Three Men in a Bar
Over the next two weeks as Sydney's wounds healed she began to talk more to Olivia and she learned a little more about the little girl's background. Her rescue and the discovery of the baby's body must have been enough to spook Harrington and his crew momentarily because another body had not turned up. She was trying to be patient and slowly earn Sydney's trust but she needed more details and she needed them now.
The frustration of still not having found the suspects and certain aspects of the case were making Olivia restless. She didn't want to keep Elliot up because he had just gotten back from his weekend of training in DC and was dead tired so she decided to relocate to the living room and go over some of Sydney's statement to see if there was anything she was missing.
Olivia was convinced that because there were other girls they had captive over the years this couldn't have been the only baby they killed and it could help them put a pattern together to help find Marshall and Jonathan's location. Moreso she needed to know why he killed some girls and not others. They tracked them to several old warehouses but they had since been cleaned out and there was little to no evidence there.
"What are you doing up babe? It's almost 3am," Elliot asked his voice raspy and full of sleep.
"I couldn't sleep so I'm just going over some of the notes I have on what she's told me so far," she responded still concentrating deeply on the papers surrounding her.
"Liv, you need to get your rest. Come on, let's go back to bed," he said. He tried to reach for her arm but she pulled back.
"I can't. We've got to catch this guy," she said determined. "I know there's something we are missing. Someone has got to be helping this guy or there's a contact that we aren't thinking of. And Sydney…I just…she's almost there to trust me but I need her to tell me everything and she keeps holding back."
Elliot looked on at her still keeping quiet. He could see her frustration and he knew why this case meant so much to her but it affected him to see her so upset about someone not opening up about what they had gone through when she still hadn't opened up to him. It's something that hadn't been talked about much between them and he didn't want to push it but the more he had seen her so affected by this case the more he was hoping that she would see the parallels and want to talk to him about everything.
He was so quiet standing in front of her that she finally looked at him for some kind of reaction. He hesitated a moment before it eventually came out. "It's definitely frustrating when someone won't talk to you about what they went through," he said looking her square in the eyes. "I'm sure she will come around though."
Olivia fidgeted with her hands in her lap, his ironic statement not lost on her.
"It's not the same thing," she whispered.
"To me it is. You won't tell me what happened to you. With Lewis….. or with Sealview," he continued to speak softly. Now he was fidgeting with his hands as well.
"This is for a case Elliot." Her tone was a bit more forceful and she was pissed that he would use her work as a way to bring up what happened with her.
"And this is for us," he quickly countered. "I want you to be able to talk to me about anything, about everything."
"I do talk to you just not about this! I told you I don't want to relive it. Why would you bring this up now? When I'm pregnant?" she asked her voice getting louder.
"That's exactly why I'm bringing it up. I don't know what it is but something is off Olivia. There's a reason other than reliving it that you don't want talk to me about it and with this case I am concerned about you. You think I just want to get off on the sick details?!" he yelled back. He took a deep breath and tried to calm himself.
"I just want to be able to help you."
"If I need your help Ill ask for it," she snapped back.
Noah began to whimper and they both sighed heavily having to stop the conversation.
"Ill go get him," she said about to get up.
"No," he said putting his hand out to stop her. "You continue your work. I'll go get him and go back to bed." His defeated posture was evident and she felt like she was failing him but the other side of her was angry that he wouldn't let it go.
He didn't answer just turned around and looked at her. His blue eyes were sullen and his hand resting on the drawstring of his sweatpants.
"I love you. You know that right?"
She felt like she had to say it. She always wanted him to know that no matter how much she shut down, her love for him was as strong as it ever was.
"I know," he said giving her a quick sad smile. "I love you too. Good night."
And with that he went into Noah's room and shut the door.
He fell asleep in the daybed in Noah's room that was usually reserved for Eli when he came to visit. The next morning she came into the room quietly watching him sleep with Noah on his chest. The hurt in his eyes last night hurt her more than she could ever realized and she found herself crying in her bed alone when he didn't return to their bedroom. She slept for about an hour before giving up and getting up to make coffee and breakfast, her own version of a peace offering.
