Let me tell you a story
The remainder the baby shower went on without a hitch and everyone stayed late into the night laughing, talking and even belted out a few Christmas carols thanks to Carisi who no one realized could play the piano.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were even better. All of the kids came over to Elliot's apartment, which was a little bigger than Olivia's so had room for everyone to stay Christmas Eve night. They had to set up some blow up mattresses and use the pull out bed on the sofa which made everyone feel like they were camping out but it was fun. Everyone met Lizzie's new boyfriend Dean for the first time, the young man who was the lead singer in the band that played at Elliot and Olivia's wedding.
Elliot tried to give him a hard time but he held his own amazingly well and with some coaxing from Olivia and stern glares from Maureen and Lizzie, he eventually backed off. Lucy came along with Dickie but when it was time for everyone to sleepover for the night both she and Dean left. The Stabler family tradition was for everyone to open one present Christmas Eve night and the rest in the morning. Noah and Olivia had only spent one Christmas together and hadn't developed any traditions of their own so she was more than excited about being a part of his long-standing family traditions.
Elliot and Olivia retreated to the bedroom while everyone settled in the front.
"Are you sure this is ok?" he asked her. "I don't want to intrude if you want to do things a different way."
She smiled and kissed his forehead, grateful that he was being so thoughtful yet again. "It's fine El. We are one family now. I look forward to Stabler family holidays and traditions."
He grinned and kissed her softly while caressing her stomach. "Let's see if you still feel that way tomorrow."
She snickered as his kisses began to trail from her mouth down to her neck and across her collarbone. "Mmm, El the kids are right outside," she whispered through her moan. Her body was beginning to react to him and she had to stop this before she was at the point of no return.
"Baby, in case you haven't noticed we will always have kids right outside of our room," he whispered into her neck and started to kiss her again. "We just have to be quiet."
His hands slipped under her nightgown, rubbed her covered mound slowly and she moaned again into his cheek. She stroked his erection through his boxers and tugged at his waistband. He sucked on her neck in response and growled, the vibrations of his chest causing desire to coarse through her veins. His fingers eased into her panties and she gasped loudly. "Feels so good," she whispered.
He sat up and gently rolled her on her back when they were startled by a loud knock on the bedroom door.
"What is it?" he asked frustrated while Olivia froze.
"Dad it's me," Maureen answered.
He quickly hopped up off the bed worried that something could be wrong. "You ok?"
She was rubbing her belly with one hand and holding the small of her back with the other. "That mattress in the boys room is crap. I hate to ask but can I-?"
"Of course you can sweetheart, come on," Olivia called out motioning her over to the bed.
Elliot threw a shirt on and tried to cover up any evidence of what was happening before they were interrupted.
"You two sleep in here, I'll go sleep in the boys room," he offered. Olivia gave him a flirtatious smile.
Next time, she mouthed and he beamed back at her. He gave them both a kiss goodnight and closed the door behind him.
"Sorry about that Liv. Kids never stop killing your sex life," Maureen smiled.
"Oh no its—"
"Don't even try to deny it. You are both flushed. Looks like I knocked just in the nick of time," she joked and winked at her.
She laughed and couldn't deny she was busted.
"Good night Liv," she said rolling over to sleep on her side.
Olivia turned off the bedroom lamp and tried to get comfortable. Her thoughts quickly turned to Elliot in the other room and the promise of finishing what they started.
"Liv?" Maureen whispered.
"Just so you know we haven't all gotten together like this for Christmas in a long time. Thank you."
She didn't have to ask what she was thanking her for. She knew. It was another example of the family finding their way back to each other in the midst of all the turmoil that happened over the years.
The next morning was chaotic and there was not one portion of the floor that wasn't covered in wrapping paper or some toy or gadget. Elliot kept looking over at Olivia to check on her and make sure she was ok. She had never spent Christmas with a big family and it was everything she thought it would be. Noah was having a blast, his incessant giggles filled the room and his big accomplishment of the day was that he successfully pronounced "Dickhead" to the dismay of his parents but to the delight of his siblings.
