Crumbling Armor

Chapter 12: Carry On

A/N: Here's another chapter for all of you wonderful people. I'm really on an inspirational role. I really enjoy writing my stories. If any of you have a chance, could you check out my crossover story "Inexplicable Circumstances 1: The Beginning"? I hate to sound totally desperate but I really enjoy writing that story and it's posted in TV crossovers and it hasn't gotten as many reviews as I would have liked. Once again I'm sorry to sound desperate. I hope you all enjoy this chapter.

Kathleen and the twins were asleep when Elliot got back to the apartment. He sighed heavily, not wanting to wake them, and walked into the bedroom to find Olivia sitting on the bed, waiting for him. He walked to the crib and laid the sleeping Eli down before coming to sit beside her on the bed. He draped his right arm around her shoulders and drew her close. He took her right hand in his left and held it tight. He sat like that for a long time in silence.

Olivia could sense that something was terribly wrong; something had changed between when he'd left with Eli and when he returned to her. Had Kathy's condition worsened? She desperately wanted to ask him about it but she remained silent, knowing that whatever it was, he would tell her about it soon enough. All she could do was be there for him. She leaned into him and let him rest chin on top of her head.

They sat like that for a long time before Elliot confirmed Olivia's worst fears. "Kathy's dead," he whispered hoarsely as he somehow managed to draw Olivia even closer to him.

"Oh God," Olivia whispered as tears began to fall. "El… I'm… I'm so sorry," those words sounded so hollow to her but they were all she could offer. She turned fully toward him and enveloped him in her arms, and they cried together.

It was a long time before either of them spoke again. They just sat there, allowing the other one to hold them up while they cried. They had both lost someone near and dear to them. And then there were the kids. They didn't even know yet. How were Elliot and Olivia supposed to break the news to them? What about Eli? So many thoughts swirled around both their minds. It was overwhelming. So all they could do was cry.

Several minutes later, Olivia found her voice "Have you told the kids yet?" Her hand began unconsciously rubbing the back of his neck.

Elliot half sighed half sobbed. It was such a broken sound that fresh tears sprang to Olivia's eyes simply from hearing it. He took in a ragged breath "Not yet," he whispered "I don't know how I can tell them," his head dropped and Olivia cradled him in her arms.

It was at that moment that Eli woke up and demanded attention. His cries seemed so loud in the silence. Olivia separated herself from Elliot and got up to retrieve him. She lifted Eli from the crib, quickly determining that the cause of his discomfort was a dirty diaper.

She changed his diaper and instead of putting him back down in his crib, she brought him back with her to the bed where Elliot was still slumped over, lost in the grips of overwhelming sorrow. She sat down beside the man she loved and slung an arm around his shoulder. "We'll get through this El," she told him quietly.

Elliot looked up at her. She looked upon him with concern and love. Even while she was still battling against the memories of her rape she was devoted to him. He managed a small smile. Maybe they would be able to get through this and everything else that life had in store for them.

Elliot watched as his youngest son wriggled his way out of Olivia's hold and clamber, clumsily over legs and blankets to reach his father. The baby grasped one of his father's fingers tight with his little hand and looked up. He opened his little mouth "Dada."

Fresh tears came to Elliot's eyes and he smiled; Eli's first word. Kathy wouldn't get to hear him speak. He picked up his son and hugged him "I love you," he whispered to the boy. He bounced his baby boy and kissed him on the forehead. His tears stopped eventually and he go up, placing the now drowsy Eli back in his crib.

He returned to Olivia as pulled her beneath the covers with him, holding her tight. He didn't want to lose anyone else. He swore, he wasn't going to lose her. His lips brushed against her "Thank you," he whispered.

She stared at him in confusion "For what?" she asked, her voice full of exhaustion; she was about to nod off.

"For being here," he told her "For letting me cry. For understanding me," he kissed her again "Thank you for being born."


Kathy looked out the car window as she was driven to her new home, her new life. She couldn't help thinking of her children. She would miss so many things. Hopefully she wouldn't be in hiding too long. She was positive that she would miss Eli's first words; he was a bright baby and he would start speaking any day now. She would miss his first steps. If she was in hiding more than a year or two, she would miss Dickie and Elizabeth graduating from high school.

She didn't want to miss all these things. But she knew that if she stayed near her children, she would only be putting there lives in danger. She cursed herself for ever getting involved with Luke Jordan. She couldn't have known at the time that he was a suspect in so many murders spanning so many states.

She inwardly chuckled at her own expense. He had given her no indication that he was a violent sociopath until that last night. She had thought he was sweet, kind, gentle. She was apparently, not that good a judge of character. She wished she hadn't exposed her kids to that man. He had been so good with them. They had liked him. She had been hopeful about the relationship. Stupid, stupid, stupid, she repeatedly berated herself.

She hoped that Luke would believe she was dead. The Marshals had told her that he might go after her children to find out where she was if he didn't believe that she was dead. She wanted so badly to cry when they told her that but it had been such a rushed conversation and the next thing she knew, she was Katrina Ashmore and she was whisked away.

