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Futile Devices

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The living room is quiet. The sun’s rays cast through windows, warming the stone tiled floors. Olivia sits in the green lounge chair, her back turned towards the window. Her fists are drawn and clasped together, resting just below her chin so that her bottom lip grazes her knuckles. Her expression is full of thought. Occasionally, her brown eyes will flicker over to him. 


He’s sitting in a similar position, in the matching chair beside her. He won’t look at her and hasn’t for the time they’ve been sitting there. 


She can hear that damned clock, the one that hangs in the hallway of their home. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. It carries with volume, bounces off her ears and deafens her thoughts. 


It’s only when she looks over at him, for what seems like the thousandth time that morning, that he actually looks back at her. 


He sits back in his seat, a stern look on his face. She can see the pain in his eyes though. Stone cold blue in the light of the hot sun — and for a moment, they’re reminiscent of winter. He licks his lips and looks around the room for a moment, an arm dangling off of the side of the chair. He’s fumbling with his own fingers, like he does when he’s thinking. Or when he’s on the phone with a client. Or when he’s … distracted. Whatever. 


Suddenly, Trevor leans forward. 


“So …” He begins, blue eyes cast down to the ground before turning his head to look at her. 


She’s so ashamed she can barely stomach looking at him. 


“What’s your choice?” Trevor asks, his voice softened a great deal more than she thinks she deserves. 


Olivia drops her hands from their fists, letting them land on her thighs. Her attention turns to the black grand piano that sits in the room. The one that neither she or he has touched. It came with the house and needs tuning anyways. For a moment she can hear the nursery rhyme that was played on it just weeks ago.


“Liv?” Trevor asks, trying to get her attention. She can hear the agitation in his voice. 


Olivia looks to him, fully — her mind somewhere else. 


It’s on him. Always. 


“What’s your choice?” 


~ One Month Earlier ~

It’s hot. So hot, that Olivia holds a handheld battery powered fan on her face as she sits outside on the patio. Her back rests against the white wrought iron frame of the chair, her legs crossed — although she’ll occasionally uncross them just to keep them from sticking together. 


The batteries are dying in the fan, so she keeps smacking the bottom of it to keep it going. But she’s smacked it one too many times, so she simply gives up and lays it down on the table. 


“When are we going to get the air conditioning fixed?” Olivia asks Trevor, who sits across from her, lazily flipping through the paper.


“I asked Dante about it. He said he would try to come sometime in the next week or so.” Trevor responds, not looking up once. 


“How are you focusing on that? It’s so hot …” Olivia fans herself with the napkin that rests beside her breakfast plate. 


“It’s not that bad.” Trevor smiles, blue eyes flickering up at her once. 


Olivia wishes she had his optimism sometimes. And sometimes she does. But when it’s this hot, it’s hard for her to not miss New York. The city in general. Being here is quite different. She could drive into town, sure. Go sit in a cool cafe.  But the length of time it would take to get there, in a hot car? She’ll pass. 


“Go for a swim?” Trevor suggests, flipping a page in the paper. 


“I probably will later this morning.” Olivia replies. 


Trevor sets his paper down, folding it halfway and reaches for his spoon. He takes a bite of his food — some granola concoction, and chews it up. Olivia watches him. 


“Sometimes I miss takeout.” Olivia laughs, leaning forward and resting her arms on the table. It doesn’t match the chairs. It’s wooden and worn. Pretty though. 


“You miss a lot of things.” Trevor says nonchalantly. “But …”


“I’m not saying I don’t love it here. It’s beautiful. But I’m allowed to be homesick, Trevor.” Olivia cuts in, brown eyes cast on him. 


“Of course.” He shrugs, wiping his mouth with the cloth napkin and tossing it down. “Look …” He reaches across the table for her hand. She reaches back and takes his. “We’re still planning for Christmas in New York, right? It’ll be great. I can see my family. You can see the squad. I’m sure Fin and Amanda miss you. Sonny too.” Trevor tries to comfort her. 


Silence. Olivia stares across at him. 


“It’ll be nice.” She breaks the silence, pulling her hand back. 


“It will be.” Trevor nods. “Besides, isn’t this what every retired married couple does? Run off and live in an old Italian villa?” He asks with a laugh. 


Olivia makes a funny face, ready to say ‘no’. 


“Well, I guess we’re just lucky then.” Trevor grins, picking his paper back up. 


“Technically, only one of us is retired now.” Olivia mumbles. 


Trevor peeks over the paper again. 


“Honey, I told you — The Accardis hired me privately.” Trevor states. 


“And the Biancos?” Olivia chimes in. 