She stroked Noah's soft brown hair as he lay on Elliot's chest so peaceful and then she caressed Elliot's arm that was around his little body. She didn't want to wake him up she just wanted the comfort of feeling his skin under hers but he stirred anyway.
"What time is it?" he rasped. "Don't tell me it's morning."
"Ok then I won't tell you anything," she said with a slight smile hoping to lighten the mood.
He let out an exasperated breath and put his hand on his forehead. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to fall asleep in here. I was going to come back to bed." He wanted her to know that even though they had a disagreement he had no intention of them sleeping apart.
"I'm glad to hear that. I thought…" She stopped herself not wanting to finish the sentence.
"I was upset but I'm not going to shut you out Liv. I love going to sleep next to you and waking up next to you. That's never going to change no matter how mad we are at each other. Ok?" he said kissing her hand.
"I still meant everything I said last night. I know you don't agree but…," he was getting up to put a sleeping Noah back in his crib without waking him up. "I just want you to think about one thing. If the roles were reversed. Would you want to know?"
She considered his question for a moment and then met his eyes. He knew the answer and so did she. She would want to know.
"I thought so."
When she still didn't say anything, he gave her a kiss on the forehead and turned to leave the room. "I'm going to take a shower."
While in the shower Elliot's mind was constantly on the exchange with Olivia. He hated arguing with her and any kind of strife between them caused him to be imbalanced. He didn't feel right if the both of them weren't on the same page but he felt like he couldn't let this go.
After Olivia left for the day and Lucy arrived to take care of Noah, he went back to his apartment to finish packing up his clothes, dishes and things he left behind in the months he had been spending at Olivia's place. The truth was he just needed a little space from everything and to think. It seemed like it had been so long since he spent more than an hour at the place he called home for a year before Olivia came back in his life. Although he had grown someone comfortable in the one bedroom bachelor pad, it didn't quite feel like home until his kids started coming over more often and he started to date Olivia and she and Noah would spend time there. Now glancing around at the boxes and bare walls he couldn't help but think how much things had changed but there were things that stayed the same. He always knew that Olivia was independent. It was one of the things he loved about her. She was able to make her life into whatever she wanted and she didn't depend on anyone for anything but he wanted her to not have to take on the world by herself. Although she had made some strides since they reconnected, the trauma she suffered seemed to be the one barrier that he couldn't break.
Elliot eventually picked up the phone and decided to make some plans. He needed to blow off some steam and he and this person needed to clear the air one on one anyway. He was surprised to see he answered on the second ring and they agreed to meet at the old cop bar around the corner from the station.
Elliot was sitting in a booth in the bar nursing a beer when he saw Fin and Nick walk in. He waved his hand so they could see him and soon they were all settling in.
"What you having?" Nick asked. "Just a beer?"
"Yeah for now," Elliot answered.
"I hope you don't mind that I brought Nick," Fin explained sitting down. When they originally talked earlier in the day it was supposed to just be Elliot and Fin but Fin felt that Nick's presence would be good since he was Olivia's last partner and they hadn't had a chance to hang out together.
"No, not at all. The more the merrier, I could use a guy's night. Drinks on me tonight order whatever you want."
Nick gave his trademark grin, "Well since you put it that way."
"Hey hey hey, keep in mind Stabler's got an entire football team at home to support," Fin joked and Elliot couldn't help but laugh.
"Well you keep in mind he does have a wife that's making some pretty decent bank," Nick added.
"Plus I only have 3 ½ kids still on the payroll thank you very much." He appreciated that they came tonight with a sense of humor. It was just the break he needed to take his mind off everything.
"Where does Liv think you are right now?" Fin asked seriously.
He gave a somber look before taking a drink of his beer. "At the apartment packing." He waited a moment before timidly asking, "How was she today?"
