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Only In Case of Emergency

Chapter Text

Why the fuck is the phone ringing? It’s three in the morning? Maybe they’ll go away?

Wait?

Why is that phone ringing?

Elliot scrambled for the nightstand to grab the burner hidden inside the drawer. Her phone. She was the only person with that number. “Hello?”

“Hi.”

Not Liv.

Voice was young. A kid?

“Hello. Who’s this?” Elliot modulated his tone, trying to encourage the kid to speak.

“My name is Noah Benson. I’m six. Mommy told me to call this number if something bad ever happened to her.” He was quiet for a moment. Elliot could hear what sounded like him shuffling around. “Hello? Are you still there? Uncle Fin’s gonna be back soon. I don’t have much time.”

“Where’s your mom, son?” He climbed out of bed, flipped on a light, and began hunting for his clothes.

“A bad man took her. I heard Uncle Sonny call him Rob Miller. He made the police stop Mommy in her car. She was really scared. And then she didn’t come home for spaghetti night.” Noah sniffled a few times. “She’s been gone two whole days.”

“Noah. Noah. It’s going to be okay. Your mommy’s the bravest and strongest person I know. Now, my name’s Elliot. Can you tell me where you are?” Elliot wanted as much information as possible. He struggled to get a shirt on while not dropping the phone.

“I’m at the police station. Uncle Fin’s been taking care of me. I borrowed Uncle Sonny’s phone,” Noah admitted. “I hope he’s not mad. But Mommy made me ‘member your phone number. She said to call you in a real emergency.”

“You did good, Noah. Your mom is going to be so proud of you.” Elliot made his way through his hotel suite to the table where he’d left his laptop. “Listen. I’m going to find your mommy. I’ll bring her home.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.” Elliot didn’t have a chance to say anything else as the phone went dead. He sat at the table and stared at it. “Time to go home.”

For the past six months since his divorce, Elliot had been working private security with a client in Dubai. He’d had no reason to stay in Rome where Kathy and Eli had made a home. He’d planned to eventually return to New York.

To her.

This hadn’t been how he’d wanted to do it.

Rob Miller.

Unbeknownst to everyone in their lives, Elliot had reached out to Olivia after leaving the NYPD. He’d made certain she always had a number for him Emergencies only. They’d made that promise to each other.

Limited contact.

Anything else had been too hard. Tested their willpower. Tempted them to be different people. Lesser versions of themselves. It had been so complicated.

Now, though, Elliot was desperately grateful she’d had his number.

Rob Miller. Well-connected. Wealthy. Powerful. Ruthless.

How had the man gotten a hold of an NYPD Lieutenant without anyone stopping him? How had she been missing for two days? Again.

During the William Lewis mess, Elliot had been out of cellphone service with a client. Kathleen had been the one to break the news a month after he’d returned a month later. His first call had been to Olivia.

Breaking their emergency only rule. She’d understood. Been happy to hear his voice. They’d talked every night for a few months until her night terrors stopped.

And then they’d gone back to not speaking.

Noah Benson.

She had a son. A child. Elliot wanted to know everything about Noah. He wanted to hear about it from Olivia, though.

Forcing himself to focus, Elliot began making calls. First to get a flight plan to New York started. Then he began calling in favours.

His years working private security around the world had left him with a few powerful people who owed him favours. Saving someone’s life (or their child’s life) tended to make them willing to go the extra mile. Rob Miller might be a powerful shark of an attorney in New York City—in other circles, the man was barely a minnow.

Elliot had made friends. Powerful ones in the past few years. Friends who cared about him--and the people he cared about.

And Olivia?

Olivia was someone he cared about more than his own life.

Two hours after his early morning wake-up, Elliot boarded a private jet bound for Paris. There he’d get a second flight to New York. He dropped his bag on the seat beside him and nodded at the only other passenger on the flight.

“Noah?” Elliot answered his burner phone while they waited for the plane to taxi.

“This is Detective Carisi with the NYPD. Who is this?”

“A friend of Lieutenant Benson. She gave my number to her son for emergencies.” Elliot didn’t know Carisi. He had no intentions to give any information to the man. “Do you know Detective Tutuola?”

