You Need Help
A week later
"Dammit," Elliot yelled as he burned himself trying to pick up the handle of a skillet full of eggs that was still hot.
"Uhh, having trouble?" Lizzie asked with a small smirk.
"Yeah I was just trying to make you breakfast."
"That's sweet dad but I'm already running late for class."
"Are you sure you want to be going back to class so soon? You've been through a lot this past week."
"Dad I need to do something to distract myself. Kat's funeral the other day was just…tough. I'm ready to get back to some sense of normalcy."
"Come here," Elliot said as he hugged his daughter and placed a small kiss on her forehead. "You are so strong. You must get that from your mother."
"You're not so bad yourself."
"Nahh," Elliot said releasing her and turning himself towards the dishes to distract himself.
"I mean it. You've been through a lot and you've managed to do just fine for yourself. You've come out on the other side. I'm proud of you," Lizzie said sincerely.
"Thank you. Now you better get going or you really are going to be late."
He gave her a small reassuring smile but he was still uncomfortable with this line of talk. He knew that Lizzie was talking about the past destructive years he'd had and he wasn't interested in reliving them.
When Lizzie left, Elliot found himself in a daze thinking about his life. He had come a long way from where he was even a year ago but he had to admit his life had become a bit like ground hog day. He liked his job but there was nothing overly excited about it. The guys were cool but it was nothing like the camaraderie he had at SVU with Munch, Cragen, Fin and ….. Just thinking about her made him furrow his brow in frustration.
It had been a week since they stumbled upon each other at the crime scene and with the exception of a few conversations here and there mostly about the case and Lizzie's well being where she wouldn't even look him in the eye, they had no contact. He was focusing all his energy on keeping Lizzie safe and despite her initial reservations about staying at his apartment; they actually enjoyed each other's company. He was lonely at his apartment sometimes so having one of his children around all of the time even under the stressful circumstances was good for him.
Elliot tried to get Olivia to share as much with him about the case as possible but she didn't know he was working for the Feds so she didn't talk to him like another cop but like the parent of a witness to a horrible crime. There were more details that he wanted to know and he was trying to piece together what he could based on the information he was able to get from his contacts within the force. He didn't want to step on her toes and undermine her authority. If he was ever going to convince her to talk to him, meddling in her investigation behind her back wasn't the way to do it.
Olivia had been consumed for the past week chasing down multiple leads that had come through the tip line as a result of the sketch and additional details being released to the public. So far not much had panned out and everyone was tired and frustrated.
She was particularly on edge because she missed Noah and was only seeing him for about an hour while he was awake because she was at the station so much. Despite being so tired, Olivia was finding it hard to sleep. Once she laid down either at home or in the cribs her mind began to wander to Elliot. She called Lizzie a few times to check on her and twice Elliot picked up the phone. She didn't make much conversation other than "Hello" and "Is Lizzie available?" She was reeling from the confession that Elliot was divorced and if she was being totally honest with herself she was even more disappointed that he didn't contact her. When she was trying to make excuses for him at one point, she thought that maybe Kathy was the reason he had not reached out to her sooner. It was no secret that Kathy was sometimes uncomfortable with their level of closeness.
Now he had no excuse and he still hadn't bothered to reach out. It just made no sense and every time they spoke she felt like there was more that he wanted to say but he never said much. Truth is, she hadn't given him a whole lot of opportunity but she was determined to not make it easy for him. It had been four years and she had been through hell. The person that she cared for the most was not only not there to save her but he didn't even reach out to make sure that she was ok. The thought started to make her even more upset and she was clinching her fist without recognizing it.
"Hey Liv, I think I have something," Fin said walking up holding a file folder. "Jesse Minor, 28 years old, works as a janitor at a burger joint a block away from campus. According to some people we talked to guy's a real creep. Bothering some of the girls on campus, hanging around and got a little aggressive with a few of them."
"Wow. He matches Lizzie's sketch pretty close. Why are we just now hearing about this?," Olivia asked trying to snap herself out of thoughts of Elliot and grabbing the photo.
"I don't think people really thought anything about it until the sketch started floating around. Nick and Amanda are on their way to tail him to see what we can find out about his comings and goings."
"If he knows we are on to him then he could get desperate."
"What do you want to do next boss?"
"Keep Amaro and Rollins on him. Let me call Barba and update him and call Chief Dodds. I'm going to do everything on the up and up to make sure this bastard doesn't get off on a technicality. There are a lot of eyes on this one."
"You got it."
Elliot was going through his case files when he heard a knock at the door. He checked the peephole and to his surprise it was Dickie. He opened the door quickly afraid that was something wrong.
"Are you ok? Is everything alright?" Elliot asked ushering him in.
"Yeah everything's fine. I came to see Lizzie," Dickie responded. He was being pretty guarded and it was evident that was still a bit uncomfortable around his dad. His body language was not lost on Elliot.
"She already left for school."
"She's going back to class already?"
