Olivia talks in her sleep sometimes.
It’s one of the most enthralling things about her. He likes to roll over in the dark and watch the shadows of her chest rise and fall as she conversates with herself. He never understands a word of it. And he doesn’t understand how one person, one heart that he loves so goddamn hard, can have so much to say and yet still too much to hide.
But she longs for him now, he reminds himself of this in every breath she draws. She is committed to him completely and wholely and even as she stirs about unprepared for more, it is in this love, with him, with Elliot, that Olivia chooses to be fearless. With him.
Courage is second nature to her but choosing Elliot is not. Just the sheer reality of it is profound to him.
He stares at the journal she pressed into his hands moments ago, the one she wrote her own letters to and made it known to the kids, to the world, that these things belonged to him. Nowhere here does it mention there isn’t a world in which she would write him out of it.
Just the fact that she’d gone so deep humbles him into a fierce new beginning.
Next to him, Olivia mumbles quietly in her sleep, words so incoherent that even if he pressed his ear to her mouth, he wouldn’t understand a word of gibberish she speaks into the night.
He shifts from the bed and slips into his boxer briefs. She seemed fast asleep underneath the bedsheets; planted on her stomach with her arms sprawled on either side of the pillow like a child. The dim shadows of the lunar bath spilled into the room from the balcony door, revealing the soft outline of her figure, the muscles in her upper back as they contracted with each breath she took.
He wanted desperately to memorize this moment, this feeling inside of them both. That odd flicker in his gut was back with a vengeance, practically permanent now, and he still had no idea how to broach the topic without putting a whole in the wall. What if she woke up from her surgery wanting nothing more of him? What if she didn’t wake up at all? What would he do then? He shook his head and decided that he already knew the answer to both.
Elliot made his way into one of the adjoining rooms of the master’s bedroom. The house had modern refurbishings with an old-style layout to it, and the room he’d entered into was a study. There was a large modern sofa fixed in the middle, a big floor to ceiling window across from him, and the same moon that had been staring at them all night.
Elliot sat on the sofa, reached for the journal and opened the first entry.
The day is slipping by so fast I could blink and forget it all.. Outside I can hear the birds nesting amongst the trees above Bernie’s garden and it’s very easy, somehow, to get used to it all. Used to the peace that being in Elliot’s home provides me with. Where the looming presence of a lab coat doesn’t expel the air in our throats or bring doom upon us all before the light has any real chance to shine. Today, the nurse asked me, quietly, ‘If you could write a love letter to your future self, what would it be about?
Him. It was always going to be about him. We’re brave enough to admit this now.
Her letters are short and more like journal entries, he realizes. Despite the fact that she had brought him here, Elliot feels strange about it all. As though he was interrupting something very intimate, like he was peering into her bedroom window, watching her undress, watching her examine the scars on her body like they were only fascinating tissue, and not horrific zebra prints to the past. She’s the strongest person he knows, and even though he wishes certain things hadn’t happened to her, he admires this about her, deeply.
Returning to the second entry, he sucked in a deeper breath, clinging for life.
No matter what the future brings, he will always be the one I feel closest to, the one I want to talk to at random hours of the day and share all the parts of me that aren’t just about Noah. It’s still a strange feeling, but I know my life is better with him in it.
I used to pride myself on how Elliot and I could fight tooth and nail, never giving up to leave well enough alone. Never giving up. He’s still this way and I’m still that way and I realize now, since Gitano, that our wrath at one another was only an echo of something much larger. It was passion riddled with this incapacity to live if the other wasn’t living too and.. I realized there that he was profound for me. That he had probably felt this way too, perhaps longer than I did.
It’s late at night, and I sit inside of this home alone, waiting for Elliot to back to me.
He’s back in the city again and no matter how much of it I can’t seem to remember, the reality of his return still stuns me. It was never meant to happen this way, we were never meant to fall so madly, so deeply, at least that’s what I thought, because it seemed so impossible over a year ago. Now he is here and I love him, and I can’t seem to imagine a life where wanting Elliot isn’t a part of it.
