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The Arrangement

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The devs were gathered around in a circle around the table. It was some old conference table that had been moved downstairs after renovations on the upper floors. The mixed and matched rolling chairs that were usually surrounding it had been pushed to the side. Olivia stood in the center of the team, running them through the paper blueprints for the new app design.

“And here,” she pointed to a sketch that belonged to the settings of the app. “Here is where other colleges in the partnership can allow students from two separate schools to link into the buddy system.”

Murmuring filled the space around them, the team sharing ideas on how they would code it all into the system.

“Washburn, did you get that note I sent you the other day?” she asked. “The one about the verification process for students?”

“Uh,” Freddie scratched the side of his head and squinted his eyes. “I think so? Run us through it one more time, chief.” he said, using the new and unwelcomed nickname he had coined for her.

She turned to address the crowd as a whole. “So, students won’t be going through the same vetting process as volunteers do on our mothership app. They still have to be verified through ID but since they’ll mostly be volunteering amongst themselves, it won’t need to be as strenuous of a process as it would be if they were using the public version.”

“Got it,” one of the devs replied.

“Also,” Olivia continued. “We need to be able to set it up so that if no campus volunteers are available, they can access the public volunteer system or a neighboring university’s volunteer base.”

“I’m on it,” Jet, one of the younger but promising new developers responded.

“One more thing before lunch, guys.” Olivia stepped back, clasping her hands together. “I have news.” All eyes around the table stared at her as if she were about to announce winning lottery numbers. “So, as many of you know, we’ve been hoping to reach a partnership deal with multiple ride-share services for Red Light U.”

Several people leaned forward against the table, their eyes widening with hope.

“It was tough because most of them don’t want to pair up with us if we’re involving other companies. I just heard back from the attorneys who were working on the deals and…” she paused, allowing a moment of anticipation for everyone before a smile crept onto her face. “Uber and Lyft have both agreed to partner with us on the new app.”

Excited cheers erupted and you would’ve thought that their favorite team had just won the Super Bowl.

“Alright, alright!” Olivia laughed as she tried to calm the room. “We all know how important this was for the sake of accessibility for our users. Now, they’ll be able to order a ride right from the app’s interface. I know this wasn’t an easy battle to get them both to sign up, and we’ve all been on the edge of our seats while waiting to hear the news. Now we can all exhale that deep breath we’ve been holding and move onto whatever is next. Okay, go have lunch. Dismissed.”

The crowd hurried out of the studio, most of them parting like the red sea when they saw the big bad CEO standing in the doorway.

As soon as it was just the two of them, Elliot casually strolled towards her. She looked up at him as she closed a binder, smiling gleefully. “Are they aware of just how much of a badass you are?” he joked, pointing behind him.

She rolled her eyes playfully at him. “I sure hope they do.”

“They must,” he gave her a faux serious look. “You worked hard to get that deal.”

“Please,” she blew air from her lips. “I wasn’t even in the negotiations for that. It was all on the lawyers.”

“You fought tooth and nail for that deal,” he argued, wrapping his arms around her waist. “I saw your face when they told you that Uber wouldn’t take the deal if Lyft was involved. You sent my team of attorneys back to the boardroom and told them not to return unless they had both of them. That’s badass as far as I’m concerned.”

“Well,” she lolled her head to the side, her arms wrapping lazily around his shoulders. “I suppose I can take some of the credit. So, what are you doing down here? I thought you had lunch on the books with Munch and Fin.”

“Canceled it.” he shrugged. “Wanted to see my girl.”

She pecked him on the lips and chuckled. “You big cheeseball. Why are you really here? It’s gotta be serious if you were passing up a chance to dive into a steak at Royal 35. Spill it, Stabler.”

His happy demeanor dropped into something she recognized as regretful. The sad kind of regretful where he didn’t want to say whatever it is he has to say. “I… I got the report back from the investigation that the FAA was running with the ICAO.”

Her hands dropped down from his shoulders and she slid out from his grip with a sigh. “Let me guess. They’ve got nothing?”

“Not quite.” he shoved his hands in his pockets. “They found evidence of tampering. It must’ve happened right after their triple check on everything. They played back the footage from the tarmac and there was a face that stood out. Nobody recognized him.”

Olivia exhaled deeply, bracing herself against the conference table. “Tell me they have him in cuffs right now.”

“No dice,” he sighed. “Security at Charles De Gaulle checked their system logs from that day and recognized a cloned key card. Apparently it belonged to a staff member who had recently quit. His credentials were still in the system for some reason so all of his security badge codes still worked. Whoever tampered with the plane is in the wind.”

There it was. Olivia sunk down onto one of the beaten up hand-me-down chairs and groaned. “First, the guard in Santorini gets away, now this guy? What the hell.”

“I know,” he pulled up a chair, sitting across from her. “We’ll get to the bottom of it soon, I promise.” It was an empty promise meant for nothing other than comfort and they both knew it.

