A/N: This is a post-ep for SVU 24x07, set in the A Thing or Two verse. Established EO. Set after they've all moved into Elliot's loft.
It’s Noah who notices first, that she isn’t alright.
They’re deep in a Mario Kart grand prix when they hear Liv’s keys in the lock, and they both call out to her without looking.
“Hi Mom,” Noah offers, giggling as he throws a red shell, dodging the playful elbow that comes his way after.
It takes more of his concentration than he’d like to admit, putting up any sort of decent showing at this game, and Elliot barely catches her soft greeting, only able to see her shrugging out of her coat from the corner of his eye. But, almost immediately, Noah’s watching her, distracted in between turns on the racetrack. He doesn’t think much of it at first, thinks maybe the little boy is just happy to see his mom after a long day apart.
But then, Noah’s nudging him, whispering, “Pause it, pause it—Mom?”
Olivia turns, and Elliot sees it, then, the way she’s barely holding it together; her eyes are glassy, tired, and undeniably sad. He searches for her gaze, tries to make eye contact, but she’s somewhere else.
“Hi, honey,” she manages, forcing a smile, “You guys having fun?”
Noah looks at her for a second, and Elliot watches as his face goes gentle and serious in a way he hasn’t seen before. Wordlessly, Noah stands up and goes to her, takes her hand and pulls her over to the chair across from the couch. Olivia’s brow furrows, and she lets out a soft, shaky breath, letting him nudge her down into the chair. They’re eye level with each other when she sits, and she tries again to smile, tipping her head in question; but Noah sighs, brushing the hair away from her face before he steps forward, and sinks into her arms.
“Hi, Mama,” he says quietly, laying his head on her shoulder, “Let’s hug, okay?”
It makes her crumble, his tenderness, and her chest hitches as her arms come up around him, eyes closing against her tears. She tips her cheek against his curls and nods, holding him more snugly, cradling the back of his head in her palm. Noah melts against her body, and just…lets her; he lets her hold onto him, like he realizes how much she needs to, like they’ve done this before.
Elliot’s lips part as he watches, overwhelmed by the sudden, deeply emotional moment between them. He watches her hold her son, memorizing, and grounding; she’s reassuring herself that he’s safe, that he’s whole, and happy, and fed, and warm. He knows exactly what she’s doing, exactly what she’s trying to capture, because he’s done the very same thing dozens of times. He’s gone to his own children, just to breathe them in, and remind himself that not every part of this world is as fucked up as what they see every day.
Noah doesn’t know any of this, he doesn’t think. What he clearly knows, is that his mom is sad, and she needs a long hug to help her feel better. Olivia turns into his hair and presses a couple of kisses there, sniffling in a long breath before she pulls away, and swipes a thumb underneath her eyes. She looks lighter, and after Noah leans in to kiss her cheek, the soft smile on her face is genuine.
“Thanks, honey,” she manages, clearing her throat, stronger when she continues, “I had a bad day.”
“That sucks,” Noah sighs, shrugging a little.
She takes a deep breath, nodding. “Yeah. But I get to be home with you, now. Did you have a good day?”
“Well,” he says slowly, thinking, “There were curly fries in the cafeteria, so that was good.”
She chuckles, and the tightness in Elliot’s chest eases at the sound.
“I’m glad you got some this time,” she says seriously, eyes widening.
Finally, she makes eye contact with him, and Elliot smiles gently. “Curly fries a pretty hot commodity?”
“Oh yeah,” Noah explains, coming back over to pick up his controller, “You have to get in line like, right when you get there otherwise they run out.”
Elliot starts to stand up, but she waves him back down, rubbing her palms over her thighs as she stands up.
“Stay,” she encourages, walking over to the back of the couch, “Finish your game. I’m gonna take a shower.”
He reaches for her anyway, waiting until she’s close enough to touch, finding her hand and pulling her down into a quick, soft kiss.
“There’s food in the fridge for you, when you’re ready,” he murmurs, holding her gaze for a few seconds.
She’s relaxing by degrees, the longer she’s near them, and he watches her settle just a little bit more at that, squeezing his hand. She leans in and kisses him again, holding just a second longer; they won’t push it too much with Noah right there, because he tends to start complaining if they get too affectionate. But he feels the way she imperceptibly sways toward him, like she wants to sink into it, and he draws a soft circle against the back of her hand with his thumb.
