I am working through the crossover episode from the other night.
I feel like so much is being left unsaid, so I'm staying in their heads for a little while longer.
I hope you like it!
Just got Noah to sleep. Don't think I can make it work tonight.
Elliot stared down at the text while balancing two chamomile teas in his other hand. He didn't know if she still drank tea. She used to be coffee all the way before her UC with the environmentalist group. Had sleepless nights with a baby changed that habit? He didn't know because he hadn't been there for those years. He'd left her without a word. No wonder she didn't want to talk to him.
There was a time that they were so in sync that their waking hours lined up, especially after a tough case. When most people would go home and crash, they would both spend the late hours processing and thinking. Sometimes he thought about the case. Sometimes he thought about her. Sometimes he tried not to think about her. That was exactly why he had to make a clean getaway. She would always draw him back in.
He chewed lightly on his bottom lip and pressed send before tossing his phone into his coat pocket. She had different priorities now, and rightly so. She was a mom, which was still only a dream when he left. Now she had a son to think about, a center of her universe to revolve around. He hadn't even thought about the fact that she couldn't just drop everything for him anymore. How stupid of him. He threw the second chamomile tea into the closest trash can a little harder than was strictly necessary and stalked off. How did he keep getting this wrong?
"Are we good," he said looking back at her from a few steps away. Her chest tightened knowing he must have been concerned that they weren't.
"I hope so," she said, hoping it would add a bit of levity to her reassurance. It was their way to crack jokes in the tense moments to let each other know it would be all right. Would it be all right? Just like she said, she hoped so…
She watched him walk away and let out a heavy breath. What was she going to do with him? He said he heard her, but he was still pursuing the case he was told to stay away from. She knew he would never stay away completely. It wasn't in his nature. It wasn't in her nature for that matter.
It killed her to think he was battling all of this alone and she couldn't help him. Well, not on her own. She'd learned her own limits, but that didn't make it any easier to watch him flounder. In truth, all she'd wanted was to reach out and touch him, to place a calming hand on his shoulder or his face… maybe even pull him into a hug and hold him close like she did with Noah when he was upset. But she couldn't. She had to settle for eye contact, a loaded look that let him know she was right there.
The impossible tension of their relationship had always been the thin line they walked with all the many different forms of intimacy. They knew each other in ways that no one else did. They shared traumas that created an impossibly close emotional bond. They thought and acted with one mind as partners so much so that they could anticipate each other's next move. But touches were off limits. It was almost as if a touch would be playing with fire, like breaking down that one barrier would start something neither of them could stop.
There were moments, of course, when they couldn't resist the comfort of a hug in a hospital hallway or an embrace after a close call. Those moments were special and held a tacit agreement that the tension had to be released in the moment and it would never go any further. There were times in their partnership when words wouldn't suffice, when their feelings spilled over and they simply had to hold one another. She could recount each of those moments still, but to this day she didn't know how to untangle those feelings.
So much of her time since he reappeared had been spent trying to figure out what they were to each other before he left. Theirs was an ever-evolving partnership that you could spend a lifetime trying to parse out. When she was living in it, it was hard to see where one of them ended and the other began. In retrospect it was even more difficult. Which of her memories were reality and which were colored by her perception and passed time?
They were never just partners. They were never just friends. But they certainly weren't lovers. They both made sure of that through an elaborate array of safeguards and barriers that created just enough space between them to protect the hard lines. They were too important to each other to jump into bed together and start something that could drive them apart. He was married. He *was* married, she reminded herself. What did that mean moving forward? He was still so fragile and he needed time to heal while they worked on connecting the past with the present.
She was still fragile, too. She was still angry. She was still hurt. She still felt betrayed and abandoned. He'd missed the best and worst moments of her life. He didn't even know about Lewis or how she got Noah. All of that was on the backburner, and she couldn't help but feel the bitterness seep in. It was par for the course.
The only thing that was certain was that she had to prioritize Noah no matter what. She hoped the rest could be worked out in time. She hoped that she could forgive him and they could really be good.
Elliot rolled over onto his back and heaved a long-suffering sigh. Angela called in the hit on Kathy. Angela did it. Of course Angela did it. He was a moron. He couldn't seem to help himself, stop himself from making bad choices, from spiraling into a pit of horrible decisions with even worse consequences.
He didn't know how to process this and he didn't know who could help him. He couldn't keep putting his problems on Liv. He'd disrupted her life, the life she'd built after he left, and he couldn't keep doing this to her. It wasn't fair to ask anything of her after what he did. Hell, she didn't even have space to be angry at him. She had to keep all of that to herself because he was the one with the dead wife. Even if she was still angry with him, and she must be, she was still there. She was still trying to look out for him.
He flexed his left hand and reached down to twist his wedding band around his finger. Earlier that day, she'd grabbed that hand and he'd held on as long as he could without pulling her back to him. It was a different sort of moment for them. He remembered the dynamic they'd always had before where touches upset the delicate balance of their relationship. But she'd reached for him as she passed, and it felt so good to have a tangible piece of reassurance from someone he valued so much.
"You look better," she'd said, with a welcome lightheartedness that gave him a moment of respite. He wouldn't look better after this.