Chapter 1: -One-
Bell closed her eyes tight and took a deep breath. This job never gets any fucking eaiser. She looked over at Jet who was clicking furiously away at the screens in front of her. Bell was actually worried about what Jet was going to find. Because there was something to be found. She knew there was a connection. Richard Wheatly doesn’t hire the former ADA of SVU for no reason. She paced behind Jet trying to connect the dots.
“Stabler left SVU before this Barba character even showed up. Do you think Wheatly is even aware that he was the former ADA?” Jet put her head down, answering her own question and the clicking continued.
“What is Wheatly playing at? I feel like I'm so close, but I’m just not getting it.” Bell said, defeated. She looked at the clock and swore, “Listen, I gotta run. Don’t stay too late ok? I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Listen Stabler, we gotta talk.”
“Ah, so this isn’t going to be a silent dinner?” he teased.
She smiled, “Wheatly hired a new lawyer.”
Bell took a deep breath, “Rafael Barba.” She said, searching his eyes to see if any light bulbs were going off.
“He’s the former ADA of SVU.” She added hoping that might help.
“Barba? Never heard of him.” Elliot replied. “When was he at SVU? He probably wasn’t there long, they go through ADA’s faster than Jet cracks a cell.” He laughed at his own joke.
“Oh. That has to be some kind of record for them.” He took a sip of his water in front of him. “So what are you thinking?”
Bell shook her head, “I just don’t know. I mean I’m sure Barba has no idea what he is getting into with his client, but Wheatly---you know there are no coincidences with him. He picked Barba for a reason...and I just can’t figure out what it is.” She sat back in her chair and took a deep breath as her phone pinged, bringing them both back to the present. Stabler saw it was Jet who had texted Bell and he caught just a couple words before Bell had her phone out of his prying eyes.
Cellmate w Lewis
Bell looked down at her phone and her blood went cold. That mother fucker...and that other mother fucker.
“What is it?” Elliot asked urgently.
“You know the name Lewis?” Bell asked, starting to dig into something she was most sure she had no business being, but most importantly she was digging into something deeply personal, something dark and something evil.
She knew parts of the story, and she knew well enough to know that it wasn’t hers to share.
“Uh, no.” Bell felt utterly sick.
Elliot shook his head. He could tell something had changed in Bell. He knew that look. It came from the gut. It was the look that made you physically sick. He had seen that look too many times to count. He didn’t know who this Lewis was, but he knew he was trouble.
OK, so Stabler had no idea about Lewis. Which means he has no idea about what happened to Liv...
Bell’s heart sank deep. Since she had started working with Captain Benson she did everything in her power to keep her memories at bay. She fought with her inner self to see the Captain just as she presented herself --Strong, brave, compassionate, and she would be damned if she saw Liv as a victim. However, no matter how hard she tried, the flashbacks began to flood her memory. Memories of the TV news report, memories of her searching…
“All hands on deck!” Her Captain yelled. “We have a missing Detective at the 1-6. Taken by a William Lewis.” Digital photos of Lewis appeared on the board as everyone started to gather. “He’s a sick son of a bitch, if I don’t say so myself. We need to find him and we need to find him fast.”
Photos of Lewis’s past victims started to appear and the squad's eyes popped out their heads. They were not SVU detectives. They did not see this type of thing everyday. More details of Lewis were given only making the squad more disgusted and then... and then her photo appeared on the board and in that moment you could hear a pin drop.
“Detective Olivia Benson, been missing for 2 plus days.” Bell's Captain stated.
Everyone in the squad room knew of Detective Benson, and everyone’s hair on the backs of their necks stood up as her photo appeared. Everyone was given an assignment and no matter how horrible or awful the task assigned, not one person in the entire squad complained, no one even moaned or groaned. It was the first time Bell had ever witnessed that.
