I was listening to the radio when I heard this song and it reminded me instantly of Kathy. So I decided to turn it into a one-shot fanfic, and because I still feel kind of guilty about how I portrayed her in my other story. I decided to try and make her not seem so bad. This is a Lee Ann Womack song called "He Oughta Know That By Now." And this is my first song-fic,one-shot, so I hope you like it!

He Oughta Know That By Now

Tracing her hand down the pattern engraved into the stair railing, Kathy sauntered down to the foot of the stairs and scanned her eyes over the place she'd called home for the past decade or so. She adjusted the strap of the suitcase hanging from her shoulder, the last of the few she'd packed. Her vision rested on the picture frames sitting on the mantle. The first was of Maureen as a baby, giggling and rolling around in her crib, barely a year old. The next was a professional portrait of all four of her kids taken only a couple years ago. Maureen and Kathleen sat in the middle, facing outwards with big grins on their faces as they wrapped their arms around the shoulders of Dickie and Elizabeth.

She felt a rare and genuine smile creep onto her face as she brushed her fingertips across the glass, letting them linger on each of her children's faces. They reminded her of a happier time, back when they'd still resembled a normal family. Lately, that happiness was merely a façade for the truth, the real problem.

I guess he's working late again
I don't need to wonder where he is
But I do
He oughta know that by now

In the past few years, she'd slowly watched her marriage with Elliot crumble under the strain of their daily lives. Between Elliot's late nights at work and her having to take care of the kids and the house, they barely saw each other aside from the occasional times Kathy awoke to see her husband sneaking into their bedroom well after mid-night.

Turning away from the memories, she faced the middle of the living room. The red blinking of the light on the answering machine caught her eye, informing her of a voice mail message. As she pressed the play button, she already knew what it would say.

"Hey Kath, it's El. Just calling to let you know I'll be home late again. Liv and I are working late on a case. Kiss the kids goodnight for me. See you later."

I know his job takes a lot of him
There's not much left for him to give
But I need more
He oughta know that by now

Of course, working late again as he did every night. Kathy shook her head and tried to release the bitterness of her thoughts. It wasn't Elliot's fault that his job took so much of his time. He was doing what was necessary to provide for her and their children. Coming again to that realization brought about a fresh wave of guilt over her. Knowing that only made her actions that much harder to carry out.

Leaving her husband was a last resort, a terrible solution to an irreversible and undeniable problem. There had never been a moment in their eighteen years of marriage in which Kathy had not loved him with all her heart. She loved him more than life itself, but sometimes, love just wasn't enough. How long could a relationship last between two people who couldn't remember the last time they'd held each other in their arms and shared a real, passionate kiss? You can't hold something you never see.

It's not like he's gotta read my mind
To know what I'm feeling after all this time
It's just too hard to hold onto what is never around
He oughta know that by now

It wasn't as if they had just given up on each other without a struggle. Elliot had tried to work things out numerous times. Last summer he'd somehow managed to enroll all four kids in a separate, week-long camp that each pertained to their individual interests, all without her knowledge. Then he planned this huge romantic getaway to her favorite spot, a private beach that she spent every summer at with her parents when she was younger. They hadn't been there more than a few hours before Elliot was called back to work a high-profile case. He promised to make it up, that they'd come back next month and stay as long as she wanted. A nice thought, but unrealistic and near impossible to keep.

He used to promise that soon things would change
But it's been years and it's still the same
And it hurts
He oughta know that by now

The high-pitched beeping of the machine snapped Kathy back to reality, making her aware of the tears slipping down her cheeks. Running an open palm under her eyes, she shoved them away and deleted the message.

Standing in the front doorway, she took in one final glance of the living room. A soft sigh parted her lips as her hand slipped over the doorknob. Trying to remain composed, she took a deep breath pulled the door shut behind her. As she descended the front stoop, she was acutely aware of the pairs of eyes following her. Kathleen, Elizabeth, and Dickie were waiting in the car for her, having already packed their suitcases and duffel bags in the trunk. Looking into the windows, she noticed that Dickie was missing.