He deserves to be forgiven for the bullets left in his wake. Not because he is perfect, but because deep in his heart I know he is a good man. The best man. I know this more than I know that his eyes are blue and they shine a different light when he is vulnerable.
Sometimes it feels like I’m either here due to the gravity of his pull or the sheer strength that this universe has designed for just the two of us. All I really know is that I went to sleep at the first verse of spring, opting to forget, and resenting him for what I never could. But then I woke up and he was here, in my life, desperate for us in a way I’d never imagined before. Haunted by the prospect of losing him, I don’t think I wanted to imagine that. I used to think I’d rather him never leave me than ever love me. I have little to fear anymore.
As much as I adore the affection, Elliot’s love can be ruling. It is a profoundly powerful thing even in its dutifully colored rage, which was never really rage to begin with, only the two of us together again. I think I’d always known that if I let this love touch me, there would be no going back for any of us. Elliot puts his clothes on in the morning like he is readying himself for war, for the winds to sweep me away and for all the oceans he’d map just to find me again.
I wonder if he knows that after today, I want him to stay. For the kids. For Noah.
He puts the penultimate entry down and swallows.
He can’t imagine a world without her, but she’ll force him to. He wonders how it is she expects him to be rational in a time like this. If anything were to happen to her, he..
I’ll never leave you. Elliot once told her. Never. And he meant it. But that’s not rational to her. That’s choosing Olivia over every impossible scenario and forgetting that they have kids to look after, responsibilities to tend to. Noah. They have a child named Noah.
And of course, this is about Noah, Elliot thinks, finding the last letter. When has Olivia ever done anything for herself?
Behind me ticks a grandfather clock that once belonged to Jo Stabler. Bernie says it used to drive her mad, more mad somehow, back when Elliot was just a little boy. The sheer reality of this still haunts me in a way, our childhoods were always a sour subject between the two of us. I know the father he sends to exile and the father he is are two very different men. I know that Bernie gets overwhelmed by loud noises and the notion of time. I know that Elliot still loves his parents like I loved my mother because we were never born to feel anything else. I know that his mother is a part of me now, because she sees time in nonlinear terms too. Time was our biggest enemy, certainly. Elliot and I never had enough of it. Even as partners, time moved too fast and too hard against us. He’d plant his cup of coffee in my hand under the crust of early morning, and I’d blink once just to feel his gaze following me as the dawn of night sent us both back home. Maybe time was against us back then. It was never meant to be against us now.
I can feel him close by now. It's the middle of the night and he is coming home to me. I can almost hear him marching along the path that led us to the door, that first day. These are the things we could anticipate in the beginning but never really chose to admit, back then. That was the thing about time, it healed old wounds and gave this thing of ours a voice. Time could house Elliot’s love inside a home that I didn’t have to live in. His was infinite, timeless, but mine, I think, is really just behind that door.
Elliot places the last letter down, and with a shuddering sigh, he buries his face in both hands.
There’s loving a person and then there’s the way Olivia loves. There’s withholding all the deepest, sacred parts of herself but then there’s Olivia. There’s the uncertainty that lingers when he can’t read her, and then there’s Olivia.
In this moment and all moments to come, Elliot feels profoundly humble.
Ever since his return, Olivia often ran hot and cold on him. Even now it could be that way. Her aloofness gave off the steady impression that he had done something wrong, or that he hadn’t done enough right. He feared the sins of the past would always find a way to seep into the cracks and threaten the very foundations he had tried to build since he found his way back to her. Really found his way back.
But now he has the final puzzle piece. The last brick to throw against the wall and watch its fortress break down. Watch her leave the palace she had built around that multidimensional mind of hers, watch Olivia make a home out of his.
