Unknown Time and Place
The lights from the ambulance were blinding as they flashed into her eyes and her entire body ached from the waist downward, but Olivia did not care. Only Elliot mattered.
He had taken hold of her hand as she lay with him on the blood-covered floor and she refused to let go; not when they strapped him to a gurney, not as they wheeled him on the carriage out of the apartment.
Her legs lengthened beneath her and she ran with the EMTs telling, pleading, with Elliot to just hang on and stay with her.
They lifted him onto the bus and a pair of hands from behind her lifted her into it as well. Her hand only loosened from his for a bare moment, but even that was an eternity.
Though she knew that time had passed, only the feel of his fading heartbeat through his hands gave her any semblance of it.
She felt someone trying to put something soft against her skin, but shook her shoulders to keep the person away from her. Only Elliot mattered.
The hospital was in view after what seemed like moments later and the EMTs struggled to help her off the bus as she refused to let go of him.
She nearly fell as her legs gave out, but her resolve to hold onto him had never been stronger and she found strength from deep within to stand and stretch her legs to run beside the gurney, Elliot’s hand clasped inside her own.
The EMTs shouted stats to the emergency room surgeons, but it simply came as static to Olivia’s ears. Her focus remained solely on him.
They reached the doors to surgical bay and someone, a nurse or a doctor, she did not know which, tried to pry her away from him. She refused to yield at first, but a voice calling, “Detective Benson, please,” allowed her to release her grip.
The shorter of the surrounding nurses called to her, saying something about bleeding from the neck and getting her cleaned, but she could not quite make out the words as they buzzed and echoed in her head.
The world spun in front of her eyes and the remaining strength in her legs gave out at last as she felt her body falling toward the floor. Her head rolled and faced the ceiling and she could feel the beginnings of an old convulsion starting at the base of her neck when all before her turned to darkness.
Jonathan passed through an expanse of people in the corridor and resisted the urge to begin shoving them out of his way. He had rushed to the hospital after seeing the scene at his apartment and his hands still shook from the previous fear that Olivia might be dead.
Flattening himself against the wall to slide through the crowd, he finally managed to get to the room he sought. He knocked once, but did not wait for an answer before he stepped into the room. Inside, he found Elliot asleep, heavily bandaged about the middle, and a woman sitting beside him with a tear stained face.
“Yes?” she said, her blue eyes large and concerned.
He crossed the room toward her. “I’m, uh…I’m Jonathan.”
She put out her hand for him to shake, but withdrew it quickly realizing she still had a wad of wet tissues in it. “I’m Kathy Stabler. You’re Jonathan Halloway. You’re Olivia’s…friend.”
“Yeah,” he said slightly taken aback. “She, uh…She’s been admitted again…Had another seizure after they brought him in…Is he…H-how is he?”
Kathy nodded her head. “He’s…not as good as I’d like, but he’ll be okay. The doctors said there was a lot of damage, but that none of his…insides were badly cut. T-the knife hit an artery and there’s some liver damage, but he came through surgery pretty well. They expect him to make a full recovery, but…he’ll just be in here for a few days.”
Jonathan nodded absent-mindedly and reached for the chair next to her. “May I?”
“Please.” She moved her things out of the chair. “How’s Olivia? I know she came in with him and the nurses said she was hysterical.”
“She’ll be fine. They did an MRI just to make sure. Her doctor thinks it was really just the stress from the cut…the damn gash across her shoulder. She lost a lot of blood before the paramedics got there and I’m sure that didn’t help. Not to mention the fact that she was walking, well, running with his cart last night. Her doctor just thinks it was too much at one time.”
“She was walking? Running? All by herself?”
“Yeah,” he said with a smile. “It’s good news, right? I mean, at least we know she’ll be okay eventually.”
Kathy returned the smile and sighed as she stared back at Elliot’s resting form.
“I’m just glad they’re both okay. If something had happened to Olivia…I know he’d never be able to forgive himself. And, I don’t know what I would’ve done if…he didn’t make it. I just…I’m just…”
“Kind of numb?” Jonathan finished and she nodded.
“Yeah. I don’t know what to do.”
“I guess the best we can do is just be there for them so that the first person they see when they wake is someone who loves them.”
She nodded again and quickly wiped away the tear that was threatening to roll down her face. They took turns staring at Elliot’s slumbering form and then at one another, having nothing else about which to talk. Every few minutes, Kathy would dab her eyes and Jonathan shifted uncomfortably in his chair as he threw her occasional glances.
“You know,” Jonathan began, incapable of keeping his thoughts to himself any longer, “throughout all the time I’ve known Olivia, she’s been telling me about Elliot, and also about you. I know it’s probably not any of my business, but since you’re here and I’m not sure when I’ll get to talk to you again, I think it’s best that I just say this.”
“Well, I think…everyone probably thinks…you should go back to your husband.”
Kathy turned her head from him quickly and gasped, feeling like she had been slapped in the face by his words.
“I don’t mean to be preachy,” Jonathan added, “and I don’t want to pry, but it’s like…you leaving him has had this cascading effect over everyone involved. I mean, just looking at it from my own end…he’s upset and talks to Liv about it, your kids talk to Liv about it and then she spends half the night telling me everything. And, I get drained from hearing about it and I’m shorter with her and less willing to listen and then she gets angry at her partner which I’m sure comes right back on you. And…given all that’s happened…I don’t know. Before this guy took Olivia, I was ready to just give up on her altogether. And, when I got her back, I realized how much she’d already affected me and how much I really loved her and we haven’t known each other for all that long. You and Elliot…I mean, you’ve got kids together.”
“I know,” Kathy said. “And, we have been talking, but…”
“Look, I know what you’ve probably been thinking because I’ve been thinking the same thing since the first time I saw them together…affair, but that’s not it. Olivia and Elliot have this special…bond that neither you nor I nor anyone else in this world is ever going to understand, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love us. And, like I said, I don’t want to preach, but after everything that’s happened, I think you owe him a second chance.”
