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terrified of the dark, but not if you go with me

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terrified of the dark, but not if you go with me


[ may 2013 ]

There’s a desolate place that stays tucked deep in the darkest abysses of our souls. This place is tucked so far down that no light at all breaks through, even if the entry is wide open to the pit, - it’s so far down the light looks like speck of dust.

Most people never find this dark space. They’re the lucky ones. Some people live in the darkness their entire lives and they sometimes manage to climb up far enough that light touched their skin for a fraction of a minute, - before their ropes break and they free fall.

They land in an unceremonious heap on the ground.

Those people, they are frightening, the dark dwellers. They claw the walls; they fight for another chance to feel the light on their skin. They don’t quit. They never ever quit.

No matter how many lies they tell themselves, no matter how many secrets they keep...they’re frightening as hell – because they know how to survive and thrive in the darkness. There’s a fire that burns behind their eyes, and once it’s ignited – it’s unstoppable. A wildfire.

Sitting on the edge of the gurney, with a pair of hospital scrubs on, Olivia Benson’s dark eyes looked flat, lifeless, and cold. If it weren’t for the monitor attached to her, or the occasional twitch of her finger, Odafin Tutuola would’ve worried that she wasn’t alive. He watched her jaw clench and he was pretty sure she hadn’t blinked in two minutes. She finally exhaled and with it a small sound was emitted from between her split lip. She closed her eyes as she tilted her head to the side, lips pressed together, and a tear began to fall down her cheek in slow-motion.

He watched as her body began to shake, silently. The monitor behind her began to beep because her heartrate had increased as her oxygen level plummeted. It took a few seconds, but two nurses and a doctor came bounding into the room, instructing the woman to lay back on the bed as they lifted an oxygen mask over her head and put it over her mouth and nose.

“Breathe, Detective Benson.” The nurse to the left spoke quietly, “We need you to breathe.” Fin knew Olivia was having a panic attack, but he wasn’t sure what she had been thinking about that had sent her over the edge, he just knew she needed someone to ground her to the present, the right now, and quickly. There was only one person that knew how to ground Olivia Benson, and he was nowhere to be fucking found for the last two years.

As soon as they had discovered that she had disappeared, he’d put in calls in all the places that he knew how to that could’ve possibly found the man, but he had become a ghost in the wind. She needed her partner, and not the one she was currently working with. The one person she needed and he couldn’t find the motherfucker. It wasn’t her boyfriend, nah, Cassidy was useless in this situation. When Fin had arrived, he’d heard stories about Brian Cassidy, Munch was fond of the boy, but even he admitted that Brian was shit at dealing with victims…and Fin wasn’t sure how the hell he’d deal with dealing with his girlfriend now…Taking a deep breath, he decided that he would have to be that person for her in the current moment.  

"Olivia. Liv, - " Fin pushed past the nurse and reached out, gripping her hand in his own. "Focus, baby, I'm here. Look at me." Her eyes were darting to the various people in the room, "Liv! Eyes!" She might've been hyperventilating, but she made eye contact with Fin and his blood ran cold. He was staring into the darkest abyss he'd ever seen. All of a sudden, her eyes became unfocused and slipped closed. Fin turned his attention to the nurse who was standing next to the bed holding the IV line in her hand, and he realized that she'd been sedated. "That was some cold shit." He turned his head to the doctor, still gripping Olivia's hand which had grown slack in his own. "You're all assholes, man, she was calming down."

Fin tucked her hand next to her leg, releasing it and walked back over to his chair, crossing his arms and stretching his feet out in front of him, crossed at the ankle as he watched over the now sedated woman. While she slept, he pulled out his phone, still trying to send messages to people who might be able to assist him in his mission. So far, he’d struck out twice. He was hoping that the third contact he’d messaged would maybe get a little further than anyone else had – but he was starting to lose hope.

He wasn’t sure how she held onto hope or faith in the man he was trying to reach, because at the moment, looking at her burnt and battered form on the bed, he just wanted to cold cock the son-of-a-bitch for leaving her to her own devices two years ago. Sure, Fin knew that she could hold her own…but there was a part of him that felt like maybe if her partner were still around, none of this shit would’ve happened.

She had mumbled his name three times in the last hour. It was amazing that the subconscious just seemingly was calling out for the one person whom she needed the most. She was dreaming, Fin knew the difference between dreams and nightmares.