Silence. Birds chirp form all around them. 


“I know it’s hard, especially with these trips lately. But I think once they come to an end and I’m able to be at home more often, things will … settle in nicely.” Trevor offers. 


He always knows how to smooth his way over. Which is what makes him such a great attorney. 


Olivia nods slowly. 


“Speaking of settling in.” Trevor begins, setting down his paper for a second time. “That reminds me, I wanted to mention it just to make sure it was okay before he—” 


“Not another dinner.” Olivia laughs, thinking he’s referring to a very particular client who loves to host dinner parties and fall asleep halfway through them — the man is quite literally the healthiest man fighting death in Italy. 


“Not Anthony, no. Nothing like that.” Trevor laughs. “An old friend of mine is coming to Italy next week. Thinking about joining the organized crime liaison. I thought … maybe, he could stay here while he’s deciding. It’s up to you, but he’s a great guy. Been on the force for years.” Trevor says, eyes locked on Olivia the entire time. 


“He’s a cop? Oh, I don’t know, Trevor … how long would he be staying?” Olivia asks, raising her glass of orange juice to her lips. 


“A month. He is. He’s been on the force a long time. He’s not sure he wants to make the switch. His wife just passed, his kid is staying with his mother, it’s — it’s this whole thing.” Trevor waves his hand. “But I thought it would be nice to have him over. Show him around, all of that. He’s in a real tough spot right now, Liv. I think it would be good for him. Plus, you two have a lot in common so there will be plenty to talk about.” Trevor states. 


Olivia takes a deep breath, thinking about it for a moment. 


“He’s not crazy is he?” Olivia asks, half jokingly. 


“Not really, no.” 


“That’s not a comforting answer.” She chuckles, taking another sip of her orange juice. 


“He’s great. You’ll get along superbly.” Trevor reassures her. 


“I probably won’t be around much anyways, so you two can do whatever … men do here.” Olivia laughs against the rim of her glass. 


“Pick grapes and smash them with our bare hands. Create manly wine.” Trevor jokes. 


“So manly.” Olivia rolls her brown eyes around, resting them up at the sun for a moment. A grin curls on her lips. 


“So … that’s a yes then?” Trevor asks, leaning forward. 


“Yes, husband — you may have your play date.” Olivia teases him. 


“Thank you, wife.” Trevor plays right back. “His name is Elliot, by the way. Elliot Stabler.” 


“Sounds very choir boyish.” Olivia stands, picking up her plate and glass from the table. 


“He’s catholic, how’d you know?” Trevor laughs, turning in his seat as she walks around with her plate and glass. 


“Because you’re catholic and all your friends are catholic.” Olivia replies, giving one shoulder a playful shrug, accompanied by a gentle smile. 


“Touché.” Trevor grins, turning back around in his seat. 

. . . . . . 

They often drift apart as the day goes along. Trevor will go to his office and Olivia will do things to fill the large chunks of time she has on her hands. Swim. Read. Sometimes she’ll knit. Lately, she’s taken to making soap which she would’ve absolutely laughed at herself years ago for doing. Her first few batches had turned out less than desirable. 


Trevor said that it smelled nice but that the texture reminded him of wet food at the bottom of the sink. It hadn’t hurt her feelings because he was absolutely right. But practice makes perfect and she had actually gotten pretty good at it. 


But today wasn’t a soap making day. She’s particularly bored today. Trevor had left after lunch, not really giving any indication as to where he had gone. Business, he would say anyways. 


She ends up sitting by the pool, scrolling through her phone. She looks through photos of Fin and Phoebe's vacation to Aruba, which Fin had sent attached with — when you coming to New York, Cap? 


Soon. Christmas. — Olivia texts back. 


For real this time? — Fin texts. 


Olivia lays her phone down and a soft sigh escapes her lips. She lays back in the lounge chair, feeling the hot sun beat down on her. Brown eyes drift from the pool water, shifting back and forth, then to the lemon tree in the distance. The little yellow bulbs sway back and forth from the stingy wind the heat offers. It’s like God just opened the fucking oven door on Lombardy. She’d give anything for a cool gust. 


She’d give anything for a lot of things. Cool air. Maybe not to feel so lonely. 


Olivia stands up and drops the sun hat from her head onto the ground. Then the beige knitted bathing suit cover — revealing a colorful turquoise one piece underneath.


She dives into the pool, water rushing in a heavy swarm around the edges of the terracotta stone.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Most of the decorations in the villa aren’t something she particularly would pick out herself, but they came with the house when her and Trevor first arrived. She’s never gotten around to remodeling so to speak, because in some strange way it feels more like a vacation home than it does a real home. 