Jonathan stood and handed a business card to her. “Just think about it and if you ever needed someone to commiserate with…”
“Thanks,” she said softly while taking the card.
“And, let me know when he wakes up because I know Liv is going to want to see him.”
Kathy nodded as he left. She had made up her mind about her marriage long before Jonathan had appeared, but she was intrigued to hear the words come an outsider nonetheless.
Olivia opened her eyes to see Jonathan’s tall form staring out the window of her room. At first her heart skipped a beat as she wondered if she had dreamed that she had left the hospital and wiggled her toes to convince herself that time had indeed elapsed, though she was in the hospital again.
She tried to turn her head and felt a thick series of gauze on her neck and shoulder, obstructing further movement. Trying to reach for it, the skin under the bandage panged instantly and she sighed, deciding to leave the bandage where it was.
“Hey,” Jonathan said hearing the commotion from Olivia’s bed and he crossed the room in a single stride to sit next to her. “How are you feeling?”
She thought about it for a moment as she continued to move her feet, but a new thought popped into her head.
“He’s fine,” Jonathan said. “He pulled through surgery and I talked to his wife and his doctors a little later and everyone says he’s going to be okay. He was in real bad shape for a while, but you had called the ambulance so quickly that he didn’t lose as much blood as they thought he had.”
“I was going to tell the nurse to take some of my blood if he needed it.”
“They couldn’t have taken it anyways, Liv. Not with the shape you were in last night.”
Olivia closed her eyes for a moment. “The guy…”
“He was going to kill us.”
“And you did the right thing. You kept him from
killing you and your partner. I don’t think I would’ve survived if you had
died. To get you back and have you taken away from me all over again.” Jonathan
shivered and Olivia could see his eyes mist. “Olivia…I’ll be honest. When I
came home last night and saw all the blood…I passed out. I thought…I thought
he’d got you. Even being here on the
“Thank you, Jonathan…for everything.”
“It was the least I could do, Liv. I…I should’ve been there.”
“For what? Did you see the knife? He took out Dave and he would’ve killed you too. He wanted me and he would’ve killed…did kill as many people as it took to get at me.”
Jonathan put his head in hands and a moment later he was weeping openly.
“I just…You could’ve died, while I sat in my office trying to get one more useless thing done.
“Hey, I told you to go, remember? Besides, I didn’t want anyone else there for this exact reason. It’s like I knew it would come to this and I think that anyone else should have to die just for me…”
“There’s so much blood across the apartment. God, Olivia. When I saw it…”
“You thought it was all me.”
“Yeah.” He shook his head. “Christ…In thirty-six years, I’d never passed out over anything.”
“And, then you met me.”
He nodded and sighed as he wiped his eyes. “I brought you some fresh clothes. The guys from your precinct told me they’d be in after a little while. They need to get your statement.”
“Do they even know who he is?”
“They said they got his fingerprints, but his face…I’m sure you or Elliot will be able to point out something from…what’s left. When you’re ready.”
She tried to sit up, but felt her head spin.
“Just lie down,” Jonathan said. “You’ve been through so much.”
“I want to see Elliot.”
“Maybe a little later. His wife’s down there with him right now and he’s still unconscious.”
“I’m still not sure what happened. I don’t know how he got in there…I don’t know what made Elliot decide to come by…I don’t even know what happened from the time I was on the floor until now.”
“Well, they said you were running with the cart when they brought in the both of you.”
Olivia blinked rapidly at him, not quite sure what she heard. “I was? Really?”
“Yep. You were running.”
She wiggled her toes and watched them moving beneath the blanket. “Running…”
“And, it was probably your little job combined with the stress of what happened elicited another seizure. That’s why they kept you.”
“Not for this thing on my neck, I suppose.”
“Naw. Not for that little scratch,” Jonathan said with a smile. His smile faded quickly and his face grew somber in just a few seconds. “As for Elliot coming by…I don’t know. Fate, luck…Jesus. I haven’t the slightest idea, but I do know that I’ve never been as grateful that he’s your partner as I am right now.”
He slipped his hand around hers and she sighed sleepily.
It’s over, she thought. It’s finally over.
Olivia huffed as she pushed on the wheels of the chair and rolled off the elevator onto Elliot’s floor as Jonathan walked beside her. She had been against going back to her wheelchair after having made so much progress in the previous months, but when she collapsed twice after trying to use her braces, she flopped into the chair thankful that she could at least move about independently.
The cut across her neck and shoulder was deeper than she realized and it took most of the morning before she could maneuver in the chair on her own again, between the loss of blood and placement of the cut itself. The cut was still more painful than she was ready to admit, but a part of her was glad that it now covered what used to be the permanent mark and indentation of human teeth on her skin. The scar it would leave could be explained with any kind of back story, regardless of verisimilitude, but teeth marks in her skin gave rise to very few scenarios, none of which were “great story” material.
Olivia paused once she got to the door of Elliot’s room and glanced up at Jonathan who shifted on his feet before swallowing.
“I’ll…um…go make sure Paul knows where to meet us, ‘kay?”
She nodded and took a deep breath before opening the door. When she got into the room, Kathy stared at her with an odd expression Olivia had never seen on Kathy’s face. For the first time since she had known her, Kathy looked at her without the slightest air of suspicion or intrigue.
“Hi,” Olivia said, still by the door.
“Hey,” Kathy said. “Come in. You need some help?”
“No, I’ve got it,” Olivia said wheeling herself through the doorway. “How is he?”
Kathy smiled. “He’s doing okay. He’s got the colour back in his face again and the doctors say he should make a full recovery in a few months. He actually woke up a little while ago asking for the kids. And, then he asked for you, of course.”
Olivia smiled at her. “Well, I’m about to leave in a bit and I just wanted to see him before I left.”
“Come,” she said beckoning Olivia closer and eventually trading positions with her. “I was about to go myself. I’ve been in these clothes for almost two days and I’m in need of a shower. Stay with him for a little. He might wake up again if you nudge him just right.”