They had breakfast together and then spent the afternoon playing with all of the kids toys and presents. Olivia saw Maureen and Elliot talking and it looked like a pretty serious conversation for such a lighthearted day. Maureen looked tired and her feet were starting to swell so she spent a lot of time with her feet up watching the festivities from the sofa.
Later in the evening everyone Elliot and Olivia sat in his living room surveying the damage.
Elliot sighed in defeat. "Just looking at this mess makes me more tired than I already am."
She rubbed the back of his neck and he leaned into her touch. "Let's clean up now and get it over with."
"No way," he responded laying his head on her shoulder. "Dick will be by in the morning and he can help me clean it up. You are going to sit back and relax. You and Maureen need to slow it down a little bit."
She figured this was her opening to ask about earlier. "Everything ok with her? You two seemed to be talking about something pretty hot and heavy earlier."
He watched her for a minute before he responded. "She's just stressed. She's not feeling well, the twins are really taking it out of her so she's probably going to have to stop working soon. She's always tired, you know just the usual."
Olivia understood that all too well. She was exhausted carrying one baby, she could only imagine carrying two. The house was quiet and the kids were asleep. She thought this was the perfect time for her to have the conversation with him that she had been putting off. He had been all over the place in the few days since the party that she hadn't gotten an opportunity to talk to him. She also didn't want to put a damper on the Christmas festivities.
She was about to speak when he began to rub her thigh and kiss her neck. "How about we pick up where we left off last night?" She could feel him smirking in her neck.
"Out here in the living room?" she asked kissing him back.
"Yep. Noah and Eli are sleeping. They're worn out. They won't wake up."
She got ready to protest and tell him they needed to talk.
"Liv, this Christmas has been perfect." He got on his knees in front of the sofa and was eye level with her. "I can't wait until next year when Charlotte is here," he added rubbing her belly and kissed her shoulder and neck. "And then Mo's babies. It's going to be even better. I love you so much." He sat back watching her and she stared in his blue eyes beaming sincerity. She didn't want to taint such a beautiful moment so once again she waited.
"You ok?" he asked furrowing his eyebrows.
"Yeah," she answered her voice thick with emotion. "It was a perfect day. Thank you for giving me and Noah our best Christmas ever."
She could tell he wasn't completely convinced that everything was alright so she silenced him with a kiss and pulled her shirt over her head. When she crashed her lips against his again all was forgotten…for now.
"He's down for the count," Elliot announced stretching and sitting next to Olivia on the sofa. They had relocated back to her apartment the day after Christmas since he had to be out of his by tomorrow, New Year's Day. The last few days had been hectic for her at work and for him packing up his place and putting everything in storage.
"I'm exhausted but I'm glad we got everything done with the apartment. In just a few weeks we will be moving into our place. You excited yet?" he asked her with hopeful eyes.
"Of course. I can't wait for us to move there. In our own place, with more space," she said while gesturing for him to lay his head in her lap. "And then right after the New Year, it's like a fresh start. Leaving everything behind and starting our lives together."
He watched her and noticed a change in her demeanor. "You ok?"
"Yeah," she said softly rubbing his hair while he glanced up at her. She shifted back on the couch getting more comfortable and giving him more room on her lap.
"Do you need me to get up?"
She put her hand over his arm to still him. "No. I need you stay right here."
They sat in silence for a few minutes with her continuing to rub his hair and his arm tracing his tattoo. He stayed quiet waiting for her to speak sensing she was fraught with something.
"So Stabler since you are always the big storyteller around here I figured we would switch it up tonight," she said turning the TV volume down. "Let me tell you a story."
"Ok," he answered amused. "Is this going to be a response to my fairy tale?" he asked lightheartedly.
"No. Not a fairy tale. More like an autobiography," she answered seriously. She stared at him a little longer and could see him start to realize where she was going with it.