 He knew Liv talked in her sleep, he'd discovered this years ago in the crib. She normally yelled police-related things, but he'd only heard her mumble her former partner's name once, back then. It was actually followed by the call for a 10-13. He could only guess it had something to do with the Bushido case, because it was around that time that she had nightmares. He wasn’t eavesdropping, but he had just happened to be trying to catch a few z’s when she had come into the room and lay down.

"El, don't go. No." Fin's attention was suddenly piqued by these mumblings. Don't go? Go where? What the hell Benson? "You...promised me for better or worse." She mumbles, almost pleading.

Fin watches her for the next twenty minutes, but she doesn't say anything more. His mind is turning over the twenty-five possible scenarios that could have been taking place in her dreamland. None of them particularly pleasant. He knew what dreams were like for people in their line of work. At the twenty-fifth minute, she began mumbling again and he had to lean in closer to make out what she was saying. "El...stay."

Another two minutes passed and she began making suspicious sounding moans. His brow raised, as he listened to the noises, he suddenly feels as though he’s intruding on a very personal dream of hers. It’s a little curious if he’s going to admit it. But looking at the woman on the bed, he feels slightly out of place, this is the person he’s come to view as a sister of sorts. He’d go to the ends of the earth for her, because she’s never failed to not have his back.

But it does feel a little creepy to him.

He tells himself in that moment that it’s just a dream and he’s never going to press her for details, so whatever he overhears, it’ll be his secret and he’ll keep it for her. He’ll never question her dreams to find out if there’s more merit to the contents of them. In fact, in light of everything she’s been through recently, he’s glad the nightmares haven’t really started, because he knows the type of darkness that lurks behind the subconscious of all of the detectives who have ever worked in their department. It’s why most people don’t last more than two years.

It’s a miracle that the squad that is there now has thrived in that division. It takes a special type of person to devote their lives to the unit they’re a part of.

She moans again, and again, her former partner’s name comes out in an extended four syllables and he swears if he ever sees the man again, he’s going to tear him a new one. Whatever she’s dreaming of, if there’s any merit to it, he just made cold hard cash from Munch. Fin watches as her fingers twitch on top of the sheet.

Despite the middle of the line dreams with questionable content, the next round of dreams that strike her were enough to make him realize she’d crossed that beautiful field of semi-decent dreams to the land of nightmares. Because the words she’s speaking in her sleep are enough to make his blood run cold and realize that whatever she said in her statements was full of bullshit.

No…Get off. No. Don’t.” She repeats, and his eyes widen.

Shit.

He wasn’t sure whether she was having nightmares about Sealview again or if this was new.

If this was from her current situation, from the nightmare she just walked out of alive. From the hell she’d just survived. Whatever the nightmare was, he didn’t think she deserved to be trapped inside of the hellscape for too long, and he was still cursing that the sedative must’ve been working on her still.My pants.” She mumbled and shit, he didn’t want to think about what she was seeing behind her eyelids.

Luckily, she didn’t have to see it for long, because seconds later, her eyes suddenly shot wide open. As the room came into focus, he watched her try to gather her bearings. She blinked a few times, holding her head up, making eye contact with him.

As soon as her dark brown eyes focused on him, he felt it. That icy feeling when someone stares right into your eyes, peeling back the layers one by one. Once the layers are peeled back, all that remains is the remnants of the most vulnerable piece of you, your very soul.

Licking her dry lips, she took note of the pitcher of water the nurse had just brought in ten minutes prior in her periphery view.  

Not breaking eye contact with Fin, she began pouring the pitcher into the cup of ice that was sitting there, “I wasn’t talking…” she trailed off, knowing that Fin understood what she was asking.

“No.” Fin lied. She didn’t need to worry about anyone knowing things she hadn’t disclosed. She didn’t need to worry about her secrets leaving this room. She didn’t need to worry about him ever leaving her side, he’d make sure she was always safe. Her eyes continued to peel back his layers as she narrowed them into slits, coming to the conclusion that he was full of shit.

Fin.” She sounded tired, not sleepy tired, nah, Fin could understand if she was sleepy tired…this tired was the type of tired he’d seen in victims throughout the years. The type of tired that radiates throughout their bones, their souls, their very hearts. If it were anyone else in the bed she was occupying, he would worry that someone should probably be with them for the next seventy-two hours.

Olivia Benson wasn’t just anyone; he knew she would make it through this. He’d seen her make it through the years and admired her strength, her dedication, and her resilience. has strong as she was, and he knew she would survive this and move past it as though her life had only experienced a slight hiccup. She would compartmentalize, and that scared the shit out of him, because based upon her mumblings in her sleep, he wasn’t sure compartmentalizing was the best option for the woman at this time. Definitely not this time. No, she would need to talk to someone about it.