Kathy smiled and closed the door behind her leaving Olivia to stare at Elliot. Olivia sighed as she rolled closer, her chair squeaking slightly across the floor tiles. As she watched him sleep, she wondered if this was what it was like for him while she had been lying comatose in the hospital months earlier.
I wonder if he willed me to wake up when I was out of it for hours at a time?
After twenty minutes of allowing her mind to race, she pulled the brake off her chair and prepared to leave, when she heard Elliot sigh on the bed.
“Hey!” she said. “Yeah, it’s me. How are you feeling?”
“Like someone tried to dissect me.” His voice was hoarse and close to a whisper.
She shook her head. “He tried. That I remember clearly.”
He blinked at her. “What? No flowers? No balloons?”
“Not today,” she said laughing. “Maya asked about you.”
“How’s she doing?”
“Well, she was in near hysterics earlier, but Jonathan managed to calm her down. We’re having lunch a little later today, and I’m sure there’ll be a mimosa or two involved just to keep her straight.”
He smiled, but it faded quickly as she shifted in her chair.
“You’re back in your chair again?”
“Yeah,” she said sighing. “I tried to get back on the crutches, but I, uh…”
“I just can’t. Not right now. I don’t really remember the other night all that well, but apparently, I was running beside you when they-”
“You were running? Liv, that’s amazing.”
Olivia felt herself blush. “Yeah. I’m excited about it. My doctors say it was the exertion of that on top of everything else that was just too much stress too son, but they think I’ll be back up and around in no time. But enough about me. What about you?”
He smiled again. “Already told you. I feel like crap, but I’ll be okay.” He paused, his smile fading slightly. “Did we get him?”
“Yeah. I shot him. With your gun. The one you kicked across the floor to me.”
“A part of me thought he’d let you go.”
“The man murdered twenty-five people, Elliot. What in God’s name made you think he was going to let me go? If I hadn’t had a knife to me neck, I would’ve walked across the room and slapped you for doing something so stupid.”
“I couldn’t really think straight at that moment, Liv. You were bleeding and if I didn’t do something, I knew he was going to…I don’t know. I just did whatever I could to keep you alive a little bit longer.”
“God, Elliot,” she said shaking her head. “That was so stupid. I was so scared when I saw his knife flying. And, then…then there was so much blood.”
“I know,” he said softly.
“You should’ve just shot him.”
“Not with you in the way.”
“I told you to shoot him. I could’ve just fallen and you would’ve had a clear shot at him.”
“Not with you in the way.”
“And then you come at the both of us like that when he still had that knife. Christ, I still can’t believe it happened. You should’ve just shot the bastard.”
“Not with you in the way, Olivia.”
“Elliot,” she said tears forming in her eyes. “You…you risked you life when you could’ve just shot him. He was holding a knife the size of my arm and you came at him anyway. That was just so stupid…”
“I know,” he said. “But, I couldn’t think logically at that point, Liv. And if I didn’t at least make a dive for him, he would’ve done the same thing to you that he did to me, only it would’ve been worse. A lot worse.”
“But, you shouldn’t have-”
“Shouldn’t have what? Risk my life for you? C’mon Liv. You know that’s the least I’m willing to do for you.”
Tears were steadily streaming down her cheeks, but she did nothing to arrest the flow.
“You could’ve died,” she said. “I thought you were dead for a second. And, the whole time…with all that blood, I just kept thinking about your kids and Kathy and…how was I supposed to live with myself knowing you died for me.”
Elliot tried to shift on the bed, but the pain across his midsection would not allow it.
“Don’t try to move,” she said, sniffing. “You might tear the stitches.”
“Liv,” he said ignoring the comment. “That guy was about murder you in front of me and I couldn’t let that happen. We’re all going to die eventually and, if that was my time, then I was willing to go out trying to save you rather than as an old man warm in my bed having watched you slaughtered before my eyes.”
“But, you could’ve died. It was just so stupid.”
He smiled at her. “Sometimes we do stupid things for the people we…care about.”
She only shook her head and smiled in return.
Silence fell upon them and they stared at one another, each searching the other’s eyes once again. Elliot held out his hand and embraced Olivia’s for a moment until she shifted in her chair.
“I told Jonathan I’d meet him at the entrance,” she said.
He let go of her slightly. “Okay. Where are you staying?”
“The Ritz for now. Just like half the other people in the building.”
He laughed. “
“Oh, stop it,” she said smiling. “Or I’ll hit you in the stomach.”
She began to roll away from, but he reached out for her once again.
“C’mere,” he said motioning her toward him.
She moved closer, but he beckoned her further and managed to shift until he was almost sitting upright on the bed.
“Don’t tear the stitches,” she said.
“Just come here.”
“Yes?” she said, half in her chair and half leaning on his bed, only several inches away from him.
“I need to say this,” he said softly. “And I don’t want you to respond. I just need to say it.”
He reached out and pulled her even closer to him. Before she could react, their lips met and she closed her eyes allowing him to simply hold her.
He let go of her after a full minute, his eyes bright. “I love you, Olivia. And, I want you to know that I’d gladly lay my life down for you. Any day, any time, anywhere.”
She smiled and repressed the tear that lay at the brim of her eyes.
“That’s all,” he said. “Just don’t forget my flowers tomorrow.”
Olivia laughed and fell back in her chair. She managed to close the door to his room a few moments later and within minutes was ready to meet Jonathan and Paul, the town car driver, at a hospital side entrance to avoid the majority of the rambunctious media waiting with an onslaught of questions.
Her lips still tingled as she was helped into the town car, but she did not blush or avert her eyes when she saw Jonathan. Previously, she had felt torn and strained when she thought of Elliot while she was with Jonathan, but as the town car pulled away from the curb and Jonathan held her hand, Olivia smiled and squeezed his hand in return. She knew with Jonathan right beside her and with Elliot as her partner, she was happiest and she felt something she had not experienced for a very long while.
“I see you’ve been painting. Quite a bit actually.”
Olivia stared at the numerous canvasses that hung at varied states of completion on the walls of Morse’s room. Some were still sketches and many looked very similar to one another, as if he began one and started a second as another, greater idea came to mind.
