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Never Letting Go

Chapter Text

“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 family.

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.”

“What?”

“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.”

“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.

Elliot: Good.

Olivia: You keep my partner safe.

Elliot: Yes ma’am.

Olivia: Don’t call me ma’am.

Elliot: Yes ma’am.

Chapter Text

Olivia: Cleaned your desk and locker out to do. Not your maid, asshole. You could’ve picked your shit up.

Elliot: Fair. But how do you feel about a sexy maid outfit?

Olivia: You don’t have the legs for it.

Elliot: Funny.

Olivia: You want any of this shit that I have boxed up.

Elliot: Can you hold onto it for me? If not, toss it.

Olivia: Bayard Ellis told me that I need to find an escape from the job.

Elliot: Did he?

Olivia: He doesn’t think I’m doing well.

Elliot: And what do you think?

Olivia: Tired of babysitting rookie SVU detectives. I miss having a partner I trust.

Elliot: Liv.

Olivia: I have to go. Caught case.

Rushing around her apartment to gather her stuff up, Olivia forgot her second phone on her bed. Rollins and Amaro weren’t bad. At least, Fin and Much were still around. But none of them were her partner.

Another case. Another brutally murdered victim. Another sleepless night.

She hadn’t gotten much rest aside from a few stolen hours in the cribs here and there. Fin offered to give her a ride home. And she took him up on it.

“How you doing, Liv?”

Olivia tilted her head towards him. She’d been dozing against the window. “Fine.”

“How’s Stabler?”

“No idea.”

“No?” Fin stopped at a light. He met her gaze for several long minutes. “No clue at all? He hasn’t reached out to you.”

“Nope.” Olivia rested her head back against the window.

“Thought you’d be more messed up about him leaving.” Fin smiled when she didn’t respond. “Heard his wife filed for divorce.”

“Oh?” Olivia didn’t even blink. “Where’d you here about that?”

“Probably around the same time he showed up at your door.”

“Fin.”

“I ain’t telling anyone anything. Just….glad to know his stupid ass didn’t simply walk out on you.” Fin winked at her then went back to driving. “Did you tell him about David Haden?”

Fin.”

Elliot: Liv? You there?

Elliot: Olivia. It’s been two days. Text me back. I’m worried.

Elliot: Tell me you’re okay.

Olivia: Sorry. Forgot this phone at home. Long week. Bad case. Someone wrecked my apartment in the hopes of intimidating me. Going to bed.

Waking up the next day, Olivia headed into her living room. She’d gotten almost twelve hours of sleep. A miracle. She stared around her house…and the wreckage left behind since CSU had finished.

It was going to be a long day of cleaning.

Olivia sipped coffee and glared at the mess, hoping it would magically disappear by the time she finished her cup. She was distracted by a knock on the door and went to answer. She frowned at the tall, handsome man smiling down at her. “Who are you?”

“Mark Gray.” He pointed behind him to the collection of people. They waved when he called out their names. “Lane. Lakshmi. Hassan. Joe. Half of my active team. Elliot would be here but he’s with a client in Barcelona.”

Olivia peered at her coffee mug trying to decide if someone had snuck something into it. “Mark Gray? You have proof?”

“Aside from my ID?” Mark dug his phone out of his pocket. He messed with it for a second before showing her a photo of him with Elliot—the latter holding a sign with Mark’s name and an arrow pointing at him. “He thought we’d meet at some point and you might want proof.”

“Right.” Olivia hadn’t budged from her door. She was still dressed in shorts and an NYPD T-shirt. “And why are you here?”

“Let’s see.” Mark pointed toward Lane and Hassan. “They’re here to set up a new security system for you. I say new, but you don’t seem to have one at all.”

“Okay.”

“The rest are part of the clean-up crew.” Mark nodded his head towards the rest. Lakshmi smiled at flexed her muscles. “Put those away. They’re dangerous.”

“Yeah, boss.”

“And what are you doing?” Olivia was having a hard time not laughing.

“Oh me? Supervising, mostly.” Mark placed a hand on his chest and tried for an innocent grin. “Delegating. Boss type things. And here for you. Anything, in particular, I can help you with, ma’am?”

Olivia finally stepped back to allow them to crowd into her apartment. Mark whistled when he took in the mess left behind by her intruders. “I could’ve managed on my own.”

“Sure. But why should you have to?” Mark rested a large hand on her lower back, guiding her into the kitchen. “Have you eaten?”

“Not yet.”

Mark grabbed her wrist and lifted up her mug to sniff at it. “Fresh coffee but no food?”

Olivia watched while he went over to open her fridge. He seemed genuinely surprised at the lack of contents. “Problem?”

“You’ve got milk. Juice. And leftover Chinese from a week ago. And some ketchup.” Mark shook his head. “Where’s your food?”

“I was going out.”

“For groceries?”

“A bagel.” Olivia shrugged. “I work odd hours. I’m gone half the time. What’s the point of groceries if I wind up throwing it all out because it’s gone off in my absence?”

“This is tragic. Beyond tragic.” Mark had his phone out and took a picture. “Sending this to Elliot.”

Olivia went back to sipping her coffee. “Nice to meet you, by the way. Anywhere else you’d like to snoop around while you’re invading my space?”

“I’m partial to underwear drawers.” Mark ignored her irritated huff. “Elliot claims you never have food in your fridge.”

“See?”

Mark closed the fridge. “How about the—”

“You’re not seeing my underwear drawer—or my bedroom for that matter.” Olivia cut him off. She knew from the glint in his eyes where the conversation was going.

“Maybe next time I’m here with Elliot.” Mark continued typing away on his phone. “Getting you a food service for a few days. It’ll keep you fed.”

“I’m fine. I can manage.”

“Yeah, but why should you have to?”

“Do you steamroll over people all the time?” Olivia was tempted to kick all of them out of her apartment.

