Chapter Five: The Fourth Day

The next day, Elliot awoke with a jerk. He was very shaky. He'd had a terrible dream. He had dreamed that he'd been shot in Iraq. He so wanted to stay here in New York instead of going back into the Marines. He tried to calm his racing heart. Olivia stirred beside him, and sat up quickly when her hand hit the empty part of the bed. Elliot took her hand and kissed her cheek. "I'm still here, babydoll." He said.

Olivia put her hand on El's shoulder, sighing in relief. She put her arm tightly around him. "Don't scare me like that. I thought you were gone already." She said, liking the feel of his soft skin against her hand.

Elliot kissed her forehead as his heart finally started calming. "I had a terrible dream that I was killed in Iraq. It was completely scary." He said, shivering a little.

Olivia rubbed his back, afraid to let go of him, lest he disappear. She said, "It's OK, El. You have to try to go into it thinking that you'll be OK. 'Cause I'm scared of that, too, and if you go being that scared, then something might happen to you. I can't handle that." She kissed his shoulder.

Elliot understood what she was trying to say. "I know, Liv. I get it. Let's just go get some breakfast for right now." He slid out of bed, hitching up his pajamma bottoms. He grabbed a sweatshirt and padded off to the kitchen.

Olivia went to grab a robe from the back of her vanity chair and slipped it on. She then followed Elliot to the kitchen. She heard the house phone ringing and snatched it up. "Benson residence." She said.

It was her best friend, Casey Novak. Casey had used to be the SVU's ADA until she had gotten suspended. "Hey, Liv. Sorry I haven't called for awhile. I talked to Fin, though, and he told me about Elliot getting sent back to Iraq. I'm sorry. You must be really scared. He told me that you guys are together now?"

Olivia smiled. She was glad to hear from Casey. She hadn't seen or talked to her for a little while. "I'm so glad to hear from you, Casey. How have you been?" She asked, knowing Casey was going to go right back to her and El being together.

Casey did not disappoint. "So what's this I hear about you and El being together? Don't even think about changing the subject." She admonished.

Olivia laughed a little. She said, "I'm sorry, Casey." She began to make coffee. "Yeah. It was after a case. He just realized how much he loved me, and his words, not mine, how much Kathy never would. I was so surprised, especially since I had just talked her into staying. I was happy though. Until I found out he had to go back to Iraq. It was a real shock."

Casey imagined it would be. She knew that Liv had been waiting to be with him for so long now. She said, "I imagine it is really hard. I don't even know what I would feel in that situation. I'm so sorry, Liv." She really didn't. She did not envy Olivia at all.

Olivia felt tears coming on and dashed them back. She was so upset most of the time about Elliot going. She said, "Thanks, Casey. I don't know what I'm going to do without him. He is my rock. I will never make it through this." She had doubts that she would be able to make it without Elliot here. He did so much for her without him ever knowing. She felt so lost already and he hadn't even left yet.

Casey changed the subject. She could sense Olivia getting upset. She said, "Fin also told me about him being gay. How crazy is that? I'm hoping everything works out for him with it." She had been shocked to learn that about Fin, but as long as he was happy, she was good.

Olivia smiled. She was glad for Fin. She hoped his date had gone well. She laughed a little. "Yeah, El and I were totally shocked. He had a date last night, I'm hoping that it went well for him. He seemed really excited. I hope that the fact that we've heard nothing about it yet so far means it went well."

Elliot came into the kitchen, nearly impeding the coffee process. He looked so good. She had thought he was coming in here when he had left the bedroom. He was carrying the newspaper. She figured he must have gone out go get it. She got it delivered. She wanted to rip his sweatshirt off him. Elliot asked, "Who you on the phone with, baby?"

Olivia replied, "Casey, baby. Do you know what you want to do today?" She asked, telling Casey to hold on for a second.

Elliot said, "Casey? Ask her if she can hang out today. I wouldn't mind seeing her before I go to Iraq." He grabbed a couple of coffee cups out of the cupboard.

Olivia asked, "What are you doing today, Casey? El says that he'd like to see you today if you've got nothing going on." She had slept in a pair of El's boxer shorts and an old NYPD shirt.

Casey wasn't doing anything. She had been job searching for months without finding anything. She was glad taht they'd asked her to hang out. She was so glad that she was going to get to see Elliot before he left for Iraq. "I'm not doing a thing. What does El want to do?" She asked.

Olivia said, "Not sure yet. Why don't you get dressed and come on over to my apartment? We'll talk about it when you get here." They talked a bit more and then got off the phone.

About an hour later, Olivia, Elliot, and Casey were sitting in the living room, checking out the movie times in the paper. They'd agreed on some shopping, lunch, movies, and dinner. They were meeting Fin for lunch, too. They wanted to hear about his date. They decided on Public Enemies, the new Johnny Depp movie, and they left the apartment.

They were deep into a bookstore an hour later when they ran into Munch. They wondered why he wasn't at the precinct. He was clutching a couple of books really closely to him. Olivia caught a glance at one, and it said something about being gay later in life. She was shocked. This HAD to be related to Fin. He must have been Fin's date. She had to say, she was very surprised. "Hi, John. How are you?" She asked, as Casey gave him a one armed hug.