“Listen, Liv…it isn’t any of my business.” He leaned forward in the hard chair, staring straight into her eyes. Despite seeing her and Stabler’s freaky ass communication that they had for years, he knew they didn’t have the same type of communication, but he knew she’d see it behind his eyes, the honesty and promise he was making her. “So you can ask me all you want what you said, and I’ll deny it every time. Won’t tell anyone anything.

She let out a sigh of relief and broke contact, tilting her head back onto the pillow, closing her tired brown eyes. “Fin, what if I say something when it’s not you sitting in that chair.”

“You don’t have to worry about that, Liv.” Fin stood, moving his chair from the corner to sit next to her. “Because I won’t let anyone else sit with you while you’re sleeping. When I’m not around, no one else will be allowed near you.”

“Really?” She sounded smaller than usual, and it threw Fin off for a moment, hearing her so vulnerable.

“Really. I got your back, Liv.”

What he neglected to tell her was why he had her back. Why he’d always have her back. It was because of a promise he’d made a certain asshole known as her former partner that he’d been trying to contact the entire time she’d been asleep.


[ 4 MONTHS LATER ]

They had been working on a particularly trying case, and Olivia’s attitude hadn’t improved much after the whole ordeal a couple months ago. Cragen had questioned whether it was right for her to come back to work, and she’d insisted that she was fine and the therapists had cleared her for duty, so there wasn’t much he could actually do about it. Fin was watching her back though, even though she was Amaro’s partner. After she’d been kidnapped, he just didn’t trust him to watch her back as well as he could do.

She’d lost her temper with someone in interrogation and Cragen had accused her of wanting to throw out the case, - it was like dealing with Detective Benson the rookie instead of Sergeant Benson the badass. Cragen had told her to go up to the Crib and take a nap, clear her head, recollect herself and then come back down and act like the responsible Sergeant he’d come to depend upon. Both Fin and Cragen had been watching her retreating form, and when the elder man’s eyes met Fin’s…he understood.

It was a quiet understanding, as most things were lately about Olivia.

Realizing he’d been tagged it, he took a deep breath and climbed the stairs, to go after her, to watch over her. To make sure she didn’t have to chase any of her demons alone.

Opening the door, he walked in to find her sprawled out on one of the bottom bunkbeds, staring up at the springs of the bunk directly above her, her jaw clenched and flexing her hand into a fist to stretch the no doubt bruising knuckles she was going to have. “I don’t get it.” She began to speak quietly, her left hand moving up so she could wrap her fingers around the cold metal lattice that helped hold the top mattress in place.

“What don’t you get, Liv?” Fin asked, sitting on the edge of the bed across from her.

She didn’t even glance over at him, but sighed audibly. “How could he just…walk away?”

“Are you talking about Greg Barger, or – “

She turned her head to make eye contact with her colleague, there were tears forming in the corner of her eyes, and he felt his heart break for her. “Fin.”

“I told you, I don’t have to know anything.”

She rolled onto her side, laying on the flat pillow that was propped onto her bent arm. “But you already know, Fin. You’ve been listening to me sleep since Sealview.”

“You make it sound creepy as hell, Liv. It’s not like that.”

“I know.” She nodded, her voice quiet. “Trust me, I know. It doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it.”

Fin looked at her from the side of his eyes. It was true, the fact that he’d been watching her sleep since Sealview. He knew her nightmares. He knew the things she had cried out in her sleep, and he’d made an effort to wake her before she could see the same things she’d already seen in person again and again.

Any time she’d taken naps in the crib in the months after, if Elliot wasn’t around, he made sure no one else ventured into the room. It was nobody’s business what went down. In some ways, she secretly loved knowing he was there to watch over her like a big brother would, ready to fight all her demons.

She liked that he knew to wake her when he knew they were getting closer to winning, like an angel watching out for her darkest nightmares.

“Yeah, someone’s gotta watch over you.”

“Watch my back and not my backside?” She asked, quietly. Fin chuckled at her response to this, throwing his own words back at him.

“Listen, no one’s been watching your backside for two years.” He sighed, shaking his head. “Sorry.”

“No, you don’t have to apologize.” She took a deep breath, closing her eyes again, “You’re a good friend, Fin.” Her voice was quiet as he noticed a small tear make it’s track down her nose and over the curve of her jawline.

