Disclaimer: They aren't mine. Probably for good reason.
A/N: I'm not exactly sure where this came from. I just grabbed a pen and Olivia's words came flowing out onto the page.
Oh, if you can't figure it out for yourself...flashback written words
Please, please review. This is meant to be a one shot, but I would like to know your thoughts anyway!
The rain came down hard on the darkened city. It pounded the pavement and the sidewalks, and it pelted Detective Elliot Stabler as he ran up the steps to the 16th precinct.
Elliot shook some of it off as he strode quickly towards the elevators. He punched the up arrow, and then checked his watch. It was half-past midnight. As the elevator doors dinged open, Elliot rushed into the car. He punched the floor he needed, and sighed as the doors clicked shut. Elliot wasn't quite sure if the uneasy feeling in his stomach was a result of the elevator moving, or if it stemmed more from his fear of what was to come. He had already stretched his mind pondering the possible reasons for Cragen's mysterious phone call.
"Elliot, you need to come down here." The captain's voice cracked as soon as Elliot had picked up his home phone nearly 45 minutes before. Cragen had offered no further explanation. Instead he just insisted on Elliot's immediate presence at the SVU squad room.
The elevator doors opened, and Elliot stepped out into the empty hallway. The dim lights did nothing to ease his feeling of dread, and he began walking faster. He was nearly in a run by the time he burst through the squadroom doors.
"Elliot." Captain Don Cragen sat on the edge of one of the desks. His arms were folded tightly, and Elliot noticed his eyes were red and puffy.
Elliot's stomach did a filp. He stopped dead in his tracks, and stood like a statue.
Cragen pushed off the desk, and walked away towards his office. "Come with me. There's something you need to see."
Elliot walked behind him. "What is it?"
Cragen gave no answer. Elliot knew he had heard the question, and wondered why he would so blatantly ignore it.
Cragen stepped across the threshold of his office and walked around his desk.
Elliot felt the panic well up in his chest as his boss reached for his top drawer. As the drawer rolled open, he caught sight of the gun and he could no longer contain it.
"No," he whispered weakly. "No."
Cragen looked up, locking eyes with him. He soon looked away again.
"I came back because I felt like I had left something undone or that something was wrong. When I got here, the squadroom was empty. These were on my desk." Cragen removed three objects from his drawer. "I thought you should know. I didn't think it could wait until morning."
Elliot shook his head as he stared at a gun, a badge, and a folded slip of paper. He touched the number on the badge. 44015. Olivia's badge.
Elliot somehow couldn't shake the feeling that he had known this was coming. Angry with himself, he snatched at the piece of paper. Inside was written two simple lines.
I'm sorry. I just couldn't do it any longer.
Elliot folded the paper again and let it fall back to the desk. He had his cell phone out and the number dialed before Cragen could even say he'd already tried it.
Elliot's eyes narrowed as he -- for the second time -- got the recorded message informing him the number had been disconnected. He closed his cell phone and stared at Cragen's face for a moment before he bolted out of the room.
He flew past the empty desks in the squad room, skidding to a brief halt next to Olivia's. It had been cleared off of everything save for a stack of folders placed neatly in the center of her desk. Elliot could only assume she had finished all of her paperwork. He wondered how long she had stayed here doing it all.
In a split second he was running again, sprinting past the elevators to the stairs. He broke through the doubled doors and flew down all the flights of stairs. The very bottom step was wet, and he slipped off, sliding into the wall.
Elliot cursed as he pushed open the door and ran down the hall toward the rainy street.
Elliot stood under the overhang of Olivia's apartment building, sheltered somewhat from the blowing rain. Again and again he pressed the buzzer for Olivia's apartment. Again and again the call went unanswered.
Tired, Elliot leaned his forehead against the cold, wet glass of the locked door. He tried to remember in which apartment the superintendent lived. Finally, it came to him and he punched the corresponding call button.
The first try failed to raise anyone on the speaker. The second was no different. Elliot became frustrated and hit the button harder. Finally, a man's groggy voice came over the sound system.
"Yeah? Who the hell is this, and what the hell do you want at one forty-three in the fricken morning?!"
Elliot leaned into the button. "My name's Elliot Stabler. It's important that I speak with Olivia Benson. I can't raise her on her call box or her phone."
"And you think I can help you? Christ, buddy -- you're gonna have to look some place else. Ms. Benson don't live here any more. She moved out a few hours ago. Didn't leave a forwarding address or nothing. Now let an old man get some rest."
Elliot rolled back onto his heels, and his hands dropped to his sides. He wasn't sure what to do next.
Suddenly, before he knew what he was doing, he had pressed the call button again.
"What now?! I said she doesn't live here anymore!"
"I know," Elliot responded. "I need to see her apartment."
"Sorry, buddy. It's not available to rent at one fifty in the morning! Come back when its daylight, okay pal?"
"No, I don't want to rent the place. I just need to see the place."