They separate, and Elliot un-pauses their race, leaning back against the couch to keep playing. She sticks close for another minute, leaning down to wrap her arms around his shoulders from behind.
“It’s not pizza rolls, is it?” she teases, pushing her cold nose into his warm neck.
Elliot grins, pressing against her. “Got you a kale chicken Caesar from that place we went to last week. We had pizza rolls.”
She chuckles, pressing a kiss to his temple as she straightens up. “Wonderful.”
“We had some baby carrots too, Mom,” Noah supplies, tongue between his teeth in concentration.
“Oh good,” she laughs, yawning as she heads back to their bedroom.
A long, hot shower helps.
A wholesome meal that she didn’t have to make helps.
The glass of wine waiting for her on the coffee table helps.
Crawling into her partner’s arms on the couch, while her son curls up against her other side, really helps. They settle in to watch their first Christmas movie of the season, and it’s easier now, to let the horrors of the day slip away. Here, with her boys, instead of letting the darkness hang over her, she feels gratitude; it’s taken years, but she lets herself sink into them now, lets their presence hold her up.
Nights like this, she lets herself forget. Not because the victims she works so hard to protect deserve to be forgotten, but because she deserves to be happy. The truth is, she’s fortunate, because even though she sees horrible things day in and day out, today, tonight, nothing horrible has happened in her own life. Tonight, she has a happy, healthy child, who has slumped over into the couch pillows halfway through the movie, safe, and asleep.
Tonight, she has a man who loves her, who would walk through fire for her, a man she loves deeply, and wholly. He’s here, and he wants to take care of her, he wants to give her whatever she needs. Tonight, she just wants him; she wants to put their son to bed, in his newly-redecorated bedroom, and then she wants to bury herself in Elliot.
So, they do.
He’s in the mood for slow, it seems, and she’s there with him, arching lazily when he puts his mouth all over her; she’d slathered herself in lotion after her shower, the bergamot one that always draws the most delicious noises from his chest. His growls are soft and continuous, lips and teeth firm as he teases her nipples for long minutes, until her belly is contracting with every touch. Her lips part in deep, uneven breaths, scratching her nails over the back of his neck to keep herself from moaning, to give the strength of her arousal somewhere to go as he sinks between her thighs and tongues her clit.
When he presses inside of her it’s deep, and consuming, and his forearms rest above her shoulders while they kiss, and kiss. It’s dizzying, being with him like this, hot and heady, and he rests his mouth against hers just to catch the sounds she can’t hold in anymore when he moves, the whimpers, and moans. He’s steady in his rhythm, keeping her so, so full, reminding her how very present he is, always. He rocks deep and stays there, grinding his hips in little circles that steal her breath, and she wraps herself around him when he buries his face in her neck and groans; the pressure unfurls in her belly, and an orgasm blooms through her hips, warm, and wet, and breathless. He reaches down in between them, encouraging the squeeze of her muscles as he thrusts hard once, twice, and spills inside her with a low growl.
Later, he finally asks if she wants to talk about it.
And she does, a little; she tells him the important parts of the case, the parts that make her throat tight with anxiety.
“I just thought of Noah,” she says softly, nuzzling into his shoulder, “Just—“
She breaks off, shaking her head, and he tips his head toward her, resting his lips against her forehead. He's on his back and she's hugging his arm, clasping his hand, the way she likes to do sometimes after sex when she's prone to getting overheated.
Elliot knows indirectly, that Noah’s bisexual; over the summer, right before the start of Pride Month, he’d mentioned wanting a t-shirt, asking whether Olivia had any chores he might be able to do for extra allowance money that month. They’d worked out a deal over breakfast, right in front of Elliot, and seemingly Noah hadn’t thought twice about it. She’s still not sure whether Noah assumed she’d told Elliot herself, or whether he implicitly trusted he’d be accepted, but it still warms her to think about it.
“I want him to be who he is. That’s how I raised him,” she continues, closing her eyes at his answering hum, “But knowing there are so many people who will make his life harder, just because of who he is—this world, fucking terrifies me.”
“As they grow up…realizing you can’t protect them is, bone chilling,” he agrees quietly, gently massaging her bicep with a warm palm.
There are no answers here, and he doesn’t try to give her any; he knows better, knows she doesn’t want him to try to fix all the time. Sighing, she curls further into his chest, and lets his warmth make her drowsy, lets herself find respite, for now.
A/N: Thank you for reading!!