"Yes it has," Elliot replied. His voice was so low and hoarse that they barely heard him. He thought many times about how the moment would be when he saw her again but now that the moment was upon him he didn't know how to react.
Olivia looked at him waiting for him to say something else but when he didn't she continued on business as usual. Even Nick and Lizzie looked at Elliot who seemed to be in a trance looking at her. The moment was beyond awkward for the two by standers because the tension between Olivia and Elliot was palpable. Lizzie nudged her dad lightly in the back.
"Uhh yeah. It's nice to see you again Li—Olivia," he added nervously.
Olivia scoffed, rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to Lizzie.
"Are you sure you are up to meeting with a sketch artist tonight. It's late and you've been through a lot."
"I'm up for it. I promise."
The exchange snapped Elliot out of his trance and put his attention back to his daughter who was being as strong as ever. She was no stranger to loss but he felt bad that she had to deal with this again.
"Okay you guys go back to the station to meet with the sketch artist. Nick if you wouldn't mind meeting them there. I need to stay here and give a statement to the press and make sure everything is being handled."
"You got it boss," Nick said obligingly.
"Liv, you will be back at the station soon right?" Lizzie asked concerned.
"Of course sweetie. An hour tops."
"Ok," she said with a small smile.
Without glancing in Elliot's direction she headed out to the front of the building. Elliot, Lizzie and Nick took the back exit away from the press.
"Is it too cold honey? Do you need me to adjust the air or anything?" Elliot asked while reaching for all of the a/c controls.
"I'm fine Dad. I promise. It's ok."
"You want to tell me everything that happened?"
"If you don't mind..I know I'm going to have to regurgitate this story a million times when I get to the station so I'd rather not have to repeat it. You can watch the interview if you want…I mean if they let you."
"I'm sure they will."
And with that the topic of Olivia was hanging over the car.
"Why didn't you say something to her?"
"Dad," Lizzie passed him an annoyed look.
"What more could I have said?"
"I don't know something like I missed you, I'm sorry for not being in touch, I've been miserable without you, I'm no longer married, I—"
"Ok Ok. I get it. Do you think a crime scene is the time to talk about that stuff? There will be other opportunities. Plus right now my focus is on you."
Lizzie suddenly became sad and the weight of the day was looming over her. He reached his hand around her shoulders and held her to him while keeping his other hand on the wheel.
"Can you promise me something?"
"Promise me that you will say something to her soon."
After a brief statement to the press and a call with the commissioner, Olivia texted Rollins, Carisi and Fin and told them to meet her at the station. She hated to wake them up at 3am but she needed all hands on deck so they could try and catch this guy before he struck again.
On the drive back to the station she couldn't help but let her thoughts wander to seeing Elliot again. She started to become more and more pissed thinking about the fact that he didn't have much to say to her and seemed like a deer in headlights. So he wouldn't see her fury she made it a point to avoid eye contact with him during the exchange but she couldn't keep that up for long considering he would be at the station with Lizzie when she got there.
He looked good, she couldn't deny that. He had aged a little bit but not much. He was still fit as always and she found herself almost taken away by his patented baby blues. Yeah, she would definitely be avoiding eye contact as much as she could she thought to herself as she let out a deep breath.
Olivia walked into the squad room to the rest of the team there waiting on her. She thought they would be tired but all of them looked wired and ready to go.
"Hey Nick did you brief everyone already?"
"I gave them a brief rundown but we were waiting on you."
"Ok everybody. Our rapist struck again but this time he's stepped it up. He actually murdered the victim. 22 year old Katarina Vickers was found with her throat cut near the library across the street from the music building where she was recording a solo. We do have a witness this time however. Elizabeth Stabler. She should be here shortly if she's not already to work with a sketch artist on a description."
She saw Fin move out of the corner of her eye watching her for a reaction. She did see him and Amaro exchanging knowing glances. At that moment Elliot and Lizzie came around the corner. Lizzie still looked strong and ready to help while Elliot was wearing the nervousness from being back at his squad and fear for Lizzie all over his face."
"Well I'll be damned. Elliot Stabler as I live and breathe," Fin said walking closer to shake his hand. He gave him a small smile. "You ok baby girl?" he asked Lizzie.
"Yeah I'm ok Fin."
"Hey sweetie, this is Iris our sketch artist. She's going to take you to the room over there to get the sketch and then Nick and I want to talk to you a little more if you are up to it?" Olivia asked her as she protectively placed her hand on her shoulder.
"Yeah I'm fine but umm… do you mind if my dad comes in with me?"
"Of course. No problem." She glanced at Elliot briefly as he placed his hand on Lizzie's back. They walked off to go meet with Iris and Olivia continued briefing the team.
After the meeting she went back to her office to try and get a moment to breathe and send a text to Lucy to let her know she would be a few more hours. As soon as she reached for the phone Fin walked in and shut the door.
"I'm fine Fin," she said as she exhaled.
"You don't look fine."
"No I look tired. It's 4:30am."
"It must be weird seeing him again. Normally I would have hemmed him up for being out of pocket for so long but under the circumstances I didn't think it would be the right time."
"And thank goodness for that," she chuckled lightly as she rubbed her neck.
