<3 <3 <3 <3
“Listen” Elliot sucks in a deep breath and appears to hold it for a few seconds before releasing it “I just think”
“You think what?” Olivia snaps, unable to hide the anger and disappointment in her voice.
“That kids have to be kids sometimes, Liv” he brushes his hands against the back of his neck and throws her a sympathetic smile. A smile that currently, is unwanted.
She is pacing the floor of her office, wearing the carpet down. Flashing repeated glances between the clock on the wall and her watch. She can almost feel her twitching muscles develop as the arduous tick from the clock adds to her already anxious energy.
Elliot slides in front of her, completely impeding on her pacing turf as she releases an audible sigh of frustration as she comes to a halt.
A smile stretches across his face “You’re driving me crazy with the back and forth Liv. Just sit down”
“I can’t sit down, this is Noah, we are waiting for, Elliot. My son, Noah” she enunciates her child’s name hopefully enforcing the importance of this whole situation.
"Liv, he threw a small rock. He made a mistake. He probably was showing off with his friends when it hit the window" He pauses his speech for a moment as she glances a disapproving glare at him.
Taking a sip of his water and shrugging his shoulders at her ‘don't you dare look’, he takes a seat near the edge of her desk and plays aimlessy with his water bottle. “Perhaps it wasn't him?” he asks.”
“Wasn’t him?” she puffs out in disbelief, taking a seat next to him. “He threw that rock, El. The uni’s said the brownstone owner had pointed him out specifically”
As soon as she had received the friendly heads-up call from a Captain in the other department, she knew who the owner was; Mr. Burrows, an older man notorious for repeated nuisance calls. It was his habit to call in almost anything and everything that was remotely inconvenient.
“I just don’t understand, why?” she sighs, while rolling her eyes, she hadn’t intended to sound so pessimistic and unknowing because to an extent, she knew why.
Boys, showing off, peer pressure, he went a little too far with whatever he did, but that didn't matter, Noah knew better than that.
He had been taught better than that.
Elliot moves closer towards her “He’s just a little kid” he shakes his head trying to downplay the situation. “He got excited with his friends. Why don’t you take his phone off him for a couple of days, he’ll learn.”
Elliot is protecting Noah; it is flattering to know that he cares so much about her boy, but not now. Not when the kid is throwing rocks through people's windows.
“It doesn’t matter if he’s a little kid, El, you know how things like this go" she narrows her eyes, widens her stance. "What’s it going to be next? huh, armed robbery?”
The way she said it, she felt silly, she knew she was overreacting, and by looking at Elliot's goofy smile, he knew she was too.
“What?” she abruptly asks but she doesn’t give him the opportunity to respond “They are letting it slide because I’m NYPD, because I’m a Captain not because they think he didn’t do it, El?” she checks between her watch and phone for the third time in the space of a few minutes.
Any minute now, her son, her sweet boy, her now potential juvenile delinquent will be pulling up to the precinct with two of his friends in a squad car.
“What did the other parents say when you called them?” Elliot asks and of course, it would have been her job to speak to them because it's almost as if it's her responsibility to deal with this kind of situation.
“We’re nipping it in the bud” she flatlines, she’s serious.
His water is finished before he screws it up in his hand and aims for the trash can, pausing before he twists his face to one side and looks at her.
Seeing him staring blankly, she thinks he is going to speak, but he continues to throw as if thinking better of it.
One shot straight into the can.
Half shrugging his shoulders, he looks back at her obviously unimpressed expression.
A confused look crosses his face as he asks, "What? That was a good throw, right?”
Sighing, she rolls her eyes. With every passing minute, the temptation to take an immediate left turn in this whole situation becomes more appealing.
She should consider letting this incident go rather than using it as a teaching opportunity. Elliot might be right and she should simply take Noah's phone as punishment and let that be enough.
But, no. If her boy wants to behave like a criminal, he can be treated like one.
"We interrogate them", she says, "but we do it with kid gloves. We show them how it feels just enough to make them think twice next time."
He nods. “How do you want to approach them, at once or separately?”
Despite the fact that the guy who's window they smashed wasn't pressing charges, Olivia had already relayed the message that she would pay for the damage, but she still wanted Noah to understand the gravity of the situation. If that meant using whatever she had at her disposal, then so be it.
"Amanda should speak with his friends” she suggests, “Let Noah think about it for a bit, then she can speak to him? “ Let's see if we can discover why he was throwing rocks on the first day he was permitted to walk home with his friends."
As Elliott shifts his weight between his feet, he steels himself for whatever he plans to say next.
"Let me talk to him?" he eventually asks.
Her maybe a little too long pause becomes overshadowed by the silence.
“Or not” he quickly interrupts the quietness “I mean, he’s your kid, I just.. I dunno, I thought it might be a good idea”
Elliot stumbling over his words is not something she has ever noticed him doing, but this is a totally new situation for both of them.
His steely composure begins to wane a little as she contemplates the decision a little longer.
He is a good cop, a great father.
