A/N: Dusting off the cobwebs and trying to humor my insomnia. The writing is not coming easy, so please be patient! Damn WL and his need to mess with my mind like this….also, excuse the typos as my fab beta/God is deservedly on a beach somewhere in Puerto Rico…
Day One - 11 p.m.
There is no true clarity.
Deep within the blackened corners of her, she knows there is a reason for this haze, and it no longer has to do with him. She has deliberately chosen the ambiguity this time.
Her mouth is dry, her lips are swollen, and the hum of the old air conditioner is too loud. Her eyelids feel like they have swelled shut, but she forces them open – involuntarily grunting in the process.
It isn't worth the effort. There is nothing to see. The hotel room is dark, swirling with fog within the walls of the too-fancy room.
Her captain had offered her a stipend for a hotel, and she'd taken it. Then she'd checked in to this place, knowing it would still personally cost her. It doesn't matter. This place is known for its resilience, its history, its tragedies, and its longevity. Its utter and complete discretion.
They won't make her leave her bed here, not for anything. Everything she needs can be delivered at the push of the button. They must have recognized her from the news because they had checked her in under another name, upgraded her to a huge, opulent yet oddly dark suite and then they had let her disappear.
The anonymity feels like protection. It's what she is paying for. They know who she is, why she is hiding and they had assured her they would keep the phone calls and guests at bay.
She'd taken two of the Xanax, a Hydrocodone and a Tramadol right after she had showered and then she had struggled against the pain to lay herself down on the bed. That might have been two hours ago or two days ago. Maybe two weeks ago.
No. Not two weeks ago. Her skin still burns as if she had soaked herself in acid, so she hasn't healed that much. Not yet. It had been light out when she'd taken the meds, and now it is the deepest part of night. At the very least it has been awhile.
Her throat feels raw from the screaming. Her skin is pulled tight from where the cuts are starting to coagulate together and her cheeks feel raw, as if they'd been pulverized with a hammer.
Maybe that had happened too. She really doesn't know. The truth is that there is a lot she doesn't remember. Yet.
Her eyes slip shut. It is too dark in the room to see anything but shadows in any case. She feels drowsy from the drugs, but for the moment she can't drift right back into the cocoon of sleep.
The exterior of her throbs. In places she doesn't want to think about, she stings. There is an irrational part of her that believes that the barrel of her Sig has made a circular bruise on her forehead, in her ear, in her throat.
He'd dragged it all over her. Pushed it into her skin. Slid it into her mouth…
Now the pain charges past her skin and into her chest, the brutality of all of it slaming into her from the inside out.
No, no, no, no, no.
She needs the relief again. The pills. She'd emptied them all into a pile next to her before she had passed out. They were here, just under the covers, a small stack of relief on the crisp white sheets...
She cradles her broken wrist and slides her good hand over, waiting for the moment the meds fill her swollen palm. She just needs a couple more. The long blue one, the tiny circular ones, the miniscule oblong one. The water is somewhere on the end table, but it is too much effort to roll over and find it. She works up the saliva in her sandpaper throat, anticipating the fact that she will need to swallow the pills. If only her hand could just settle on them. They'd been here, earlier…
She stills, her breath catching in her throat.
"Not yet." It's a quiet, paced rasp, full of agony and yet still entirely assured of its right to dictate what will happen next.
She knows this voice better than she knows her own. It's the only voice in the world that renders her unable to fight.
There is an armchair by the window and she knows he must be sitting there. She can't process it. She doesn't want to process it. There is only so much she can face all at once.
But he is moving now. Slow, calculated movements from what she can hear. She should try and roll over, to open her eyes again, but she is frozen. She has to focus on breathing. She'd fought for the right to breathe less than twenty-four hours ago, so she has to keep doing it.
Water is being poured into a glass, and a deep, soul-crushing shudder slides up her spine, crawling up each and every vertebra one by one. Open your eyes, she tells herself. Just try and do it again.
But she can't. The smell of him slips onto her skin, into her hair. He fills the room with every familiar footfall as he gets closer to her.
Need starts to smother her. It's not sexual, it's visceral. How many thousands of times over the brutal days had she just closed her eyes and focused on his eyes, his face, the sound of him? She'd imagined so many things. How he'd instinctively know where she was, how he would save her, how he'd make the bastard pay. And then, as the hours passed, her imagination had turned on her. She'd begun to think about how he would find the leftovers of her once the beast was done.
Never once had she imagined what she would say to him afterwards or how she would explain.
He's at the edge of the bed in front of her now. Even with her eyes closed, she knows just where he is.
It's a long, pleading drawl. Dark, defeated, broken.
She presses her lips shut, unwilling to make a sound. She instantly and instinctively wants to cry for him. For him. For what he is looking at, for what he has thought about in the last few hours, for all of the blame that he's already shrouded himself in. It's a tangible thing, even without looking at him; his guilt is always a tangible thing.
"Please," he whispers. It's pleading. Commanding. A dichotomy. "Open your eyes and look at me."
But she can't. It's impossible. There is only so much, only so much.
"I'm gonna touch you, okay?"
