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Did I Go Wrong

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{don’t buy the promises cause
there are no promises I keep
and my reflection troubles me
so here I go}

You felt like shit. And that was before you even remembered what led to you feeling like shit in the first place.

When you woke up the next...(morning? afternoon? Hell, for all you knew, it could've been a brand new week), you were surprised to find Brian sitting next to you in bed, frowning at your iPad.

"Hey," he says when he notices you're awake, and it sounds like he's shouting even though you know that in reality he's probably speaking more quietly than normal.

"Fuck," you mumble, but it comes out as "Fuuuuu."

"Water's right there on the table next to you. You're probably dehydrated, you should drink some." He's back to looking at the iPad, not you, and he's got that even voice of someone who's pissed off and trying not to show it. "You think you could eat something?"

"What're you doing?"

"You mean, other than trying to save you from yourself? Cause that's about it."

"Fuck. Bri, I'm sorry, I-"

"Yeah. Liv, let's not, okay?" he says, cutting you off. He looks almost as bad as you know you must, albeit not hungover.

"I'll go find something in the kitchen...wait. Is Nick out there? Did he come home last night?"

"No and no. Dunno where he ended up yesterday, but he texted me this morning to ask how you were," and you don't miss the subtle implication that you should feel bad for worrying him, "then he said he was gonna catch up on some paperwork and he'd be back this evening."

"Uh. Okay." As far as you knew, Nick hadn't seen or heard anything directly incriminating when he came looking for you in the Stabler's garage. He had sure noticed that something was up, though, and it couldn't have been too hard for him to figure out the basics. But he didn't ask questions, and the moment you got back to your building he had announced that he 'should probably go visit his abuelita.'

"Your abuelita died twelve years ago. In Miami," you pointed out.

"Oh. Well...good to know. So I'll be back later, don't wait up."

And that was the last you heard from Nick. You believe this paperwork story about as much as you believe that he spent last night catching up on Avenida Brasil with his dear grandmother, considering how much he whines about being stuck at his desk pushing paper during normal business hours.

"So..." Brian says, hands folded behind his head. You're not quite sure what he wants, because he hadn't even let you finish your semi-sincere apology, leaving you with no other option than to wait for him to continue. "Do you wanna talk about yesterday?"

"I tried. You cut me off."

"No, you tried to apologize, and that's not what I want. I just want it not to happen again," he explains, and again you wonder what you're supposed to say to that. If you promise him it won't, that'd be a lie, and you're pretty sure lying isn't what he's after. "Look, Liv, I...shit. I know I probably haven't been there for you this last month, not the way I should've been. Like I told you before- I was a dick. But I'm realizing that...maybe you've been having a harder time dealing with everything than I thought you were."

"Brian. I'm fine."

"You weren't yesterday."

"I...it was a panic attack. That's all," you say, rubbing just above your eyebrows with your thumb and forefinger in an attempt to get some relief from this motherfucker of a headache.

"But you don't want to talk about why it happened."

"I don't know why!" Your voice was louder than you intended it to be, and you curse yourself under your breath as your head throbs. You suspect he already knows, anyway- at least more than he's letting on- but until he volunteers that information on his own, you're stuck. It's not exactly like you can just ask him 'so hey, here's a funny question, did I happen to say anything about fucking Elliot when I blacked out?' "You can't ask me to explain something when I don't know the answer."

"Fair enough," he says in a voice that lets you know it's actually not either one of those things. "But I mean it, I know I haven't been there for you and maybe if I had...you wouldn't be having those, uh. Panic attacks. You wouldn't need to," and oh, how nice, you have a new secret code where panic attack=sex with Elliot. You're more than happy to go along with that one. "So I'm gonna talk with Tucker. Figure out how I can be home more often."

"Yeah, good luck with that."

"I'm serious! Yeah, he can be a dick, but he...he knows what's going on, and he actually does care. He knows things have been rough- mostly for you, course, but for both of us- and he understands we-"

"I get it," you say before he can ramble on any further, because you don't particularly enjoy being reminded that half the people your boyfriend works with on a daily basis were in the audience for every minute of the trial. You're still not sure why it had to be such a large group outing. They tried to blame it on 'department protocol', but you're pretty certain that salacious entertainment value had something to do with it too. After all, who wants to be stuck in the office when you could have a front row seat to the trial of the century? You don't have much faith in Tucker, but you do trust him to be discreet with the details- it's the rest of them you worry about. And now you can only imagine what the conversation will be like when Brian and Tucker have a heart to heart about- "I don't need you to babysit me, Bri."

"Really? You wanna think about that? Because last night-"

"I fucked up, alright? I wasn't aware that I'm not allowed to have a bad day. Jesus."

"Yeeah," he drawls, pressing his lips together and looking like he'd rather be anywhere but here. "You are. But...you have a lot of them, sometimes."

"Oh, so now you're an expert on...I'm sorry, okay, if I'm not living up to your expectations here."

"Stop," he says firmly, but the slight way he drags out the 'o' sound betrays how tired he is. "Liv. Just stop. This isn't...you don't need to make this into a fight. I'm on your side here, I promise. But you've gotta let me help you."

