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The Arrangement

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Despite her efforts to control her cries, the word slipped from her lips as easily as the breeze. With that, she suddenly understood exactly how the darkness co-existed with the ice in his eyes, because every barrier separating the two had finally snapped. 

“Fuck me, Daddy.”


It was the ice blue eyes, that was where it had all started. Electricity flowed through the vibrant irises of her new boss who happened to be constantly staring at her through the glass windows of his office.

He was mystery in a dark suit. Even in the high saturation of his prying eyes was a hidden darkness. If she had long enough to stare into them, she was certain she'd find whatever that darkness meant. But the moments were fleeting and she was always the first to deflect her view away.

Forty five days into working at Stabler Enterprises and she wasn't aware of who was staring back at her in the mirror in the mornings anymore. The lipstick became darker, the dresses shorter, the heels higher. Every morning became a fight to find just whatever it would be that would make his stares linger a little longer.

With his attention came adrenaline, and skydiving from Mt. Everest would never thrill her to the bone, not quite like he could. Every vein in her body would constrict under the frigid temperatures of his stares. If the opportunity came about, she would sell her soul to know what he was thinking while his eyes were on her.

Her hands smooth over the black skirt that fell barely beneath her fingertips. "Oh, Olivia. What have you gotten yourself into?" she whispers in the mirror before departing from her bathroom.

"Is it show and tell day at work? Because those hips are a showin' and a tellin'." the voice of her roommate caught her off guard as she slipped into the black pumps she kept by the door. Monique was sitting on a stool at the kitchen island, organizing her portfolio as she chugged her coffee.

Olivia smirked, chuckling under her breath as she grabbed her jacket and her purse. "I'm late." she said as she swiped an apple from the counter, taking a careful bite into its bright red skin.

"Stabler isn't gonna get any work done with you there anyway, not in that skirt. Not that I can blame him." Monique giggled, rolling her eyes as Olivia shut the door on her way out.

Forty five days at Stabler Enterprises. Forty five… breathtaking days. The Olivia who had started her job over a month ago was no longer who occupied the body that wore the Fendi dresses and the Tiffany jewels. The thrill had taken over, the need. It was urgent inside of her, something unawoken before she'd laid eyes on him.

He created a change in her. At first it was little and unnoticeable, and then all at once.

With two fingers lazily thrown in the air, she hailed the nearest cab that had been rolling down the streets of Manhattan.

At first, the change felt pressured by the people around her. Girls in Dior and Chanel, counting how many almonds they'd have for breakfast with their triple skinny soy no-foam lattes. The first few days, she'd developed a chronic headache from the amount of times she rolled her eyes. Then, almost overnight, she'd yearned to be one of those girls. Not to fit in, not to feel better, but because he had stared at her.

One look and she was weak in the knees. Then, the chase ensued, and she'd purchased her first pair of Valentinos.

And an entire closet's worth from La Perla… just in case.

She could see him undressing her with his eyes as she'd walk in every morning looking better than the last. Normally, she'd destroy herself internally for changing an inch of herself for a man, but it was different. It wasn't just for him. Even though she no longer recognized her reflection, she liked it.

'Normally' wasn't normal anymore.

Before the cab had even parked completely, she was running up the street in her stilettos, gunning towards the Starbucks next to the Stabler Enterprises building. She knew how late she was, and she prayed an unlikely prayer that the line wasn't out the door.

But she liked the rush.

Like fucking foreplay to the main event.

"I know! I know, I'm late!" Olivia yelped as she shuffled into the office. Casey, the primary assistant rushed over to her, helping to relieve the load of coffee and dry cleaning from her arms.

"You're lucky Stabler likes you so much. The first time I was late I thought he was gonna take my head off." she rushed around, helping to settle her in as the rest of the office rushed around. "Ex-wife number #3 called while you were gone. God, I hate that bitch. Apparently he's dodging her texts about negotiating the alimony settlement. Can't blame him. Uh, what else..." Casey stopped, scrambling to find her notes at her desk across the room from Olivia's.

"Ex-wife #3 is Dani, right? The blonde?" Olivia asked, quickly shuffling through the mail left for him on her desk.

"They're all blonde." Casey rolled her eyes. "Yeah, that's the one."