“Ok,” she says finally, “you talk to Noah, I’ll watch outside.”
Elliot had met Noah twice before. The first time was at Christmas when all the Stablers were together and the second was when just the three of them went bowling. Olivia had introduced him as a friend, and in all honesty, that's what they are, friends.
Yes. Once or twice, they had moved past that but the label was still firmly attached to them despite the fact that he would stop by when Noah was asleep and leave in time for him to get up.
As she stood outside her own interrogation room, watching over her old partner, she felt a little deflated. She knew this was all for show to teach Noah a lesson early on, but to see her child behind that glass was more difficult than she had imagined.
By clicking the button, she allows the sound from inside the room to reach her.
“So Noah, do you understand why you shouldn't have thrown that rock?” Elliot asks him, pulling a chair over and sitting opposite her son.
"Yes," Noah replies in a matter-of-fact manner.
“Was it you who threw the rock?”
He responds bluntly again, "Yes”. Clutching his head tight against his shoulders, he plays with his fingers.
Olivia is brokenhearted by Noah's answers, not only because of his honesty and because of his acceptance, but also because this was all too much; perhaps it was not necessary, but it was too late now. It seems parenting tactics are only learned in retrospect.
It's possible she was too soft on him when he was younger. He once pushed her and she expressed her disappointment but there was no punishment, and maybe that's why they had a difficult few months of his behavior. Her statement had been that she would take it more seriously if he became difficult again but so far, she had not needed to.
"What made you throw the rock?" Eliot rephrases the question in a more delicate tone. No doubt, he can sense Noah's innocence and compliance.
"Noah," Elliot repeats, "can you explain why you threw that rock at the window?"
It's important for me to know why you did that, Bud,” Elliot asks, and Olivia can see in his manner that he is wondering whether he has gone too far. Whether calling her son Bud already would be too much, too soon. Maybe it was associated with it being her son as to why he lost himself at the end there.
Finally, Noah replies, "No Comment.".
As her eyes widen, Olivia wonders if maybe she taught him a bit too well. Fin's light chuckle can be heard behind her, and although she was not sure when he and Amanda had entered the room, she was glad they were there. As she wraps her arms across her chest, she sends Fin a small smile.
“Why did you throw the rock?” Elliot calmly asks, taking advantage of the break between Noah's silences to begin again.
“No comment, I want to talk to my mom” he insists, oozing of adolescent poise and cockiness. As she watches her bright-eyed, overly confident, she has created a monster, child, crossing his arms out in front of him, sitting tall and presenting all his movements in a firm and precise manner, she sighs.
It is exactly how she taught him to be when faced with a situation, except this was not the scenario she had imagined.
The more Noah puts up a wall to Elliot, the more his inner parent voice becomes more prominent. "Your mom isn't here right now, so you have to talk to me", Elliot rationalizes.
Once again, silence.
Noah leans back into his chair and looks Elliot straight in the eye. With a furrowed brow towards the window, Olivia makes the decision to give the knock, to pull the pair out. This plan isn't working. Just as she taps her knuckles, Noah's voice speaks up.
“Why did you sneak out of my mom’s bed this morning? “ He asks, unphased by what he just said and perhaps unaware of its full meaning.
Olivia feels her stomach sink several levels.
As she swallows her breath, she whispers, "Crap!" It is all she can do, other than to beg the ground to swallow her up and take Elliot along with her.
She keeps her eyes focused forward. Amanda isn't making any effort to hide her giggle, and by the sound of keys being shuffled from behind, she assumes Fin is scurrying for the door.
A memory from more than a decade ago floods her mind.
“Ever sleep with your partner, detective?”
Their kids, what's up with them and an interrogation room? This parallel was painful.
“Is that why you threw the rock? “ Elliot presses him, ducking the boy's accusations.
Olivia stares at her feet and closes her eyes, convinced that Noah had no idea Elliot had stayed last night. She is immediately overcome with guilt. What if he saw them and it affected him so much that he acted out?
Through the glass she notices Noah shaking his head and at least that brings some comfort to her.
“You were kissing my mom, it was so gross”, he blurts out, gluing his face up and scrunching his shoulders.
Unprepared for the sudden change in conversation, she watches Elliot steel himself before peering almost open-mouthed through the one-way glass at Olivia, who finds it difficult to meet his gaze.
Even if he can't see her, it doesn't make it any less humiliating. Her head drops as if it will hide her from this insanely awkward and embarrassing moment.
"At least he isn't saying no comment anymore", Amanda interjects with sympathy and a sense of hilarity. She gently squeezes Olivia's elbow as she walks past her, a comforting smile appears on her face that reads 'don't worry about it' yet also 'gotcha'.
Noah has once again provided Amanda the advantage, between Cassidy's boots all those years ago and now, Olivia is lagging behind. The Carisi card will have to be played, however, she decides to deliver a simple "Mhhmm" instead.
'Exactly, Amanda' Olivia thinks to herself 'Noah has obviously dropped his no comment ruse, and he freely decides this is what he would like to elaborate on.'
