that at this point, they are as safe as they can be. At one point Olivia stops on a ledge and turns suddenly. Elliot’s trailing so close behind her that when she turns, her hair hits his face and they are almost chest to chest. Elliot has to catch himself on her, wrapping his hands around her arms so he doesn’t accidentally force them both to fall.
The look she gives him is... confusing. He can’t tell if she wants to hit him, kiss him, or yell at him. Though he suspects that he is projecting the thought that she wants to kiss him. He must stare for too long because when Olivia’s lips move, he doesn’t hear them.
“What?” He asks, shaking his head a little to clear his thoughts.
“I asked if you’re good. You’re acting like someone is about to snatch me when I’m literally two feet in front of you.” He looks down then, almost embarrassed that he had been so easily read.
“I’m good.” He says quickly, looking back up at her. “I’m good. Just... something happened today. It really unsettled me and I. I just want to make sure you’re both okay.” Liv stares at him, reaches her left hand up to pull down his right hand off her arm and into her own hand. She leaves open her right hand and he drops his other hand into hers.
“You gonna tell me?” She asks quietly, tilting her head. He nods and squeezes her hands.
“I will. After dinner, when Noah’s asleep.” She nods.
“Okay, I’m holding you to that.” She squeezes his hands in return before she slides her hands out of his and turns back around to continue their way back up the stairs.
He hesitates for a second, taken aback by the conversation they had, before he begins to follow her back up the stairs to her apartment.
Noah is standing at the door, waiting impatiently for his mother.
“Mommmmmm.” He whines. “I gotta pee, come on!” Liv laughs and picks up her pace a little, unlocks the door and Noah bolts in.
Liv walks in and Elliot hesitates at the door.
It’s odd. He’s never been to this place before. It shouldn’t surprise him that she’s moved in the past decade, but it just serves as a further reminder of more things that he has missed in his absence.
Liv is in her kitchen when she notices that Elliot isn’t trailing behind her anymore and she turns around to see him still standing in the door frame.
“You gonna come in?” She asks, leaning down to grab a pot out of a cupboard.
With that, he finally walks in and this new place is much more... brighter than her old place. He can’t place it exactly, though he’s willing to bet it has everything to do with the small touches of Noah throughout the entire apartment. He spots pictures of them scattered across the living room and on the fridge. There are pieces of Noah’s art hung on the fridge as well and he feels his heart swell because she is just such a mom.
He always knew she’d be a great mother and to see the small pieces of evidence to support as much makes his heart ache.
Finally he takes a few steps in and closes the door, only to hover just inside. He stands and just watches her as she continues to make dinner, throwing spaghetti into the pot.
Again, it’s odd. Olivia had never been the domestic type so to see her flitting around her kitchen is throwing him off once again.
Noah walks into the kitchen and he climbs on the stool behind her and immediately launches into a story about his day. Noah talks animatedly, his hands waving and Elliot can’t help but smile at him.
The longer he stands there, the more he feels like an outsider staring in. He almost walks out, sneaks back to his car and drive away, when he remembers why he’s there and he roots himself deeper to his spot. If he has any say, he isn’t going anywhere tonight.
He can’t tell if Noah is choosing to ignore him or if he has genuinely forgotten that Elliot is there and Liv hasn’t turned around yet from starting dinner to give him any clues. Suddenly though, Noah turns his stool and when he spots Elliot, he falls silent. The silence throws Olivia so much she turns over her shoulder and when she sees Noah staring at Elliot, she catches Elliot’s eyes to gesture towards the chair next to Noah.
He hesitates for a moment before he walks over and sits next to him and Noah just continues to stare.
“So you’re Elliot?” He asks and he crosses his arms across his chest and it’s such a Liv action that he fights back a smile.
“I am. And you’re Noah?” Noah nods and Elliot holds out his hand. Noah stares warily for a second and he’s about to pull away his hand when Noah reaches out and shakes it once with a nod of his head.
“How do you know my mom?” He asks and he hears Olivia take a deep breath behind them.
“I used to work with her. We were partners.” Noah turns his chair towards Olivia.
“Like Uncle Nick was your partner?” He asks her and she turns around to nod at him, catching Elliot’s eyes before she answers, holding his stare.
“Yeah baby, just like Uncle Nick.” Noah turns back towards him and squints his eyes at him, looking at him closely. Elliot is still reeling from the Uncle Nick comment and when it hits him that he would be Uncle Elliot if he had stuck around, it shreds his heart a little.
“Oookaaay.” Noah says suspiciously, drawing out the vowels of the word while he continues to eye him. He must be satisfied by what he’s told though because he jumps right back into his story with his mother, occasionally looking at Elliot to include him as well.
