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As Long As You Need Me

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It wasn’t a good day, but it was the type of day she had experienced before – she would push through. She would be fine.

 

Olivia went through the necessary motions, answered the questions, handed over her gun, and headed to the precinct to do the necessary paperwork before she was forced to stay home for a few days. It had been a long couple of days - her eyes felt itchy, her back ached, her ankle was stiff, and she knew that if she stopped working the emotions would cloud her mind and she could not – would not – break down today. She ignored Fin watching her carefully as she purposefully made her way to her office, shutting the door with a loud click.

 

She had been in her office for a few hours before she finally realized she was shaking again.

 

‘Did I even stop,’ she thought. ‘How did I not notice?’

 

Suddenly her phone buzzed, pulling her out of her thoughts and allowing her to focus on something else. It was then Olivia realized she hadn’t even spoken to Noah since the night before. She knew she needed to check on him, but she wasn’t sure she could get any words out without letting him know something was wrong. Hesitantly, she reached for her phone as it buzzed again.

 

‘Merry Christmas, Mom! I can’t wait to see you! Love you!’

 

A small, sad smile came to her face. Being the child of a first responder was tough, but Noah understood when she worked it meant she was helping someone who may need her. His understanding didn’t change she felt she was away from him more and more lately – it didn’t change she felt she was failing as a parent. Her hands were still shaking as she typed out Merry Christmas and promised him a special day tomorrow.

 

Before she could put her phone down, Olivia received another text.

 

‘Liv, are you still at the precinct?’

 

Elliot. He had heard. She knew he had heard. There was not a member of the NYPD that hadn’t heard what happened. She stared at his name for a long moment, not knowing what to do next.

 

Elliot and Olivia had been texting each other more since he had invited her and her son to his home. She and Noah had gone over and it had been a great distraction for everyone. Elliot’s family had welcomed Noah with open arms and hearts and she was slightly shocked at how quickly her son had become comfortable with everyone. For Olivia, she had just been grateful that she and Elliot had the chance to interact without a problem being the initiating factor. She and Noah hadn’t stayed late that night, deciding to leave right after Maureen and her family, but it had been a nice night. A really nice night.

 

She had already heard about Wheatley from Carisi, so she wasn’t surprised when Elliot mentioned it and made her promise to be careful earlier in the evening. But the warm, pleasant feeling that washed over her as he expressed his concern for her and Noah, that was something she hadn’t felt in a long time. Elliot had insisted on walking them back to her SUV, wanting a little more time with them and to make sure they got there safely. He made sure Noah had securely buckled himself into the car, handing him the treats Bernie prepared for them, before walking around and pulling Olivia into his arms for a quick hug.

 

“Thank you for coming, Liv,” he said.

 

His warm breath hit her ear and made her shiver slightly. He pulled back quickly but gently, smiling as their eyes met. His smile made her heart flutter and it was a nice feeling. She had missed that feeling over the years.

 

“Thank you for the invitation.”

 

Olivia smiled shyly as she squeezed his hand gently and turned to get in the car. Elliot stayed close as she started the car, clearly wanting to say something before she left. She remembered rolling down the window, raising an eyebrow at the grin on his face.

 

“Was there something else, Detective?”

 

Elliot’s grin grew at her teasing tone.

 

“Text me when you are in your apartment. I want to make sure you get home safe, Captain.”

 

Olivia had bitten her lip slightly, trying to control the large smile threatening to break free.

 

“Will do. See you later, El.”

 

“Night, Liv. Bye, Noah!”

 

They both laughed at the loud ‘Bye Elliot’ that came from the backseat before she rolled up the window and drove away. As soon as she was in her apartment, doors locked, Olivia had text Elliot as promised. The text she received back had made her heart flutter again.

 

‘Good. This will be our new way for you to blink your lights. And if you ever don’t do it, I may ask Jet to step in. ;) ’

 

 

Olivia was pulled out of her memory by her phone buzzing again.

 

‘I know you could be in interviews but please text back when you’re done.’

 

She knew that if she didn’t answer at all he would eventually call and then, if necessary, have Jet track her phone.