“Only for people Elliot loves.” 

Chapter Text

Olivia: I went on a date.

Elliot: Oh? With?

Olivia: No one you know. An ADA.

Elliot: A lawyer? Good date?

Olivia: Not bad.

Elliot: Going to tell me his name?

Olivia: Not a chance. I’m going to sleep. Night, El.


No matter how hard Elliot tried, Olivia refused to give him any information. She’d been finally settling into a nice routine when Simon had shown up and thrown everything to hell. It had gone from bad to worse when Cragen had shown up in the middle of her questioning a victim.

“Captain, what's going on?” Olivia had a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach.

“When's the last time you talked to your brother?”

 “About an hour ago. He's been calling me, but I didn't pick up.” Olivia frowned at him.

“Do you know where he is?” Cragen pressed her further.

“I have no idea. What's going on?”

“Simon and his fiancee just kidnapped the children from foster care. There's an amber alert out for them. He's been calling you? I'm gonna need your phone.” He held his hand out to her when she didn’t immediately offer it. “You don't have a choice here, Liv.”

Seeing her brother sitting in a jail cell was hard for Olivia. She wanted to help him. She did. He was the only family she had, after all.

Nodding to the uni to open the door, Olivia stepped into the cell. Simon tried to explain. She wasn’t sure she was ready to really hear him out.

“The weird thing is, my own dad was a better father to me than I've been to my kids. Just what you need to hear.” Simon stopped speaking when she just stared at him. “If you're done with me, I completely under—“

“Please stop, Simon. Please, just stop.” Olivia got to her feet and stepped over to the door. She couldn’t look at him. Her stomach was still churning from thinking about their shared DNA. “Look, I'll talk to Ellis.”

February had been a rough month. March hadn’t been much better. After having to reinvestigate a crime where she’d helped put away the wrong man for a crime. Something that had brought her into conflict with Bayard Ellis for the second time.

And had sent her dating life with David Haden into a complete tailspin.

“So... where does that leave us?”Olivia knew exactly where it left them. She had no doubts he’d choose his career.

And she’d choose hers as well.

“In conflict. I'm gonna be looking into cases that you handled.” David seemed genuinely conflicted.

And we never disclosed.”

“It's not too late. But that means I'd have to resign.” He took a long swig of his drink.

“Well, that's ridiculous. You can't do that. It's what you live for.” Olivia stared into her own glass, hoping to find answers.

“Says who?”

“Says you. The first time you walked into our squad room.” Olivia glanced over at him. “And for what it’s worth, I’m not leaving my job either.”

“I'd be assigned to your cases. You know, that-- that means we—” He couldn’t seem to bring himself to complete the thought.

“I know. Us... this... never happened.” Olivia tossed a few bills on the counter then got to her feet. “Good luck.”

Striding out of the bar, Olivia tried to appear unfazed. Strong. Her heart hurt. Not necessarily because she’d fallen in love with him.

They’d been in lust. David was a decent man. Fun. Her heart hadn’t been engaged in whatever they’d been doing.

It was just…another man.

Another failure in what felt like a month of failures.

The cab ride home gave her plenty of time to think. Too much time to think about everything she could have and should have done differently. She had just stepped into her apartment when her phone beeped.


Elliot: Everything okay? I haven’t heard back from you since your brother got arrested.

Olivia: Rough few weeks.

Elliot: Tell me about it?

Olivia: I told you about Simon already. What else? Oh, turns out I helped put an innocent man behind bars. And now all of my cases are going to be investigated by the Conviction Integrity Unit—led by the man I was dating. So, I was also dumped.

Elliot: And what’s this prick’s name?

Olivia: I feel like a fraud. And a failure.

Elliot: You’re not.

Olivia: As a cop. A sister.

Elliot: You’re the best cop I’ve ever known. No one’s perfect, Liv. We all make mistakes. And unlike some, you go out of your way to make things right.

Olivia: Don’t take this the wrong way, El, but I’m really tired of being easy to leave behind.

Elliot: Easy? Hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life was walking away from you.

Elliot: Mark would like to add that you deserve better.

Olivia: Thanks. Think I’m going to have an early night.


Olivia walked into the precinct the next morning to find Nick waiting for her by the elevators with a grin on his face. “What?”

“You get a new boyfriend?”

Olivia barely resisted the urge to chuck her coffee in his face. “Pretty sure I lost one. Why?”

“You’ll see.”

“Nick.” Olivia followed him into the squad room only to stop by her desk. She found a massive bouquet of flowers in a glass vase on her desk. A riot of deep purples and pinks. Roses, dahlias, and calla lilies. She found the card attached to her delivery. For the woman who deserves the world. ME.

“Who’s me?” Fin peered over her shoulder at the note.

“None of your business.” Olivia knew immediately that ME didn’t mean me. It meant Mark and Elliot. “Just an old friend trying to cheer me up.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Olivia: Cragen was found with the body of a dead escort in his bed.

Elliot: What?

Olivia: He’s being framed. Has to be. Cassidy’s undercover with one of our potential escorts. Had no idea. SUV has a temporary captain who I hate. And my new partner keeps going off the deep end. Pretty sure he’s going to shoot Cassidy at some point.

Elliot: I’m your partner.

Olivia: You left.

Elliot: Liv.

Olivia: Can’t change the facts. You left. I have a new partner. And this has been the longest two weeks on record.

Elliot: How’s Cassidy?

Olivia: Looked pretty good, actually.

Elliot: Olivia.

Olivia: What? Don’t I deserve to find someone to give me the world in my own zipcode?

Elliot: How’s Cragen holding up?

Olivia: Nice left turn. Cap’s certainly had better days as you can imagine.

Elliot: Be careful, Liv.

Olivia: With what? The case? Or Cassidy?