"Alright." she exhaled, grabbing his cup of coffee and rushing in to set it on his desk. "He has lunch with Munch and Tutuola at noon, I'll remind him when he gets in. He also has the meeting with the board at 3:30. He won't be thrilled about that, especially not with Tucker riding his ass about funding. I'll handle that if you can call his attorney and get ex-wife #3 on the phone. Paxton is the only one who can deal with her. Trust me, he'll go easier on you for handling this than he will about the board."

"You're a fucking saint. I've been doing this for two years and then you walk in for five minutes and life is already easier." Casey laughed, organizing the files on her desk before pressing the phone between her shoulder.

A deadly silence fell over the office floor as the elevator doors opened. Heads turned, steps halted, and breaths became bated as New York's most sought after CEO stepped onto the marble floors.

She was certain that she could've heard a pin drop from the silence as he strolled down the aisle between the respective work spaces. She watched as each overhead light caught within the blue contrast of his eyes. It wasn't long before she'd lost the internal battle with herself to not bite at her red painted lip.

He strode past her desk and she swore the world had started moving in slow motion around her. His head turned, his eyes burning into hers as his gaze reeled her in. She studied him in the few slow-moving seconds that she had, reacquainting herself with the lines and contours of his face.

"Good morning, Mr. Stabler." she said, her voice just rising above a whisper.

To most, the naked eye wouldn't be able to quite catch the small upward quirk of his lip. But she did. She always did. "Good morning… Miss Benson." he practically purred, his lashes swiping his cheeks as he blinked, never stopping his strides past her.

The sound of his glass doors shutting pulled her back and she forced herself to uncurl her toes from within her heels. As she finally exhaled the breath she had been holding, her grip loosened from the edge of her desk.

Across from her, Casey stared at her with her jaw hanging slightly in shock. "What do you do to that man?" she whispered.

Olivia smirked, taking the end of her pen between her teeth as she leaned back in her chair. Even if she did know, it was her secret to keep.

Against her greater consciousness, she dared to cock her head to the left, peering through the glass entry into his office. Just as she expected, his eyes were back to being entirely glued to hers. A shiver fell from the base of her neck to her tailbone, thrilling her flesh until it raised into goosebumps.

He was wearing the dark blue suit, the one she had made a mental note to worship every time she saw it. It hugged him in every possible positive way. On lucky days when his elbows would press against the slate top of his desk, she could see a whispered outline of his biceps through the sleeves.

She was back to biting her lip a little too hard.

Just before she was ready to turn back to the work at hand, she saw him teasingly raise his brow with a smirk. Her eyes fell closed and she wondered for a moment that if he had seen that too. She was playing a game that revolved around a world of danger,

"Three times this has happened, Stabler. Three times!" the familiar voice of Elliot's lawyer boomed through the glass of his office. Olivia locked eyes with Casey, who quickly rushed over to her side to hide with her in the staff break room.

"Tell me something I don't know!" he screamed back, his pacing footsteps loud enough to be heard through the closed door.

"Apparently you don't know how to listen!" Sonya shouted, slapping her hands down at her hips with an incredulous laugh.

Casey peered over the corner, quickly recoiling as soon as she caught a glimpse of the argument. She looked back at Olivia, trying to stifle a terrified laugh.

"You know what if you're just gonna be a pain in my ass—"

"A pain in your ass?"

"Yeah, a pain in my ASS, if that's what you're gonna be, then leave!"

"Should we do something?" Olivia whispered, earning a vehement head shake from Casey with strict eyes. She could read it in Casey's eyes that interfering would just cause the argument to explode further.

She desperately wanted to see the look on his face, his eyes blazing with anger. She wondered if they would change color like some did. Would they remain as clear as ice or would the flushed redness of his angry skin contrast the color to something darker?

She wanted to see his knuckles turn white as he gripped his desk, roaring from the other side.

Sonya's voice filled the office floor once again. "A prenup, Stabler, it was that fucking simple! I told you to get a prenup and God forbid you ever listen with your ears instead of your dick!"

"I am not paying that woman another dime, Sonya. Four weeks, FOUR WEEKS! We were married for less than four fucking weeks and she wants this much? Get fucked!"

Olivia wondered if his Queens accent always became more prevalent when he was angry. Her breath was coming in shallow puffs instead of deep and steady inhales. She gripped the edge of the doorway, her fingertips digging into the wood as she listened to him yell.