Bell was on the team searching Benson’s apartment. A scene she will never be able to forget. A scene that hurts her heart every time she thinks about it. The smell of burnt hair, cigarettes, metal and skin come flowing back into her memory, along with the panties ---There were four pairs of panties that were each covered in blood (and God knows what else) and they were tied around a chair where she was clearly tied up and tortured.
That's the screenshot in Bell's memory that breaks her heart.
That fucking chair.
That’s the image she is seeing now as she looks across the table at Elliot. She suddenly feels something change in her, although she can’t identify it just yet. She can feel something building.
“You ok?” Elliot asks, pulling Bell out of her daytime-nightmare.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” She says unconvincingly, “But I gotta run. Jet’s got something for me.”
“Wait, who is this Lewis guy?”
“Noone, Just another dead guy. Talk to you later?” She asks standing up.
“Uh yeah. You sure, you good?” Elliot asks, confused and concerned about her sudden departure.
“I'm fine, Stabler.” It comes out a little hostile and she’s not sure why.
“I mean everyone and their mother knew. It was on every freaking news channel, every station house was out looking---” She felt the tears starting and she quickly wiped them away. She took a deep breath and a sip of her very strong drink.
“I've never had to tell anybody,” she starts slowly, “that it happened.” She explains further. She rubs her sweaty palms along her thighs, knowing all those emotions were all going to come to the surface, again. The flashbacks, the panic attacks, the nightmares. “You know at the time, I hated that. Hated that everyone knew. I couldn’t go anywhere without people giving me that look...that look of pity.” She took a big swig to finish her drink and signaled for another.
“Look Liv, I’m here for you. Anything you need, I got your back, ok?” Rollins said.
Olivia smiled, “Thank you, Amanda. I just thought I was past this. I just feel like…like...”
“...like you’re never going to be free?”
Olivia looked deep into Amanda’s eyes. She knew. She got it. She understood, because she too would never be free from her chains. Olivia reached onto the bar and grabbed Amanda’s hand, “Exactly.”
They both looked at each other, “Cheers.” Rollins said, lifting her drink.
They continued to drink and chat, just the two girls.
“When Elliot did come back, it was nice that he didn’t know. I didn’t want to tell him--well not like I could, I mean the man’s wife just died, but, well you know what I mean. It was just nice that someone who knew me wasn't treating me any differently... that's all going to change now, isn’t it?” She asked, receiving her answer with Amanda’s silence.
“I just figured he knew. I mean how could he not?! It was literally everywhere. Every newspaper, news station, every damn department was out looking for her! It was the biggest case of the year!” His emotions yelled out at the Sergeant in front of him. “I had my own mother looking for her---” he choked out.
Bell watched the man come apart in front of her. She literally had no idea what to do. There was no good answer. She fucking hated that.
“And now? What am I supposed to do now? I can’t tell him!” Barba says, “I can’t make her tell him. Are you sure he doesn’t know?”
Barba grunts. “Do we have to tell him?”
The look that Bell gives is a classic, but then she thinks about it for a minute, does Stabler have to know?
“How does she do it?” Bell asked. Just remembering the crime scene she felt like she needed a mental health day. And that was just the one crime scene. Bell knew Olivia was taken to multiple locations. The Sergeant frowned. If these were the feelings that started coming to the surface for her, she couldn’t even imagine what was coming to the surface for Olivia.
Barba smiled for the first time, “Superwoman.”
“You would have to be.” She smiled at the broken man in front of her, “Come on man, I’ll buy you a drink.”
She was actually having a nice time. Olivia glanced at the people in her company. Rollins, Finn, Bell and Barba all together, sitting nicely having drinks. It was by chance that the group of them were gathered together at the local bar by the 1-6. She knows the reasoning for which they gather and despite it, she was still enjoying herself.
They were mostly just ripping on Barba, maybe that’s why she was laughing, having a good time. She just knew she had to focus on the good. Not let her flashbacks destroy her. She was a different woman now. She was stronger, braver. If she could get through it then, she could do it now. She smiled as she gave herself this little pep talk.
