December 31, 2011
"I'm so sorry, but he didn't make it." The doctor said with fake sincerity, blood droplets staining his blue scrubs. "We tried everything we could, but he was hit with too many bullets in the chest. He's dead." He said with no emotion.
"No!" She screamed loudly, "No! Daddy! No, he's got to be ok!" She shouted, trying to run and find him, knowing he was alive, he was ok, but it was as though invisible restraints were holding her back, as everyone else melted away, and she was left in a white room, her father laying ten feet away surrounded by a pool of his own blood, dying before her very eyes. She tried to get to him, to save him, but she couldn't move, like she was frozen. She could only watch him die.
"Guess you're stuck with me as a daddy," Tom's face flouted through, telling her with a sick grin on his face, and she screamed, sobbing, fighting the invisible restraints as she tried to get to him.
"Ariella!" Olivia's worried cry woke her from the nightmare, and she shot up, breathing deeply, trying to catch her breath as she looked around the room in tears.
"He's dead," She cried to her mother, "He's dead, he was right there and I couldn't save him, he's gone!"
"No, honey, it was a nightmare, he came home yesterday, remember?" Olivia said, wrapping her arms around her, trying to comfort her, "Your father's fine, it's ok," She soothed gently.
"He was right there, he was bleeding so much, there was so much blood, but I couldn't help him, I couldn't save him, he was gone," Ariella sobbed, trying to accept Olivia's words, but the dream had felt so real, even though it had been so unrealistic.
"Calm down, Rellie, it's ok," Olivia said gently, "Your dad's fine, it's ok."
"Where is he?" She cried, "Why isn't he here?"
Olivia sighed, "The stubborn idiot woke up early and left a note saying he went into work. How about we go haul him back home, ok? You'll see, he's fine. It's ok, it was just a dream."
"Ok," Ariella nodded, slowly calming down. "Let's go get him." She said, just needing to see him for some reason, for reassurance. She got out of bed and slowly used the bathroom, cleaned up, got dressed, and put the wig on, securing it to her head.
Once she was ready, she was calmer and more in her right mind, but still got in the back of the car with Olivia, who said it was nice not having to drive since Ariella's security did a lot of the driving.
It was just the two of them in the house currently. It was New Year's Eve, and the hospital had discharged Elliot the previous day. After knowing Elliot would be fine which meant Ariella would be ok, Taylor had flown out to Los Angeles the day after Christmas to spend a few days with his family, but he was due to arrive back tonight.
After much convincing of her parents and Linda's conditional approval, Ariella was making her first public appearance since she went in the hospital that night at Dick Clark's New Years Rocking Eve. Since the kids wanted to go with Ariella, they'd spent the previous night at Kathy's place.
Elliot's doctor had told him he shouldn't be working for a few weeks, and he'd agreed, but when Olivia had woken up, a not was in his place, saying he just needed to see this case through.
They were silent throughout the ride, but Ariella held tight to her hand until the car stopped in front of the precinct. They got out and hurried in, not wanting her to be recognized. Luckily, the precinct was far enough away from Times Square so it wasn't packed. They knew that the closer you got to Times Square today, the more insane it would be. New Years Eve was the NYPD's nightmare.
They got in and up to the squad room easily, Olivia greeting people as they walked by, and when they reached the SVU room, both mother and daughter's eyes searched the room. They found Fin first, who noticed them, waving. "Hey Elliot, you're caught," He called out, and then he appeared, coming out of Cragen's office, the captain following.
Ariella let a sigh of relief out, seeing him there. Even though she knew he was ok, that Olivia was right, she'd just needed to see him. She hurried over, hugging him tightly, being careful of the shoulder wound. "You're ok." She said, mostly to herself.
He hugged her back, confused, "Of course I am, honey...what's wrong?"
"Nothing," She said quickly, "I just...nightmare." She said. "I'm fine." She promised, finally letting go.
"You won't be though," Olivia said pointedly to him. "What the hell do you think you're doing? You heard the doctor, Elliot, for God's sake you have gunshot wounds!" She exclaimed.
"You know, it's entertaining seeing Liv yell at Elliot," Fin remarked, leaning back in his desk chair.