It throws Elliot, the fact that Noah is just so accepting of him. He reminds him of a younger Eli and Kathleen and a small smile graces his face as he watches Noah tell his mother about school, talking about his friends and their adventures of the day.
The spaghetti doesn’t take long and Noah dutifully climbs from his stool when he sees the timer hit two minutes and holds his arms out for Olivia to stack the plates and silverware for him to set the table. It’s obviously a well rehearsed routine and again, Elliot is overtaken by the feeling of watching them exist as mother and son.
Dinner is uneventful. Eventually after the table is cleared, they migrate to the living room and Noah settles between his mother and Elliot as they sit on the couch. Noah continues to chatter mindlessly, looking between both Elliot and Olivia as Elliot keeps eyeing the windows and the door.
If he’s counting correctly, he thinks he double checks that both locks are switched on the front door at least a dozen times from his position on the couch. Eventually though, Noah directs his full attention towards Elliot about a half hour before bedtime, asking him any question that pops to mind like his favorite animal, when his birthday is, and any other random thought that he wants an answer to.
Elliot catches Liv smiling at them more than once and he wonders briefly if she’s ever imagined him and her son meeting. It’s just one more blow to serve as a reminder of what he had ruined with his decade of radio silence.
When Olivia stands up to signal Noah to get ready for bed, he rotates his entire body towards her and tilts his head and Elliot can only imagine the puppy eyes she’s getting.
“But momma, can’t I stay up for just a little bit longer?” He asks, rising onto his knees, his hands making a tiny fist in a plea in front of him. Olivia though holds strong and Elliot watches as she tries to hold back a laugh.
“Oh no little man, I let you stay up fifteen minutes past your bedtime as it is. You’ll see Elliot again, so tell him good night so we can get ready for bed.” Noah huffs and then turns towards Elliot.
“Night Elliot.” He launches forward to hug him and Elliot is caught off guard but wraps his arms around him anyway. He tries not to look at Liv, doesn’t know if he has crossed a boundary letting Noah hug him because this night has just been so much, so fast.
He doesn’t see Liv’s face before they head down the hallway to their bedrooms and suddenly the entire day has slammed into Elliot like a train.
With them gone, he takes the moment alone to physically go check the locks on the door and walks around the living room and kitchen to check all the locks on the windows as well even though Olivia lives on the seventh floor.
He tries to soothe the anxiety rising in him, the reason for his visit coming back full force and now that he’s spent time with Noah, the need to protect him rises even more viciously than it had earlier. He walks back to the living room and wanders over to the bookshelf with pictures scattered amongst it and looks at each one.
As he moves from picture to picture, so many of them are of her and Noah and it fills his heart with joy at the love this boy has brought her. He spies a couple pictures of her team, Fin and the blonde that he’s seen occasionally whose name he has yet to catch.
Right when he’s about to walk away though, he spots a small frame tucked behind a larger photo of Noah with two little girls. He thinks he spots Cragen and he carefully slides the larger picture over to find two photos.
He was correct in his first assumption, the picture on the right is from what he thinks is the tail end of her first year at SVU based on her hair and the fact that Monique is in the picture and not Brian. Munch, Monique, himself and Liv are all laughing at something and even Cragen has a smile gracing his face.
The other photo though, throws him through a loop. It’s a photo of just the two of them. Liv looks exhausted, but happy, and Elliot looks like he has won the lottery. Briefly, he wonders if it’s from their first year as partners but he realizes her hair is too short, though not as short as she had kept it in those early years, and they both look older.
“That’s from Eli’s birth.” She says from behind him and he jumps, still looking at the photo. “Kathleen took it after she took a photo with me and Eli.” She gestures towards the fridge. “I’ve still got that one on the fridge.” He turns to look at her and she’s giving him the same look she had given him at his own squad room a few weeks prior. They stare at each other from across the room for a minute, communicating silently before Liv jerks her head towards the couch and walks towards it, Elliot following her.
“Well?” She asks as she sits down on the couch, looking up at him. Elliot takes a sharp breath in and lets it out in a long, almost whistle. In the hours that have passed since Wheatley’s veiled threat, the one thing he hasn’t done is settle on how exactly he tells Liv that he knows it was her he was talking about and just why he’s so unsettled.
He sits on the couch as well, but well on the other side. Knowing that he has to be honest with her in order for her to understand the gravity of the situation that has brought him here.
“We captured Wheatley today.” He starts, and he watches Liv’s shoulders fall in relief.
“That’s great Elliot.” She whispers and reaches for his hand to give it a squeeze. He reciprocates and looks down at their joined hands. He realizes then that he has to come clean about Angela then and he thinks that he is more fearful of telling Liv than of telling Ayanna.
