A/N: Thanks a heap for the reviews, alerts and favourites. ;-). On to the next chapter, then... after all, you didn't pick this story to hear me ramble on, and I have been known to do that on occasion. Hey! Have you heard the news about a GILMORE GIRLS reboot?! Just saying...
Liv was just coming back from a break when she walked into the bullpen.
"Liv," Finn called out, holding up the phone from his desk. "A call for you?"
She headed straight for her office. "Be prepared," he warned.
Finn looked her over as if he expected her to fall apart.
Liv nodded and pushed open her office door. "It's ok. I've been expecting it. Thanks, Finn."
He gave her an encouraging smile and she went into the office and shut the door.
Liv took a deep breath before she picked up the phone and put it to her ear. "Hi," she greeted.
"Hey," he sighed. He sounded relieved. "I didn't know if you'd want to take the call, given how I left things."
"The first time or the second?" she asked bitterly. Liv hadn't meant for the words to come out sounding so harsh, but she had no intention of apologising.
"Both," he answered. "I'm sorry about Kate. I wasn't happy with the way she-"
"Its fine," she assured him.
Liv was hardly upset by some stranger's reaction to her and she certainly hadn't lost any sleep over it, but she had realised why Kate was so familiar. She had spent hours picturing her face, trying to find the answers in the back of her subconscious until the penny dropped, and Liv realised that the woman was an uncanny resemblance to her and a smile played on her lips. Was El aware of that? Had he purposely picked someone who looked like his old partner, in some attempt to hold onto his old life? Liv would have willingly see him any time she wasn't working. They could have remained friends. El didn't have to walk out on her without so much as a goodbye.
"I want to see you," he stated matter-of-factly.
"And how does your girlfriend feel about that?"
"I am a grown man, and since when have I allowed a woman to tell me what to do?"
Liv didn't know if her heart was strong enough to deal with losing him twice. It had been hell for two whole years, before she managed to pull herself out of the darkness. He hadn't just left her, he had severed all ties without warning, without explanation, and she had been left wondering how little he thought of her, when he had always had her entire heart in his hands.
"Please," he begged.
And just like that, she felt like she had been dragged back to the past, back to the days when all he had to do was ask.
"I know I have a lot of explaining to do, so let me do that. Please."
"Thank you. I'll fit in anywhere you need me to. You pick the time and place."
Liv looked at her watch. If she went now she didn't have a chance to fill her head with reasons and excuses. She could just get it over and done with, have the answers she needed and get on with her life and let him get on with his. Liv didn't expect this to turn into a friendship of the past.
"Ok, meet me now!"
After she hung up, Finn knocked on her office, as if he had been waiting the whole time. "What's up?"
"How long has he been back on the scene?"
"A few hours. I saw him during lunch break by fluke."
"Oh. Be careful, Liv. I'm sure he had his reasons for walking out and all, but I don't want you to go through that... pain, all over again. I couldn't stand watching that."
"I know. I'll be fine."
"He's your kryptonite, Liv. Just saying..."
"Thanks. I got it," she smiled. She appreciate his concern but she was a grown adult and she knew what she was doing.
Liv sat across from him in an old café they used to go to for lunch. She had eaten in other places since his absence, not wanting to think about the pain it caused when she allowed herself to dwell on what had been. But with him sitting across the table, it somehow felt right.
That terrified her.
"You never called me," she said quietly, nursing an iced tea.
"You didn't call me either," he shrugged.
"You left, El. Did you expect me to chase after you? Is that what you wanted?"
"No, I- no. I just- I'm just saying that you didn't reach out to me either. I was pretty messed up after the shooting and I couldn't really deal with anything or anyone. It wasn't personal."
"It was very personal to me."
"I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I just couldn't live with what I'd done and keep going to same way. I knew the moment it happened that my old life was over."
"And I was a part of that?" she asked, wanting to understand.
El stabbed his cake with a fork. "Yes."
"I deserved an explanation after all the years we were partnered together. You were the only man I... you broke me, El. You shattered my heart beyond repair that only one man in the world was able to repair the damage you did."
"What's his name?" he asked, clenching his jaw.
Was he jealous, she wondered? Did he care that someone else had been able to make her happy, even if that someone else was a child?
"Noah," she answered.
"I'm very happy," she smiled. "He's everything I ever wanted. I could not love him more. He's my whole world."
"Good," he nodded. "I'm glad you're happy."
She didn't feel like explaining the whole truth to him. Not yet.
"Are you happy, El?" she wanted him to be, he hadn't left her so bitter that she didn't want that for him.
"Sometimes," he shrugged. "Not really. I- I miss you."
Liv closed her eyes trying not to let her heart rule here. She had made that mistake once, and it had nearly destroyed her. "She looks like me, you know..." Liv said, deliberately skimming over his comment.
"Who?" he frowned.
"Kate. We could be twins."
El scoffed. "You don't look anything alike. She's-"
"Same hair cut I had before you left. Same facial structure, same weight, same height, same natural look. All these things can't be coincidence."
"They are," he insisted. "She's nothing like you."
Liv rose from the table and grabbed her bag. "Good, then you don't have to worry about walking out on her, do you?" she left the café before he could make a reply.
Ooooooh, Liv is NOT happy.
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