It had been a week since Elliot met Noah and came to the house. The Thursday for their date and had come and gone and they had yet to go out because as usual work got in the way. She had always been used to work getting in the way of her personal life but this time it particularly annoyed her because it was Elliot. He was supportive of course and understood because he used to be in the same predicament when he worked there. They were exchanging phone calls and text messages when they could but a new child pornography case effectively ate up all her time. As soon as she had some free time she was determined to spend some time with Noah and her date with Elliot would have to fall on the backburner for a little bit.
"Hey, Liv! Got a minute?" Casey asked as she walked in to Olivia's office. "You seemed pretty far away just now, you ok?"
"Yeah I'm good Case. Whatcha got?"
"The warrant for Velasquez's computer."
"You got it? I'm shocked I thought the judge would turn us down." She read over the warrant and called in Fin and Rollins to go and execute it.
"I thought you would've wanted to go and handle that one personally but I'm glad to see you are delegating," Casey said as she sat down in one of Olivia's guest chairs.
"Yeah I just need a breather."
Casey had been working back with the ADA office for the past six months on mostly homicides but every now and then she caught a case that landed her back at Special Victims Unit. Olivia was glad to have her around more often because it was easier for them to talk and catch up.
"Something on your mind Liv? You seem a lot more exhausted than usual. My godson wearing you out?" she asked with a laugh but she could tell there was more to it.
"Well I haven't gotten to see him much lately with work and everything but as soon as this is wrapped up I'm pledging myself to be at home by 7 for the next couple of weeks no matter what."
"Good for you. Besides that's the good thing about being in the big office. You get to give some of the work to the others," Casey pointed out and then focused on the necklace around Olivia's neck.
"I've got to find some balance. I feel like I never have enough time for anything."
"Things like what?"
"It never bothered you before," Casey noted. "Why the change all of a sudden? Does it have to do with why you are wearing Elliot's necklace again?"
Olivia blushed as she absentmindedly started rubbing the necklace.
"Spill it Benson." Casey was on the edge of her seat. She hadn't heard anything about Elliot or Olivia's love life since her and Cassidy broke up.
"Ok ok but not here. Let's go downstairs to the coffee shop or something."
"I'm already ahead of you."
Elliot was going over some case files and figured he would get a head start on his curriculum for his next set of training classes. In a couple of weeks he was going to have to be in Virginia for the next 6 weekends for his next round of training classes. He used to welcome the change of scenery but now that she was back in his life he was kind of wishing that the classes were a little farther off. At least until he had a bit more time to solidify his relationship with Olivia. He was worried that any amount of time would cause there to be a distance between them again.
Just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you. I'm not giving up on our date. If we have to go at midnight I'm good with that too.
He smiled as he texted her the message. He suddenly felt like he understood a bit what Kathy was going through all these years. It's hard to be on the receiving end of having plans and then to have it get pushed to the side at a moment's notice. She called him on Thursday around 4 to tell him she couldn't make it. He had fussed with Lizzie on what he should wear and had knots in his stomach all for it to be cancelled. Considering what he put her through he wasn't angry at her at all just extremely disappointed. He hoped they would get the opportunity to have their date soon.
Elliot couldn't stop thinking about the kiss they shared when he was at her house. He had felt so comfortable there and it really did feel like they hadn't missed a beat. Seeing her with Noah was a reminder at how much things had changed but he felt hopeful that he could fit into her life. Elliot kicked himself as he walked back to his car that night that he had lost control and started moving his hand her up her thigh. He had practiced restraint for so long while they were partners, mostly by trying not to touch her and if he did only in a professional way. The fact that he lost control while kissing her did nothing but reiterate that he did the right thing by not treading that line while they were partners. He never ever wanted to cheat on his wife. He lost the emotional battle with cheating early on in their partnership but he promised himself he would never physically cheat..and he didn't.
He didn't know if that fact would ever make a difference to Kathy but he had to hope it would. He would need her support to get through to all of the kids if he and Olivia ever got to that next step. He stopped himself from going down that road of thinking. He was getting ahead of himself. They hadn't gone on their first date…yet.
Olivia smiled reading Elliot's text message as she and Casey nuzzled into a couple of the seats in the coffee shop. Casey read her body language and slowly sipped her coffee as she waited for her to respond to the text.
No matter what time? Be careful what you wish for Stabler. I just may take you up on that offer.
She smiled as she put the phone back in her pocket.
