Disclaimer: Not mine. Nothing is. Not even the cockroach that lives under Lake's desk that his grand-dad built!
Author's Note: Thank you all for your amazing feedback with Lies. All your reviews were awesome. This story has been in the works for a while, but only in my head. Finally, with the prodding of Sam and the brilliance of Scar, I've managed to put it on paper. I mean, type it on paper.
This story is not casefile. This story will be EO and smutty. This story is very much like Breathe, but not really a post-ep.
This story will be six chapters long; each a different sense, with chapter 6 an epilogue.
So leave me a lovely review and I'll update real soon!
This is for NettieC and Rach who always leave wonderful reviews.
"Someday I'll forget the colour of your eyes; the sound of your voice will be unfamiliar. Someday I'll forget that I once loved you; the feelings will have faded. Someday I'll forget" – Anonymous
Wednesday, 13th October
There were so many sounds he was used to these days.
The sound of whining.
The sound of his Captain's orders.
The sound of his wife's unrelenting requests for his presence at home.
The sound of his children's voices.
And the sound of silence.
Silence enveloped his world so much he felt it pressing in on him. In an almost suffocating and oppressive way.
Sometimes, he would sit up in the cribs to get away from it all, only to find himself wanting it straight back. The whining, the voices, the orders. At least they were tangible, things he could deal with.
But this silence between he and Olivia was something foreign and frightening. Something they had never been able to work through, despite their combined skills as detectives and competent adults.
Olivia's answer was to run and Elliot's was to confront.
These weren't compatible, and his chest tightened at the mere thought that he and Olivia were anything but. He couldn't remember a time where he'd felt so empty when his life was full to bursting.
His wife and he were trying to reconcile. Operative word being 'trying'. He was excited at the prospect of another child, but there was a nagging at the back of his mind that perhaps this time, it was for all the wrong reasons.
Thanks for letting me come by
Did it help?
He'd sit at his desk at work and dread the moments until he would get home and be confronted with a physical reminder of what happens when you don't exercise self-control.
When you let the desire to feel something override the logical part of your brain.
He shouldn't feel a sense of trepidation whenever his phone buzzed, indicating a message from his hormonal wife. Nor a feeling of guilt when Olivia's eyes would flicker to his momentarily as though he was betraying her by taking care of his Kathy.
His wife. Christ.
In the past, when he and Kathy were first married and everything was new, he found her cravings for tacos, pickles and ice-cream at ungodly hours of the night endearing; something that was natural. He'd smile widely at the innocent blue eyes that were fixed on his as he reminded her that it was his responsibility to see to it that she got what she wanted. They'd laugh about it afterwards; at how disgusting the combinations in her sandwiches would get.
But now, he felt a grating behind his eyes. In his head.
He wanted to blame his job; he wanted it to be because he was simply too tired to agree to her requests. But it was more than that. When he was lying next to her in bed at night, when everything was quiet except for her light breathing and his own thoughts, he no longer felt a sense of belonging and comfort.
He felt like an outsider. An impostor. It was like his house was no longer his home.
He and Kathy never really spoke anymore either; not unless it was something to do with the kids.
That was different though. With Kathy, there was nothing to say.
With Olivia, there was too much.
It killed him that when they were together, Olivia would seem surprised when he would speak to her, almost like she thought that it was something completely out of place; like communication wasn't supposed to be a part of their repertoire anymore.
Maybe it wasn't, he thought. Maybe this was it. Maybe the silence was all that existed between them in the first place. Maybe they were better at filling the gaps in the past when feelings were less complicated.
When their lives had seemed less complicated.
Silence was probably the only thing that would grow in a partnership no longer rich and fertile in possibilities and potential.
Elliot shook his head, squinting at the pages in front of him in the hope that the words would actually absorb into his mind. Truth be told, he had stopped understanding what was written two paragraphs ago.
I've read the same lines five times and it still doesn't make any sense.
You and me, we gotta do something.
He smirked at the nostalgia; those were the times when he and Olivia functioned as a unit; as a partnership. When they didn't have to communicate to know what needed to be done; it was unspoken.
No sound necessary.
He was so far away in the recesses of his mind that he failed to notice his Captain's presence in front of him, telling him to go home, to get some sleep, that he wasn't helping anyone by running solely on coffee and adrenaline.
"Elliot, go home to your wife," he looked up to the tired eyes of his boss.
"Cap, I can't," he was surprised at how broken he felt, at how helpless he seemed to be.
Cragen settled an even gaze on him, the empty air swirling around them as he was appraised, "just an hour or two in the cribs. You won't help her like this"
Elliot nodded, the squeak of his chair echoing loudly in the empty bull-pen. Before he realised, his feet had carried him to the locker room, his eyes falling on her name taped on the scratched and rusted surface. He ran his fingers across the fading print, remembering their conversation eighteen months ago.
It looks so un-kept El, there must be a piece of masking tape around here that I could stick over it?
It gives it character Liv, why are you trying to fix something that isn't broken?
The look that she had given him had stopped his heart, the double-meaning behind their words not lost on either of them.