There was no response.
"Please?" Elliot tried again.
Finally the groggy voice returned, a little less gruff this time. "Fine. I'll buzz you in, and meet you at her door."
"Thank you!" Elliot jumped towards the door, and ran through as soon as it buzzed open. He took the stairs two at a time and reached the apartment door two minutes ahead of the super, who came waddling up the stairs behind Elliot in his flannel bathrobe.
The man fished a keyring out of the robe's pocket, and searched through the labels until he found the right number.
"Here you go," he said as he pushed open the door. "Now I'm going back down to my sleeping wife. You can look around as long as you like. Just don't break anything, don't make any noise, and lock the door behind you. I wouldn't do this, but I know you're a cop, so I'll cut you a little slack. Plus, Olivia was a nice girl and it's a shame she left without much warning."
Elliot watched the old man toddle off towards the stair. When he had disappeared from view, Elliot stepped into Olivia's apartment. He shut the door behind him and turned on the light.
The bareness of the place hit him like a cold brick. Olivia had never been one for decorating, but she had made the place seem like a home. Now it just seemed cold and sterile. The furniture was still there, but everything else was gone. There weren't any books in the bookcase, nor were there any dishes in the sink.
Elliot shook his head. The apartment felt wrong. It felt sad. He couldn't really understand why, but the apartment nauseated him. He turned to go, when he noticed the sheet of paper laid out neatly on the table. Elliot walked over to the table and sat down in the chair that was placed directly in front of the letter. He picked up the piece of paper. It was covered in Olivia's somewhat scrawling handwriting.
To Elliot or whoever else finds this letter,
I address it to Elliot only because I figure you're the one who'll have the hardest time accepting that I'm really gone. If I am wrong, and someone else -- Munch, maybe -- happens upon this first -- it applies to you as well. Thank you for trying to find me. I would have loved to be here in person to thank you, but -- as I will explain -- I find it near impossible for me to do so.
You probably are wondering why you have found my apartment so empty, and why my badge and gun are sitting in Cragen's desk, and why I am no longer here. I don't know exactly why myself, so I don't know quite how to try and tell you. I owe it to you all, I know, so I will try my hardest to explain it all to you. Please bear with me. I hope you will not be angry with me -- I did not mean to do this to you at all. But enough -- I offer you my scrambled explanation.
Someone once asked me what I would do if I were not in the SVU. A simple question it would seem, but oddly enough I could come up with no answer. The question has haunted my thoughts and feelings, and though nearly a decade has passed, I still have yet to find the answer. I think the time has finally come for me to search for one. Who knows? Perhaps I will find that this truly is me after all. But until I find -- if I ever do -- that to be true, I have to keep looking.
Until I have time enough to myself to discover where I truly belong, I know I can not remain where I have been these past years. My apartment has been packed up for months now, and I've been literally living out of a suitcase, waiting -- waiting for some sign to encourage me one way or another. Tonight my signal finally arrived. Tonight I finally found the courage to do what I've been avoiding for months.
Tonight epiphany struck. I've realized that I've spent my life dedicated to righting the wrongs. I joined this unit in some subconscious attempt to fix my mother's pain and, more importantly, fix my own. I longed to bring comfort and solace to our victims and subsequently longed to bring the same to my own existence. But there never is any closure, is there? I am unable to truly heal any of them and I am incapable of truly healing myself. No matter how hard I try to fix everyone, somebody is always broken, and my effort thus is no more than futile.
Right now I have realized that it is I who is broken and I need to tend to myself before the damage is beyond repair. I have seen this job rip strong men to shreds and push even the most detached over the edge. I have always worked hard to save others, and now it is time for me to work to save myself. I have known nothing outside of the job, and it has brought me little else but pain, anguish, and loss of faith.
I feel as though I've been pressed up against this glass window. I can see the lives everyone else leads -- the life I could lead if given the chance -- but I can't actually live it. I can only watch. I am alone. I have people, yes, but I still suffer alone. You all have your own lives, but I am all alone in this glass box. There is no one with me -- nothing but an empty apartment and another empty bottle waiting for me when I come home every night. You can't imagine how hard it is for me to even come home. I want to change that. I need to change that.
Even though I know I must leave, nothing I say can sum up my sadness at my leaving you all behind. I love you all -- you have been my family for so many years now, but I've discovered that isn't quite enough anymore. I have been fortunate beyond belief to have a group of friends as wonderful as you all are, but now I need something different and new. I need an actual family of my own. I need a chance to experience new feelings and to form new bonds. It pains me greatly, but to do this I must pull myself from the job, which would be an impossibility for me if I were to do anything short of physically tearing myself from all that I know here. It will hurt a great deal, I know -- but I can't take the risk that I will end up talking myself out of this decision again. You have no idea how many times I've tried to this and how many times I ended up getting sucked back into the vortex that is my life.
