The Clock Upon The Wall
The lone sheet of paper was still warm when Cragen pulled it from the fax machine. Smudging the ink as he clutched it in one hand, taking a mouthful of coffee from the cup in his other, he read the same paragraph six times, and was halfway through it a seventh when its contents finally sunk in.
He put down the cup, sat in his chair, took a moment, and picked up the phone.
Elliot answered, "Stabler," Olivia could be heard in the background, reading a suspect his rights.
He took a deep breath, "It's Cragen," and one more, "There's a hit out on Olivia, I want you back at the House."
Elliot snapped his phone shut and watched Olivia push the suspect into the back of their car. They hadn't expected to apprehend him so soon – they were just supposed to sit on him. If he hadn't tried to abduct another woman, they'd have still been sitting low in the car, talking in quiet voices about nothing in particular – it was those moments with her he enjoyed the most, when they could steal sideways glances at each other and share brief smiles and sarcastic remarks.
Olivia started to attend to the woman, gathering her statement and making sure that she was okay.
"Liv, we've gotta go," Elliot moved forward and held onto her arm.
She brushed him off and continued to talk to the woman, "This is my card," she continued. Elliot pulled her back a few feet.
"There's been a hit put out on you," he said quietly into her ear, still holding onto her arm, "We have to move now," he looked around at the buildings surrounding them, an uncomfortable twinge growing in the pit of his stomach. She pulled back from him, shocked.
"Okay," she said, suddenly distracted, "I'll just make sure this woman's oka-"
There was a loud crack and the woman screamed and ran. The suspect in the car had disappeared – no doubt hiding on the back seat. Elliot looked up, scanning the buildings for the shooter, scanning the streets – nothing. He looked down, Olivia was on the floor.
He ran around behind her, dropped to his knees and pulled her into his lap. Blood was pouring from her chest.
"Liv?" he said, "Liv? Olivia?" He ripped off his jacket and pressed it to her wound, "Olivia, talk to me." Her eyes fluttered open and shut, open and shut, and finally closed. "No, Liv?" He used his free hand to pat her gently on the cheek, her eyes opened again, "Hey," he smiled roughly, "Liv you gotta hang on okay?" He left his hand on her cheek, brushing circles with his thumb.
"Elliot," she said through short breaths, "Where's the woman?"
"She's fine, he didn't get her," blood was soaking through his jacket, he pressed harder, Olivia keeled over in pain, nearly crying out, he used his free hand to pull her back down.
"Jesus," she said through gritted teeth.
Elliot searched his pockets for his radio – finding it, "SVU Portable to Central…" as he gave their details Olivia began to drift away.
"Liv, hey," he said patting her cheek again, "You've gotta stay awake for me okay? The bus is on its way, you're okay," his chest started aching, "How does it feel?"
Olivia's laugh turned into a short cry of pain, "Like I've been shot."
His jacket was completely soaked through. "Shit," he whispered.
"What? What is it?" Olivia tried to sit up to see.
"Nothing," he silently prayed for the ambulance to get here sooner rather than later.
"Elliot," her tone had suddenly changed.
"No, Liv, don't," he knew where she was going.
"Elliot we both know this doesn't look good."
He suppressed tears, "You're right, you look like shit," she laughed, and when the pain came she elbowed his thigh.
"Don't make me laugh," Her breathing quickened, "Look, there's a box in the back of my wardrobe."
"Olivia I don't want to hear this."
"Will you shut the fuck up? It has all the important papers..."
He moved his free hand to hers, and lowered his head so that his cheek was pressed against hers.
"And there are letters," she continued, "One to Simon," a surge of pain forced her to cry out, but she kept going, "One to my mom – if you could leave it by her grave... I know it's stupid."
"It's not," he whispered.
For a moment they played with each others fingers, short bursts of electricity coursing through them at the contact they'd never felt before. Finally, she rested her hand in his, "And one to you," a second surge of pain caused her to pass out.
