Okay, I didn't think I'd ever do this but this is a thank you to everyone who was SO open minded with this story and also for those who felt they wouldn't read because of the teeny weeny bit of death *smile*
As always I'd love to know what you think, which one you prefer? All that jazz. Thank you for being SO great. All of you. xx
He was freezing, still. Even after six days he still couldn't get warm. He closed his eyes as he heard someone approaching; he just wanted to be left alone. He was so tired, so incredibly tired but he couldn't sleep. He had no idea how long he'd been lying in his bed, he was sure that he had been released from the hospital two days ago, he'd been advised to stay in bed and he had no intention of doing anything else.
The hypothermia had left him completely immobile. He couldn't remember waking up in the hospital, he just remembered being there. His wife was by his side then, smiling, so relieved. She had informed him of just how worried everyone had been, and wiped her tears as she thanked god that he was alive. He couldn't remember what had happened to start with, he just remembered the cold. The doctor informed him that he had narrowly avoided losing two toes to frost bite, he didn't really care. He was so tired, he just wanted to close his eyes, to stay warm and to sleep.
His colleagues had come to see him, all at different points but the physical effect of hypothermia and then what turned out to be pneumonia left him struggling to remember exact details of the visits. The metallic sheet that they had placed over him, keeping in all of his body heat, was a god send. He never, ever wanted to be cold again, he didn't want to spend the winter in New York, maybe he could convince Kathy to move to Florida? It was never cold there. He hated the cold now.
He closed his eyes as he heard his daughters' voice outside of his bedroom. He had asked to be left alone, he knew his family didn't understand but he had nearly died. He just wanted to sleep, to regain his energy and to prevent his family from getting ill. As the effects of the hypothermia wore off, he had found it harder and harder to breathe, his chest becoming tighter with every breath he took. By the time pneumonia had been diagnosed he was sure that he was about to die, the pain in his chest almost unbearable.
The pills had helped, but he was told it would be a long recovery and while he did so he didn't want to see anyone, he certainly didn't want his children getting sick because of him. He just needed to sleep. In a few days, he assured himself, everything would be back to normal. He opened his eyes as he heard Maureen turning and heading towards the stairs. Elliot wrapped himself even more into the bed covers, despite the fact that he was already sweating. He never wanted to be cold again.
They were never going to live this down.
Olivia pulled her jacket closer, shivering as Elliot angrily beat his fists against the metal door. He had been trying to pry the door open for nearly thirty minutes, when the failed he decided to hit it. She sighed and looked around. How the hell had they let this happen?
They had been looking for the rapist of a teenage girl, after returning to the scene of the crime, an old meat packing factory they had been given a tour by the janitor. He had insisted that the girl had been found in the back room, something which she disputed, unfortunately Elliot had believed the lying bastard and ignored Olivia's concerns and followed his lead.
She and Elliot had been fighting, a lot. She didn't know why, she wasn't really sure what had changed but they were just rubbing each other up the wrong way constantly. She felt as though she couldn't say a thing without him taking it personally and she hated it when he was like that, it happened rarely but when it did she just wanted to smack him and tell him to grow the hell up. Today they had fought in the squad room, she had wanted to go back to the factory, he had wanted to interview the girl. Cragen eventually told them to shut the hell up and to do both.
So here they were. Elliot had gone in first, not even bothering to check that she was behind him, which of course she was. She had taken just one step inside when she saw the confused look on Elliot's face and turned back to face the janitor, he had lead them into a freezer? Without warning he hit out and pushed Olivia to the floor, she had barely hit the ground when the door slammed, leaving them both in complete darkness.
They had only literally found the light now, thirty minutes of darkness in in a freezer with a partner who did nothing but grumble and curse was a real joy.
"Elliot," she started. "It's not going to work-"
"Do you have any better ideas?" he asked, angrily turning to face her. He knew it wasn't her fault, he knew that but he was pissed. He was locked in a god damn freezer. His cell phone wasn't working and neither was his partners and worst of all he had willingly let the son of a bitch lead them into the freezer that they were now locked in.
"No, no I don't. Why don't you keep going, maybe when you break your shoulder you'll learn your lesson." She wasn't in the mood for his bullshit. She hated being cold.
An hour later, Olivia checked her phone again; there was no chance of any signal. Elliot had given up only a few minutes before and they were both now sat on the floor at opposite ends of the freezer. She was grateful that the freezer was no longer in use; being stuck with Elliot was one thing, but the carcases of pigs and cows? It wasn't even worth thinking about.
"Cragen will realise we're here soon enough," Elliot spoke for the first time in an hour. Olivia simply nodded. She was starting to feel the cold; her not so thick jacket was perfect for the April weather, not so perfect for being locked in a freezer. Elliot was wearing his usual suit jacket.
"Do you remember the janitors' name?" Olivia asked, unable to remember herself. He had seems so insignificant.
"No, but they'll have records. They'll know who he is. You think he's the one that raped Chantelle?"
"I can't think of any other reason why he would lock us in here?" she sighed. She hated the silence between them. He had been so distant recently, and she wanted to ask him why but she was gun shy. After so many years of being on the receiving end of his temper she no longer had the energy, so she sat, silently, just waiting to be found.
Kathy sat on the side of the bed, watching as her husband swallowed yet another set of pills.