Elliot: Both

The week hadn't improved for Olivia at all. Cassidy had been shot. They’d eventually managed to solve the case and Cragen hadn't been forced off the job.

Not yet, anyway.

She knew as well as the captain how things like this stayed with a cop. Despite being exonerated, people would talk. It would always be something held against him.

Her thoughts went to Foster's daughter as well. Her heart broke for the girl. The entire case had been a mess from start to finish.

How many lives had been ruined?

I heard David Haden turned in his resignation.” Nick clearly couldn't help poking at it.

David Haden had been one name Olivia had tried to ignore while dealing with Foster. She didn't believe he'd been part of the conspiracy. She felt sorry that he'd been forced to resign--losing the job he'd wanted so badly.

Olivia couldn’t help glaring at Nick. She wasn’t in the mood. “He had nothing to do with all of this.”

“Well, even so, Foster reported to him. He should've known.” Nick paused when she glared at him. “I'm sorry.”

“Nick, I know that you're still angry.” Olivia decided to offer an olive branch even though she wasn’t in the mood. “We should talk.”

“Okay. We'll do that.” Nick walked away before she could say anything else.

Of course.

Captain Harris stepped out of the office to find her still staring after her partner. “Everything all right?”

“Fine.”

“You're worried about Foster's daughter. You did what you had to do.” He waited for her to comment. She didn’t. “Go home, Detective.”

“I will.” Olivia returned to the file on her desk.

Go home to what? My empty apartment? To wondering if I’ll ever reach the point of loneliness where hiring someone to spend time with me seems like a good idea?

It was late when Olivia left the precinct. She’d put it off as long as possible. The idea of a night alone with her thoughts made her almost want to pick up the phone and call Cassidy.

They’d had fun in the past. She’d definitely thought he was a mistake then. Were they different people now?

Maybe not different enough.

“Olivia.”

She stared in confusion at the two men at the foot of the precinct steps. “What the—”

“We’re just passing through the city for a few days. Thought maybe we could take you out for dinner?” Mark had an arm casually slung across Elliot’s shoulders. “How about it?”

“What if I have plans?” Olivia slung her bag over her shoulder.

“Do you?” Elliot waited until she’d walked down the steps to grab the strap of her bag and used it to guide her into a hug. She found herself squashed between the two men. “Maybe you could cancel your night alone with whatever moldy leftovers are in your fridge?”

“Asshole.” Olivia was too tired to punch him in the side. She rested her head against Mark’s chest and closed her eyes for a moment. “I could fall asleep right here given half a chance. I’m so tired.”

“You should eat something.” Mark took her bag from her and eased her closer to Elliot who wrapped his arm around her shoulder. “We’ve got a suite at the Ritz-Carlton. Great view. We can get room service. And you can rest.”

“Rest?”

“Best bed you’ve ever laid on. I swear.” Mark held his hand to his heart with a sly grin. “We’ve already tried it out.”

“I would pay to watch.” Olivia was definitely too tired to be thinking clearly. She pinched the bridge of her nose when they both laughed. “Shut up. Both of you. I’m too exhausted for this.”

“I guarantee an encore performance if you let us take care of you,” Elliot promised with a grin. “We’ll get burgers from room service. Maybe one of those cheese plates. Best thing on their late-night room service menu. A few beers. We’ll get you in the bath.”

“Give you a massage,” Mark added. “Consider it the appetizer before we give you the full show. You’ll enjoy it, ma’am.”

“When I’m less tired, I will be irritated with both of you.” Olivia couldn’t help enjoying the warmth radiating from both of them. “And we’re going to talk about you two showing up whenever I have even the hint of a potential date with someone.”

“Are you always this suspicious?” Mark led the way over to a waiting vehicle.

“Yes, yes I am.”

Chapter Text

“Liv? Are you planning in the tub forever?” Elliot knocked on the bathroom door. She’d been soaking in the tub for almost an hour. “We’re getting ready to order burgers. Need some help scrubbing your back?”

“Give me a second.” Olivia hadn’t felt so relaxed in a long time. Safe. Comforted. Relaxed. She couldn’t remember the last time someone had run a bath for her.

Taken care of her.

Gone out of their way to help her slow down and relax. She tried to tell herself not to get used to it. People always walked away, after all.

But Elliot hadn’t. He’d come back. She wanted to believe in that if in nothing else.

With a sigh, Olivia climbed out of the tub. She dried off quickly then wrapped the fluffy bathrobe around her. It hung just above her knees. She tied the belt loosely around her, allowing a fair amount of cleavage to show.

Olivia made her way through the hotel suite into the small living room area. She paused to lean against the back of the sofa. “My back is just fine.”

“More than fine.” Mark dropped the room service menu in his hand. “Fuck burgers. How about we eat you?”

Elliot immediately stepped up beside him. “I second that.”

“This is not a democracy. We’re not taking a vote.” Olivia’s laughter died away when they prowled towards her. “What happened to food and rest?”

“We did promise you a massage first.” Elliot reached her first. He grabbed one end of the bathrobe belt. “We’ll focus on one area to start.”

“Again. I thought we were going to eat.” Olivia was mesmerized, watching their fingers skate along her sides lightly grazing her breasts.

Mark seized the other end of the belt, They both pulled, slowing undoing the loose knot she’d made. “We’re going to eat. We’re going to eat well.”

Suddenly lifted off her feet, Mark carried her back into the bedroom. He set her on the edge of the bed, gently pressing her down against the mattress. They stood above her, taking her in. It felt like they stared for hours and left her feeling exposed by their perusal of her naked body.

“Have we mentioned how beautiful you are?” Elliot waited for Mark to spread her legs then knelt between them. “Maybe we should have a competition. See who can get you off the fastest?”

“Not a—” Olivia swallowed the rest of her sentence on a moan when Elliot ran his tongue along her slit. “Fuck.

