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Not His Day Today

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“When do you get to be happy?” His mother stood behind him as he finished drying the dishes. She’d left him alone for the past fifteen minutes so he knew he was on borrowed time. “When does she? ” He shook his head. 

“It’s not that simple, Mama.” He whispered. 

“It is that simple, Elliot. You’re an idiot if you think breaking her heart will keep her safe from that man.” He stalled for a few minutes, washing his hands, before he turned to face her and threw the towel over his shoulder. She walked toward him, putting her hands on his arms. “If I thought you were going to do that to her, I never would have called her. She doesn’t deserve that.” 

“No, she doesn’t. You can’t call her again.” Bernie shook her head at him and he saw the disappointment in her eyes. 

“She doesn’t deserve that either. What she does deserve is for you to get your shit together.” Her voice rose and Elliot looked away. “I know you love that girl.” 

He needed to get away from this. He gently moved her out of the way. “It doesn’t matter, Mama. I won’t let her get hurt.” 

“She already got hurt! You hurt her. You did. And you can’t blame anyone else for that.” He shook his head and grabbed his keys and coat. He couldn’t listen to this anymore. 

He let the cold winter air envelop him before he shrugged his coat on and slid into the car. He just needed to lose himself for a while. To not think about how he’s fucked everything up for himself. For his family. For her. He shuffled his playlist and turned up the volume. The Spotify gods must be against him because every song made him think about her as he sped through the streets of her city. Or maybe she was all he thought about all the time. He couldn’t stop the path his vehicle took until he was parked across from her building. It was like she had a line on him and like the north star she was, she lured him in. 

He slammed his head back against his headrest and rolled it to the side to stare at the building. He shouldn’t be here. He shouldn’t bother her while she’s home with Noah. He knew that. But he needed her. He needed to see her and to make this right. He just didn’t know how. His mother’s questions replayed in his mind over and over. When do you get to be happy? When does she? If he was being honest with himself, he’d never truly been happy. His kids made him happy, he guessed. But responsibilities and his sense of obligation were prioritized over his own happiness. And the truth was they’d been in love with each other and not able to do anything about it for a few decades. He made sure of that. He nodded to himself. He was going to change it. He was out of the car and jogging across the street before he fully realized what he was doing. 

He waved to Tom at the front desk and fuck he should have stopped for flowers or something. That’s what people do with these grand gestures. He’d send her something obnoxious tomorrow. He pulled out his phone while he waited on the elevator. He was nervous and it was manifesting in the shake of his hands. He was about to blow this all up. He ordered her a few dozen peonies and paid the out of season price. He had two days until they showed up so he figured they could either be an apology or the start of something. 

He walked slowly down the hallway to her door. Shit. What was he going to say? What if he’d fucked it up already? Maybe she didn’t want this. He stopped in the hallway in front of the door and squeezed the bridge of his nose. 

“Elliot?” He heard Noah’s voice through the door. 

“Yeah, buddy. It’s me.” 

“Tom texted Mom while I was playing my game on her new phone. She’s in the shower. I’m gonna go ask her if she wants me to let you in.” He heard Noah’s feet running toward the back of the apartment. 

His mind wouldn’t work. He couldn’t come up with anything to say to her other than he’s fucking stupid and he loves her and he’s going to protect her. He rolled his eyes. This wasn’t going to end well. 

The door swung open and he was met with Noah’s worried face. “She said to let you in so the neighbors didn’t call the cops.” He eyed him wearily before turning around and heading toward the living room. Elliot locked the door behind him and followed the kid to the couch, sinking down on the opposite side. He couldn’t quiet his mind enough to make sense of what he was going to say to her. He felt Noah’s eyes on him. “She only takes a shower before I go to bed if she’s sad. If something happened.” This kid. They should set him up at Quantico. “I know she was at your house. What happened?”

He turned toward him. “I hurt her. And I just needed to tell her how sorry I am.” Noah narrowed his eyes. 

“She’s crying. I could tell because of her voice.” Noah held him with his eyes that looked a little too much like his own. “Why did you hurt her?”

Jesus. “I thought I could protect her. But I think I just got scared.” They both heard the water turn off and looked toward the hallway. He looked at the clock and it was pushing 8:30. “Shouldn’t you be in bed?” Noah scoffed, exactly like his mother, making Elliot laugh for the first time in days. 

“Elliot, I’m 10 years old. My bed time is 9pm.” He’d be put off by his attitude if he wasn’t so damn similar to Olivia. “Do you think you could teach me how to box? I saw one of those punching bag things in your house.” 

“Why do you want to learn how to box?” The one-eighty threw him slightly. 