"How are you feeling?" she gently brushed the palm of her hand across his cheek. He had lost weight, a lot considering it had only been eight days ago that he and Olivia had been trapped. Elliot had been so distant since then, she was sure it was because of the illness. The initial hypothermia and now pneumonia, the strong tablets didn't help either. She had never seen him this disorientated. "She called again…" she started slowly. "She wants to come and see you-"
"No, just…just tell her I'll see her when I'm back at work." He mumbled, lying on his side, still incredibly tired but unable to sleep. She had called numerous times now, but he wasn't ready, he still felt too weak. Physical illness wasn't something that often took him out, but this time it was different, he had never felt anything like this before.
"Try to get some sleep?" Kathy whispered, not used to seeing her husband so weak. "I'll come back up in an hour or so, do you need anything? It's pretty hot in here, shall I bring up a fan-"
"No, I'm cold." He wasn't, they both knew it, the sweat on his forehead was more than a giveaway. He just didn't want to be cold. Not ever again.
"Jesus, it's freezing." Elliot rubbed his hands together, after three hours the cold was finally starting to get at him. He loved the winter, not so much the cold, but the snow, watching his kids run around, screaming and throwing snow balls at each other? He wouldn't give that up for the world. At times like that the cold was worth it, now? Now it was just cold.
"We're in a freezer," Olivia stated, matter of factly. She was cold and she was pissed off, the cold didn't seem to be affecting him at all. She had taken her jacket off and sat on it to prevent her but from getting too cold while she sat.
"Look, we may be here for a while so why don't we just talk…" he offered, he knew that she was angry at him. He'd been an asshole, he was snappy and pretty damn difficult, he knew it. She hadn't done anything to him, and yet, he had taken his mood out on her – again. Usually she took it, she shouldn't have, but she did. This time she was biting back and that result in public displays of aggression.
"What do you wanna talk about?" she asked, not bothering to look at him. Jesus, she hated the cold.
"Whatever you want to-"
"Elliot…" she closed her eyes briefly. She had perfected the art of small talk with him, she hadn't really had a choice, but she really wasn't in the mood for it now.
"I'm trying…" he offered. They always got to this crossroad, he was sorry, she pretended it was fine and slowly they would slip back into their old routine until something else happened and one of them would ruin it. Why could they never breathe the cycle? She was so tired of doing this with him time after time. Couldn't he see how exhausted she was?
"I'm so sick of us fighting Elliot," she admitted, rubbing her hands together for warmth. "It's just exhausting when you're like this-"
"Like what?" he asked, trying not to frown. Sure, they hadn't been getting on but it wasn't all his fault. She wasn't exactly perfect, she pushed him when he needed to be left alone, and she argued with every decision he made.
"Like…this…" she shook her head. "Forget it…" she couldn't even remember what they had been fighting about in the first place. She knew that she wasn't blameless, the constant late nights and over time that some heavy cases had brought had just left them both on edge and now they were doing what they did best, picking it out on each other.
"No, come on, why don't you tell me just how unreasonable I am?" He couldn't help but raise his voice. Why the hell was it always his fault?
"Elliot…" she sighed, rolling her eyes. What better place to fight that in a damn freezer, the atmosphere was perfect.
"No, you know what Liv, you're right. I'm impossible right? How the hell do you do it every day?"
"You're not exactly easy, you're not a ray of sunshine all the time either!"
"No, no I'm not. Because I'm tired, I'm tired of this and I'm tired of-" she stopped, forcing herself to swallow the words that were so dangerously on the tip of her tongue.
"Tired of me?" he asked, his heart sinking slowly. She didn't answer, she simply looked away. He had his answer.
It had been nearly an hour since either one of them had said a word. She was freezing. And if it was possible, since the words she and Elliot had shared she was sure the temperature had dipped even more. She was tensing her jaw so tightly that it hurt just so her teeth wouldn't chatter. She wanted to say something to him, to tell him that she was sorry. She wasn't tired of him, she was just tired. She knew that she wasn't perfect, they just clashed sometimes. Considering the amount of time that they had spent together, and the amount of years that they had been partners they were doing well. They had gotten through the worst of their issues years ago. It was just times like this when they rubbed each other up the wrong way, a good night's sleep would have set them right.
She wanted to tell him that she wasn't tired of him, that she doubted she ever could be, but she couldn't tell him that, she wished that they could be that honest with each other but they really never could. She looked up as he shifted, eventually standing up and walking towards her. She frowned, watching as he took of his jacket.
"Elliot, no-" she started, her teeth chattering as soon as she opened her mouth.
"You're freezing," he mumbled, pushing the jacket towards her.
"And so are you, even more so if you take that off-"she shook her head, she couldn't take his only source of warmth.
"Hey, I'm a marine remember? You're just a girl," he offered a soft smile and sat next to her. She shook her head, trying to hide her grin and slowly reached for the jacket. He rubbed his hands together, he could deal with the cold, it wasn't unbearable, yet.
"I'm not tired of you," she offered softly, not looking at him, staring straight ahead. She hated thinking that she'd hurt his feelings. Marine or not he was only human.
"I'm not tired of you either," his knees knocked against hers as they both sat with their legs huddled towards their chests.
"How could you ever be tired of me?" she asked, finally turning. These were the moments she loved with him, the moments where they didn't need to talk, they just knew. She had never been so in sync with another person, it frightened her sometimes, she often wondered if that was the reason they fought so much? "You think anyone knows we're here?"