“He’s here with me.”

“Let me speak with him.” Elliot trusted Fin, particularly when it came to Olivia.

“Who’s this?” Fin demanded.

“Good to speak to you too.”

“Stabler? Are you shitting me, man? How the hell did Noah get your number?” Fin sounded completely shocked. “I knew it. Man, Munch owes me fifty bucks. I told him you two stayed in touch.”

“Fin. I don’t have much time. My flight’s leaving in a few minutes. I’ll be in New York tomorrow afternoon at the latest.” Elliot checked his watch. “Can I give your number to a contact of mine? They might have a lead on where Miller’s stashed Olivia.”

“Yeah, yeah. Let me know when you land. We’ll get someone to pick you up at the airport.” Fin hung up a second later.

Tossing his phone to the side, Elliot leaned back in the sent. He sent a prayer for Olivia’s safety. Then he went back to obsessively checking his emails. There was nothing else he could do before he reached New York.

Make plans. Send messages. And pray.

What if I’m too late?

What if this bastard kills her to avoid being caught with an NYPD lieutenant?

 

Chapter Text

Flight delays meant Elliot arrived later in the day than he’d hoped. He raced through customs. His phone was glued to his ear the second the plane landed.

One of his contacts had managed to turn several of Miller’s closest allies against him. Money talked. Rob Miller might be a connected, wealthy lawyer. He wasn’t, however, billionaire rich.

He wasn’t connected internationally. The rats appeared to be abandoning his ship at a rapid pace. Good.

Working private security had, in retrospect, been the best decision Elliot ever made.  He had people to call that he’d never have known without it. It would be, he thought, what saved Olivia’s life.

Four days.

Olivia had been gone for almost four days. Again. Elliot had already decided he’d wreck the entire city to find her. Raze it to the ground. No one was going to stop him.

“Stabler?”

Elliot spotted Finn and a blonde woman waiting for him by an SVU. “Good to see you, man.”

“This all you got?” Fin gestured to the wheeled suitcase and backpack Elliot had with him. “Where are we taking you? The precinct?”

“Not sure yet. Still waiting on a call. What have you learned?” Elliot let Fin take his suitcase but kept the backpack. “Any news?”

“Your friend came through. We’ve got two potential warehouses.” Fin motioned for him to get into the backseat.

“But?” Elliot could see he wasn’t going to like whatever had obviously pissed Fin off.

“Miller has friends deep in NYPD and the DA’s office. We keep getting stonewalled on permission to raid the warehouses.” The blonde answered. She nudged Fin. “Amanda Rollins, by the way. His partner.”

“Sorry, Amanda.” Fin grinned. "We have this new ADA. Not a bad man. He's not Barba, though. Barba would've moved heaven and earth when it came to Liv. Baby girl brings that out in people. You know better than most."

"NYPD's really going to make the same mistake twice with Liv?" Elliot shook his head. Not surprised at all, really. "Fine. Give me a second to make a call. I'm going to need you to drop me off somewhere.”

"And then?" Fin asked.

"Better you have plausible deniability. Not risking your badge unless absolutely necessary." Elliot had no doubt  Fin would tell the brass to go fuck themselves if it meant bringing Olivia home safely. "Just keep an eye on her son and your phone nearby. I'll let you know when I have news."

The company Elliot worked for had several go teams around the one including one in New York. They could be prepped for a hostage rescue within an hour. Elliot had been attached to one of the units in Europe for a while.

As part of their service to corporate clients, they often ran test raids on buildings to test for weakness in security. Once during a hostage rescue, they’d accidentally-on-purpose breached the wrong compound. It made an easy excuse to get out of trouble if the authorities complained.

The first call Elliot had made when the plane touched down in New York had been to his boss. The New York team was standing by. Ready for him. If NYPD wanted to waste more time, they were welcome to it.

Screw ‘em.

I’m done with waiting.

In less than two hours, Elliot had six former military veterans trained in security standing with him a block from the warehouse. They’d already completed a surveillance run on three other places.

This was the last one.