From the moment her feet hit the cold stone floors in the morning, she feels like a ghost vacationing in this house. It’s large. Larger than anything she’s ever lived in before. Sometimes she finds herself missing the coziness of her old apartment back in New York, which she’s sure someone else is living in and complaining about like she used to. 


This bathroom is too small, this kitchen is too narrow, this is this and that is that. 


Olivia begins her walk up the spiraling staircase. It’s narrow, accompanied with white walls and railings that have been refinished because when they originally moved in, they were too unsafe to leave as is. Perhaps one of the only decorative opinions she’s had in the place, apart from their bedroom. 


Maybe Trevor slipped back into his office while she was in the pool. It’s possible. Wouldn’t be the first time he’s come home without a formal announcement. Olivia makes her way down the hall and into the office — the sounds of her footsteps tapping and echoing throughout the structure. She comes to the old stained wooden door, and knocks lightly. But rather than waiting for a reply, she enters without any other warning. 


He’s not here. 


Olivia stands there for a moment, taking in everything around her. She doesn’t come in here often. It’s one of the more quaint rooms in the house. There’s a large, unused fireplace in the center wall of the room. Two old fashioned windows on either side with shutters that, if she remembers correctly, Trevor told her doesn’t shut properly. The sun forces itself through the windows that overlook one side of the driveway, and casts itself upon the old dusty books that sit lined on shelf after shelf. They’re not Trevor’s. Trevor’s books sit in a stacked pile by his desk. 


She’s been onto him for months now about clearing out the old books on the shelves and arranging his own on them. But he hasn’t. 


Olivia sighs and steps forward — as she comes further into the room, she reaches for his chair and runs her hand across the back. It’s leather, so when she touches it, the sound of skin on the slick material carries through the space. 


She glances down, noticing an array of envelopes and such spread out on Trevor’s desk. He’s not the neatest man, but he usually does clean up after himself. Olivia’s eyes catch on a particular photo. It’s old, she can tell because Trevor is much younger. He stands next to a man. Dark hair, blue eyes. Handsome. Trevor is next to the motorcycle in the photo, giving a thumbs up. The man, who she doesn’t recognize, stands facing the camera with his arms crossed. 


She flips the photo over, simply because the light casting through illuminates writing on the back. 


Tallahassee, 1993 - Elliot and Trevor, and the piece of shit bike 


Olivia smirks. It’s not Trevor’s handwriting, so she assumes it’s Elliot’s. 


She takes a deep breath and flips the photo back over. Staring. Really staring — not at her husband, but at the man in the photo. Her mind begins to drift, wondering what he looks like now. 1993 was a long time ago. 


Something else catches Olivia’s attention. An unfolded letter. At first, she hesitates to pick it up. She feels like she’s intruding. But her consciousness and her curiosity battle only for a moment before curiosity takes hold and wills her hand to pick up the letter. 



I appreciate you letting me stay there. I’m still not sure what I’m doing yet, but it’ll be nice to be among friends rather than crowded in some place filled with strangers. 


Through this whole thing with Kathy, sometimes I find myself wondering if I really have anyone left anymore. Eli wants to stay with my mother. I don’t blame him. I haven’t been in the best headspace. I’m hoping that he’ll choose to come to Rome with me if I decide to stay. We’ll talk more about that when I visit. 


It’s lonely here. I’m not going to lie. 


Olivia stops on that line, staring at it. 


It’s lonely here. I’m not going to lie. 


She rereads it a few times before bringing her fingertips up to the line and tracing her index over it gently — almost as if she’s tracing each letter. 


“Olivia? Are you up here?” Trevor calls out. 


She hadn’t even heard him come in. She places the letter back down on the office table, and the photograph, then turns to walk out of the room.


She shuts the door behind her. 

. . . . . . . . . . 

The Following Week …

“Shit!” Olivia curses, after just slicing her thumb on her soap cutter. She immediately brings her thumb and plops it into her mouth. “Mm …” She shakes her head, grimacing. After a moment, she pulls her thumb from her mouth and goes over to the cabinet to bring the first aid kit down. She begins searching through the box for an antiseptic and bandaids. 


“Hey hon?” Trevor calls out. 


“Yeah? I’m in the kitchen!” Olivia replies. 


She doesn’t turn around but she can hear his footsteps coming closer and closer, until she can tell he’s in the room. Then she turns around. 


“Are you hurt? Are you okay?” Trevor asks, eyebrows furrowed tightly together. He goes to walk over towards her but Olivia holds her hand up in refusal. 


“I’m fine, it’s just a cut.” Olivia waves it off. 