“What about the jet?” she asked offhandedly. “I’m not stepping foot in that thing ever again.”

“I don’t wanna go near it either.” he agreed. “It’s still in Vienna, It’s being repaired now. I’m gonna sell it and replace it. I’ve been meaning to have it reupholstered anyway, this is just quicker.”

She couldn’t help but to crack a smile. “That’s the most billionaire thing I’ve ever heard you say.”

He chuckled quietly. “Well, I do have my moments.” His hand reached across the table, gently grabbing hers. His thumb grazed her knuckles softly, matching the disappointed expression in his eyes. “My team wants to file a lawsuit against the Charles De Gaulle airport for what happened. Something about negligence and failure to meet security standards.”

She didn’t so much as flinch. “What do you think you should do?”

He hummed, his lips moving to the side as he thought about it. “I’m not sure. It’s not about the money, it’s about the principle of it. I know that if I do file the suit, it’ll be less likely to happen again to someone else. Someone who likely won’t be as lucky to have the pilot that I have. However, part of me thinks it’s a moot point. That it’s just so —”

“So fucking exhausting because it feels like this will never stop?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he said with a breathy exhale that sounded almost like a laugh. “Really fucking exhausting. I mean, c’mon. We both know it had nothing to do with the airport and everything to do with whoever is on our asses.”

She nodded, allowing them to fall into a brief moment of silence where neither of them cared to say anything. She closed her eyes, enjoying the warmth of his hand holding hers.

“The money is yours if we win the suit. You can have it.” he said nonchalantly.

She opened her eyes and furrowed her brows, watching him stare off into the distance. “What? Why? I don’t want it.”

Oh, how her teenage self would be furious that she was sticking her nose up at the idea of money.

Elliot shrugged. “Why not? A couple million dollars might be useful. You were just as much on that plane as I was.”

Scratch that, her teenage self would be furious that she was sticking her nose up at the idea of a couple million dollars.

‘Might be useful’ makes her want to laugh. A couple million dollars to him is practically pennies. It’s his version of spare change being found between couch cushions. Sometimes she forgot how different they really were. The way their worlds were so different but somehow still familiar in all of the right ways.

“I don’t know,” she said, mildly disgusted. “The idea of having money that came from the event of someone trying to kill us? I’m not all that sure that a Prada bag would be worth it.”

He shrugged again. “Donate it. Have a night out at a strip club with it. Put it into Red Light. Give it to Monique. Do with it what you please. You deserve that money a lot more than I do,”

“I’m not gonna take it,” she grimaces, moving her focus down to the pages and blueprints in front of her. “It feels like blood money.”

Elliot looks around the empty studio, suddenly seeming disinterested in the conversation. She catches his fleeting eyes, examining the space. “El?” she asks, furrowing her brows. “You’ve got that look on your face again.”

“What look?” he asks, his voice sounding as if it were on autopilot.

“The look,” she reiterates, sounding almost annoyed if he didn’t know better. But he did know better; better enough to sense the playfulness behind it. “The look you get when you get a bad idea.”

“Or a good one.” Elliot turns back to her, suddenly refocused and with a cheeky smirk on his face. Olivia grins at him, entertaining the possibility of giving in to whatever it is that he’s thinking about. She watches as his fingers rhythmically drum against the table, his ice blue eyes staring so far into her that she’s afraid he might be looking at her soul. “How long until everyone gets back from lunch?”

She glances up at the clock on the wall. “About 40 minutes or so, why?”

His expression remains the same, almost persuasive towards something she isn’t quite sure about yet. “Anyone else stick behind for lunch?”

Her brows knit again, and she looks around the warehouse-esque concrete studio. She shrugs at him before raising her volume to hit every corner of the large area. “Anyone home?” Olivia calls out, waiting a moment for a response. “The big bad CEO is here to yell at us, so if you’re leaving for lunch, you better make it toot sweet.” she called out again, feeling the thick vibrations of her own voice bouncing off of the walls.

The room is silent.

“I guess the kids flew the nest,” she gestures to the empty area. She watched the mischief grow in his eyes, feeling her own expression turn into something matching his. “Satisfied?”

“Not even a little bit,” he growls with a dark smile.

Not expecting his words, she felt a chill shoot down her spine. Her teeth instinctively nibble on her bottom lip when she feels the smooth polished leather of his shoe run up her calf. He doesn’t so much as blink at her, simply eyeing her like a lion watching its prey. Scratch that — like a lion that’s about to play with its food.

“I thought we had a rule?” she asks breathlessly, trying to keep her eyes open. However, it’s proving hard since the cold material of his undoubtedly expensive shoes is making her acutely aware of how sensitive her thighs are. Her hands turn into fists, her knuckles shading away into a stark whiteness.

“What rule would that be?” he asks, too damn calm.

“No office sex?” she reiterates, shuttering as she feels her legs abruptly forced open by his thigh.

“Rules were made to be broken,” he mutters, watching her begin to dissolve in the seat across from him.