“She’s not here.” Denise stated as she tried to soothe a very cranky baby in her arms. The new mother looked absolutely exhausted as she opened the door to Elliot. “I’m surprised you’re not with her, actually.”
Elliot looked at her, “She’s out, huh? She must be ignoring me then.”
Denise looked at him, unamused.
“Can I try?” Elliot asked, nodding towards the crying baby boy. “To see if I still got it?” he said, outstretching his hands.
“Screw it, at this point I’ll try anything.” Densie said, passing him the fussy baby.
After a few minutes Elliot had the baby sleeping in his arms, “Mind if I ask you something?”
“Sure,” Denise mumbled, she was half asleep herself on the couch.
“You know anything about Rafael Barba?”
Denise perked up a little, “Ahhh, you jealous, Stabler?” She teased with a smile on her face.
“Jealous? What? No, why? He is Wheatly’s new lawyer.”
“Why would I be jealous?”
“Uh, oh, nothing.” She shook her head, “I guess I just really need some sleep.” She lied, and both she and he knew it.
When Bell got home, one of the last things she expected to see was Stabler on her couch with her little man in his baby lounger next to him, both of them passed out. She looked around to find her wife.
“Hey Baby, I’m home.” She said as she placed a kiss on her forehead. Denise looked so peaceful sleeping and she hated to wake her, but she couldn’t resist placing a kiss on her.
“Hey,” She replied, very sleepy, “Is Stabler still here?”
“Yeah, he’s passed out on the couch. Can I ask, why?”
“We are going to have to start charging that man rent,” Denise teased. “He came by looking for you. I put him to work while he waited. Elliot Stabler–The Manny Whisperer.” She chuckled. Bell was changing into her PJ’s as she stumbled a bit making Denise laugh. “You’re drunk.”
“I’m toasty.” Ayanna replied with a smile, “But it’s not really my fault, those folks at the 1-6 can drink! And they needed it today.” She took a deep breath and took a seat at the edge of the bed, “Barba is representing Wheatly,”
“Yeah Stabler filled me in-”
“Yeah, Well---that’s not really the kicker.”
Denise sat up in bed, excited. She knew whatever her wife was going to tell her was going to be a juicy piece of gossip, “Spill!”
“No, no, it’s not good, D.” She exhaled, “It’s something that isn’t even mine to share. I think all hell is going to break loose. And unfortunately, it involves Lewis.”
“Lewis? Ain’t that man dead?”
“He is, but a man with that much evil lives on forever, I guess.” Bell shook her head, and Denise could see her wife starting to get emotional so she took her in her arms.
“So what’s the connection?”
“Wheatly and Lewis were cellmates for a while.” Bell said completely defeated.
“Oh my God. That poor woman is never going to be free of him, is she?”
“I don’t know, but that crime scene still rips me up inside. And just knowing what this is doing to me---well I can only imagine what it’s going to do to Liv.”
In the other room Elliot picked up and cuddled the most innocent thing in the world. All the while he wondered who the hell this Lewis was, and what the fuck did he have to do with Olivia? He was glad that he had one of the most beautifulest babies in his arms, it reminded him that there was still good on this earth. And after the conversation he had just overheard on the baby monitor he sure needed the reminder.
Chapter 2: two
I currently don't have a beta (i'm working on it) mistakes are alllll mine :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I'm mad at him,” Bell said.
“At who?” Denise asked, confused as hell as it came out of the blue.
They were lying in bed enjoying the peaceful silence of the night.
“Stabler? For coming over here and getting our son to sleep?” Denise said, turning over in the bed so she could get a good look at her wife who was sounding crazy.
Ayanna smiled and kissed Denise, “No, it just occurred to me. I’m mad. I couldn’t figure out what it was, but I’m pissed at him, for her. Does that make sense?” She continued, not even waiting for a response, “her apartment D, I just can’t stop seeing it. And to think that Stabler doesn’t know...that he never knew? He didn’t even help look for her? He had to of known, right? It just breaks my heart for her. Now that I actually know her. I mean fuck, they were partners, supposedly best friends for 13 years, and then nothing?” She was breaking, “I just can’t believe he wasn’t there for her. And when she needed him most, no less.”
