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Missing Piece

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Olivia walked into work the next morning, head down, reading the paper she had bought on her way in. She liked to be in before the majority of her team but after they closed their case yesterday, she wanted to see what the morning papers were going to say about it so she arrived last. As she headed towards her office, she read a particular part out loud to the others.

Olivia walked into work the next morning, head down, reading the paper she had bought on her way in. She liked to be in before the majority of her team but after they closed their case yesterday, she wanted to see what the morning papers were going to say about it so she arrived last. As she headed towards her office, she read a particular part out loud to the others.

"Liv," Fin said.

She looked over to where he was leaning on his desk. He pointed over his shoulder toward her office door. As her eyes followed, they landed on Elliot, who stood in the doorway, leaning against the frame.

"Hey, Liv," he said softly, smiling a little.

Olivia stood there, completely still, unsure what to say. She put the paper down on the nearest flat surface and slowly walked toward him. She stopped when she was only a few steps away and looked him up and down. He had a beard now, lots of grey. It really hit her then how long it had been since they last spoke or saw each other.

Without a word, she pushed past him into her office. "Close the door," she said, knowing he wasn't going anywhere.

As the door clicked shut, she sat down behind her desk. Elliot sat on the small couch across the room. He put one arm along the back of it and looked over at her.

"I heard about the abuse case," he said "Yours."

"I was cleared," she said.

He nodded. "I know, and I should have come by when I first found out, should have been here for you. I know you would never have laid a hand on any child."

"Elliot, we haven't seen each other since you left, and it's been almost as long since we spoke," Olivia reminded him. She didn't count the years they had sent cards with empty promises of catching up. Back then she considered those contact, they were both busy, but ever since they stopped communicating all together, she realised that even that wasn't enough. "Why are you here now?"

"Fin reached out," Elliot explained. "And Kathy made me see sense."

"Really?"

"She's happy I left the job," he said as he sat up, leaning forward on his knees. "But she told me that it was clear I was missing something. At first she was afraid it was the job so she never said anything but then I found out you got full custody of Noah and she quickly realised it was you."

"Me?"

"You, Liv." He got up then and came to stand in front of her desk. "She realised that I was missing you. That we had functioned so closely together that the sudden absence of you was too much for me. Don't get me wrong, she and I have flourished since and I'm gonna be honest, not spending so much time with you, it helped."

"I know that feeling," Olivia admitted. "We really didn't leave room for much else, did we?"

Elliot shook his head. "I think we got so sucked in. I think we were maybe too compatible."

"So, why did you come back now?"

"Kathy and I only had this talk a few months ago," he explained. "I know it's been years since I left but the first couple of years were so great and then she began to notice that I was just going through the motions sometimes and like I said, she thought it was me missing the job so she never said anything."

Olivia nodded a little. "What did you think it was?"

"I don't know," he admitted. "I thought it might be you but I think I was afraid of being sucked back in. You live and breathe this job, Liv. That's not an insult, it just meant that if I stayed or came back into your life, the job would be there too, in some way."

"You stayed in touch with Fin."

"We don't talk about the job," Elliot said. "And Fin kept in touch with me. It was a while before I really made an effort. It was the same with Munch."

"Then I ask again, why now?"

"Hearing about Noah, what they were acussing you of," he said. "I realised I was being selfish. How could I have ever called you my friend, if I wasn't there for you now? I remember a time when I would have let a suspect get away if you were in danger, a time when I would have quite literally put my life on the line for you."

Olivia ran her hands over her face. She stood up and went over to the door, opening it wide and standing aside. "Goodbye, Elliot."

He came closer, and looked toward the door. "Liv..."

She refused to look at him. "Goodbye, Elliot."

"Mommy!"

They both looked to see Noah running across the room toward Olivia. She stooped low enough to scoop him up into her arms.

"Hello, sweet boy," she said softly, rubbing her nose against his. "What are you doing here?"

"We're going to the park!"

"He wanted to see you," Lucy explained.

"I'm sorry I wasn't there when you woke up," Olivia told Noah."But the park sounds like lots of fun, and during the week too."

"I thought we would head out early seen as school is back on tomorrow," Lucy explained. "We're going to get some lunch too. Did you want me to pick you up something?"

Olivia smiled at her and took a moment, like always, to wonder how she had been so lucky to find someone like Lucy. "No, I'm alright, thank you. And thank you for taking care of him today."

"I love doing it," Lucy said.

During their conversation Noah had twisted around to look toward Elliot. He was squinting as if he recognised him but couldn't quite place him.

"Hi, I'm Elliot."

Noah looked back to Olivia and then back again. "Uncle Elliot?"

"Yeah," Olivia said, looking over his head to Elliot. "That's him."

"I'm Noah," he said, holding his hand out.

Elliot smiled as he shook his hand. "It's nice to meet you, little man."

"You have lots of kids," Noah said.

"I do," he agreed. "I'm sure they would love to meet you sometime." He looked to Olivia. "In fact, I have a full house at the moment. Everyone decided to visit."