“Less than three weeks ago, we were —”

“Shh,” he gently hushes her. “I know, I was there.” It’s a softer tone this time, conveying the message that he hasn’t yet forgotten the trauma they had survived on the way back to the city. “But I also know this entire building from top to bottom. I know your body from top to bottom. I know there are no security cameras that face the walls that divert the bathrooms from the rest of this space.” She mentally lays out the studio in her mind, remembering that there was a solid wall that extended about six feet to shield the bathroom doors from the studio. A perfect little alcove that was hidden away. “My body, your body, that wall?”

“Wouldn’t – fuck – wouldn’t it just be easier to go upstairs to your apartment?” she struggles to get the words out, feeling his thigh grind against her.

“Where’s the fun in that?” he shrugs it off, still too damn calm. She was thinking of a hundred reasons why they shouldn’t do it, despite wanting nothing more than to do it. But he knew that already because he knows her. He knows every anxious thought parading around in the spinning cogs of her mind. “Yes, I know we’ve been trying to play it safer. That’s been working out so well for us.” he drawls out the word with an eye roll. Not directed at her, of course. She knows that.

She knows he’s angry about what’s happening. Hell, she’s just as angry. He wants to rebel against the restrictions and so does she, except she’s usually the one with the mind to stop them from said rebellion.

But after everything, after Paris and Santorini, she’s mad too. She’s mad to the point where logic happens to escape right when she needs it the most and suddenly she doesn’t give a fuck about being strategic.

Neither of them are sure who moved first, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that they were both up and out of their seats faster than ever. Before either of them could process what was happening, her back was pressed against the cold plaster wall.

It takes all of his efforts not to rip her dress, and the same efforts from her not to shed his shirt off without any regards for the buttons going down the center. Her legs are firmly around his waist, anchored between him and the wall as she tilts her head back. His lips are on her pulse point, his stubble scratching into her neck as he licks and sucks on all of the skin he can reach. Despite being alone in a studio the size of a small storage facility, she tries to remain as quiet as possible. They were tired of playing it safe, but not that tired.

She heard him shutter out a shaky groan as her hips ground into him. She can feel his hardness, and maybe it’s because he’s yearning for her to feel it. The tenting of his pants is pressed straight against her core, separated only by a few layers of their clothing.

He wants to undress her, but not nearly as bad as she wants to undress him. She wants to tear off the white button-down and run her palms over his chest. She wants to feel the curve of his hip-bones under her touch. But she can’t, and the clock is ticking until people start to return from lunch.

He is as eager as he usually is, however there’s something different in the bites against her collarbone. He’s cherishing this, she thinks. He’s cherishing it because it’s the only time he’s been able to live out his favorite fantasy of fucking her in the office in a very long time. Long enough that he can’t remember when the last time was, and he doesn’t want to forget again.

She feels that same shiver down her spine as earlier, except it has multiplied by some number she doesn’t bother to count. His hands are on her, mapping her out and replacing the last memories with the new ones. He’s learning and re-learning her and every inch that is her. She moves her hips again, begging for the friction of his cock. She’s wet and only slightly embarrassed about how fast it took her to get to this point. The point of wanting to melt in his arms and take whatever she can get. The point of no return.

Without even having to say his name, he knows. He just knows that she’s becoming too impatient. Usually he’d tease her and make her wait even longer, but the ticking clock doesn’t allow him to do anything of the sort. He not-so-carefully pulls the dress up over her hips. It’s the best thing he can do to not just rip it off of her as if it were nothing. He’s only slightly disappointed that she’s wearing panties, but not surprised because office sex had become a rarity. She isn’t sure how, but the black lace undergarment is now off of her body and tucked into his pocket.

She isn’t sure how exactly he still has her pinned to the wall. There isn’t time to examine how he’s supporting her and how he’s also creating space between the two of them. Quite frankly, she doesn’t really care to know. She feels the cold air of the studio hit the growing damp patch on her underwear and she trembles from the chill.

Since she’s certain both of his hands are now occupied with pinning her to the wall, she reaches down to blindly undo the buckle of his belt. The metal clinks against itself until it finally gives and falls from the secured loops. After that, she makes quick work of undoing the button and zipper on his pants. Her hand instinctively palms his erection, pulling a deep grunt as she does so. He’s hard and heavy in her hand, and she can feel the heat of his aching cock through the fabric of his boxers. She strokes him a few times without removing the clothing barrier, opening her eyes to watch his face contort into strained pleasure.

In that moment, she realizes how agonizingly empty she feels. She needs him, or something inside of her, and she needs it now. It feels as if she will collapse inward on herself if she isn’t filled to the brim. He feels it too, she can sense it. It’s in his eyes and the way he’s grinding his teeth. He needs to be inside of her.