She would cry later. She didn't want her babies to be in danger. She wished she could find Luke herself and kill him, if only to ensure that her children could grow up in a world without him in it.

She suddenly realized why Elliot was prone to such rage. He'd seen more creeps in his line of work than Luke Jordan. He'd probably had the urge to kill more than one of them for the sake of there children. No wonder he didn't talk about it with her. How could she possibly understand? It was no wonder that he and Olivia worked so well together. He could talk to her about things he could never talk to Kathy about.

Kathy liked Olivia. She felt safe in the knowledge that in the aftermath of her "death" that Olivia would be there for her children in her absence. Kathy knew that Olivia would be good to her children and love them as her own. She'd gotten to know Olivia well enough to know that.

She closed her eyes tight and shook her head. She was Katrina Ashmore and she would be Katrina Ashmore for as long as it took. She just hoped it wouldn't take too long.


Elizabeth had collapsed into her father's arms. Maureen and Kathleen retreated to separate corners to cry alone and Dickie tried to pretend he wasn't crying though it was painfully obvious. Olivia sat in the middle of the fray, holding Eli and watching the others fall apart.

The tears fell for approximately fifteen minuts before the children were able to form words again instead of just incoherent sobs. Each of them looked up at Elliot and Olivia "What do we do now?" Maureen was the first one to ask.

Elliot took a deep breath "The funeral's gonna be in a week. I've already started making the arrangements."

"Is there anything we can do to help?" Kathleen asked, leaning forward in her seat.

"No," Elliot said quietly "You guys don't have to do anything, I've got it under control."

Olivia handed Eli to his father and turned to the other children. She was unsure of what to say. She simply reached out and hugged each one of them in turn, holding them close, trying to take their pain away with the simple gesture but knowing that she couldn't.


"Are you sure about this?" Elliot asked a week later as he and Olivia were getting ready for work.

Olivia smiled softly at him and patted him on the arm "I'm sure," she reassured him "You'll be with me after all," she added.

"Alright," Elliot conceded. He looked around the apartment at the haphazard mess left by his children. Maureen had taken Eli to the babysitter's and was going to pick him up as soon as her classes were over for the day. Kathleen had taken the twins to school. Dickie and Elizabeth would take the bus back to Olivia's apartment. Elliot and Olivia would go to work and hopefully be back to the apartment at a decent hour so that they could share in dinner together.

Elliot had been to work twice in the past week. More than one tragic case had crossed his desk on those days. He had found it hard to concentrate. His mind kept turning to thoughts of Olivia. He spent more time worrying about how she would settle back into the job than anything else. He knew, no matter how many times she said she was alright and how many times she insisted that she needed to get back to work, staying in the apartment was suffocating her, something was not right. She was on edge far too often.

Olivia grabbed his hand and squeezed it "Hey," she said softly. She knew he worried about her. She wished he wouldn't worry. She wasn't used to having someone worry about her. She needed to get back to the precinct. She needed to prove to everyone, most especially herself, that nothing had changed, that she could still be effective when it came to doing her job. She needed to prove that nothing had changed, even though she knew that things had changed. She needed to prove to Elliot that there was no reason for him to be worried about her.

He looked deep into her eyes "Hey," he returned, holding tight to her hand.

"It'll be okay, you'll see," she said softly, leaning in and kissing his lips. She smiled devilishly as she pulled away "That's all you get for the rest of the day," she reminded him. They had promised to keep things totally professional, or at least as professional as they had always kept them, while they were on the clock.

He chuckled, a deep, reassuring sound that warmed Olivia's soul "I'll try to keep that in mind," he replied, still holding tight to her hand.

They left the apartment soon after that and got into the car. The drive to the precinct seemed to pass far too quickly for either of their tastes. Before either of them knew it, they had pulled into the parking lot.

Elliot reached over, taking Olivia's hand and holding it in both of his "This is it," he said, lowering his lips to her hand and brushing against her knuckles before letting go.

"I'll be fine," she told him for the millionth time that morning "Let's go already," she unfastened her seatbelt and got out of the car. She headed into the precinct a good three steps in front of Elliot. To anyone watching, her stride and the way she was carrying herself exuded confidence.


Luke Jordan sighed heavily. He knew that Kathy Stabler wasn't dead; the light bulb bomb couldn't possibly have been that accurate, or deadly. He had simply meant it as a warning to her. It was a message, to show her that he could get to her at anytime, anyplace.

He really didn't want to have to kill her. He only wanted to let her know not to defy or deny him. He had killed so many people over the years, set so many fires and never gotten caught.

Now they had whisked Kathy off into witness protection. It was his own fault. He shouldn't have been so soft as to only try scaring her with a little more fire instead of waiting until she was released from the hospital and shooting her dead so she couldn't talk.

Now he would have to finish her off. But he had to lure her out of hiding first. And as he sat outside the babysitter's house, watching Maureen Stabler drop off her baby brother, he knew exactly how to do that.