The lab as always was both a pleasure and a pain, John shook his head as he and Fin began going over the results the lab had given them from the various crime scenes. Fin had been jumpy as a pimp in traffic court the entire time until John had rolled his eyes and told him to go and get something decaffeinated to drink, "Anymore coffee and you'll be climbing the walls. Liv and Cragen will kill us both."
"More worried about what my woman'll do to me if I come home hyped up on caffeine," Fin muttered. "She gets jealous since she can't have it anymore." He'd checked his phone as it beeped and exited the room muttering about chocolate and what sodas were free of caffeine.
"Fin's dating someone?" Warner blinked at Fin as she walked into the evidence lab. "Is the world coming to an end?"
"Not that I know of, no. The world spins merrily on despite Fin's involvement with a woman," Munch replied dryly. "Something we can do for you?"
"Latest lab results on your twins," Warner handed him the file. "I also dug through my records for anything I had on your other victims. It's all in there." She folded her arms, "Now dish."
"Dish?" John shook his head, "I'm afraid I don't take your meaning Melinda."
"Fin's seeing someone and he's jumpier than a whore in church," Warner regarded him with a gimlet eye. "Olivia has been seeing someone for at least three months. I can't get anything out of either one of them. So dish."
"I don't know what you want me to say," Munch evaded. "You know neither one of them talks about their private lives when we're in the squadroom, Liv especially. And if I want to hear about Fin's dating life I'd be better off asking Liv than him."
"So I should ask Fin who Liv is dating?" Melinda Warner was nobody's fool, John would give her that, uncomfortable as he was with the conversation. "And Fin about Liv?"
"I suspect that you know a bit more about Liv than either of us males," John avoided the question with the skill of a skinny kid in a gym class dodge ball game.
"Well I know she'll probably be taking a leave of absence in the next six months or so," Warner dropped that bit of information slyly. "You got any info on the guy she's dating?"
"Fin said something about the guy," John tapped his chin with his forefinger as if he was thinking. "Gave me the impression that the guy was black. But I didn't get a name or anything."
"Olivia Benson is dating a brother?" Warner blinked, "Wouldn'ta seen that coming." She looked at Munch shrewdly, "Next thing you'll tell me Fin's dating a white girl."
"So what if I was? Somethin' wrong with that?" Fin's voice was a little edgier than usual and John groaned inwardly. Fin would pick the least perfect time to come back into the lab.
"Hey it just means the sisters got fed up with your black ass," Warner sniped right back at Fin. "You give me this poor little white girl's number. I feel a civic duty to warn the child about the maniac she's dating."
"Yeah I'll get right on that, round about the time Lucifer straps on skates," Fin shook his head. "John you know this shit, what's the best kind of chocolate? The dark kind I mean."
"You were muttering about that when you left," John shook his head. "I thought I sent you to get something not laced with uppers."
"I got a bottle a water," Fin held it up almost defensively. "I'm serious man. I got a text and my woman is jonesin'."
"If you let me see it I'll tell you what the best chocolate is," The ME offered with a sly grin.
"Yeah and have you blab it all over creation who I'm dating? No thanks," Fin grumbled. "C'mon John. You got friends in the diamond district, you got connections all over. Hook me up."
"We'll stop on the way back to the precinct," John conceded. "If only to keep your woman from killing me if she finds out I didn't help."
"You know her then," Warner's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Thought he didn't talk about her at work."
"He doesn't," John smirked. "But I know my partner well enough to know that any woman he's been seeing seriously for half a year is someone I don't want to mess with. For all I know she's a six foot supermodel who carries a glock nine mil."
"I take your point," Warner sighed. "Well you two are no help to me at all. I'd better get back to work."
"And we still have this evidence to sift through," John frowned down at the pile of reports. "My eyes are gonna bleed." He picked up half the reports and handed Fin the other half, saluting the lab tech as they left.
"Least we got Huang to give us a hand with it," Fin replied pulling out his phone. "Uh, we don't have to stop for candy anymore."
"Why not?" John frowned. "If she wants chocolate I do know a good place. It's even on the way."
"Because that wasn't the kind of chocolate she meant," Fin's face was slightly darker than normal and John chuckled as he realized his partner was actually blushing.
"I have to take a picture of this," He laughed as he pulled out his phone and took a quick photo of Fin's embarrassed face. "The day Odafin Tutuola blushed."
"Shut up before I shut you up," Fin was shaking his head over the text and his fingers moved rapidly over his phone. John just kept chuckling and Fin rolled his eyes in disgust as he got in the car, "Wonderful, I got a crazy old white dude who can't stop laughing."
John grinned and sent the photo to Liv, adding the message, 'He blushed when he had to tell me why we weren't stopping to get you chocolate at the store anymore.'