With a silent goodbye to Amanda and Fin, Olivia tries to figure out when Noah caught them. The truth is that she didn't realize he noticed, he had never mentioned anything at breakfast.
She had nudged Elliot, more than once because he was impossible to wake, and as he pulled himself to his feet, she snuck out of her room, spied a still sleeping Noah, and quietly but swiftly made her way back.
As she remembered, she pushed his clothes into his chest and had giggled because the sneaking around all felt so juvenile. As Elliot dressed, she went to jump in the shower, when –
Her sudden recognition of what Noah must have witnessed prompts her to bow her head toward the ground. She had been so careless.
Inexcusably careless. Elliot had not left immediately. She had been standing in the door frame of her bedroom, in just a tee, ready to say goodbye when he suddenly looped his arm around her waist and pulled her closer.
At that moment, it was as if she had lost all sense of the environment and there were no memories of her surroundings. Then she playfully grabbed his arm and forced him on his way out. Despite not having seen Noah, that was the only opportunity he had to have seen them.
She whispers to herself, "Enough is enough." As she opened the door to enter the room.
As she sits down next to Elliot, she speaks softly, "Noah, before we discuss anything else, let's talk about what happened today. I'm disappointed in you, and I want to know why you did that?"
"I didn't think the rock would break the window!" he cries, suddenly breaking out of his preteenage angst phase. "Yesterday the man shouted at Henry because he was playing Pokemon Go on his steps" he says brokenly, waving his arms in the air. "It was only like, a foot on his step and then he told us to get lost. So we ran, and Lucy was waiting for me on the corner where she always waits, and then"
"Okay, now slow down," Olivia says softly, lowering her hand in the air.
"When Lucy stopped and I met Henry and Lucas at the corner this morning, Mr. Burrows was waiting. He told us that we had stolen a stupid little gnome just outside his front door." Noah adds.
He quickly corrects himself in response to Olivia's once again furrowing brows: "Ok, it's not stupid, but we didn't take it, I promise we didn't”.
She nods, smiling at him, happy that the attitude is gone and he is now telling the truth.
"He started screaming these really mean names at us as he came down the steps," Noah said, looking between Olivia and Elliot.
As Olivia sits resolutely in her seat, she desperately tries not to fly into mama bear mode and to keep her Captain Head on.
As Noah continued, his voice raised higher as he recounted all the details, "we just ran, we left, we went to school.” He swallows, stands up, and points to the wall. “Let's pretend these are his steps, yeah?”
Olivia nods to Noah in encouragement before looking at Elliott, who is clutching his palm over his chin, desperately trying to mask his amused expression at the new animated performance from Noah.
“I was here,” Noah yells, pointing two fingers in two different directions, "Henry here, Lucas here. We had stones.”
In hopes that he understands the significance of the damage caused by a stone to a rock, Olivia corrects him with "rocks".
"Ok, rocks", he replies in agreement. “We were trying to hit each other’s rocks on the ground when Mr. Burrows came running out of his house and starts being mean to us, again. I promise Mom, we didn’t say anything to him or do anything but then he started running after us, I freaked out and threw the stones…I mean, rocks and one accidently hit the window”
"Ok", she says, acknowledging Noah's excited account of the incident.
Under the table, Olivia feels Elliot's gentle squeeze on her knee as her child continued to imitate the elderly man. As the warmth from his touch travels through her body, she draws her teeth across her bottom lip.
A hint of warning is sounded in her words as she whispers, "El."
"We've been sitting in this room together for years and years" he hushed, making sure Noah would remain incognito. She drops her hands to meet his, letting her fingers curl around his grip as he flirtatiously smiles. His fingers make the tiniest journey and linger gracefully on her mid-thigh as he jokes with her "I've always wanted to do this."
“You don’t realize how much I wanted that too” she replies, turning her head away from the performance and tilting her chin towards Elliot. In his eyes is the familiar look, the same one he had last night, the same one, for years, he has had for her.
“Are you even listening?“ Noah shouted, hands firmly planted on his hips, interrupting the moment. Throwing his arms into the air and circling his wrists to emphasize the importance of the interrogation room, he says, "This is important."
"Yes, we are, sweet boy. "Thank you so much for being so honest with us. We are listening." she replies, rising from the table and reaching out to hug her son. "Let's talk to your friends and figure out what we'll do about Mr. Burrows."
"Ok," Noah responds before taking two tiny steps towards the exit with her before abruptly stopping.
"Mom” he draws out the M, then glances over at Elliot, who gives them a moment alone with a kind, considerate smile before leaving.
“Yeah?" she asks, crouching down to be closer to his face.
“I like him,” he sheepishly retorts, not making eye contact with her and pointing to where Elliot had been seated. “Are you going to have dinner with him?”
When she hears those words, a surge of happiness rushed through her. Noah was her deciding factor and if he approved then she could feel at ease.
"That's a good idea" she beams, barely concealing her delight. "How about going out to dinner together?" She suggests.