“Not yet, darling. We’ll get there,” Mark promised.

She lost track of time and orgasms. When they’d finally called their competition over, they were all sweaty, sated, and starving. She was pressed between them in a tangle of limbs.

“Can we order burgers now?” Olivia asked when she’d finally remembered how to breathe and speak in complete sentences.

There was something oddly domestic about them sitting around an expensive hotel suite in bathrobes eating burgers and fries. Olivia snagged most of Elliot’s fries; she threw one at him when he stole her milkshake. Mark offered her his instead.

“You know, you can’t show up because you’re jealous of a date I may or may not have.” Olivia pointed a fry at first Elliot then Mark. “I’m serious. Jealousy is not an attractive trait.”

“You gonna tell me you don’t get a little hot and bothered?” Elliot took a bite out of the fry she still held in her hand.

“I don’t.” Olivia hit him in the head with the rest of the fry. “El.”

“You can do better than Cassidy. And Haden. And any other man you’ve been with before.” Elliot wiped a napkin across his forehead. “You just have to give us half a chance to prove it.”

“When you’re in the city long enough?” Olivia wasn’t sure how all of this was supposed to work between them. If it was supposed to work.

“Have a little faith.” Mark stole his milkshake back from her. “You won’t regret it.”

Chapter Text

“Merry Christmas, Liv.” Nick stepped by her desk on the way out. He’d hung around for a while killing time until he had to head to his mom’s. “Wish I could stay.”

“No, you don’t.” Olivia had settled into another holiday spent alone in the squad room. “Merry Something.”

Slouching in her chair, Olivia tried not to feel abandoned and lonely. Everyone else in the squad had somewhere else to be—someone to go home to or someone’s home to go to.  She, like almost every year before, would be at her desk most of the night.

She had leftovers in the fridge to head up later. “Merry Something.”

The day passed as most Christmas Eve’s since she began working at the 1-6. Quietly. Olivia took a walk late in the afternoon. It was snowing a little, not enough to stick. It would’ve been magical if she hadn’t been stuck at the precinct.

She grabbed herself a coffee and a muffin before heading back to the precinct. “What the hell?”

They were waiting for her in the squad room. One of the desks had been emptied and covered in a tablecloth. Food spread across it. Elliot held a bouquet of flowers while a gift bag dangled from one of Mark’s hands.

“They’ll let just about anyone into the precinct these days.” Olivia rested her hip against Nick’s desk. She didn’t know what to say. “What are you doing here?”

“Munch mentioned you’d drawn the short straw on purpose and would be by your lonesome.” Elliot set the vase of flowers on her desk and walked over to her. He reached up to brush snow out of her hair. “We thought we’d help Santa with one of the names on his nice list.”

“Pretty sure you’re at the top of the list, darling.” Mark came over to join them. He’d set the gift bag next to the flowers. He placed one hand on Olivia’s lower back and the other rested on Elliot’s neck. “Maybe not the perfect location to treat you on Christmas Eve, but we can’t beat the company.”

“Merry Christmas, Liv.” Elliot guided her between them so they could both hug her.

“Merry Something.”

Mark pressed his lips to her forehead. “We could leave you all alone to eat something out of the vending machine.”

“I had leftovers.”

“Now you’ll have more.” He winked at her before stepping back.

Halfway through the meal, which turned out to be a perfectly cooked garlic butter rib roast with roasted potatoes and a salad, the dreaded call came in. Olivia had caught some sort of case. She had time for one last bite and a kiss from both of them before she was out the door.

It was late on Christmas day when Olivia finally made it home. She’d been in and out of the precinct, chasing down first the victim and then the suspect. Fin had come in to give her a hand—he helped himself to a healthy portion of the leftovers and thankfully said nothing about the flowers on her desk.

Stepping into her apartment, Olivia dropped her unopened gift in surprise. She’d left a completely undecorated home. Completely. She hadn’t even put out her one string of lights.

Her apartment now looked like it belonged on the cover of some holiday-themed magazine. Lights. Decorations. A tree by the window fully decked out. Santa’s helpers had clearly paid a visit.

Too tired to fully appreciate it, Olivia grabbed her gift then wandered into her bedroom to sleep. She found her second surprise. Two men making out on her bed in nothing but their boxers.

“I am too exhausted to enjoy this as much as I should.” Olivia sank down on the edge of the mattress with a groan. “I haven’t slept since the day before yesterday.”

“Sleep first, then we’ll find creative places to stick mistletoe.” Elliot waited until she’d undressed then dragged her onto the bed between them. “I have a few suggestions.”

“Shut up, El.”

Olivia: I’m going to Cleveland for a few days. Bayard Ellis and I are working a case off the books to try to get a man off death row.

Elliot: Cleveland with Ellis?”

Olivia: Elliot.

Elliot: Weren’t you pissed off about him screwing up your relationship with the slick attorney?

Olivia: Weren’t you happy he screwed up my relationship with David?

Elliot: I’m never happy when you’re sad.

Olivia: Liar. Anyway, I’m getting ready to leave. Didn’t want you to pop by for a visit and worry.

Elliot: Or, you wanted to needle us about your hanging around another attorney who likes you.

Olivia: Enjoy your trip to Lisbon. Don’t get shot.

Chapter Text

Olivia: I arrested Dana Lewis for murder.

Elliot: What the hell?

Olivia: You took the words out of my mouth. I don’t even know how I feel about it.

Elliot: Wish we could be there.

Olivia: How long are you in your undisclosed location?

Elliot: Three or four more months. We’ll be stateside mid-May, I think.

May Twenty-First

“Boss? Think you’re going to want to see this.” Hassan rushed into the living room of the hotel suite they were using as a temporary base of operations in Philadelphia. They’d be moving back to their offices in New York in a few days. “Boss? You hear me?”

