“Lucy isn't watching you anymore?” Noah’s best friend and crush, Carlos asked, as they walked into their apartment building.
“She does, but me and mom have a bigger team now. Speaking of which,here is the person I want you to meet.” Noah said with a bright smile. He waved, and Carlos noticed a tall,older man that he hadn't seen before.
“El!” Noah called out.
“Hey Buddy! E has my key, so your mom said you could let me in,” The man said,as Noah dug in his backpack.
“Carlos, this is Elliot. El, this is my friend, Carlos,” Noah said, as Elliot took the backpack from him and got the key out.
“Nice to meet you,” Elliot said.
“You too, sir.” Carlos said, nervously, as they all made their way into the apartment. Noah's friend watched as Elliot pulled his gun and badge off and placed them in the box.
“You're a cop too, like Noah’s mom?” he asked, his eyes wide.
“I am. I was actually Liv’s partner for many years.” Elliot replied, moving to the kitchen.
“Now he’s my mom's life partner. We're a team," Noah added. Elliot smiled as he pulled out an after school snack for the boys. Both boys sat at the breakfast bar,and Noah started pulling his homework out. Carlos' eyes darted back and forth, as he watched Noah while also watching Elliot prepare the snack.
“Hey Carlos, why don’t you pull out your homework and get started. I’ll have this snack done soon, okay?” Elliot said, noticing the boy watching him
“Okay,” Carlos said with a smile, pulling his textbook out. It was then that Elliot noticed the hand shaped bruise on Carlos’s wrist. He didn’t call attention to it, just watched as the little boy took out a history book.
“Do you like history Carlos? I know it’s Noah's least favorite subject,” Elliot made conversation, as he finished preparing the snacks of fruit and veggies before setting them in front of the little boys.
“It’s okay. Art is my favorite subject. I hate math, though,” Carlos replied.
“I hate math,too!“ Noah admitted, as Elliot grabbed the files he had brought with him to work on and joined the boys. He ended up sitting across from the two boys. He didn't want to sit too near and risk them seeing something they shouldn't.
“Are the two of you in class together?” He asked Carlos, trying to figure the young boy out, since he knew he was someone that Noah cared for.
“Yep! Mrs. McCarthy. She’s nice. My dad doesn’t like her, but honestly, my dad doesn’t really like anyone. Noah is lucky to have a dad like you,” Carlos told the detective. Elliot froze at his words, concerned by the possible meaning behind them.
“I know I am. Eli and I both are. That's my brother.” Noah said, shooting a nervous smile at Elliot, who wordlessly patted Noah’s hand before turning back to Carlos.
A little while later, the boys had finished their homework, and were now on the couch playing a video game. Elliot was cleaning up the mess they had made earlier while carrying on a text conversation with Olivia.
E: Noah called me his dad.
E: Well, his friend Carlos called me his dad. But neither one of us corrected him. Do you think he felt pressured?
O: We’ll talk to him this weekend,but he told some of Eli’s friends you were his dad the other day. So I think it’s what he wants,El.
He looked up at the two boys as they laughed at each other. He never thought he would be a father for a sixth time, and he definitely didn’t see that kid being a Benson.
That night,after Carlos had been picked up, Elliot was on the couch watching a football game when Noah reappeared from his room.
“Can I watch the game with you?” Noah asked
“Sure,buddy,” Elliot said, studying the young boy since he had never asked to watch football with him before. Noah crawled up onto the couch next to Elliot and leaned against him staring intently at the screen.
“You have no idea what’s going on do you?” Elliot asked with a smirk
“No," Noah confessed, "Will you teach me?”
“Sure, if that’s what you want? But I don't think that's why you really came in here. It's not what you really want to talk about, is it? What else is going on, No?”
Noah looked away from his father figure for a moment, feeling a little uncomfortable, before finally looking him in the eyes.
“Carlos had a bruise on his wrist and it was in the shape of a hand. I saw it when he was here today,” Noah said
Elliot sighed. “I noticed it too, and I’m going to try and help him.”
“I think his dad is hurting him,” Noah reported sadly.
“Why do you think that?” Elliot questioned, putting an arm around the nine year old.
“Earlier, while we were doing homework, he…he said I was lucky I have a dad who loves me like you do.”
“You know I really do love you, right? Even though I’m legally not your dad.”
“I love you too. I'm glad you came back to mom and me,” Noah said, laying his head on Elliot’s shoulder as they watched the game. Noah started asking questions about the sport after a few moments,and Elliot was happy to answer them.
Later that night after, both of the boys were tucked in bed and his mother was tucked away across town at Kathleen’s, Elliot was lying in Olivia's bed. He had his iPad in front of him as he did research on Carlos’s family. He was worried about the young boy who had spent the afternoon with them. He looked up as he heard the bedroom door open.
“Hey, Honey,” He said, meeting Olivia’s tired brown eyes.
“Hey. Boys asleep?” She asked, as she started to change,feeling Elliot’s eyes on her.
“Yeah. They both are,” he said, laying his iPad down, as Olivia finished changing and climbed into bed and curled up with him.
“So I got a text from Eli that was telling me about Dad and Noah watching football together when he got home. “
“Um, yeah. He asked to watch it with me. I think it was partially an excuse to talk to me about Carlos and a bruise on his arm. He thinks his dad beats him. I actually agree, just by stuff he was saying,” Elliot said, running his fingers through Olivia’s hair.
“I’ve had similar thoughts but could never gather enough proof,” Olivia responded,kissing Elliot’s chest.
“I invited Carlos over again in a couple days to try and find out. He’s a sweet kid,” Elliot told his life partner.
“He is. And he’s a great friend to OUR sweet boy," was Olivia's reply.
Elliot nodded his head, seemingly lost in thought.
Suddenly he kissed her deeply and softly said,“Thank you for sharing your son with me.”
“And thank you for sharing yours. And for being the dad my son never had,” came Olivia's equally soft reply,as they kept kissing, getting lost in each other.
A handful of hours later, Olivia’s phone rang, waking them both.
“Benson…..um, yeah. I’ll be there soon…. Okay, Amanda. Bye,” Olivia said, before hanging up the phone.
“What's up?” Elliot asked, sleep lacing his voice.
“Um, we’ve been called to Carlos’s house. He,um…he apparently had two brothers, and one of them is dead,” Olivia said, her voice breaking. Her sorrow was reflected in Elliot’s eyes.