I wanna be there when the voices in your head
Are loud enough to make you lose your mind
Just the same when you're dominating the day
I wanna be the one who's by your side
I could stay or I could come no matter where you're coming from
I can be the one to let you choose
Olivia was just finishing up at the station for the night. She had sent the rest of the squad home after McGrath left. It had been a hard case that hadn’t ended how they wanted it to. Sometimes the victims don’t get the justice they so rightly deserve.
And when it wasn’t their side winning; McGrath likes to come at her with more of his old way mindset. Olivia feels like she has to keep proving a point, that every victim deserves justice, but McGrath doesn’t see it that way. So, when it comes to charges getting dismissed, it has really messed with the confidence of her doing her job more than it used to. Right now, she feels defeated.
She had called Elliot earlier, in the afternoon, and told him she would be late getting home because of the loss in court and that McGrath wanted to talk after. He had offered to relieve Lucy for the night and said that he would be waiting for her whenever she got home. Ending their call reminding her whatever she needed, to let him know, he would do anything he could for her.
Now she calls him while she walks out to her car to head home. He can tell by her breathing and the fact that she isn’t saying anything but is staying on the line until she gets to the car, that her mind is going a million miles an hour, trying to make sense of all the thoughts from the day. Cutting through the somehow deafening silence, she softly says into the phone, “ I am in the car. I will see you in twenty.”
“I will be here. Love you.” He responds assuredly.
He has ended every call with the love word since they had gone from their friendship for now to this, what people who aren’t their age or with their past, would consider seriously dating. It had been a few months, they definitely had crossed that line now, and jumped in. Once she had finally opened up to him about the last ten years, and he had been honest with her about everything and she believed him when he said he was going to stay, they were back in sync with each other.
Since then, they have been a part of increasingly more of each other's lives. Falling into an easy, yet passionate, domestic rhythm that they both had always dreamed of with the other.
Even with how good it was to have someone to rely on, she still found herself falling back into the old habits of thinking she had to deal with all the broken and dark aspects of her life on her own, Elliot always came along and never left her side. For her he was the one that she hoped would guide her, and keep her grounded, make it all a little lighter.
This wasn’t the worst case she had had lately, nor was it the first that made her question herself and if the work she was doing made a difference. Even though she had been working on healing both herself and with Elliot, sometimes the demons in her thoughts captured her control. Today is one of those days where they were running rampant, but she is going to step across her threshold and let the comfort of home and him wash over her.
She gets home and he is sitting on the couch, reading a book. Noah had gone to bed about an hour ago and she knew they had probably had a good guys night.
She was so thankful for Elliot, his growing relationship with her son, and the fact he was willing to help her, even if she didn’t want to be a burden or didn’t necessarily need him . He had been her rock, her safe space, and the person she could count on since they started being honest with each other.
The apartment is clean, and it smells like the pasta dinner Elliot and Noah had made. He looks at her as she walks in, willing to give her the space she needs to open up about her feelings now or later, but also just being willing to stay by her side, hold her close, and just be what she needs tonight.
“Hey Liv”, he says softly, standing up, and meeting her by the door.
She slowly takes off her shoes, as he comes up behind her. She stands up, still not facing him, but leaning her head back slightly, he grips the edge of her coat and her blazer. Pulling them off her, and with taking them off , also taking some of the burden of the weight that was on her shoulders.
He tosses them over the back of the chair, and then he comes back to her. She is still facing the wall, not moving. So he pulls her close to himself, wrapping his strong and protecting arms around her waist, and subconscious thoughts between the two of them of understanding. He knows the toll the job can have.
“El”, she says as she turns around in his arms and buries herself in his chest. His heartbeat regulates her breath. Breathing him in it steadys her now, and she wondered how she ever did without it before.
She takes a deep breath and sighs it out slowly and shakily. Elliot lowers his face to her ear and whispers, “Are you hungry? I have a plate for you in the fridge.” She nods her head yes. Then he continues, “ How about you get cleaned up, get into something comfortable, and relax in bed; while I get your dinner together.”
I could push or I could pull
No matter what you're trying to do
As long as I can flow along with you
“Thanks El, but you don’t have to stay again tonight. I know it has been a couple days since you have stayed at home.” She looks at him, begging him to stay with her deep chocolate brown eyes, while also thinking that she wants him to stay and accept what she needs tonight.
“Hey,” he lovingly keeps his arms around her waist, but pulls away from her, forcing her to make even more eye contact with him. “ This is home, you and Noah are my home too, I am staying. I want to be here for you tonight, in whatever you want me to be.”
“What about Eli and Bernie?”
“Eli is with friends and Mama is with Kathleen.”
“I don’t want to keep making your mom a burden on Kathleen.”
“It is not. And Kathleen knows how to say no if it is too much. This is the season we are all in right now, and everyone is well aware and good with that. But, you don’t need to be worrying about anyone else right now. Let’s focus on you and what you need.”
She nods her head reluctantly, knowing he is saying everything out of love. Guiding her to what he knows she needs, because otherwise she won’t take it for herself. This last year and a half has weighed on her, making each little hiccup along the way a little more pronounced.
“So how about I work on your dinner and you get a little more relaxed?”
Her eyes tell him yes I will do that, but only because I know you will keep bugging me about it until I do.