The funeral for Dave Difany had been set for the next week and Olivia again, found herself with time to reflect while she recuperated. It had taken another day before she was ready to deal with the fact that another life had been claimed by her attacker, but unlike previous bouts of pressing depression, the instance passed relatively quickly, though she took it upon herself to be present when the news was delivered to Sheila Difany.
Light from the Morse’s window poured into the room and gave the watercolours with which he worked a vibrant hue. The sight was almost as breathtaking for Olivia as when she first saw previous the décor of his apartment.
“Well, it’s easy,” Morse said, “when you have such a wonderful muse.”
She sighed and shook her head as a smirk tugged at her mouth. “We found him. The guy who Mark Landon apparently sold me to in February. I just thought you might want to know.”
“Thank you. I did want to know. I’ve exchanged my newspaper privileges for canvasses and my father says he won’t do anything about it until I start talking to the shrinks again, which I won’t do. So, thank you, but…Looking at you now, I don’t think that’s why you came all this way to see me.”
“No,” she said. “It’s not. The guy…my attacker. I’ve…I killed him. He’s not the first, but this time…I don’t feel anything from it. I’m not craving a cigarette. I don’t feel like I should set out on some search for the meaning of life or feel like I need to bury myself in work to get him out of my system. I don’t feel anything. And, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I could spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars trying to go over this with a psychiatrist, or…I could just come to you. You seem to know me so well already.”
Morse stood straighter on the floor, his eyes penetrating.
“So, tell me,” she continued. “Why don’t I feel anything for killing him?”
“You didn’t kill him,” Morse said quickly.
Olivia let out a laugh. “I assure you, I did. The contractors say it’s going to take another three weeks to redo the floors after the mess he made.”
Morse shook his head. “No, you didn’t kill him. He was a monster. He was probably already half-dead anyway, but you didn’t kill him. With the others, you took their lives away, their chances at redeeming themselves for whatever they did that caused you to pull the trigger, but with him…this was simply payback.”
“Payback? That’s the best answer you’ve got for me?”
“He took your life away from you. Mark Landon started it, but he’s the one who broke you and hurt you. He’s the reason why you’re in a wheelchair months afterward and will spend the next several months re-learning to walk without any help and even after that, you’ll never be the same. You’ll wake up at night and wonder if he’s there. You’ll remember him anytime you’re all alone and no amount of Maya’s ointment is going to take away the scar that whatever’s under that bandage is going to leave. For the rest of your life, he’ll always be there. He took your life away and this was just payback.”
“Payback,” she whispered.
“Yep. Payback. It’s as simple as that.” Morse took a step forward and she rolled backward slightly. “I’m so…glad to know that you got him. I think…I think everything in the world seems right again now that I know you’re fine.”
Olivia nodded. “Does this mean if they let you out, you’re going to stop following me?”
“I promise,” Morse said smiling. “I won’t be following you anymore, Olivia.”
She gave him a small smile and rolled closer to him. “Well, then…I guess you can have that hug now.”
Her eyes began tearing at the pure glee on Morse’s face as she allowed him to come close and bend down to hug her from her chair. As she left the clinic, she rolled down the window of the town car, wondering if Morse was right.
The vestiges of summer air breezed against her face until the car stopped at a stoplight. In the car next to her, a scrawny, dark-skinned black woman sang loudly with the music that flowed from her stereo and the lyrics to the song still floated in Olivia’s car minutes after the town car had turned down another street.
We fall down…
But we get up…
We fall down…
But we get up…
We fall down…
But we get up…
For a saint is just a sinner… who fell down…
And got up.
Morse might have been right. She might have got payback for having to take flight from her life. Nonetheless, she decided she would be attending church with Jonathan the following Sunday…just in case.
“How you feeling?” Kathy asked with a bright smile as she returned to Elliot’s room.
She had been a constant presence in his hospital room over the past week and, she had just returned from bringing their children to spend a few hours of their Labor Day with their father. Elliot was sad to them leave, but was content with the fact that he would be leaving the hospital in just a few days and nothing about which to complain when compared with Olivia’s three-month stay.
He rarely had a moment to feel lonely in the hospital with the constant stream of visitors coming to see him. Olivia came to visit everyday, readily remembering her own boredom while stuck in a hospital all day and together he, Kathy and Olivia would chat together; sometimes about the weather, other times about past holidays Olivia had shared with them.
“Same as an hour ago,” Elliot said as he switched off the television and Kathy sat in the chair next to his bed. “Feeling good, glad and generally happy.”
“That’s good. It’s so good, Elliot. You had me scared for a moment there.”
“Hey, I’m gonna fine. I just need a little time to heal.”
Kathy nodded. “This is over, though, right? I mean, there’s no crazy guy out there chasing after you and Olivia anymore?”
“There’s always going to be crazy guys, Kath. That’s just a part of life, but this guy in particular is gone. Olivia got him. I heard the gun go off myself.”
“I just…” Her voice faded as she began to wring her hands. “I mean, you’ve been close to the…line of fire before, but this…this has been the closest I’ve ever come to getting that call.”
“It’s never a call, Kathy. The NYPD will at least pay you the courtesy of telling you face to face. Besides, they’d already have to pay for a funeral and they wouldn’t be willing to shell out the extra cash for a long-winded phone call to you on top of that.”
Kathy tried to laugh, but the tear that fell from her eye kept the laugh from coming.
“Don’t cry, Kathy. I’m gonna be fine. Really.”
“I can’t help it, Elliot. There’s a part of me that’s completely selfish that wonders why it even had to be you in the first place when this guy was going after Olivia, but then that’s replaced with the number of times she’s been there for you when you needed help and not to mention how much the kids adore her. And then…then I think about what I would’ve done if we’d lost you both. Not only would I have to somehow carry on because you were gone, but it would be compounded in the kids. They’d have lost the only other person they felt comfortable going to in times of trouble on top of losing their father. Elliot, I cry every time you go to sleep because I can’t help thinking that you almost died out there doing what you and Olivia do all the time.”