 

‘Stubborn son of a bitch,’ she thought.

 

‘I want to make sure you’re okay.’

 

Olivia felt a soft sob break free as she read his third text. She was still not used to having him openly show his care for her and today, it was overwhelming. Each time he did, it chipped away at something she had long ago buried deep in her heart and had covered up a strength and a shield that kept everyone else at arm’s length even if they didn’t know it.

 

She absentmindedly registered that she was still shaking when she opened his texts and pressed his number to call.

 

“Liv,” he answered, soft but clearly concerned.

 

“Hi.” Her voice was quiet, hoarse.

 

“Hi there. I hope my texts didn’t interrupt anything,” he said, trying to start the conversation slow. He was hoping he could get her to open up to him some.

 

“You didn’t,” Olivia whispered. She closed her eyes tightly as a tear rolled down her cheek. She took a ragged breath, trying to find the strength to say something else.

 

Elliot could hear her trying not to cry and reached for his keys and his wallet, intending to head to her no matter where she was.

 

“Olivia, are you still at work?”

 

Her ‘yeah’ was soft and strained. Elliot felt his heart break a bit hearing her sound so defeated.

 

“Okay, I’ll be there in thirty minutes.”

 

“El…” She should protest. Her mind was trying to remind her she could only rely on herself, that she would get through this as she had before. She just needed to finish her paperwork.

 

“I’m coming. I’ll be there soon, I promise. Let’s get off the phone so you can wrap things up, okay?”

 

Olivia might be offended another time, another situation, but in that moment she welcomed someone telling her what to do.

 

“Okay,” she responded. “Be safe.”

 

Olivia forced herself to focus on the last bit of paperwork she had left before drafting an email to Chief McGrath and Fin to update them on a couple of matters they should keep an eye on until she was cleared by IAB to return. She had just pressed send when she caught sight of Amanda and Fin making their way to her office.

 

“Liv. Go home,” Fin said without preamble.

 

She sighed heavily, but appreciated their concern. They had been a great support system over the years and she was immensely grateful for their care now.

 

“I’m working on it. I’ll be out of here soon, I promise. You two, go home and get some rest. I’ll be right behind you in ten minutes or so.”

 

They both looked at her skeptically and she didn’t blame them, considering. However, they also knew she would want to get home and get some rest before seeing her son, so they didn’t press.

 

“Do you need me to keep Noah tonight,” Amanda asked. She figured Olivia may need time to decompress, but she knew how healing it was to just be with your children after a day like they had.

 

Olivia thought about it for a moment, hiding her shaking hands in her lap under the desk.

 

“Can I let you know later,” Olivia asked, not able to focus on one thought long enough to make a decision.

 

“Of course. Go home, shower, eat and call me after,” Amanda said soothingly. She turned to leave, glancing back with a worried look on her face. Fin stayed, staring at Olivia as she tried to avoid meeting his eyes.

 

“Just say what you’re thinking, Fin,” she said softly. He stayed quiet for a moment, taking her in as she rubbed a thumb across her forehead.

 

“Is he coming to get you,” he asked, just as softly.

 

Olivia’s eyes flew to meet his, shocked and a little startled. While she knew Fin understood, she hadn’t discussed her and Elliot’s relationship, ‘friendship’ she reminded herself, with anyone. She glanced nervously out her office window trying to avoid Fin’s gaze. She didn’t know if Elliot would try to come up, but she wasn’t sure she was ready for that especially on a day when she needed to show she was strong, show she could leave the job there and walk out on her own two feet.

 

“Good,” Fin said with a nod, not needing a verbal confirmation from her. “Let me know if you need anything. I can grab Noah and bring him over later tonight or in the morning if you want.”

 

He turned to leave, glad she had someone that understood what she was dealing with at the moment. He paused for a moment at the door, taking a moment to stare at her again.

 

“I’m glad, Liv. You deserve to let someone take care of you.”

 

And then he was out of her office, grabbing his things and leaving. Olivia sighed softly, feeling herself start to shake more as she began packing up her things. Without a distraction, she could feel the despair threatening the creep in and she couldn’t allow that until she was safe in her own home.

