Chapter 11

Elliot reluctantly drifted towards consciousness. Due to many late nights at work, it had been forever since he had been able to just lay in bed wrapped up with Kathy.

"Wrapped up with Kathy?" His mind questioned. There were a few minor problems with this current train of thought. First being that after 20 years of marriage he knew the shape of Kathy's body and this wasn't quite right. The second was that Kathy ran like a furnace. He or actually they could only be this close for a short time before they separated for cooler spots on the bed. Separated. That brings up point three and the most important. He and Kathy were separated and she had filed for divorce.

"So the question is… whose body are you currently wrapped around?" He felt the body start to move, "do I really want to know who this is, 'cause I know where I was last night." His worst fear was confirmed when he heard Olivia gasp out his name. Elliot rolled away from her so fast that he ended up in a heap on the floor. He noticed a slight look of confusion come across Olivia's face. She then looked under the covers at herself. The look of confusion deepened. Elliot looked down and realized he was still wearing his boxers. Now it was his turn to be confused. He picked himself up off the floor and tentatively sat back on the bed. Olivia was now sitting up clutching the blankets to her chest but he could see that she still had panties on.

"El, what the hell happened last night?"

"Don't ask me. I left you passed out on the couch. I figured you wouldn't mind if I slept it off here so I borrowed your bed."

Olivia vigorously rubbed her temples trying to remember how they might have ended up like this. When she looked over at the floor she noticed her clothes from the night before scattered haphazardly on the floor. Her first instinct, born from the years with her mother, was to dive off the bed and get them picked up. She was able to quash the urge deciding that it would only add to the awkward situation. Once that was settled, she remembered waking up on the couch…

"What's so funny?" Elliot asked. He was now feeling really confused now that she was not only laughing, but blushing too.

"Um, I remember how I ended up here." She drew the blankets tighter around her.

"It sounds like a good story. Mind filling me in?"

Her blush deepened before she began. "I remember waking up on the couch. I was just glad I was home alone, or so I thought. I got a bottle of water out of the fridge and went to get changed for bed. Um…only I was apparently still very drunk, because I remember having a great deal of difficulty getting my clothes off so I could get my pajamas on. I think I even got lost in my shirt for a couple of minutes. I thought the skirt would have been smooth sailing… but I fell. Twice."

"Twice?" Laughed Elliot.

"Yeah well it had my feet hostage by then. You must have been pretty drunk too 'cause one of those times was part way on the bed."

"Well…yeah…maybe," Elliot grudgingly agreed, humbling a little.

"Well things just went from very bad to oh my God," explained Olivia as she recalled her mishaps of the night before. "After I pulled myself up off the floor, I spent the next several minutes trying to find the buckle of my bra only to discover that I had left it in the front. After all of that I just thought screw it. I could be hung by my pajamas, so I just got into bed as is."

"You otta do stand up Liv." Elliot said, wiping his eyes.

"Did you leave your car at the bar?"

"No, why?"

"How did we get here if we were both that drunk?"

"Oh, you don't remember?" He asked trying not to sound relieved.

"Other than that little tid bit I just shared with you, which, by the way, I will shoot you if you tell Munch and Fin, I only remember a small amount from last night."

"I wasn't drunk when we left the bar. Not until we got here."

"I drank more when I got here?"

"Just a little, you were on a mission last night."

"Um…was I difficult…to get to leave…um…alone."

"Alone, what do you mean, you had me."

"Um…I seem to remember…uh…a kiss?"

"Yeah, I kinda walked out of the bathroom into that."

"Oh God, I was hoping that I was wrong," moaned Olivia thinking she had repeated the mistake that she had made with Cassidy.

He could see she was beating herself up over it and decided to put her out of her misery. "Not to worry partner, I had your back. Literally." He gestured to the bed. They both started laughing. "You didn't need me though."

"What?"

"You stopped him."

"I did?"

"Broke his heart Liv."

Previous night at O'Malley's

Elliot found himself once again interloping in Olivia's private life. The question on the table now was… how far should he go now? Did he make it a point to go out there and interrupt them and get Olivia out of there, or did he do the non-father type thing and just leave her alone. After all she wasn't one of his daughters and she was an adult. But then again she was drunk which made her vulnerable. He made up his mind to just try and sneak past. He peeked out the door to see Dean pressing Olivia up against the wall. He thought he could get through without being noticed when Olivia pulled away from Dean.

Olivia felt herself getting more and more lost in the situation until Dean pressed her up against the wall. Her back screamed out in pain, clearing her head for a critical moment. "Whoa Dean! Wait."

"What's the matter? I though we had this settled." He pressed back into her, finding her neck with his lips.

She took his face in her hands, "Look, this is great and I am finding it very difficult to say no…"

"Well then don't say it."