Eighteen months later, he could scarcely believe that they had been reduced to meaningful looks and unspoken words.
Inaction would only get them so far.
Maybe, in the grand scheme of things, he should have listened.
Maybe, if he had, Olivia would still be here.
Tuesday, 12th October, the previous day
He hated the fact that they could no longer look each other in the eyes for more than two seconds. Sometimes he'd look up and find her gaze directed at him and he was filled with the distinct feeling that she was looking through him. She was always best at that; seeing through him.
She saw through the machismo he put on when confronting the scum they came by everyday.
She saw through bravado when he counselled children that reminded him so much of his own.
And despite their lack of communication, she could see through the reasons that he constantly gave those around him when asked questions concerning his wife and her impending delivery date.
So, when's Kathy due?
Soon, real soon
You must be excited, man
Yeah, real excited
He glanced at Olivia after answering Booth from Homicide, and saw more than heard the derisive snort she gave at his answer. She had been doing that a lot recently, and he knew he wasn't much better. But he was particularly touchy when it had to do with his family and the skin of his teeth with which he was holding onto an ideal that he no longer felt a strong connection with. He loved his children there was no question of that.
But did he love Kathy, or did he love the idea of being a family again?
The mere fact that he was questioning that scared the shit out of him, and the fact that Olivia was questioning that too frightened him even more. But then again, maybe as his partner she was only looking out for his best interests.
But lately, their inability to communicate had begun to affect their effectiveness and ability to work together as a cohesive unit. Cragen had begun to split them up with Fin and Lake more often, and interrogation was no longer conducted with the same smooth efficiency that they had taken for granted.
They shared the same office, the same desk partition, the same air.
But the few words they did speak often disappeared into the cavernous gap that sat innocuously between them; both the spoken and unspoken.
When they did talk, it was abrasive and straight to the point, and almost always ended in fiery arguments that increased tension in the squad-room ten-fold.
None had been worse than the argument that day.
"I can't believe that Judge Donnelly let Rushton out on bail"
They had nodded; vowing to go through the evidence with a fine-toothed comb to make sure all areas had been covered.
"Victim says she was attacked from behind by Rushton, pushed onto her bed and then raped," Olivia read off the report in front of her.
"Was there any fluid?"
Olivia shook her head, "No, just spermicide from the condom the perp used."
"Why would Rushton go to all the trouble to pull on a condom when she was incapacitated?" Elliot had asked, meeting her gaze for a full five seconds.
Something behind her eyes had flared, her stance becoming more defensive. And he knew what was coming before it happened. He had the power to stop it, he had the time to stop it, but he needed to feel something. He needed to experience something other than indecision and confusion.
So he let it happen.
"Just because you have no idea how to use one, Elliot, doesn't mean all men are as incapable."
The silence that followed had been incredibly uncomfortable. Fin had excused himself to use the bathroom; Cragen had eyed them both with a furrowed brow, and Lake pulled out his cell-phone as though answering a call.
His lip had curled and Olivia was still looking at him.
She was looking at him more than she had in the past 8 months combined, and it rocked him to his core. But she had taken a low-blow and he wasn't going to let it slide this time.
With his lip curled and his eyes narrowed he spat back, "and what's that supposed to mean Detective Benson?"
Olivia looked visibly thrown off by the use of his use of her surname, "do I need to explain it to you as well? You want a diagram?"
He shot to his feet, unsettling the file that had been sitting in front of him. The papers fell to the floor completely unnoticed; the entire room had stilled around them.
Off they'd go, replaying the old rhythmic tension that began with Gitano, with a crescendo into their fault.
Is there something you want to say to me? Because if you do, then let's hear it.
Why didn't you shoot Gitano?
He was using the child as a shield.
How could you let him get so close to you?
There were innocent civilians around. I couldn't get a shot.
Well, you got close, and Ryan's dead.
So this is my fault?
"Tell me what this is really about Olivia. Tell me why I think that every move and decision I make is somehow affecting you in the process!"
He had made his way to within a foot of her face, each punctuated word moving the hair that had fallen across her face. He wanted badly to move it behind her ear, just to feel the silky strands on his fingers, but he shook his head, waiting for her response.
"Because I'm your partner, and I don't want either of us to be held accountable if you screw up. I like my job thank you very much," her teeth were bared as she practically growled at him, "and as much as it no longer matters to you anymore, try and keep focused ok?"
His eyes widened at her words, "since when did you become Captain Olivia? Did you pass the exam while my back was turned?"
Her lips curled into a sneer, "you wouldn't notice if we waltzed around the precinct naked for all the effort you've been putting in recently, so don't patronise me okay?"
He had to stop a minute to get the image of a naked Olivia out of his mind, but the anger continued to push through, "don't tell me I'm not doing my job properly Olivia. I'm not the one who let serial rapists get away because she was too absorbed in her own little word," her eyes widened as he loomed over her, "I'm not the one who jeopardised my partner's job because she couldn't keep her nose within her own jurisdiction," he let out an incredulous puff of air, "and I'm not the one who ran off like a coward when the going got rough"
Tears had begun to form in Olivia's eyes, and he tried his best to maintain his composure. It killed him to see her like this.