 

‘I’m downstairs, parked on the side street. I can come up but figured you would want to come out on your own.’

 

Olivia smiled at his thoughtfulness and gathered her things, eager to leave the building and put distance between herself and the events of the past 24 hours. She put her things in the backseat, climbing in quietly. As soon as she had buckled her seatbelt, Elliot pulled away from the curb without a word. He waited until they were a few blocks away before he reached over and grabbed her hand, lacing their fingers together. Olivia gripped his hand tightly, feeling herself relax just a bit at the feel of his hand, his skin, on hers.

 

“Thank you,” she whispered, squeezing his hand.

 

Elliot squeezed her hand in response, content to just let her be. Unable to stop himself, he pulled their joined hands up, kissing hers gently. Olivia let out a soft gasp at the feel of his lips on her skin, glancing at him. All he did was smile and rest their hands back on the middle console as he navigated the slight traffic of the evening.

 

When they arrived to her building, Elliot grabbed her things from the backseat and guided her inside with a firm hand on her lower back. They didn’t speak as they got into the elevator, but Olivia did step closer to him and let his chest brush her shoulder as she started to feel the exhaustion creep in.

 

‘Almost there,’ she thought as the elevator doors slid open.

 

Elliot wrapped his arm around her waist and guided her to her front door. Wordlessly, Olivia pulled out her keys and let them into her space. She walked further into the apartment and just stood facing the couch. As soon as Elliot had shut the door and the lock clicked into place, Olivia let her shoulders slump and her head hang. She took a deep breath and let all of the emotions and exhaustion of the past few days wash over her.

 

Olivia had done everything she was supposed to at work – talked to IAB, made the appointment with Dr Lindstrom, talked to her Union rep – but now that she didn’t have to be in work mode, she wasn’t sure what to do. She knew she did the right thing; she knew that she had saved countless people, but after a rough couple of years for everyone it was just one more thing that chipped away at her emotions.

 

“Liv.” Elliot’s voice was quiet, soothing as he walked up behind her.

 

He had left her bags near the door after pulling her phone out of her purse. He set it on the coffee table before he reached for her shoulders. He squeezed them gently, his chest brushing against her back as he tried to provide her some strength. She stayed silent, but let her body sway into his with another heavy sigh.

 

Elliot knew very well the toll it took to take someone’s life to protect others and it was never easy. It was even harder when you felt alone and he was determined to make sure Olivia knew he was there for her now and for as long as she would let him – tonight and forever.

 

“What do you need?” He pressed his nose to her hair when she shrugged slightly. “What can I do for you,” he asked. He squeezed her shoulders again as she pressed herself closer to him.

 

“I just… I’m exhausted,” she finally let out in a whisper. Elliot could hear the pain and exhaustion in her voice and he resolved to do everything she would allow to take care of her in that moment. He was just going to let his instincts guide him tonight.

 

“Okay, coat off first then.”

 

Olivia hummed softly and let him help her out of her coat, barely moving. He threw both of their coats on the chair behind them and then came to stand in front her, noting she hadn’t moved or looked up.

 

“Sweatshirt next, Liv. Okay?”

 

He waited for her nod and then carefully unzipped the grey sweatshirt. Olivia wasn’t really moving so he stepped behind her and pulled it off, throwing it to rest on their coats. Elliot came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her tight against him.

 

“You’re shaking,” he whispered, holding her tighter.

 

“All. Day.” Her tone was hesitant, a bit distant.

 

Elliot dropped his chin to her shoulder, breathing deep and slow, getting her to instinctively match. He wished he could have been there for her earlier in the day, especially knowing she had been shaky most of the day, but he was here now. Hopefully he could be there for her future bad days as well.

 

Olivia started to feel the shaking lessen as he held her, warm and secure. She felt safe and that was something she needed more than she had realized. She brought her hands up to hold his wrists, squeezing gently.

 

“Thank you.”

“Anytime, Liv. I mean it.”

 

He turned his hands over, sliding them into her own. She squeezed his hands and turned her face towards his, letting her nose nuzzle his cheek gently for a moment. As much as he wanted to keep her wrapped in his arms, she needed more than that at the moment.

