Bringing up Old Shit
"You got them both down ok?" Olivia asked from the couch.
"Yeah they are both out cold," Elliot responded. His happiness at Noah calling him daddy was being temporarily overshadowed by the irritation he still felt towards her. Instead of joining her on the couch he went over to the kitchen and grabbed a beer.
"So you gonna tell me what's wrong with you now?" she asked.
"What do you mean?"
He continued to drink in the kitchen and looked out of the window instead of making eye contact with her.
"El you didn't talk to me during dinner and you've been distant all night," she explained walking over to the kitchen. She wrapped her arms around his waist from behind. "Come on what's wrong? Talk to me."
He leaned into her touch and took some steadying breaths trying to calm down before he talked. He didn't want to end up in a screaming match.
Frustrated with his silence she turned him around to face her, took his beer out of his hand and put her arms around his neck. "Please. Talk to me. We said we would always be honest with each other."
"Yeah we did," he countered.
"Are you implying that I haven't been honest?" She pulled her arms from around his neck and folded them defensively.
"You tell me. When is Noah's adoption going to be finalized?" he asked angrily.
"At the end of next week. Why?" she asked confused.
"Why didn't you tell me? You haven't mentioned when it would be final. You don't think I would've wanted to be there and to be a part of everything? Hmm? Why didn't you tell me about his biological father?"
"Wait Elliot hold on," she said holding up her hands in a stop gesture. "I didn't purposely keep that from you. I told you everything about the adoption when I first told you about Noah. It just hasn't come up recently. As far as everything with his biological dad, I just didn't want to talk about all of that. It's a very sensitive subject for me because I'm worried that he will try and get some rights to Noah."
"And don't you think I could've helped you with that?"
"I know you could've but I don't want you to. Elliot, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings truly I didn't. I plan on having a party or something after the adoption goes through and I want you there. Everyone will be there."
"A party afterwards? What about the actual adoption? You don't want me there for that?"
She was silent and looked down and his eyes widened with realization. She really didn't want him to be a part of the process.
"Wow. You really don't do you?" he said rubbing his hand down his face. "Why Liv? Why don't you want me to be a part of this?"
She walked back to the living room with him following close behind. She sat down and tried to choose her words very carefully.
"Elliot. I—You have to understand. Becoming Noah's mother legally is all I have thought about over the past year. It is the single most important thing I think I have ever done in my life. But when I started the process of fostering him and adopting him I did it by myself and I want to finish it that way," she explained. She seemed legitimately sorry for hurting him but she was firm in her position.
"Wow." It was all he could say. He couldn't believe that she was going to shut him out of this. "We are supposed to be in a relationship. Something this big we should be doing together."
"You are here for me and I appreciate that. More than you know but I just want your support Elliot. Nothing else," she explained. "I have to do this alone."
"Ok. Consider it done. Just let me know what time the party is," he said leaning back on the couch and suddenly pissed when he realized that Eli was sleeping so he couldn't get up and leave.
"Please understand," she said trying to place her hand on his knee to comfort him. She was shocked when he recoiled from his touch.
"Are you serious? Are you really going to be mad at me for not having you be a part of this one thing?"
"This one thing? Olivia this is you adopting a baby! Do you not think that I would be the least pissed off that you don't want me to be a part of something that you call the most important event in your life?" he asked raising his voice.
"Please keep your voice down the kids are sleeping," she said calmly.
"That's right Liv. The kids are here sleeping. Our kids are in there together spending the night together; they are bonding with me and you. We are already in this together in so many ways at least I thought we were. Is this relationship not as important to you as it is to me?"
"Of course it is Elliot. Don't be ridiculous! But there are still aspects of my life that were in place before you came back that I have to handle. You can't just expect everything to fall back in place like you never left. It doesn't work that way," she argued back.
He stood up and began to rub his temples. He couldn't believe they were back to discussing his absence from her life. He thought she understood and they were past all of that.
"Are we really back here Liv? I thought you understand why I left." His voice was calm and the look on his face was one of confusion.
"Of course I understand."
"Then why are you bringing up all this old shit?! Is this your way of punishing me for not being there?"
"I'm not bringing up old shit Elliot. I'm trying to make you face reality here. Regardless of why you left you weren't here for four years! And a lot has happened since then. I found this little boy and I have been his mom. I started this journey and I am so proud to be completing it. You were always a big part of everything I did and then suddenly you weren't and I had to deal with that. I had to find a way to step out on my own because I didn't have you to lean on or save me. Right, wrong or indifferent, that's what it is!"