“I didn’t. I’m fine. Liv’s fine. The kids will be fine. Kathy, now is the time when we can really start moving on with the rest of our lives and put this behind us.”
“I know, it’s just…When I think about the all the stupid things that keep coming up in our lives, something like this always manages to put everything in perspective.”
He nodded and motioned for her to move closer to him.
No time like the present, he thought.
“I missed you, Kathy.”
She finally managed a smile. “I didn’t think I was gone all that long.”
“I’ve missed having you in my life like you should be. I miss waking up beside you on Saturday mornings and I miss everything about the home you and I made together. I miss you so much at burns, and I know it’s not just the stitches talking.” Kathy sighed and he continued. “After the way this year has gone, I don’t want to continue living like this…with things left just the way they are.”
“You said it yourself. Now I the time for us to move on and I doubt Olivia’s going to get attacked again,” Kathy said, but he shook his head.
“This doesn’t have anything to do with Olivia.” He took her hand within his own. “I mean, it does indirectly because she’s a part of my life…our lives, but this is really about me and you. I want to make a fresh start with you, Kath. I know I can’t ever be the same person I was when we first met, but I want us to go back to the happy days we used to have together and, if you’re willing to just…work with me a little, I think we can get back there.”
Tears dropped from Kathy’s eyes and she pulled her hands from his to take a large envelope out of her bag.
“The papers you sighed,” she said. “They’ve expired…because I never submitted them.”
Elliot stared at his blanket. Well…shit.
“You want me to resubmit?” he asked.
“No,” she said softly. “I just want you to get better…and I want you to come home to me.”
He wrapped his arms around her and ignored the pain in his midsection as she leaned forward to kiss him. She did not feel like Olivia, but she still felt like home.
The cell phone on the nightstand nearest to Olivia chirped in the dark quiet, eliciting a loud groan from Jonathan. It had not interrupted their sleep in several months and the ringing had yielded to the phone’s voicemail by the time Olivia was alert enough to reach out for it.
She dislodged herself from Jonathan arms to look at the display and frowned.
“What is it?” Jonathan said. “You’re not even back at work yet. Who the hell could be calling?”
“I don’t know,” she said and quickly played the message.
An hour later, Olivia pushed her chair off the hospital elevator as Jonathan stepped beside her and found an array of police officers and hospital personnel mulling around Morse’s padded cell. A tall man, whose small blue eyes held a vague familiarity spotted her as she approached and stepped toward her, giving Jonathan a quick nod of the head.
“I assume you’re Detective Olivia Benson?” the man.
She nodded, but her eyes kept darting toward the open door. Up close, she could see the man’s eyes were soft, betraying his hardened expression and were also red and puffed as if he had been recently crying.
“What’s happened?” she asked.
“We’ve never met. My name is Richard Morse the Second. My youngest son, Harry, I believe you’re familiar with. Well, I'm not sure how to say it, so I'll just do it...Harry’s…hung himself using the easel. Apparently, he’d been somehow collecting things to do it for the past several days and the orderly found him a couple hours ago.” Morse the Second handed Olivia a small white envelope. “Harry wrote a letter other than his note. It’s addressed to you. His suicide note just says he wanted you to have the paintings, but that only you were to open the letter.”
He blinked rapidly as if drawing back tears for his youngest son.
“Mr. Morse,” she said rolling nearer. “I’m so sorry.”
“What for? Harry…Harry’s been lost for a long time. I’m just sorry for what he put you through.” He paused. “If you have any other questions my assistant, Mr. James over there can answer them. Good night, Miss Benson…Mr. Halloway.”
The following Saturday, Olivia sniffed against her hay fever allergies as the wind blew grass, pollen and ragweed that covered the vast cemetery. Both Jonathan and Elliot, fresh from the hospital, stood beside her as she sat in her chair dressed in black, though both had suggested she not attend the funeral in the first place. A part of her wanted to do something to say a last goodbye to someone who was very much a stranger yet appeared to know more about her than anyone else she had ever encountered. In order to get Elliot and Jonathan to stop fussing over her decision, she used the excuse that it would give her a chance to lay flowers on her mother’s gravesite which Olivia knew stood less than a hundred meters away from the funeral.
“Still can’t believe how many of these people I know,” Jonathan mumbled the minister read the parting rites.
“I still can’t believe how many of these people I busted way back when for petty crimes,” Elliot whispered. “That guy over there definitely peed against the Guggenheim about fifteen years ago.”
They snickered together softly and Olivia rolled her eyes, ignoring them and choosing instead to remember the letter Morse had written to her:
For the most honorable, beautiful woman this world will ever know, I write to you, to let you know that I have seen you are in good hands and thus do not need me to be your self-appointed, physical guardian angel. I don’t like your partner and I never will, but I see that he is a good man and with him by your side, I know no harm will befall you again. I’ve not been too sure about Halloway because I know how that family can be, as they’re far too akin to my own (we might even be distantly related, now that I think of it), but I have seen that he too is good man. If ever I thought there was another man in this world who could worship you the way I do, Halloway would be the one to do it and I wish you all the best and many happy years together.
I am writing to tell you one last thing: Don’t become depressed because of what I have done. Don’t reach for the cancer sticks and don’t go see some head shrinker because you think there was something you might have said or done to stop me. I knew long ago that the day would come when I would have stop watching you and that my life would be no longer necessary, but don’t think that you should have told me my life was valuable. I would have flown from this world long ago if I had not seen a reason to live in you so many years ago.
And so, my dear Olivia, I bid you farewell. I love you from the depths of my very soul and I hope that you’ll think of me, not with regret, but with that small smile you always have when something truly amuses you.
B. Denton Fields Tower
“Well…I guess this is it.”
Elliot sighed as he took another look at his daughter’s dorm room. The staff at Hudson University had a well-laid plan for moving the majority of Kathleen’s things into the small room and Elliot and Kathy had very little to actually do aside from help her set up her laptop and arrange things to settle her into the room.The past year had passed by so quickly that Elliot felt that he just woke up to find his daughter grown and ready to start college.