Mark caught the tablet Hassan slid across the table to him. His heart stopped when he pressed play on the video. “Fuck. Elliot? Elliot.”

“What?” Elliot poked his head into the room. He came over to peer over Mark’s shoulder, grabbing onto him a second later. “Liv. When was this?”

“It’s live. I programmed her emergency alert to go directly to my cellphone.” Hassan explained quickly. “I got the first alarm about ten minutes ago. Then it stopped. It started again and hasn’t stopped. It caused the living room camera to turn on—and knew you needed to see this.”

“Mel. Get us a bird. Don’t care how or how much. I want to be in the air in less than thirty minutes. The helicopter should be able to get us to New York in less than an hour.” Mark was on his feet, heading out of the room. “Gear up people. Hassan? I want eyes on the live feed constantly. Keep NYPD on speed dial if we can’t get there within the hour.”

Elliot had already changed out of his T-shirt and jeans into his tactical gear. Black trousers, shirt, slim Kevlar vest, and boots. Lakshmi tossed his earpiece to him. “What about weapons?”

“Bryce is checking them. We’re good. The helicopter will be on the hotel helipad in ten.” Mark answered. He grabbed the earpiece Lakshmi offered him. “We’re keeping a team in the New York office from now on. I want someone within a ten-minute distance to her.”

“Who is this asshole?” Elliot ground out.

“Facial recognition popped up William Lewis.” Mel stepped into the room. She’d already changed as well. Mark quickly found his own gear. “He was recently acquitted on a technicality. The police believe he’s a serial rapist and murderer. A horrific sadist.”

“Fuck.” Mark was tempted to call in the NYPD. Their ESU weren’t completely useless. He’d lost one too many hostages, though, relying on the local authorities. He didn’t trust them. Not with a regular hostage, and certainly not with Olivia. Not with Olivia. He glanced over when Elliot kicked the bed. “Head in the game, Stabler. He’s had her twenty minutes—max. He likes to play. We’ll find her alive. And he’s leaving her apartment dead.”

“Don’t text her.” Elliot stopped him when he pulled out his phone. “We know she hides the burner we gave her. Let’s not tempt the fates. He won’t see us coming.”

And he wouldn’t.

They managed to get to the helipad closest to Olivia’s place on the Upper West Side in record time. She’d been in Lewis’s clutches for a little over an hour. Mel had kept them updated on what the camera showed until Elliot begged her to stop.

He couldn’t take the updates.

A lot of misery happened in the space of a short time.

They rushed into her building. The plan already in place. They’d separated into pairs. Lakshmi, Hassan, Bryce, and Ramon had immediately gone a floor above hers, banging on her neighbor's door to beg entry. They’d rappel down the outside of the building, breaking through Olivia’s windows.

They were the shock and awe portion of the plan—designed to throw Lewis off his game. They knew from the camera that he had a gun in hand. Olivia’s weapon and a second pistol. He’d threatened her with both.

Done things that Mark wanted to blow his brains out for. He planned to. The second Lewis turned towards the door with gun in hand; Mark had an immediately ironclad case for self-defence.

Mark planned to go through the front door. Elliot had already snuck up via the fire escape. He’d whispered the window was open. They waited patiently for Mark’s signal. The second they entered Mel had instructions to contact Cragen to give them a heads up. Elliot trusted the man. “Go.”

One.

Two.

Three.

Mark kicked the door in the second he heard the sound of glass breaking. He followed through with his gun up. Lewis stood over Olivia, bound to a chair that had been knocked over. He raised his weapon and Mark fired a single shot—catching him in the head and dropping him to the floor. “Perp down.”

“Got his weapons.” Hassan raced over, kicking both guns far out of reach. “We don’t want to get our prints on them.”

Elliot rushed into the room a second later. He dropped to his knees, bending over until he was face to face with Olivia. “Liv? Liv? Fuck. She smells like he dumped a bottle of vodka on her.”

“I’m guessing he force-fed her booze and whatever these pills are.” Mark had already holstered his weapon. He glanced around the wreckage of Olivia’s living room. He wanted to kick the man’s face in when he noticed her ripped blouse and the burns evident on her chest. A few. A smattering of pain compared to what might have happened if they hadn’t installed security cameras in her place. “Where the hell is the ambulance?”

“On the way, boss.” Alex’s calm voice came over the earpiece. “I’m bringing up my kit. Got NYPD racing to you as well. Mel got a hold of Cragen. He’s bringing his whole squad, sounded like.”

“Liv?” Elliot placed a gentle hand on her cheek. “Liv? I need you to wake up now.”

Mark had to walk across the room. To do something to avoid unloading his entire weapon into William Lewis’s face. “Alex if the ambulance isn’t here, I’m driving her myself.”

“Ten-four, Boss.”

"Mark. She can't come back here." Elliot glanced around the wrecked living room and over to the broken windows. "It's a crime scene."

"We did say we wanted to be based out of New York." Mark crouched down next to him. He ran a hand gently over her shoulder, adjusting the torn fabric to offer some cover. "Mel?"

"Already working on a list of properties."

Chapter Text

Olivia woke to the sounds of murmuring voices and beeping machines. She took a deep breath then regretted it when everything hurt. She breathed in shallowly a second time, which was a vast improvement. “Smells like a hospital.”

“The lesser-known follow up to Nirvana’s greatest hit.” Mark’s deep baritone came from her right. She felt his hand grab hers. Someone gently lifted up her other one as well. She opened her eyes to find Elliot standing on the other side of the bed. “How are you doing, darling?”

“I don’t know.” Olivia went to sit up and both men immediately moved to help her. She frowned at them. She felt like her mind was processing everything in slow motion. Why was she in the hospital? Why did she feel like she’d gone on one of her mom’s three-day benders? What— “Oh god. Lewis. Did he—”

Elliot covered her hand with both of hers, sitting on the edge of her bed. “No. He didn’t touch you….below the belt. You have a concussion. A few cuts. A handful of burns. You probably have what feels like a hell of a hangover.”

