Disclaimer: I do not own Law and Order: SVU. It belongs to a genius named Dick Wolf. No profit is being made from this story.
Elliot made no move toward the box, so Olivia leaned around him, sliding her hands under the bed. Her hands hit the hard plastic, and she gripped the edges to pull it out.
Once the box was in the open, she flipped the top off. She looked up and saw that Elliot's hands were shaking. Pausing, she reached over and took one of them in hers, squeezing firmly. His eyes squeezed shut for a moment, and he forced himself not to get up and bolt.
When he opened them, he realized she had stopped and was watching him.
"You ready?" she asked quietly.
Fuck no! his brain screamed. He attempted to swallow the golf ball-sized lump in his throat and failed. He nodded curtly.
She eyed him worriedly, but continued. Reaching down into the box, she pulled out the first object that her hands hit, which happened to be a stack of photos. She took them out and set them on her lap, sliding the rubber band off.
Elliot squeezed his eyes shut as she began examining each one. The image captured on glossy paper did no justice for the actual experience….the real images would be forever engrained in his memory.
Don grabbed his gun quickly before running out the door. Elliot dashed after him a few seconds later. Marge shouted at him to stay, but he ignored her. The cold air pierced his face as he flew off of the front stoop towards Jessie's house.
He burst through the back door and through to the kitchen, careening right into Don. He was standing in the entryway with his gun drawn, searching the room warily. He jumped when he felt Elliot plow into him, and quickly shifted his gun aim down to avoid any accidents.
"Go back to my house, now!" he snapped urgently.
His eyes suddenly flew to the body of the young woman lying on the floor. He instantly turned around and grabbed Elliot by the shoulders, planting his body in front of the boy to shield him from the sight. But it did no good.
"Mom!" he shrieked, leaping out of his hold. He jumped around him and ran into the kitchen, sliding to the floor beside her. Her long hair hung limply around her, the crystal blue eyes now glassy and unseeing. There was so much blood around her body that it flowed into the cracks in the tiled floor.
Elliot screamed in agony, throwing himself down on top of her. The blood soaking the front of her shirt quickly seeped onto him, but he didn't feel it. He flung his arms around her middle and began shaking her.
"Mommy!" he screamed hysterically. His voice cracked, and he started shaking. "No, mommy…wake up, please wake up!" He started sobbing and crawled on top of her, pressing his head against her chest.
It took three officers to pry the child away from her body. He screamed and fought them every step of the way, sobbing like crazy. They finally had to capture his hands and feet and literally peel him off of her.
Olivia felt her stomach twisting as she viewed them. Every gruesome detail was captured on film- the bloodied kitchen cabinets, a flower vase that had been smashed on the countertop, a chair flipped over next a small dining room table.
She heard in her mind the sound of Elle Sanford's desperate screams….imagined Elliot standing there watching the whole thing…tasted the fear in both of their mouths as William Sanford ravaged around them. She kept flipping through in a robotic fashion, her eyes too glassy to really see what they were.
When she got to a photograph of Elle Sanford's lifeless body, sprawled listlessly on the floor like a limp dishtowel, she felt her stomach heave. Quickly, she threw the photographs aside, not wanting to see anymore. Her eyes slid closed as she tried to erase the images from her mind.
The sound of harsh breathing beside her brought her back to reality, and her eyes snapped open. Elliot had his chin dropped heavily to his chest, his hands over his ears, and his eyes squeezed shut tightly as he rocked slightly in agitation. His breath was coming in loud, panicked gasps.
Reaching out quickly, she gripped his hands, startling his eyes open. She pulled his hands down and grasped them tightly in her own. She immediately began thinking of something to distract him enough to calm him down. The last thing he needed was another fit of seizing because of this.
"Elliot," she said frantically. "Tell me about your mother…what did you do together?"
He looked at her in a panic, his breathing involuntarily slowing. "She was so beautiful," he finally whispered.
It seemed to be his favorite thing to say about her. Olivia was relieved to see the color return to his face, and kept a tight grip on his limp hands.
"I loved her hair the most," he continued, his voice steadier this time. "I don't think she ever had a haircut in her entire life...sometimes I would come into her room and just watch her brushing it. It was so long and thick…I always thought she looked like a princess."
He smiled then, which brought Olivia relief. "She was so much fun…nothing like any of the other moms around my neighborhood. I didn't have a whole lot of friends as a kid, but it didn't matter because she would always play with me…no matter how busy she was, she always seemed to have time to play with me."
Olivia smiled at the glowing look that had taken over his face. He seemed to be in a trance, his voice lively as he talked about her.