"I told you that I would talk to you about everything one day. I'm ready now," she said and he nodded.
"Sealview," She prefaced giving him a chance to prepare himself. "When Harris took me down to the basement and I realized what his intentions were I just…my heart was beating out of my chest. I didn't know where Fin was. I knew you weren't there..I didn't know who would come save me." Her voice got lower and he clinched her arm hard. She looked straight ahead at the TV willing herself to continue. If she made eye contact with him and saw any flicker of anger, hurt or sadness she would get caught up and wouldn't be able to go on.
"I fought like hell but he kissed me to muffle my screams. He threw me on the mattress and then up against the wall when I didn't cooperate. His hands were everywhere," she started to cry. "On my breasts, my butt and he rubbed me in between my legs. I felt him hard against my back and I freaked out. He uncuffed me and I hit him and ran to hide. I knew he would find me but I was just hoping someone would come down there first. I was buying time." She stopped to regain her composure.
Elliot put his hand on his forehead trying to massage away the tension. He was so focused on her words that the break gave him a chance to try and calm himself.
He was furious.
He wanted to choke the life out of Lowell Harris.
"He told me that when he found me that I was dead and I believed him. When he found me I hit him again and ran to one of the doors but it was locked. Before I could switch directions and go for the other door he was behind me."
She swallowed hard and stroked his arm to ease his tension and hers. His breathing had quickened and she wanted to soothe him the only way she knew how without looking at him.
"He hit me and I fell to the floor. He cuffed my right hand to one of the bars on the door and…and he….unzipped his pants."
She looked down at Elliot and his eyes were wide with anguish and fear.
"He told me that if I bit him I was dead which it didn't really matter because I was dead either way. He had his penis out in front of me and he put his hands on both sides of head to pull me closer to it. That's wh-when I saw the mole that I had Ashley identify later. He got pretty close but he didn't…"she stopped and he visibly exhaled in relief. "His penis touched the side of my face briefly but he didn't force it into my mouth. That's when Fin came in and stopped everything. He told him….. I was a cop and moved him away from me," she finished.
Elliot's heart was racing and he was trying to regulate his breathing. He jumped up off her lap, swiping his hands down his face in frustration. She trusted him enough to finally open up and he didn't want do anything that would stop her from talking but he was so goddamn mad that his vision was blurry.
"I saw a therapist for a little while after. It affected me more than I realized and I was making mistakes on the job like with the Jessie Cruz case. It helped and I eventually got my feet back on solid ground," she continued observing him closely hoping this piece of information would help calm him down.
He didn't trust his voice but he had to say something. He fell on his knees in front of her, holding both of her hands in his. "I'm sorry I wasn't there for you. I'm sorry that I didn't help you through that. I should've—"
She cut him off. "El, like I told you. You had enough going on. I just-I just needed to handle it myself." He didn't agree but he didn't want to argue either. She sniffled and wiped away a stray tear. She knew what happened with Harris was nothing compared to what she had to tell him about Lewis so she braced herself to continue. She wanted to get everything out at once and start the New Year on a clean slate but she worried if he could handle it.
"Are you ready for me to go on to talk about Lewis?" she asked in a small voice fidgeting with her hands. She was obviously stressed and he felt guilty not wanting to cause stress to her or the baby.
He exhaled. "Yeah. Are you ok?" he asked laying back on the sofa.
"Yeah. I'm fine."
"Liv, we don't ha-."
"Shhh, this is my bedtime story remember?" she countered forcing a tight smile.
He closed his eyes and prepared himself for the rest.
"When we had our initial conversation about everything I told you some of the things about Lewis. How he kept me for four days on booze and pills. How he burned me. I know you've seen the marks but we never really talked about them," she said glancing down at him and his eyes were screwed shut.
"I didn't want to…" he cleared his throat and tried again. "I didn't want to bring it all up for you."