"Well when you're ready to talk about it…"
"Thanks Fin. I appreciate that."
When Fin closed the door she turned her chair around so she would be facing away from the door and laid her head back in her chair and took a couple of deep breaths as she closed her eyes. Her mind was racing. She missed Noah, she was under so much pressure to find this rapist and now Elliot was back. She was lost in her thoughts for a little while until she heard a light knock on the door.
"Yeah," she answered not turning around.
"Hey," Elliot responded in a small voice.
She quickly turned around and looked at him surprised. Lizzie wasn't with him and he was standing in her door with that same deer in headlights look.
"Do you mind if I come in?"
She nodded slightly to let him know it was ok and stayed seated in her chair with her hands crossed in her lap not bothering to stand up. The fact that she wouldn't engage him just made him more nervous and his palms were getting sweaty. He wiped them on his jeans as he stood before her.
"Lizzie went to the bathroom but she will be out in a second so you can start the interview," Elliot explained.
"Ok. Whenever she's ready. No rush."
There was a stretch of silence and Olivia began to look at files on her desk as if she was getting prepared for the interview. She didn't plan on making this easy for Elliot even if he was trying. It had been four years of total silence from him. If he wanted to speak to her now he was going to have to work for it.
"So you're in the big office hunh?" he asked awkwardly.
"Yep. Looks like it."
This is going to be harder than I thought, he thought to himself. He looked down searching for something else to say. She wouldn't even make eye contact with him and he felt terrible that she was treating him like a stranger.
"Look Li-Olivia, I know it's been a long time."
"It sure has Elliot. Four years. Four."
She stood up with folders in her hand after she said it preparing to head to the interrogation room. He moved closer to her desk and her breath hitched slightly.
"I can explain."
"Elliot no need. If there is one thing I've learned is that people make time for who and what they want to make time for. You didn't want to. I get it, its fine."
She moved towards the door and he moved in front of it and blocked her. She looked straight ahead as he softly closed the door.
"Olivia look at me," he pleaded as he placed his hand on her elbow.
The touch sent chills up Olivia's spine. She hated that after all this time his touch still had that effect on her. Elliot noticed the change in her body language and moved closer to her.
"Please", he begged.
She reluctantly looked up and they locked eyes. She tried to keep a straight face but with Elliot he was always able to read every emotion on her face. He saw the anger, disappointment and resentment she had towards him but more than anything he saw that she was hurt.
"I'm so sorry Olivia. You will never know how sorry," he said as his eyes began to water. The sincerity in his words and his eyes caused her to start tearing up and she looked down from him to try and contain her tears from falling.
"It's fine," she whispered unconvincingly. She couldn't speak full voice for fear that her voice would crack and the tears would fall.
"No. It's not fine. I know the timing couldn't be worse but when this is over we need to talk. Please."
Hearing him call her Liv again was her undoing.
"Ok," she responded swiping at a stray tear. She steadied herself and headed for the interrogation room.
When her door opened, Fin and Amaro watched the body language between her and Elliot but didn't say anything. Fin wanted to say something but decided against it because emotions were running high. Lizzie came around the corner and they headed to the interrogation room.
Nick and Olivia questioned Lizzie for about an hour and a half, just long enough to see the sun come up. She was precise, matter of fact and gave them a lot of details about Katarina and her life that would be helpful in the investigation. They still had to entertain the idea that the person who killed Katarina may not be the same guy but her gut told her it was.
Elliot was in the room for the questioning holding Lizzie's hand the whole time for comfort. They exchanged a few glances but their concern and focus was on Lizzie. When the interview was over Olivia walked with her to the elevators and gave Lizzie her business card.
"Call me if you think of anything else or if you just need to talk," Olivia offered.
"I will. It was so good to see you again. I'm glad it's you handling this."
"It was good to see you too."
"Ok honey let's go to your place and pick up a few things. How about you stay with me for a few days?" Elliot offered up.
"Oh god, at the one bedroom bachelor pad. I don't know about that Dad," Lizzie responded with a small laugh.
Both Elliot and Olivia exchanged glances at her admission that Elliot was living in an apartment. She immediately looked down at his finger and noticed that this wedding ring wasn't on. Elliot followed her eyes to his finger and then looked back up at her.
"Well too bad. You are staying with me where I can keep an eye on you. Thanks for the business card. We will be in touch," he replied with a small smile as he put emphasis on the word we.
"Take care," she said as they got in the elevator and pressed the button to go down. Just like that he was gone again. The whole night seemed like a dream and because she was so tired she wasn't so sure that it wasn't.
He's divorced she thought to herself as she walked back into the squad room.
"I'm so glad that's over. I don't think I can go back to the apartment. Let's just go straight to your apartment ok?" Lizzie asked her dad as she laid her head back on the car seat.
"I'm proud of you. What you did back there…I know it couldn't have been easy."
They rode in comfortable silence for a little while both thinking about the night's events before Lizzie spoke up.
"I'm sorry I scared you when I called. I know that probably brought up some bad memories for you," Lizzie said apologetically and putting her hand on Elliot's shoulder as he drove. "Are you thinking about her?"