"You wanna help?"

"Yes."

"Then can you go get me my crackers from the kitchen? There should be a package that's already open. Please?" There, now he can feel like he's making himself useful and you can get him out of the room. If this works, maybe next you'll send him to Starbucks.

He looks irritated for a second before seemingly realizing that hey, he asked for this. "Yeah. Of course, you should eat something. I'll be right back."

No hurry, you think but don't say, hearing something that sounds faintly like your phone's vibration. You force yourself to get up and take the three step journey over to your purse where you find that yes, your phone is buzzing and you have 23 missed messages.

You're instantly alarmed when you see who's calling. "Kathy?"

"Goddamnit, Olivia, where the hell have you been? Do you have any idea how long I've been trying to call you?"

Um. "No?"

In the background, you can hear Eli shouting 'Language!' "Elliot Stabler, what did I tell you? Go to your room and stay there!"

"Kathy-"

"Where are you?"

"Me? Uh, I'm at home, but I guess I had my phone turned off- is there a problem?"

"Yeah there's a problem, I don't know where the fuck my husband is!"

Kathy sounds as angry as you've ever heard her sound, which is an accomplishment, and your hungover as hell brain is having trouble processing the words being barked at you. "I- what? Elliot? Is gone?"

"That's what I said, isn't it? He's been gone since yesterday and he's not answering his phone. So where is he, Olivia?"

"I don't know! I haven't seen him since we left your house," and oh god, oh god, this is really fucking bad.

"Right." Kathy doesn't seem to be in the most trusting of moods, but if Elliot was your husband, you suppose you wouldn't be either. "And you have no idea where he's at."

"No. Should I?" you ask, because you apparently turn into a sullen teenager when you've had a few too many the night before.

"Well, all I know is that he was pissed off when you left-"

Oh God. "He said that? Did he tell you that? What'd he say?"

"We've been married thirty years, Olivia, I think I can tell when he's angry. I asked him if it was something you did," and gee, Kathy, thanks for assuming, "but he just stormed out, so I figured it had to do with you."

"So then why would he come here to hide if he's pissed at me?"

"How the hell should I know? I don't understand your relationship!" and that's cool, because you don't either, so now you have one more thing in common besides how you've both fucked Elliot. Great.

"Just trust me on this, Kathy, I'm the last person he wants to see right now."

"I knew it! I knew you must've been fighting!" Shit. Probably shouldn't have said that. "So do you mind telling me what the hell's going on?"

"That is...something you'll have to take up with him."

"Fine- just one problem. I don't know where he is and he won't answer his phone! See how that works?"

You realize that in the past, this would've been the point where you stepped in to fix everything for them. You would’ve hunted Elliot down and then brought him back home to Kathy with an explanation of how sorry he is, but this time she's just going to have to (wo)man up and figure this one out on her own. "Kathy, I'm sorry. I don't know what you want me to do. If I hear from him, I'll let you know. If you're seriously worried, call the police."

"You ARE the police!"

Brian's now standing in the doorway, listening in, and you need to end this call because you can only fake relative calm for so long. "Listen. I'll try calling him, but I don't think he's gonna talk to me either. Alright? If you find out anything more, you can let me know. Okay. Bye."

"The fuck was that? You're talking to Kathy? Like- Stabler's Kathy?"

"That's the one." You get up and stare out the window, surveying the skyline for any sign of Elliot and finding nothing. The cold radiates off of the glass panes and you're standing close enough that steam forms with each breath you exhale. "She's...Elliot's...he's gone."

"Gone where?"

"That's the question, Brian! She doesn't know," you snap, Kathy's frustrated tone having apparently rubbed off on you.

"So what's she want you to do about it?"

"She thinks I'm hiding him. Why the hell would I do that? He can run away just fine without me."

Brian nods slowly, like this whole situation is deeply intriguing to him. "Did you tell her about what happened yesterday?"

"And by that you mean...what, exactly?" you ask, giving him your best 'just try me' staredown.

"I mean, you and Elliot were obviously fighting."

You go back to watching the sky and how it seems to stretch on forever in a patchwork of grey clouds, how Elliot's out there somewhere underneath them just like you are but yet he's too far away to be seen.

"Liv?"

"What am I supposed to say, Brian? We fight, that's what people do, it doesn't make me responsible for him." Just hearing him say your name makes you tense up like you're preparing for battle, awaiting an ambush. Everything hurts, inside and out, like your skin has been stripped away and every word, every touch, every single sensation is striking an exposed nerve as the reality of the situation hits you fast and hard. He's gone. He's gone and when you left him you- "Fuck this, I can't talk to you right now. I need a shower."

You've already got the bathroom door halfway closed before he can voice his objections. "I don't think you really do."

"Excuse me?"

"You heard what I said. You shut yourself in there to try and hide while you do God knows what- and I already found the miniature liquor cabinet you'd stashed away under the sink, so that's gone."