Kathy stood next to him in the doorway with a hand clapped over her mouth as she tried to hold the tears at bay and Kathleen shook her head at the both of them.
“Oh, c’mon,” she said. “You two didn’t start all this crying when Maureen left for school.”
“Yeah, but…” Elliot began, but only sighed instead.
“But what? This should be almost routine for you by now.”
Kathy laughed and stepped forward to give Kathleen a big hug. “We’re so proud of you.”
“I only got into the college, Mom,” Kathleen said. “The real accomplishment will be if I can follow Maureen across the stage too.”
Kathy held her daughter’s hand for a moment before finally breaking the contact to wipe away the tears that had not stopped since Kathleen had announced her room was just the way she wanted it.
Elliot took a step forward and sighed as he stared at Kathleen.
“How’s it feel, Daddy?” she asked. “You rescued your partner, you got out of the hospital and you got your second kid into college all in the same year.”
“I’d say it feels pretty good, kid.”
Kathleen smiled and held out her hand for him to shake. “Well…”
“What are you giving me your hand for?”
“Well, I don’t want to hurt your middle, Dad.”
He shook his head and pulled her into a bear hug despite the pain. They embraced for a full minute before Kathleen finally pulled away from him and Elliot stepped back toward the doorway with Kathy. All three stared at one another, Kathy continuously wiping her eyes as Elliot tried to keep his own eyes dry.
“Okay, okay,” Kathleen said with a smile. “You two have to leave now before I end up having to mop the floor from all the tears.
They laughed and hugged as a group of three one more time before Kathy and Elliot left the building. As they slowly walked back to the car, Elliot felt Kathy squeeze his hand as he finally let the tears that had been brewing for the past hour stream down his face.
Carl Schurz Park
“Don’t you just love
Olivia sighed as she watched Jonathan lean against the fence that separated the park from the river. Her legs had grown much stronger in the past weeks and to help her progress, Jonathan had taken time away from work, his major close finally completed, and each day they took a walk to the park with several breaks in between as she still needed her left brace to walk; both braces were needed for extended periods of walking.
The bench on which she sat faced the river and she watched the water ripple as the grey of night was beginning to creep on the horizon. Jonathan had been especially buoyant on their walk and she could only smile as he bounced his hands along the railing, so seemingly happy to be alive.
“It’s always been one of my favorite things about the city,” Olivia said. “Of course, fall always leads into the bleak winter and then, I’m ready to pull up stakes and move to LA, but fall is nice.”
Jonathan laughed as he stepped toward her. “Always the pessimist.”
“Realist. We’re called Realists. Pessimist…honestly. Who’s pessimistic now?”
He shook his head and kneeled on the ground. “There’s a rock under here.”
“Yeah, I’m sure there’s rocks everywhere. We are outside.”
Jonathan picked up the rock, rolled it over in his hand as he examined it and then held it out to Olivia.
“You want to skip it?”
“Do I look like I skip rocks?”
“Stones, Olivia. Skipping stones.”
“It’s a cool one though.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“It’s all smooth, kinda like the water was earlier today.”
He handed the rock to her and picked up another. Olivia laughed at the sight and shook her head.
“You’re just like a little kid, you know? Playing in the dirt all day.”
“Ooh,” he said as he held up his new rock. “I think I like this one better.”
“What’s special about it?”
“Everything. It’s got these smooth patches and these rough edges too. It’s like both the smooth parts and rough parts give the rock its character. You know, there’s a part of you that kinda wants to change it. Maybe shape it so that it’s all smooth, but the better part of you knows the reason it’s so beautiful…the reason it’s special is because of both the rough and the smooth. The good and the bad.”
Olivia rolled the smooth stone in her hand for a moment with a contented smile on her face. She then attempted to skip it across the water, but it just plunked to the bottom and she shook her head.
“When did you become so fascinated with rocks…wait, sorry. Stones.”
“I had to do a little research on them. Turns out, I learned a lot.”
“I bet. You’re turning out to be this fountain of knowledge. Too bad it isn’t about something useful.”
“Oh, but I did learn something useful,” he said with a sardonic tone and a smile. “I learned lots of stuff. Like for instance, did you know that different stones can tell stories? Even have little secrets?”
“Secrets? You’re putting me on. What kind of secrets can a rock…a stone have?”
“Plenty! Take this one for example.” He held up the rock directly in front of her. “Like, you could give it a little shake…and who knows what might pop out.”
He shook the rock in front of her as he spoke and, as Olivia sighed at his boyish grin, she felt something fall into her lap. She looked straight down to find a small circular object glistening in the setting sunlight.
“Oh my God…” she whispered. In her lap lay a single ring; one large, two-carat Emerald cut diamond flanked between two smaller stones, all set in platinum.
Jonathan picked up the ring, trying to mask his excitement through a haze of false disinterest and examined it.
“You see? It’s like I said. You never know what kind of secrets a stone can hold.”
Olivia clapped a hand to her mouth, breathing “Oh my God.” again.
He held her left hand in his right, this time grinning widely and slowly brought the ring closer to her fourth finger.
“Olivia,” he began. “I could be here all day spouting sonnets about chocolate brown eyes that melt my heart, radiant smiles that light my day, or how just being with you makes me feel like a whole person, but I’m not. You know how I tend to run on and turn a good speech trite. So, I figure all I need to say at this point is…Olivia, I love you. Will you…marry me?”
Olivia pulled her free hand from her mouth as Jonathan slipped the cool metal enclosure onto her finger. Tears blurred her vision as she wondered why she had not considered that he was going to do this earlier. She gasped and her mouth pulled into a wide smile as bent forward to throw her arms around him and spoke softly into his ear.
He held her for what felt like an eternity and then cupped her face as he kissed her, still down on his knees.
“So, tell me,” she said once the streetlights began to spring to life from the impending twilight. “What were you going to do if I actually threw that rock into the river too?”
He laughed. “Well, after I regained consciousness…I would have tried to laugh it off and would’ve planned again for another day.”