“He didn’t?” Olivia tilted her head back against the pillow and closed her eyes to try to keep tears from falling. “He was waiting for me. Something seemed off. I went to turn off the alarm but….”

“Instinct?” Elliot guessed.”

Olivia nodded slowly. She blinked away the tears but more kept falling. “I should’ve gone for my gun.”

“Hindsight. You have no idea what may or may not have happened.” Mark brushed the tears off her cheeks. “We might’ve been forced to watch you die. On video. Not an image I ever want in my head. Or Elliot’s.”

Olivia continued to take measured breaths. Her headache had backed off slightly. The haze had cleared a little. Enough to have the vaguest memory of breaking glass and the unmistakable sound of a door being kicked in. “Thank you. For coming for me. For the security system. You saved my life. No one would’ve checked on me for a few days. Not with Cragen sending me home.”

“We would’ve. Even without the camera system, we’d have noticed the lack of texts.” Elliot glanced over at the door when someone knocked. “Blink your lights. Remember, Liv?”

“Still a stubborn son-of-a-bitch.” Olivia watched him head over to open the door. She couldn’t make out what he was saying; she did catch the sound of Fin’s voice. “Why don’t you let them in? I’m going to have to give my statement eventually.”

“It’s barely been a few hours.” Elliot returned his attention to Fin and whoever else was out in the hall then closed the door. He stepped back over to her bed. “The drugs aren’t out of your system yet. You’re still be monitored closely by the doctor because of your concussion—and the aforementioned drugs. We’re not letting anyone talk to you until you’ve been medically cleared.”

“I’m—”

“You are not fine. But you will be,” Elliot stated firmly.

“And he didn’t……” Olivia still couldn’t shake her fear. She couldn’t ask the full question. It was all so hazy. “I can’t remember. I hate not remembering. Not knowing for sure.”

“The second your alarm triggered, the camera in your living room turned on. We have the entire assault on camera. Hassan can be here in minutes with a laptop. You can watch what happened from start to finish.” Mark pulled his phone out of his pocket when she nodded and began sending out a text message. “Your place is a crime scene.”

“I’m aware.” Olivia groaned. She leaned back against the pillow. “Unless it’s the drugs, I think you broke my windows—and door.”

“We did. We’re getting them fixed. Bryce and Alex are taking care of it.” Elliot answered while Mark stepped over to the corner to speak on his phone. “He didn’t have a chance to do much.”

Olivia stared down at his hands, which still held hers. “How the hell am I ever going to feel safe there again? I’ll see his face everywhere.”

“Not much of a face after a bullet went through it.” Elliot sounded very satisfied with this outcome. “Listen….”

“Elliot.” Olivia was clear-headed enough to know that tone of voice. “You’ve done something you know has a fifty-fifty chance of pissing me off.”

“It was his idea.” Elliot gestured to Mark who was still muttering into his phone.

“Oh?”

“He bought a penthouse.”

“Bought a penthouse?” Olivia was beginning to wonder how strong the drugs she’d been given were.

“Bought is a stretch. A client offered it for a ridiculously low price as a thank you for saving their only child’s life.” Elliot grabbed a glass of water off the nearby table. “You should sip this. The nurse wants you to get hydrated. It’ll help.”

“So live saved….bought a penthouse. What does this have to do with anything?” Olivia had a sneaking suspicion she knew the answer.

“We’re traveling over seventy per cent of the time. The penthouse sits empty.”

“No.”

“You could move into it. Enjoy the extra layers of security that come with the building. It’s not much farther from the precinct than your old place. Rent controlled.”

“Rent controlled?” Olivia wilted against the pillow with a sigh. “I’m too tired to think.”

“Rest. We’re not going anywhere,” Elliot promised.

Chapter Text

The following morning Olivia had been released from the hospital. They’d kept her overnight for monitoring while the drugs and alcohol worked out of her system. Mark and Elliot had stayed by her side most of the night; they’d been there to soothe her when she woke up terrified beyond belief that Lewis still had her.

Alex, one of the women on the team, had picked up a selection of her clothes. Olivia had appreciated being able to leave the hospital in something other than borrowed scrubs. She’d refused to stay a second longer than necessary. Her injuries hadn’t been bad enough to require an extended stay.

“You okay? We can put off going to the precinct.” Elliot had joined her in the backseat while Mark drove. “They can wait to get your statement until you’re ready. And you decide when you’re ready.”

Between the security camera and bodycam footage of the attack and rescue, Lewis’ death had been deemed self-defense. The department still wanted her statement on record. Olivia just wanted to get it over with.

“I’ll be fine,” Olivia sighed. “I might as well get it over with.”

“We’re going in with you,” Mark stated firmly. “I wish you’d let me call the attorney our company has on retainer.”

“I don’t need an attorney.” Olivia rolled her eyes. She rested her head against the door with a tired sigh. The doctor had said she’d probably want to spend the next few days taking things easy. “They aren’t going to railroad me. I didn’t do anything aside from being tied to a chair.”

“And tortured,” Elliot muttered angrily. Olivia thought he’d taken it a little personally that he hadn’t been the one to put a bullet in Lewis. “We’re going in there with you.”

“Yes, so I’ve heard. You’d never think I’d handled answering questions about an incident. I’m not a rookie cop. It’s just Cragen and probably Fin or Nick. IAB’s not even going to be there since I didn’t touch a weapon or Lewis.” Olivia thought they were being a little over-protective then she considered what they’d seen on the live feed of the camera while on the way to rescue her. It couldn’t have been easy. “It’ll be fine. Perfectly fine.”

They were famous last words. It wasn’t perfectly fine. Olivia had stared across the desk at her captain—and nothing had come out when he asked what had happened.