Liv's text came back with a smiley face attached, 'You can still stop for chocolate. Just make mine quality dark. Fin will know what I mean.'
John frowned and wondered if he was being set up, "Now I know how mobsters feel when they walk into a sting," He complained. "Your woman is now trying to make me crazy. Crazier."
"You sent her the picture man," Fin shook his head. "Reap what you sow."
"Yeah well she says we can still stop for chocolate," John waited until Fin took a sip of water before adding. "She just says to make sure hers is quality dark. And that you'd know what she meant." The water in Fin's mouth nearly sprayed all over the steering wheel and dashboard as the ex-ranger inhaled sharply and nearly choked before coughing.
"God damn!" Fin waited until they were stopped at a light before he grabbed some leftover napkins and cleaned up the mess, "Are you and she trying to get me killed so you can split the life insurance policy? Because I've got news, we get in a wreck you'll die too man."
"Hey I'm just passing along a message," John raised his hands innocently. "I feel so used."
"You're gonna feel worse in a minute," Fin told him with a half way credible snarl, "Once I stop this car."
"You sound like my mother," Munch chuckled. "Why does she keep going on about dark chocolate anyway?" Fin's smirk was evil and Munch changed his mind quickly, "Never mind. I'm pretty sure I don't really need to know that."
"But you asked John," The black man's smirk only widened. "And if Liv mentioned it to you that must mean she won't mind you knowing the particulars."
"I cry surrender, I throw myself upon the mercy of the court," John groaned his dismay. "I'll even show you the Chocolatier's if you will only be quiet about you, Olivia and dark chocolate."
"You're buying," Fin told him, "Since you almost got us in a wreck."
"If that's what it takes to never hear about this again, my pleasure," Munch agreed promptly. "I do so swear."
"All right then," His partner nodded. "Where am I headed?"
Fin smiled as he entered the squad room, Liv and the doc weren't back yet so she'd see the box of chocolate in its dark burgundy box on her desk when she got in. The note he'd put on it was guaranteed to make her smile if not blush, a little payback for her since he'd already gotten John.
He almost chuckled as he headed to his desk, remembering what he'd written, 'Babygirl, you know I'd love to give you dark chocolate at work. I hope this will tide you over until I can get you home. Be patient Baby, I promise to satisfy all your cravings.'
The chocolate place wasn't where he'd normally choose to spend his time, but it had been worth it to tease Liv a bit and make John uncomfortable after that stunt in the car. The thought had occurred to him that Huang might be semi-aware of Olivia's texts but innocent until proven guilty. Fin looked down at the pile of files and decided he'd need a cup of coffee before he started on them. He felt like an addict, trying to get his caffeine fix when Liv wasn't around but the bottle of water had refreshed him and now he was back to bone tired.
Cragen came out of his office just as John walked into the squad room with his load of files, "Fin, c'mon in my office for a minute." He beckoned with his hand, a worried frown on his face. Fin set down his still empty mug and looked at John who just shrugged.
Once the door shut behind him, Fin leaned against the wall, "What's up Captain?"
"I just got a call from Huang and Olivia," Cragen folded his arms. "Is there something you'd like to tell me about an incident in Olivia's apartment last night?" He pointed at the chair across from his desk, "Sit."
"Prefer to stand sir," Fin didn't fall back on it often but now and then his army training kicked in and if he was going to get dressed down he would take it on his feet.
"Fin, I'm not the enemy," Cragen sighed and Fin took a good look at the man. He looked five years older and worried as hell. "But I do need to take your statement. I want to hear what happened from your perspective. When Liv comes in she's going to tell me her point of view. Eventually Elliot will tell me his. All of it Fin. Even the parts that you and Liv haven't been telling me."
Fin sighed and shook his head, "Olivia didn't want anyone, mostly Stabler, to treat her like a victim." He said quietly and took a seat as the captain did the same, "So we kept quiet about what happened to her at Sealview. Harris nearly raped her. He'd finally, after she fought him off twice, pinned her, cuffed her to a door and was going to-" He shook his head. "I got there just in time, Captain I will never forget the terrified look on her face."
"All right, setting aside the fact that I want to prosecute the son of a bitch for attempted rape," Cragen's sigh was a huff of annoyance, "She's getting help?"
"She's in therapy," Fin nodded. "Huang recommended someone for her and its helping. She...she's getting better about men touching her, it's hard but she's doing it. And most importantly to her, Olivia is doing her job and Stabler doesn't know."
"Because he'd just want to protect her and that's exactly what Liv doesn't need," Cragen wasn't an idiot.
Fin knew the Captain would understand but he also knew Olivia hated to let him down, "She has a hard time with any man 'sides me touching her. It's getting better and you and John don't bother her so much anymore. But Stabler...every time he grabs her she... she says it's like being put back in that basement."