"How dare you?" Her voice was a dangerous whisper, all sense of disdain gone; replaced now with an irrevocable hurt and anguish that scared the shit out of him.
They knew how to press each other's buttons, but it was always for the wrong reasons. Since their partnership had started going downhill they had never used their words to help repair it. Only to damage.
Always to dent it a little more, to scratch at its surface like a bad itch. Of course, it would only make it worse. It would begin to bleed eventually; and if it wasn't allowed to heal properly, it would scar. A permanent reminder of past mistakes.
They now stood within the other's personal boundaries, sucking in deep breaths of air, daring the other to make the next move. The pain he had seen behind her eyes had been replaced now with a steely resolve, her eyes flicking between his own.
She shook her head at him in disgust, slamming the folder she was holding in her hand on her desk before turning on her heel to stalk out of the precinct.
"That's right Olivia," he began before he could stop himself, "run again, it's what you're best at right?"
He understood now why it was called verbal diarrhoea. The words were leaving his mouth without a filter to stop what was allowable and what wasn't. He knew as the words spilt out that they would hit her where she was most sensitive, that she would probably turn around and slap him in the face like he knew he deserved. She paused at the doorway, head bent, back slouched as though she was defending herself from what he was throwing at her. Normally, it was only a matter of seconds before she would turn again to let fly, but he could see that this time it was different.
The resolve that Olivia had, had in a ready supply seemed to have dissipated. She looked tired and worn and he was sure that he looked the same. Even though he knew it was going to come, it still tore at the recesses of his chest. Of his whole body.
The sound of silence.
She moved into the corridor, disappearing down into the mass crowd.
Olivia was giving up on them.
Wednesday, 13th October
The silence of the cribs used to be comforting to him. A place he could go to get away from the hell that he constantly faced at his desk. But he was now left alone with his own thoughts at a time when all he wanted to do was crawl under the sheets of his own apartment and watch the television Dickie had bought him with his pocket money for his birthday.
Sure, it was black and white, but he could make out the people that were on the screen and that's all that really mattered. All he had to look at now was the bottom of the bunk above his, more specifically the planks of wood supporting the mattress.
A wave of nausea hit him as his mind wandered back to the argument that he and Olivia had the day before. He rose quickly from the bed, moving with long strides to the bathroom in the adjacent room. As he dry-retched into the porcelain bowl, he remembered that he had eaten nothing since the night before. Nothing for breakfast, nothing for lunch and nothing for dinner. Just coffee throughout the day to keep him going. Because it was something that reminded him of Olivia.
As the sounds of the precinct had begun to return to normal after Olivia's dramatic departure, Elliot had turned to see Cragen eyeing him with a distinct look of disappointment. He had simply shrugged and returned to the tedium that was phone leads behind his desk, even accepting the coffee that Lake had offered him cautiously an hour later.
Lunch had come and gone and Olivia had yet to return to her desk. He hadn't been especially worried; if he had walked out, it would have to have taken an emergency for him to have shown up again.
The end of the day had come quickly, as he and Fin had caught a case that saw them out of the house for the majority of the afternoon. Olivia's desk had looked untouched when they had returned, and a heavy feeling settled in his stomach as worry began to creep into his mind. He tried to call her mobile, but it went straight to her voicemail each time. The same happened when he called her house phone.
Cragen was missing from his office, and Kathy had been in dire need of cookie dough ice-cream, so he pushed his concern to the back of his mind momentarily as he continued his out of work routine.
He should have tried harder to find her, to see if she was ok.
He sat back on his haunches as his gut contracted at the guilt he felt. He swiped at where saliva had settled on his chin, his hands shaking. He closed his eyes, trying to gain some sort of composure.
I'm not the one who ran off like a coward when the going got rough
Tears began to leak down his cheeks as he took in deep shuddering breaths, the effort wracking his entire body. The small cubicle spun around him as he moved through the swinging door. He made his way slowly to the sink, turning the tap to allow some sort of sound to emanate in the large room. He watched the water seep through the drain, before cupping his hands under the flow to fill the space before splashing the cool liquid against his hot skin. He did it as many times as it took for his face to feel numb from the cold, and even beyond that just so that he could focus on a different sort of pain.
He eventually turned the faucet off, settling his hands on the edge of the sink as he took his in appearance in the mirror in front of him. His tired blue eyes stared back at him, now rimmed with red at both his exhaustion and emotional exertions. He shook his head at his stupidity.
Run again, it's what your best at right?
If he had known those would be the last words he spoke to Olivia Benson, he would give the world to take it back.
If he had known that she was going to be taken, he would've grabbed her in that doorway, and finally bridged the gap that existed between them.
If he had known that he loved her so much it made his soul ache, he would've moved the strands of hair behind her ear and kissed her until she understood.
If he known that following Olivia to her parked car despite any protests would have saved her, he would have risked the arguments to follow.
Because he couldn't handle the silence.