Thanks to MissCam and DirtyVirgin... for the read through and beta. And yay! SVU!
Where can a dead man go? A question with an answer only dead men know…
He thought he would feel free, a weight off of his shoulders. He didn't; his feet were leaden, his entire frame infused with some heavy metal that kept dragging him right back down to the bottom when he attempted to claw up. Figured, get thrown a bone, have her out of his life forever and he kept thinking of the bad.
Like his kids, and the distance, and all the shit she was gonna get in the settlement. But that last part didn't matter, didn't matter. It was his children and how far they would be from him; sure, they'd be a phone call away but then he was just a voice, a disembodied person asking about their day.
That was the worst case scenario; he wasn't sure even Kathy could honestly be that cruel.
Drive, that's what he had to do, just drive somewhere that he didn't have to think, didn't have to navigate. Six miles north of the city he maneuvered his car into a tight slot between a Tahoe and a few cycles, in the dusty parking lot of a bar, Logan's.
There was nothing easier than alcohol, a simple slip-slide of ice on bourbon on tongue. It was even easier for it to make its way down his throat; glass after glass. As it was consumed, it lost it flavor, lost its meaning. It was as if he were sipping down Evian.
He didn't even realize how many he'd had until he went to stand and felt the ground move beneath him. Done for, done in; he was hammered and so he settled his heavy body back onto the bar stool and rested his forearms on the cool mahogany. The glorious dizziness that filtered into his head was half-welcome and half-unwanted. He couldn't decide and there was no point in attempting to.
No. Point. There wasn't much purpose in anything anymore; not really.
The bartender spoke to him, the man's low baritone filling his ears with a low buzz, and Elliot peeled his eyes up off of the twinkle of the bar and onto the heavyset man. He smiled and nodded to the badge still clipped to Elliot's rumbled lapel. "Someone I can call?"
For a second, a fraction of one, he actually considered handing his phone over to the man and asking him to call Olivia. But if he had, the challenge would have been in pronouncing her name correctly, and then was she even in there as Olivia or maybe Liv, or perhaps even Benson. He couldn't remember.
What he did know for sure was that she was speed dial number one and that was easy enough to manage, even in the state he was in. With a quick shake of his head to the barman, he fumbled briefly with the clip on his cell phone but managed to unholster it.
Bleary, bloodshot eyes glared down at the bright, screaming LCD screen. He pressed '1' before he stared too long and brought the phone to his ear while tracing the ingrained stains on the bar. Breathing heavy, he could hear it puff back in his ear, the sound magnified amidst the ringing of the line.
The scotch stung bitter on his tongue, the aftertaste tempting him to order another to wash it away. He couldn't.
Elliot's mind began to drift, his eyes rolling back as his lids came down... but there was a click on the other end of the line and then, "Why, I mean, the hell, are you calling me at-wait." There was a shuffle on the other end of the line before she came back with, "Two twenty-seven in the morning?"
As if this were a new thing; as if he wouldn't have called her. As if Fin or Munch wouldn't have called her. Then again, this was him and this was probably the farthest gone he'd ever been. He'd passed three sheets awhile back, pressing the limits of consciousness by about a ream.
"You're a riot," he managed to slur, leaning back on the stool, attempting to gain his balance. A loud sigh passed through his lips and then he said, "Do I have to ask?"
Dead silence was his answer for a moment, but he knew it was just part of the game. Have him sweat for a few seconds and then give in. This time, she waited a few seconds longer, "Where?"
He coughed a few times, looked off to the side as if to avoid the question and said, "I, uh... Logan's." It was hard, working his tongue around the thickness that the alcohol had left in his mouth as sinful residue.
"That's almost-" Olivia caught herself and sighed deeply, almost to the level that he had. "Fine, yeah, I'll be there in... whenever." Elliot smiled and pulled the phone away from his ear. She was a saint and a savior, some sort of fallen angel that he couldn't categorize. Before he could clip it shut he heard her shout, "Don't pass out!"
He didn't, couldn't. The music was up too loudly and the alcohol was buzzing fast through his veins, causing his entire being to hum. To pass the time he began counting the cigarette burns in front of him, getting to twenty-five before beginning at one once more.
God, why had he taken those last two scotches? His brain was screaming at him as he picked up the flimsy glass and downed the contents, chewed on the residual "rocks" and ordered another. Why, why? And why had he called her; he knew what would happen when she showed up. He knew it, a flimsy excuse to bleed his heart to her, but an excuse nonetheless.
She, Olivia, really was quite a sight to behold. Akin to the clean slice of a scalpel; she left a mark that would scar if not attended to in the most careful of manners. She was sex and innocence and strength compounded into one person.
And he could remember wanting her for as far back as his forever went.
His head spun with a thousand different questions, with a thousand different answers to a thousand other questions he'd yet to think of. His head spun.
The barman tapped him on the arm once to ask for his payment and Elliot slid a shiny, new Visa across the lacquered surface. The other man eyes him suspiciously for a moment. "You a cop?"
Glazed eyes blinked a few times before settling on the form in front of him. "Yeah." For no reason whatsoever, Elliot searched out his badge and produced, sliding it too over the counter.
"Cops drink free," the man mumbled and tossed the card back. He held the copper for a moment, passing a thumb over the detailed surface. He passed it back slowly, looking from the cop to his badge, whispering "To protect and serve," under his breath… so sad. So slow.