They were both silent for a while taking in what the other person said. Olivia didn't want to punish Elliot because he went through hell while they were apart but so did she. He was trying really hard to pick up where they left off but there was still a part of her that would not allow herself to be as dependent on him the way she was before. She almost didn't make it when he left her the first time and she couldn't put herself in that position again especially with the most precious thing in her life, her son.
"I'm sorry I put you through that Olivia," he said stoically. She shuddered at his use of her full first name and rolled her eyes.
"I'm not looking for an apology Elliot. Just for you to understand." She sat back down and tried to sit closer to him again. "I love you. I love you so much and I love how close you are with Noah. He really likes you," she said smiling. "This thing with me and you is new. No matter how long we've known each other and been partners and how much you know about me our romantic relationship is new."
He tried to understand but all he could focus on was the fact that she was still holding his absence against him.
"I told you once that I would always be there for you whenever you decided to become a parent and I would support you no matter how you decided to it. Do you remember that?" he challenged her.
"Yeah I do," she said frustrated that he was bringing that up. "I also remember how unsupportive you were when I had Calvin you did everything you could to make sure that I didn't keep him. You turned in that DNA sample to find his father and ultimately that's why I ended up losing-,"
"You were supposed to turn it in Liv! I only turned it in because you lied to me about the fact that you were going to and it was the right thing to do! Calvin deserved to know his father and that situation would've ended up hurting you when Vivian just came out of nowhere and changed the custody arrangement which is exactly what did!" he yelled.
"That wasn't your decision to make!" she said getting into his face. "That's the problem! You are supportive as long as it's done your way and you are involved. Ok so yeah I lied about turning in the sample but you know why I did it. You had your family Elliot! You had your wife and your five kids and I wanted a family just something of my own and you didn't want me to have one unless it was the way you thought it should be or in a way you approved of."
Elliot rubbed his head again trying to reign in his temper and his words. This was his moment to be completely honest with her but he prayed that she wouldn't think any less of him for his explanation.
"You're right. I didn't want you to have a family unless it was the way I thought it should be. God help me Liv but when I told you back then that I would support you any way you wanted to be a mom I wanted that to include me," he said in a voice so low that she had to strain to hear him. Her eyebrow arched in response to confession and she didn't know what to say. She knew that he was always possessive of her and she purposely kept her boyfriends away from him but she had no idea that he thought of having a family with her. When he brought up his wife having a baby over 40 in that same conversation she was pissed and stormed off because she didn't want to hear about how once again they managed to beat all the odds and add to their "perfect" family.
"I know that makes me a selfish son of a bitch and a horrible husband but even back then, I couldn't imagine you having a child if that child wasn't mine. I'm sorry. I'm sorry if I held you back in any way from whatever you wanted to do with your life. With Calvin that wasn't my intention, I just wanted to protect you," he explained. He moved back closer to her and they were holding each other's hands.
"I know you did El. For the record you didn't hold me back. I held myself back. I made the decision to not pursue relationships and have a personal life because I was holding on to the hope of me and you," she said and snickered at the statement. "Wow that's the first time I've said that out loud to anyone other than my shrink," she added.
He chuckled in response as well but didn't say much more. He wanted nothing more than to make up for all the years that Olivia lost out on for the sake of him but didn't know what to do or if it was too late. They sat in comfortable silence before he spoke up.
"I don't know what to say," he admitted.
"I don't regret anything about us. Then or now. There were times when I resented the way things were back then but if things wouldn't have happened the way they did then we wouldn't be where we are now. I truly believe that," she said sincerely pulling him in for a kiss. "And for the record. I wouldn't change anything about us right now. It's the happiest I've ever been."
"Really? You wouldn't change anything?" he asked amazed.
"Yeah really. Can I ask you something?"
She paused before she asked the question but eventually managed to ask. "If I would've asked you back then to be the father of my child. What would you have done?"
He played with his hands and looked straight ahead not wanting to give an answer. They locked eyes and the answer was written all over his face.
"Let me put it this way. I'm just glad you never asked," he answered.
Their partnership had been a contradiction in so many ways. He was her protector and was there for her when no one else was but at the same time he was selfish with her and wanted her to himself even when he was unavailable. She was his rock and his shoulder to lean on when he felt like no one else in the world understood him but once he fell in love with her he could no longer commit himself fully to his marriage and his family suffered as a result. Everything about them was wrong but right, bad but good, codependent but fierce unconditional love.