"Dean, you know my job and what I see."

"I am not a child Olivia, I am of age. Old enough to get into this bar as a matter of fact."

"I know, but not old enough. Anything that would happen tonight wouldn't be for the right reason."

"You can change that if you want," he said starting to get a little hostile.

Elliot, meanwhile, continued to listen in, to make sure that things didn't get out of hand with Officer Mathews. "This is getting to be a bad habit Stabler."

"Yeah I can. But that is not the type of decision I am going to make drunk. I am so drunk tonight that chances are I am not even going to remember most of what has gone on here. Is that what your looking for, because you're about as drunk as I am. Maybe that is what you want. For me not to remember this so that you can just sneak out in the morning. A quick fuck and you're done?"

"No, that's not what I want. I just really like you," He sighed defeated.

"I know, but all I'm looking for right now is an escape from all the bullshit. I don't want you to be just an escape. I like you too, but I can't do this right now."

"I understand. I think it's time for me to go home," he smiled weakly.

Olivia gave him a small kiss on the cheek, "thank you for understanding. Take care."

She watched from the hallway until he left before making her way back to the table. Elliot waited a couple of minutes longer before he followed.

"Hey I thought you fell in or something," Fin smirked when Elliot returned.

"What?" Olivia panicked.

"Don't mind him. Cragen leave already?" Elliot asked, quickly changing the topic.

"Yeah, him and O'Brien left about ten minute ago, and a very sad looking Mathews just a minute ago." Munch offered.

"And now I think it's my turn," Olivia said going for her coat.

"Hey why don't I give you a ride home? I was just thinking about heading out too," Elliot asked as he grabbed his coat and followed her out.

"Sure, save me cab fare."

Olivia's apartment

"I told you it was a good idea for me to walk you up to your apartment; you can't even get your key in the lock." Elliot opened the door and walked Olivia into her apartment.

"I'm sure I would have got it eventually," she giggled. "You want a beer El?"

"You really think you should be…"

"Uh, uh, uh. I have had a very long week, and I don't have to be at work tomorrow. You can either join me or you can go home." She pulled two beers out of the refrigerator, opened them and held one out to Elliot. Unfortunately she dropped the bottle before he could take it. "Oh God, I'm sorry, it was an accident." She dove for a dishtowel to wipe it up.

"Here let me help you." As he reached over her head to grab another towel, she flinched. "Hey, it's OK. We're good as long as you have another beer in the fridge," soothed Elliot. They finished getting the mess cleaned up and while Olivia disposed of the wet towels, Elliot helped himself to a beer. "Geez Liv, why do you have a 24 pack in your fridge?"

"You know, I'm not sure, I went shopping last week when I was really tired and ended up with some of the strangest things." She sat down on the couch and flipped on the TV.

"I've done that once or twice. Kathy used to get so pissed cause the kids always took great advantage of those situations," Elliot said as he looked down at the unmarred wood coffee table.

"My mother would have killed me if I had ever pulled anything like that." She got up to get a second beer.

"My dad too. He would have also kicked my ass, literally, if I would have set anything on a table that looked like this," Elliot agreed.

"I won't say a word if you help me take off with my shoes. I seem to be having a coordination problem," she sighed, giving up her struggle with her shoes.

Elliot noticed that there was another bottle of beer in front of him, so he slipped coasters under all the bottles then helped Olivia off with her shoes.

"You've said that your dad never approved of anything you did, but you never said he was abusive."

"Yeah, you know, I guess I just never really admitted it to myself." Elliot didn't particularly want to talk about it, but he would if it got her talking. He was also pretty sure she was drunk enough that she wouldn't remember that he had manipulated it out of her. "He wasn't too bad. He smacked me upside the head once for dropping a bottle of beer that he had asked me to get for him. His big thing was crying. It would set him off."

"That's hard. You have a parent that tells you it's wrong to cry, and then you've got society telling you that crying is a sign of weakness, if you're male."

Elliot could see a distant look come into Olivia's eyes and knew that she was remembering something. He realized that this was his chance to get her to finally open up and talk about her past so decided to keep pushing. "You're mom have a problem with you crying?"

"Sometimes. Sometimes I think it made her feel good to hear it. To think she was hurting me as much as she was hurt." Olivia once again got up to get another beer, but she was having difficulty walking. "You need to catch up you wuss," she said to Elliot. His second beer was hardly touched.

"Yes Ma'am. But I want the remote." He chugged down his beer in a few swallows.

"Well done, I guess the remote is yours." There was a distinctive slur in her voice, "no porno though."

Elliot was feeling the buzz of drinking down the last beer so quickly, "oh so I had to put on a little show to get the remote but now you're put restrictions on me?"