"They'll find us, eventually, until then there's only one thing to do…"
Twenty minutes later Olivia shook her head, stifling a laugh as Elliot began again. "I spy with my little eye, something beginning with…"
"Elliot if you say F for freezer again, so help me-"
"Hey, we don't have a lot of options okay?" he shrugged. "Eye spy is…not working," he pushed himself up to his feet. "There has to be another way out of here or something?" he looked around, nothing on the ceiling, no possible escape there. Olivia had almost forgotten how cold she was with Elliot next to her, entertaining her with his awful game playing skills but as soon as he left her side the chill was back. She clung to his jacket even tighter, refusing to admit that she loved that it smelled of him.
"Bingo!" he pushed aside the only item of furniture on the room, a metal set of shelves, to find what looked like a small cubby hole.
"What is it?" Olivia asked, hoping it was some sort of exit.
"He was obviously planning on keeping someone in here." Elliot reached in and pulled out two blankets. Throwing one to Olivia right away. "Now all we have to do is sit tight til they find us," he couldn't help but shiver. The longer they were in there the harder it was to shake off the cold, he knew that someone would realise they were missing soon. Olivia was struggling, she was trying to hide it but he knew her too well.
"Thank you," she mumbled, pulling the blanket over herself. "Do you think he planned to keep Chantelle in here?"
"She said that she kicked him and managed to run away, maybe that was his plan. Lock her in here and come back for round two?"
"Then leave her to freeze to death?" she asked, her heart sinking slightly. She was sure that they had time, plenty of time to be found before things would begin to become dangerous but the thought alone frightened her.
"We're not going to freeze to death," it was like he could read her mind.
"I know," she answered softly, there was no way that after more than a decade that this was how it would end…
"How's your chest?" Kathy asked, having heard him coughing just a few moments before she'd entered the room.
"Fine," he lied, he was in agony. The doctor said it could take weeks to really recover, but that the medicine would help. It didn't. He still hadn't slept. He wasn't even sure what time it was.
"You should start to feel better soon," she placed a soft hand on his chest. He was boiling and clammy, she sighed softly. "Elliot can I open a window or something for you?"
"No, no I'm good," he reached out and slowly took her hand. "I'm sorry," he whispered, not really sure what he was apologising for, just knowing that she was concerned and he wasn't doing anything to help to ease her mind.
"You don't need to be sorry," she gently cupped his cheek, caressing him, grateful that he was with her. She remembered Cragen calling, asking if she had heard from Elliot and the panic had set it right away. It had been a further eighteen hours before she finally heard that they had been found. They had been the worst eighteen hours of her life. "Can I get you anything? Is there anything you need?" she offered, just wanting to make him feel better.
"I just need to sleep," he let go of her hand and turned onto his side, pulling the covers up to his chin yet again.
"Okay, you sleep. I love you," she offered, walking out slowly without having had a reply.
"Jesus, it's cold." Olivia's teeth chattered, she was shaking, unable to control her body's response to the cold any longer. The blanket that Elliot had found had helped to start with but even the cold now seemed immune to its defences.
"Okay, time for plan b," Elliot answered, his own teeth chattering.
"I didn't even know we had a plan a."
"Plan a was wait to be rescued, which is taking longer than I expected it to." They had been locked in the freezer for nearly six hours. He could see that she was struggling before they'd even been in there an hour and he had worried then, he was even more worried now. She had recently lost weight, he wasn't sure if it was because of the case load or some deranged idea that she needed to, but she seemed that but more fragile now. "So plan b is body heat," he gave her a quick smile. He was trying to keep her mind off of the fact that she was freezing. Something he had had to do with Dickie after he had fallen into a huge puddle when he was five. It was easier with five year olds, all he'd had to do then was make stupid faces and promise to buy his son McDonalds, he figured that Olivia would be slightly harder to distract.
"Body heat? Smooth El," she teased. She knew that he was worried, she knew that he knew that she wasn't as tough as him and she hated that. "I'm fine, we're both cold, I'm tougher than I look."
He couldn't help but wince, knowing that his hard words a few years ago had been etched into her memory. Because of the way that he had treated her then, she now wouldn't allow herself to be vulnerable in from of him. "I'm kind of freezing myself," he admitted, knowing that the only way to get her to allow him to help her was to make her think that she was helping him in return.
A few minutes later they were lying against each other, both blankets were covering them as her back was pressed tightly against his chest. If she wasn't so damn cold she would have been freaking out. She was spooning Elliot Stabler, spooning… He had his arms wrapped around her, holding her tightly against him.
"This feels weird," he admitted, enjoying the fact that she was so close just a little bit too much. She had never ever let him hold her like this before, they had had one brief shining moment after hos youngest son was born, but this was totally different.
"If they find us like this we're never living it down," she mumbled, still shaking slightly.
"Liv, we're locked in a freezer, we're never living it down either way. I can imagine the guys now," he sighed. This would be something that would stay with him for a long time, he just knew it.
"It could be worse," she offered.