 

“When was the last time you ate,” he asked. His voice was low, his warm breath hitting her ear as she turned her head back to face the couch.

 

“It’s been a while. Had a power bar, I think,” she said. She was letting her body lean heavily against his, finding the longer he held her, the better she was feeling.

 

“So, food next,” he said, kissing her temple. He slowly pulled away and guided her to sit on the couch. She watched with heavy eyes as he grabbed his cell phone from his jacket pocket and came back to sit next to her. Olivia let her tired body lean into his, her head dropping to his shoulder to watch him scroll through a food delivery app. Elliot placed a heavy hand on her knee as he ordered Chinese food for the two of them.

 

“We have about forty minutes until it arrives. Why don’t you go take a shower, change into comfortable clothes,” he suggested. “It will make you feel better.”

 

Olivia brought a hand up to hold onto his wrist, letting her fingers rest against the steady thrum of his pulse. She sighed softly as his thumb rubbed back and forth her knee. It was a soothing feeling – it felt good.

 

“You’re right,” she murmured. She felt the chuckle roll through him and she rolled her eyes with a soft smile.

 

“You’re admitting I’m right,” he asked, teasingly. “You must be really tired.” She let the back of her hand hit his chest, weakly, but it pleased him that she was starting to seem a little more like herself.

 

“Go, wash the day off. Take your time and I’ll be here when you’re done,” he promised.

 

Elliot stood and pulled her up from the couch, making sure she was steady before releasing her. He had noticed her limping when she came to the car and he noticed her limping still as she walked towards her bedroom and shutting the door behind her. He walked down the hall a bit, seeing a door near the second bathroom and opened it, hoping it was the linen closet. Luckily, he found a heating pad and he grabbed that as well as a hand towel in the event they needed to ice her ankle. Once he got the heating pad plugged in, he sat to wait for Olivia and their food, mentally making a list of other things he could do for her.

 

Olivia had stripped out of her clothes slowly, feeling stiff and achy. She stepped into the hot shower carefully and let out a contented sigh as the heat penetrated her weary muscles. As she stood there, she realized how comfortable she was with Elliot there. He had done a couple things that she could easily analyze to death (‘like kissing her head,’ she thought with a smile), but she decided to just go with it and let her instincts guide her. Another time, another day, she might choose to send him home or tell him he’s not treating her like a friend should, but she didn’t want to. She liked that he was there, showing he meant what he said about balance but not pushing her to give more than she emotionally could that night. She knew she could talk about the shooting with him, but right now she liked he was a distraction – a welcomed and comforting distraction.

 

When she got out of the shower, Olivia put on a pair of soft, pink sleep pants and a large, black long-sleeved shirt, threw her hair in a clip and padded back towards the living room. She immediately noticed that Elliot had been busy while she was gone. She noticed he had moved her bags from the front door to her table and the heating pad was on the couch. As she moved closer, she took in the unopened beer on the coffee table next to a glass of wine and her phone that he had plugged in to charge. He must have done a little exploring of the hall as well because it seemed he had found the Santa presents she had hidden from Noah and placed them under the tree. Olivia pressed a hand to her heart – the fluttering was back.  

 

Elliot re-entered the apartment at that moment with a very large bag of Chinese food and the sight of him brought a smile to her face. He locked the door quickly and toed off his shoes at the door before catching sight of her staring at him.

 

“Hey you,” he said, smiling. He could already see that some of the tension had left her body and she looked beautiful standing there in the glow of the Christmas lights.

 

“Hey you,” she repeated softly. She stayed still as he moved closer to her, setting the food on the coffee table.

 

“Feel any better,” he asked. His tone was soft and intimate. She couldn’t stop herself from dragging a hand down his arm as she answered.

 

“Yeah, a bit. Thank you.”