"And he hasn't noticed? I've heard her telling him to let go of her before," Cragen frowned and considered it a moment. "Stabler does have a blind spot a mile wide when it comes to the people he thinks are his responsibility."
"Yeah, he has this problem with listening too," Fin shook his head. "So you've got the background now."
"You've known all this since Sealview," Cragen clarified. "That she realized she needed some help, that she's been having trouble. You've been helping her deal with it."
"I'm the other one who knew what had happened besides Liv," Fin nodded. "Made sure she knew I was there if she needed to talk. Or rant or whatever. She was my best friend before we were dating Cap'n. I was gonna be there for her no matter what. If she hadn't gotten some help when she did I was figuring on talking to George about it."
"All right, tell me what happened in Olivia's apartment," Cragen pulled out a notepad and a pen from his desk. "I'm taking a statement from you Fin. You know the drill."
"Me and Liv are packing up the apartments," Fin began quietly. "We were working on Olivia's place last night. We both figured after Elliot's scene at the precinct that he'd come by to demand an explanation or something so we made sure we were somewhere he could find us. Didn't want him to start up again at work, because like you requested, we're trying to keep our private life out of the one six."
"Noted," Cragen nodded his understanding, "And appreciated, for what its worth."
Fin sighed, "For all the good it's been doing." He thought back to the night before, "I was in the bedroom. Liv's got a bookcase in there and I was boxing that up. I heard her say someone was at the door. Think I told her to check the peephole first or something. Heard the door open, figured it was probably Elliot. Suspicions were confirmed when I heard his voice."
"All right, and then?" Cragen wrote some more, "Were you able to hear particulars of the conversation? Or just voices."
"Voices mostly, Liv's mostly just the sound, Elliot now and then he'd get more clear because his voice would rise. He gets louder when he's aggravated," Fin was scowling now and knew it, tried to ease his expression back to something neutral and from the tension in his jaw knew he was failing miserably. "And then I heard him shouting. I got a bad feeling so I grabbed Olivia's clutch piece from her bedside drawer and moved down the hallway."
"Did you have a clear vantage point from where you stood," Cragen asked as he continued writing.
"Yeah, hall's not that long, Liv and Elliot were standing right in front of the hallway, Liv had her back to me and if Elliot had looked he would have seen me with the gun," Fin rubbed his forehead. "Elliot said 'How can I trust you when you keep lying to me' and that bad feeling got worse when Stabler grabbed Olivia by the upper arms, held onto her pretty tight it looked to me." He took a deep breath and continued, "Liv had tried to back up but his reach is longer and he got his hands on her. Stabler was shouting, 'Why are you lying to me? Why are you hiding this guy?' And I didn't know if he would have shaken her or hit her but he put hands on her and that was enough for me."
"And what action did you take?" Cragen's voice was even, calm and Fin did his best to imitate it.
"I drew the hammer back on the revolver as I aimed at his shoulder," He said quietly. "I told him as calmly as I could that he had five seconds to let go of Olivia or I would put a hole in him. I told him I was serious and to take his hands off Olivia now."
"And did he comply?" Cragen was still writing and frowning.
"He backed off right away and I eased the hammer down and set the revolver on the table next to the door," Fin nodded. "I moved closer to Olivia, put my hands on her shoulders; asked if she was all right." He shook his head, "She stuttered my name she was shaking so badly." He looked at the captain and felt his jaw clench, "She had to talk through her teeth or they would have started chattering. So I held her, she turned around, put her back to Elliot and let me hold her a second or so before she said she'd be all right in a bit."
"So to be clear," The captain stopped writing and looked at him, "You held a gun behind Olivia, aimed at her partner, in order to force him to get go of her. When he did, you put down the gun, touched Olivia, whereupon she immediately turned her back on her partner and allowed you to calm her down."
"That's about right," Fin nodded, "She'd stopped shaking almost, when Stabler asked what I was doing there and what was going on."
"And who answered that question," Cragen was writing again. Fin had to hand it to him, the captain was pretty good at taking a statement.
"I figured best to let Liv answer for herself. She's a grown woman, and he's her partner. If she wanted me to step in anymore she'd give me the look, let me know it was my turn," Fin nearly smiled. It had been years since he'd been in a relationship where he and his woman could communicate with a look or a smile.
"The look?" Cragen tilted his head at him quizzically.
"Aw Cap'n you were married, you know the look. There's one that says 'you better back my ass up', one that says 'get your butt over here' and one that says 'you are in deep shit'," Fin grinned at his commanding officer when the older man smiled slightly obviously remembering his wife's own looks and codes. "And then there's the one Liv gives me now and then, the 'do you want to address this or should I', means she won't get pissed if I break in."
"So Olivia replied to Stabler's inquiry then?" Cragen's smile faded and his pen was poised to write again.