"Yeah she insisted."
"You didn't stop her? How could you let her go back to campus with a psycho still on the loose?" Dickie was starting to raise his voice and Elliot was trying to keep his cool.
"No I didn't stop her. The squad has a detail on her and her identity has been withheld so everything will be fine. I've been holding her up in my apartment for the past week without her losing it on me so yes I let her go to school."
Dickie huffed but didn't say anything. His dad was right but he was worried about her.
"I-I'm sorry," he apologized.
"No problem. You are worried about your sister. I get it."
They stood in awkward silence for a moment. Elliot expected him to leave but he stood there like he had more to say.
"Do you want something to drink?" he asked.
"No thanks. I guess I should be going."
"Wait, why don't you hang out a while? Catch up," Elliot asked awkwardly.
"Umm yeah ok. Ill take a bottle of water then if you have it."
"Water yeah I think I can manage that," he said as he ran to the kitchen to get the bottle of water. He was moving as if Dickie would leave if he didn't get the bottle of water fast enough.
"So how's work son?"
"Pretty good. The market is back on track so business has been good," Dickie responded perking up. He was happy that his dad asked about work. It didn't go over well when he decided to forego college and go straight in to trying to sell real estate. There was an argument and once again he felt like his dad wasn't supporting him but his decision to skip college was the least of him and his dad's problems.
"That's good to hear. Maybe you will be looking for a house for me real soon."
"Sounds good. I'm ready when you are."
There was another moment of awkward silence.
"Have you talked to Mom lately?"
"Yeah she's been calling for Lizzie every hour on the hour and I've talked to her briefly. I know she's worried but I appreciate her letting her stay here. She's even going to be over here a little later if you want to stick around."
Dickie was surprised.
" Yeah I may do that. And with Mom I know she's worried sick of course considering but she knows if anyone can protect her you can."
Elliot finally began to be at ease with his son for the first time in a long time and visibly relaxed. I guess hearing that his parents were on speaking terms and that his mom was not hurting too much was enough to ease some of the tension. For years Dickie watched his mom in pain over his dad's long absences and shutting down emotionally when he got home from work so as a result it started to put more and more of a strain on their relationship as he got older. He was more aware of what his mom was going through and sometimes he hated his dad for it. He couldn't imagine the depth of things his dad saw on the job and he tried to keep that in mind but once it got to the point that it was evident that his dad would rather spend time with his partner Olivia than his wife, that's where Dickie drew the line.
They talked a bit more and sat down to watch a little television awaiting Kathy to come over but Dickie couldn't stop himself from mentioning the inevitable.
"So I heard that Olivia is on this case."
Elliot paused briefly but tried to regain his composure to answer the question.
"Yeah she is."
It was evident that he wasn't going to elaborate so Dickie tried again.
"I hear that she's the boss now over SVU."
"Man you hear a lot. So what else did your sister tell you?"
"That you have barely spoken to her and that the reunion between the two of you was a bit icy to say the least."
"Why are you two even discussing me and Olivia? We need to focus on catching this rapist so everything can go back to normal and your sister can be safe again," Elliot said matter of factly and sounding a bit more upset than he meant to.
"We are discussing it because we all know that Olivia is the reason that your marriage with mom never got back on track after the separation. You are divorced now so why would you pass up the opportunity to talk to her, to explain everything. It doesn't make any damn sense," Dickie shot back.
Elliot stood up and was about to yell but tried like hell to reel in his emotions. He had been in therapy over the last year or two trying to work on his anger issues.
"Olivia is not the reason Mom and I broke up," he said as calm as he could.
"I didn't mean like her specifically. Look dad maybe I'm not explaining myself correctly. I know that you never cheated on mom. I know that your work was hard. But you have to admit that it got to a point that you preferred to be at work with her than at home with us."
Elliot looked at his son and realized that was why he was son angry with him. He never thought for a minute that his children felt like he didn't want to be at home with them to be with Olivia. He figured that Kathy felt that way and maybe she wasn't completely wrong but as far as his children, that was never the case.
"Listen to me. If I did anything to make you and your brothers and sisters feel that way, you will never know how sorry I am."
"Dad it's fine. I'm sorry I didn't mean to make this conversation so heavy."
"No it's not fine because it's not true. Let's sit down," he said as he motioned over back to the couch. "I love you and your brothers and sisters more than anything in the world. God knows I feel like you guys are the only thing I have done right in my life. I know I was hard to live with. It was the job, it was your mom, it was a lot of things. I saw things at work that I would never want you guys to see. Things that affected me more than I would ever like to admit. It wore me out so much emotionally that by the time I came home to you guys, I had nothing left. I couldn't separate. I should've left the unit but as stupid as it sounds every pedophile I caught meant one less pedophile that could get their hands on you guys. I wanted to protect you guys from people like the ones I saw everyday. I leaned on Olivia because she was the only person who could understand. Your mom didn't get it and rightfully so. You have to be there to understand that kind of sick twisted stuff."