Three former cops moonlighting as security. Dirty cops, bastards.

Eight cameras.

Two entrances.

A handful of broken, dirty windows on the ground floor of the supposedly abandoned building.

It would be the easiest op Elliot had done since joining the company. Turn off the lights and cameras. Take out the dirty cops. Find Olivia. They could deal with Rob Miller after she was safe.

Safe with him. In his arms. Safe with her son.

“All right, let’s go.” Elliot motioned for the others to follow him.

Dressed completely in black with their faces covered and night vision goggles, they used the darkness from the time of day and broken street lamps to sneak up to the building. It was relatively easy to cut the power and camera access. Nothing they hadn’t done before and with more complex systems. They’d entered the building in seconds.

Silent.

Efficient.

They subdued the thugs Miller had used to guard the building then began their search.

“Up here.”

Elliot followed the voice up a rickety flight of stairs to a room on the second floor. He rushed forward at the sight of Olivia tied to a chair with her head bent forward. No movement. His fingers quickly found a pulse. Alive. “Help me get her up. C’mon.”

“El?” Her weak voice sent a jolt of relief and anger through him.  She lifted her head unable to identify him aside from having heard him speak. “Elliot?”

“It’s me, Liv. I came for you.” He cupped her face gently. “Just give me a second and we’ll have you out of here.”

“Noah?”

Elliot crouched in front of her, using a knife to cut the ties on her legs while another member of the team worked on the cuffs securing her wrists to the chair. “Your brave little boy called me. He thought this constituted a ‘real emergency.’”

“My clever sweet boy.” Olivia blinked weakly, coughing a few times and bringing a hand up to shield her eyes when two other team members came in with flashlights. “Not cops. Not NYPD.”

“We’re just your average neighborhood watch, ma’am. Happy to be of service to any friend of Stabler here.” He nodded to Elliot. “We should get out of her. We’ve got a medic at the office. Probably safer than a hospital.”

Lifting Olivia up into his arms, Elliot carried her out of the building. He moved faster when her head lolled against his shoulder limply. Shit. It didn’t take long to get her secure in one of their SUVs.

They were gone in minutes leaving no sign of their presence aside from three dirty former cops who hadn’t seen their faces.

“Olivia? Liv?” Elliot had her sitting in his lap in the backseat while they drove to the doctor the company had on call. Awkward but he couldn’t let her go. “You’re safe now. I promise.”

She woke up when he tapped a finger gently against her cheek. “I’m okay. Tired. Just tired. They didn’t hurt me.”

Much.

They didn’t hurt you much.

Elliot knew Olivia tended to minimize her own pain. Always. It was something that hadn’t changed over the years of their partnership. “We’re going to have a doctor make sure you’re okay. And then, we’ll get you to Noah.”

“El?” Olivia tilted her head to peer up at him in the darkness of the vehicle. “Thank you for answering his call.”

Elliot brought a hand up to carefully run his fingers through her hair. He gently eased her head down to rest against his shoulder. “Rest, Liv. I’ve got you.”

And I’m not fucking letting go.

Not ever again.

 

Chapter Text

Dehydrated. Bruises around her wrist and ankles. A sprained ankle to compound the bruising. In need of a decent meal.

None of the doctor’s observations had been news to Olivia. She’d sat through the examination with minimal complaint. Elliot had hovered nearby by only relaxing once he knew she had no serious injuries.

It was endearing.

Endearing and maddening.

The doctor had been seen off by one of the other members of the rescue team. Olivia hadn’t met all of them. They’d melted away once arriving at what she assumed was some sort of safe house.

She sat alone in the room with Elliot and a man he’d introduced as Mark. She’d recognized his voice as the man who’d helped release her from the chair in the warehouse. “So, what now? Is there any chance of my rescue becoming an issue for any of you?”

“No, ma’am.” Mark gave her a slow, easy smile. “Not a chance. The local authorities rarely want to risk embarrassing themselves when it comes to hostage rescues. We have legal representation to jump in if anything does become an issue.”

“Thank you.” Olivia stretched a hand out to shake his.