"It could? It could be worse than being locked in possibly the coldest freezer in the world?" he asked. He was almost grateful that she was facing away from him. He knew it was wrong, but he couldn't help but be slightly grateful that fate had dealt them this shitty hand. He was finally able to hold her, all the times that he had seen her struggling not to cry, to hold it together, he had wanted to do this then, even knowing that it was wrong. She was his one weakness. "I think you're wrong," he told her. He had had thoughts about Olivia that he shouldn't have had, but he had never crossed the line, not that he hadn't wanted to. There was a time when he truly believed that something was about to happen, something did happen, Eli.
Despite being in love with his wife, and loving his children Olivia had changed him. There was no one in the world apart from his children who had a deeper hold over him, and she didn't even know it.
"Well, you could be stuck with Much…" she couldn't help but grin, feeling him stiffen behind her.
"Now that is just…You're right, it could definitely be worse," he laughed behind her, a deep laugh from the very pit of his stomach. She loved his laugh. She shook her head, the cold was making her slightly delirious. The cold and the fact that she was so close to Elliot that she was sure she could feel the steady beat of his heart against her back. Lovers had held her like this before, and it had never felt like this.
Elliot was the man that she had cared about for longer than she could remember. It didn't start out like this, and at times it faded, she had managed to convince herself that she didn't have anything other than platonic feelings for him on the day that she found out about Eli. She cared about him, more than she would ever admit but she knew where to draw the line.
She had, at one time found herself judging dates by Elliot's standards. That was about as successful as the Titanic's maiden voyage. No one could ever match up to him. He was the most important person in her life, she knew this just a few years into their partnership. Now, as he laughed behind her she wondered how she would ever cope without him. She silently chastised herself for liking the feel of his body against hers, she was playing with fire. Fire…Jesus, she was freezing. She pulled the blanket closer to her body, accidently shifting against Elliot. She froze.
"Uh, El?" she barely whispered, feeling him tense against her.
"It's my gun, I swear…"
"Daddy?" his daughters voice shook him from his daydream. He heard the click of the door, and soft footprints leading to the bed.
"Katy, I'm sick-"
"I just wanted to see you…" she told him softly. She had never seen her father so sick. He didn't get sick.
"Baby…"he started. "I don't want you to get sick as well." He grasped his chest as he began to cough, the pain was almost unbearable. He watched as his daughters eyes widened.
"Mom!" she called, her voice full of worry. Kathy ran up the stairs and into the room in a matter of moments. She gently lead Kathleen to the door as Elliot continued to cough.
"Baby, he's okay." She promised as tears filled her daughters' eyes. She had never ever seen her father like this. "He's going to be okay, this is the worst of it okay?" she cupped her daughters cheeks. "He's going to be fine." She placed a soft kiss on Kathleen's forehead before ushering her out of the room. She sat on the bed, rubbing Elliot's back as the coughing fit simmered down. "You okay?" she asked, her hand.
"Is she okay?" he asked, barely catching his breath, the pain becoming less intense.
"She's okay, she's just worried, they all are." She pressed her lips against his cheek. "I know you're sick, but I'm…I've never seen you like this and I don't know what to do?" she admitted, tears filling her eyes.
"I'm sorry…" he seemed to be apologising every time he saw her.
"No, no don't be sorry I just…I need you to tell me what you need me to do?" a single tear slipped along her cheek.
"I just…I need to get better." He did. He needed to regain his strength. The doctor warned them it would take weeks. "You don't need to so anything, you're doing enough." He lay back down slowly.
"You need some more sleep?" she asked, wiping her eyes. She knew that he wasn't sleeping, she had been sleeping in with Eli, Elliot had insisted so that she didn't get ill but she could hear him shifting in the bed from the next room. Her husband had been shot before, even then it didn't affect him like this. She needed him to get better, to really rest and begin to recuperate. She took a deep breath before starting. "I know that you said that you would see her at work, but uh-"
"She called?" he mumbled, running his hand along his face. He couldn't shake the constant disorientation. He just wanted to be left alone, to recover, to become strong again, then he could think about facing what happened. Now? Now she just needed her to stop calling. He knew that she was worried but he would call her when he was ready.
"I told her that you would see her when she came back to work but she asked if she could come round?"
"No," he sighed.
"I said no!" he snapped. Closing his eyes and turning away from his wife yet again. "I need to sleep…" he heard the door click behind him moments later.
"You need to stay awake," Elliot mumbled, struggling to do the same. They had been locked in the freezer for nearly twelve hours. He had found the blankets four hours ago, by now the cold was almost unbearable. He could feel her shaking against him, he tensed his whole body to prevent himself from shaking too. He knew that any minute the team would burst through the door and it would all be over but until that point he needed to keep Olivia awake. He was frightened that if she fell asleep she would never wake up. "Olivia, wake up," he shook her slightly.
"I'm awake…" she whispered, her teeth chattering. "I'm so tired," she mumbled. She wanted to sleep, she just wanted to close her eyes and sleep.
"Turn around," he urged, pulling her until she was facing him. She was so pale. He knew that they needed to keep active but he was exhausted, he barely move himself. "Come on, snap out of it Olivia."
"Sorry…" she finally opened her eyes. "I always thought…that I was more of a summer person…" she tried to joke, sensing his worry.
"Wanna move to Florida?" Elliot asked, nudging her slightly as her eyes closed again. "Come on, come on, sit up." He sat himself up, fighting the pain in his fingers. She was hypothermic, that much he knew. He helped her into the sitting position and sat behind her, twisting slightly so that she was leaning in his shoulder, so that he could see her face.