She couldn’t help it, her eyes grew watery, “If I could just stop seeing that damn apartment and that fucking chair. The smell...it was just...awful, almost painful.” And she broke, collapsing in Denise’s arms. The tears began to spill over. Tears that Bell hadn't even realized she was holding.
“Does Olivia know, you know?” Denise questioned a little bit later when Ayanna’s breathing had returned to normal and the tears had stopped.
Ayanna shook her head, “I’m sure she knows, I know. But not that I was there and part of the ‘clean up task force’.” She looked up at the ceiling, “Not that I personally saw the things that I saw. Like, her fucking bloodied underwear used as restraints, or the metal hangers he bent to burn her with, which were also used as restraints. I’m pretty sure she don’t know I know that.” She released a deep breath, “I’m going to have to tell her, aren’t I?”
“Who is Lewis, Olivia?” He demanded as he barged in the door, not allowing her the chance to deny him access. He was fired up and he knew that she would be able to tell in about 2 seconds flat. They may have been apart for a decade, but by God she could still read him like a book.
Olivia’s eyes shot out of her head. Her body reacted like she just took a bullet to the gut. She could feel the blood drain from her face, so she held up her hand, telling him to stay put, as she quickly went to the kitchen to grab her drink. She knew the beginning signs of having a panic attack, but more importantly, because of her therapy; not only could she identify the feeling/s, she knew what to do in case she felt herself having one. She took a deep breath in and out.
While she chugged some water she debated on what she should tell Elliot. She knew this conversation was going to happen and it was just a matter of time…but was now the time? She leaned her back against the fridge and took another deep breath.
saved by the bell
“Yes, sweetheart?” she replied, thankful for the interruption. Noah always was the perfect distraction.
“Do I need to dress kinda warm, or super warm?” The boy asked as he smiled up at his mother. He was extra excited for his day today. Uncle Rafa and his mother (who Noah calls Abu, short for Abuelita) were taking Noah to the Zoo.
“Super warm,” Olivia giggled out as she patted his head and watched him go back towards his room. She was supposed to go with them to the zoo, but ever since she learned that Rafa was defending Wheatly she just couldn’t be near him. Not at the moment anyway. But she wasn’t going to punish her son and deny him a fun time at the zoo with his Abu, who he loved and missed very much.
She was so caught up in her thoughts, she totally forgot Elliot was even there. So, when he came into her kitchen, he scared the living shit out of her!
“Jesus Christ, Elliot!” She yelled.
She screamed so loud that Noah came running back down the hallway.
“You ok, Mom?” he asked with much confusion. He then saw Elliot standing there.
“I’m fine. Go, get ready. Hurry up, you’re going to be late!” Liv hollered at him, hoping to avoid the whole introduction of Elliot Stabler and her son at this time. For reasons she didn’t know (or wasn’t willing to admit) when it came to Noah meeting Elliot, she just couldn’t do it. She has had a few opportunities to do so, but she bailed out on them every time.
Noah gave the man a disapproving look, “Who are you?”
“Noah! Go, now.” Olivia said, in her sternerest Mom voice.
Elliot gave the kid a sympathetic smile and a little wave. Noah just ran back to his room, without a word.
It hurt Elliot. The fact that he didn’t know her kid. He swallowed hard, he knew it was his fault, and he was the only one to blame. He couldn’t get mad at Olivia for not introducing them either. As a parent he understood. And as a partner, he was ashamed of himself.
“You wanna go sit in the living room?” She offers, already walking and sitting down on the couch.
He follows and takes a seat in a chair across from her. They look at each other for a minute or two, just taking each other in. Neither one of them is exactly sure where to begin. Finally Elliot starts, “Listen Liv, I ahh—I’m sor—-” But he gets interrupted by the abrupt swinging open of the front door.