"As good as can be expected. We are keeping an eye on her Stabler. She's a little stressed but Liv's a soldier you know that," Nick added sipping from his beer that was just brought over to the table.
"Yeah. Sometimes I wish she didn't have to be though."
Fin and Nick passed each other a knowing look and realized they were in for a deep conversation. Almost simultaneously they both took off their jackets and got comfortable.
"What's on your mind Stabler? Just give it to me straight," Fin asked with his patented glare.
Elliot played with the label on his empty beer bottle and signaled to the waitress for another before he started, "I'm worried about her and I'm pissed at her. I think this case is getting to her and I'm worried about the stress it's causing to her and the baby. Then I'm pissed because I know why this case is getting to her."
Nick shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
"I know it has to do with Lewis and she still won't talk to me about it," he said clenching his fist.
"You guys have never talked about Lewis?" Nick asked genuinely surprised.
"We've talked about it vaguely but she hasn't gone into details. It's like the Sealview thing all over again."
Nick furrowed his brow confused, "Sealview?"
This time it was Fin's turn to look uncomfortable.
"Ahh so she didn't tell you about that either hunh?" Elliot chuckled bitterly. "Figures."
"No. What happened at Sealview?"
Nick and Elliot both turned to Fin waiting for him to talk.
"Liv went undercover there as an inmate to catch a guard that was raping inmates. While she was there..she uhh had a close call with the prison guard there," he explained eyeing Elliot cautiously. "I got there just in time."
Nick's eyes grew wide. "He was about to rape her?"
Elliot's whole body was tense and his jaw clenched. "So how close did he get?" he asked gruffly.
"Elliot man come on," he said pivoting in his seat. "You know I can't do that."
"Why not?" he asked through clenched teeth leaning in closer to him. "Wouldn't you want to know if it were your wife?"
"I would want to know," Nick added agreeing with Elliot.
"I recognize that but this is Liv. She asked me to keep that confidential. This isn't an ordinary situation," Fin tried to explain. "Then let's be ordinary," Elliot said desperately. "Right now we are just three men in a bar. It's not about badges, police work, or anything else. I'm just a husband who wants to know what his wife has been through so he can help her deal with it and not drown in every case that reminds her of it."
Fin looked at Nick and realized he was outnumbered. Maybe it was because Elliot and Nick have always been so similar or because they had both been her partner or because they both valued family more than anything. It really probably was because of Liv. She was the common denominator with everyone and although he knew Elliot's heart was in the right place he couldn't break her confidence.
"You are right Elliot. I would want to hear it but it wouldn't mean shit to me if it didn't come from her."
Elliot rubbed his hands down his face in frustration.
"Ill tell you this. He didn't rape her. She was fully clothed when I got to her so there was nothing he saw but I don't want you to think she didn't tell you because she didn't think the two of you were close or because she was trying to shut you out then or now. Back then you had just put your family back together man. I think deep down inside she knew if you knew what happened with Harris you would hurt him or worst case scenario kill him. She didn't want to do anything that would compromise your badge or your family."
He sat back drinking his beer and took in what Fin said. He was right. He would've harmed Harris no doubt about it but it killed him to know that once again Olivia had put him before herself. She deserved to have someone protect her.
"So I guess that takes you telling me anything about Lewis off the table too hunh?" he asked looking at Fin first then to Nick. He started to see that maybe Nick was his best bet because he seemed to think a lot like him.
"There's not much I can offer up about Lewis," Nick spoke up. "I wasn't in there when she gave the statement. All I know is probably what you know which came out in the trial. Cragen and Barba have kept that pretty close to the vest for good reason," he said matter of factly.
Elliot had a feeling that they both didn't know much about Lewis and knowing what he knew of Fin, he figured he didn't press her for the information.
"I just..I just want to know. What was she like afterwards?" he asked his voice shaking revealing his emotion.
