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all the songs make sense

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When she hears the gate click behind her, it takes everything in her not to turn around to see if he’s still there, waiting. Watching.

But she doesn’t, continues walking back to her car like it’s the most important thing she can do right now. And even though her steps are quick and determined, she keeps listening for a telltale sign that he’s rushing after her. Tries listening for his footsteps behind her, for his voice calling her name, for something that tells her that he too felt the magnitude of that moment.

Then suddenly she’s at her car and it’s dark, the wind biting at her face, and she accepts then that he’s not coming, just as she should’ve known.

As she gets into the driver’s seat, she hopes it’s because Eli came back or that he decided to go searching for him. But that tiny piece of doubt in the back of her mind keeps whispering, “You’ve been reading this all wrong. You scared him off by telling him to come home.”

She blasts music on the way home to cancel out the voice, let’s the radio decide what will fill her mind. But then the radio keeps giving her love song after love song.

There ain't no gold in this river
That I've been washing my hands in forever
I know there is hope in these waters
But I can't bring myself to swim
When I am drowning in this silence
Baby, let me in

The skip button on her wheel gets pressed to force the station to change, a small ache beginning to build in the center of her chest.

Is it insensitive for me to say
"Get your shit together, so I can love you?"

Skip.

There now, steady love, so few come and don't go
Will you won't you, be the one I always know?
When I'm losing my control, the city spins around
You're the only one who knows, you slow it down

She presses the power button to the radio forcefully, feels the pain radiate up her arm for a second as she hits it a little too hard and lets her head fall back against the headrest of her seat. The songs only serve to grow the ache that is now settled deep in her chest and when she eventually comes to a red light, she lets herself close her eyes for a few seconds to allow the ache to consume her entire being.

Her eyes slowly open after she counts to five and the light turns green, the rumble of the car the only noise now.

The longer she drives, the more the silence of the car slowly encourages her earlier thoughts to permeate her mind once again. The ache in her chest starts throbbing then and she hears the light tapping on her vehicle signifying the beginning of the rain as the first tear escapes her eye.

She laughs bitterly as the rain begins to pound against the car and shakes her head, letting her elbow rest against the driver door with her head in her hand as she drives through the wet New York streets. The rain only serves to remind her of him more, flashes of them standing in the pouring rain over twenty years ago looking into a taxi, a flash of them standing in the light drizzle staring at each other for the first time in ten years. She shakes her head and lets it rests heavier in her hand.

When she finally gets home, it’s late, and she simultaneously hopes that Noah is both sitting up waiting for her in the living room but also fast asleep tucked in his bed.

As she approaches her apartment door, it’s noticeably quiet on the other side as she slides her key in the lock.

The door swings open to reveal an empty kitchen and dining area, though soft light filters in from the living room and she hears the quiet sounds of her television playing. 

She sets her purse on the hook and slides her keys onto the stand as she kicks off her shoes and pads towards the living room.

When she approaches the living room, she leans against the wall to take it in. Noah is curled up against the arm of the couch, his eyes droopy as he watches Soul.

His eyes drift over to her as she watches him and a small smile graces his face.

“Hi mom,” he whispers as she walks towards him. She smiles as she leans down to press a kiss to the top of his head.

“Hi baby, you about ready for bed?” He nods and a yawn escapes him as she glances over at Lucy tucked into the chair, a book now closed on her lap. Lucy smiles at her and Liv gives her a tight smile in return.

“Come tuck me in?” He asks quietly, rubbing his eyes as he stands up. Olivia nods and reaches for him once more, pulling his head to her as she drops a final kiss to the top of his head.

“Yep. Be there in a few, let me say bye to Lucy and lock up for the night alright?” He nods and yawns once more as he shuffles towards his room, the blanket he’s wrapped up in trailing on the ground behind him as he shuffles down the hallway.

When she turns back towards Lucy, she’s standing, folding the blanket that had covered her lap back up to lay it back on the couch.

Lucy turns to face her then and as her eyes search Olivia’s face, she frowns.

“Is everything okay Liv?” She asks, concern etched in her features and Olivia sighs.

“Yeah. It’s just… been a long day.” Lucy gives her a sad smile then as she pulls her book into her chest.

“You let me know if you need me tomorrow alright? I don’t have anything planned so if you need to take some time…” she trails off then, her eyes darting to the ground in fear.

Olivia reaches for her arm, squeezing it gently. 

“I appreciate that Lucy, thank you.” Lucy smiles at her once again as she walks towards the front door.

“You have a good night Liv.” She slides on her shoes and opens the front door before looking back at her.

“You too Lucy. I’ll see you Monday.” Lucy gives her another small look of concern as well as a heavyhearted smile before shutting the door behind her and Olivia lets out a long sigh as the door clicks into place.

She lets herself stand there for a moment, letting her head fall back to rest between her shoulders as her face looks up at the ceiling. Elliot’s face appears suddenly then, his eyes watching her carefully with her hand on his neck. Then suddenly his face comes closer, and she swears she can feel his breath on her face before a thump brings her back into her dining area.

Her eyes burst open as she continues to stare up at the ceiling, trying to coax back the feeling of them slightly leaning closer to each other, the warmth that had been building quickly fading away.