Olivia pressed her lips together. "I know."
She laid back on the pillow and stared at the ceiling looking for a focal point to help her forge ahead.
"We struggled when he first had me in the apartment. I tried to get the gun away from him and I-." She blew out a deep breath. "I fell over the coffee table and he over powered me. He pinned me down to the floor and punched me-hard. I was..I was kind of out of it. He…tied me to a chair with my hands behind my back. I don't know how long I was unconscious but the next thing I remember was…feeling the burning against my skin. He-he-had taken my key and warmed it up on the stove."
The tears trickled down her face and she could hear Elliot's tense breathing beneath her. He held her arm tight struggling with his own reaction to what she was saying but couldn't help the angry blistering tears that flowed.
"He put the hot key on my breasts and told me there was more where that came from. That's when I saw him reach in his pocket… and pull out the- cigarettes. He taunted me. He wanted me to be afraid but I just..wouldn't. I was being defiant," she huffed out a bitter laugh. "Surprising hunh? The more I resisted and wouldn't beg," she sniffled. "….he put the cigarettes out in me. After awhile I guess…I passed out again from the pain. When I woke up I was in the trunk of a car he had stolen."
Elliot didn't think he could take anymore. His mind was racing and his heart was pounding. His muscles were tense, exerting themselves to keep him from punching something.
Olivia battled to keep her emotions in check. It was harder to relive everything in detail than she thought it would be. She felt the tension radiating from him and squeezed his arm again. She skimmed over the details of witnessing Mrs. Mayer's rape and the deputy being shot that she discussed with him previously.
She brought the hand up that wasn't resting on him and rubbed her belly back and forth. Charlotte was starting to move and the reminder of her baby girl, the life growing inside of her gave her the small nudge she needed to keep going…to the events at the lake house.
Elliot jerked form her hold when he saw her touch her stomach thinking that something was wrong.
"Everything alright? Is this too stressful with the pregnancy? Jesus Liv I don't want you to over exert yourself," he panicked. "Are you sure you are ok?"
"I'm fine. I promise. She's just moving that's all," she assured taking a deep breath to continue. "Elliot just so you know this is the part of the story that I didn't tell anyone so it's a little—"
"I know," he said tilting up to kiss her and steadying himself. "We can stop whenever you want."
"No. Just-just bare with me ok?"
She swallowed hard as he laid back down in her lap. "You know he took me to an abandoned lake house and when we got there he threw me on the bed." Elliot closed his eyes again. "I-I….. he had given me so much liquor and I had to go to the bathroom….I should've just held it," she sobbed. With his eyes still shut he grabbed her hand and stroked inside her palm. "He-he helped me to the bathroom because my hands were still cuffed. I couldn't unbuckle my pants myself," she continued to cry. "I begged him to just unlock the cuffs and let me go to the bathroom and he could cuff me again….b-but he wouldn't. He insisted on doing it himself. So I told him I changed my mind and that I didn't need to go anymore. B-but he wouldn't let me. I was so humiliated," she cried furiously wiping at her tears.
Elliot was trembling with fury.
"I tried t-to bend myself back so he couldn't see anything when I sat down and I went really fast," she said quickly. "I tried to bend again when I stood up but he told me to stand up straight. I-I knew what was coming next."
He sat up suddenly and sat next to her with his head buried in his hands..waiting.
"He told me to spread my legs b-but it was hard for me to do because my pants were restricting me. He pulled them all the way down to my ankles and told me to try again….I begged. I begged him to just leave me alone. He said if I didn't do it then h-he would and he wouldn't be gentle…so I spread them," she whispered, "he stuck a finger inside me and told me to keep being a good girl."
Elliot finally exhaled letting the tears roll down his face. There was so much anger running through him he couldn't sit still and his body rocked back and forth.
"El?" she asked in a small voice.
"It's ok. Keep going," he rasped.