And then the loud yelling of an older woman, “Noah-jito! Noah! Mi amor! Tu Abuela está aquí!”
And once again, Noah comes running down the hallway from his room. His eyes are wide and he has a grin from ear to ear as he jumps into the lady’s arms, “Abu! I’ve missed you!” He says as he hugs her tightly.
Elliot can’t help but stare as Noah hugs his apparent Grandma, it pulls at his heartstrings a little. It’s getting harder and harder to deny that Olivia had a life after him. But also, it’s hurting more and more that he really has no idea what that life is like. Was he really that thick headed to think that she would be exactly the same as he left her?
“Are you ready to go, No-jito?” The older woman asks him after she sets him down from her arms.
“Yup, just give me 2 seconds,” the boy says and is gone in a flash.
That is when Elliot turns to look at Olivia.
And that is when Elliot sees Rafael Barba… standing next to Olivia.
Standing too close for his liking. His blood is starting to boil. All those old feelings of jealousy, enviousness, desire, lust… they have been coming back and he’ll be damned if they don’t fit him just like a glove. He has about one-hundred questions for what is happening in front of him right now. His brain can’t catch up with the scene, can’t process. He can feel the sweat start to gather on the back of his neck.
“What the hell are you doing here?” He stands up and takes a step towards Barba. His body language, classic Elliot Stabler. He wants to hit something, very hard.
Barba smiles and looks at Olivia, which only pisses Elliot off more. “Just here to pick up my little No-jito, and we’ll be out of your way.” He turns towards Olivia, “Are you sure you don’t want to come with us?”
She just nods.
When Noah came back into the living room and saw Rafa standing there, he jumped right into his arms, holding on to him for what seemed like dear life. It made Elliot’s head spin and his heart sad.
‘Please God, no’ he thought as he watched Noah and Rafa gather Noah’s stuff to get ready to go.
It was all happening so fast. Rafa couldn’t be Noah’s father? Could he be? He needed a drink. His head was still spinning, he had to sit back down. He was thankful he chose to sit down, because he’s sure he would have fallen the fuck over when he saw Barba kiss Olivia on the forehead before they left. And it wasn’t just a 1 second touch of the lip kiss either. It was deep and meaningful for just a kiss on the forehead. He had whispered something to her before as well. Something that made her smile, a smile that she normally reserved for Elliot, or so he thought.
Olivia closed the door slowly and softly. She took a deep breath before she turned to go into the living room. Her world felt like it was falling apart in front of her. She looked at Elliot. She didn’t know if she could do this right now. She was starting to get a headache.
“Why do you care, Elliot?” She asked after she finally sat down across from him.
Elliot got pulled out of a deep trance that included Olivia and Barba in the throes of baby making, “huh?”
“Why are you here, Elliot?” She asked, getting annoyed.
“I uh—” He had no idea. He rubbed his temples, good God he was getting old. “I want to know, Liv. Please, you have it wrong. You think I wasn’t asking you because I didn’t care?” He doesn’t give her time to respond, “It’s the complete opposite, Liv. I didn’t ask because I was scared.” And he says it so soft and low she is almost not sure she heard him correctly.
“Of what?” She probes.
“Isn’t it obvious? Scared of what I did to you. What my leaving caused. Scared that you moved on without me. And not only did you move on, you fucking thrived, Liv.” He took a breath, tried to collect himself, “Look, you don’t need me anymore, and when I realized that…well let’s just say it’s a hard pill to swallow.”
“That is the stupidest thing you have ever said. And I never wanted to slap you more.” She takes a minute before she speaks again because she is feeling angry, “You think I fucking thrived after you? I have a whole squad that will beg to differ from you, ” She pulls at her hair, tucking a piece behind her head while she gets herself together, “Why, couldn’t you just say goodbye? Or just fucking tell me you were leaving? And fuck you for coming back and bringing this all to the surface! I put that time behind me! I thought you were finally out of my life.” She admits ashamed of her own words.
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