On a normal occasion, this would be when she would become overwhelmed with the urge to bring him into her mouth. To lick and suck and stroke him into a struggling mess of a man who desperately doesn’t want to cum in her mouth; not yet. But they don’t have time for that. They also don’t have time for how badly he wants to drop to his knees, put her legs over his shoulders, and spend tortuous hours eating her out.

When she guides him inside of her, it still takes her breath away. Just like it always has since the first time. The feeling of going from agonizingly empty to so full and so stretched that it still burns. A good burn; her favorite burn. The burn that shoots up into her stomach and flutters out throughout her ribcage. As he sinks further, inch by inch, they both only allow themselves a moan that could easily be mistaken for a breath. She wants to cry out; probably more than she’d like to admit. But she can’t. She refuses. This is dangerous enough.

But damn did she miss this danger.

Apparently he did too because as soon as he’s bottomed out inside of her, he can’t keep his hips from pulling out just to thrust back in. Her mouth manages to gravitate towards his, hoping that colliding tongues will silence the both of them.


When he strikes that perfect spot inside of her, there’s a muffled high-pitched cry that erupts from her lungs. His hands are gripping her with the strength that could potentially leave a bruise. She’ll be sure to look for it later, and possibly even admire it. She always likes to look back and see if she can decipher exactly how his hands were positioned and the marks they left behind.

His pace speeds up, repeatedly hitting the angles that she needs. Her right hand comes up to the back of his head, mindlessly clutching into the overgrown buzz cut that was his hair. Her left hand reaches for his ass, hoping she can somehow pull him closer to be as far inside of her as possible. She’s desperate for more, even though she’s already feeling overstimulated. She wants him deeper and harder and she wants him there forever.

They don’t have forever. They have minutes.

Somehow, his grip loosens and her back falls a couple inches downward against the wall. With that, he’s able to hit the deeper spots that she was desperate for. She doesn’t cross her ankles behind his back as she usually would, opting to let her legs bounce with each of his thrusts. It’s less tense that way, allowing her to feel more of the push and pull. She loves it. She wants to live here, right here, in this moment.

Another moan slips out from her lips, louder this time, and without any sort of filter to keep it from bouncing off of the walls. There was something embarrassingly erotic about hearing her own cries echo back and forth. So much so that she’s tempted to do it again but on purpose this time. She can’t. She won’t.

She might.

It's in the way that his eyes are screwed shut that she can sense he’s longing for something. In the absolute haze of being fucked within an inch of her life, she searches for what’s missing. What it is that he usually loves but can’t have this time. Or won’t, just to be on the safe side.

Then it hits her. His voice. He’s grinding his jaw shut, probably pulverizing his teeth in order to keep himself quiet. He doesn’t want to risk being any louder than they need to be. But she knows Elliot, and she knows that he very much loves to be vocal when he’s fucking himself into her.

He’s trying too hard. He’s trying to be quiet, to keep things from getting messy and loud and all of the things he loves about being inside of her. And then a devilish idea crosses her mind.

As soon as he hoists her back upward to regain his steady grip, she cranes her head down so her lips are against his ear. “Tell me how I feel,” she whispers breathlessly. Her voice is hot against his skin and he shivers. “Tell me how long you’ve been waiting to fuck me in this exact spot.”

He makes a noise that isn’t very familiar when it comes from him. Helpless moans were usually her signature, but hearing it from him brings on a surge of wetness to her pussy. She clenches around him, knowing it drives him absolutely crazy.

“So fucking tight,” he murmurs into her shoulder, biting down against her collarbone. His thrusts become more erratic, harder and maybe even desperate. “God, Livia… always so tight. So wet.”

His struggle to speak only fuels her more. She loves it almost as much as she loves the electrified nerves that cry out through her body. She feels her orgasm coming, it’s building up in the pit of her stomach. However, she’s a hell of a lot more interested in chasing his climax instead.

She flexes around him once more, watching through pried open eyes as he fights to keep this going. He’s close, too close for his liking. Just like her, he wants to be here forever. He wants to lay her down on the conference table and take his time, licking and sucking her clit as if he has all of the time in the world. He wants her nipple in his mouth, his tongue circling it as it hardens even more.

“Keep talking,” she urges, finding herself completely out of breath. She can tell that he’s on the verge of pulling out right then and there, throwing her over his shoulder, and marching her exposed ass through the office and up to his bed. The worst part is that she’s almost tempted to let him.

“It has taken every ounce of my strength to keep my hands off of you in the day,” he mutters, his strokes becoming slower and more careful. “Every single day, Olivia, every day I think about bending you over my desk for everyone to see that your pussy is mine. You are mine.”

She moans at his growl, doing her best to match his thrusts. Her toes begin to curl and she knows that the wave she’s been riding is about to crest and crash all over her. Her hand reaches behind her for some sort of traction on the wall, but finds nothing. She needs something. “Elliot, I’m gonna —” she can’t finish because there he is again, hitting that precious spot within her that feels like actual sunshine in her veins.