"El. Is the real reason you are upset is because you want to adopt Noah?" she asked cautiously.
"No. Yes. I-I don't know."
He cut her off. "I know Liv. I know I'm coming in and it looks like I'm trying to take over. You are right he's your son and even though I haven't been back that long I want to be his father. I love him."
"I know you do and I love you for it really I do. But right now, I don't want to do or change anything that's going to affect this adoption. I'm not saying that you can't adopt him at some point down the line but let's just see how things go. Ok?"
She was really hoping he understood.
"Ok. And that's not the only reason I'm upset. I just want to be included baby that's all. Don't shut me out. I know I wasn't there and I know you have your walls up as a result."
"I-," she tried to say but he cut her off as she got ready to protest.
"Don't deny it please. I get it. I know what I went through when you were gone for a few months so I can only imagine what you went through when I was away and how you had to cope. It makes sense for you to be cautious. Just don't shut me out of the important stuff. Please," he begged.
She didn't want to shut him out but the thought of putting so much trust in him and relying on him so much was terrifying to her.
"How about we split the difference?" she offered.
"What do you mean?"
"Come to the adoption. It was just going to be me and Langan in there with the judge but I want you to come too."
"That's ok. You don't have to just because I brought it up. I can just come to the party afterwards, I just wanted you to know how I felt," he offered.
"No no, I want you there. I promise," she said holding his head in her hands. "Please come."
"I wouldn't miss it for the world."
The next morning after breakfast Elliot asked Olivia to watch Eli while he ran an errand. He didn't tell her where he was going and she didn't ask. It took him about thirty minutes to get out of the city since there was no traffic. He pulled up to the cemetery and said a silent prayer before getting out of the car.
He stood looking at the headstone for a few minutes before talking.
"I know it's been awhile since I've come to see you honey. I'm sorry. Life got in the way a little bit and I missed our monthly date," he said before kneeling down. "I brought your favorite. Sunflowers," he said setting the flowers down next to the headstone.
"A lot of stuff has changed since we last spoke. Dickie and I are talking again. He's finally coming around. Lizzie is doing better since everything that happened with her friend. She's so strong. Maureen and her husband are trying for a baby. I can't see myself being a grandpa but I'm looking forward to it. I hope it all works out." He took a deep breath trying to blink back the tears that were threatening to fall. "I guess I've also been feeling a little guilty. Olivia and I are together. Can you believe it? Well then again I guess you can. No one seems that surprised. I guess an 'I told you so' is in order because she called me out for being selfish and not wanting anyone else to have her all those years ago. No surprise there either I guess at least not for you because you told me that," he chuckled. "I uhh I hope that you don't feel that this is a betrayal. The kids say that you were ok with me and Liv but I can't help but feel a little remorseful I guess. She has a son. A little boy. His name is Noah and I love him. For some crazy reason I actually think he loves me too. He called me daddy last night. I didn't tell Liv though. I didn't know how she would feel about it. I was happy about it, I am happy about it but then I felt guilty that I was being a father to another child when I wasn't a good father to you," he choked out and a few tears escaped his eyes. "I hope you know I would never try to replace you honey. I feel like I have another chance to do right by this family. That includes your brothers and sisters and Liv and her son. I'm going to do right I swear and I just pray to God that you are ok with all of this."
He was able to make amends with everyone else in life and make things right but with Kathleen it would always be an open-ended question about whether or not she forgave him and that's what was hardest for him. He wished he had some kind of sign from her that she was ok with all of these changes in his life but he knew that nothing would stop him from being with Olivia. Their argument last night brought up some old issues for him that he realized Kathleen was right about all along. Although he felt like he moved past them in a lot of ways and he was a better person he had to continuously deal with the fallout of the decisions he made.
Elliot arrived back to Olivia's apartment in the early afternoon to the kids playing in the living room but she was nowhere to be found.
He called out for her and she emerged from the bedroom upset with her cell phone in her hands.
"Baby what is it?" he asked concerned.
Olivia ushered him back into the bedroom and shut the door.
"It's John Drake, Noah's biological dad. All of the witnesses that were supposed to testify against him are dropping like flies. One of the witnesses killed another and the girls that he pimped out are changing their stories. If he walks, he could come after Noah."