"I hate Florida, too many old people…" she had always hated the idea of Florida, she and her mother had gone there on holiday when she was fifteen and she had struggled to find a single person under 60. Her mother had chosen a hotel where she wouldn't meet any boys, to keep her out of trouble as she had put it. It had left a sour taste in Olivia's mouth.
"So I should cancel the room I've been saving for you in Florida's finest retirement home?"
"If you want to live…" she shuddered as the cold ran through her body yet again. Elliot bundled the blankets around them, struggling with his own light headedness. He couldn't stop her from shivering, he could barely stop himself. He rubbed his hands up and down her arms hoping to create some kind of heat.
"They'll be here soon…" he closed his eyes, wondering if they were coming at all. He needed to keep them both awake and talking. "Liv?" he called softly, she looked up at him. "We're getting out of here, you hear me?" he watched as she nodded slowly.
"I never want to be…cold again…" she spoke through chattering teeth. "We should…have the heating on in the car…even in July…"
"I think we can manage that, whatever you want," he promised. He was fighting his own urge to sleep, to just lie next to Olivia and sleep until they were found but it was too dangerous. If she had hypothermia there was every chance that she wouldn't wake up again and he was not willing to take the chance, ever.
"This…would be the worst end …ever," she mumbled, resting her head against Elliot's shoulder as she sat against him.
"I thought it was be…blaze of glory…not…this." She shook her head. "There are so many things-"
"Liv, this isn't it. Come on, I now you're tired, it's the hypothermia but as soon as they find us they can treat it and things will all become a little bit clearer." He had learnt that one of the strongest symptoms of hypothermia was disorientation. She was already mumbling, he knew it wouldn't be long before she was slurring her words.
"They're not coming…"
"They…they are…" he shivered, yet again pulling the covers against them both. Of course they were coming. He had five children at home, there was no way that a little bit of cold would keep him away from them. They were going to be fine, they were going to found and they were going to laugh about this, he knew it.
"I'm sorry…that I let him push…me in here…" she offered an hour later, still awake, still fighting the need to sleep.
"Hey, no…stop it-" he yet again rubbed his hands up and down her arms, but he was so cold how, he could barely feel his own hands.
"When I was…thirty…" she started. "I promised myself that I wouldn't…die with regrets."
"Olivia, we are not…going to die," he could no longer stop himself from shivering, he knew that he too was hypothermic.
"No one knows…no one knows that we're…here," she told him as tears filled her eyes. She had never imagined that this would be how she would die. She had thought about it often, sometimes too much. She had always imagined dying in the line of duty, taking a bullet, she wasn't the 'old lady dying in her sleep' type, but this, this was just unfair.
"I know…" he swallowed the lump in this throat. He closed his eyes for a moment as the reality of the situation hit him. He had spent so long convincing Olivia that they were going to be okay that he had almost convinced himself.
"Are you... scared?" she asked, her entire body shaking against his. A tear slid down her cheek as he pressed his chin against the top of her head.
"Yes…" he whispered.
"You're…thinking of the kids?" she forced herself to open her eyes, he needed her, he was scared. She felt him shake against her.
"I didn't even get the chance…to say goodbye…" tears filled his eyes as he thought about his five children. "This isn't supposed to be it Liv…" he shook his head. He knew that they had a matter of hours before the hypothermia killed them both.
"I know…" she whispered. "And I'm sorry," she reached for his hand, barely able to feel it with her numb hand but trying to assure him all the same. It wasn't fair. There was no one waiting for her outside, she knew that and accepted it, but Elliot had a family. He had five children and a wife who would all be lost without him. She wished she could take his place, she wished she was in the damn freezer alone, or not at all. She would happily sacrifice herself for him. She would have done anything to get him out alive.
"I thought…I thought that I would have had children," she admitted softly. She knew that Elliot could not face thinking about his children, not now, so she changed the subject and they had somehow gotten onto regrets It seemed only fitting.
"I regret not…talking to my mom more…"
"She loves you…" Olivia mumbled, feeling more tired than ever. "She told me."
"I thought it was you…" he wished that he had thanked her then. He had wanted to ask her how his mother had known about Kathleen but he never did. He should have. "Thank you." Better late than never. His hands were numb. He was trying to squeeze her hand, but he couldn't tell where his hand ended and hers began. He hated the cold. His lungs felt like they were freezing from the inside out and he knew that sooner or later he would struggle to stay awake himself.
"I regret it too…my mom…" she closed her eyes for just a moment, prying them open again. Before Elliot could tell her that her mother loved her as well she spoke. "I've never skinny dipped…" he watched as a small smile spread across her lips. She was amazing. Even now, she was trying to make him smile. He shook his head slowly, his heavy heart sinking even further as he realised what he was most frightened of saying. "I…I regret leaving the house…before anyone was awake this morning." He let out a strangled sob.
"El…" Olivia bit her lip as tears filled her eyes. How could she comfort him. She wanted to take his pain away, to assure him that he would see his beautiful children again but she couldn't lie to him, it was cruel. "They…they know how much you…love them…" she could barely speak, her jaw hurt from the chattering teeth.
