Olivia woke up earlier than she intended to. She went and sat in Noah's nursery and watched him sleep. She didn't want to wake him too early and disrupt his schedule. Sitting in his nursery and being his space had become her new place of solitude. Whenever the world got to be too much or she had something on her mind she would go and sit in the rocking chair in his room and just take everything in. Her mind immediately went to her conversation with Elliot last night. She couldn't believe it. Kathleen was dead. She hadn't wrapped her mind around that. He tried to kill himself and she's pretty sure that she was the reason he was divorced. That thought didn't set well with her at all. Although he didn't come right out and say that he loved her, it was clear from the conversation that he had romantic feelings for her.
She loved him, there was no denying that. She pushed it down for so long that she actually started to believe they were actually just partners. But the way he looked at her during those last few years of their partnership and even moreso the way he looked at her now, there was no denying that the romantic tension was still there. If it was thick back then it was suffocating now.
Even when she touched him while comforting him she felt that pull towards him that consued a lot of their partnership years ago and that's why she felt the need to separate herself from him on more than one occasion. She understood his thought process of feeling that distance would help. But another question dogged her. He kept saying that things were better and he was ok now..so why had he contacted her? If it wasn't for the murder case, they would still not be talking. She mentally kicked herself for not asking the question last night but she was so overwhelmed with everything that he revealed that she couldn't think straight enough to ask questions of her own.
Noah started to stir and she immediately jumped up to stand over his crib and greet him.
"Good morning mama's handsome boy," she cooed as he smiled. He always woke up so happy and it made Olivia's days start off on a positive note.
After getting him bathed and dressed she heard Lucy come in. She was moving a mile a minute and didn't see the text message until she was walking to the elevator and checked her phone.
Good Morning. Look forward to seeing you later-El
As much as she hated to admit the text had the same effect on her as his message last night. She immediately started to feel warm and fuzzy inside. As weird as everything was, it was good to have him back in her life.
Good Morning. How did you sleep?
I was a little restless but for good reason.
And what reason is that?
Just thinking over everything. I hope I didn't scare you away.
I'm still responding to your texts aren't I?
She smiled at herself for her snarky response as she entered the precinct. She never pegged him for much of a texter but enjoyed the banter back and forth. Unfortunately it's all she had time for lately because she hated to talk on the phone for anything other than the work calls she had to take because she hated to disturb Noah more than she had to and she was always on the move.
Touche Miss Benson
"What are you smiling about?" Fin asked. "Pictures of Noah?"
"Oh..no something else. So have we wrapped up all the paperwork on the Minor case?" she asked trying to change the subject.
"Yep, we even got in the paperwork from Elliot to add to yours. Here it is."
Fin hung in the doorway expecting her to start talking about her former partner. Everything had been so crazy he hadn't had the chance to talk to her about how she was feeling about him being back in the picture.
"So everything good?" he finally asked.
"Yeah, everything's good," she responded purposely remaining aloof.
"Ok shut the door."
She sat down at her desk while Fin sat in one of her guest chairs. She took a few moments to figure out where she wanted to start.
"Well…we talked last night."
"And? Did he have an excuse for where he was all this damn time?"
"Oh yeah.. he definitely did."
She paused a little longer and took a deep breath while Fin eyed her expectantly.
"WHAT!" Fin shouted.
"Shh, keep your voice down. Please don't tell anyone. Apparently the only person that knew was Cragen. They have been keeping in touch here and there."
"I had a feeling they did."
"It's Cragen. I wouldn't expect any different."
"I guess you are right."
"How did it happen?"
"Long story short. She wasn't taking her meds. Disappeared from home and got hit by a car. She was in a coma and they had to pull the plug after a week or so to let her go."
"Oh shit. I can't even imagine what that did to him."
"Yeah you have no idea."
"Yeah it's just hard to know he went through so much and I wasn't there you know?"Yeah but Liv you went through a lot too baby girl and he wasn't there either."
"How did he handle hearing about Lewis and everything?"
"We hadn't gotten that far. He had a lot of story to tell and I couldn't stay. We are supposed to talk again tonight."
"How does it feel to have him back?"
"I don't know…it's just…weird," she said cracking a small sad smile.
"I was ready to punch his face in for leaving you the way he did. Thanks for telling me. It changes things for sure."
"Yeah," Olivia responded with a small sigh.
"Hey guys we have a rape down at Mercy General. Five year old possibly the step father," Rollins said as she barreled out the door.
"Me and Amanda can handle this one boss. I'll call you if we need anything", Fin said as he got up to leave.
"Anytime Liv. Tell Elliot I said hi when you talk to him."
As much as she didn't want to make the situation so clinical she had to write down her questions in her phone. She wanted to ask them and she was worried that once she got into her story she would forget.
Elliot didn't sleep much the night before either. Much like Olivia he spent the night going through the whole conversation in his head. He felt good that he not only told her everything but that she was compassionate. He was worried about texting her and thought she may take it wrong but he was pleasantly surprised that she engaged in the banter back and forth. She felt like his old Liv. He knew that she had a lot of scars and he could tell that she was different in a lot of ways but there were some things that were still very much the same. The fact that they were able to slide back into some old routines after four years and so many changes in their lives meant a lot to him.