 

The smile he gave her brought the fluttering back with a vengeance. Elliot stepped closer and helped her sit, asking if she needed an ice pack or ibuprofen for her ankle. When she said the heat would be best, he helped her get her ankle propped up and covered in the heating pad before handing her a carton of food. They ate quietly, both lost in their thoughts. Even though she hadn’t eaten for a while, Olivia was only able to eat about half of carton. Elliot wished she would eat more, but he didn’t press since it was a win she ate anything at all. He had ordered enough food so she and Noah would have leftovers, just in case, and he knew she would eat more when she was feeling better.

 

“Thank you for getting out the presents, El. I really appreciate it,” she murmured, laying a hand on his thigh. He immediately covered her hand with his own, not letting her pull back even if she wanted to.

 

Olivia watched with amusement as he blushed slightly, but met her eyes steadily. “I promise I wasn’t trying to go through your things, but I figured they were still hidden and I want to do anything I can to help.”

 

Olivia could feel the tears wanting to well up, but she pushed them back and offered Elliot a soft smile. Understanding, he squeezed her hand gently and stood to take their leftovers to the kitchen. “Do you want more wine,” he asked, noting that her glass would soon be empty.

 

“Please,” Olivia said with a soft smile. As he moved around in the kitchen, Olivia set the heating pad aside and pulled her legs underneath her. She grabbed her phone to check in with Amanda and noted it was rather late. She frowned, realizing that Elliot probably needed to get home soon. She sighed softly, not ready for the comfort she felt to disappear and she felt the negative emotions of the day start to push their way to the front of her mind.

 

“Hey, what’s wrong? Is it Noah,” Elliot asked, concerned when he saw her face and her phone in her lap.

Olivia glanced up, confused, as he placed her wine glass and another beer on the coffee table. He sat close beside her, placing a comforting hand on her knee. She shook her head slightly, trying to avoid his gaze.

 

“Just about to check on him,” she said quietly.

 

He watched her closely as she texted Amanda to check in on her son. Amanda immediately reported back that everything was good and the kids were asleep. Olivia sighed again. She didn’t want to be alone tonight once Elliot left, but she refused to wake her son this late.

 

‘Guess I’ll just have to deal with it,’ she thought to herself.

 

She tossed the phone on the table and grabbed her wine, taking a large sip, still avoiding Elliot’s gaze. As she lowered the glass from her lips, he grabbed it and placed it back on the table. That got her attention. Her head snapped up, staring at him as he calmly stared back.

 

“Talk to me. What changed while I was in the kitchen? Did I do something to upset you,” he asked. He didn’t understand and he would hate if he had done something that made her day worse.

 

Olivia shook her head slightly and dropped her head. It wasn’t his fault, but she couldn’t help but feel more and more sad at the thought of him leaving for the night. Best to get it out of the way now so she can head to bed and possibly cry herself to sleep.

 

“It’s late. You should get back to your family.”

 

Elliot stayed still, watching her face closely. They may still have a lot to rediscover about each other, but he could still read her pretty well. He could practically see her close in on herself as she spoke, trying to protect herself, and he realized she thought he was going leave.

 

“Olivia, look at me.”

 

When she wouldn’t look up, Elliot reached out and cupped her cheek. Olivia sighed, the sound was soft but ragged as she felt tears start to fill her eyes.

 

“Oh sweetheart,” he whispered. “Come here.”

 

He scooted as close as he could and guided her face to his, pressing their foreheads together. She kept her gaze down, trying to hide the tears. He closed his eyes, feeling the hurt and pain radiate from her.

 

“I’m not leaving unless you want me to,” he murmured.

 

“But, Eli…”

 

“Is with Mama and Kathleen,” he cut in. “They know where I am and they know that I might not be home tonight.”

 

At that, Olivia pulled back slightly to look at him. He calmly cupped her face, wiping the tears off her cheeks.

 

“It’s your call, Liv. I’m here as long as you need me,” he said.

 

A sob escaped her lips and she leaned her body back into his, wrapping her arms around his waist. Elliot easily pulled her into his lap, holding her tight as the tears started coming faster.

 

“I’ve got you. Just let it out, okay?”