"I know the job was hard. But it wasn't just about that with Olivia. You know that. I know that and mom knows it. It changed at some point. Didn't it?"
Elliot couldn't believe that they were having this conversation. It was hard for him to talk about his feelings for Olivia with anyone, let alone his children. He always warred with feeling like he was being unfaithful to Kathy even if he had never been physically intimate with Olivia. He wasn't sure if Dickie could understand the emotional connection without reducing it to him just having the hots for her.
"Yes. It changed. But I want you to know we never ever crossed that line. Ever. You got that?"
"I know you didn't."
"You do? How?"
"As bad as it sounds I feel like if you would have it would have taken some of the pressure off. You were so wound up and so angry. It was obvious you were holding something in and lashing out. If you were actually with Olivia, I don't think you would've been so angry especially once you left the squad. You were mourning the loss of her. We all knew it."
Elliot took a deep breath before he asked his next question knowing the answer could possibly break him.
"Did Kathleen feel like I abandoned you guys for Olivia?" he asked cautiously.
"No. She actually defended you when we would talk about it. She's always liked Olivia and I think out of all of us she was probably the closest to your work. She got it dad. More than the rest of us did at the time."
Dickie's words caused Elliot to become emotional again. Kathleen had been on both sides of the law and had been in his squad room more times than he wanted to remember. However, that closeness to his work and what he did always gave them a different closeness than he had with his other children.
"That's good to know."
"I'm not trying to bust your chops or anything. I know that's hard to believe considering everything lately and that we haven't been close. I just feel like all of it has to be for something. Everything with Kathleen, you and mom divorcing, the hell we've all been through the last few years, it has to be for something. If you don't talk to her and try to make it work, I don't know I feel like nothing good can come out of all of this."
"You would consider that good?" Elliot asked surprised.
"You deserve to be happy dad. We all do."
Elliot reached to pull Dickie into a hug that he could tell made the young man feel a little uncomfortable.
"I love you son."
"Aren't I a little too old for you to be hugging me?"
Elliot laughed through tears that threatened to leave his eyelids.
"You are never too old for your old man to hug you."
At that moment Elliot's phone rang and he glanced over to look at it.
"Get that please," Dickie said sarcastically as he wiggled out of his dad's grasp and walked towards the kitchen.
"Stabler. Chief Dodds? What can I do for you?"
Olivia hadn't gotten ahold of Chief Dodds when she called him so she left him a voicemail. She spent the rest of the morning and some of the afternoon checking in with the rest of the team to see what they had on the suspect. She also ran a background check on him and checked his financials. She called Lizzie's cellphone and caught her before she was going into class and checked on Lizzie's detail to make sure they were staying on her. She was doing fine all things considering. She was on her way out to meet with Barba when Chief Dodds walked in.
"Chief, I called you earlier. What brings you by?"
"Sargeant I appreciate all of your hard work on this but I thought that maybe you could use a little help."
"What? Chief my team is on this, we even have a suspect," Olivia said clearly upset.
"Look I know I know that you are trying your hardest but there are a lot of optics on this. This case may be bigger than you realize and like it or not you need help."
Olivia tried her best to calm down. She and the Chief never saw eye to eye and all her trouble with Lewis had him constantly second guessing her. She had a feeling that he was not a big fan of a female being in charge.
"So what do you have in mind?" she asked.
"Not what. Who," he said as he stepped to the side.
Elliot walked in slowly with his head slightly down. He was clearly not the most comfortable with the situation.
"Elliot?" she asked surprised.
"Your old partner works for the feds now and used to work here. I think if anyone can help he can."
"His daughter is a witness, don't you think that's a conflict of interest?"
"Under normal circumstances yes, but I think in this case we use that to our advantage. If anyone has a vested interest he does."
Elliot cleared his throat to make sure they remembered he was still standing there since they were talking as if he was no longer there.
"Chief can Li—Sargent Benson and I talk alone for a second?"
"Sure. Ill be right outside."
As the door closed, Olivia lashed out.
"You son of a bitch are you serious? You are going to undermine me to the Chief."
"He called me Liv. And so you know I haven't agreed to anything yet. I told him that I would not do this if you aren't ok with it. I want to find who did this for obvious reasons and to keep my daughter safe but if there is anyone I trust to handle this situation it's you. I would never undermine you."
"If you think I can do it then why would you even somewhat consider working on this case?"
Elliot began to close the distance between them, which made Olivia's breath hitch slightly.
"Because if I know you as well as I used to. I know because it involves Lizzie you will do anything to make sure this bastard is caught including maybe getting a little too close. I would feel better if it was me watching your back, protecting you."
"I'm fine El," Olivia said softly. She was intimidated by his closeness.
"I know you are. You always are. Call me selfish, but with you and Lizzie being so close to this one I would feel better being involved. I will stay out of your way. You are the boss. I know I can help, you know I can. But it's your call."