Ultimately Futile
by cgb

It will be a case like this one that does it. It will be something that won't leave her alone at the end of the day, something that eats away at her until she can no longer stand her own company.

She will find her way to a bar she knows. She'll know the bartender because she's been here before, because she's had too many days that end like this one. She's not an alcoholic, but sometimes she worries that she has only one solution to her problems.

She'll order bourbon on the rocks and she'll drink it fast. She'll order another and the bartender will ask, "Rough day?" She'll give a wry smile and say, "Yeah," but he won't stay long enough for details. She won't feel like talking so it won't bother her.

She'll take the second drink slow. She will swirl the bourbon with the ice until the ice gets smaller and smaller and breaks into little pieces. She'll watch it break and think about how she could have done things differently, how she could have changed the way it all turned out. She will think she should be able to catch bad guys and protect the Carrie Huitts of the world from a second rape at the hands of the justice system. She'll think about it until her head hurts.

Eventually she'll press the glass to her temples, rolling it from one side to the other. She'll wait for the cool of the glass to soothe her. When it doesn't, she'll order another drink.

She'll have been there over an hour when Elliot arrives.

He'll find the seat next to her and order a Coke. He'll tap his fingers on the bar and then he'll look at her like she's one of his daughters, like he really wants to say the right thing but doesn't know where to start.

She will be the one who speaks. "How did you know I was here?"

"A guess. You weren't home and there was no answer on your cell."

She won't tell him he's the only person who comes looking for her.

Eventually he will say, "It's not your fault. You put a sexual predator behind bars - you should be proud of yourself."

She'll think that there's a part of herself that is pleased, that takes pride in putting dangerous criminals behind bars, but she'll remember she's the sum of many parts.

"I'm not that simple."

He'll tell her knows, but it won't matter because it's out there now and she is reminded she is far from handling this.

He will say, "I'll walk you home."


He will insist on seeing her inside her apartment. Ordinarily she'd protest but this time she won't because she's tired and she can't argue with him anymore, and she really does want him to see her inside.

He'll check her fridge and ask her if she's eaten.

"I don't need you to look after me," she will tell him.

He'll nod as he closes the fridge door and he will offer to make coffee.

"I think you should just leave," she'll say.

In one version of events he will do as she asks. He will leave her alone and she will fall asleep on the couch watching Letterman. In one version of events nothing changes.

In another version of events he will stay. He will sit down beside her on the couch and ask her if she wants to talk. She will ask him what he suggests they talk about.

"Anything you want," he will say.

"What do you think will happen to Bethany Taylor?"

"Bethany Taylor will be fine. She's good at what she does. She has integrity. If her clients don't appreciate that now, they will one day."

"She thinks I bullied Carrie Huitt."

"She doesn't know Carrie Huitt as well as she thinks she does."

She will lean her head back against the sofa and she will stare at the ceiling. She will feel his hand on her knee, squeezing lightly, and she will be surprised at the way the heat of his palm travels up her thigh. She will find it unsettling.

She will say, "I wanted them to feel safe."


"All of them. Everyone."

He will take her hand and hold it between both of his. They will hear laughter from the apartment next door. She will feel the moment stretching, gradually approaching the infinite.

And then he will move his hands to her face and he will kiss her. She'll kiss him back but it will only be for an instant. He'll break away or she'll break away, and somehow they'll stop and realise what they've done.

He'll be embarrassed. He will apologise, quickly getting to his feet and saying he should leave. She will drop her face into her hands, hiding her eyes because they are prickling with tears and she won't want him to see her cry.

She'll look up again when she realises he hasn't left.

He'll say, "I'm worried about you."

She'll feel sick and she'll wonder if it's the bourbon or the late nights or the lack of food, or whether it's him and the way he looks at her like he can save her.

She will say, "Then don't leave me alone tonight."

And it will be out there before she can take it back although she'll wish that she tried, because he won't leave and he'll be back there on the couch with her, kissing her, hand on her hip, under her shirt, in her underwear.

They'll undress each other, not pausing to think about consequences, and he will fuck her on the couch with his pants around his ankles. She'll still be wearing her t-shirt and the clasp of her bra will dig into her back. It won't be pretty but it will be enough.

Afterwards he will lean his head against her chest and she will listen to his breathing slow. Eventually he will raise his head and regard her. She will close her eyes to avoid his gaze.

She will say, "I'm sorry."

"You don't need to be."

They will move apart and he will begin to dress himself. He will say, "I really should leave."

She will feel suddenly self-conscious, and she will search the couch for her underwear. She will dress clumsily, her foot missing the leg of her jeans twice. She will say, "I never saw myself as the other woman."

"You're not," he will say, but it will sound wrong and they will both feel uncomfortable. He will be dressed and he will stand with his coat folded over his arm. "I wish I could give you more than this."

"I know."

He will kiss her forehead before he leaves. She will feel the impression of his lips on her skin for days.


It will take him exactly one week to say he is sorry.

He will be sitting on the other side of her desk, pretending to read a case file. He will clear his throat and she will look up, surprised.

He will say, "I owe you an apology."

She won't blink "What for?"

"For the other night."

"You don't have to."

He will lean forward onto his elbows and he will catch her eyes. "Olivia - I didn't mean to hurt you."

She will find herself listening to conversations around her, voices that distinguish themselves from the common noise of the office - Cragen disagreeing with Munch on a source, a one-sided conversation from someone who is on the phone to a loved one. Laughter will filter in from the room next door and a car horn will sound, answered by another.

She will tell herself she isn't mad at him and she will think it might be true. She will say, "This is not about you, Elliot."

When his phone rings, he will ignore it. He will sit still, studying her, his expression unchanging. She will tap her pen against the desk, eyeing the phone, waiting for him to answer. When he doesn't she will lean across the desk and answer for him. He will stand up and walk away.

The woman on the phone will repeat her greeting three times before Olivia answers.


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