"Just find something to watch Stabler," she said stifling a giggle.

"You ever dodge an incoming hit? I did a couple of times. I thought my dad was going to blow a gasket. Not only did I still get smacked but I got grounded on top of it," Elliot said, hoping he could persuade Olivia into talking about her childhood again.

"I only did that once. I was about 12 or 13. I made the mistake of doing it in front of one of her 'guests'." She made quotation marks in the air. "If there was one absolute about Serena, it was that you didn't cross her in front of anybody. They were both so drunk. I don't even remember his name. She probably didn't even know it either. She was so pissed at me because I tried to sneak into the kitchen to get something to eat. I wasn't allowed out of my bedroom while she had company. But he had been there since the night before and I hadn't eaten all day. She yelled at me and swung and I dodged. Next thing I know is that I am getting hit from another side. The guy started screaming about disrespect and that I needed to be taught a lesson. He spun around and my mom backhanded me across the face. She wore a pear cut ring on her hand that caught me in the corner of my eye. Ripped it open. Then the guy hit me again. I was pinned between the two of them. The next thing I knew was I woke up in the hospital. There was a cop waiting to talk to me. I remember him asking if I remembered anything about the mugging. I told him I couldn't remember anything. He said he wasn't surprised since I had a skull fracture, three broken ribs, four stitches near my eye and several bruises. My mom had told them that she had opened the door to find me in this condition. She said that I had said that I had been attacked by two guys for my purse and back pack."

It was now Elliot's turn to take a long swig of beer. After the third time of going through the guide he surrendered, "There is nothing on, Liv. Got any movies?"

"A few, what do you like to watch?"

He thought for a minute before answering. "Tell you what Liv, I'll get us the next round and raid your cupboards for some snacks and you put in your favorite movie."

"Really?" She arched an eyebrow at him. He nodded back. "Okay. Snacks are in the cupboard to the right of the stove and dips are in the fridge."

Elliot came back juggling a couple of bags of chips, dip and four bottles of beer.

"Two each this time?"

"Less getting up, and now you're the one falling behind." He gestured to the bottle that was still about a third full. She obediently finished off her beer while starting the movie. "Sleepy Hollow? You favorite movie is a cartoon?"

"What? No, it's not a cartoon. You are such a dad. This is the version with Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci. Its 'R' rated for violent content."

It made Elliot smile to hear her refer to him as being a dad. He didn't feel like much of one lately, but it felt good to know that she still thought he was one. "Oh. I thought I was going to have to cut you off in your own house."

"You aren't big enough, Stabler," Olivia assured him.

"Maybe not, but I still have my hand cuffs," teased Elliot

"Just watch the damn movie," Olivia replied laughingly.

They were about a half an hour into the movie when Elliot interrupted, "hey Liv, why don't you have any pictures around?"

"I do. Just open your eyes," said Olivia without turning away from the movie.

"Not those kind of pictures, personal photographs. You don't even have your academy picture. Most cops I know have their academy graduation picture up somewhere."

"I don't like it." Olivia replied said curtly and tried to go back to her movie.

"Why not?" Asked Elliot, undaunted by her abruptness.

"I just don't, okay," snapped Olivia

"Tell me why not," persuaded Elliot.

"Fine. After the ceremony had ended I went to find my mother, but she wasn't where I had last seen her. One of my instructors from the academy came and found me and told me where she was. She had staggered off and passed out. When I sat her up I saw that she had gotten sick down the front of her dress. He helped me carry her out to the car in front of my graduating class."

"Sorry. Where were your grandparents?"

"My mother severed contact with them when she was 17. She was ashamed of them because they were really poor, and from what I understand deeply unhappy about their daughter's drinking habit. Simone researched it for me when I was about 16. They were already dead. No other relatives. Both only children."

"What about pictures of you when you were little?"

"Don't have any really. A few. Mom didn't really want any pictures of me around."

"Why not?"

"Would you want a reminder of the second worst day of your life? She had to live with me - why would she want to photos?"

"Second worst? What was the worst?"

"She said that the rape became the second worst day of her life the day I was born and she found out that I looked just like her attacker."

Elliot couldn't think of anything say that didn't sound cliché or lame so instead he asked, "another round partner?"

"Sounds good." She watched him sway as he stood up. "I think you should stay here tonight. You're in no condition to drive. I'm going to get you a blanket and pillow while you get the beers." Unfortunately, Olivia found her ability to walk had become severely impaired in the last hour and she smacked her shoulder on the doorframe going into her bedroom. "Dammit, that hurt."

Elliot appeared in the doorway. "You okay, Liv?"

"Yeah, I'm fine; it's just that somebody shifted the doorframe as I was going in."