“I’m going to take you upstairs tonight, flip you onto your knees and make you cum so many times that you lose count,” he ground out the words, and she knew by the tone of his voice that he wasn’t lying. The obscene sound of wetness and heavy breathing fills the area around them. Her hips take on a mind of their own, urging him to speed up once more. She’s there, right at her favorite place; the edge. Teetering off a cliff that just seems to get higher every time he fucks her.

And then there’s the crash. Whether it be from the mix of his filthy words or her imagination playing it out for her, add in the fact that the head of his cock was firmly lodging against her g-spot, she felt herself crash. The wave has crested over, coming down with a ferocity that is unmatched to anything else. The tight gripping of her hands on whatever part of him she can reach plus the way her orgasm forced her to squeeze tight around him was enough to drag him off of the proverbial cliff with her. He strangles out a moan into her ear, feeling his hot release filling her.

Both of them are absorbed into the sensation of their heads buzzing, their mutual high washing over them like a blissful storm. She smiles against his lips as she leans inward to kiss him. His cock slips out of her as her body is slowly settled back onto wobbly legs. Her hands instinctively reach up to cup his cheeks as she deepens the kiss.

“I miss office sex,” he chuckles quietly against her lips, feeling her giggle beneath him.

Her hands come away from his cheeks, but her lips stay in the slow and sensuous rhythm with his. She reaches down between the two of them, taking his cock back into her hand. She feels his breath shutter as she gently pumps him a couple times before carefully tucking him back into his pants. Knowing him, he’s going to want to walk around all day with her panties in his pocket. Lucky for her, the kiss is just distracting enough for her to retrieve them from him.

She breaks away from the kiss, moving to put her panties back on under her dress. He frowns with disappointment when he sees her doing so. “I believe those were in my possession?”

“Deal with it,” she says with a smirk, leaning back up to peck his lips.

“Think we have enough time for me to haul you into the bathroom and finger another orgasm out of you?” he asks, actually serious as he says it.

She shivers, unsure if it's from the overstimulation or just the fact that she knows he’d do it if he could. She tries not to let her mind wander to the image of her sitting in his lap or bent over his knee, his thick fingers plunging in and out of her until she makes an absolute mess. “I think that’s pushing the envelope a little too far, don’t you agree?”

He glances down at the watch on his wrist before doing up the zipper on his pants. “You’ve got about 15 minutes before your team gets back. I don’t doubt my ability to make you cum at least two or three more times in that time frame, but you’re right. And I’d much rather do it from the comfort of the couch or the bed. At least then I could hear you scream and —”

“Ohhhkay, cowboy. Calm down.” Olivia places a hand on his chest with a laugh. Mostly because she doesn’t want him to rise to the occasion again and have to walk back to his office in such a state. But also because it’s a tempting thought and she’s running out of willpower. “Save that for later, yeah?”

This time, he presses a kiss to her forehead instead. It’s soft and gentle, the side of Elliot that only she gets to see. “Congratulations on your partnership deal.” he smiles down at her, brushing his thumb over her lip. “I love you and I’m proud of you.”

She bats her lashes while looking up at him, a different kind of smile spreading across her lips. “I love you too.” she whispers. “Now, get back to work before I have to explain to the team why their head honcho boss was hiding next to the bathrooms with their team boss.”

His warm smile is enough of a goodbye for her.

For the rest of the day, Olivia had left the Red Light team to get started on the building blocks of the new app. For the most part, her work there today was done anyway, and given that she also had an assistant job she sometimes forgot about, she didn’t want to waste time. So, she had resumed her post at one of the two desks parallel to Elliot’s office.

Her fingernails clicked noisily against the keyboard as she did her usual rounds on Elliot’s digital calendar. Halfway through confirming one of his meetings for tomorrow, she heard the collective sound of several devices going off all throughout the floor. Her brows furrowed, darting glances between colleagues who had their noses buried into the bright screens.

“Oh my god,” Casey muttered from across the room.

“Isn’t it illegal to upload something like this?” another voice asked.

Olivia’s heart fell into her stomach. Why was she the only one without a notification?

“Who do you think the other passenger was? Think we could narrow it down?”

“I don’t know. After the long weekend, a couple people called in sick on Tuesday. Hangovers probably.” a male voice responded, somewhere down towards the end of the hall. “There’s no way of telling who it was.”

She knew a few gossip sites and tabloids had published unconfirmed pieces about the ‘alleged’ jet engine failure of a Fortune 500 CEO. However, none of them had ever mentioned that someone else had been on the plane with him.

She wanted to pass out, maybe even throw up. However, it would become a dead giveaway if she did. Nobody was looking at her, despite the feeling of a thousand sets of eyes on her. Breathe, Olivia, she repeated to herself.

Elliot stepped halfway out from his office, balancing on the door. “What’s going on?” he asked, genuinely concerned. His eyes meet Olivia’s, finding no answer to his question. Only more worry.

“Liv, did you get the email?” Casey asks.