“How did the NYPD not even bother to look into the warehouses? They had enough for a warrant. What the hell was the DA’s office doing?” Elliot shook his head angrily. “I can’t believe they didn’t at least allow your squad to check it out.”

“Yes you can,” Olivia argued. They’d both experienced first-hand how money and political power could sway things in the city. It was something she absolutely loathed about the job. She intended to have words with Dodds and Stone, though. Loud four-letter words. “I have to see Noah. He must be so scared.”

“Why don’t you have a shower in one of the bathrooms upstairs? We found a set of clothing that should fit you. Your son might be comforted to see you looking a little more cleaned up.” Mark nodded to Elliot who pushed away from the wall where he’d been leaning. “Once you’re done, we’ll escort you to the precinct. I believe your second-in-command has everyone gathered.”

“Fin’s good like that.” Olivia knew this must’ve been driving Fin crazy. He’d taken her first abduction so personally. She hated to think about how he must’ve felt this time around. “A shower would be nice. My grime has grime.”

“C’mon.” Elliot looped his arm around her to offer support. “I’ll show you the way.”

“I can walk.”

“Congrats. Glad to hear.” Elliot bent down until his lips rested against her ear. “Maybe I’m not ready to be apart from you just yet.”

They managed to awkwardly make their way upstairs to one of the bedrooms. Elliot motioned toward the bathroom where she found toiletries, several towels, and a change of clothing. Just jeans, a T-shirt, and a hoodie. Comfort clothing—an obvious sign of who’d gotten them for her.

Her need for a moment to relax under the warm water of the shower warred with her desperation to hold Noah. To make certain he was safe. Olivia rushed through cleaning up, drying off, and getting dressed. She stepped out of the bathroom to find Elliot had changed into a suit and was sitting on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands.

“El?” She tossed the towel to one side and went to sit beside him. “I’m safe. You found me. You were here for me. For my son. I’m okay.”

Elliot twisted around and crushed her into his arms. His face pressed against her still damp hair. “I couldn’t breathe when he called. I promised myself I’d never fail you again. And I had to find you. Had to. Had to.

“Hey, hey, easy.” Olivia brought a hand up to rest on the back of his head. “I’m okay. Just a few bruises that’ll fade away in days. Miller wanted to scare me. Bully the NYPD into letting the case go. I’m fine.”

“You’re always fine even when you’re not.” Elliot brushed a kiss against her hair then eased away from her. “Let’s get you to the precinct. Fin had Noah sleeping there so you’ll be able to see your boy.”

Olivia followed him downstairs, stopping on the bottom step at the sight of five individuals dressed in suits. She assumed they’d been part of the team to rescue her. Now sharply dressed in business suits as well. “What’s going on?”

“We’ve been retained to provide security for both you and your son until the Miller issue is resolved.” Mark stepped out of a room down the hall. He’d also changed clothing. “We’re making a show of force.”

“Retained by whom?” Olivia had no idea what private security cost but she’d bet her entire year’s salary it would be more than she could ever dream of being able to afford.

“You know 1PP is going to shit themselves when they realize you’ve got armed guards.” Elliot nudged her gently in the back to get her moving. “Ready to make an entrance?”

Olivia narrowed her eyes at him. “You are enjoying this far too much.”

“Who me?” Elliot smirked.

Surreal.

It was surreal, Olivia thought, to be travelling through the city like some sort of dignitary. Armed guards. Multiple vehicles with tinted windows. They were definitely making a statement when they pulled up in front of the 16th precinct.

She wondered who exactly the show was for. The brass. Or Rob Miller? Elliot had briefly mentioned the man had made enemies. Powerful ones apparently.

“Liv.” Fin was waiting the moment she stepped out of the elevator. He gave her a gentle hug then checked her over. “You all right?”

“They didn’t hurt me.” She promised.

Fin nodded to Elliot then whistled at the group following them out of the elevator. “Prepare yourself. Everyone from the deputy chief to Stone are in the squad room. Tripping over themselves to find a way to explain why they haven’t been more proactive in finding you.”

“Who’s asking them?” Olivia assumed they’d kept her disappearance as quiet as possible.