 

Olivia gripped his shirt and pressed her face to his neck, trying to keep her sobs quiet. She didn’t know how long she had been wrapped in his arms when she felt him remove the clip in her hair and then his fingers were massaging her scalp and carding through her hair gently. She felt a sob escape as she realized how good it felt. The tears came harder as she thought about how long it had been since she’d had someone hold her like this and how long it had been since she’d felt this safe.

 

She cried. She cried hard. She felt like she should have run out of tears, but they kept coming. She cried for all the pain the past 10 years, she cried for the missed time with Noah, she cried for all the times she had to cry alone.

 

Elliot felt her press her fists harder into his back as she gripped his shirt and he just held her tighter, pulling her as close as he physically could.

 

“Shh, I’ve got you. I promise, Liv. I’ve got you,” he whispered fiercely. He felt his own tears well up, hating she was hurting so bad.

 

His whispered words were soothing and wrapped up in his arms, she was finally starting to feel like he wasn’t going anywhere.

 

 

Elliot wasn’t planning to move until she made him. He held her close as her tears slowed and her breath evened out. After a bit, she shifted against him, loosening her hold on him but staying in his arms. He felt her take a deep breath.

 

“I shot him in the head.”

 

He closed his eyes, willing his body not to tense so she would keep talking. He knew no one could protect her from that aspect of their jobs, but it didn’t mean he didn’t want to.

 

“I was the only one with a clear shot. He had a bomb. Reached for a gun.”

 

“Still sucks,” he murmured.

 

“Fucking sucks. I just… I would do anything to protect others, just why did it have to happen on Christmas,” Olivia whispered. Her voice was a bit hoarse and her throat dry, but she wasn’t ready to leave Elliot’s arms.

 

“I’m sorry you had to, Liv. It’s never easy.” Elliot let a hand rub up and down her back, his large hand warm even through her shirt.

 

“No.” She paused, running her hand over his chest. Olivia knew he understood. Knowing him like she did – because she did still know him – she knew the shot that helped force him to leave ten years ago was one that would always weigh heavily on him. Just like this one would weigh on her for years to come because of the day.

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“For what,” he asked. He caught her hand on his chest and laced their fingers together.

 

“I know you understand what I’m feeling and I’m sorry that you understand.”

 

Elliot smiled sadly and brought her hand to his lips, kissing her knuckles.

 

“I’m sorry too, Liv.”

 

The shaky feeling she had all day stopped finally stopped altogether.

 

 

They laid wrapped in each other’s arms, enjoying the closeness and the comfort until Elliot’s phone dinged with a message. He kissed the top of Olivia’s head and reached for his phone, chuckling slightly as he read the message.

 

“Fin says he’ll pick up Noah in the morning to bring him home. Then he asked where I’m sleeping.”

 

Olivia rolled her eyes and sat up to grab her phone. Without thought, she moved back to settle into Elliot’s arms with a yawn. He smiled and threaded his fingers in her hair again, letting his nails drag against her scalp as she pulled up her messages to text Fin. They agreed he’d drop Noah off at around 9:00am in the morning, giving her enough time to get breakfast ready. She ignored him when he asked where Elliot was at that moment.

 

Elliot smiled as she turned to bury her face in his chest with another yawn. As much as he loved holding her, she needed to get some rest before her son got home.

 

“I think it’s time for bed, Captain. You need some sleep,” he said. He let his hand trail from her head to her waist, squeezing gently.

 

Olivia sat up enough to look him in the eye. Elliot was very aware of her hand high on his thigh and he prayed his body would behave. She shifted a bit, her hair falling in her face. He reached up to gently brush it behind her ear before rubbing her arm up and down. As much as he wanted to grab her face in both hands, pull her lips to his and kiss her with all that he had, he was going to follow her lead. He was determined to put her comfort above everything else tonight and for as long as she needed.

 

“You need rest too, El,” she said softly. She was enjoying the feel of his strong thigh beneath her hand and his hand on her arm.

 

“Tonight’s about you, Liv. Just give me a pillow and a blanket and I’ll be fine.” He paused trying to read her, but she had dropped her gaze again.

 

“I can head home too if you want.”

 

He brought his hand up, cupping her cheek and gently forced her to meet his eyes. “I’ll do anything you want me to.”