"Ok so where was I?"
"I need details now. I haven't seen you smile like that since…geez Liv I don't know maybe since before Elliot left. Have you heard from him?"
"These last few weeks have been a whirlwind. I don't even know where to start. Umm well you know about the Minor case and that Lizzie was a witness. Well after everything Elliot and I talked and reconnected."
"Reconnected how?" Casey asked raising a suggestive eyebrow. They both laughed at her implications.
"We talked, like really talked."
"Oh wow. That's umm..so uninteresting and not what I meant."
"Ok ok. So I assume he has some answers on where he's been for all this time."
"He does." Olivia went on and gave Casey the short version of Elliot's last few years and caught her up on what she told him as well.
"That's great Liv. Really. I know how much you missed him and I think we were all shocked when he just left. I knew the day would come sooner rather than later when he would leave SVU but I never thought he would practically vanish. You guys have covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time.""Yeah."
"So when's the sex?"
"Casey!" she yelled half mortified and half laughing.
"What? I mean it's Elliot. I assume he's still hot. Is he? Oh please tell me he hasn't let himself go."
"No he definitely hasn't," they laughed together at how she said it. Olivia had to admit she missed girl talk. It made her life seem normal when it was so obviously abnormal.
"So when's the first date?"
"Soon. I hope. We were supposed to go out Thursday but you already know how that turned out."
"Let me guess. Caught a case."
"Yep," she said circling the rim of her coffee cup. "Case, do you ever regret being married to the job?"
"Sometimes I do. What we do is important and we help a lot of people but I look at myself in my 40's and I'm not married, I don't have children, I don't get to go out often and sometimes it bothers me. Why do you ask? Starting to burn out?"
"Yes and no. I couldn't imagine my life without SVU but I don't get to spend time with my kid like I want and I can't even make time to go out on a date."
"Well like I said. You need to delegate more that's for sure. But also Elliot knows the deal, he's been there. That's the advantage that the two of you have, at least it's not someone who doesn't understand the job."
"It's going to be ok Liv. Can I give you some advice? I feel like I can since I've managed to have a boyfriend for the past whopping 6 months," she said sarcastically but gazed at Olivia seriously. "There are 24 hours in the day. It doesn't have to be a big fancy date where you two get dressed and go to a Broadway show. It just needs to be some time where the two of you are alone spending time together. If you can just find an hour here or there, call him up. You guys meet up somewhere and just talk. Just find the time."
Olivia smiled a little. "You're right. I'll find the time."
"But that's not all that's bothering you," Casey observed her as she leaned in.
"I know I'm way ahead of myself but I can't stop thinking about Kathy, the kids, my job..I mean if this works out then it will be so complicated."
"Oh god here we go," she said as she sat back in her chair.
"What do you mean by that?"
"Liv, everyone knows your routine. When things get a little serious or complicated as you put it..you run."
"That's not true," Olivia replied defensively.
"It is. It's what you do. Not that I think the relationships you ran away from would've worked out in the long run anyway but you never let it get there. This thing with Elliot is really not all that complicated. I mean yes will Kathy probably not be the president of your fan club, sure. Will Elliot's kids be a little weirded out? Sure. But as far as work goes I don't think you could convince anyone that you guys weren't sleeping together years ago. I think they would just be happy to see he made an honest woman out of you."
They both laughed again.
"I'm serious Casey."
"I know you are. And that's the problem. Stop being so damn serious and be happy. When you touched that necklace and picked up your phone to text him just now you were lit up like a damn Christmas tree."
"I-", Olivia tried to say but Casey put a finger up and interrupted her.
"Don't even try to lie and say that was not him texting you. I'm not in the mood for it."
"I wasn't going to lie I'm just saying there's nothing wrong with thinking things out first to make sure you aren't making a bad decision."
"Ok, I'm sure you've thought about it tons of times because that's what you do. And I'm sure you thought of every possible scenario that you could and they probably all had something negative in it or had a negative outcome."
She was right. Olivia hated that she was right. She started moving her leg nervously as she played with her coffee cup.
"Casey, I don't think I could handle losing him again. What if it doesn't work out?"
"But what if it does?"
Olivia paced back and forth in her office thinking about her conversation with Casey. She was stuck at the precinct again…while everyone was searching the suspect's financials and going through old case files. It was close to 10pm and she called Lucy to check on Noah who was already in bed. When she looked out into the squadroom she could tell everyone was exhausted.