“Oh.” Trevor stares at her thumb for a moment. “Need some help?” 


“I got it.” Olivia smiles, pouring the peroxide over her thumb as she holds her hand over the sink. She grimaces a little, turning her attention to Trevor — who is still staring at her. 


“How’s this shirt look?” Trevor asks, pulling at the fabric of his short sleeved, pink button up shirt. 


“It looks good. Do you think Elliot is going to care?” Olivia asks with a smirk, drying her hand off and peeling the bandaid. She wraps it around her thumb. 


“Well, no. But I haven’t even seen the guy in … God, a long time. Over Twenty years.” Trevor trails off, shaking his head. “Not exactly a spring chicken anymore. Just trying to look put together.” He adds, smirking. 


“Well, you look fine.” Olivia says, putting away the stuff in the first aid kit. She hasn’t paid much attention to her own appearance today. She’s wearing one of Trevor’s button up light washed jean shirts. Her hair is pulled back into a low ponytail, with two strips coming forward. But it’s so hot that they’re sticking to her forehead. 


Trevor glances down at his watch. 


“He said he’d be here around 3 … it’s 4:30. Wonder if he got lost. I told him I’d pick him up from the airport but he insisted —“ Trevor looks out the window, seeing a cab pull up. “There he is.” Trevor takes off running from the kitchen and cuts around the corner that leads to the front door. 


Olivia smiles, knowing how excited he is to see such an old friend. 


Olivia looks around at her soap making supplies. Often, she resists the urge to laugh at herself for even doing things like this. But it’s either this, or go stir crazy. She wipes the residue on her hands from the soap she was cutting on the front of her pants. 


Light is coming through the hallway leading to the front door, so that tells her the front door has been left open. Olivia slowly makes her way from the kitchen and through the hall. 


“Where’s your hair, man?!” Trevor jokes, slapping Elliot on the side of the arm playfully. 


“Ah, well you know — lost my hair and gained some muscle.” Elliot jokes, flexing his arm. 


“Nice, nice. What do you think so far?” Trevor asks, waving his hand around. Italy. What does he think of Italy? His back is turned to Olivia as she comes to the open front door. She leans against the frame. 


Elliot glances over at her. 


Their eyes meet. 


“Hot. It’s hot.” Elliot replies nonchalantly, looking back at Trevor. 


Then back to Olivia. 


Olivia stares straight back. She takes in everything about him and compares it to the photo she saw. He has a goatee. He’s far more built than he was in the photograph — a thick muscular chest protruding from the white henley shirt he wears. Eyes are just as blue, radiant under an Italian summer sun. 


Finally, Trevor turns around. 


“Liv!” He exclaims, almost overly excited. Olivia makes her way down from the front steps and onto the gravel pavement of the driveway, a soft smile on her lips. 


“Liv, this is Detective Elliot Stabler. Elliot, this is my wife, Olivia.” Trevor motions to her. 


Olivia extends her hand to Elliot. “Nice to meet you, Elliot.” Brown eyes fixate on him. 


Elliot reaches out and takes her hand, immediately looking down once he feels the bandaid. “You cut yourself?” He asks. 


Olivia furrows her brows in confusion for a moment, glancing down at their hands. “Oh, yeah — just a few minutes ago. I’m fine.” She laughs it off.


Elliot lets go of her hand. 


“Well, you know what they say when you cut yourself in the middle of summer.” Elliot grins a little. 


“What?” Olivia asks, falling right into his trap. 


“That you cut yourself in the middle of summer.” Elliot jokes. 


Trevor laughs — loud. 


“Oh …” Olivia feigns a laugh, looking down at her thumb. She was expecting some old wise tale.


“Isn’t this guy something?” Trevor slaps Elliot on the back once again, causing Elliot to jolt forward a little. 


Olivia nods, awkwardly. 


“How about we all go in and I’ll make us some drinks?” Trevor asks, already making his way back towards the open door. 


“He’s excited.” Olivia says quietly to Elliot. 


“That’s fine. I’m excited to be here.” Elliot picks up his suitcase and brushes his shoulder against hers, stopping then and there. He reaches out and touches her shoulder with his free hand— the one opposite of the side they’re touching on and gives it a light squeeze. She can feel his suitcase graze her calf. “It’s nice to meet you too, by the way — Captain.” Elliot gives her a little salute before following Trevor into the house. 


Olivia stands there for a moment, staring at the taxi cab who is already so far away from the house he looks like a little blue ant, moving further and further away. 


Olivia reaches up and wipes the sweat on her forehead, thinking about the man she’s just met. 


Not Olivia. 


Not my wife, Olivia. 


Captain, he called her.