She has to think quickly and she knows that. “No… uh, my emails have been coming slower lately,” she lied through her teeth. Nobody could know that she didn’t get the email, nor did Elliot apparently.

“Go to HuffPo, read their headliner,” Casey responds, her eyes turning back to her screen.

Elliot strides anxiously over to stand behind Olivia, peering down at her computer as if nobody would give a damn about how close he was standing next to her. His one hand on her shoulder, the other on her desk. She quickly types in the URL for the Huffington Post, watching the black banner load with the green letters of the logo.

C.E. UH-OH — Leaked ICAO Investigation Documents Reveal Stabler Jet Tampering From Alleged Security Impersonator

Now she really wants to faint.

She scrolls down cautiously.

Last week, reports were made of assumed engine failure on the private jet of Stabler Enterprises CEO Elliot Stabler. In recently leaked documents from the  The International Civil Aviation Organization,   the investigation reveals that an alleged security breach took place at the Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris.

According to the documents, Stabler’s private jet had taken off after routine diagnostic tests had been performed, but believed to be tampered with shortly after the jet had been given clearance for take-off. While in the air, the report states that the jet began to experience engine failure. Pilots made a bold move to detour into Vienna, Austria, avoiding all contact with Stabler Enterprises’ rumored competitors in Germany and Czechia. The report details that onboard were two pilots, three flight-attendants, Mr. Stabler himself, and a mystery passenger whose identity has not been revealed.

Olivia forces herself to stop reading, fearing that the idea of becoming sick isn’t too far off. She shoots Elliot a concerned glance, hoping it silently conveys just how fucking terrified it is.

He isn’t terrified. He’s mad. His knuckles are white against the desk, but the hand that's on her shoulder hasn’t tensed at all. She can see the clench of his jaw, an iron-clad grit that could probably bend steel in half.

Her mind is worried about the personal consequence, but his is covering the business ramifications. She can already hear him before he even speaks. Stocks will plummet, investors will pull out, chair members will be forced to make hard decisions all because absolutely nobody will want to get into bed with a company whose CEO is a dead man walking. It’s too much of a risk. Not to mention that this could potentially blow any chance he had of a lawsuit now that the entirety of the investigation file is free for the public.

“Casey,” he barks, stepping away from Olivia’s desk to begin charging into his office. “Get Liz Donnelly on my line. Now.” He’s probably going to fight for a cease-and-desist or an injunction or whatever legalese term he can throw around to get the article taken down.

There’s something that hasn’t crossed his mind yet. At least not as far as Olivia can tell. Something incredibly important.

The article was sent out as a mass email to every single person in the office… except for the two of them.

colleague sent the email.

Someone in the building who knows what they’re doing. Except, she can’t retrieve the email’s sender without potentially exposing herself while doing so.

This was supposed to be a checkmate. Except, it wasn’t. She rattled around with an idea in her mind, wondering if she could slip out from the grasp she was held in.

Somehow, Skylar had convinced the cyber security team to leave their dark room filled with live footage and about a thousand monitors. He’d said something about it being a direct order from Stabler himself. That was a lie. Elliot had no clue where they were or what they were doing.

He pulled up a seat at one of the computers, typing in far too much for her to keep track. Next thing she knew, he was inside the server that displayed thousands of employees and their respective addresses. “Here,” he motioned towards the screen. “It was sent by a guest email on the server.”

“Like the ones that are offered in the computer lab downstairs?” Olivia asked. She recognized the system enough to know that there were designated email addresses for any partners of SE who needed to get into the server for project details.

“GuestUser7@StablerEnt.” Skylar nodded.

“Can you trace which computer in the system it came from? If I remember correctly, the guest emails aren’t accessible from devices that aren’t wired through the building’s ethernet.” She’d remembered that from a tale that had been told throughout the office about how one of the colleague-turned-competitors had saved the guest information to his phone and exploited it beyond belief.

Skylar typed faster, seemingly already ahead of her in thinking to look. “Huh… that’s strange,” he commented.

Olivia crossed her arms over her chest. “What is?”

“Take a guess at who sent it.” he said, turning back in the chair to show off his eye roll.

“Tucker?” she shrugged, not surprised in the least. “I figured. What’s so strange about that?”

“Well, with his last encounter with you, he worked pretty hard to clear his footsteps.” Skylar said, turning back to point at the screen. “He didn’t even bother this time. He could’ve used the computer lab at its busiest hour, but he didn’t. He used his office computer. Any idea as to why he would care so much last time but not this time?”

Olivia felt herself beginning to slow, almost exhausted from the memory. “Because last time he was planning on ambushing me to physically assault me,” she replied quietly. “This time was meant to be a middle finger pointed directly at Elliot and I. He wanted me to know that he sent it, just not everyone else.”

Skylar recoiled from the calmness that invaded her anger. “What are you gonna do?”