Tonight, though, I think I can do it. Tonight I think I can shatter that glass wall and break free. Tonight I leave for some destination currently unknown. I do not know exactly where I'm going and I do not know what exactly life has in store for me, but I'm just looking for some place where I can start over. I need to find a spot to start over fresh and find out just who Olivia Benson really is.
If somewhere down the line I feel I am in a situation where I am strong enough to get in touch with you -- I will. I want to see you all again. I wish with all my heart that it didn't have to be like this, that I didn't have to give you up, but it does. This is a painful sacrifice that I feel I must make in order for me to truly move on and move past this empty life of mine.
I will find you when I am ready, I promise. I hope that time will come as quickly as possible. However, until that day comes, please accept my deepest apologies for my sudden disappearance and for any damage I caused over the years. I love you all dearly and wish you all the luck in the world. I look forward to seeing you all again in the future.
Take care of yourselves and don't worry about me. I'll be fine.
Elliot stared at the page as if it would magically give him more information. He began to read it a second time, and stopped at the phrase Tonight my signal finally arrived. He read it over and over again, trying to figure out just what that signal had been.
He remembered their last exchange hours earlier.
"Well, I think I'm gonna make my way home. Put in an appearance before the twins go to bed."
Olivia smiled at him from her seat behind her desk. "Might be a good idea. Before you become nothing more than urban legend to them."
Elliot laughed. "Yeah. Something like that."
He stood up and grabbed his coat. "I heard its supposed to rain tonight."
Liv continued her busywork, closing one manila folder and grabbing another one. "Yep, 'sposed to be quite a storm I hear."
Elliot pulled on his coat. "Eh, I'm sure everything'll be alright. Besides, it's been too dry. We need a little rain."
"Rain, yes -- but chaotic rain?"
Elliot shrugged. "A little chaos is good every once in a while. You just gotta shake things up a bit sometimes."
Olivia looked away from her paper work and met his gaze.
"Well, I'm goin' now. Maybe I'll beat the rain even." Elliot began walking towards the door. "Don't stay up too late. You oughtta be gettin' home, too, Liv."
She smiled oddly. "Uh, yeah. I just wanna finish up this paperwork."
Elliot stared at the huge pile on her desk. It looked like everything from the past six months. "All of it?" he asked, incredulous.
Olivia just shrugged.
"Whatever floats your boat, I guess." He turned to leave. "See ya later."
Elliot turned back to face her. "Yeah?"
"You sure everything's gonna be alright?"
He narrowed his eyes. "You okay?"
She made her usual face and nodded. "Yeah. Never mind, I didn't mean anything."
He studied her for a second and then shrugged. "Okay." He began to turn away again, but stopped and looked back towards his partner, who had since returned to her folders. "It'll be fine. I promise."
Liv looked back at him.
"See ya tomorrow, okay, Liv?"
Olivia didn't answer immediately.
"Liv? I'll see you tomorrow, right?"
She turned her back to him, and picked up another file folder. "Uh, sure."
Elliot stood for a minute, debating whether or not to press the matter further, before glancing at his watch. He shrugged his shoulders, nodded his head hesitantly, and walked towards the elevator. The elevator doors closed, and he began to wonder what was up with his partner.
Elliot sat with his head in his hands, knowing that she wouldn't be there tomorrow. He remembered the odd look in Olivia's eyes. It all made sense now.
"I let her go," he whispered. A tear was in his eye as he realized he was the signal she mentioned. He was the one who let his partner -- his best friend -- know it was time to move on.
He rubbed his chin with his hand. Elliot tried to figure out if there would have been any way that he could have stopped her. He wondered if he could have somehow kept her there.
Thunder rolled loudly outside, startling Elliot back to the present. He cleared his throat, and checked his watch. He stood up fast from the chair as he realized he had been staring at the wall for twenty minutes. Elliot grabbed the letter and shoved it in his pocket, not caring if it got crumpled. He took one final look around the vacant apartment and then made his way to the door. He reached out to grab the handle, and then stopped. He slipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out the paper. He straightened out the page, and tried to smoothen all of the little creases. Elliot then folded it as neatly as he could and tucked it gingerly into the breast pocket of his coat.
Elliot nodded slightly to himself, and then pulled open the door. He shut off the light, took a deep breath, and said a silent goodbye to the room. He then flipped the lock and pulled the door shut.
Elliot walked as slowly as he could down the hall to the stairs. He paused for a second at the top, and then gradually descended to the first floor. He stepped quietly past the superintendent's door and through the small lobby, where he pushed through the glass door into the rain.
He slipped his hands into his pockets, and stood for quite a while under the overhang, watching the rain fall. A few times, flashes of lightning lit up the sky and thunder cracked, but Elliot didn't move. He just stayed there, quietly watching the rain.
Finally he nodded. "We'll miss you, but I'm holding you to your promise," he said to the sky. "Goodbye Liv."
With that, he stepped away from the building and walked into the rain.