“Someone leaked your abduction to the press. Might’ve mentioned warrants being blocked by unnecessary red tape. Leaked a memo or two that had demanded complete silence from everyone at the precinct.” Fin winked at her. “No idea who’d have that sort of access. The Ledger took particular interest.”

“Fin.” Olivia decided not to ask questions that might get him in trouble. “Where’s Noah?”

It was six in the morning now. The rescue. Her visit with the doctor. It had all taken time. Noah would normally be waking up soon.

“Woke up a bit ago. Sent him with Carisi to get some breakfast. They’re eating in your office. He’s basically a big kid himself.” Fin fell in step with her as they walked toward the squad room. “Prepare yourself for a lot of questions and subtle threats to avoid disparaging what’s happened with this case.”

“Mommy.”

Noah’s shout echoed through the suddenly silent squad room. The organized chaos froze. Olivia didn’t bother glancing at any of the people who’d left her to rot. She had only had eyes for her son.

She trusted Fin and Elliot to have her back. For once in her life, she’d let someone else deal with some of her burdens. Noah came first.

Always.

“My sweet boy.” Olivia crouched down to catch him when he leapt into her arms. “You’ve been so brave and clever.”

“I called him, mommy. I called him.” Noah clung to her neck and whispered to her. “I missed you so much. Uncle Fin promised you’d come home.”

“And here I am.” Olivia got slowly to her feet and turned toward Elliot with tears brimming in her eyes. “Elliot? I want you to meet someone very special.”

“Elliot?” Noah lifted his head up to glance over. “He’s the ‘mergency man.”

“Yes. He’s the emergency man and my best friend.” Olivia watched with a watery smile as Noah held his hand out to shake Elliot’s. She brought her hand up to run through his messy curls. “Why don’t you and Uncle Sonny finish up breakfast?”

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you too, sweet boy. So much.” Olivia hugged him tightly one more time. Her brown eyes darkened when she noticed several men hovering nearby. Time for those four-letter words. “Go on, enjoy your breakfast in my office. We’ll go home soon.”

“Lieutenant Benson.”

Olivia held her hand up to stop the chief from speaking. She watched until Noah was safely in her office with the door shut then turned to Dodds and Stone, who’d stepped over as well. “You can both, with all the greatest respect, go and fuck yourselves.”

“Lieutenant.”

“Olivia.” Stone’s calm tone combatted with the slightly irate sounding Dodds.

“I warned you both. I said Miller had threatened my son. Threatened me. Neither of you had the balls to ‘come at the king.’” She folded her arms across her chest, glowering at both of them. “What does it say that a small boy manages to coordinate the rescue of his mother while the NYPD sits on its thumb afraid of one lawyer?”

"You seem to have developed an entourage." Dodds decided wisely not to attempt to answer her question.

"Private security time assigned to both Lieutenant Benson and her son." Mark came up beside Olivia. "Our client has vested interest in her continued safety. We're surprised to find the NYPD lacks the same dedication to such a decorated and long-serving individual. How thin is the blue line, Deputy Chief Dodds? Or, does it only exist for men like yourself?"

 

 

Chapter Text

The silence in the squad room had grown long and tense following Mark’s caustic comment. Dodds and Stone had both glanced at Olivia as if expecting her to defend the NYPD. Or, at least, defend them. She managed to not curse at them.

For a second time.

What had they expected from her?

Gratitude when they all know how little was done to rescue her. They had information. Solid inside information about her potential location. And they hadn’t wanted to risk their careers to find her.

“Olivia?” Stone took a step forward, attempting to defuse the situation. “We kept Noah safe.”

“Fin and Lucy kept Noah safe.” She inhaled sharply. She folded her arms across her chest. “I’ve never missed Rafael Barba more fully than I do in this moment. He had courage. Maybe it’s because no one paved the way for him. He fought tooth and nail for victims. For justice. And for me.”

“Mom. Mommy. Mom.” Noah skipped out of her office with an apologetic Carisi following behind him. Her boy held his arms out to her. “We had chocolate chip pancakes.”

“Were they good?”