"Ok guys. Go home. All of this stuff will be here tomorrow."
"You sure?" Carisi asked.
"Man you sit here and ask, I'm tired so I'm outta here. Good night Liv," Fin said as he grabbed his jacket. Rollins and Amaro were right behind him saying their goodbyes.
"Go home Carisi. That's an order," she said as she walked back into her office. She began to gather her things to head home when she suddenly had an idea.
Elliot was in the living room watching some old movie when his phone rang.
"Hey El. I'm sorry were you sleeping? I didn't mean to wake you," Olivia said nervously.
"No I was just sitting watching a movie. How are you?" he asked while looking to see what time it was.
"I'm fine. I was getting ready to head home and then I was wondering," she paused a bit and closed her eyes before going on, "I thought I could take you up on that offer earlier. Anytime right? Would you like to grab a bite at that diner that we used to go to all the time."
"I would love to. I can meet you there in 15 minutes."
He got there in 18 minutes and found her checking emails on her phone as he walked in. She was sitting in the booth in the back they always shared whenever they ate there.
"Hi," she said. She got up to hug him and then they both sat down. Elliot looked around the diner taking it all in.
"Long time since you've been here hunh?" she spoke up after noticing him looking around.
"Yeah. That's an understatement."
They both put in their orders and settled into comfortable conversation about the kids, Olivia gave him an update on work and he talked a little about the undercover cases he had been on through the year.
"So does this count as our first date?" he asked.
"I guess it does," she said smiling.
"I like your necklace." He reached out and ran the small medal through his hands while he looked in her eyes.
"Thanks. Seemed appropriate to wear again."
"Thank you Liv."
"For wearing the necklace? Umm you are welcome," she answered.
"No," he said and got up and sat next to her. "For this. For giving me another chance to be in your life. These last few weeks have been the happiest I've had in a long time. So thank you."
"You're welcome." She blushed at his words. "For me too."
They sat in comfortable silence for a little bit as they continued to eat their food.
"Well we have finished our dinner. Now it's time for a dance. I mean this is our first date and all."
She started laughing and immediately thought he had to be joking. She realized he wasn't when he reached for her hand.
"You aren't serious El."
"Of course I am. We've had dinner, now it's time for dancing."
"Elliot, we are in a diner. There's not even any music or a dance floor."
"Olivia, it doesn't matter where we are. There's an old jukebox back there Ill find something to play and we can dance right here next to the booth."
She looked on in wonder as he walked to the jukebox to find a song. She thought he was out of his mind but couldn't help but laugh at how insistent he was. The old Elliot would have never done such a thing, or so she thought. She didn't really know him in that way back then to know if he was a true romantic or not.
He returned to the table and held his hand out to her.
"Miss Benson, may I have this dance?"
"Yes you may."
She vaguely recognized the tune in the background as she took his hand. Thankfully the only people left in the diner was one guy reading the paper near the register and the two employees. They swayed slowly back and forth in the area right next to their booth while Olivia listened to the irony of the lyrics to the song they were dancing to. He obviously chose it for a reason.
If you knew how lonely my life has been
And how long I've been so alone
And if you knew how I wanted someone to come along
And change my life the way you've done
It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
She eventually let go of his hand and put her arms around his neck pulling him closer to her. He responded by putting his hands around her waist. While dancing she felt his labored breathing as they moved their heads closer to each other. She slowly moved her head a little to the left and found her lips brushing up against his. She kissed him softly and continued to sway with the music.
"I love you Olivia. So much," he said in her ear as they continued to dance. She wanted to say it back but she couldn't get the words to form on her lips. Her phone started to vibrate in her pocket and she immediately groaned.
"Oh no, don't tell me that's work," Elliot said as she picked up the phone.
"No it's Lucy," she answered anxiously. "Lucy, is everything ok?"
"It's Noah. He's running a very high fever and he won't stop crying."
"Ok, I'll be right there."
Olivia immediately grabbed her belongings to head out. Elliot overheard the conversation and threw some money on the table to pay the bill and headed out after her.
"I'm sorry about this," she apologized as she fumbled to put her key in the car door.
"Don't worry about it. I'll follow you home."
"What? Elliot no, you don't have to do that."
"Liv. Ill meet you at your place," he said definitively. He wasn't taking no for an answer and she didn't have time to protest.
They both set out to her place to check on her son.