"Come, All Ye Faithful"
Olivia had never been religious, but Elliot still retained a healthy (unhealthy) amount of Catholic guilt from his upbringing and, when Sophia was a toddler, insisted on attending Mass with some regularity.
Olivia hated it, but she was partial to Elliot, so. They went.
And so it was that she occasionally found herself occupying a small piece of holy real estate at St. Ann's, her ass perched on a pew as unforgiving as some of the glances she received from her fellow churchgoers.
"They think I'm a homewrecker," she complained to Elliot, who at least had the grace to look chagrined at the term.
"It doesn't matter what they think," was his answer. "We're there for God, not them."
"You're there for God," she corrected grumpily. "I'm there for you."
And she knew it wasn't what he wanted to hear, but it seemed to be enough, at the time. After all, she wasn't sure what Elliot's God thinks of women like her exactly, but she'd gotten enough information from crackpots and televangelists over the years to feel a vague discomfort that had nothing to do with the non-ergonomic design of the pew.
Despite the tension between them that religion seemed to cause, Olivia usually found some comfort in the services. Father McHugh generally preached words of kindness and hope, teaching that grace was available to all who would receive it, and whether she believed the Bible or not, his positivity and gentle manner left her feeling lighter.
Also, she enjoyed seeing Elliot's face as he listened intently, ignorant of her observance; she could almost picture the little Catholic boy he used to be.
And she saw the man he still was.
"So…" she said slowly as they exited the narthex of St. Ann's on one of their Sundays.
After several seconds of walking in silence, Elliot looked at her expectantly. "So?"
She stopped walking, her uneasiness radiating, permeating the air around her. "So… maybe we should have talked about the religion issue sooner, but—"
"Liv," he groaned.
"—but how much of that stuff do you actually believe?"
His eyebrows climbed toward his hairline. "That 'stuff'?"
"Well," she shrugged. "I don't know. Isn't that sort of important?"
Eyebrows, she thought, looking at his shell-shocked expression. Eyebrows are still up. Way up.
"I," he said, and stopped. Exhaled.
She'd rarely seen him so flabbergasted.
"What?" she prodded.
"Olivia—you're not," he started. "I don't know what—is this important to you?"
"No," she scoffed. "I just, I don't know… I just want to make sure you're still okay with," she waved a hand vaguely back-and-forth between them. "This."
He stared at her like she had announced her decision to host a fundraiser for NAMBLA.
"Uh huh," he said after a moment, carefully enunciating each syllable.
Several seconds passed. She swore she could feel her hackles rising at his unabashed scrutiny. "Oh my god," she snapped. "Forget it."
She'd barely started walking again when she felt his fingers circle her wrist. "Wait a second, Liv."
"Liv," he repeated, chuckling.
His face looked somewhat normal again, save for the stunned look in his eyes. "Calm down. Just… Jesus. I didn't think we'd ever have this conversation."
"What?" she grumbled. "Like it doesn't matter?"
He laughed incredulously. "Olivia, I've been living with you—"
"We've been living together."
"—for two years now. I've known you for twelve."
"So this isn't important?"
"It's important, but don't you think we're a little beyond this point?"
She absorbed that. "Sophie—"
"—she's your kid," he finished. "She's your responsibility. If you decide that you want to raise her in the Church, I'll support you, but I'm not looking to convert her while you sleep."
"How do you still come here, anyway?" she asked dubiously, gesturing to the gothic doorway of the church.
He frowned. "What do you mean?"
"I mean that… well. You're divorced. Technically, we're adulterers. You're currently living in sin with some heathen and her poor, illegitimate child—"
"Liv," he snapped. "You'd shit a brick if I talked about Sophie that way—"
"But isn't that what they all think in there?" she pressed. "Isn't that what Kathy thinks? And your priest? And what about your kids—"
He looked angry.
No, she thought. Scratch that.
He looked furious.
"What I've done, the choices I've made," he hissed. "That's between me and God. I'll live with that. I'll take it."
She huffed. "So that's it, then?" she asked his retreating back as he walked toward their apartment at an alarmingly fast clip.
"Yep," he threw over his shoulder.
"Nice," she taunted. "Way to walk away."
He rounded back in a flash, seething with frustration and she straightened her spine in anticipation of his anger. She'd never forgotten how to fight with him.
"You know, Liv, next time you want to discuss my theology, it might help to leave your shitty misconceptions about Christians at the door. I guarantee those people in there were thinking a lot nicer things about you than you were about them."
He was walking away again.
She fought the urge to throw something at the back of his head.
"One more thing," he yelled. "Don't ever talk about Sophie like that again."
Overcome with guilt, humiliation and rage, she watched him leave before stalking off into the opposite direction in search of some hot soup and an hour or so away from the man whose fingerprints were inexplicably over every square inch of her – their – life.
And that was their first religious discussion.