"I used to love to 'play pretend'," he said, chuckling softly. "She made me a tree fort when I was eight, and we used to spend hours up there after I got home from school. I'd always pretend she was a beautiful princess locked in a tower, and I was a knight coming to save her."
His eyes suddenly lost their sparkle. Her eyes teared up when he looked at her…his expression looked like a lost child.
"I'm so scared to get rid of this stuff, Olivia," he whispered. "I've forgotten what her voice sounded like…this is all I have left of her." Tears came streaming from his eyes. "I'm so scared I'm going to forget her."
She reached out and cradled his cheek in her hand, wiping away his tears with her thumb. "You won't," she whispered. "I promise…you won't ever forget her."
Agonized blue eyes met hers. "How do you know, Liv?" he whispered. "How do you know?"
Olivia stroked his cheek, her eyes taking on a special glow. "Elliot….I have an idea."
Elliot couldn't stop the tears from flowing down his face, no matter what he did. But this time, they were tears of happiness.
Olivia stood next to him, and he reached out and gripped her hand tightly. She returned the grip and smiled as they watched in silence.
The casket was lowered down into the earth softly, the crane making a beeping noise as it backed away from the large pit of dirt.
Captain Cragen stood on Elliot's other side, watching solemnly as the large granite tombstone was put in place by the grave digger. The white marble gleamed brightly in the early afternoon sunshine.
The inscription was made in elegant gold calligraphy:
Elle Julia Sanford
Beloved Mother and Friend
Rest in Peace
The trio watched in silence for a few more moments. Elliot suddenly turned, and startled Don when he hugged him tightly.
The older man's eyes were bright as he fiercely returned the embrace. Olivia watched them, smiling. Elliot then turned to her, and swept her into a tight hug as well.
"I don't know how to thank you," he whispered shakily. "Olivia, I love you so much."
She hugged him back as tears fell down her cheeks. "You thank me everyday," she whispered. "Just by being my friend."
They remained in the embrace for a few minutes, until her eyes caught sight of something over Elliot's shoulder. Smiling, she pulled away from him.
He was confused at her smile. "What?" he asked.
He turned around in surprise at the woman's voice. Shock made him speechless as he stood still and gaped at her.
She walked slowly towards him. Her snowy hair was in a loose bun, and her wrinkled hands were gripping a cane. The smile on her face, however, held the beauty of a youth.
Elliot's eyes filled with tears, and his voice dropped to a stunned whisper. "Jessie."
He walked shakily towards her and stopped within inches of her, staring at her in awe. A minute later, he threw his arms around her. She hugged him tightly, crying in jubilation.
Olivia smiled at the scene and moved away to give them privacy.
"You did a great thing," Cragen said, watching them as well. "Especially calling her…he's lucky to have you, Olivia."
She shook her head and smiled. "No, Captain," she said. "I'm the lucky one."
After another minute, Cragen glanced at his watch. "I've got to get back," he said. "Don't worry about coming in…I gave everyone the next two days off because of the op."
"Thank you, sir," she said.
His gaze wandered over to where Elliot and the lady were standing, in excited conversation. "Take care of him, Olivia," he said softly. "He needs you more than he'll admit."
She nodded. "I will," she answered.
He nodded a goodbye and left Fairlawn Cemetery. She and Elliot had driven there together, but she didn't want to rush him, so she began walking idly along the cobblestone path put in place between the tombstones.
"She would be so proud of you, Elliot," Jessie gushed, taking his face in her hands.
His face lit up, and she could see the child she had once known looking out through his eyes. "You think so?"
"Yes," she said, stroking his cheeks. She kissed him. "I know so….she's bragging about you to the other angels as we speak."
He hugged her again. "I'm sorry I never came to see you," he said. "I promise I'll keep in touch."
"You do that," she said. "Take care of yourself, Precious."
He smiled; his mother had given him that nickname. "You too."
Olivia walked back over to him as Jessie left.
"You ready?" she asked.
He turned around, and his smile was so radiant that it brought tears to her eyes. "Yeah," he said.
They began walking past his mother's tombstone toward the entrance. All of the sudden, Olivia stopped short.
It took him a minute to realize she was no longer beside her. He turned back. "Liv?"
She was staring at another tombstone. Tears began to roll down her face.
"What's wrong?" he asked in concern. He was surprised when she smiled widely through her tears.
"I had a funny feeling about this place since the day I saw you here," she said. "I could never figure out why."
Laughing in delight, she pointed at the stone. Elliot looked at her in amazement, and they hugged each other tightly as both of them began to cry.
The tombstone that had just been placed over Elliot's mother was on a two-sided plot. The stone directly behind it was dark marble and adorned with yellow daisies.
Rest in Peace