"It's your fault! Wh- you think jetting off to a Vegas wedding was a smart idea? You thought she was gonna be the love of your life? You poor baby. She's a leech!"

"Why the hell are you still standing here if you can't fix it?"

"Shit," Olivia mumbled, looking down at her watch. She turned back to Casey as her stomach tied into anxious knots. "He's got plans in less than fifteen minutes. I gotta go tell him."

"Are you nuts?!" Casey whispered as she winced. "If you go in there right now he'll fire you. I mean it, Olivia, don't do it." she grit the words out through clenched teeth, though Olivia didn't seem phased.

"Casey, I'm more likely to lose my job for not telling him," she whispered back, her tone just as urgent as the voices in the next room over.

"Because I'm tired of this shit, Stabler!" Sonya screamed. As Olivia peaked around the corner, she could see the lawyer pinching the bridge of her nose. "All I ever do is clean up your fucking messes! You know what? I'm charging you double for this one."

"I'll pay you triple to get the hell out of my office and fix this!" he whipped his arm around, pointing at the door behind her.

"Liv, don't! No —" Before Casey could stop her, she was taking careful steps away from the break room and towards his office. She gulped, praying it would ease the lump in her throat. She carefully opened the handle on the door, stepping inside with caution. Both Sonya and Elliot looked up to see her sheepishly standing on the opposite side of the room.

"I'm so sorry to interrupt, sir. You have lunch with Fin Tutuola and John Munch in just a few minutes," she mumbled, trying to shrink herself under the blaze of his vision.

Sonya huffed and rolled her eyes, starting to push past her. She spun on her heel to face Olivia. "How the hell do you work with this man?"

"Hey, don't talk to my employees that way! Out!" he barked one last time before Sonya was out of his office and charging towards the elevator. Elliot braced himself against his desk, closing his eyes as he blew a breath out of his mouth.

She stood for a moment, silently watching him decompress. The internal debate to leave him alone was lost and she found herself cautiously walking further into his office and towards the bar. She pulled down the bottle of whiskey that she recognized was his favorite, pouring a small amount into one of the crystal glasses. "Here," she said, turning to hand him the glass as she came up to the side of his desk. "You're gonna want to be calm for lunch, no sense in going when you're all riled up."

He finally looked up at her and she instantly noticed the change in his eyes. They had softened, reverting back to the cool blue tones she saw when he was calm. He grinned, taking a sip of the burning liquid before setting the glass down. "Thank you. I'm sorry you had to see that."

She wondered if it was the whiskey that caused the grain in his voice. She bowed her head, gently smiling as she soaked up the fleeting moment. "It's not a problem, sir."

His eyes latched onto hers for a silence filled second. Even though his fury was beginning to cool down, she could still see the embers of a blazing inferno. The darkness was still there, running rings around the pigment of his stare.

Maybe it was the shadow she's been running from.

Her eyes fell down to his lips and for a split second, she was forced to fight the urge to pull his lips against hers and taste the remnants of the alcohol. If her willpower had dissipated, she would've found herself entirely intoxicated on every last drop.

"You've called for the car already?" he asked, his shoulders finally easing as the calmness began to work over him. She breathed her own sigh of relief as he decompressed. The veins in his neck slowly disappeared as he scrubbed his palm against his face.

"Yes, sir. Skylar should already be downstairs waiting. Unless you would prefer me to cancel the lunch, which I can do." she grinned, folding her hands in front of herself as she took a step back.

Breathe, Olivia.

"No, it's okay." he flashed her a softening smile, a rare moment of his guard collapsing. "I uh— I feel better. Thanks."

"Can I get you anything else?" she asked quietly. She could still see the anguish in his eyes and she fought back the urge to ask him about his wife… or wives. She'd read the tabloids before she'd started her job, she knew the parts of his history that the outside world knew. He had always seemed stone cold when the paparazzi had snapped photographs of him leaving court. Every article had something different to say about the situation, there was never any saying of which one was more true than the other.

But this Elliot Stabler didn't quite match up to any of those reports.

Even in cool tones, his eyes still scorched when he looked at her. His gaze followed quietly up and down her ensemble, drinking her in as if she weren't even aware. Every inch that his view covered burned while somehow managing to chill her to the bone. "No, thank you, