Ava Cabot

Plunge Into Air

A Law and Order: SVU fic

Disclaimer: Dick Wolf and NBC own everything. All I've got is the plot.

Author's Note: No more flames about this chapter, okay? Read the rest of the story, and then judge if the entire thing is bad, or not.

~*~
Catch me as I fall,
Say you're here and it's all over now.
Speaking to the atmosphere,
No one's here and I fall into myself.
This truth drives me into madness,
I know I can stop the pain if I will it all away.

Evanescence: Whisper

~*~

The phone beside Olivia's bed was alive.

It rang incessantly, as she moaned and pushed a pillow over her head. The wall clock ticked four a.m. It was too early to be awake, even for her. Clock-out time today had only been two hours ago, when she'd left the station after Cragen couldn't hold the detectives anymore. They were working overtime, pulling eighteen hour days, getting just a few hours of sleep until they were all were called back to do it all over again.

The latest case was eating away at them. They had so few leads, and the evidence was literally disappearing. A girl had been found, asphyxiated, inside a hotel room. She was only seventeen, close to Maureen's age. Elliot was thrown into a tailspin when he saw the beautiful, blonde haired girl streaked with blood across her body. She looked like Maureen.

The word 'slut' covered her leg. Whoever did this was in it for revenge.

Olivia hated taking work home. Not that she had anyone to lay it on, though. Fin had his dog, and even Munch had someone. Smiling slightly, she remembered the numerous glances he often sent Alex's way.

And then there was Elliot.

He was a typical family cop, with a wife and four kids. Maureen, the oldest of the brood, was in college. Then came Kathleen, in high school, and the twins, Dickie and Elizabeth, both still in elementary school. She wasn't really the type to raise kids. Seeing Elliot's from time to time were the closest she ever came to normal children.

The others she knew were victims. Victims of sexual abuse, whether it was by a stranger, someone they knew, or even a member of their own family.

She didn't even have a pet to talk to in her apartment. What welcomed her at home was an empty silence, desolate and still. She envied Alex, the only other female she was close to in SVU. She knew that crazy old Munch was mad for Alex.

And whom did she have?

She had no family that she could speak of. She had her mother, dead now, but of no special purpose when she was growing up. Olivia saw the guilt in her mother's eyes whenever she looked at her. She didn't see a budding little girl. She saw the result of her rape, a memory locked in her nightmares forever. She saw the man's face in Olivia's, the same steely gaze that he used on her. She was a victim. She of a crazy man's rage, of a violent rape.

She sometimes wondered why her mother didn't abort her. The rape victims she knew usually aborted their babies, erasing the stain of their attacker forever. They never think about how the baby feels. Whether or not it wanted to live.

Her mother chose to let her live, and she could only thank God that she was still alive.

But then again, she wasn't a praying woman. She wasn't raised to be religious, and with the cases she saw everyday, it was hard to believe someone's looking out for all these victims and rapists.

The phone rang for the thirtieth time. She had been praying for it to stop. Clearly, God wasn't on the side of a non-believer. Whoever was calling wouldn't give up until she answered.

She threw the pillow aside, turning the answering machine on. Whoever was calling could leave a message. She wasn't ready to talk. For all she cared, they could leave a message, and she'd call them back in a few centuries.

'This is Olivia.'

'Leave a message.'

'I'll get back to you.'

'BEEP.'

"Liv?"

The voice was comfortingly familiar. The dark, husky voice of Elliot Stabler crackled through the ancient speakers of the machine. Immediately she perked—this wasn't some jackass trying to sell her life insurance or five credit cards.

She heard him sigh, disappointed that she refused to pick up the phone. "I guess you wouldn't be up now. With the hours we've been pulling, you and I could use a couple years of sleep." His chuckle was rich and deep. "If you are there, which I know you are, pick up the damn phone." He paused. "In case you have amnesia, this is Elliot."

"Benson," she said, snapping sleepily into the receiver.

"Oh good, you are there."

She ran a tired hand through her mussed hair. "It's four, Elliot. I fell asleep two hours ago. Let me sleep."

"I can't wait, Liv."

"Is something wrong with Kathy?"

"You might say so."

"Stop with the riddles."

"Well first of all, could you let me inside? It's at least twenty out here, and I'm in pajamas and an overcoat. My balding little head is freezing."

Olivia almost dropped the phone. What the hell was Elliot doing outside her apartment door? She didn't even think he knew where she lived.

But then she smacked her forehead. Of course he knew. He was her partner, since years ago, when she had joined the veteran cop as his new cohort in busting sexual crime. She knew where he lived in Queens. She probably knew Kathy's maiden name, Kathleen's allergies, and where Dickie and Elizabeth went to school.

"You die or something, Olivia?"

"If you want to come inside, come clean with the story. Why are you here?"

"Let me in and I'll tell you." She could hear his teeth chattering. Her heart knew it was freezing outside, and his hands were blue with cold. She didn't want him getting sick.

Reluctantly she grabbed a robe from the closet, throwing it on as she padded in slippers towards the door. Opening the door with the couch afghan in hand, a very numb Elliot Stabler hurried inside, his breath tangible in the night air. He hadn't been lying; he was dressed in baggy striped pajamas, his thick, brown overcoat barely covering his shivering body. She was surprised he wasn't turning blue.

"What the hell are you doing here?"

"Polite, aren't we?" Elliot accepted the afghan gratefully, throwing it over his snow-covered shoulders. The fallen flakes melted into small puddles on the floor, which she kindly ignored.

"Come on," she said, pulling him towards her tiny fireplace. "I'll light a fire, and get you some coffee."

"What, no asking if I'm okay?"

She turned on him. "Elliot, it's four in the morning. I'm tired, and you're out wandering in the snow. Tell me if I'm insane."

He shrugged. "I don't know, Liv. Are you insane? Can Huang prove that?"

She fingered the stray lining of her couch, sinking into the soft pillows. "Why are you here, Elliot?"

"Kathy served me the papers tonight."

Olivia sucked in a breath. "Divorce?"

He nodded slowly, holding his head with one hand. "I think she's serious." He paused. "I can't believe it's finally happened. I never thought I'd lose Kathy or the kids."

"She wants full custody?"

"I don't know. She says I'm not a good father, coming home in the dead hours of night, not even going to school meetings, soccer games, or God knows what else."

"You were always there for your kids, Elliot."

"I thought I was. But according to Kathy and the lawyer, I'm not."

"Do you want to save the marriage? There's always counseling..." Olivia trailed off. An ache inside her began to spread, and she knew it wasn't because of fatigue. A guilty hole settled in her stomach, as she knew that deep inside, she didn't want Elliot's marriage to be saved. She had offered vague marital advice for so long without effect, that she was almost sick of trying to solve the problems that plagued Elliot.

She wanted Kathy to be out of the picture. She wanted Elliot all to herself, for all the selfish and avaricious reasons she'd never admit.

"I'm sorry."

Elliot's laugh was short and hard. "My marriage is gone, and that's all you can say?"

Her voice became defensive. "I've never been married, neverless been in a relationship more than two dates. You really think I know what you're going through? Geez, Elliot. If you want marriage advice, go to Cragen. Even Alex and Munch know more about love then I do. Hell, Fin and his dog are closer than I'll ever be to a guy."

"Sorry, Liv."

She smiled. "I insult you, and you're sorry? I should be apologizing. I am sorry that you couldn't work it out with Kathy. She's not a bad person. Don't blame her for everything."

"Stop protecting my wife."

"So, you want me to call Kathy a self-absorbent, egotistical bitch?"

"You are a piece of work, Olivia Benson."

"It keeps me alive."

"I still can't believe it's over. Just a week ago, I was making promises to be home by nine. To at least tuck Dickie and Lizzie in bed. Help Kathleen with her late-night homework, and keep Maureen out of trouble. Guess Kathy was right---I'm not a great father."

Tentatively, she touched his shoulder. "You are a good father. You're there for the kids, in your own way. You bring home the check that keeps them warm in a house, safe at night, and without an empty stomach. That's more than most of the losers we pick up on the streets, raping or killing their children. I don't see any scars on your children."

"Not all scars are visible."

"They aren't emotionally or physically damaged. Any doctor or shrink would agree with that."

"My kids never saw me. I wouldn't be surprised if their friends thought I'd abandoned the family. Whenever people were over, I was never there. Instead, I was out catching some perp."

"You were doing your job. The work we do isn't exactly nine-to-five. It's more like eight-to-two." She stopped. "In the morning."

"I guess you're right."

"You know I am."

He shrugged. "I don't know whose right anymore. Is Kathy right for wanting to divorce me? Am I right for ignoring my kids all these years? Am I even right coming over here at four in the morning, and bothering you?"

"I'm your partner. I'm supposed to be there for you."

The words hung in the air, as Elliot gratefully sipped the steaming mug of coffee offered. He shifted, watching the steam curl from his cup.

"I hate shoving all my problems on you, that's all. No one likes to haul the job around at home, and according to Kathy, that's exactly what I've been doing."

"It's hard not to drag cop life home. Eventually, you start seeing everyone around you as a potential victim. It eats away at your soul, knowing that some perp could get them."

"Took the words right out of my mouth."

Olivia smiled. "Just call me psychic."

"You and Huang should be partners. I could see you counseling people, instead of arresting and reading their rights."

"What rights? Everyone knows that a criminal deserves absolutely nothing."

"Standard procedures, Liv. You know that as well as I do."

"I hate reading rights. It makes me feel like I'm giving them false hope. False hope that they'll get off for whatever sick crime they committed. People who sodomize children and rape defenseless women don't deserve a fair trial." Olivia's voice was bitter, each word filled with acid and a touch of vengeance. "They just don't."

"I know you have a vendetta against sex offenders. Your mother was a victim. But don't try to atone for what happened with each rape survivor you see."

Olivia slammed her cup down. "You're the one with a problem, Elliot. Stop trying to solve mine."

"I just care about your sanity, that's all. Don't get mad for that."

"My mother is dead, and I never caught her rapist." She paused. "My father."

He touched her hand. "None of that is your fault."

She sniffed. "Ironic, isn't it? You trying to help me instead of the other way around. As far as you know, your marriage is gone. Me, I'm still dealing with a cold, thirty-year case. The evidence is long dead, and the only witness is rolling in her grave." Running a hand through her hair, she snorted. "She would have laughed to see what I've become. A SVU cop, hunting the very people who made me."

"You're a good cop. Any victim you helped could tell you that."

"I've lost track of them."

His hand moved to her face. "I could have told you that."

Her dark eyes widened. Her body froze despite the heat radiating from the crackling fire. In her mind, she knew where this was going.

But she couldn't stop herself.

A wry smile crept across her face. "And why is that?"

His hand lingered on her cheek. "You're not the only one with demons, Liv."

Beside them, a log cracked into oblivion. Sparks showered down the fireplace, bathing Elliot's face aglow.

"There's another reason for the divorce, isn't there?"

She could hear him groan from the question. Gently, he trailed a lone finger down her chin, beside her neck, resting on her shoulder.

"You're involved in this."

Her breath caught. "How?"

"Kathy thinks I had an affair."

"With me?"

"Yes."

"Why? Just because I'm your partner?"

"Don't be so naïve, Liv."

"What are you talking about, Elliot? Yes, we work together. That does not mean that we. . .we sleep together."

"According to Kathy, it does."

"Working with me means a lot of things to Kathy, apparently," she said sarcastically. "So, Elliot? Are we having an affair?"

He paused, the firelight flickering in his eyes. "We're pretty much joined at the hip, Liv. Psychologically, I can't verify." He tapped his head. "A lot goes in here."

Her voice was soft. "Answer the question, Detective."

Elliot stopped. "You're serious?" he replied.

She nodded slowly. "Do you think about me instead of Kathy?"

"Yes."

Time seemed to stand still. The fire stopped crackling, and the snow outside stopped falling.

"Mon Dieu," she murmured, breaking away from him.

"French?"

"It means, 'My God'," she muttered.

"You're mad, aren't you?"

She glared at him. "What do you think I am? Ecstatic? Knowing I'm the reason that you're marriage is gone really makes me feel better, Elliot."

"I just came here for some advice. I didn't mean to say all this."

"Well you did."

"I can leave now, you know."

"Fine." She stood, in defiance of the hurt look on his face. Reluctantly he wrapped his hand around her arm, pulling her beside him. She sat, but refused to look at him.

"Don't be like this, Liv."

"Be like what?" Her voice was childish, almost whiny in tone. She was acting like a spoiled teenager and hated it.

"I love you, Liv."

"Mon Dieu, aide-moi," she muttered.

He smiled. "More French?"

She nodded. "My mother used to speak it when she was alone...or thought she was. She usually just ignored me."

"Because you reminded her of the rapist?"

"Because I looked her rapist." She smiled back at him. "Stay out of my mind, Elliot. It isn't a nice place to linger."

He pulled her closer. "I'll take that chance."

The touch of his hand made her shiver. She closed her eyes, knowing that God, Cragen, even Kathy and her mother were probably watching now. And they were frowning.

She knew what they were doing was wrong. Elliot would be a married man, technically for many more months. Cop divorces were never smooth. To be with him would be call for charges of unlawful sexual relations with a married man.

An affair that could scar her record for life.

Was Elliot worth all of that?

His face was close to hers---She could count every single eyelash, every piece of dark stubble on his face. He held her chin gently, and she knew he wasn't ready to let go.

His breaths were soft and warm, and when he kissed her, she could taste the coffee in his mouth. The rock in her stomach was shoved away, as she waged an internal battle with her conscience and heart.

Her heart must have been better at fighting, because her conscience wasn't putting up a fight.

"I love you, Olivia," he said softly, cupping her face in his hand. "Don't ever forget that."

She fell back on the couch, letting him run his hands down her body, hugging it close to him. She felt the icy chill flee from her body with every touch; she wasn't so cold anymore.

Whatever bit of good conscience she had left was stomped on, as she plunged into the point of no return. The plunge into a deep, dark affair where there would be causalities, victims, and two people who would ignore everything else to be together. Someone would always suffer.

All she could do now was plunge into air, and only pray Elliot would be there to save her.

~*~

A/N 2: any more mistakes aren't worth pointing out. Now keep reading, and then judge if the fic is bad or not.

Mon Dieu: My God

Mon Dieu, aide-moi: My God, help me.