He left that morning and went to Eli's school for a daddy and donuts event. He never did that many of those events with the other kids when they were younger so he felt good to be able to do that with his youngest son. The way Eli's face lit up when he showed up made it worthwhile.
He figured that Olivia wouldn't want to talk at her place because it would be evident that she had Noah. Since she would be coming over he decided to head to the store and get something to cook. Cooking had been something that he picked up over the past year really out of necessity since he lived alone now. Lizzie insisted it was important and helped him learn and he was better at it than he ever thought he would be.
After picking up the groceries from the store he picked up his phone to text her again.
Does 8pm work for you tonight?
I should be out of here by then so yes. I'll come by your place.
Sounds good. See you then.
I look forward to it.
Elliot smiled as he closed his phone. Around 7 he started to work on dinner. At 8:02 exactly she was at the door.
"Hey," she said in a low tone that showed a bit of shyness.
"Hey come on in."
She smiled and walked in the door. She stood in the walkway to his living room that had a view into his kitchen and stopped in her tracks.
"Yeah Chicken Parmesan. I hope that's ok."
"Umm…yeah that's perfect. I figured we were just going to order in."
"Sometimes having a home cooked meal is just what the doctor ordered."
"It smells amazing."
"It should be ready in just a few minutes. Wine?"
Olivia sat on the barstool watching Elliot maneuver around in the kitchen in awe. As much as she noticed how things were the same with them, the sight before her showed her how much had changed. Watching the ease that he moved around the kitchen and the small smile that played on his lips as he fixed her wine, made her relax.
She decided to go for it and ask a few of her questions.
"Yeah," he replied somewhat distracted.
"umm. Can I ask you a question?"
His back was still to her but he was awaiting the question. When she still hadn't asked it after a few moments he turned to her and leaned opposite her on the counter.
"What is it Liv?"
"Was..Was I the reason you got divorced?"she asked in a small voice with her eyes on the counter.
He reached across and placed his hand on her chin to force her to make eye contact with him.
"No Liv you weren't. I would've gotten divorced anyway. I don't know when or under what circumstances but it was bound to happen. We had been having problems for awhile and I think you know if it wasn't for Eli I would not have even gone back after she filed for divorce the first time."
"I'm serious." He came around the corner and stood in front of her as she continued to sit down. "I don't want you to think you did anything to cause any of the pain in my house. The pain came from me denying what I felt and not being able to handle a situation I put myself through."
"But the denying what you felt..that was about me right?" she asked nervously not meeting his eyes.
Elliot took a deep breath. He knew this was the moment that it was probably going to come up about how he felt.
"Yes it was," he said taking her hands. "But that's still not your fault. Like I said it wasn't just about the fact that I had feelings for you. Kathy and I fell out of love a while ago… it was even before I fell in love with you."
Olivia gasped at his words. Not knowing what to say next. His level of honesty was sobering.
"I just don't want Kathy and the kids to hate me," she said. It sounded like such a juvenile statement but she hoped he understood the deeper meaning behind her concern. If the kids hated her there would be little chance at their relationship being successful. She was getting ahead of herself because she didn't know if they would ever get to that level but she didn't want the situation with them whether it be friendship or more to be marred by any type of drama. Lord knows they had been through enough and she was not going to cause them any more pain.
"They don't hate you. Trust me. You saw how Lizzie reacted when she saw you. They all miss you being in their lives."
"What about Kathy?"
"I'm going to be honest. That I don't know. Does she hate you? No. And do I think you two will be going for walks in the park again anytime soon? Hell no," he said with a smirk and acknowledging the fact that he knew that her and Kathy had talked about him years before when Kathy asked for Olivia's help in getting him to sign the divorce papers.
"So you know about that hunh?"
"Do I even want to know in what context that conversation came up?"
"Probably not," he said heading back in the kitchen. "Dinner's ready. Have a seat on the couch and I'll bring everything over."
Olivia sat and removed her shoes while Elliot brought over the plates. She had just noticed that he had soft music playing in the background. She was very comfortable at his place.
"Ok. Here you go. Hope you like it. I have the pizza place on speed dial in case we need backup."
"I'm sure it's fine El."
"Ok, enough small talk. It's your turn."
"Yeah..that. Tell me about your last few years," he said taking a bite of his food.
She took a bite of hers as well.
"Oh my god El. This is actually delicious."
"Are you stalling?" he asked raising an eyebrow at her.
"No I swear. I'm just surprised."
"I didn't mean it like that."
"I know. You are just busting my chops. But seriously…start talking Benson."
"Ok…umm let's see where do I start?"
"At the beginning," he said mocking her same statement she told him the night before.
"Funny. Ok well. The beginning. When Cragen brought me in the office and told me you turned in your papers, I felt like I was having an out of body experience. With everything that we had been through, I never thought about the day you wouldn't be by my side everyday. I felt like a part of me died. I went in one of the interrogation rooms and sobbed uncontrollably," she said as she took a bite of her food.
The admission changed the atmosphere in the room. Instead of the light moments they had a few seconds prior that were filled with so much promise, the atmosphere was now filled with the weight of the story that was to come. And that was just the beginning…