The next three weeks for Olivia were a blur. She barely noticed that it had been a week past when Elliot was supposed to return and she still hadn't heard from him. He told her he hoped to be done in as little as two weeks but she knew well enough that things don't always go as planned when you are undercover. She worked closely with the Chicago group to track a serial rapist and murderer that crossed over into New York. The team worked around the clock to find Nadia Decotis and was heartbroken when they found her body wash up on a beach. Despite the other crimes that Greg Yates committed, it was Nadia's murder that Barba was sure had the most evidence and had the best chance to get a conviction. After a little maneuvering on their parts, Yates buried himself in court after getting a look at Nadia's autopsy photos and they got a guilty verdict.
After the verdict, Olivia pulled a few strings to get Hank a few minutes alone with Yates. She wasn't quite sure what he was going to do and she didn't want to know. She had seen Hank in action a few times and knew how he operated but if anyone deserved it Yates did. The similarities between him and Lewis were not lost on her and that shook her to the core even more. She couldn't imagine what she would do if something happened to a member of her team so she was giving Hank whatever latitude he wanted.
They had managed to steal a few moments away from the team to get a drink whenever they were in each other's city. Considering everything that was going on with Nadia she didn't think they would get the chance to catch up this time but was pleasantly surprised when he called her late while she was wrapping up paperwork related to the case to go and have a drink. They couldn't stay long because he was taking a midnight flight back to Chicago.
"Thanks for joining me Olivia," Hank said as she sat down in one of the barstools.
"No problem. Can't break tradition."
"I already have your drink ready for you."
"I see that. Cheers." They clinked glasses and sat in a comfortable silence. "How is Lindsay doing?"
"She's strong. She's going to be ok. I'm going to see to that."
"I can't imagine losing one of our own. How are you holding up?"
"I know you are always alright Hank. But really," she said. He remained quiet and focused on the bottom of his glass to avoid answering the question. "Did seeing Yates help?"
"A little. As much as it could."
"Do I even want to know what happened?"
"Fair enough." She learned when they first met that Hank was a man of few words and that didn't bother her.
"So when do you think you will be back in my neck of the woods?"
"Hopefully no time soon. Seems like whenever I'm there it's not under the best circumstances."
"How about you come down when it's unrelated to a case?" he asked nonchalantly. And that was Hank. He was practically asking her to come and see him and acting like it was no big deal. There was a little undertone of something between them but she couldn't quite figure out what it was. Now that the comment was out there she felt that she needed to set matters straight.
"Umm…actually I'm seeing someone," she chuckled uncomfortably.
"Oh. Sorry. Didn't realize," he said putting his drink down and motioning to the bartender for another drink.
"Oh no. It's new kinda so…yeah." She played around with her glass not really making eye contact with him.
"New. So it's not serious?"
"Yeah it's serious..I've known him awhile so it's..not I guess entirely new," she stumbled over her words.
"It's your old partner isn't it?"
"How did you know?"
"I caught a little something in your tone when you talked about him back when you were jamming me up about how I handled that suspect."
"Oh," Olivia said bewildered.
"It's fine Sergeant. Good for you. God knows we could all use a little happiness with the shit we see everyday."
"You can say that again," she said raising her glass before she swallowed the rest in one gulp. "So what about you Hank?"
"What do you mean?"
"Where's your happiness?"
"It's out there. Just gotta find it," he said paying the tab and pushing his empty glass to the end of the bar. "Take care Olivia."
He gave her a pat on the shoulder and was gone. She stayed a bit longer to finish off her drink.
It was times like this that not having Elliot around really hit her. The nights were the worst. During the day she had work and Noah to drown herself in, but at night when she was alone she missed him so much. She hoped and prayed that everything was going okay with the undercover mission and that he would be back soon. She didn't want to be so emotionally dependent on him already but couldn't help herself. The last month or so since he'd been back in her life had been the best she had in a long time.
The next morning was definitely less chaotic than the less few weeks had been. She even allowed Fin and Nick to take the day off and as long as things stayed quiet she would allow Amanda and Sonny take off tomorrow. She decided she would leave early and get in some time with Noah since she hadn't seen him much over the last few weeks. After sending a text to Lindsay letting her know that she could call her if she needed her she was soon interrupted by a knock on her door.
"Hey," Lizzie said peaking in to her door. "I'm sorry to just show up."
Olivia was caught off guard for a second and immediately her heart dropped. She thought the worst.
"Lizzie! Is everything ok?" she asked nervously.
"Everything's fine Liv," Maureen said walking in behind her. "Sorry we didn't mean to scare you. We still haven't heard from dad so we are assuming that no news is good news."
"Oh wow Hey Maureen. I haven't seen you in years honey. How are you?"
"I'm ok," she answered.
"Ok. Well what's up?" she asked and was immediately think that showing up at her job was quickly becoming a Stabler family trait.
"Well we know you have been pretty swamped with that trial we saw on the news but was wondering if we could all go out for coffee or something. You know…to talk," Lizzie said hesitantly.
