“Liv?” Cragen called her into his office. Olivia stepped inside feeling anxiety building in the pit of her stomach. “Would you shut the door please?"
“Cap?” Olivia couldn’t meet his gaze. She already sensed his pain and didn’t know how she was going to avoid breaking down in front of her captain.
“Elliot put his papers in.” Cragen tried to break the news to her gently. There was no gentleness to her partner vanishing on her for months, only to find out it was a permanent thing. “There was nothing I could do.”
“He's earned it.” She managed to choke out the words with some semblance of composure.
“And then some. You wanna talk?”
“No.” She shook her head sharply. “I’m fine.”
“You wanna take a day?”
“Cap. I'm fine.” Olivia strode out of the office. She told Fin to give her a minute and found the first open interrogation room.
Dropping to her knees, Olivia could do nothing to stop her tears from flowing. She knew the shooting took something out of Elliot. It had never occurred to her that it would rob her of her partner.
Her best friend.
For the next few months, Olivia struggled. She headed home after they lost their case to Bayard Ellis’s courtroom brilliance. She ignored him when he tried to offer some semblance of comfort.
What was the point?
She trudged down the hall toward her door only to find a mirage sitting on the ground in front of her door. “El? What the fuck happened?”
“I needed some time.” Elliot was on his feet and holding her tightly before she could say anything. “I had to retire. They didn’t give me a choice. IAB threatened to take both our shields.”
“They were never giving me back my badge, Liv.” Elliot released her so she could open her door. “I couldn’t take you down with me.”
“Six months, El. Six damn months. Not a peep from my best friend. From my partner?” Olivia couldn’t meet his eyes. She threw her coat and bag in the general direction of her couch. He closed the door behind them. “Six months.”
“I know, I know.” Elliot held a phone up and placed it on her coffee table. “I have a few things to tell. Don’t have long before I’ve got to be at the airport.”
“What?” Olivia wrapped her arms around herself, turning her back when tears threatened again.
“I….Kathy left me. Took Eli to her mom’s again. She already had the divorce papers drawn up before the shooting. Never bothered to tell me until four months ago. I was still reeling from Jenna and IAB.” Elliot took a hesitant step towards her. “It was apparently easier the second time for her. I signed them. Gave her the house. Didn’t see the point of clinging onto a loveless marriage.”
“El. I’m so sorry.” She couldn’t imagine losing everything in such a short amount of time. “What are you going to do?”
Elliot continued to move closer until his hands caught her by the shoulders. “I’ve got a job. A friend of mine runs a private security business. Gray Security. I’ve been staying at his place. Recovering.”
“Fell into the bottle and depression for a while. It wasn’t pretty.” Elliot welcomed her embrace when she turned toward him. “I wanted to be better when we talked.”
“I fucking missed you. Don’t do that again.” Olivia refused to be embarrassed by her tears or the way she clung to him if only for the briefest moment. “What’s with the phone?”
“It’s for you. A secure way to text me. I can’t stay here. Can’t be a cop anymore but I swear to god I’m not abandoning you. I'll be travelling quite a lot.” Elliot tightened his hold on her. “You can text me whenever you want. I’ll get it on this phone. Probably best not to call given the type of work I’ll be doing.”
“Okay.” Olivia hated how small her voice sounded. She breathed in deeply then stepped out of his arms. “Okay. You be safe.”
“Me? You be safe. Message me, Liv. So I….” Elliot seemed to struggle for a moment. His hands came up suddenly to grab her. He crushed his lips to hers. “Stay safe when I can’t watch your back, partner.”
Olivia didn’t get a chance to respond. He was gone before she could say anything else. “Partner.”
It was late in the evening when the phone drew her attention again. She grabbed it from the coffee table. What could a single text hurt?
Olivia: Hey El? You there?
Elliot: ‘El’ is away from his phone. He stupidly left it unlocked. This is Mark. A superior substitute and his boss. See he got the phone to you.
Olivia: He did.
Olivia: You keep my partner safe.
Elliot: Yes ma’am.
Olivia: Don’t call me ma’am.
Elliot: Yes ma’am.