"H-He stuck another finger inside of me and said that he was surprised that I was so tight and he was going to enjoy opening me up." Her tears were steadily flowing at this point and didn't go on until she was able to pull herself together. "He kept trying to make—to make me—finish," she choked out. "I fought against my body and wouldn't and it pissed him off so he slapped me…HARD…with his other hand and yelled at me to come. ..I just couldn't..and wouldn't," she whispered.
She was momentarily startled by Elliot's sudden movement. He was off the sofa in a flash pacing back and forth trying to maintain control.
"So he—he—pulled out his penis and I panicked. I didn't know what he was going to make me do."
He immediately stopped pacing to watch her.
"But he took himself in his hands and masturbated. He said if I didn't come then he would…and he jerked himself off while he-while he kept…." She couldn't finish the sentence but he slammed his eyes shut knowing what she meant. "When it was over and I still didn't come, he told me that he would make sure to make me when we had sex and he wouldn't stop fucking me until I screamed," she wept.
"Thankfully that never happened. That part is what I left out. I know I should've said something. I talk to victims all the time about telling the truth about their attack and I didn't," she said frantically. Elliot hurried to her side and put her head on his shoulder, snapping momentarily out of his shroud of anger.
She cried and he held her whispering into ear, "Liv, listen to me. You did what no one else was able to do. You testified and you put Lewis away. You and no one else. You are the reason that he is no longer alive to hurt anyone else. Regardless of how it happened, the goal was to get him off the streets. Don't ever feel guilty for that. Ok?"
She nodded into his shoulder still unable to speak. He held her for awhile allowing her to calm down while he continued to console her.
"Come on let's get you to bed," he said once he heard her stop crying.
"Wait a second. I know I told you about everything else with the beating and him almost raping me before the maid and her child showed up but I want to tell you something else." She pulled his face closer to her, her hands on both of his cheeks. "I know you think a lot about the fact that you weren't there but I want you to think about if you were. If you were there you would've killed him an-," she said.
"Yes I would've," he growled.
"And then what? Maybe you would've gotten off, maybe you wouldn't have. But I don't think we would be here. I don't think we would be married, having this baby or any of this. We would be living a different life and I don't want any scenario that ends up with us anywhere else other than where we are," she said kissing him on the lips. He buried his face in her neck, a few stray tears sliding down his cheek. "I'm so so sorry. I just can't stop wishing I would've been there for you."
"But you were," she whispered in his ear. Her voice low and like it always was when she would calm him down. "You are the only reason I got through it all. When he had me on that bed and he was threatening to burn my clothes off and taunting me and shoving his gun in my mouth making me beg for my life, the only thing that kept me going was that I had to see you again. I couldn't die and never talk to you, or hear you laugh or see your face again. So I held on to that and that's what got me through. So you were there El. In here," she said pointing to her heart.
They held each other for a few moments allowing the tears to dry, fury to fade and their heart rates to return to normal. Olivia began to feel the relief from telling her husband the truth…..the whole truth about what happened to her.
They walked hand in hand silently to the bedroom. They turned to one of the New Year's Eve specials on TV with it playing in the background while she talked about parts of the trial that he didn't know and filling in some blanks from when Lewis had kidnapped Amelia and attempted to rape her again.
When she was finally done she leaned into him, cradling her face in his chest.
"Thank you for telling me. I know it wasn't easy," he said caressing strands of her hair.
"No it wasn't, but it was necessary. I don't ever want there to be any secrets or barriers between us."
As they watched the crowds of people cheering in Time Square on television Elliot and Olivia each had their own separate fleeting thoughts of her story as they drifted towards unconsciousness. Elliot absorbed the details of Olivia's ordeal and the fact that even though he couldn't be there to rescue her, he saved her the only way he was able to. By being such a strong part of her past that she wanted to make sure to see her future.
Lost in their reflections they vaguely overheard the countdown on the television.
5-4-3-2-1 Happy New Year
"Happy New Year Liv."
"Happy New Year."