“Anything,” she asked. Her grin was teasing and Elliot gulped, feeling his cock twitch. Olivia smiled at his hesitant nod, knowing he probably had a million thoughts racing through his mind. She turned her face into his palm slightly before using his leg to help push herself up and off the couch. He watched her with curious eyes, wondering what was going through her head. Olivia had told herself in the shower she was going to go with her instincts so she reached out a hand to Elliot.

 

“Come on.” Her voice was soft, clear, and it warmed Elliot from the inside out. “Let’s finish these drinks somewhere else.”

 

Elliot pushed himself up, standing close in her space as he grabbed her hand. She stared up at him through her lashes for a moment, taking a minute to let the gravity of her implied ask wash over them. They grabbed their drinks, Elliot sliding both of their phones in his pocket, and then he willingly followed as she turned and pulled him to her bedroom. Crossing the threshold, they both felt the energy change.

 

“Whatever you want, Liv,” he reminded her.

 

Olivia glanced at him and released his hand. She moved to place her wine on her nightstand and sat on the bed. Hesitant to verbalize what she wanted, she nodded at the empty space next to her. The grin on his face alleviated any nerves she was feeling. Elliot noticed a blanket on the chair in the corner, grabbing it as he made his way to the other side of the bed. He passed her phone over to her as he climbed on the bed next to her. He got comfortable against the headboard and opened his arms.

 

“Grab that wine and c’mere,” he said.

 

Olivia smiled slowly and followed his direction. She settled against him, her back pressed to the right side of his chest. Elliot slipped an arm around her waist, letting his thumb caress the skin above the band of her pants. Olivia felt herself relax into his strong body as she sipped her wine. He didn’t press her to talk, which she appreciated, and he just held her. He seemed to know what she needed and for that, she was immensely grateful.

 

“Before I forget, we should set alarms for in the morning. I’ll make sure I’m out of here before Noah gets home,” Elliot said as he set one on his phone for seven thirty in the morning.

 

Olivia was quiet, letting his words sink in. She didn’t want him to feel like he had to sneak out, but she wasn’t sure she was ready for Fin or Noah to ask questions – especially Fin. She nodded absentmindedly as she mulled over the options.

 

“You could stay for breakfast,” she finally mentioned before downing the rest of her wine and leaving his arms to put her glass on the nightstand. Elliot watched her with a soft smile. He found it very endearing that she was avoiding his gaze and it let him know she was torn between what she wanted and what she thought should happen.

 

“How about we set the alarms and we can talk about it in the morning?”

 

Olivia turned to look at him, confusion all over her face. Elliot reached out and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, smiling softly.

 

“It’s your call. It’s your day with Noah and I don’t want to get in the way of that. So, let’s sleep on it and you can tell me what you want in the morning.”

 

Olivia felt the fluttering return as she stared in his eyes. She knew he cared for her, but he was proving it more and more.

 

“Okay,” she whispered with a soft smile.

 

Olivia set her alarm, turned off the light and then moved to get under the covers, settling on her side to face Elliot. He waited until she was still before moving down on the bed, turning to face her, still on top of the covers. He pulled the blanket over himself and sighed softly when he realized it still smelled like Olivia.

“Are you going to be okay like that,” she murmured as she hooked a finger in his beltloop, tugging gently. He was still in his jeans and Henley and she knew it was bound to be uncomfortable to sleep in, plus sleeping on top of the covers. Olivia had thought about sleeping in his arms many times over the years, but having him there as they were still finding their footing was a bit jarring. She wanted him to hold her under the covers, but she also knew that they weren’t ready for that yet. They had pushed some of their boundaries out of the way already tonight, but it wasn’t time for all of them to disappear.

 

“I’ll be fine, Liv. Tonight’s about you and what I can do to make sure you get a good night’s rest.” Unable to help himself, Elliot reached out to trace her cheek with the tip of his finger. “And if at any time you want me to leave, just tell me. Okay?”

 

Olivia let her eyes close at the soothing touch. Noticing her enjoyment, Elliot continued to trace his finger across her face, lulling her to sleep.