She squeezed his hand, loving the feel of the engagement ring that fit her hand perfectly. He helped her off the bench and aided her with his arm as she walked using him for a crutch so they could walk hand in hand slowly. As they made their way back to the apartment, Jonathan nodded at every person he saw and pointed at Olivia saying, “See her? She’s just agreed to marry me!”
The next morning, Olivia sat patiently waiting for Maya to arrive at the restaurant at which they had agreed to meet since neither had had a spare moment to see the other in the past week. When she flagged Maya to her table, she deliberately kept her hand hidden beneath her menu.
“So, anyway,” Maya said as she sipped her morning coffee, chattering away happily. “Amit’s mother is losing her damn mind. She wants her son to have a traditional Indian wedding and I’m really not feeling it. I want my damn Vera Wang and the cake with the little people dressed on it and all that other nonsense. We’ll just do our own thing too.”
“She’ll come around.”
“Fat chance of that. Anyway…I heard you and Jonathan are regular church goers now.”
“You heard right. It’s Jonathan’s church…well, actually it’s Sarah and Jillian’s church, but that’s where they know Jonathan from. I like it though. This way I get to see my godsons when we go every Sunday.”
“Every Sunday. We even pay our tithes,” Olivia added with a laugh.
“A little Presbyterian princess you’ve turned out to be, then?”
Maya rolled her eyes and gave an exaggerated sigh. “After all these years, my favorite little atheist has finally chosen a religion. And, we had such high hopes of making a Hindu out of you yet.”
“Yeah, right,” Olivia said, keeping her menu on top of her hand. “That had about as much as chance of happening as your soon to be mother-in-law accepting a white Vera Wang at her son’s wedding.”
Olivia laughed again and, having not moved her menu since Maya had sat in the booth, drew a suspicious stare from her friend.
“What the hell are you hiding under there?” she said. “A chipped nail or something?”
Olivia looked at the menu with an uninterested look on her face before removing the menu to reveal her glowing ring. “Oh, this?”
The scream that flowed out of Maya’s mouth as she grabbed Olivia’s hand emanated across the restaurant and Olivia could feel her face growing red at the number of faces that had turned toward the commotion.
“Oh my God!” she said laughing. “Shut up! People are starting to stare!”
“My God!” Elliot said as he held up Olivia’s hand so that her ring could glimmer in the light. “I was temporarily blinded there for a second! I mean wow…good God…it’s so…Jesus Christ, Olivia! How are you even able to lift your hand?”
They sat shoulder to shoulder on a bench that faced the reservoir after they had met at the park and made it halfway around the water before both needed a break and Elliot took a good look at Olivia’s ring. He was surprised at first, thinking it would have been the solitaire Jonathan had thrown at him in a fit of fury months earlier, but the new ring was just a beautiful against her skin.
“Yeah…it’s big,” Olivia said sheepishly. “Oh, well.”
“You’re going to have watch it if you smack someone once you get back to SVU, Liv. Otherwise you’re gonna start taking out people with that rock.”
She nudged him. “Oh, would you stop it. It’s not that big. Anyways, how’s it feel to be free of the hospital once and for all?”
“Just fantastic. It’s been hectic trying to back and forth from there and home these last couple weeks.”
Olivia nodded her head. “And, speaking of home…are you all set for this weekend?”
“More than set. More than ready. I’ve been waiting for this for two years.” He bumped her shoulder. “I suppose you’re not going to be any help this time around, are you?”
“With moving?” She shrugged. “I could supervise. Give you and your brothers some moral support.”
“Dickie’ll be…I’m sorry Rick will be helping out too. After all, he’s a high school man now.”
“Rick…that’s just adorable. I can’t wait to hear what happens after you call him ‘Dickie’ in front of his high school friends.”
“I’m sure it’ll be just the thing to cement our father-son relationship, especially if I said it in front of Jessica.”
“Jessica…she’s the one he masterminded that plan with the two other girls for, right?”
“The one in the same. Apparently, the love of his life the way he tells it.”
“I’m sure he’d forgive you embarrassing him in front of her…eventually.”
“Oh, well. That’s family…my family anyway. And, speaking of family, I hear your cousin’s doing well.”
“Yeah, she says she likes doing the dispatcher thing and she says she and Jesse are happy together.”
“You don’t think that living together after knowing each other for the three months is a little fast?”
“I guess when it’s love…it’s right.”
“You think she might want to follow in her cousin’s footsteps and wear a badge someday?”
Olivia shrugged. “Don’t know. She might, maybe when her son’s a little bigger.”
“Her son…PK, right?”
“Yeah, he’s nine months and he’s trouble.”
“So, that makes three godsons now?”
“Yep. So, if you and Kathy ever have another kid, you can give me a goddaughter.
“If me and Kathy ever have another kid I’m…just running away.”
She laughed and nudged him and they sat staring across the water for a few moments before Elliot broke the silence.
“You sure your driver’s going to be all right? It’s been a while.”
“Are you going to be like this about the damn driver forever? Just tell me now, so I’ll know if I need to get used to it.”
“I’m kidding…kind of.”
“Look, Jonathan insists and I’m engaged now. I think I read somewhere about wives being submissive to their husbands or some crap like that. Besides, it’s easier than trying to flag down a cab.”
Elliot shook his head. “All that time on the East Side, Liv…Soon, you’ll be ordering people around worse than Hal-…Jonathan.”
“Stop it. I will never order around anyone.”
“Unless they work for you.”
“No one’s working for me. That’s Jonathan’s housekeeper.”
“Ah, but you said it yourself. You’re engaged now. What’s his is yours and vice versa.”
“Whatever... But, yeah…I mean marriage. Marriage. It’s just so surreal.”
“You’ll love it,” he said nudging her again.
“You changing your name to Olivia Halloway?”
“Wasn’t planning on it.”
“Aw, you gotta, Liv. It seals the deal.”
“Well, of course you’d say that. You’re a man. It just spreads your ownership over the whole thing.”
“It’s a commitment. He wants to give you the honor of bearing his name and you fully accept his proposal by taking his name.”