“Listen, captain.” Mark stood behind her. He’d been elected to join them when Elliot had gotten into a mild verbal altercation with Nick. Her partner. “You have the video footage from the cameras in her place. It covers the entire traumatic event from start to finish. You have my teams bodycam footage. These questions are unnecessary and could obviously wait a few days.”

“Mark. I’ve got this.” Olivia closed her eyes for a few deep breaths then started. “He was already inside when I got home. No idea how he got there or when. I’m guessing the alarm system can tell you. I don’t think he’d been waiting long for me.”

Telling the story was almost as bad as going through it. She hated the way Cragen flinched with each detail. Nick couldn’t look at her. She didn’t want their pity.

“Olivia? I’m so….”

“Stop.” She cut her captain off before he could apologize. “I don’t want anyone who isn’t William Lewis to offer an apology of any sort to me. No one could’ve predicted what happened after he got off. No one. Not you. Not me. No one. You feeling guilty isn’t helping me or anyone else for that matter.”

“If you’re done, gentlemen?” Mark waited until she’d finished. “The doctor suggested she get some rest.”

“Take two weeks. Mandatory. I don’t want to see you back until you’re medically cleared.” Cragen watched her leave.

Olivia felt everyone’s eyes on her while she walked through the bullpen. It made her want to do something drastic to shock them. “Wish they’d stop staring.”

“One doesn’t often see Boadicea come to life.”

“Wrong hair color.” Olivia had to laugh, though. Mark had managed to get her mind off everything. “Boadicea?”

“What? I did a minor in history when I was in college. And you, darling, are definitely the epitome of a warrior princess.” Mark dodged out of the way of her elbow.

“Take….I was going to say take me home but you can’t.” Olivia rubbed her eyebrow absently with her thumb. “Where the hell am I going to stay?”

“Your new place. Penthouse. You’ll like the view.” Elliot guided her into the elevator when she stood frozen. “We told you about this.”

“I was fairly confident that was the drugs and vodka talking.” Olivia narrowed her eyes on them. “You’re not conning me into moving in with you two when you both are gone half the year at least.”

“Is it a con if we’re being openly obvious about our desire for this to be a sure thing?” Elliot wrapped his arm around her shoulder while Mark stood on her other side and reached for her hand.

“You’ll have better security. A better view. A massive tub. Large enough bed for the three of us.” Mark brought her hand up to kiss one of the healing marks on her knuckle. “We want this to be an official thing. The three of us. Not a once in a while…not us dancing around it.”

“An official thing?” Olivia leaned her head against Elliot’s shoulder. “I’m too tired for this conversation.”

“Just trust that you’re always going to have a home to go to. Always.”

Chapter Text

For the first few days of her required vacation, Olivia stayed on the couch. She burrowed under a blanket and ignored the world. It allowed her to also avoid dealing with the two idiots who’d conned her into playing house with them.

She fully intended to circle back to that conversation.

They were not moving in together. Not yet. They had a lot of difficult conversations to have before she even considered any sort of official living situation with them.

On the third morning, Olivia had enough of their watchful eyes and concerned glances. She decided to go for a walk. She had to admit the building was in a nice area, not far from a decent-sized park. They’d picked well.

She still wanted to find a place of her own. A space of her own. It mattered to her.

Sitting on a park bench, Olivia leaned back and closed her eyes. She enjoyed the sounds of the park. The moment of peace. A second to not thinking about what happened to her. About Lewis.

Her therapist had been helpful. Or, had begun to be helpful. Olivia had a feeling there were layers of recovery to come. She still jumped at shadows and hadn’t managed to sleep through the night just yet.

“Liv?”

Olivia opened one eye to find her handsome duo of trouble standing in front of her. “Some days I wonder if I got the buy one get one sale because no one else wanted you.”

Elliot frowned at her while Mark chuckled. “Can we sit?”

Olivia glanced at the bench. “You’re not going to fit.”

“Watch us.” Elliot sat on one side while Mark sat on the other. They shifted her so she was partially sitting on both of them. “See?”

“You’re idiots. Actual idiots. And I definitely got ripped off.” Olivia leaned her head to rest against Mark’s shoulder. “It’s surprisingly cool weather for the beginning of summer. I’m not moving in with you.”

“Technically, we’re not here all the time.” Elliot pointed out for what felt like the hundredth time. “We travel. All the time.”

“I’m aware.” Olivia shifted slightly, wincing when her healing burns itched. It took all of her self-control not to scratch them constantly. “I don’t like the idea of just moving in with the two of you. I like having my own space.”

“We’re….”

“If you say you’re away with work one more damn time,” Olivia cut him off with a sharp elbow to the side. She climbed off them and stood in front of the bench. “I like having space and time to myself. You… hover. Both of you. Like you think I’m going to vanish if you don’t see me. See that I’m alive and well.”

“We care, darling.” Mark reached a hand out to her but Olivia pulled back. “It’s not easy to see someone you love bound and battered on their living room floor. To have to watch through a computer screen as they’re tortured. To watch the minutes tick by slowly while you have no power to save her.”

“You did save me.” Olivia grabbed the hand he still held out. “You got there in time. I’m…I won’t say I’m fine. But he had me for hours. Hours. Not days.”

Silence.

Glancing away from them, Olivia tried not to get emotional in the middle of the park. She squeezed Mark’s hand tightly. She hadn’t really come to terms with everything that had happened.

Not yet.

And they hadn’t either. Olivia tried to remember that they’d gone through something traumatic as well. They’d watched every second of what happened to her. They’d been the first ones in the door—or window.

“It’s a nice penthouse,” Elliot commented when they’d all regained some semblance of composure. “Nice tub. Nice large bed. Fits all three of us.”

“El.” Olivia allowed Mark to draw her back down on the bench. “I am not moving in with you because of a tub and a bed.”