“I just do.” He shrugged. “I’m smaller than other kids in my class and I just don’t want to be messed with.” Elliot stiffened in his seat and felt the tension in his neck immediately. Were kids messing with him? 

“Yeah, I’ll teach you.” He stared at the kid who was now smiling. 

“Cool.” He nodded and turned back to the phone while they waited for Olivia to come out of her room. "I'm free this weekend." Elliot laughed lightly.

"I'll check with your mom." He closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the cushions. 

"You okay?" Noah was still eyeballing him. 

"I'm afraid I messed it all up with her." He kept his eyes closed. 

"Should've brought flowers or something. Mom likes fancy tea. For next time." Elliot laughed at the little Benson again. 

"I ordered flowers in the elevator." He rolled his head to face him. "Are the kids messing with you?" Before he could answer, they heard her door open. Noah’s eyes shot to the hallway but Elliot couldn’t let it go. “Noah.” He turned toward him. 

“It’s not a big deal.” He put Olivia’s phone on the coffee table and got up off the couch. “Just ask her, please.” Elliot nodded and turned his attention toward the woman walking into the living room. 

Her eyes and cheeks were red. Her hair was damp and wavy. She’d never looked more beautiful. He couldn’t tear his gaze away from her as she ruffled Noah’s hair and hugged him goodnight, telling him she’d be in soon. She wouldn’t look him in the eye as she sat in the wingback chair opposite the couch. 

“Ask me what?” Her voice was barely a whisper. Her eyes were everywhere but where he wanted them. 

“He wants me to teach him how to box. Wants to start this weekend. Told me to ask you-” 

“That’s not a good idea.” She cut him off, shaking her head. 

He got up off the couch and knelt down in front of her. “I’m not doing it again. Olivia.” Fuck he was already letting the tears fall freely from his eyes. “I’m not leaving you.” He brought his hands up to her thighs. “Look at me.” She shook her head again, tears escaping from the corners of her eyes. “Please, Liv. Baby look at me.” Her wide eyes shot up to his. “ Shit. I’m sorry.” He couldn’t be too sorry though because the slip up worked. “It terrifies me that he might get to you. I thought that pushing you away would keep you safe. But it won’t. He knows it will destroy me if anything happens to you.” He couldn’t tell if he was getting through to her. “I’m in love with you, Olivia.” He uncurled her fist and laced his fingers through hers. “I want you.” He brought her hands up to his lips. 


“I want to teach Noah how to box. I want him to trust me enough to tell me why. I want to come home to you. I want to drive you to work in the morning and fight with you about my expensive coffee. I want to kiss you whenever I feel like it.” He kissed her palm and smiled when she sighed and closed her eyes. “I want to go to Noah’s dance recitals. And get pizza with the kids after.”

“You keep changing your mind.” He looked back up to her eyes and nodded. 

“I’m sorry for making you think that I’ve changed my mind about us. Liv, I’ve loved you for decades. And I’m sorry for the stupid fucking decisions I’ve made to make you question that. I’m not going anywhere.” He cleared his throat for the next words. “And if you decide you don’t want this, I will still be here. I’ll be your friend.” Even though it will kill me. 

“We can’t keep doing this push and pull, El. I’m too old and it’s too hard.” 

“Then be with me.” He was pleading with her at this point. 

She was quiet for too long. He gently put her hands back in her lap and started to get up off his aching knees. “You’re going to have to earn it.” His eyes widened and he couldn’t help the smile that tugged his lips up. His heart was racing as he stood up. He leaned down again and braced his hands on the armrests on either side of the chair. 

“I can do that.” His smile grew when she rolled her eyes. His eyes landed on her lips and fuck he just wanted to taste them. So he did. He pulled her up and his hands moved to her jaw to tilt her face up toward his. She was so fucking pretty and her lips were so full and pink. He traced his thumb over her bottom lip and pulled her mouth open for him before he wrapped his lips around hers. He had to keep it somewhat quick because he couldn’t back her into her bedroom and show her just how he was going to earn it. When he pulled away he licked his lips just to taste her one more time and smiled at her closed eyes. “Go say goodnight to your son.” She nodded and he stepped back to give her space. 

She followed him to the door to see him out. “He’s free on Saturday.” She smiled up at him. He stepped out into the hallway and turned back toward her. 

“I’ll pick him up at 10.” She nodded and leaned against the doorframe. He tucked her hair behind her ear and kissed her forehead. “I’m gonna see you tomorrow. Lock the door so I can hear it.” 

He couldn't keep the grin off his face as he waved to Tom on his way out. It was still plastered to his face when he walked back through the front door to his house.