Munch hugged his books even closer. He shrugged. "I'm OK. I had a really great date last night. I just left coffee with them." No one missed the use of the unisex noun.

Olivia met Elliot's eyes. Her hand was in his. She then turned back to Munch. "That's good. So it was an all nighter?" She asked, catching Casey's eye, too.

Munch started looking shifty again. He nodded. "Yeah, it was totally awesome." He started to leave. "I gotta go. I'll totally see you again before you leave, Elliot." He quickly headed to the checkout.

They all shared glances. They weren't sure what to think. Elliot had not seen the books that Munch had been holding; what they had said, anyway. He had caught the "them". He said, "I did hear that them. Did you guys?" He ran his free hand through his short hair, making it stick up.

Casey laughed a little and nodded. "Yeah. I heard it. I wonder if he was Fin's date last night," She said, musing aloud.

Olivia chose not to tell them about what the book she had seen him clutching said. It was Munch's business, but there was no doubt that Munch and Fin had had a date the night before. And it had apparently gone very well. She said, "Come on, guys, it's about time to meet Fin at The Cheesecake Factory."

About a half an hour later, they were at The Cheesecake Factory with Fin. He'd broken away from his paperwork long enough to eat with them. He waved at them as they arrived. Olivia gave him a hug, and then Casey. He said, "Glad to see you, Novak. How you been?" He asked. They had kept in touch with her, but they worked so much, they hadn't gotten to see her very much.

Casey gave him the tightest hug she'd ever given anyone. She loved him so very much. She missed working with them a lot. She let him go and said, "So glad to see you." She wiped a few tears off her face.

Fin caught a couple for her. "So what's the tears about, Novak?" He asked. He was pretty happy. His date had gone well. He was glad that things were working out for him. He just wished they were for his baby sister. He knew how long she had been wanting to be with Elliot.

Casey laughed and wiped her eyes. "I'm doing fine." She said. "I just miss working with you guys all the time, that's all." She added, taking a pause. "I'm just sorry that things turned out the way that they did." She tossed long red hair off her shoulder.

Fin nodded. "We miss you, too. I'm glad that you were able to join us today." He gave her another one armed hug as they waited for a table.

Olivia sat with Elliot's arm around her. She said, "So how did your date go last night?" She leaned back into Elliot, never feeling more safe than when she was in his arms. She was never more angry that she was losing him than when she was in his arms.

Fin smiled. He seemed very happy. "It went very well. It was an overnighter, which was very shocking to me. I wasn't sure that he'd be ready for something like that." Fin had quite enjoyed himself the night before. It had felt like coming home. He had never known bliss like that. He said, "We got coffee this morning before I had to go to work. He didn't have to work today. He's on leave." Fin didn't know what John was on leave for, but it was a good thing that they weren't working a huge case at the moment, because of all the detectives they had at the office were himself and Cassidy. There had been some tension with himself and Cassidy. He wasn't sure why.

Olivia smiled. "I'm glad that you're so happy." She said, as Elliot gave her a squeeze. "So, are you in a relationship now?" She asked.

Fin nodded. "Yes. We are taking it really slow. He's dealing with all the aftereffects of knowing he's gay. So it will just have to be dealt with one day at a time." He said, smiling.

Casey leaned back next to Olivia, folding her arms. "How long have you known that you were gay?" She asked. She couldn't imagine dealing with something like that.

Fin shrugged. "A few months, I guess. I realized I was in love with this man. I've known him for a very long time. I was nervous about it, but I've been working on dealing with it. It's not been an easy road, but most things aren't." He said, shrugging.

They waited about another half hour, and then they got their table. They all ordered sandwhiches and fries, and it was agreed if they had room they would split a cheesecake. They talked of nothing important, how the summer had gone, plans for the holidays, that sort of thing. They steered clear of Elliot going to Iraq. They thought it would bring a pall over lunch they were trying to avoid that.

After lunch, Elliot and Olivia and Casey all headed to the movie. They were full, so they avoided the snack stand, and went to their theater to sit down. Olivia hoped the movie would be good. She held Elliot's hand and they talked about the jobs Casey had been trying to get while she'd been suspended until the movie started.

After the movie, they poked around some more shops and then agreed to go and get some Chinese takeout and take it back to the apartment. They were all tired. They ordered lots of chicken fried rice, sesame noodles, mushu pork, sweet and sour chicken, General Tsau's chicken, and egg rolls. They then took a taxi back to Liv's. They hadn't wanted to deal with Liv or El's car. They'd done with the subway, walking, and cabs all day. They settled down in the front of the tv and found some Friends reruns and waited for the food to arrive.

Casey asked, "So, I know we've been avoiding discussing it, but are you nervous about going to Iraq?" She had taken off her shoes and was curled up on Olivia's couch. El and Liv were on the other end in a tangle of limbs.

Elliot nodded, giving Olivia a reassuring squeeze, to try and keep her from getting upset. "Yes. I am really worried. But I am just going to deal with the hand I'm dealt. I am not going to get out of this, I am just going to have to go. I will just have to make sure that I get home to Olivia." He said, squeezing Olivia tight.

Olivia lost herself in her train of thought. She was going to lose him in two days. She wasn't sure that she could do this.