"Maybe the next time you're all together," Olivia said.

"They could come to the park!" Noah exclaimed.

Elliot shrugged a little at Olivia who sighed. Despite how everything ended, she had only ever told Noah good things about Elliot, mostly because she only wanted to remember the good times. She couldn't be angry that Noah would be curious and want to know the man she had told him all about. The same goes for his family. So, in the end, she agreed.

"If they want to, they can meet you and Lucy at the park," Olivia told an excited Noah.

"We were going to go out and get some dinner," Elliot said. "We can move it up a little and Noah and Lucy can come along. If you're off work you're welcome to join us, Liv."

"I wouldn't want to intrude," Lucy said, sounding uneasy as she looked to Olivia.

Olivia gave her a reassuring smile. "If you want to go, please, do. If not, Noah will be okay with Elliot." A lot might have changed over the years but that she could be sure of.

"I'll see what time everyone settles on," Lucy decided. "If it's not too late I'll stick around, bring Noah home afterward."

"I'd really appreciate that," Olivia said, putting Noah down. "I'll be sure to come home at a decent time so you can get home yourself."

Elliot disappeared into Olivia's office for a moment and came back with a scrap of paper. He handed it over to Lucy who examined it. "My number and my house number. When you guys are settled at the park, just give us a call and we'll let you know what's happening."

"That sounds good," Lucy said, as she pocketed the piece of paper and took Noah's hand. "I'll call you if we're going to be running late or if I've had to go home, Olivia."

"Thank you," Olivia said, crouching down in front of Noah. She hugged him and kissed him."Don't forget to thank everyone before you leave."

Noah nodded. "I won't."

"Goodbye, sweet boy," she said. "I'll see you later."

"Bye," he said as he and Lucy walked away. He turned around and waved enthusisatically. "Bye, Elliot!"

Elliot raised his hand and waved a little. "See you in a little while."

Olivia noticed then that Fin, Carisi, and Amanda had been watching the whole thing. They looked away almost immedietely, except for Fin who just shrugged a little before leaning back in his chair and kicking his feet up on the desk.

"You still want me to leave, don't you?" Elliot asked.

She nodded. "Please."

"My address is still the same," he said. "Eli helped Kathy to make a cake so we're going to have that for dessert. If you get off early, we'll be at the resteraunt or there. I'll get the details of where we're eating to you."

Without another word, he left, only pausing long enough to nod his head a little at Fin as he passed. Once Elliot left she looked to Fin.

"You talked to him."

Fin held his hands up as he sat up. "I didn't tell him to come down here but, Liv, it's crazy. You two were inseperable and now you never mention each other and when you do, you never use names."

"Leaving was his choice," Olivia reminded him. "Distancing himself was too."

"Listen, Elliot has always been loyal to his wife, the fact they got so many kids and that they got back together after a split proves that," Fin said. "But it didn't take a genius to work out that he was in love with you too."

"I..." For the first time in a long time, Olivia found herself speechless.

"Call it what you will." Fin shrugged. "But the love you guys had for each other, went far beyond anything I've ever seen."

Olivia wasn't so sure she would agree but then she had never really been able to define what she and Elliot had. She had always known they would never be together like that, perhaps that was because Kathy had always been there, but Olivia suspected it was because a romantic, or even sexual, relationship just wasn't a fit for them. If it had been, that ship had long since sailed.

She turned back into her office and just as she as she shut the door behind her, she heard Amanda say, "so, that was Liv's old partner?"


It was a surprisingly slow day at work and Olivia wondered if it was the universe laughing at her. The one day she wanted to be stuck at work and there was really no reason for her to be there late. She contimplated what to do. They would all still be at dinner so she could just go home and wait for Lucy to bring Noah home. That's was almost what she did when she got a text from Lucy who said she really needed to rush off. Olivia gave her a quick call just to reassure her that that was completely fine and to find out what the plans were for the rest of the night.

They were heading back to Elliot's for dessert and Olivia debated what to do next. She would either have to go over there and pick Noah up or wait at home for Elliot to bring him back. Either way, she was going to have to talk to him so she chose to head over to the house. She gave it an hour and then went.

"Olivia!" It was Kathy who opened the door and to Olivia's surprise, Kathy hugged her before stepping aside to let her in. "It's been so long. Noah is just through in the living room playing games with the others."

Olivia could hear the noise before she even stepped inside. She hung her coat up on the hook beside the door and went toward the living room. Looking in she saw all of the Stabler kids and Noah sat on the floor, playing video games.

"Mommy!" Noah said as he caught sight of her.

"Stay there," Olivia said as he was about to get up. "Keep playing your game."

He grinned at her before turning his attention back to the controller in his hand. Dickie leaned over and pointed to the controller, telling him something. Each of the Stabler kids turned to Olivia and said hello to her. All except for Eli who was the one playing against Noah and was too busy concentrating on his game, although he did mumble a "hello."