Her arms stayed crossed against her chest as she stepped back from the screen. She’s tired. She’s so fucking tired of this it makes her want to scream; to pull out her fucking hair. After a long pause, she finally spoke. “I’m gonna do something that I know I have to do, before Elliot tries to stop me.” With that, she stormed out of the security office.

Facing the man is harder than she thought it would be. She had hoped her anger would be enough to shield her from the other scarier emotions. It doesn’t. Damnit, why hasn’t she learned that by now?

When she sees his face and the hollowed out cheeks that haunt her nightmares, her entire body turns to a tense bundle of muscles. She doesn’t talk much about the nightmares, or at all. However, her heart still clenches every time she steps into an elevator.

When she steps into his open office, it is with a fury that she has never felt before. She slams the door behind her violently enough to make the frames on the wall shake. Her eyes refuse to blink as she enters a staring contest with the man, growing only more irritated to see how unperturbed he is.

“What is wrong with you?!” she raged, her voice almost unrecognizable to her own ears. She stopped caring if anyone heard a long time ago. Now, all she wanted to do was make everyone hear. “Do you have ANY clue what you’ve done?”

“I didn’t realize sending an email was such a crime,” Tucker replied, not bothering to look back up at her after turning back to his work. His voice makes her blood boil beneath her skin, leaving her wondering how he could be so fucking calm about this.

“Oh, please.” Olivia laughed incredulously. “Who did you have to bribe at the ICAO to leak the report? Huh? Or did you leak it yourself? Seven of us nearly fucking died, Tucker! Is your petty revenge plan against me so important that you would go as far as to derail the entire investigation? For what? Because I’d like to have your job someday?”

He stayed silent, finally breaking away from his paperwork to slowly raise his smirk at her. He’s enjoying this. The fucker is enjoying this.

Olivia stepped closer, leaning forward with her arms pressed against his desk. “You can hate me, that’s fine. You can hate Stabler too, go right ahead. But I have to admit, I have never seen someone with such a fucking axe to grind like you. All for what? Because you’re threatened by me?”

“I’m not sure there’s much to be threatened by,” he answered with a sneer.

She wants to rip the skin off of his face.

“Dude, you’re as old as Moses!” she said, dropping any semblance of her maturity with a horrific laugh. “Do you honestly think that I could have your job at any point before your time is literally up? I’m an assistant, Tucker. I’ve got years before I’m even someone they would consider for the job despite the fact that I’m qualified down to the fucking letter. By then, you will be bones in the ground and onto much greener pastures.”

“As I said,” he continued, returning to his calm demeanor. “All I did was send an email, which isn’t a crime. I know your MBA is still sparkly and new but I think you should freshen up on the law. You have absolutely no proof of anything else.”

She stayed silent for a moment, allowing the memories of the gala night to flood back into her mind. “Is that what you told yourself the night you assaulted me in that elevator?” she asked, her voice low and cold. “The night you cornered me? The night you shut off all of the cameras, followed me into an empty elevator and grabbed me so hard that you left bruises? Used my past as a weapon against me? No proof, no problem?”

He glared at her with an ice in his eyes that is much different than the frigid blue she often sees in Elliot’s eyes. The eyes that feel like home, rather than these that resemble the feeling of being stranded on a glacier.

“You see,” she continued, her voice remaining just as low as before. “I think you do see me as a threat. You would have absolutely no other reason to try to neutralize me if you didn’t. And that is what you tried to do, Tucker. What you failed to do.”

The staring contest begins again as she backs off of his desk.

“And because of that, I will make sure that my face is the very last thing you see as you are packing up your desk. Unless you drop first, you know, since you’re older than God and that clock is ticking away for you.” She attempts to leave him at that, however once her heels have turned and her hand is on the doorknob, she can hear his voice just as low as hers was.

“Do you want to stay here, Olivia?” he asked, not a shred of niceness in his voice. Only… emptiness? At least that’s what it sounded like. Emptiness so profound that it almost echoes.

Her face scrunched together, turning back to face him as he stared blankly off in front of himself. “What?” she hissed.

“Get your bearings in the design studio.” he answered coldly; still empty. “Place your roots there, do the job you enjoy there. You’ll be out of everyone’s way, mine included. As long as you’re screwing Stabler you’ll still be in charge of whatever it is that happens down there. It’s certainly better than nothing. You’ll be able to hold onto that power. I think you like that power…”

She wanted to interject, but then nine words made everything inside of her burn in pain. Not anger; pain.

“You’re not really meant to be up here anyway.”

She briefly questioned whether or not she would go to jail for jamming his letter opener into his hand like a stake. Probably. But after that, there aren’t many other thoughts. She knew the men at the boardroom table hated her. She was fierce and smart and incredibly hard working. She knew those things about herself. She loved those things.

She had faced a lot worse than run-of-the-mill misogyny. Jesus Christ, this man had committed an actual crime against her in this very building. Still, most of the men had kept their hierarchical and disgusting opinions to themselves about women in the workplace.