She rubs two fingers up and down her forehead as she lets out a heavy sigh before turning towards the hallway where her and Noah’s bedrooms are.

The light from his bedroom illuminates the hallway and she walks towards it, and hears a quiet groan from his room as she enters the doorway.

He’s on his knees in front of his dresser, colored pencils scattered around him, the bucket they rest in laying sideways to his left.

The thump from earlier makes sense now and she leans down to help him finish cleaning up the mess.

Finally, he’s in bed and she sits down next to him, pushing his curls out of his face.

He yawns once again, his eyes fighting to stay open.

“Are you okay mom? You seem sad.” A yawn overtakes him once more and she gives him a worn smile as he blinks hard to force himself awake for just a minute longer.

“I’m alright baby. It’s just been a long night.” She stands up then and leans forward to kiss his forehead. 

He yawns once again and his eyes close as he snuggles into his pillow.

“Alright,” he says quietly, “see you later, alligator.” She smiles as she switches off the light.

“Take care, polar bear.” She hears him hum in response and she slowly shuts his door. In the darkness of the hall, she lets herself slump back against the wall as the day slams into her.

She hasn’t been this exhausted in a long time, but the case, finding out about what Elliot had done for Rita, seeing Bernie, finding the pills that Eli had dropped and then finally that moment with Elliot as she walked out.

Her head falls back against the wall with a soft thump and she takes a deep breath. She takes the moment to rest, letting her body slowly catch up with the rest of her. Her mind stays at war with itself, the ever present doubt about her feelings for Elliot and his reciprocation of them nagging at her. 

She lets the memory of his warm breath pulling her in closer after she’d let herself open up the most she had ever done since his sudden reappearance in her life. But the ten years of silence and his promise of “it will always be you and I” restart their ever present argument in her head and she sighs before pushing herself off the wall and dragging herself into her bedroom.

She thinks of the story of Rita as she closes her bedroom door, lets herself fall a little deeper for him as she replays the details that Ayanna had managed to tie together. The knowledge that Elliot had pulled ties with his connections in Europe to find this victim’s son, make sure that he was safe and that they were taken care of reminding her just how she fell in love with him all those years earlier. A soft smile graces her face briefly before she shakes her head and pulls her phone out of her pocket and tosses it on her bed.

She stares at it for a second before looking back at her bathroom. She stares for a few seconds before shaking her head once more, deciding that tonight is a night where she won’t even think about her bedtime routine, the thought of it just exhausting her even more than she already is.

Her head falls forward so that her chin is touching her chest and she rolls her head back and forth, trying to encourage the ever growing knot at the base of her neck to loosen. She continues the motion a few times and then sighs before lifting her head back up. Her eyes stare out the window for a second before she finally starts to strip herself of the clothes that are slowly becoming heavier and heavier the longer they are on her.

Once her pajamas are on, her clothes left in a haphazard pile to the right of her nightstand, she finally pushes the blankets back to get ready to climb into her bed.

Before she does, she plugs her phone in and sets it down on her stand, checking one last time for any missed messages. She’s surprised by the sharp pain in her chest when she’s met with no notifications, just the picture of her and Noah that serves as her lock screen, shocked by the sudden wave of hurt that washes over her.

The tears that spring to her eyes also startle her, but she shakes her head as she climbs into bed and she tells herself it’s the exhaustion taking over. As her head hits her pillow, the hurt starting to settle deep in her chest, she finally acknowledges the lie she told herself.

She huffs before rolling onto her side to stare at her phone, willing it to ring. Her eyes settle on the dark screen for an embarrassingly long amount of time, the longer she stares, the louder her words from earlier start to echo in her head.

“You’ve been reading this all wrong. You scared him off by telling him to come home.”

Finally, her eyes start to close and she feels herself starting to drift when she hears the buzz of her phone next to her, her screen lighting up the dark room. Her eyes pop open and she tries to push back the anticipation that builds in her, knowing that the chances that it’s him are slim, the chances of it being related to work more likely.

She takes a deep breath before pushing herself up to settle on her elbow and grabbing her phone. Braces herself for the disappointment she knows is about to hit her, but then she sees his name.

El, new message. Her heart flutters as she gets ready to open her phone but she freezes right before she enters her passcode. She lets herself wonder for a second just when she had reverted back to being a lovesick teenager, especially when it came to him. Confusion replaces her elation for a brief second before she shoves it away and opens the message.

It’s short, but it immediately makes her smile and the tears from earlier are back, but instead of coming from a place of hurt, they come from one of yearning, of a promise to be fulfilled. She decides to leave the message as it is, a response unnecessary, as she sets the phone back down on her nightstand.

The aching in her chest has been replaced by a ball of warmth that slowly spreads through her, and a small smile still remains on her face as she closes her eyes to imagine him saying his message to her.

As the words quiet her mind and warm her soul, she settles deeper into her bed, sleep slowly wrapping it fingers around her, her muscles slowly relaxing one by one as the darkness of slumber calls to her.

Sleep comes for her quickly then as his message echoes in her head.

I’ll be home soon, I promise.