Disclaimer: I'm just borrowing them. I promise I'll put them back when I'm done.
A/N: This is my first foray into SVU fan fiction, so please be kind! I caught a rerun of "Execution" the other night and the idea got stuck in my head. It wouldn't budge until I did something about it, and so I give you "something". I'd really appreciate some reviews to let me know what you think; not only is this my first SVU fic, but it's also a different style than I usually write… I'm just saying… : )
Ignoring the sound of ripping fabric, he yanks angrily at his shirt. As soon as it's free of his body, he wads it up and tosses it at the nearest garbage can with more force than is necessary to cover the short distance. He sees the clothing overshoot the mouth of the can, but ignores it and returns his attention to his locker. If leaving his ruined shirt lying around bothers someone, they're free to pick it up themselves; he has no intention of touching anything that sick son of a bitch has touched ever again.
Rooting around for a clean shirt, he hears the door open but does nothing to acknowledge that he's no longer alone. His entire body is tense; without his shirt, there's no hiding the fact that he's furious, the corded muscles proof enough that he's itching for an excuse to unleash some of the rage hammering through his veins. Grabbing a new shirt, he shoves his arms through the sleeves and tries to unclench his fists long enough to do up the row of buttons down the front. Halfway through his task, his ears catch the faintest of sighs from behind him, the gentle whoosh of air telling him which of his co-workers is brave enough to try and confront him when he's in such a foul mood.
He slams his locker shut with all his might, and as the bang resounds through the room, he realizes the noise is a satisfying imitation of the anger and hatred that are simmering inside him. As the door bounces back towards him, hinges squeaking in protest at their rough treatment, he feels his tenuous control slip. The still gaping locker provides all the excuse he needs and he finally allows himself the luxury of unleashing the fury that has clawed at his insides all evening. A quick succession of bangs rings out as he uses every ounce of strength he possesses, taking perverse pleasure from the ever-increasing force he needs to apply in order to redirect the locker door and send it swinging back towards the frame.
Inevitably, the metal hinges only sustain this abuse for a short period of time before snapping off the locker frame. As the door clatters to the floor, his anger flares again, racing across every nerve in white hot streaks. Plucking the offending piece of metal off the ground, he throws it across the room as hard as he can, a roar of outrage escaping from between his clenched teeth.
As soon as the metal has made contact with the floor once more, silence settles over the room, broken only by his harsh breathing. Air rasps in and out of his lungs rapidly as he fights to bring his emotions back under control. In the wake of his outburst, shame fills him, its cold weight settling in the pit of his stomach and dousing the burning rage that so often threatens to consume him, especially on days like this.
It's no secret that he possesses a volatile temper that, at times, bears frightening similarities to those demonstrated by the suspects they routinely charge with unspeakable crimes. But never in all his years with the squad has he lost control so completely, and certainly never in front of his partner.
"Elliot…" she begins softly, and he instantly recognizes the tone she usually reserves for victims and children.
"Leave me alone," he growls, spinning around to face her and immediately regretting it.
Sympathy shines from her eyes and in that moment, he wishes she would condemn him for his outburst. The thought of her understanding this kind of anger makes his heart ache.
"I'm going home," he snarls, hating her for distracting him from his all-consuming rage. A heartbeat later he feels relieved because he's angry again, and anger is the one emotion he knows he can handle feeling right now.
"Are you sure you want to go home like that?" she asks, still in that damned gentle tone. But this time her compassion only fuels his ire and there's no flutter of shame or remorse inside him to temper his response, just the hot burn of anger thrumming in his blood.
"Like what Olivia?" he hollers, frustrated when she even doesn't even react to his harsh tone. "Angry? Why the hell shouldn't I go home angry? I'm angry and I'll stay angry until that manipulative son of a bitch is rotting in hell where he belongs!"
"I meant this," she tries to clarify, her hands moving to gesture vaguely at his body. "The kids…" she tries to explain, but the implication he reads into her words drives his fury to new heights and even though she tries to finish her thought, he doesn't hear her over the fist he slams into the nearest locker and the yell that rips from his throat with such ferocity that he thinks he might damage his vocal chords.