Slow motion too, as Elliot watched him slide the badge across the bar and meander away, rag in hand.
An undeniable sadness fell over him, filtering into his bones, dragging him down again. His face hit his hands and he stared down through muted flesh tones at the wood; (the wood that filtered through the cracks his form had created glared up into his eyes and the wood glared at him through cracks in his fingers and his eyes closed.
There was a ticking in his head, one that passed the minutes. The ticking brought forth memories of the blood; just the blood. There were no victims, no grieving mothers or spouseless spouses. Blood, an endless pool that radiated out, just barely touching him.
It was probably thicker than real blood should have been, but his mind was too inebriated to really make the distinction.
A subtle tap on his shoulder shook him from his waking nightmare. "That was quick."
Olivia cocked her head and slipped onto the stool next to him. "It's been an hour," she mumbled before dropping her head to his level. "You're pretty gone, eh? Can you wait out one beer?"
Straightening his back, he sat up on the stool and nodded to her. Olivia called for a Bud and placed her hands, folded, on the bar top. "I told you that you could call me," she breathed after a bit, eyes forward, fixed on the neat lines of bottles set behind the bar. "You didn't have to go to all this trouble to feel like shit."
He laughed, but only a little and leaned in towards her. "How else?"
"God. El, I've got at least a thousand words to make you feel like an ass but you go out and pay for it." She smiled at him softly and he absorbed it, the lucent sponge he was.
A laugh escaped the confines of his chest. "Yeah."
A beer was placed before her and she pondered it before she took a long sip, a gulp. "Why am I here?" It burned down her throat in a pleasantly familiar way, one that she relished.
That was a real question, a real something that he had to ponder. He had to set his sights on the answer, had to know just want she wanted to hear. And then again not. "You're here because… there's no way I can drive. And you're here because I trust you and you're here because… you want to be here. And I want you to be here."
Her fingers laced with their twins on the bar before her and the both of them stared at her digits, waiting for the other to speak. "Maybe," she finally breathed and looked at him, allowing her eyes to pass over his face a few times before she spoke again. "Maybe I am, but why are you here?"
His answer was quick in coming, and he leaned in towards her so that he didn't have to speak over the noise surrounding them. "The kids and Kathy and now, well, kinda you."
"Kinda me, huh?" Olivia ran her finger around the edge of her mug, eyes stinging from holding on the image before her for too long. She couldn't look at him, couldn't look at him.
If she had looked, she would have seen him nodding. "Yeah, kinda. I just… don't know how to tell you that," he sighed and bumped her with his shoulder. "Hey, look at me." Olivia lifted her gaze to him, her hair falling over her forehead as she did so, obstructing her view partially. "I don't know how to tell you that I'm divorced and have you understand what I mean, you know?"
She shook her head. "No, I don't know." She really didn't. She knew that there was something going on because her veins thrummed and her head throbbing, the blood pulsating in her ears. Something was about to happen, every synapse was ready to fire.
Elliot cradled his head in his hands, and rested his elbows on the bar. "Eight years, I mean –" The solidity of his voice, the way he worked the syllables and the tenor of his voice; he was about to state something that couldn't be taken back and she knew it. It was in the way he had his eyes set, the way his mouth moved, his demeanor.
"Elliot, stop right now, right now." Her hands pushed out in front of her, palms up, facing the bottles of alcohol, pressing him to stop. "You're drunk and you're thinking about your kids, and just stop."
Elliot set his jaw and straightened his back in the chair. "No, uh uh, not like that. You're not going to get me like that," his voice had dropped. "You know what it's like, for years knowing you're with the wrong person, knowing that the ring on your finger is holding you back, keeping you from… Liv, I love those kids more than my life, and I loved Kathy too but…"
"El, you're a good man, and a good father," she turned to stare him directly in the eye. "And you need to stop… right now."
His fingers wrapped around her left wrist, placing his other hand on her knee. "Liv, please… I can't be stronger than this."
She turned back to the bar, laying her palms down on the cool surface. Her lips fell open and she gaped at no one, stared forward and allowed the tremors to pass through her body without hindrance. A few blinks passed over her eyes before she allowed the tension to drain back out again. "I can't do this anymore," she nodded, gave a half a smile and sighed, her chin falling against her chest. "And you can be stronger… because you have to be."
Elliot licked his lips and wondered if he could get away with ordering another drink. He bet not. "We can both try and be… have strength in this…" Pausing, he stared at his hands and added, "This is getting too convoluted."
"I agree," she murmured and tossed a few bills down onto the bar. Olivia slid from the stool and watched her partner do the same, taking a few moments to situate himself amongst the spinning in the room. "Let's go."
"I won't forget about this," Elliot claimed as he moved in front of her, pressing the door open and using it to hold his body up as she passed by him. Cinnamon, cinnamon and sleep, that was what she smelled like. "And are you okay to drive?"
Olivia pulled the keys from her pocket and turned quickly to laugh at him. "I had one beer." In a moment, in that moment with the autumn wind ruffling her sleep-deprived frame, he fell in love with her. He fell in love with her hard.
Elliot smiled and moved to her side, leaning in to drop a kiss far too close to her lips. "I know, but I'm your partner. I'm just watching your back."