“Not as good as Uncle Rafa’s.” Noah wrapped his arms around her neck. He waved a slightly syrupy hand at Elliot. “Hello ‘mergency man.”

“Uncle Elliot, Noah.” Olivia chuckled. She held him close, ignoring the sticky fingers on her clothes. “Why don’t you let Uncle Sonny help you wash your hands?”

“Are we going home soon?”

“Soon, baby, soon. Mommy has a few more work things to take care of.” Olivia gently set him down and nudged him towards her detective. “Thank you, Carisi. Seriously. Thank you.”

“No worries, Lieu. I got him. C’mon, Noah. Let’s decontaminate.”

“Why don’t we find somewhere more private for this debrief?” Dodds turned and walked away, clearly expecting her to follow.

“Lead the way, ma’am.”

Olivia eyed Elliot and the rest of the team. They clearly had no intention of letting anyone at the NYPD railroad her—or them. “Life suddenly seems much simpler in the warehouse.”

“Liv.” Elliot frowned at her. He touched the vivid bruising on her wrist. “We have your back.”

They definitely made a statement. Olivia nodded her head to Fin who followed. They all wound up in one of the conference rooms in the building.

Olivia found a seat. She was in desperate need of a full night of sleep. A few full nights. Elliot chose not to sit. He leaned against the wall behind her chair.  Mark sat to her right with Fin on her left. She lifted an eyebrow when Dodds tried to get the security team to leave. “I’ve an appointment with my bed, Chief. Let’s get this out of the way.”

Not waiting for him to agree or disagree, Olivia succinctly summarized her past four days. From being pulled off the street by a pair of unis and handed over at gunpoint to the thugs who kept her at the warehouse. She sat back when she’d finished.

“Is there anything else?” She asked. “Noah’s waiting.

“A moment, lieutenant.” Dodds held a hand up when both his and Stone’s phones beeped. “Robert Miller surrendered the FBI twenty minutes ago. They’ve chosen to handle the prosecution. He offered no resistance and will apparently plead guilty to a list of charges including murder and rape.”

“Well, it seems this is out of the NYPD’s hands.” Olivia wondered if either of them had any regrets. Miller’s arrest and capitulation would be a feather in the FBI’s cap. Not so much for them.

“Fascinating,” Mark drawled. “If that’s all you have for us, perhaps we can escort the lieutenant and her son home. I imagine they’d enjoy spending some time together after a traumatic four days.”

“I imagine they would.”

Olivia got to her feet. She rubbed her fingers across her brow and waited as the suited security filed out of the room in front of her. She hesitated. “Men like Robert Miller never succeed without people around them who fawn over their wealth. Their power. People who willingly pave the way for their cruelty and crimes. He had me for four days. I could be dead. My son could be orphaned a second time. And what exactly were you doing? Stonewalling my squad from trying to make sure I came home alive?”

“Olivia.”

“I have nothing left to say to you. I’m taking a few days.” Olivia strode out of the room with Elliot on her heels. “Assholes.”

It was twenty minutes later in the privacy of an SVU when Olivia had time to process what had happened. Robert Miller surrendered. Voluntarily. How? Why?

“El?” She leaned toward him. They were ensconced in the back seat with Noah asleep between them. “What’ve you done?”

“About?”

“Robert Miller.” She kept her voice low, not wanting to disrupt her son.

“I have no idea how video evidence of his crimes wound up at his door. Or who politely informed him with their fists that he might want to surrender to the FBI before more evidence found its way to the newspapers.” Elliot scratched his jaw with one finger. “All hypothetical, of course. I wasn’t involved. I’ve been with you the entire time.”

"Elliot."

"Hmm?"

"Forget it." She stretched her arm over Noah to grab Elliot's hand. "Thanks, El."

 

 

Chapter Text

Noah was definitely in love. He’d woken up from his impromptu nap when they arrived home. Elliot had immediately been regaled with every detail of his morning.

It warmed Olivia’s heart, watching them interact. Elliot had always been good with kids. But Noah was different.

He was hers.

“We’ve checked out the building and your apartment.” Mark distracted her from her thoughts. He’d gone up with his team first. “Your security is seriously lacking. We’ll come back later to install a better system along with a few cameras in the hallway.”