"I would NEVER hurt my children!"
A mere second later, he knows he's misunderstood her words and allowed his anger to take him too far. The sympathy vanishes from her gaze and is replaced by the fire that lights her eyes when she's almost as angry as he is. He's sure no sane person gets as angry as he does, and although she can be rash and reckless sometimes, Olivia's still one of the sanest people he knows.
"And I would never suggest that you would!" she hollers back, moving towards him and jabbing her finger at his chest. "If you'd pull your head out of your ass long enough to take a look around, you'd see that you're not the only one who hates what happened here! You are, however, the only one throwing tantrums over it!"
"That man," he spits, hating that he can't find a more accurate descriptor to use, "is the reason my old partner killed himself!" He's pissed that she's yelling at him, but he admires the courage she has to approach him when he's this furious and out of control. He knows she does it because she thinks he'd never hurt her; he wishes he could be as confident as she is.
"And he's going to spend the rest of his life in a permanent vegetative state! There are worse punishments than death Elliot, and tonight he sentenced himself to one of them."
As much as he hates to admit it, as much as he wants to keep arguing just for the excuse it gives him to yell some more, he knows she's right.
"I would never hurt my children," he repeats quietly, and he knows in that moment that he needs to hear her agree more than he needs to take his next breath. This woman standing toe-to-toe with him knows him better than anyone, even his wife. He knows he can lie to Kathy and even to himself – he does it everyday – but Olivia always knows.
Right now, he needs to know that he's not fooling himself when he swears he'd never hurt his children. He's angrier than he's ever been in his life and he knows he once came close to hurting Maureen over a lot less, but if Olivia can believe he'd never hurt his kids, then maybe he can to.
"You would never hurt your children," she assures gently and a wave of relief washes over him. "But if you go home with those handprints around your neck on display, you will scare them."
Remembering how that monster ended up in a vegetative state, he's suddenly embarrassed that he'd taken her attempt to help him as an affront on his fitness as a father. She'd been trying to protect his children from the reality that his job was a dangerous one, not from him.
"Can I?" she asks quietly, and even though he hasn't said a word, he knows she's accepted yet another apology he'll never offer out loud.
"Yeah," he breathes, wishing he could take back every single second of the last few minutes. He's ashamed of the way he treated the best friend he'll ever have, and he regrets allowing his rage to twist his perception of events and blind him to her true intentions.
He fights the urge to flinch away when she raises her hands to adjust his collar, reminding himself that these are the small hands of the partner he trusts with his life, not the beefy hands of a taunting serial killer. Her nimble fingers make quick work of their task and soon they're moving away from his neck.
To his surprise, her hands don't journey back to rest at her sides. Instead, they land on his shoulders and he's instantly grateful for the warmth that seeps through his thin shirt, eradicating the numbness that threatened to overtake him in the aftermath of his anger. His eyes lock on to hers and he tries to convey his thanks with his gaze; he knows he'll never have the words to do justice to the gratitude swelling in his chest.
"Come on," she murmurs, squeezing his shoulders gently. "I'll drive you home."
"You don't have to do that," he replies, because that's what they always say, even when it's a lie.
"I know I don't have to. Come on, I'll drive you home," she repeats with a smile, because that's how they always reply. No matter how angry or hurt or tired they are, they always take care of one another; it's the only constant in their turbulent lives.
She steps back, allowing him a clear path to the door. He moves quickly, wanting to escape from the room that stands as a testament to just how violent his temper can be, but he freezes when he senses that she's not behind him. He turns to see what is holding her back, a shudder of revulsion chasing down his spine when he realizes she's about to pick his ruined shirt up off the floor.
"Leave it!" he barks, a note of desperation colouring his words.
To her credit, she doesn't flinch at the command. She simply steps away from the tattered clothing and moves towards the door, meeting his gaze with an understanding that he'll always be grateful for.
It's bad enough that sick son of a bitch contaminated him; he can't stand the thought of him tainting her too.