Behind Elliot a hand touches his shoulder, and he knows that touch. Her scent was always stronger in the silence and often embedded itself into his sinuses. Her perfume had walked into the room several moments before she did anyway, and he was too lost in translation to pull himself out of it.
He looked up at her in that minute and saw his future as plain as anything. Olivia’s hair was tussled from the pillow and her face was sleepy, agitated, affectionate.
“Whata you..” she stopped mid-sentenced as she came to full, and her gaze settled on the journal in his hands.
“You read them..” she whispered
Elliot nodded, his heart still in his throat. “You said I could.”
He felt her fingers brush against the back of his head in a soft, dancelike rhythm. She was beautiful to him but there was something about the night and the darkness that made her his.
Opening his arms, Elliot drew her in close and let her step in between his legs. Slowly, Olivia cupped his face and he raised his eyes to hers.
“Jesus..” falls from his lips.
Seeing her up close is visceral and strangely different to the woman whose letters now roamed every vital vessel moving inside of his body. Her thoughts, her words were caged birds flowing inward, controlling every breath he took. Every life he lived. It was her who wrote those things about him.
It was her.
It’s different this time, this thing between them. He feels it.
In her eyes he can see the fortress slowly but surely disintegrating. Leaving no wreckage and no wake. Elliot knows what needs to be said in the moment, she’s still a prisoner in his flesh. She’s still the woman who didn’t say yes.
“I’ll never leave him.” There’s no entreaty in his voice, no tears, no restraint, it’s a fact and nothing more. This is what she wants.
Olivia takes a deep, bracing breath. “But you said..”
“If you die, I die. Yea I know.”
“And you meant it, I know you did.”
“I did.” He nodded, “But Noah means more than that.”
Olivia sighs, a small smile gracing her lips.
“I’m still not gonna marry you, you know.”
His hands trailed over the feminine flare of her hips and down her thighs, her body warm and soft and gravitational in his pull. Her fingers grazed along his bare shoulders, stopping at the nape of his neck. She put down a little pressure and anchored herself to him as she parted her knees on either side of his hips, caging him with her body. Olivia’s hair tumbled forward slightly with the shift, and then she was pressed against him once more, her arms weaving around his broad shoulders like they belonged there, like they owned him.
Elliot lifted his head to steal her lips again, warm, eager palms sliding under her thin t-shirt, filling possessively with every inch of Olivia’s warm skin that he could find.
He kissed her once, twice, and then shifted back to admire the look of desire dented into her pretty face. Others would call it affection, but to Elliot he would always choose to see his own sense of self mirrored back into her.
He saw himself in her. He saw his lover, his other half.
He was smug about his possessions, and he cared deeply for the confirmation that she desired him too. Not just loved him, wanted him, but desired everything he longed to give back to her.
“I’m still so sore.” Olivia muttered, and then pushed his shoulders against the back of the couch, leaning forth to lick the corner of his jaw. He’d be damned if she was relying on him to push her off his lap. Fucking damn to hell and sun and --
“Liv..” he moaned as she rocked her hips against his groin, he could feel the heat of her through the fabric of those cotton shorts he despised. Her long legs journeyed for days in these things and just the thought of those tan legs walking around in broad daylight made Elliot want to scream until his lungs were torn.
His fingers bit into her thighs and pulled her closer to his growing erection. He grazed his teeth across her jawline, and without warning thrust his erection completely against her, still separated by cloth, yet close enough for him to relish the moan that ghosted the roof of her mouth.
The noise alone was enough to destroy him.
In a voice that normally belongs to the bed, Olivia moaned breathily into his ear. “I need you, now.”
“Again?” He just had her a few hours ago, and he bucks his hips once more, showing off and trying to concentrate at the same time.
“Don’t insult me, Olivia.” He growls.
It comes out in a throaty groan that seems to vibrate in his very bones.
“You ready?” he rasps, there’s these things inside of him that are burning.
“Now look who’s being insulting.” She rebuts.
He laughs against her lips.