“Before I tell you why I’m here, I’ve gotta tell you something and you’re going to be... heavily annoyed with me and think, no, know I’m an idiot.” Olivia pulls her hand back and leans away from him, eyeing him suspiciously, but staying silent.
“I may or may not have kissed Angela Wheatley. In her own home, in the past couple weeks.” He braces himself for Liv’s reaction, knows that she will find his actions incredibly stupid (and they are and he has finally come to fully admit how stupid they are and he really needs to tell Ayanna before this comes back to bite him in the ass).
All she does is stare at him and lean back. He can’t read her look, can’t tell if she’s furious or disappointed or any other feeling that would be appropriate for the information he has just told her and she just... stares.
They sit in silence for a moment and Elliot can almost hear the cogs turning in her brain. Finally, Liv just slowly nods.
“Okay, and why is that relevant?” He lets out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding and nods with her. He knows she’ll bring this up later, it’s not something that’s just about to be let go, especially if he ever tells her the day it had happened, he thinks she’ll kill him. But she’s accepting it for now, knowing that it has to be relevant or else he wouldn’t be telling her.
“So when we brought him in the afternoon, Angela wanted to see him and we brought them to an interrogation room together. Wheatley... he must’ve known that something had gone down between Angela and I because he kept taunting her with me.” He stops and makes eye contact with her and again she’s unreadable.
“But then...” He takes a deep breath and steels himself for the words that are about to leave his mouth.
“He told her there was another woman. That she wasn’t Kathy or her and that she is the love of my life.” He takes a final deep breath. “And he said ‘pretty brown eyes’ and I knew that it was you, Liv.” He can’t look at her as he says it, knowing that saying basically “I love you” twice in the span of a month is enough to make Olivia go running.
“He didn’t say your name, he didn’t even give a direct threat, but just bringing you up indirectly was enough to scare the shit out of me.”
Finally, he gets brave enough to look at her and she is staring at him with that same look from earlier, and finally he realizes that she is looking at him with love. That she is not running for the hills and she is staring at him like they are finally on the same page for once in their entire lives. And suddenly he feels peace. Like things are finally settling and maybe this won’t take them both down.
“So what do we do?” She asks and grabs his hand to squeeze it. The palpable relief he feels in his body makes him feel tired for a second. They are a united front and he knows Liv is thinking of Noah. The fact that she is in his corner once again and that they are on the same page about everything is something he didn’t realize had been taking a toll on him as much as it had been.
“To be honest Liv, my first instinct was to take you both and hide you but I know that’s not about to happen.” Liv shakes her head the tiniest amount.
“No. No El, it’s not.” It makes him stop for a second. It’s been two months now and it’s the first time she’s called him ‘El’ since he’s seen her again and it makes his heart stop for a second. He swallows hard before he starts talking once more.
“So as of right now all I’ve got is to be on high alert. Anything suspicious, even the tiniest thing and assume that it’s Wheatley coming.” She nods slowly.
“And I’d really like to stay tonight Liv, just on the couch I just...” He trails off, his mind wandering for a second. “I’d really just like to make sure you’ve got backup in case someone tries something tonight.” He watches as she hesitates. He knows she has more than enough reasons to tell him no, to tell him to get out of her place but he watches as acceptance slowly crosses her face and she looks at him and nods.
“Okay, but only for tonight. I can take care of us.” Elliot nods.
“I know you can Liv, it’s just. It’s for my own peace of mind if I’m being selfish here.” Olivia nods and stands up.
“Okay. Well I’m not gonna let you sleep in your suit.” He eyes her for a second before she disappears to her bedroom.
After a couple minutes, she reappears and brings him a set of sweatpants and a sweatshirt, and when Elliot gives her a questioning look, she shrugs.
“I’ve just had them.” He gives her a look of doubt but doesn’t push further before going to change quickly in her bathroom. It’s a relief to be out of his suit, the thought of having to sleep on her couch in it had sounded awful from the start but was an idea he had quickly accepted so he would be able to keep a close eye on them both, at least for the night.
While he had disappeared to the bathroom, it turns out Liv had gone back to her own room to put on a ratty old t-shirt and some pajama bottoms and they both end up back on the couch.
They sit next to each other in silence, sitting so close that their shoulders touch. He feels like he should say something, feels the need to explain Angela to her and he gets ready to do as much when Olivia grabs his hand.
He looks over at her and her eyes are closed, but there’s the smallest smile on her face.
He decides to close his eyes as well, and focuses on her hand in his and he lets the world slow down.
He feels Olivia’s head land on his shoulder and finally, he lets sleep engulf him, his hand in hers.