Chapter 1: False Sense of Security
Disclaimer: I do not own them.
A/N: This came to me after watching tonight's episode. I had to write it. Please enjoy and please review.
Elliot walked through the park, Eli strapped to his chest. Olivia walked beside him. He breathed deep of the crisp fall air. It felt good to be alive. After getting shot and almost loosing his family, he'd had to rethink a bunch of things.
He had offered to take Eli out of the house. Maureen was home for the weekend and Kathy was going out of her mind having a fussy infant around so he had taken his son to the park. He had called Olivia and she had met up with them. Eli never seemed as fussy when Olivia was around.
The baby had tired out quickly and was hanging serenely from the snuggly Elliot was wearing. His head lulled to one side and his tiny hand sticking out in Olivia's direction, to the casual observer the group would have seemed like the perfect little family, Mommy, Daddy and Baby out for a walk in the park.
For a moment, Elliot's thoughts drifted in that direction. What if they were a family? Just as soon as the thought had occurred to him, he brushed it away. It was hard not to think of Olivia in a way more than friends after that undercover.
He could remember clearly how his heart had pounded so furiously when he saw her standing outside his cover house. He'd practically yanked her into the house. If they saw her, they would kill her. He remembered breathing such a huge sigh of relief when she had come up with that hooker story off the top of her head.
When she had rubbed against him, the soft, warm feeling of her skin pressed against his almost made him forget about his cover altogether. He was glad that they only made her leave instead of shooting her, or worse.
When he'd been shot and he saw her, he thought it was a dream. He remembered thinking that if she was the last face he was going to see, he would die happy. But he hadn't died and Kathy had come home again. He found himself pondering what his thoughts and feelings all meant and how he didn't seem to feel for Kathy the deep, passionate emotions he had once felt, long, long ago.
"You're sure you don't want me to carry him?" Olivia asked, concerned. It had hardly been three days since he was shot. She was so afraid that he would hurt himself. She was afraid when they had separated and he had gone after Bushido. She was so relieved when she had seen him again.
"I've got him," Elliot smiled, reaching out and squeezing her hand to reassure her "I'm doing just fine. Don't worry."
"I do worry," she said softly, looking away for just a moment. He was lucky that she worried. Worry had driven her to follow him. Worry had lead her to be one of the first people by his side when he was shot. She couldn't stop worrying about him.
His hand released hers and relocated itself to her shoulder "There's nothing to worry about now," he told her softly "Nothing's gonna happen."
"Until next time," she managed a small laugh.
"Until next time," he repeated, chuckling slightly. There would be far too many next times and no guarantees that they would be getting out of it alive.
She turned to him, his hand still resting on her shoulder. She stared into his eyes. The laughter had not reached either of their eyes. They stood there and stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity. She broke the gase first, looking down at her feet "I hope next time doesn't come for a long time."
Elliot reacted without thinking, with his free hand he cupped her chin and turned her gaze back to his "Next time, I'll try not to get in too deep," his lips crashed towards hers and the resulting kiss lasted several, blissful seconds.
When they separated, they cleared their throats simultaneously. Olivia was blushing and as she tried to hide her face, she saw that Elliot was a bit red himself. They were both confused and embarrassed though if asked, both would have admitted they enjoyed the kiss a little too much.
Elliot was glad that Olivia wasn't bothering to examine him closely because, to his extreme shame, a few inches below where his youngest son's feet dangled, a very clear indicator of just how much he had enjoyed the kiss was showing itself off.
He cleared his throat again, feeling quite awkward "I should probably get home," he murmured "Take advantage of Eli being asleep while it lasts," he forced a chuckle.
Olivia nodded "How'd you get here," she asked as they approached where she had parked her car.
"Cab," Elliot responded.
"You want me to give you a lift?" she asked. She wasn't sure if he would accept but she knew she didn't want him going all the way back to Queens in a cab. After all the walking he had done, he would have to be exhausted.
"Sure," he accepted without hesitation. Whatever had happened between them just now, she was still his best friend and he knew that she was just looking out for him.
"Tell me you didn't bring him all the way here without a car seat," Olivia sighed, staring at Eli.
"What kind of father do you think I am?" Elliot retorted, smiling at her. He slung an unusually large pack off his shoulder and opened it, pulling out the bulky and awkwardly shaped item.
"You carried that all the way through the park?" Olivia had noticed the pack but had hoped it had only contained bottles or diapers or something light. She didn't want Elliot to bust his stitches. It was reckless of him to be up and about so soon after being shot as it was.
Elliot simply nodded as he strapped Eli in and took the passenger's seat. He sat in silence as Olivia started the car. A few minutes after they had gotten underway, he finally spoke. "You wanna drop Eli off at home and grab some lunch?"
