Rafael nearly dropped his full mug of coffee all over their bedspread but caught it at the last second, setting the piping hot cup on his bedside table.
Liv stood in the doorway of their closet, draped in a fluffy towel with her wet hair dripping down her back and hitting the carpeted floor beneath her. She looked completely serious, eyes determined and lips pursed in such a way that told him she was ready to fight for the words that just came out of her mouth. It was a look he'd seen many times during one of their tiffs over evidence or an ongoing trial.
It was one of those looks that he knew he wasn't going to win against, but usually, he was on some level playing field with her on the topic of conversation.
This was coming out of nowhere and he was blindsided completely because of it.
He sputtered, one hand still holding the tablet with the NY Times glowing brightly while the other wiped away the coffee he almost spit out and dribbled on his chin. He looked at her with wide-eyes, a questioning glance mixed with that of disbelief.
They had to be to work in two hours and this was the conversation she chose to insert into their morning routine?
"What," he said, meaning to phrase it as a question, but his brain was stupefied to the point that he wasn't sure if this was the real Olivia Benson standing in front of him.
"Marry me," she said again, crossing her arms and standing stick straight, at attention. Rafael blinked once, then twice, then dropped his tablet to his side and picked up his coffee again, wondering if he was truly awake.
Was she really saying this right now? Was she proposing to him right now? He had the overwhelming urge to pinch himself just to see if he was dreaming, but he avoided that particular action, not wanting her to misinterpret the gesture for something negative.
"…uh…," he said dumbly, still looking at her like she'd grown three heads. She glanced away for just a second, but it was a long second filled with sudden insecurity. Her body language changed drastically in that second, slumping a little and her arms coming down so her hands could fidget. She broke eye contact and picked at her nails, trying to act as if what she said wasn't the biggest deal in the world.
"Liv," he asked after a few seconds of regaining proper brain function, "…are you…proposing to me?"
She sighed and nodded, "Yes."
Liv bit the inside of her cheek, shifting on her feet before she turned into the closet and turned the light on, displaying a full closet filled with her clothes and few items of his that had found themselves hung up in her closet over the past six months. His Harvard hoodie, an old fleece jacket she liked wearing around the house and a few spare suits and dress shirts when he deemed it unnecessary to travel all the way back to his apartment on certain nights.
Last night had been one of those nights, hence the reason he was sitting up, shirtless, in her bed and drinking coffee. He watched in silence as she moved about, picking out one of his immaculate suits and hanging it on the knob of the closet door for him before she dug around her dresser for underwear.
He hadn't realized just how much time in silence had passed until she came out sans towel, wearing a purple lace underwear set and her drying hair up in a ponytail. She eyed him then, rolling her eyes and stopping halfway to the bathroom, hands on hips with an annoyed look on her face.
"I get it, Raf. You can close your mouth and stop looking at me like I'm crazy. The shower's free and Noah wakes up in thirty minutes, so hurry up."
Rafael shook his head, "Hey, wait a second."
Liv kept walking but glanced behind her shoulder, entering the bathroom and leaving the door open so she could listen to what he had to say. His mind had finally caught up to what was happening and a sort of uncontrollable happiness was stunted by what she'd just said.
"What do you mean you get it?"
He slipped out of the bed and trekked to the bathroom door, uncaring that he was still naked from the night before, and leaned against the frame, eyes watching the familiar motions he'd grown familiar with as her morning routine became privy to him. Liv rubbed the lotion on her exposed skin, but her attention was all on him.
"I get it. You don't like the idea and that's fine. It was stupid of me to say that, so let's just forget about it, ok?"
She turned her attention back to the sink, finishing up with the lotion and went about pulling out the small amount of makeup, along with the small tube of toothpaste and her hair dryer.
"No," Rafael said loudly, drawing her attention again and she raised her eyebrow, fingers curled around a compact and a brush, "We're just not going to forget about it."
"Raf, judging by the expression on your face when I asked you, you clearly aren't fine with the idea. I'm done talking about it. Get in the shower."
"Don't tell me what to do," he scoffed and stood his ground, feeling this conversation escalating into an argument and that was not at all where he was hoping it would go. However, he was unable to hold back the anger bubbling in his gut at her nonchalance on the whole topic she brought up.
"Rafael. Seriously, stop," she hissed angrily, locking eyes with him again but this time, unshed tears made her eyes glossy and her lip trembled with the slightest of movement. He tensed, not used to seeing her get emotional, and it caused something in his heart to trip up.
"Hey," he reached out and grabbed her wrist, pulling her out of the bathroom and dragging her compliant body towards the bed. He grabbed for the comforter and threw it across his waist as she sat down beside him, pulling her closer as a few tears slid down her cheeks.
She hurriedly wiped them away and sniffed, "Sorry."
Her voice was soft but the tears stopped and she pulled herself together, but didn't move from his side.
"Don't be…Liv, I…why did you ask me that?"
She was quiet, playing with a string poking out from the stitched design of the thick blanket strewn across his lap. She cleared her throat and said, "Because I want to marry you."
Rafael chuckled after a moment, making her quirk a smile as he leaned in to kiss her temple, "Well I gathered that. But why? We've only been together six months. Don't get me wrong, this is the best relationship I've ever had and I love you so much it hurts sometimes…"
He trailed and tried to choose his next words carefully, "…but…we've only been together six months. Are you sure this is what you really want?"
Liv nodded, no hesitation in her posture. He felt a swell of pure love and adoration for the woman beside him in that moment; it was a feeling he'd gotten used to having since that first night they're feelings for each other boiled over in this very bedroom.
"Rafi," she untwined their hands and pressed both of hers to his face, bringing their foreheads together, "I love you. I've loved you for far longer than six months and I want nothing more than to wake up to you every morning and fall asleep with you every night. Noah loves you and you love him and…I've never been so sure about anything in my life before."
Rafael closed his eyes, listening to her sweet voice fill the space between them, sending them both drifting in to a world where only the existed. In that moment, nothing mattered but what was happening between them and the words that just confirmed everything he'd ever felt for this woman.
"I understand if it's too soon for you."
"It's not," he finally spoke, covering her hands and bringing them down to his lap. One of his fingers traced a mock band across her left ring finger, almost feeling the invisible band that had yet to grace her hands. He could practically envision it there with a matching one on his own finger.
"Let's do it," he whispered, kissing her slowly and in the silence and stillness of her bedroom. When Liv pulled back, she looked excited and shocked, all in one, eyes full of hope but a calm expression betraying that emotion.
"I love you," he whispered, heart filling with so much joy when she whispered it back. She pulled herself onto his lap and pushed him back on the bed, lips on his and her fingers traveling through his messy bed head.
Rafael smiled, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her tight to his body. The look he gave her wouldn't leave her wondering or guessing if this was what he truly wanted because his eyes displayed everything he'd ever felt for her in that moment. It only took one word from him to change everything between them from that moment forward.