"Kathleen, where's Dickie?" After Maureen had left for college, Kathleen had stepped up to become the over-seer of the twins. It was a position she was slowly growing accustomed to, and was needed now more than ever.

"He's in his room," she spoke with a cold hollowness, locking her suffering and spiteful eyes onto her mother's. Her children's bitterness towards her was something she'd been expecting, but not all pain that accompanied it. Ripping them from their father and house wasn't fair, but neither was raising them in a broken home.

I've grown so used to being alone
Couldn't be much worse if I were gone
And in a way I am
He oughta know that by now

Kathy just forced a minuscule smile onto her lips as she set down the suitcase onto the sidewalk so that she could retrieve her son. He had been fighting through this whole nightmare with such a fervor. Being Elliot's only son, they had a bond that nothing could compare to. She just couldn't help but wonder in sorrow if Dickie would ever be able to forgive her for this.

"Honey?" She rapped her knuckles against the door frame of his room as she poked her head in. Kathy found Dickie sitting on his unmade bed with his legs crossed and the blue sheets strewn around him. In his hands he clutched a plaque that held a photograph and a baseball. Last year his baseball team had remained undefeated throughout the entire season, eventually tying for first with a team with a matching status.

It was the classic movie ending setup. It was the last inning and Dickie's team was down by three runs. There were two outs, the bases loaded, and Dickie was up to bat. He was a nervous wreck, swinging and missing the first two pitches lobbed at him. That was when Elliot called a time out and pulled him over to the side. After a quick pep talk, he shoved him back into the game with a newfound confidence. Dickie sent the next ball soaring over the heads of the outfields, right over the fence, earning him a grand slam and the name of team MVP. The photo was of an elated Dickie sitting on Elliot's proud shoulders, the two of them surrounded by his cheering teammates.

It's not like he's gotta read my mind
To know what I'm feeling after all this time
It's just too hard to hold onto what is never around
He oughta know that by now

"Honey?" Kathy repeated and knocked again, waiting for a response.

"Coming Mom." He held the plaque in his hands for another second before packing it into the duffel bag next to him. He placidly zipped it up and tossed the shoulder strap onto his arm. Dickie never met his mother's eyes as he slid past her out into the hallway. Guilt tugging at her heart suddenly made her speak up again.

"I love you Dickie," she called to him, amazed that he stopped at the top of the stairs. He slowly turned his head back towards his mother and met her gaze. There were tears glittering in his blue eyes, exact replicas of his father's.

He shrugged disconsolately and blinked away the wetness threatening to fall from his eyes. "Yeah."

Heartache and coffee at mid-night motel
Leaving him was hard as hell
But I did
He oughta know that by now

Kathy bit her lip and felt a stray teardrop slip down her cheek as her son disappeared down the staircase. She wished for more than anything that she could turn back time and change this, change everything. She wanted to be able to wave a magic wand around and make their lives perfect again. Or wake up to find that all this had just been a horrible nightmare. But she wasn't asleep, and this wasn't a dream, but reality.

The soft glow of a lamp caught her attention as she entered the living room again. Reaching her hand up to shut it off, the light reflected off of the diamond wedding ring on her finger. A sob caught in her throat as she brought her hand back to her chest, cradling it with the other one. Slipping her finger and thumb over the gold band, she lightly tugged, feeling a piece of her leave with the ring as she completely removed it.

She wasn't even aware of the tears freely flowing down her face as she rolled it between her fingers.

I didn't try to explain
No good-bye underneath my ring
That was all I left
He oughta know that by now

Placing the glittering ring down against the oak table, next to the phone receiver, she whispered something so softly that it would never meet anyone's ears but her own. "I never stopped loving you Elliot Stabler. Forever, and always…"

That was all I left
He oughta know that by now