She turned into him as much as she could, desperate to comfort him as he sobbed behind her. "I'm sorry…" she whispered as her own tears escaped. She closed her eyes, urging herself to move. Slowly as she began to feel again in her hands she brought her hands up to cup his face, brushing away his tears with her thumbs. "I'm sorry…"
"I wanted to be a cowgirl…" she admitted, her head pressed against her partners shoulder. He had sobbed for his children for nearly an hour. He wasn't ready to let them go, how could he? Him losing his life would be the real tragedy here. The only person who would have been waiting for her on the outside was locked in the freezer with her and she hated herself for secretly being relieved that he was by her side. She would, of course, have got him out if there was any way in the world but having him by her side now had eased the fear that she would have felt if she had been on her own, or with anyone else in the world.
"A cowgirl?" he turned his face away from her and coughed, his lungs becoming tighter and tighter with each passing hour.
"I…" she stopped as he coughed, wanting to comfort him but being unable to move so she did what she did best and carried on. "I wanted to marry the milky bar kid…" she felt his chest rise against her, an attempt at a laugh.
"You two would have made a cute couple," he smiled, the urge to close his eyes becoming stronger and stronger. He needed to keep her awake, he wasn't ready to let her go. He couldn't admit it but she was the only thing keeping him alive. If he had been on his own or with anyone else he would have already given in. He wasn't ready to die, he didn't want to die, but when he had been morbid and thought about how he wanted to go out he'd always felt guilt. He hadn't thought about dying with his children around him, his wife at his side, it was always Olivia.
He used to feel guilty about that, he knew that his death, witnessing his death would be just another tragedy in her life and he hated thinking of it, thinking of it causing her pain but that was always the way he imagined it, in the line of duty, with his partner at his side. He didn't ever thing that his partner would die with him.
"El, I know we…we moved past regrets…" she started, wondering what the hell she was doing. "But I have one more…the biggest one…"
"What is it?" he asked, looking down at her. Her head was resting on his shoulder, two of her legs draped over one of his as she sat at an angle.
She looked up at him as he waited for her answer. When her cold lips met his she he didn't move. He didn't pull away. He opened his mouth against hers to deepen the kiss, only stopping as her teeth began to chatter again. She pulled away, any kind of reason having abandoned ship. Nothing really made sense, kissing him had almost made sense, she didn't want to die without him knowing. She figured that the hypothermia had somehow turned off all of the hundreds of warning signs that she had placed in her brain for when she got too close and she didn't care anymore.
"What was that for…" he asked, having not moved at all since her lips had met his, he couldn't think straight. She had kissed him. He had kissed her back.
"I just wanted you to know…" she trailed off. What did she want him to know? Did she want him to know that she was probably in love with him? That her biggest regret is not having pushed herself when he was divorced? That the reason that she was single was because no man could ever measure up to him? She felt light headed, she must have been losing her mind.
"I know…" he whispered, pressing his lips against her forehead.
"El," Kathy gently stroked the side of his cheek, watching as his eyes fluttered open. "How do you feel?" she asked softly, her husband had slept for eight hours, the powerful pain killer finally pushing him over the edge.
"Okay…" he answered quietly, it wasn't a dream. The pain in his chest told him that.
"I uh," she stopped and took a deep breath, she knew that he was going to react badly. "You have a visitor."
"She's here?" he asked, watching as his wife nodded her head. He closed his eyes for a moment. He should have known that she wouldn't stay away. "Okay…"
Nearly an hour later they were lying, huddled together. She was beyond caring about what anyone would think if they had found them like this, she just needed to be close to him, partly for the heat, partly to ease the fear. She was frightened, she couldn't deny it but knowing that if she was going to die it would be in his arms made her fell almost comforted. She didn't want to die. There were so many things that she hadn't done, so many things that she hadn't said. She felt guilty for feeling comforted by his presence, unlike her he had everything to live for, five beautiful kids and a wife waiting for him at home. She hated feeling so damn selfish.
"Name a talent…" he asked, clinging to Olivia as another shiver shot through his body. They had been asking each other random question to keep each other awake for hours. She had kissed him earlier, something he was sure was down to the cold affecting her rational thinking. He hadn't had time to kiss her back because she'd pulled away so quickly he hasn't had the chance to even realise what had happened.
He'd always known there had been something between them. Something he dared not to ever mention for fear that she would run away, again. After Gitano it had nearly happened, he was so close to vocalising it then, having only really just realised the true extent of his feelings when he saw her hit the ground at the station. He didn't say it then, he had skirted around it, reacted badly to the inner revelation and blamed her. She was gone the next day. He had promised himself, when she returned, that he would try to forget, that he wouldn't allow his feelings for her to ruin their friendship. It hadn't been easy, there had been times when he just wanted to tell her, when the words were literally bursting out of his chest. He'd wanted to explain to her that his chest felt like it was about to implode whenever she was hurt, when there was even a slight chance that she was in danger. He could barely contain his jealousy when she was dating someone else, watching her get ready for dates with men who would never be good enough for her had been torture. He had forced himself to push his feelings away, to ignore them so that he didn't end up killing someone and he had, he'd done a good job of it too. He had been a family man, loving his wife and children but it was always there, no matter how hard he tried to fight it and he often wondered if she really did feel the same, and to what extent? He'd nearly driven himself crazy before going back to Kathy.