Olivia couldn't believe how much they had all grown. Kathleen and Maureen weren't exactly young when she last saw them but it was still a shock at how much they had changed. In fact, most of them weren't even children anymore but Olivia couldn't help but see them that way. As she stepped away from the living room, Elliot appeared beside Kathy.

"I have to admit," Olivia said. "I was surprised to hear that you were one of the reasons Elliot reach back out again."

"It's crazy, you really should have been my biggest threat," Kathy said. "But in the end, I realised that although that might be true, you loved him so much that you would never want to hurt him or his family so really you weren't a threat at all. Although, I was afraid for a while that having you back in his life might make him miss the job."

Olivia looked around at all of the pictures that littered the walls. Most of them were from the years they had been out of contact. Everyone looked so happy.

"If I had known how well things were going, I would never have let him back on the job," Olivia said. "I would have kicked him back out the door if he tried to get back in."

"When Fin told him about the investigation into you," Kathy said. "It all clicked into place that you were the missing piece."

Things really had changed. She and Kathy hadn't exactly been strangers over all those years but this was probably the most open they had ever been. Olivia had promised in the past that she was no threat and things weren't like that between her and Elliot, but to actually hear it come from Kathy, with no prompting, felt good.

"I am happy that things worked out," Olivia said, and she really did mean it. "You've always had a beautiful family."

"Thank you. They really are something," Kathy said, smiling as she looked into the living room before looking back to Olivia. "Noah is such a polite kid."

"He's an angel," Olivia agreed. "I'm incredibly lucky."

"So is Noah," Kathy said before motioning toward the kitchen. "I'm about to cut the cake. Would you like some?"

"Sure," Olivia said, knowing she wasn't going to be able to drag Noah away from his game just yet. "I left Fin and Carisi at the office, I'm just going to step out and give them a call, make sure they don't need me for the rest of the night."

"I'll leave a piece on the side for you."

Olivia nodded in thanks. As Kathy headed toward the kitchen, she stepped outisde. Once she was down on the sidewalk she heard someone behind her.

"Just give me a minute, Elliot."

"I know you're not out here to make a phonecall."

"I just need to breathe," she said, turning to him. He stepped back a little when he saw the tears in her eyes. "You left, El. No warning, no word. I had to hear it from Cragen."

"I'm sorry," he said. He reached for her but dropped his hands, thinking better of it. "I don't know what to say."

"I don't just talk about work."

He frowned. "What?"

"You kept in touch with Fin and Munch because they didn't talk about work," Olivia said. "That's what you told me. Well, I don't just talk about work. We both have kids now and lives, Elliot, we could have talked about anything."

"Olivia..."

She turned and started to head down the street. She knew she would come back but for right now, she had to move. Elliot followed close behind, she could hear his footsteps, but it was only once they were at the end of the street that he grabbed her hand and tugged her back. As she whipped around, he let go.

"I couldn't face you," he told her. "When I decided to leave. I didn't think you could convince me to come back to work, I was so adamanet at the time that I was never going back that nothing could have changed my mind which is why I sent cards and kept that channel open."

"Then why leave completelya and close that channel for good?"

"I needed a clean break from that side of me," he explained. From the tone of his voice she could tell he thought it was a lame excuse but it was clearly the only one he had. "It was years before I really made an effort with anyone. Other than Christmas and birthday cards every year, I didn't bother with anyone and then it became increasingly harder to get back in touch because I did the one thing I promised I would never do.

She wiped at her eyes as she looked up toward the sky. "What was that?"

"That I would never leave you alone." He cough a little to clear his throat. "We were partners, Liv. I wasn't there to watch your back."

"I almost called you during Lewis' trial," she admitted. "I knew you would show no mercy. It was selfish but I needed my parnter. I held back though."

"I felt worse about losing contact after all of that," Elliot said, stepping closer to her. "Believe me, I wanted to rip him to shreds."

"I needed you, El." She finally looked back at him. Seeing him again, after so many years, had opened up some kind of floodgate and she was finally becoming aware of all these feelings she had locked up. "I've needed you this entire time, for so many reasons."

This time Elliot did reach for her. He pulled her into him and hugged her tightly. It took a moment but eventually she clung to him, burying her face in the crook of his neck.

"I love you, Liv," he said. "Please don't ever think I stopped."

She pulled away and looked at him. Their faces were close, almost touching. His eyes looked to hers and, after licking his lips a little in thought, he leaned in and kissed her. Just as he was about to pull away, she kissed him back. It was gentle and must have only lasted a few seconds before they pulled apart and looked at each other.

"I love you, too."

As they hugged they both knew that that kiss was as far as it would ever go for them. That only in another world, a different life time, would they ever be more. Olivia knew as they walked back up the street toward the house, that she couldn't deny the absense she felt anymore. It was so easy for them to fall back into a comfortable silence as they walked that Olivia knew that whether she liked it or not, Elliot Stabler was a fundamental part of her life.