"Shifted the doorframe? You're just…" However his observations were interrupted as he stumbled on the carpeting. He looked at the floor to see if anything was there, when he saw that there was nothing he looked over at Olivia.

She shrugged her shoulders, "vicious air molecules maybe?" She asked innocently.

"Very funny." He helped her pull down a blanket from the top of her closet. She told him to grab a pillow off of her bed where he noticed the pink panther, "you don't strike me as a stuffed animal kind of girl."

"I'm not…really. I don't know why I still have that thing. It was a birthday present when I was five."

"From your mother?" He asked shocked.

"No, from some neighbors."

"The Nelsons'?"

Olivia felt like somebody had just poured ice water on her, "how did you know that?"

"You talked about them when you were in the hospital. I gathered your mom was not too fond of them." They had settled back on the couch again.

"Not at all. It pissed her off that they gave me a cup cake and a present for my birthday. Then they called the cops when they found a bruise on my shoulder one day. She shook me then smashed me up against the wall. Another time gap in my life. By the time I was well enough to be up and around again, they had moved out."

"I can see an abuser being pissed off at someone who turns them in, but why was she mad that they gave you a present and a cup cake. Did it interfere with what she was doing?"

"No, Serena didn't do birthdays. Well let me clarify that, she didn't do my birthdays, too much of a reminder. Her birthdays on the other hand, she had demands."

"What kind of demands?"

"Mostly it was to take care of yourself for a few days while mommy goes out, but one year she requested a gift," replied Olivia nonchalantly.

"What did she want?"

"John the Baptists head on a platter." She laughed at her own inside joke.

Elliot was feeling sick to his stomach and he was pretty sure it wasn't the beer but he needed to hear this, "what are you talking about?"

"Well I guess it was my head on a platter. I was eleven. I had been doing odd jobs around the neighborhood to earn some money so I asked mom what she wanted for her birthday. After a few minutes she told me that the best present that I could give her was freedom from her pain." Olivia stared at some unseen point in the distance as a tear, unnoticed, slid down her cheek. "I asked her what she meant and she said that she could give me something to take that would put me to sleep and I wouldn't wake up. She said that if she didn't have to see me every day, she wouldn't remember the hurt anymore. Then she told me that she could truly love me then because I did this wonderful thing for her. She said that she would give me a beautiful funeral with lots of flowers and she would visit my grave to leave more flowers. She went to her room and brought out a bottle of sleeping pills and a bottle of vodka. She told me that she was going out the night of her birthday and that if I took a whole bunch of pills with the vodka it would do the trick. She told me to be sure to write a note saying that I was too sad to live anymore. She'd call the police in the morning and tell them I committed suicide." A few more tears escaped from the corners of her eyes, but Olivia ignored them.

"On the day of her birthday I got home from school and wrote the note saying I wanted to die. Serena was already gone by that time. I got a glass and went up to my room. I don't know how long I sat there crying and trying to get up the nerve to take the pills but it was too long. She must have gotten kicked out of the bar because it was still light when she got home. I shut off my light and poured some of the vodka into the glass and got a handful of pills. I was just about to take them when I heard her kind of scream and then a couple of loud thuds. I ran out of my room to find her at the bottom of the stairs. She was unconscious and her leg was twisted at an odd angle. I called an ambulance. Since I didn't have anybody to stay with, they took me to the hospital too until they could figure out what to do. I made myself scarce while they took mom into surgery to fix her leg so they wouldn't make me leave. When I reappeared a nurse let me sit in with her until she woke up from the anesthetic. I heard some of the people talking and they were saying that her blood alcohol level was almost four times the legal limit." Tears were falling more freely by now but her voice was devoid of any emotion as she continued on.

"I remember the look on her face when she woke up. She was a little confused at first then she rolled her head towards me. She was so disappointed. She told me that she had only ever asked me for one thing in my miserable life and I couldn't even give that to her. It was a week before she would even talk to me." Olivia's body shivered, cold, with the emotions that had been awakened and now coursed violently through her body.

"Why didn't you leave when she came at you with the broken bottle?" He cringed realizing his mistake too late but Olivia didn't seem to notice.

"Who would have taken care of her? She had no one."

"She was the adult, you weren't. She could have taken care of herself."

"Look what happened when I got too busy with work to keep an eye on her."

"You think it's your fault that she fell down those steps?"

Olivia just shrugged her shoulders. They both grew silent. The next time Elliot looked over Olivia was passed out. He finished the last three beers in the case while watching the end of the movie. He knew he was too drunk to carry Olivia to her bed so he stretched her out on the couch and covered her up with a blanket. He went into her room and looked at the pink panther again. It had a tag on it that read 'From: May and Nathan, To: Ms. Olivia.' He stripped down to his boxers and crawled into bed with an idea forming in his head.