“Oh, the honor?”
“C’mon, don’t you want people looking at you twice when you say ‘I’m Detective Halloway.’ They’ll look at that rock on your hand and ask if you’re related…”
“And then, I’ll tell the perp to mind his own business as I cuff him.”
“What about wives being submissive to their husbands?”
“What about not losing my identity just because I’ve finally settled down?”
“I just like the way it sounds. Detective Halloway. Detective Halloway.”
“I think you’re full of shit and I’m not changing my name.”
Elliot laughed as he shook his head. “Is he making you sign a pre-nup?”
“Of course. I had Jillian and Maya look it over. There’s a special clause regarding infidelity. Originally, it read that if I cheated, he even got to take my pension, but we’re still hashing out that detail.”
“Well…He’s a Halloway. I guess that’s to be expected.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“So, does this mean you and Maya are going to have joint wedding?” he laughed. “Something out of a Brady Bunch special?”
“No. Come on!”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. The two of you being as close as you are…”
“Yeah. I suppose we have been close forever, haven’t we? The thing is though, I never thought we’d make it past high school.”
“No. She was off being Maya, the exotic, popular one and I was just Little Liv who was taller than half the boys. I kept expecting her to just leave me and spend all her time with the popular kids, but she didn’t.”
“And, here you are. You’ve told her right?”
“‘Course I have. Do you think she’d let me live if I waited a week to tell her?”
Elliot shook his head and laughed as he changed the conversation to Olivia’s old apartment.
“My landlord’s not happy about me giving it to Allison,” Olivia said, “but he’ll be fine. He’s still got Sam, Mrs. Fitzgivens and about seven others in the building to get rid of first before he has anything to complain about. Besides, it’s the least he could do considering Morse.”
“How are you feeling about that?”
“I think…I’m okay. Yeah, I’ll be okay.”
He nodded at her and they watched the water together in silence for another twenty minutes before they helped one another back to the street. Before they parted ways, they clasped hands and for just a moment, Elliot’s wedding ring and Olivia’s engagement ring clinked together in unison. Each squeezed the hand of the other and they stared at one another. Olivia nodded first and they broke contact to get into their respective rides home.
As their vehicles parted ways, Elliot’s going down Park Drive South and Olivia’s across 65th Street, each held the same thought.
It must be fate.
Woodside, New York
Elliot hummed in the mirror as he put the finishing touches to his shave to clear the five o’clock shadow from his face. He was celebrating his forty-fourth birthday and as he stared in the mirror he could not suppress at smile at image that stared back at him.
On his last birthday, his wife and children were gone and his partner had left him. He had been stuck with a new partner who was not nearly adequate as Olivia and he had spent the day alone.
Downstairs, Maureen, Kathleen, Lizzie were now gawking over Olivia’s engagement ring while Dickie and Jessica paired against Nolan and Maureen’s boyfriend, Justin, on Madden ’08 and Bryce and Kathy laughed about old Christmases together. He would begin working again starting the next week and everything was as it should have been. He had his family back and he had his partner. Even when he woke up that morning, he knew it was going to be a good day.
He had been sick for the first few days of the week and a slight infection had landed him back in the hospital Sunday night, but he was released the next day. From lifting and shifting his things with his brothers and son as moved him from his apartment back into his home, he had torn a few of the stitches and they healed again badly. Overall, however, he was in near perfect health.
Elliot could see the staples, sutures and padding that held his midsection together easily though his shirt, but he did not care. His only birthday wish was to push away the memory of the men who had harmed some of the people he loved most and move on with his life.
The building where Olivia had been kept had been torn down and all of her attacker’s possessions were destroyed lest someone desire to take up his “work” in reverence. The unit was able to put a name to the face and closed twenty-six open cases in the process. Cragen had Olivia deliver the general statement to the press which followed Felton’s apology for the “mistake” made by the NYPD regarding the initial claim that the case had been closed and Elliot laughed when he noticed that Dickie had “favorited” every part of the filmed speech on his YouTube account.
“Come on, Dad,” he heard Lizzie call as he wiped his face. “Kathleen is getting a little antsy with the lighter thingy for your cake.”
“I’ll be down in a sec, Baby.”
She turned and ran back down the stairs and Elliot stared at himself in the mirror. He had lost a little weight in the past year, lost a little more hair and gained a couple lines in his face, but he was happy nonetheless.
He heard the voices of his family erupt into laughter downstairs and he smiled to himself.
Just the way it should be.
SVU Squad Room
Olivia rocked on her braces as the elevator stopped on the third floor causing Elliot to glance at her. He was worried at first when he came to pick her up that morning as she had not one, but both braces keeping her upright, but she reassured him that it was just a precaution upon which Jonathan insisted since she had told him that the town car would no longer be necessary.
“You ready?” Elliot asked.
They both knew they would be more or less chained to a desk for the next few months as they both continued to recuperate from their respective ailments, but there was a slight buzz of excitement in the elevator as they prepared to begin working again.
When they stepped off the elevator, the sound of clapping and cheering reverberated throughout the squad room and they both laughed as they approached their highly decorated desks. A myriad of cards and “Welcome Back” flyers flowed over the desk pair and twenty joyful minutes were spent simply trying to find a clear space in their desks.
Within the hour, Cragen had given them each a set of assignments that could be performed while still within the confines of the precinct and Munch stood in front of their desks shaking his head.
“I suppose you two are riding desks for a while, eh?”
Elliot shrugged and Olivia smirked at him.
“Those are some lame-ass excuses if you ask me,” he continued. “‘Someone attacked me and I’m re-learning to walk’…’Someone attacked me and nearly cut my heart out’…You know when I was first starting out, I could’ve had a gash across my stomach and braces to keep me up and I still would’ve been walking a beat.” He sighed and shook his head. “They’re just not making cops like they used to.”
He dodged the balled up wad of paper that Olivia threw at him and left the squad room with Fin.
Olivia turned her smile toward Elliot who returned hers in stride. They nodded at one another across their desks and pored over the case files set before them.
The End :)