Maybe that’s why this felt different. Why it hurt more than the night he had made her fear for her life: because that was about just that. Her life. The thing she had thrown around so carelessly at times as if she didn’t care if she lived or died. Her career, however, was different. Her capability being questioned was a different ballpark. The night in the elevator had nothing to do with the years worth of hard work she had put into proving herself capable. That night was him trying to scare her, to protect his own seat at the table. This was him telling her that despite everything she had fought for, it wasn’t worth it. She wasn’t worth it.

A voice sounded off in her head, the familiar tone of Monique telling her not to let a man like him make her feel anything at all about herself. She couldn’t help it. To her, her career was like her child. She held it close to her, protected it, defended it as if it were defenseless itself. She was standing in front of a man with an IQ lower than hers and yet he apparently had every right to believe she wasn’t worth anything because she didn’t have a fucking penis.

“No,” she replied in a whisper. Tears started to burn in her eyes but she bit them back with all of the force in her body. “Not on your goddamn life.”

With that, she slams the door once more, only this time she’s on the other side of it.

Dusk is settling over New York City, the chilly air biting her skin. Standing on the glass railing of Elliot’s balcony, Olivia stared out over the skylines. She knew she should probably grab a sweater or something, she’ll catch a cold like this. But her legs don’t move and she doesn’t protest.

She didn’t bother changing out of the dress she had worn to work, too tired to go home just to come back. As soon as the clock had called it a day, she made a bee-line to the penthouse access elevator, let herself in, and hadn’t left the balcony since.

Tucker’s words run over and over in her mind. There were a thousand ways to interpret them, but she wasn’t dumb. She knew what he meant when he said it, and if she had asked him to, he would’ve spelled it out for her.

What he meant to say was: You’re an assistant who got too nosey, brown-nosed her way into having some sort of power. You fuck your way up to the top and yet, you’ll always be inferior. There will always be more men at this table than women and it’s for a reason. Get used to it because it will never change. You will always be the ‘less than’ to the ‘greater than’ no matter how hard you fight it. So sit down and take what you can get. No, wait. Scratch that; what you weasled your way into having. Stick with that instead.

The breeze hits her burning cheeks, and she feels incredibly horrible for letting a man like him get under her skin. Especially when he deserves to be under the ground.

The hairs on the back of her neck rise from the chill she’s starting to catch. The clouds look as if they have descended down closer to the earth to roam among the dusty blue sky. She should go inside, get a blanket maybe. She doesn’t. She won’t.

When a warmth envelops her, she isn’t sure what it is at first. It’s warm and soft and tight against her. It’s him. Elliot. The cure for the common co-worker. She sighs into him as he wraps his arms tightly around her. His chin rests on the top of her head, inspecting the skyline along with her. The chill she has caught subsides as his toasty skin brings her back to a livable temperature.

She can hear the puffs of his breath, feel it moving the stray hair on the top of her head. Even without saying anything, he says it all. She loves this man. She loves the way his strong arms bring her a sense of safety and anchoring. Fog is rolling over the city now, much lower to the ground from where they peer out. It feels fitting.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that in this specific battle, all they have is each other. Strangely, she has accepted that to be more than enough. She’d never expected herself to trust so much in another person that instead of hightailing it out of this situation, she stays instead. It is quite literally them against the world. He won’t break her, and he won’t allow for her to be broken. Despite the fact that she has only ever trusted one other person in her life, she trusts him. Her trust in him might even be more important than the love she feels for him. She’s loved before, more than just Monique or even Brian. However, her trust is much more rare. Almost impossibly so.

She trusts Elliot Stabler. On the ride of her life, she trusts him.

Because even if it means hitting the ground first, he will break her fall. He will cross the distance of every fucking atlas for her. No mountain too large to move if it means moving it for her. He is hers, indubitably so.

“You know that pair of my sweatpants that you always steal?” he speaks quietly into the top of her head, breathing in the comforting scent of her shampoo. He can feel the nod she offers as an answer. “I just pulled them out of the dryer along with one of my t-shirts. They’re on my bed and they are very warm.” he says with a soft smile.

“Is that so?” she asks, smirking even though he can’t see her face.

“Mhm” he replies. “And next to them is a bowl of popcorn, and our favorite movie is queued up and ready to play.”

She pauses for a moment, feeling her smirk turn into a genuine smile. “You mean my favorite movie that you pretend to like?”

“I love Tom Hanks and I love Meg Ryan, but around the 15th time of watching You’ve Got Mail, it got a little old.” he chuckles when he hears her laugh. “But I still wanna watch it with you.”

Her heart hammers a little hard in her chest at the sweetness of his words. She leans her head into his bicep and hums contently; their collective share of problems washing away with the passing breeze. “We can watch The Wolf of Wall Street after.”

He only jumps a little bit with giddiness from behind her — like the 12 year old boy he secretly embodies when he’s excited. She laughs as he takes her hand, happily dragging her into his room and off of the balcony.

Yeah, she trusts Elliot Stabler with everything she is.