She looked over at him and smiled. She was afraid that that one kiss would mess of ten years of friendship but Elliot seemed willing to continue on with life as if it had never happened. "I'd like that," she said softly.
Elliot smiled back at her warmly "You know that Maureen made dean's list again this semester," he said as way of conversation.
"Really," Olivia said happily "What does that make; three in a row?"
"Five," Elliot said proudly.
"Wow," Olivia nodded and grinned. She became serious again "And Kathleen?" she asked. Elliot had not been very forthcoming with information about his middle child's condition. Olivia hadn't pressed the issue in the passed but she always asked.
"She's doing better," Elliot admitted "She cries at night sometimes. But she's less out of control than she used to be," he hung his head "I've tried talking to her but she really just keeps shutting me out." That seemed to be a trait that his family shared. Maureen being on the dean's list was practically the only thing he knew about her life. And the twins, the twins were always 'Mom' this and 'Mom' that. His kids, with the exception of Eli, didn't seem to need him but he desperately wished they would.
The car pulled up in front of Elliot's house and the two detectives got out. Elliot un-strapped Eli and removed the car seat from Olivia's car. Elliot placed the sleeping baby in the snuggly again and looked up to see Olivia with her head cocked at an odd angle.
"Do you here that?" she asked, sounding a bit worried.
Elliot listened for a moment "Sounds like barking dogs," he mused. None of his neighbors owned large dogs. He lived on a street of cat owners, people without pets and the occasional poodle.
Olivia and Elliot made their way towards the house, still not recognizing the significance of the sound. Elliot stuck his key in the door and swung it open. A growling hyena bounded down towards the newfound means of escape.
Before Elliot could react, the hyena was on the porch with them. Olivia was the first to move. She grabbed her gun and, instinctively, pumped three shots into the beast. As the animal fell, Elliot managed to kick the door closed. Several other barking creatures remained inside the house.
"Oh God," Elliot was taking off the snuggly, attempting to hand it and the baby within to Olivia "I've gotta go back in," he whispered.
Olivia was already on the phone with animal control. She pulled herself away from the call long enough to grab Elliot's arm "You can't, El," she told him sadly "Those things are vicious."
"My family is in there," tears were coming to his eyes. He sank to his knees, holding Eli in his arms as he began to cry. Olivia was right, he couldn't go rushing in there.
His vision blurred as the sound of barking filled his ears. The one thing that he didn't hear, that he needed to hear, was a call for help from any of his children.
Animal control arrived and a full two hours later, all eight hyenas had been captured. Olivia knelt down beside Elliot where he sat on the grass of his front yard. He cradled Eli against his body while son and father both, cried. There had been no survivors and the remains were not such that an open casket funeral could take place.
"I think Eli might be hungry," Olivia suggested softly with a hand on Elliot's shoulder "Why don't you let me feed him?"
Elliot looked up at the house that he had once called home. He stared at it and the memories overcame him. He hadn't even heard what Olivia said. All he could see was Melinda and the others from the morgue wheeling out stretcher after stretcher of body parts that didn't have bodies anymore.
He couldn't even feel Olivia's hand on his shoulder or her other hand on his arm. He was numb all over. His family was dead and he knew who was responsible.
"It was Bushido," he whispered as he allowed Olivia to pull him and Eli into a tight embrace.
"I know," she whispered through her own tears. She wanted to be able to protect him but she had no idea how to protect him from this.
"They'll catch him," Olivia assured Elliot as she walked him and Eli up to her apartment. Over her shoulder, she carried a bag filled with some of Elliot's and Eli's clothes along with a few family photos and other possessions Elliot had insisted on taking.
"Sure," Elliot replied despondently as he followed her. Bushido had managed to escape from the cops and had gone into hiding. He was already gotten in touch with his contacts in the smuggling ring and was back to his old tricks.
Olivia stopped at her door and turned to Elliot "El, I'm so sorry," she whispered, wrapping her arms around him. "I promise you, we're gonna get this guy."
Elliot nodded and followed Olivia into the apartment. He bounced Eli gently against his shoulder as he walked. He bent down and noticed a piece of paper on the floor. He picked it up and turned it over to see that someone had scrawled a note on it.
"I got to your family 'Mike'," Elliot began reading in a murmur "But I'm not done with you yet. Just wait and see what I have in store for your pretty little hooker," Elliot dropped the note, letting it land on the floor once again as his mouth hung open in shock.
"You want to order some pizza?" Olivia asked, coming out of the bedroom and seeing the look on her partner's face. She crossed the floor and put her arms around him, blissfully unaware of the note just beneath her feet "You and Eli are going to be okay. I promise, I won't let anything happen to you."
Elliot managed to wrap an arm around her and still keep his grip on Eli. He rested his head on her shoulder. She didn't know yet that he wasn't the one that needed protection, she was.