"I know," Munch agreed, "Keep going, Liv."
"I will," She said, glaring at Elliot, before her attention was caught by Ariella, who had wandered over to the big board up on the wall that was now adorned with the photos and what information they had about all the kids and women that had been involved in the human trafficking ring Elliot had helped bust. The board held over one hundred pictures, and her eyes scanned over them.
"Who are all these people?" She asked, fearing the answer.
"They're the people that were being held by the men and women your dad helped catch." Cragen said.
"All of them?" She asked, "There's so many."
"Operations like theirs are usually large. They abduct or kidnap them and sell them into slavery, or they buy them, then sell them again." Elliot explained, though he hated talking to his children about this stuff. He knew though, that she knew what it was like, to an extent.
"How common is this? Are there groups like this everywhere?" She asked, looking appalled. "They just steal women and children, and sell them to be...raped?"
"Its more common than a lot of people think." Liv said gently.
"Just when you think you couldn't hate the world more." Ariella said bitterly. "People are disgusting."
"I know." Olivia agreed, arm around her shoulder. "Come on, lets go home." She says gently. "You're coming with us." She adds, glaring at Elliot, who smiles innocently.
"Don't even," Olivia warns. "I'm pissed off. I should have known, though." She laughed at herself, "Now get your stuff." She ordered, and to Fin and Munch's amusement, Elliot complied with Olivia's demands.
"If he so much as walks into this building at any time between now and the next four weeks, you better kick his ass out." She said to Cragen.
"Don't worry, Liv, you've got my word." He nodded.
"Thank you. Now let's go home," She said when Elliot came back, coat on.
They all said goodbye, then headed out for the car. Ariella seemed to drown the world out, staring out the window as the city passed by, and Olivia, on Elliot's other side, had her arms crossed over her chest, glaring out the window.
"Liv, baby, come on," He said, leaning over to kiss her, "I'm sorry."
"I know what it's like." She said, "I know what it's like, Elliot, and when we were jut partners and best friends, I forced myself to agree and understand. But I can't do that anymore, I can't just let you be stupid when it comes to your health because one, we have a daughter. She's sitting right there, and she was terrified when she woke up this morning, looking for you." She told him quietly, though Ariella was still looking out the window, not paying them any attention. "And two, because I'm pregnant!" She exclaimed, "I'm pregnant, with your child, a child that needs a father. A child that needs you. And three..." She said, trailing off.
"Three?" He encouraged her gently.
"Now that I know what it's like to have you, now that I've let my guard down, I can't let you get hurt, because I need you." She admitted.
"I'm sorry," He said again, putting his arm around her as best he could with his injury, and their placement in the car. "I just...had to see the case through. But I promise, I'll stay home until the doctor clears me, ok? Please forgive me." He says softly. "I really am sorry, baby."
Sighing, she nods, and turns to kiss him. "Just don't do it again, for the sake of my sanity." She lets herself rest her head against him for a moment, before glancing past him to their daughter. "Ariella?" She calls, "Are you ok?" She asks, as Elliot puts a hand on her shoulder.
Not turning away from the window, she asks, "How many people live like that? Abducted, sold into slavery to be raped, and abused over and over, until they're used up and disposed of?" Her voice is distant, she sounds like she wants to be sick or cry, or both.
"Over twenty seven million," Elliot says softly.
"It makes me sick." She says, finally turning to them, away from the window, as the car pulled into their driveway. "I've spent the past four years speaking out to victims of what I went through, and I thought I was making the biggest difference. But it's so much bigger than that. Just when you think the world can't get any worse, when you think there can't be anyone more screwed up than the last, you find out that it is, that there is."
"Rellie, you can't let it consume you, because it will." Olivia says gently, none of them moving even though Phil had reached the house, and parked the car. "It will take over your life, thinking of all the disgusting people out there, the horrors people go though."
"You can't," Elliot agrees, "You can't save the world, princess. You've got enough on your plate."