 

“I’m not going to want you to leave,” she confessed quietly. Her eyes were still closed finding it easier to confess without looking at him.

 

“I’m not going to want to either,” he whispered. “Sleep. You deserve it.” He kissed her forehead gently and wrapped his arm around her waist as they both drifted to sleep. She slept soundly for the first time in a while.

 

They awakened to Elliot’s alarm, wrapped up in each other as much as they could. Olivia turned her face to his chest as he turned off the alarm. She breathed him in, just taking a moment to slowly wake up. Elliot threaded a hand into her hair to hold her close.

 

“How are you feeling,” he asked. Olivia shivered at the raspy growl in his voice, thinking she wanted to hear that growl during other mornings together.

 

She lifted her head to rest her chin on his chest and make eye contact with him. She wasn’t fully better after the day before, but she was leaps and bounds from where she could be and it was all because of Elliot.

 

“Much better. I’ll get there,” she murmured.

 

“You will,” he agreed with a soft smile.

 

Olivia dropped her head to his chest for a brief moment before sitting up, running a hand through her hair. She checked her phone to find messages from both Fin and Amanda. It seemed that Noah had woken up at seven, eager to get home and check on his mom. Fin was awake and checking to see if she was ready for him to bring Noah now.

 

Watching her face as she read, Elliot sat up and began folding the blanket. She hadn’t said anything yet, but he was going to get ready to head back home. Olivia turned to look at him as he got out of bed.

 

“Noah’s ready to come home,” she said.

 

“I figured. He misses you,” Elliot said walking around to her side. “I’m sure you’re still debating what you want to do and I think that means it’s time for me to head home.”

 

Olivia sighed, “You’re probably right. But this has been… nice.”

 

“It has been very nice. And when you’re ready, I’d love to have more of the nice,” he said with a smile. He pressed a kiss to her forehead, relishing in the smile it brought to her face. Elliot helped her out of bed and they headed to the living room to say goodbye.

 

Before he put on his coat, Olivia wrapped her arms around his waist, hugging him close. Elliot engulfed her in his embrace, marveling absentmindedly how well they fit together.

 

“Thank you, El. Last night meant a lot.”

 

“You’re welcome. I’m here, I want to be here when you need me. Day or night, okay?”

 

He pulled her as close as he possibly could, not ready to let her go just yet. She pulled back slightly, just enough to catch his gaze.

 

“I know.”

 

Her acknowledgement settled over them like a caress. She believed he was there for her, believed he would do anything for her. It was different than before, she realized now.

 

“Good,” he whispered thickly. They both tried to hold back tears as they realized they had taken a step forward they couldn’t have taken in the past. There was nothing holding them back and she was determined that this – whatever this was – go right.

 

Elliot pulled away slowly and went to the door to grab his shoes. He sat to quickly pull them on and then he was grabbing his coat to leave. Neither wanted him to leave, but they wordlessly agreed it was time. Olivia held his hand as they walked to the door, hoping to prolong their contact as long as possible.

 

“Call me if you need anything, okay,” he asked.

 

“I will,” she whispered.

 

Elliot opened the door and was pulled back, quickly. Olivia placed her hands on his shoulders, rising to her tiptoes to whisper in his ear.

 

“I can’t wait for more of the nice with you, El.”

 

She kissed his cheek softly, lingering for a bit. Another boundary crossed. He pressed his forehead to hers, taking another moment to stay connected to her, both smiling.

 

“I’ll check in with you later,” he promised.

 

“You better.”

 

The moment was soft, intimate, and the perfect way to say goodbye. Olivia watched him back up down the hall, his eyes locked with hers until she shut the door. She knew he was waiting to hear the sounds of the lock sliding into place before he would leave, and it brought the fluttering back causing her to press a hand to her chest.

 

Olivia thought about her night as she changed and began breakfast for Noah. Elliot had been a great comfort and she knew that without him, she probably would have tried to ignore everything that had happened which would have made her day with Noah that much harder. Whatever they were doing, it was helping them both and she was thankful for that. They still had a lot to work through, but she was excited to see where they were going – together.