“How about because of the two men who adore you and want to worship every inch of you in that bed?” Mark asked. “How about because we’ll feel better knowing you have a secure home to come to after a rough case? After a twisted perp. After a long day. You’ll be able to know you’re safe. And so will we.”

“I’ll think about it.”

Chapter Text

A year had gone by. Olivia stood in a courtroom. Stunned. Noah. Baby doe. Noah was going to be her baby.

She was so unprepared yet so completely in awe of the sweet baby being placed into her arms. Her baby. She couldn’t believe the judge had allowed her to take Noah home.

I’m a mom.

I’m a mom.

Oh my god.

What the hell do I do?

Olivia: I have a baby.

Elliot: A baby? Noah? The little boy that you found?

Olivia: Yes. The judge. I don’t even know how it happened. I don’t even have much of anything for him. Oh god. The apartment’s not baby proof.

Mark: He’s what? A year? Where are you at, daring?

Olivia: Finishing up with his casework and lawyer. I’m going to have to swing by to pick up some supplies.

Mark: Alex’s going to pick you up with a car seat. Hassan and Lakshmi can get stuff to babyproof the apartment.

Olivia: Mark.

Mark: If I can’t be there in person, darling, let me help take care of our boy in some way.

Olivia: Our?

Elliot: What? You thought we’d just let you manage this alone. What kind of boyfriends do you think we are?

There was no point in arguing with them. Olivia had learned to pick her battles when the two men in her life agreed on something. A lesson she’d learned when they’d finally convinced her to move into the penthouse with them.

They’d renovated one of the rooms—turning it into an office for her. A space for her to disappear into when she wanted time alone. It had sealed the deal for her.

They still travelled a lot for the job though not as much as they had in the past. Olivia had known things would change after her encounter with William Lewis. They’d settled down a little…though not entirely.

She’d gone back to work. The first cases had been difficult. She saw her therapist frequently in the beginning, less now.

Rocking slowly in the chair with Noah in her arms, Olivia felt true joy in her heart. She’d given up on the desire to be a mother. She’d assumed it simply wasn’t going to be something she’d ever experience.

And one judge.

One judge who’d seen something in her had given her the greatest gift imaginable.

“Hey, Liv.” Alex greeted her when she headed outside. “Oh, he’s adorable. I’m gonna petition the boss to make him the company mascot. Look at those cheeks.”

“Thank you for picking me up. I wasn’t expecting….” Olivia fumbled a little with the car seat but managed to get him safely buckled in. She checked several times just to make sure he was secure and comfortable. She climbed into the passenger’s seat. “I wasn’t….”

“It’s okay.” Alex patted her awkwardly on the arm. “I won’t tell them you got weepy about your little man.”

“How overboard have they gone?” Olivia asked once she’d gotten through yet another bought of happy tears.

“On a scale of one to ten? About thirty.” Alex grinned when Olivia groaned. “What? Those two would give the world to you in a heartbeat if you asked. What did you expect them to do when you suddenly made them dads?”

“Alex.”

“Relationships and family come in all shapes and sizes. That little  boy back there has two dads and a mass of uncles and aunts and other relatives who will love him to pieces.” Alex glanced back at him before focusing on driving. “Case in point. I know the boss asked Lakshmi to book them the first flight home.”

“Oh for….” Olivia rolled her eyes. “They didn’t need to do that.”

“Is this a you thing?” Alex peered over at her. Olivia had developed a friendship with most of the Gray Security team, particularly the ones involved in her rescue who were based in New York most of the time. “You’re so used to being alone. Not having a family that you don’t understand how much people love you? How family is supposed to go out of their way to help?”

“It’s probably a me thing.” Olivia couldn’t argue with the spot-on assessment. “What else should I expect?”

“The spare room at the penthouse is currently being turned into a bedroom for the little prince. Painting has already started. Furniture’s been purchased. Clothes. Not everything, of course. You’re a mom. We drilled it into them that you’re going to want to pick certain things out for yourself.” Alex definitely found all of it amusing. “Baby proofing has already been complete. Hassan’s got kids. He knew exactly what to do.”

“How?” Olivia shook her head. “It’s barely been an hour and a half.”

“We were bored. You gave us something to do.” Alex peeked back at Noah when they stopped at a light. “Aren’t you just the most handsome little boy? We’re going to make up for your rough, my dude.”

The next few hours went by in a whirlwind. Olivia arrived to find organized chaos in the penthouse. Everything had definitely been babyproofed. The painting was already finished—they’d gone with a pale green that Olivia loved.

In no time at all, Olivia was sitting in a comfortable glider that had been placed in the living room. It would be moved into the nursery eventually. She had Noah asleep in her arms, whispering to him.

A crib had been set up in the living room as well. They wanted to wait until the paint had dried completely before beginning to furnish the nursery. Olivia didn’t care; she had everything she wanted in her arms.

“How about this one?” Lakshmi twisted her laptop around to show Olivia a beautiful wooden furniture set for a nursery. “Classic. Nice balance between modern and vintage. And practical. It’ll also be easy to pass on to someone when he grows out of it. Kids do that.”

“I….” Olivia didn’t get to finish her thought when the door opened and both Mark and Elliot rushed in, dropping their bags by the door. “How the hell?”

“Hey, Lakshmi, add a swear jar to the list of things to buy.” Elliot grinned at Olivia, who managed to flip him off. He came over to stand behind the chair, leaning over to get a look at Noah. He brushed his knuckles against his soft cheeks. “Look at him. You’re a mom, Liv. A mom. You’re going to be such a great one.”

“I’m a mom,” Olivia whispered with her lips against Noah’s head.

Mark came over to the other side of the glider. His fingers brushed against Noah’s chin then moved up to gently run through Olivia’s hair. “Congratulations, darling. It’s a boy.”