A/N: I don't own them, I just write about them. Enjoy!
Elliot let out a groan, rubbed his tired eyes, and looked at his alarm clock. One-thirty. He clumsily reached for his phone, wanting nothing more than for the shrill ringing to stop.
"Hello?" he mumbled. He could hear her on the other end, sighing.
"Elliot," she said softly.
"Where are you?" he asked as gently as possible, giving up the comfort of his warm bed and standing, his feet hitting the cold wood floor beneath them.
"Sullivan's," she answered, again, her voice quiet.
"Stay put, I'll be there as soon as I can," he said, already pulling on the jeans that he grabbed from his hamper. He fumbled down the stairs, slipping into his Nikes and pulling on his windbreaker as he locked his front door. The brisk spring air startled his senses, bringing Elliot out of his sleepy fog.
Elliot took a deep breath as he pulled up outside the bar. It wasn't a place he frequented, but he had sat there a time or two, beer in hand, thinking. It was a hole-in-the-wall Irish pub where he found comfort in the stale smell of Guinness and smoke. It was dark inside, only a few lonely souls remained at the bar. Elliot nodded toward the bartender, shoved his hands deep into his pockets, and headed to the far side of the bar, wondering what awaited him.
There she was. Occupying the barstool furthest from the door. Furthest from the outside world. She was still in her work clothes, Elliot acknowledging that was not a good sign. Her arms were crossed on the oak bar, her chin resting on her forearms. Her brown hair fell into her eyes, but Elliot knew what lay beneath. Heavy eyelids and dark circles. It tore him up inside to see her like this. She wouldn't open up, he'd done everything he could think of. He'd crawled out of bed in the middle of the night more times than he cared to count the past few weeks. He didn't pry, he trusted his partner to come to him when she was ready. But he didn't know how much more he could take.
"What's a pretty lady like you doing sitting alone?" Elliot asked, hoping she'd take his cue and keep the mood light.
She looked up at him with glassy eyes. "Take me home," she whispered, a sense of pleading in her voice.
Elliot pulled out his wallet, certain Olivia hadn't settled her tab. He motioned the aging bartender over.
"You know, if I'm going to buy your drinks, the least you could do is invite me to come along and indulge with you," Elliot attempted humor once again.
Olivia said nothing and continued to stare at her empty mug.
"How much does she owe?" Elliot asked as the bartender approached.
He took a moment before answering, then gesturing to Olivia's badge perched on the bar top, he said, "It's on the house tonight."
"Hear that, Liv? Your winning personality and movie-star good looks finally got you somewhere," Elliot teased, tossing a twenty on the counter and smiling gratefully at the gentleman wiping the countertop.
"I think it was my dazzling smile," Olivia replied sarcastically. Elliot laughed, glad to have the old Olivia back, even if it was just for a second.
"Come on, we're going to get you up," Elliot said, wrapping his strong arms around Olivia, helping her stand. He released her from his grasp, only to watch her sway for a moment.
"Easy, now," he said, pulling off his jacket and wrapping it around Olivia's shoulders.
He wrapped one arm around Olivia's slender waist and held her steady with his other arm on her shoulder. She rubbed her forehead wearily and allowed herself to settle into Elliot's firm grasp as he guided her out of the bar.
Twenty minutes later, Elliot pulled up outside Olivia's apartment building, silently thanking the parking gods that there was a space right in front. He turned the ignition off and glanced at his partner slumped in the passenger seat. Her eyes were closed and her forehead was pressed against the cold glass, the window fogging with each passing breath. Elliot dreaded this part of the night. She looked so peaceful, whatever demons were haunting her during her waking hours disappeared when her eyes closed. He hated to wake her up, to remind her of how she had spent her night.
Elliot climbed out of the driver's side and shivered when he stepped out of the comfort of his warm car. He opened the passenger side door gently, not wanting to startle her awake.
"Olivia," he whispered. "Come on, we're home now."
He wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling her limp body from the car. He'd made the mistake of trying to carry her in a few nights ago, and she'd practically knocked him unconscious with her purse. She was strong, he had to give her that. Even at her weakest, she was tough, never accepting pity from anyone.
Elliot guided Olivia into her building, onto the elevator, and up to the fifth floor. She was quiet tonight on the elevator ride. Some nights she apologized excessively, some nights she talked just fill the empty space in the elevator. But tonight, nothing. She kept her eyes shut as she leaned her head against the elevator wall, holding onto the railing with one hand and lacing her other hand through Elliot's.
When the elevator doors opened, Elliot began the routine he had perfected the past few weeks. Unlock all three locks on the door. Hang her purse on the coat rack next to the door. Kick himself for turning his back on Olivia and allowing her to collapse on the couch where he knew it'd be a pain to get her up again. Spending minutes coaxing her into her bedroom where he pulled sweats out of her middle dresser drawer and led her into the bathroom. It usually took her a while to change, and Elliot spent the time dragging a wastebasket to her bedside and setting her alarm for the next morning. He went into the kitchen and pulled out the bottle of aspirin, pleased that he remembered to buy a new bottle the other night. He poured a glass of water from the faucet and headed back to the bedroom just as Olivia emerged, wearing a pair of old gray sweatpants and a Mets t-shirt.
"Just because I'm drunk doesn't mean you're allowed to make me wear this crap," she said, tugging at the shirt.
Elliot smiled and handed her the aspirin and water.
"Swallow," he instructed. She obeyed and handed the empty glass back to Elliot.
She headed into bed, tripping over the wastebasket and falling face first into her pillow.
"At least it was a soft landing," Elliot said, pulling the covers up to Olivia's chin. He smiled at her, wished her goodnight, and turned to leave the room.
"Elliot," she groaned.
"Yeah?" he asked, turning around.
"Already set it. Get some sleep."
"Thank you," she whispered, and instantly, her breathing became heavy. Elliot knew that once her head hit the pillow, she'd be out.
He leaned his body against the door frame, watching her sleep. Her comforter rose and fell with each breath. He hoped that whatever was bothering her didn't invade her dreams. The first time she had called him and asked him to pick her up after a night of drinking, he chalked it up to a bad day at work. Even the second and third times. But now, he was genuinely concerned. He'd never seen her like this. He'd been racking his brain for days, trying to pinpoint the source of her problems. Every time he tried to bring it up, she begged him to drop it. Blamed it on stress. But he knew this wasn't just Olivia stressed. This was something deeper, and he prayed every night that she would find the strength to talk to him. He was losing his partner, and it scared him. He'd tried everything he and Kathy used to try on the kids. Bribery, trickery, honesty. Nothing was working. The only thing left was tough love.
You like? Something different than last time, let me know what you think please! Thanks!