Then, as he felt her chest rise and fall against his, her neck tucked between his neck and shoulder, he realised that he was going to die without ever having told her just how much she meant to him. All of his outbursts of anger, all of the hurt that he had caused her, she would never know that it was because he was trying to keep himself sane, keep himself faithful. There had been times when he had just wanted to push her against the lockers and bury himself inside of her. He'd wanted to hear her moan his name and he thrust into her… Jesus.
He closed his eyes as he felt his cock begin to get hard. Only he could get an erection in a fucking freezer. He shifted slightly as she replied.
"A talent?" She shook her head. "I don't really have one, let's face it…" she shivered. "I can't sing," she laughed softly, remembering the times she'd tried and failed miserably to sing along with the radio while they were on a stakeout. "Can I think about it?" she asked looking up, making eye contact. "El?" she frowned, unable to avoid the frown spread all over his face. "What's wrong?" she placed a hand on his bicep, hoping to comfort him in any way.
"You kissed me…" he answered, looking down at her. He watched as she looked away, dammit, she thought that he was annoyed at her. "I uh, I didn't think…I mean I knew that you-"
"It was stupid…" she pulled away from him slightly, trying to sit up but stopped as he placed a firm hand across her stomach to keep her in place. "Elliot…" she barely whispered. She was mortified, she had kissed him and now he wanted to know why, what the hell was she going to say? That she thought she was in love with him but she'd never let herself think about it long enough to actually confirm it? Jesus, she closed her eyes, she had kissed him, why the hell had she kissed him? He didn't want her, not in the way that she wanted him, he didn't long for her the way that she longed for him. She had cried herself to sleep the night that he went back to his wife, how could she ever explain that. Maybe it was a good thing they weren't getting out alive, she couldn't face him requesting a new partner due to the fact that his old one lost her damn mind and kissed him.
"I'm sorry…"she whispered, tears filling her eyes.
"I've always known," he answered, watching as she closed her eyes. She wouldn't cry, she would not cry. He had always known that she was pining for him, how pathetic. Why did she have to kiss him? Why did he have to bring it up now? Again, she tried to sit up but he held her in place with just one hand. She was so cold, and so tired.
"Elliot please…" she whispered, unable to open her eyes, to see the sympathy in his eyes again. She hated it when he felt sorry for her. She couldn't face any more humiliation, not when there was no escape, nowhere to run.
He had to make her understand, he was hurting her by not saying anything, embarrassing her. He spoke softly. "I just…"
"Please don't-" she shook her head. She couldn't hear it, she had been avoiding hearing him admit that he just wasn't interested for years, knowing that it would break her heart and she couldn't face it now. She couldn't die with him knowing for sure that he didn't feel a thing for her, as sad as it sounded that tiny glimmer, that little chance meant too much to her.
"Open your eyes," he pressed the palm of his cold hand against her cheek, his thumb caressing her cheek bone. He watched as her eyes opened slowly, she was waiting to be let down, he could see it in her eyes. He needed to vocalise it, to tell her that he felt it too, that he felt the same way instead of just leaving her there, drowning, but he didn't know how to. "I…" he shook his head, the moral thing would be to let her down gently, lie and tell her that he didn't feel anything for her because of his wife but he could never do that to her, not to her. Before he knew what he was doing his lips were against hers, she froze underneath him in complete shock, not moving, barely breathing as he kissed her for less than a moment. He pulled away and she simply stared at him, completely shell shocked. "I just needed you to know…"
"How are you feeling?" she asked softly. She looked tired, and thin, her hair was tied into a pony tail and he didn't think she had any make up on. "I uh, I tried to call…"
"I've been sick…" he answered monotonously. He was a prick. He knew that, she didn't deserve to be spoken to like that. "How are you feeling?" he asked, watching as she nervously placed her hands into her pocket.
"Pneumonia's a bitch…" Olivia gave a short nervous laugh. Maybe it had been a mistake to come here. She had woken up with captain Cragen asleep at her side, Elliot had been in the next room but she hadn't yet summoned up the courage to approach him. She had been suffering alone, at home, dealing with the coughing and the pain in her chest and today she just couldn't take it anymore, she had to talk to him. She hated the thought of being cold, she'd noticed the look on Kathy's face when in the middle of a hot day she showed up wearing an oversized sweater, but she didn't care she just didn't want to feel the cold. "Looks like its hit you harder than me though-" she had never seen him like this before, in all the years that she had known him, even taking a bullet hadn't made him like this.
"You've lost weight." He told her, noticing even though she was wearing a sweater that was way too big for her.
"I…haven't really felt much like eating…you know?" she asked, placing her hands in her pockets. She hadn't even thought about eating. She had lay alone in bed, thinking about the time they had spent together, realising that she really was still alive, she had been so sure that they weren't going to make it…
"You need to eat," his voice softened slightly. He could see that she was uncomfortable and he wasn't helping at all. He sat up slowly, ignoring the pain in his chest wondering how the hell she had got to his house if she felt the same pain. "Did you drive here?" he asked, hoping she hadn't caused herself pain because he wouldn't pick up the phone.
"No, I uh, don't think that the chest is ready for that-"
"Hurts doesn't it?" he asked, stopping as he realised the double meaning in his word and heard her mutter.
"Like hell…" she looked up at him, an apologetic look on her face. "I really didn't come here to make you feel uncomfortable or anything I just…wanted to make sure we were okay?" she asked. He wanted to wrap his arms around her there and then. It must've taken so much to get her to this point.