He squeezes her hand gently three times. 1 second, 4 seconds, 3 seconds. And then slowly releases her hand as she walks down the hallway to her bedroom, with a silent I love you still lingering on her fingers.
You are beautiful and wild at every turn
Who am I to take control of that
But everybody needs a voice they can follow
When the water and the winds get bad
She closed her eyes to try and stop the tears that were pricking her eyes to break through. He must have lit her favorite vanilla teakwood candle when she said she was on her way home, because the bathroom was enveloped in the comforting scent, allowing her to get out of the revolving door of her mind long enough to rinse off the last day.
She takes her time cleaning up, and dries off, putting on her favorite pajamas that he already had setting on the vanity counter. She goes to start the rest of her now lengthy bedtime routine, but she can’t help but stare at the woman in the mirror looking back at her.
Is there wisdom and comfort in her eyes, or are they hollow with exhaustion and disappointment. Some days she doesn’t know anymore, if she is doing enough or is enough, there is so much that needs to be changed in this world, that she wants to see be different, and anyone it seems like nothing she does can measure up. Is she burnt out on fighting for the right thing, for justice.
Olivia had slightly cracked the door after her shower, but now he was pushing it ajar slightly further. Maybe he had been waiting for her to come out and heard her sigh, or maybe it was just him checking up after it had been a few minutes since the water had turned off. Either way he caught her staring at herself in the mirror deep in thought.
Elliot walks up behind her, and wraps his arms tightly around her waist, and turns her toward himself and away from the mirror. As she leans herself deeper into his chest, allowing her head to fall. She closes her eyes, as he brushes her hair away from her face and one side of her neck to slowly and softly lean down and gently brush a few kisses along her neck and collar bone. “You are so beautiful, every single part of you: your body, your mind, and your heart,” he whispers beside her ear. Reading her mind and speaking the truth her soul needed to hear.
Baby, I ain't saying that you need my help
But you don't have to do it all by yourself
So baby when the current gets strong
And you need somewhere to rest your bones
I wanna be there for you
I wanna be strong for you
He walks back out to the kitchen to grab her food. She gets into bed, and grabs her phone out of instinct to check her emails and maybe distract herself. Then she sees him open the door and walk over to her, where he takes her phone out of her hand, takes off her glasses, and hands her the plate. He then walks around the bed, crawls in, leans against the headboard, and wraps himself around her. She takes this moment to lean on him.
He lets her slowly eat her meal. Knowing she is deep in thought, but not wanting to ask her about it yet, because she needs to eat. Something she probably has not done all day.
He grabs the plate from her and sets it on the nightstand when she is done. “Thank you, it was really good,” she finally says.
“Glad you liked it,” he responds back. “Happy to be here for whatever you need, or to listen to those loud thoughts inside that pretty head of yours.”
That gets him a soft smile, as she continues to look ahead of them while sitting beside him in his arms.
“I…,” she starts hesitantly. Even with how much they have opened up to each other in these few months, how deeply he knew her when they were partners, and the fact that he probably already knows what she is thinking; the verbalizing of how she feels, especially this, is just another layer. It requires the trust that she has with no one else besides him.
He grabs onto her hands. Bringing them to her stomach and resting them there, a reminder of his presence and their connection.
“I just…sometimes I feel as though I am letting them all down. That it isn’t making a difference anymore, and that I am not doing enough or am not enough.”
She lets out a large exhale, knowing that saying some of it out loud took away some of the sting, but that the thought was still deeply rooted inside her brain.
“Hey,” he slips himself from her side to turn and face her on the bed, wanting her to look in his eyes and believe what he was telling her.
“You know that is not true. You do so much for the victims, for the survivors, you give so much of yourself to everyone, you share of your deep strength and leave little of the grace you give for yourself. You make more of an impact and difference in every life you come across than you would ever know.”
They both have the emotions of those words welling in their eyes. One trying to believe the words and the other wanting that belief in this truth to come easy.
“Olivia Benson, You are one of a kind. You are beautiful in every way and you are enough. I love you.”
She doesn’t know how to respond to his words. She wants to believe everything he is saying to her, but she knows that it isn’t always the most simple mindset shift, when you have been telling yourself lies over and over again.
She looks up at him, his glassy blue eyes deep with love, honesty, and protection. She takes a hand and holds it on his cheek, pausing before she leans up to him putting her lips against his in an intimate meeting, letting him know she heard him and loves him too.
She then wraps her arms tightly together between the two of them as he holds her close, and propels them down to lay comfortably in the middle of the bed. Olivia wraps her legs around his and closes her eyes. “I want to stay here,” she breathes out against his chest. He squeezes her tighter, brushes his lips against the crown of her head and closes his eyes too. Never wanting to let her go if she would let him.
She takes a deep breath and slowly starts to fall asleep, feeling safe and secure in his arms, knowing she can be truly vulnerable with him. Tomorrow she will wake up and continue to fight and be a voice, because she knows that he is telling her the truth that she needs to believe; she is fearless, beautiful, enough, and deeply loved.
I wanna hold you close but never hold you back
Just like the banks to the river
And if you ever feel like you are not enough
I'm gonna break all your mirrors
I wanna be there when the darkness closes in
To make the truth a little clearer
I wanna hold you close but never hold you back
I'll be the banks for your river