Olivia gave him a slow nod of assent before stepping out of his clutch. She stood up again, and he watched with bated breath as her shorts dropped to the floor. Enough moonlight spilled into the room through the window that he could see shadows of lust dancing across her pretty face. Bathed in milky light with eyes that echoed the sound of a calming ocean.
Tonight they had reached a new understanding with the sea.
Weeks, maybe even days ago, his thoughts would have been filled with panic, wondering if she was avoiding a decent discussion in trade for a particularly sweaty session beneath the bedsheets. Not that he could really rally against her body then or now. But he knew that wasn’t this.
She didn’t have to talk about the letters she’d written, she didn’t have to wear a ring, or wake up knowing his face. She didn’t have to do anything except be herself, with him.
On his aid Olivia yanked his briefs off, and then proceeded to sink down onto his thighs.
“Slow..” he ordered.
“No.” she argued.
“Liv..” the surgery, he thought. The surgery. “Com’on.”
“Don’t make me fucking beg.”
He was barely hanging by a loose thread.
“Fine.” He rumbled, asserting a firm order. “Stay on top.”
He could make demands too.
He took her lip and trapped it between his teeth, and before she could argue any further, he slipped two fingers into her folds, moaning painfully at how perfectly damp and silky and tight she was beneath his fingers.
“Jesus christ..” he groaned, feeling her heat clothe his skin. A deep guttural groan spilled from her throat as she rode his hand, guiding his thumb to massage her clit exactly as she wanted.
Her little puffs of air were brushing across the skin of his face, breasts heaving onto his chest, soft moans echoing the small dark study that surrounded them. It was taking every spasm of his self-control not to drag her down a little further, sink himself fully into her, deep enough just to pound and pound until it fucking hurt and god–
Olivia snatched his jaw with her hand possessively, as if to shudder the thoughts trapped inside of his mind, and latched her mouth down upon his. Her tongue made sincere love to his own while her hips rocked into Elliot’s hand, moans growing louder and heavier and –
“Liv.. shhhh.. its okay.”
She nodded unconvincingly; her forehead creased in absolute concentration. They could be loud, for the nature of the house allowed them that freedom, but neither could risk relinquishing to the power building inside of their throats, the power that festered after years of built in restraint, despite the recent months of giving in. Of fucking each other mindlessly. Of making love on so many surfaces he’d almost lost count in that first week alone. That was giving in. Back then. But now they must learn each other’s bodies in the silence, they must, for they have promised to be together forever, she has given that promise to him tonight, and he wants to fuck her whenever he pleases from hereon, but he can’t have the children knowing about it. So he shushes her, and she nods with her eyebrows furrowed and her gaze drowsy in the heat of his own, trying to concentrate on nothing but their bodies smashing, colliding, breaking.
“Close,” she whined into his lip, grinding against his wrist as his fingers fucked into her, applying pressure against her clit.
His arousal throbbed and throbbed against her moving thigh, and he wasn’t even inside of her yet. God help him, he thought. Her moans turned into little breathy whines against his face. She was so close underneath his fingers. So close.
And he was so hard it hurt.
Elliot immediately withdrew his fingers and grabbed at her thighs. He made no warning as he surged up and thrust himself deep into the slick warmth of her, the tight heat of her, instantly pulling Olivia’s body so far and so intensely that there was no possible space left behind inside of her.
So much for going slow.
A cry split the walls of Olivia’s throat and he caught it in his mouth, groaning as she rocked into him, returning the battle.
Just the full length of him, filling her completely, owning her, making her tilt her little head to the ceiling, eliciting reactions that none other from this moment on, would ever see, it turned him on.
“Yes, god..” she rasped, pushing her thighs further apart to engulf him more fully. Elliot bucked into her like it was the last good thing he would ever do in this realm. His ass practically bounced off the sofa as he thrust into her, again and again like it was a race. The rhythm agonizing. Blind lust. Frantic and frenzied. The most trusting kind.