"Liv?" He sat back, "Olivia?" He patted her cheek, "Olivia?" he said louder, "Olivia?" Tears formed behind his eyes and he bent low to whisper in her ear, just as the sirens boomed out of the silence, "Don't do this," he heard her moan, and her grip on his hand tightened, "You're the only thing I've got anymore," he pressed his face into her neck, and breathed her in, her grip tightened once more, before loosening completely.
The sounds of the hospital annoyed him. The ringing, the crying, the talking, the beeping, the endless parade of footsteps… but the silence annoyed him the most. Usually, his silence was with Olivia. And then it was just silence – a comfortable something sat between them that told him it was okay. But the silence inside the hospital – as he sat in the waiting room – was tense, ugly, and he hated it. It did not remind him of Olivia. It made him angry.
He picked up a magazine. It took him five seconds to realise he did not care about Brad and Angelina's crisis of the week, and he tossed it back on the pile. He folded his arms and glared at the rest of the eager faces in the waiting room, trying to intimidate them into leaving him alone. He would rather hate the silence in solitary.
Suddenly, a new sound invaded – the clock. The ticking quickly became the loudest sound in the room. He tried to ignore it by rubbing his eyes with the backs of his hands.
"Who are you waiting for?" An elderly woman said from across the room. He looked up, had second thoughts about killing her, so he replied.
"My partner," he said.
She smiled sweetly, "And what's he in here for?"
The ticking stopped, "She's my- wait, he? No, no I'm not-" he gave up. It was too much effort, he decided. The woman continued to smile, and Elliot thought she should be moved into the geriatrics wing.
He was holding onto Olivia's jacket. The paramedics had taken it off during the ambulance ride. Elliot felt stupid for breathing into it, but he decided he was allowed a moment of stupidity at Olivia's expense. It still smelt like her. It calmed him. Somehow it made him feel like she was alive – alive and well. And not a beeping monitor inside an operating room.
Maybe this was what Olivia experienced every time she was dragged to the emergency room on his account? This was why they couldn't be partners. If one of them were injured, instead of following protocol – Elliot and Olivia followed their own, which had one rule: Panic.
Elliot thought about calling people – but he didn't know who. He settled on Cragen, who called Simon, and neither of them had arrived. Or maybe they had and he just didn't care enough to notice.
He refused to think about what would happen if they lost Olivia… if he lost Olivia. The thought made him want to cry. But Elliot Stabler did not cry, so he pushed the thought away.
A doctor walked into the room. Every head suddenly looked up in hope – who was the lucky, or unlucky, next-of-kin?
"Who is here for Olivia Benson?" he said, looking around. Elliot stood immediately and followed the doctor out of the room.
Once they were out of earshot of the waiting room, they stopped, "The bullet pierced her left lung," he said. Elliot stopped breathing. "We managed to stop the bleeding, she's going to be fine," the doctor smiled. Elliot still wasn't breathing.
"Can I see her?" he asked as slowly his lungs began to fill with air again.
"Yeah," the doctor gave him her room number, and Elliot set off immediately.
The door was shut, but the blinds were open. He looked in. She was awake, and sitting up. She was alive. Alive. His heart began beating faster. He walked in. Her head turned to him, and she smiled.
"Hey," she grinned.
He stood beside her, took her hand in his, and closed his eyes for a moment. "You're okay," he breathed, and opened his eyes.
For the second time that day, they played with each others fingers, looking into each others eyes, smiling.
A nurse knocked on the door, "Visiting hours are over," she smiled and left.
Still holding her hand, Elliot leaned forward, "I'll see you tomorrow," and he leaned in to kiss her forehead, but she pulled back, her eyes fluttering between his and his lips. He smiled, and kissed her lips – softly. They simultaneously parted their lips and the electricity that coursed through them before returned as their tongues slid across each other's for the first time.
He pulled back, and leaned his head against hers; his eyes closed, and whispered, "You look like shit." She laughed, and kissed him one more time.