“He’s an idiot.” Fin whispered, quietly. “By the way,” he leaned forward, resting his forearms against his knees, his hands folded together in front of him. “He never reached out, at all?”

Olivia shook her head sadly, and as Fin watched her on her side, he had a feeling she was thinking of all the unanswered texts she’d sent him two years ago, maybe even recently. Thinking of all the unanswered voicemails he’d left, Munch had left, she’d left. He could tell she felt like she’d been abandoned, tossed out like yesterday’s garbage to the curb. She didn’t deserve that shit. Olivia deserved better. It was hard for Fin to fathom though, the level of loss she still felt two years later. How much it had stung her still to this day.

He’d only come to one conclusion due to this lingering reaction to her partner leaving her. It was the only thing people ever yearned for, breathed for, spent the majority of their lives searching for. She’d fallen in love with the dumbass. By his actions, Fin could only guess that the man needed a clean break. But it wasn’t a guess, because he had spoken to the man, - twice in two years. Once a few weeks after the shooting, and once about a year ago. He’d tried to get hold of him when she got kidnapped by the psychopath four months ago, but he’d been unsuccessful and all the numbers he’d tried had been disconnected.

The man was a ghost in the wind.

“Years ago, when Kathleen had gotten in trouble…I went to his mother.” She whispered, her voice scratchy.

This was news to him. Something quite unexpected. He hadn’t thought that Kathleen should’ve gotten off as easily as she had, and he didn’t know that Olivia had anything to do with it. But, he was going to listen to whatever she had to say about it, because he was curious even though he consistently told her he didn’t want to know or didn’t have to know. In all honesty, it’s how Fin knew things was by listening to people whom he told he didn’t have to know anything. It was an interesting dynamic that Benson and Stabler had been in possession of. One that people still whispered about. The constant back and forth questions between everyone on the force was always rooted in one question and one question alone.

Were they more than partners?

No one ever received a glimpse into their dynamic as intimately as Olivia had just revealed. And when she was tired, she became talkative.

“I was with him when we found Kathleen after she overdosed.” Fin said, quietly, watching Olivia’s face for a reaction. She still had her eyes closed, but nodded imperceptibly. “The man almost broke. He was a wreck.”

“Katie is his favorite.” Olivia admits, a small tug at the corner of her lip. “He never spoke about his mother, you know. He knew…pretty much everything about Serena, and I knew next to nothing about Bernadette Stabler.” She opened her eyes, running her fingers through the back of her hair. “But when I met Bernie, she certainly knew things about me.”

Fin found that he didn’t want to speculate about anything, but he could only chuckle about the thought that Stabler or Kathy had spoken at length about Olivia. Who could really blame them, to be honest? She was one of his friends, and sometimes he talked about how much of a badass she was taking out people that were twice her size, never flinching.

“She told me that I scared the pants off of Kathy, and said she could see why.”

Interesting. So it had been Kathy Stabler that had spoken to the mother-in-law at length about her husband’s partner. Fin didn’t want to pry into this, but he was willing to guess that more often than not, the Stabler marriage was possibly rooted in arguments about Elliot and Olivia’s friendship. Their partnership. Their dynamic.

“Liv, get some rest. I’ll watch over you, and for the record, I don’t think it was as easy as you think it was for him to leave two years ago. He shot a kid, Liv. For most of us, that would be the end.”

“Fin?” her voice was teetering on the edge of dreamland, the abyss of sleep threatening to swallow her whole. He hoped she stayed in the fields of pleasant dreams and didn’t fall into the dark abyss of nightmares.

“Yeah, Liv?”

“Thank you.”

“Stop thanking me, Liv. I’ve got your back, always. You don’t have to be scared of the dark while I’m around.”

“I’m not. I know you’ll go with me.”

As she trailed off into dreamland, Fin nodded quietly. He really would protect and follow her wherever she went, because that’s what friends are for, and he made a promise. Fin took his promises very seriously.

When he saw that son-of-a-bitch, the man who he’d promised that he would watch out for her to – well, Stabler had better have a damn good reason for not answering any of the calls or texts they’d sent him.

He would have to answer for his abandonment, for not being here to follow her into all the darkest places that Fin couldn’t travel as just a friend. She needed her partner, the one who understood her on a level that no one else could reach. 

There was something about partners and following one another to the ends of the earth. There was no reason to be scared of the dark, as long as your partner was there to go with you, to have your back.

Until then, he'd do his best.