"Yeah, she kind of mumbled that Elliot had wanted to meet her boyfriend," Fin recalled quietly. "She was still pretty shook up. And when Elliot heard that he started to yell again."
"What did he yell?" Cragen didn't look up as he wrote.
"Something like 'your what'," Fin shrugged slightly, "Liv was shaking again so I started moving her towards the couch, wanted her sitting down. She was worrying me some, shaking like that so I reminded Elliot that he'd said nobody had met her boyfriend and she did say that he had."
"Did Olivia say anything regarding that?" The scratch of the pen was eerily loud as Fin remembered how shaken she'd been.
"She," Fin took a deep breath. "Elliot was standing there, in front of us... Liv has a problem these days being...eyelevel with a guy's crotch. Harris was going to assault her orally and that's..." He shook his head. "She told him to sit down or leave but she couldn't stand to have him looming like that. So Stabler sat. And he repeated his earlier question, wanting to know what the hell was going on."
"And did the two of you explain?" Dark brown eyes regarded Fin soberly, the captain's face concerned. "Was Olivia calmer after Stabler sat down?"
"She was," Fin nodded struck again by the thought that the captain really did care about his people. Olivia was one of his strongest detectives but it was easy to see that Cragen was sincerely worried about her. "Once he was sitting she relaxed a lot more...at first anyway."
The ex-ranger shook his head, "Olivia told Elliot that I was the boyfriend she'd been seeing for the past six months. She kind of looked at me to confirm the time and I gave her a nod. She told him that she was almost three months pregnant. She started to say something else, but Stabler interrupted. He accused us of breaking regs. Accused me of making Olivia lie for me. And of getting her pregnant like it was a bad thing. Then made a crack about the baby being an accident."
"That must not have set too well with you," Cragen's voice was sympathetic. "How did you respond?"
"I didn't touch him, though I'll admit I was damn tempted," Fin scowled. "I told him to shut his mouth about Olivia or I'd throw him out." He looked down at his hands, clenched into fists automatically and forced them to relax, "Elliot repeated his accusation that Liv had been lying for me. And he accused me of acting improperly when we were at work, ever since I got to SVU."
"I never saw anything that required intervention or action on my part," Captain Cragen frowned thoughtfully, "Did he site any specifics?"
Fin shook his head, "No, just that I'd been 'sniffing' around Olivia. And that we were flirting. Liv tried to tell him that we kept our personal lives out of the precinct. That we'd already told you about it."
"All right, that should have cooled Elliot's jets, did it?" Cragen regarded Fin thoughtfully and Fin shook his head.
"I wish," Fin sighed. "Stabler started spouting off a lot of trash. Really upset Liv. She tried to-" He broke off and shook his head, "But she could tell, same as I could, he wasn't going to listen. I told him to call you. Check out our story. He left then, slammed the door." Fin shook his head, "We figured he'd call you."
"And the rest of the evening, before you two got the call to the murder scene?" The pen was moving steadily now.
"We talked about not letting Stabler get to us," Fin smiled then. "Made love, went to bed...and then the phone rang." He frowned, "Sorry, before we talked about Elliot, Liv made a call to Kathy, let her know that Elliot had been over with us; that he'd left and was in a pretty bad mood. Told her about the baby and why Elliot was pissed. Kathy seemed pretty supportive actually. Teased Liv some and that cheered her up. Couldn't have taken more than five minutes."
"Anything else happen before you two got to the crime scene? Any other calls? Have you seen Elliot since then?" Cragen wanted to know.
"No Captain," Fin shook his head, "We went home when you sent us, crawled into bed and got what sleep we could until we had to come in today. Nothin' else happened."
"All right, go on and get back to work," Cragen sighed, "And when Liv comes in, if she doesn't come straight to my office send her here."
"You got it Captain," Fin stood, "Cap'n...I know this is a pain in the ass for you. And I'm sorry. But Liv made some noises last night about it being better if she transferred back to computer crimes or something. I don't think she's right but... I dunno."
"We got lucky that George could help us out," Cragen said flatly. "I can't afford to be short another detective." He shook his head, "I won't support the idea unless she pushes it. Maybe in the last trimester when she really shouldn't be on the street, but I'd rather have her here. She's better on a desk than the rest of you most of the time."
"She's got more patience," Fin chuckled. "Thanks sir. I'll get back on it."
Author's Note: So we've gotten Fin's point of view regarding Elliot's stupid. We've also established that our couple has managed to keep their relationship pretty quiet.
I also just wanted another Munch POV since he's so much fun.
I'm trying to figure out just when Fin and Liv would tell folks that they're getting married. I'm wondering if they would or if they'd just get married with their few witnesses and let everyone else figure it out along the way. What do you folks think?