Olivia was tugging at his arms, neck and shoulders, as if she was scared he would disappear, doing anything she could to mold himself into her skin. Her long legs were hooked possessively around his bare, muscled hips. And she did nothing but hold onto him as their bodies invented a blinding rhythm upon their own accord. It was like they weren’t thinking human beings anymore, really, only two bodies drawn together, drawn to be feral in their utmost holy, intimate moments of mating.
Her thighs hooked possessively around his bare muscled hips as Elliot continued soaring into her. She owned him. Drained him of any pure sense of self other than to be modicum of Olivia.
The sounds of smacking skin and the thuds of hips and clawing hands filled his senses, all wrapped up in the humid steam rising above their skin, their echoing whimpers. Elliot was alive and Olivia was already living and --
A strangled sound tumbled out of her mouth when he began to grind against the spot that burned her core, that made her soul quake and fucked his one up in its entirety.
Olivia burned her face into the curve of his shoulder as she came down hard on him, muscles clenching in spasmodic jolts.
Her teeth bit into his flesh just enough to make it bleed.
This time she was the one to mark him.
Returning the madness, Elliot gripped her thighs even harder, enough to leave bruises. He drove himself into her again, finding the last millimeter of space to claim, space to pull, space to claim again. Over and over. It was then that Elliot stole two more thrusts and joined her in their release.
He hissed and smothered a choked groan into her shoulder, breathless like she, each panting so hard their lungs threatened to rupture. His vision blurred into stars and he was still moving, just a little bit, inside of her, riding out the remaining crescent wave. Letting her have him.
As a man the sea was useless to him. Had nothing on Olivia.
Elliot slid down and against the bed of the sofa, stretching his limbs out and wincing slightly as he took her with him. They liked to act against their age in their trembling intimacy, and he knew it would bite them both come the dawn of day. It always did.
Olivia stayed on top, still trying to find her way back home, her landing, the place they called limbo. The everything and anything. She slipped out just a moment later, and they both hissed at the loss, the brash coldness that hit their bones despite the sweat that lingered on the in between.
“Jesus fucking christ.” She muttered, then crumbled half on top of him in a graceful mess.
Elliot laughed, fisting for the sofa throw, he washed it over their waists and made sure she was covered in its warmth. The ghosts of their past deserved at least some form of respect, some coverage and modesty, he thought.
Elliot’s fingers snaked up against the curve of her spine. Staring up at the ceiling, with a naked Olivia in his arms, he relished proudly the sated sigh that left her mouth and shattered the lazy silence.
“Every time I think we’ll take it slow this time, we never do.” She announced.
“God knows I try.” He answered with a cocky tone.
“It’s not meant to be that good.”
Elliot shook his head in agreeance, and kept his mouth shut, because it was true, and because there was no use speaking ill of the dead.
“It’s never been that way for me.”
She squeezed his torso in response.
“I think… it has for me,” she said, and that made him flinch, made the blood in his veins turn liquid ice and by god, just the images in his head were enough to cause world war three.
“Only a few times,” Olivia rushed to continue, as if that would make it better. He did not want to imagine her wild in bed with with other.. with another.. No.
“But not like this. With you its… its..” she shook her head, and there were no words. “You know, I can’t explain it.”
“No. It’s not just the blind trust, or the connection or the fact that you’re..” she stopped, and he knew she was blushing in that moment. “Very good at it..”
Elliot laughed quietly.
“But it’s like we see into each other and suddenly everything makes sense. Suddenly I can’t think of anything else except for you and me and it’s like.. its..” she struggled.
“It’s like nothing is against us anymore. Not even time.” he repeated her own words back to her, and she nodded in ascent. Tumbling back into his neck, she hummed lazy kisses across his skin.
It wasn’t exactly true, not tomorrow or the day after, maybe. Time still ruled them all. But it was the feeling that mattered.
Reality was all a muffled memory in here. With her.
The rest would come later.