"Umm ok. I have a couple emails to send out if you both don't mind waiting a few minutes and then we can go."
"Sure," Maureen said setting down her coat and purse on the sofa. They both looked around the office and sat patiently while Olivia finished up her work.
As she was wrapping up there was another knock on her door.
"Brian? What are you doing here?" she asked in a more accusing tone than she meant to.
"I need to talk to you about something," he said cautiously as he eyed the two young women that were sitting on her sofa. "We probably need to discuss this alone."
"Oh sorry. This is Elizabeth and Maureen Stabler. Girls this is Brian Cassidy. He used to work with me and your dad," she said standing up and motioning between the two of them to make introductions.
"Oh wow. Umm. Nice to meet you. I don't think I've seen you two in over fifteen years. How's your dad doing?"
"He's fine. Working with the FBI now," Maureen spoke up. "Liv if you need to reschedule we understand. We shouldn't have just popped up."
"No not at all. Brian how long will we need?"
"Shouldn't take longer than about 5 minutes," he said watching the interaction between them and Olivia.
"Ok how about you guys meet me in the coffee shop downstairs? Ill be down there shortly."
"Ok. Nice to meet you Brian," Lizzie said as they walked out and he shut the door behind him.
"So Brian what brings IAB down to see me."
"You're kidding right?" he said slightly agitated.
"No. Are you not working with IAB anymore?" Olivia asked confused.
"Yeah but that's not what I'm talking about. What are Stabler's daughters doing here? I thought you weren't in touch with him or his family."
"I wasn't but if I was how is that relevant? Is that why you came by?"
"No I actually came by to find out how Sergeant Voight got access to an inmate last night."
"Why is IAB even concerned about that?"
"Because when crooked cops work together to harass an inmate we tend to get involved."
"Wow! So now I'm a crooked cop?"
"Of course you aren't Liv. That's why I came down here. When I heard the chatter floating around I offered to take the case. I was just going to come and ask a couple of fluff questions, clear you and move on."
He blew out a deep breath and tried to calm himself.
"Is he back in your life Liv?"
"Why does that matter?" she asked irritated. She wasn't going to go into her personal life with her ex-boyfriend especially considering he works for IAB.
"I'll take that as a yes," he said irritated. "Are you sleeping with him? Guess what Lewis said was true."
"Excuse me," Olivia said bolting up from her desk to get right in his face.
"Nothing. Nevermind I shouldn't have said it."
"No go ahead and say what's on your mind and you better make it good because I'm pretty sure that this is the last conversation that you and I will have for a very long time."
"When Lewis made that comment about you having romantic fantasies about your ex-partner at trial I just blew past it. I've heard the rumors over the years but I didn't listen to them. This man wasn't even there for you when you went through one of the most horrific experiences of your life Liv and you just welcome him back into your life…into your bed," he screamed.
"First of all for you to bring up Lewis is low…even for you. Second of all I don't give a damn about rumors or what you think about having Elliot back in my life. It's not your business or anyone elses. I'm happy. Which is more than I can say for half of our relationship."
Brian flinched at her words. He knew that things were rough after Lewis but he didn't know that she spent so much of their relationship unhappy.
"Wow. So it's like that hunh Liv?"
"You made it like that. Don't you ever bring up Lewis' name to me again and stay out of my business. It's been five minutes so I need to go. Are we square on the Hank thing?"
"Yeah we're square."
"Great. Thanks. You can let yourself out."
Olivia sat across from Lizzie and Maureen and was trying to clear her mind so she could talk to them knowing this would be another heavy conversation. As much as she tried she was radiating tension and they took notice.
"So how long did you and Brian date?" Lizzie asked.
"Lizzie!" Maureen scolded.
"What?!" she responded honestly confused about why Maureen was upset with her.
"It's ok Maureen," Olivia spoke up laughing lightly at the banter between the two. "We dated for about a year and a half."
"Oh wow. That's a long time. Why did you break up?"
"Lizzie good grief. You are relentless," Maureen said rolling her eyes.
"Things got tough after Lewis. We just never recovered and he didn't want a family. You know all that boring stuff that adults break up over," she laughed.
"You don't have to answer that Liv. Look we didn't invite you here to pry into your personal life."
Olivia raised an eyebrow at them.
"Ok ok I mean not into your past personal life," Maureen corrected herself.
"But he said something that upset you," Lizzie pried more.
"He did. But enough about him."
"Was it about dad?"
Olivia paused before answering.
"We just wanted to see how you were doing with dad being gone for the last few weeks and just touch base. We haven't had a chance to talk to you since you re-entered his life," Maureen interrupted.
And once again Olivia found herself in a coffee shop across the table from a blond hair blue eyed member of Elliot's family that wanted to discuss their relationship. The tone of the conversation definitely felt like déjà vu.
"Ok. Well I'm sure you both have questions so let's hear them," she said taking a sip of her coffee.