“I—”

“You’re welcome. We’ll leave you in Stabler’s capable hands.” He was gone before she could respond, leaving her beside a grinning Elliot and her son.

“Mommy. ‘mergency man was a marine.” Noah pointed to the tattoo on Elliot’s arms. “Let’s go home. I’ve gotta show him my Lego robots.”

Olivia followed behind them while Noah dragged Elliot by the hand toward the elevator. “You’ve made a friend for life.”

The ride up to her floor was filled with Noah’s cheerful chatter. Olivia listened to the conversation while leaning against Elliot’s side. She was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to pass out in bed for a week.

Four days.

It had triggered a lot of buried memories. She made a mental note to call her therapist’s office. It couldn’t hurt to have someone to take everything over with.

“Mom?” Noah tugged on her sleeve. “Mommy? Are you okay?”

Olivia blinked a few times, realizing Elliot was holding the elevator doors open while she’d been staring off into space. She rested her hand gently on Noah’s head and ruffled his curls. “I’m fine, sweet boy. I’m just very tired.”

“You can nap while ‘mergency man and I play with robots.” Noah nodded firmly. He led her down the hall with his little hand on her jacket.  She’d given up on trying to get him to call Elliot something else. “And we can make you lunch.”

“Can you?” Olivia chuckled.

He turned inquisitive eyes towards Elliot. “Can you cook?”

“We’ll figure something out,” Elliot promised. He had a hand on Olivia’s back to offer support. She knew he sensed how close to physically collapsing from exhaustion she must be. “Where’s your keys?”

While Elliot held her bag, Olivia dug around to find her keys. She couldn’t recall the last time she felt so tired. Sleeping while tied to a chair had been nearly impossible.

Thank everything they’d at least given her bathroom breaks.

Not complete bastards.

Once inside their apartment, Olivia motioned for Elliot to leave her bag wherever. She gave Noah one last smothering hug and kiss then trudged toward her bedroom.  She didn’t even bother to kick off her shoes, falling into bed with a groan.

When Olivia woke up, the curtains were closed and lights off. She’d been covered with a blanket and a pillow had been placed under her head. Her shoes and jacket were gone.

Rolling onto her back, Olivia rubbed her eyes and tried to clear the sleep out of them. She peered blearily at the clock on her nightstand. Seven? Elliot had obviously made the decision to let her rest.

The apartment was relatively quiet. She wasn’t overly concerned. Elliot had plenty of experience corralling multiple children.

One was likely a breeze.

Olivia sat up and noticed a glass of water plus several Advil on the nightstand. Elliot. Her partner. Always looking out for her. Always going above and beyond to take care of her.

“Liv? You up?”

She glanced over at the door when it cracked open. They’d always had a sixth sense about each other. “I’m up.”

Elliot stepped into the room and eased the door shut behind him. “I’ve got Noah watching a movie on your iPad, figured one wouldn’t destroy his brain. We had spaghetti for dinner. Plenty of leftovers.”

“Thank you.” Olivia finished drinking the water then got up to walk over to him. She looped her arms around his waist and rested her head against his chest. “Thank you for everything. Hope Noah wasn’t too much trouble.”

“He’s perfect, Liv.”

“My brave little miracle boy. I’ll never forget finding him.” She sniffled a little, trying to control the swirling emotions.  She was safe. Home. Noah had developed a connection with Elliot. What if he left again?

“Liv? What’s wrong?” He gently eased her back enough to search her face. His fingers came up to brush tears from her eyes. “What did I do?”

“When do you have to leave?” When are you going to break my heart?

“Leave?” Elliot tilted his head to one side, sounding completely confused. “I told you. I’m not going anywhere. I’ve already talked to Mark. They’re reassigning me to the New York office. I’m staying. For you. For Noah. For my kids.”

“Staying?” Olivia swiped impatiently at a second flood of tears. “Sorry. I think I’m still a bit out of it.”

His arms came up around her again. He offered such a warm shelter from the past few days. “You and me, Liv.”

“Partners for life.”