His question is so raw, so haunted that she can feel the way her lips tremble and her hands shake in response. He's being so careful and she knows why. She's the victim now. There is no gray area anymore. He's…she's the victim. The victim. He's trying to give her control, but it's too late because in all the ways that matter he is the one who took all of it away years and years ago.
"Your forehead. Okay? That's where I'm gonna touch you. Nod, Olivia. Tell me that's okay."
There are monsters inside of her that are clamoring to get out, but she has to hold onto them. She can't fall apart. Against her pillow she shifts her chin, just enough to tell him, to give him permission.
She knows she is too needy right now yet she can't help herself. She wants him closer. She wants him next to her, just like she had wanted when she'd been cuffed. She wants the sheer size of him, the low timbre of his voice, the reassurance that she can sleep and he won't let anything happen to her again.
She hears him exhale, and then the seconds pass…one…then another. Then another.
Finally she feels it. The rough pads of his fingertips drop lightly onto her battered face, just above her eyebrow. With the most achingly light touch he swipes them across her skin, dragging a tendril of her hair with them.
The pressure inside of her builds, as if she is being swallowed whole from the inside out. She wants to turn into the touch and hide from it all at the same time. The throbbing behind her eyelids is excruciating.
"Drink some of this," he murmurs.
And he's so close, so close…just inches away from her. She turns her face and her cheek bumps into the blessed relief of his warm palm and she wants to see him, to just see him…maybe for just a few hours he will let her crawl into him, let her just borrow his skin for a while and ask it to hold her together.
Her eyes open and he's there, above her, next to her, here. He's wearing that familiar black leather jacket and that's all she can really make out in the dark. That and his eyes.
His naked, empty eyes.
"El," she manages. She thinks the effort may have split open one of her newly healed lips because all of a sudden she can taste copper again.
He drops his chin, scrapes his teeth harshly over his lower lip, shakes his head once. "Jesus Christ." His gaze never leaves hers.
She wants to say something to him but the darkness looms again. It's coming for her, closing in around her. She wonders if this is real at all.
And then the pain inside ratchets through her, stealing her air, her focus, the last tattered shreds of her strength.
Her eyes close, and she is lost to all of it again.
… … … … …
He holds the whiskey tumbler so tightly that he wonders if the crystal will actually shatter in his grip.
He's been staring at her for so long that he can't remember if there is anything left in the glass or if he has even touched the liquor at all. He's been sitting in this armchair for the last four hours, save the one time she woke up.
She'd said his name then.
Seconds later she had passed out again, giving herself over to the remnants of the drugs before he had been able to get her to drink the water. He'd stopped her from taking more of the pain killers, but he's not sure if that had been a good idea. Maybe she should take more; maybe it should be days before she really comes to.
Maybe he'll be ready then. He'll know what to say, what to do, how to be. He'll have some answers for her. He won't fucking fall apart when she simply says his name.
Like hell he won't.
He knows shit, and that's all he knows. He let this happen. He had left her because he'd been too pathetic to stay, and she had been assigned to a jackass of a partner who didn't have a single protective instinct in his idiot head. Of course Lewis would have been gunning for her. Of course.
Amaro shouldn't have left her. Amaro – hell, Cassidy, Fin, Munch – any of those assholes should have stayed with her. There should have been a protective detail a mile deep sitting outside of her apartment.
Elliot closes his eyes and tries to control the fury. He can't let the rage have him. Not this time. If he's gonna be of any use at all, he can't lose his goddamned mind.
His own fault, he reminds himself. His own fault.
She shifts just a bit on the bed and he is immediately alert, searching the dark shadows of the bedding for any sign of her pain, her fear, her distress. She settles instead, and he thinks he might get sick. He'd read the report. He knows that it's far, far too late to spare her anything.
Burned. Cut. Beaten. Forced to watch murder and rape. A broken wrist, cracked ribs. Bound. Confined. Drugged. Assaulted.
Ninety-nine hours the bastard had been in control.
The report is just a list. It is just filled with details, facts, locations. It won't ever contain the truth of her terror. It won't contain the agony of being in her own home - in the only home she has known for the last ten years - when she was attacked. It won't contain the details about how it felt to drift off helplessly because of the narcotics, knowing she was at the mercy of a sadistic demon. It won't contain the moments when she would have battled her own faltering will to live, the moments she would have begged, bargained, fought – only to lose.
He will tell her that she has won - that because she is alive, she has won. But he knows the truth. She's lost more than she ever had to begin with. If her sense of safety, of capability, of strength and righteousness isn't already gone it could be soon.
It's going to be a long uphill battle for her to keep her badge. Instead they will label her a hero and at best, maybe months from now, promote her to a desk job with the brass.
He looks at his tumbler. It's full. Untouched.
He raises the glass and downs the now warm liquid. When it's done, he sets the tumbler down on the carpet next to his feet and exhales heavily. He drops his head until his forehead falls into his palms.
His chest cracks and he doesn't think he will ever be able to sit up straight again. He feels broken, as if someone has taken a baseball bat to his bones and rendered him useless. The world outside of this suite disappears and it is just her and him, and he is fully aware of the fact that he is not going to be enough to fix any of this.
He won't leave though. He won't.
He won't ever, ever leave Olivia again.