"If you are thinking now that she is anything like she was back then, you are wrong. I swear," Nick offered. "She's internalizing I can see that but with Lewis she would zone out. A lot. She was angry. It changed her. I'm sure you can sense that," he added.
"This case is tough for all of us," Fin added. "For Liv yeah it's on a whole different level because of the similarities and it's a young girl that gave birth to her rapist's baby just like what happened with Liv and her mom. Back then with Lewis she really had to live in the filth he left her because she didn't have an outlet."
He leaned in to the table and made sure that Elliot had his undivided attention. They haven't always seen eye to eye but he deserved to know.
"Cassidy was there but you know Cassidy was….well Cassidy," he said and they all gave a knowing snicker. "You know you pissed me off a lot over the years but the truth is the life she has with you ensures she will never go down that path again. She feels the pain of the case and I see it on her but when you call or bring Noah by or she looks at those pictures on her desk, man it brings it home for her. She's not just the job anymore. That's the difference. She won't ever go back to what she once was. I believe that 1000 percent and if I thought any different I would tell you. That's what you hold on too man. Liv will tell you when she's ready and I think that time is sooner than you might think."
Elliot absorbed his words completely thinking it over while checking his phone that lit up with a text message from Olivia.
"Now since the tab is on you I'm going to go to the bar and order me some real liquor. All this serious talk has me needing a grown man's drink. Come on Nick," he said motioning for Nick to come with him. "I think Stabler has a call to make real quick."
With Nick and Fin gone and a few moments to take in everything, Elliot opened his phone to reply to the message when another one came in.
'How much longer will you be?' Was the first message.
The second was 'I miss you'
Instead of texting her back he decided to call her instead.
"Hey," she answered tentatively. She was still on edge after their disagreement and didn't know if he was still mad and that's why he retreated from the apartment.
"Hey. I miss you too. I'm on my way home," he said with a smile in his voice. He could hear her release a sigh of relief.
"Ok," she said simply.
Elliot walked to the bar and left some cash on the counter next to Nick and Fin. "I'm heading out fellas."
"So soon?" Nick asked smiling. "I get it man. Thanks for the drinks."
"No thank you. Thank you both," he said shaking their hands.
Fin eyed him suspiciously and noticed his change in demeanor. "You good?"
"I'm good," he assured them. "Just talked to Liv. I'm headed home. I want to catch the little guy before he goes to bed."
Elliot was on his way out before he had another thought and turned back around to face them, "Look you know Liv would probably kick my ass if she knew I asked you guys…"
"She will never hear it from me. That confidentiality goes both ways," Fin assured him.
Nick nodded his head to agree, "Me either."
Olivia was feeding Noah when Elliot walked in.
"Hey," she said her face lighting up when she saw him. In spite of the awkwardness she was genuinely glad to see him.
"Hey," he said to her. "Hey there big guy," he said greeting Noah who smiled with mashed potatoes hanging out of his mouth.
"There's food on the stove in case you didn't get a chance to eat," she motioned over to him.
"Come here," he said pulling her close and holding on to her. He smelled her hair and breathed in all of her as she relaxed into his body.
"I'm sorry," she said first.
"No I'm sorry Liv. I need to just…give you time. I guess I'm just not the most patient person."
"No shit," she joked.
They held each other a little longer before she pulled back and rubbed his face. His scruff was rough against her fingers but his blazing blue eyes were piercing her and she could see the love and sincerity there.
"I'm going to tell you about them both when I can just get myself together. You deserve to know the story…the whole story," she said nervously and focused her attention on his chest instead of looking directly at him. "Not just what I told Cragen and Barba."
"You didn't tell them everything that happened to you in your official statement." It was both a question and a statement. It was actually one of his biggest fears. He knew Olivia. If there was something she felt didn't need to go on the record because it wouldn't affect what he was charged with and interfere with how people thought she could do her job she wasn't going to say it.
She nodded in affirmation and then laid her head on his chest. "He didn't rape me El. I promise you," she said wanting to give him at least that little bit of comfort. "But yes. There is more."