"I have to do something!" Ariella exclaims, getting out of the car in agitation, them following her as she heads for the house. "I know what it's like, living in fear every day," She says as they go in through the garage, entering the kitchen. "I know how it feels to be destroyed over and over, to be hurt beyond normal hurt. But I got out, I was saved. I got help. How many people out there never get that? How many people have it so much worse? Just one is way too many, and you just told me twenty seven million."
Olivia admires her daughter's compassion, but knows she can't handle another project. "And what you want to do is admirable, Rellie, but-"
"But what, mom?" She asks, cutting her off. "I know that I can't save the world. But I can sure as hell try, because I have power that most people don't. I have talent, and I have people that listen to me. I have money. I have all of that because I was lucky." She says, "And I refuse to just...sit and bathe in bathtubs full of my money, back in the power of Hollywood that I have. I was blessed, and I got lucky, and I'm going to use it to try and do some good."
"You just got out of the hospital," Elliot began, only for her to cut him off.
"And I could be back there anytime." She says. "I know that. I know I just got out of the hospital, but so did you, daddy. I know I'm sick, but...that's even more reason to do as much as I can while I can. I've been living with what ifs for almost eighteen years now," She says gently. "And I've been living with this disease for too long. But I've learned to use what time I have, because I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. I can't live for this disease, because if I did, I would have no life, and I like my life. I like being able to talk and have people listen, to write my life into songs, and know that people can connect to them. I have to do something because...it's what defines me." She says.
"Most people have years and years to make something of themselves, to create a legacy that will be left in their death. I've spent the past years doing as much as I could so that if I died, I'd be leaving something behind. I hate not doing something, because I can do something, so I'm going to. I know you're my parents, and I'm sorry if you don't agree, but I can't let you tell me I can't do something that is trying to make a difference." She said, shrugging helplessly. "I'm gunna go to my room and relax, tonight will be busy." She said quietly, before heading upstairs.
"She never stops amazing me." Olivia says, watching after her.
"They never really do." Elliot agrees. "She's something else. She's..."
"Perfect." Olivia finishes. "Too bad we can't take credit for it." she says, trying to joke, leaning up against the kitchen counter, sighing.
"Of course we can," he grins, moving in front of her, wrapping his arms around her, thankful for the pain meds from the hospital, which enabled him to move and walk. (He'd be in pain once they wore off...soon.) "It was the combination of both of our flawless DNA that made her such an amazing person."
She laughed, her arms finding their way around his neck. "Yea, ok El, that's it." He smiled, kissing her, and then she looked at the clock. "You should get upstairs and in bed before those pain meds wear off. You should take the other one, the stronger one. You know, we have the house to ourselves tonight." She smiled, grabbing his hand and pulling him towards the stairs. "Eli's with Kathy, all the other kids are going with Rellie and Taylor to Times Square, Mary's going cause she's her manager, and Brooke said she'd go and make sure Ariella didn't over do it, so you and I can have alone time."
"And what might that entail?" Elliot asked, smiling, as they reached the top of the stairs, and she pushed him into their room.
"Well, we can watch her performance and the ball drop, and then we can have our first kiss of the new year, and then I'll stop being pissed at you for the whole sneaking undercover thing, and, being careful of the injuries you got, we can have sex." She said, "Unless you have a better idea, of course."
"Nope, sounds good to me," He smiles. "New year..." He mutters. "2012 already. Seems like it was just turning 2011."
"I know. Crazy, how much happened this year, huh?" She asked, absently loosening his tie, unbuttoning his shirt, and handing him a t-shirt.
"Very crazy." He agreed. "But now, I can't imagine it any other way."
Olivia quickly agreed, because despite how much had happened in the past four months, this was her life now. Trying to imagine it going on any other way, trying to imagine it without Ariella, without Elliot, without Elliot's kids, she couldn't. It was like there wa no future without them, now. But she was fine with that. Because despite the pain that came with having a child that was sick, the pain that finally letting someone in brought...she knew this is how it was supposed to be.
This was her life, and she was happy with it.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter :) Now that schools out for summer and I'm back home, I should be updating more frequently! Next chapter will be the rest of Yew years eve/new years, and maybe we'll see what plan Ariella's cooking up:)
Let me know what you thought!