"Liv, we talked to our mom. We aren't here to unleash all these feelings on you about what may or may not have happened in the past and how we felt back then and yada yada. I just want to know one thing. I know it's still new but are you in this for the long haul?"
"Well you are right it is new…somewhat. I can't predict the future Maureen. I really can't. If I've learned one thing over the past year is that your life can change in an instant. I know I love your dad. I've loved him for a long time and I would never do anything to hurt him. I know that he had a rough time of it. I know you all did and I'm sorry about that and my part in that whatever it was.."
"You didn't do anything. Please don't apologize to us. You helped us out so much over the years," Lizzie said placing her hand over hers.
"We are just sorry that dad wasn't able to be there when you needed him," Maureen added.
"Thank you," she said as they all joined hands across the table. "And I'm sorry about Kathleen."
The last sentiment caused both girls to tear up.
"It's been so hard Liv you have no idea," Maureen added. "I never thought I would get my dad back after Katie died. But now he's a better person than he was before and I know you are a large reason for that. I know that's the part that our mom has a hard time with. I love my mom but if it takes someone else to make my dad happy and whole again then so be it."
"When Dad came to the house a few weeks ago, he lit up when he talked about you and Noah. He wanted to make sure that we were all ready to accept both of you into the family and we just wanted you to hear from us that we do. And that includes Dick. He would be here with us but I'm guessing from the level of emotion involved here right now he was right to skip it. Crying isn't really his thing," Lizzie joked wiping her tears with a napkin and they all chuckled.
"Thank you for saying that. When he told me that you all were okay with it I was a little shocked. I expected a little more resistance considering our partnership before."
"If Katie wouldn't have happened Liv, there probably would've been. I'm not going to lie about that. But now, we see there are some things that are far more important. So when you and dad are ready, we would love to get together with you and Noah. All us kids…... and mom if that's ok. No rush," Maureen said.
"I would like that. Noah enjoys playing with Eli so I'm sure he would like that too."
They spent a moment in silence before Lizzie got up to head to class.
"I've got to get going. Maureen you have to drop me off to campus. Thanks for meeting us Liv," she said heading around the table to give Olivia hug. "And thank you for coming back into our family," she whispered in her ear.
"It was nice seeing you again," Maureen said as she hugged Olivia as well.
As they turned to leave Olivia stopped them. "Hey. Just so you know. If I had my way, it would definitely be for the long haul. I don't want to be with anyone else. Just so you both know."
They smiled in acknowledgment before heading out.
Her phone was going off like crazy but Olivia decided to stay in the coffee shop a little later and spend some time to herself. The last hour had taken a lot out of her. The argument with Brian was out of left field and she couldn't believe he had the nerve to bring up William Lewis when he knew better than anyone what he put her through for all of those months. She once again felt the extreme weight of missing Elliot and hoped he would be home soon. Before too long her phone rung and it was another blast from the past. Bayard Ellis.
One week later
After almost a month undercover Elliot was happy to be back in New York. His plane landed in the early afternoon and he knew she would be busy at work so he decided to head home, unpack, shower and change. He called all of the kids and Kathy to let them know that he was back in town. He wanted to call Olivia but he thought one great surprise deserved another. She had surprised him in Virginia so he would surprise her.
"Hey Mr. Stabler. You're back come on in," she said.
"Call me Elliot please."
"I'm guessing you are here to see a certain little boy since his mom is at work," she said.
"You know me so well already. Is he awake?"
"Great timing, he just got up from his nap and I was just about to check in with Olivia."
"Can you do me a favor? Don't tell her I'm here. I want to surprise her."
Lucy smiled. "No problem Mr Sta…Elliot. I won't tell her."
"Thanks. Also, if you don't mind consider yourself off early for the rest of the day. I'm going to surprise her by cooking dinner and spending some time with Noah before she gets in."
"That's great. Because of you I have a personal life again. Thanks!" she said reaching for her phone to call Olivia while Elliot went to check on Noah.
He picked him up and brought him in the living room as Lucy was wrapping up her call.
"Ok I'm going to head out."
"Have a good night," he said while putting Noah in his high chair.
"Oh and Elliot," Lucy said stopping in front of the open door. "I hope I'm not speaking out of turn but I'm really glad you are in Olivia's life now. She is so happy now; I used to worry about her. I don't anymore. Have a good night."
Olivia took the elevator up to her apartment and was ready to wash the day off her and spend some time with her son. After working with Bayard to get a father's conviction overturned after his daughter recanted her testimony she started to get the sense that the daughter really was raped. The whole case left her feeling uneasy. She was so sure one minute but after seeing her reaction after the verdict she was questioning everything.
She turned the key to the door and stopped in her tracks.
"Look who's home Noah," Elliot said as he walked from the kitchen with Noah on his hips.
"El, whe-how-what?" she asked not able to gather her thoughts.
"That's enough questions Benson. Come here," he said hugging her and kissing her deeply. "I'm home baby."