Shit. You obviously hadn't bothered to clean up very well after your binge last night, and you can feel the color drain out of your face at the thought that he might have also found your collection of improvised self-torture devices. "What the fuck is your problem? Since when did it become okay for you to decide what I can and can't do? Am I supposed to- what? Ask for your permission? Because that's not going to happen."

"Right, right. I'm the one who's outta line here. Just cause last time you went in there and said you were showering, an hour later I finally come in to check on you and you're wasted and all scratched up...I should just, what, mind my own business?"

"I've been taking care of myself for a long time without you, y'know. I'm a big girl."

"Liv, you had this huge nasty cut on your leg and you couldn't remember how it happened! Shit, you didn't even realize it was there until I said you were bleeding."

"Okay fine, you win! I'm completely helpless without you! Happy now?" You're out of control and you know it, you've broken out in a cold sweat and you're shaking all over and like always, you've got no ability to stop the words coming out of your mouth. "Should I get down on my knees and congratulate you? Let you fuck m-"

"Olivia, if you don't shut the fuck up right now, I swear to god I'm gonna-"

"What? What are you gonna do, huh? Cause at this point in my life, there's not a hell of a lot you can threaten me with." don't leave. don't leave don't leave don't leave. "But c'mon, I wanna see you try. What are you gonna do to me that hasn't already been done?"

He picks up the first object within his reach, which happens to be the glass you had sitting on the bedside table, and hurls it at the wall. It's not the first time that's happened. Both of you have smashed any number of things, glasses and plates and bottles, not to mention the time Elliot redecorated your living room with his fist. You're used to it.

What you're not used to is the way you can hear yourself cry out over the sound of shattering glass hitting the wall, over the sound of Brian swearing as he watches the pieces rain down on the hardwood floor. It's this plaintive little gasp, not much more than a whimper, but it still carries across the room. Brian turns his head toward the source of the noise and he sees you flinch, your arms automatically wrapped around your torso in self-protection.

"Oh god, Liv, fuck. I'm sorry, I didn't mean- shit. Liv," and it's all too familiar now, these apologies, it's like you can feel the cold concrete of the Stabler's garage against your back all over again and-

"Don't," you whisper. "Please. Just...don't."

{I’m not calling for a second chance
I’m screaming at the top of my voice}

[I'm not even going to bother calling, el, because I know you won't answer]

[and I know you probably hate me right now but *please*. just call Kathy and let her know you're okay. she's going out of her mind]

[don't hurt your family because of me. please. you promised me you'd never do that and they don't deserve it]

[please be careful. please don't do anything stupid. it wasn't your fault and I know you won't forgive me but I'm so, so sorry]

[just call her]

[please]

[I love you.]

Your finger hovers over the screen and your eyes are too blurred with tears to really see much of anything, yet the words in the last of your increasingly desperate texts stand out in their unfamiliarity. You've never typed that out before and you probably shouldn't now, not when you don't even know if he's got his phone with him, but what the fuck do you still have to lose at this point? You throw back the last of your drink like it's a shot (Brian overlooked one smaller bottle) and hit send before you can change your mind, setting the phone on the edge of the tub and sliding down until the bubbles come up to your collarbone.

He won't respond. You know it because you've been here already, because a part of you knew that he would run even before you got that call from Kathy. You heard it in his voice- liv, I never- fuck -the same voice he still uses in the rare moments when he talks about Jenna. You saw it on his face when you were hurrying to pull yourself together before Nick found you- that look that says I'm sorry and goodbye all in one. The same look he gave you before he walked out of your life and left you powerless to do anything but leave a long string of voicemails and text messages- some angry, some pleading, some attempts to reason with him and some incoherent drunk tirades- that never got a reply.

It hurt then and it still hurts now, remembering all the times you sobbed and screamed and cried yourself to sleep at the end of another day without any answers as to why, what it was that you had done to push him away and how you could've been so naive as to think that you meant as much to him as he did to you. It's not yet something you're ready to forgive completely, and you don't know that it ever will be. But now you know you're not alone in that.

"What kept you from doing it?" you had asked him one night, surprised when the conversation had somehow wandered into unfamiliar territory. You watched his face intently from the other side of the pillow while he stared up at the dark ceiling, telling you about the dozens of times back then when he'd fought to keep himself from eating his own gun to silence the guilt.

"Honestly? Not sure other than...suicide, it's a sin, y'know?"

It's a sin. But so is adultery- so after you've already crossed that line, what's left to stop you? What's going to keep you from giving in once you've fucked someone else while there's nothing but a wall separating you from your wife and kids?

You don't know who you are anymore. You can admit that much. Hell, you're not sure if you ever really knew. But Elliot's not like that. His whole identity is wrapped up in doing what he thinks is right, in protecting the people he cares about. And now not only has he betrayed his family, but he almost certainly thinks that he-

No. You can't even say it, can't even let the words enter your mind. Because it wasn't. He didn't. It shouldn't have happened, but he didn't hurt you.

At least. No more than you wanted him to.

{give me reason but don’t give me choice
cause I’ll just make the same mistake again}