"I…I want us to be okay," he offered, watching as she nodded. He was an idiot. He hated that he was making her squirm but he didn't know what the hell to do, he couldn't get it out of his mind…
The second time his lips met hers she did react, she moved her mouth against his and brought her hand to the back of his neck to pull him even closer. She had dreamt of this moment for so long, only it had been a little less cold in her dreams. She froze as she felt his hand skimming her stomach, as his lips devoured hers and it took everything in her not to moan. Maybe she was already dead?
She tilted her head to give him more access to her lips and he took full advantage of it. She could feel the need oozing out of them both. The need to know, to show the other just how much they meant to them. The fear was almost unbearable, the fear that they would die without having ever really known how the other one had felt. She couldn't die without showing him, she couldn't die without knowing how it felt to kiss him, to be held by him, to love him.
It wasn't about desire, it wasn't about the act itself it was just the fear, and the need, the desperation to die without regrets. She gasped as his cold hand slipped under her shirt, thinking was no longer an option. She paused for a moment, only for air and he pulled back, looking into her eyes. They always could communicate without saying a word, and now was no different. He held her stare as he slowly moved until he was on top of her. "I just…" he could barely breathe, the need to be close to her, to show her just how sorry he was for the things that he had done, how much he needed her, how much he loved her.
"I know…" she whispered, cupping his cheeks with her hands and bringing his lips back to hers. All thought by now, had been recklessly abandoned and they were seeking comfort in the only thing they could, the only thing they ever could, each other.
"I think maybe…maybe we just need some space?" he suggested, watching as she nervously stood with her hands in her pockets and nodded.
"I just need you to know that I didn't mean-"she stopped as he shook his head. "I'm sorry…" she closed her eyes for a moment. This was a mistake. What the hell had she been thinking? She had been worried and upset, scared about the fact that he hadn't replied to her in over a week and desperate to prove that their partnership wasn't over. Maybe she should have just accepted it. How could they ever go back?
She closed her eyes and swallowed the name that was so dangerously close to leaving her lips as he pushed into her for the first time. She wasn't quite sure how it had gotten so far, she couldn't remember and she didn't care. Her trousers were around her ankles and his weren't even down past his waist but it didn't matter because he was inside of her.
"You okay?" he whispered shakily as he gave her time to stretch around him. She nodded slowly, her hands shaking, not so much from the cold as from the sheer adrenaline coursing through her veins.
"You don't have to be sorry…" he shook his head. He couldn't believe they were having this conversation. He had already accepted his fate, he didn't expect to wake up in a hospital bed with his wife at his side. He didn't expect to wake up at all.
"Oh, God…" she couldn't help the words as they fell from her mouth. He had filled her completely and now as he pushed into her again she clung to him as he grunted into her ear with each thrust. Her fingers dug into the fabric of his shirt as Elliot slowly moved inside of her. They could blame the cold, blame the hypothermia that had probably already begin to set in, they could blame anything but it was sheer need.
He could barely breath as he moved inside of her, it was more than he had ever expected. She was moaning and gasping with every move he made and he just wanted it to last forever. He brought his lips to hers, his tongue slowly meeting with hers. He had imagined their first time to be frantic, maybe even drunken but never like this, never slow and torturous like this.
"Hmmm," she moaned into his mouth as he rolled his hips again. He reached for her hands, entwining them with his as he made love to her. He needed her to know.
She could barely thing straight, she didn't want to she just wanted to feel, she never wanted to feel anything other than this exact feeling again. She could feel the electricity building in the pit of her stomach and desperately wanted to tell him not to stop but she couldn't. "Elliot…" was all that she could manage and then she heard it, just as she began to climax she heard it…
"I love you…"
"I just think we need some time? Okay?" he asked, watching as she nodded her head slowly, refusing to make eye contact. "We…we made a mistake but it was a hell of a situation we were in…" he was actually trying to justify the fact that they had had sex, in his house, the house he shared with his wife and children. "And we won't let it happen again, okay?"
They had been simply lying in each other's arms for nearly two hours after making the love. The cold had hit them, furiously attacking as the effects of hypothermia set in. Her back was pressed against his chest, their clothes readjusted for when they were found…
"I'm not sorry…" he whispered, the pain in his chest intensifying. He could feel her shaking against him. He wanted to keep her safe, to keep her warm but he knew that he couldn't, all that he could do was hold her. And let her know that it was okay, that he was with her. "Just go to sleep Liv…" he closed his eyes slowly, unable to stop a tear from falling, barely managing to force them open again.
"Okay…" she shook beside him. After a few moments of silence she spoke. "I love you too…"
She walked towards the door slowly, hoping and praying that he was right, that they could get past what they had done in the freezer, that he wouldn't hate her forever but the fear in the pit of her stomach was nauseating. What if she'd lost him?
She felt his strong hand on her arm and turned around, almost immediately she was in his arms, her face against his chest. She closed her eyes for a moment, allowing him to hold her as she struggled not to cry. She hadn't believed that he would ever touch her again. She blinked away the tears, her fingers clinging to the material of his sweater. He pulled away slowly and used his hand to tilt her chin so that she was looking into his eyes. "We're going to be okay…"
Chapter End Notes:
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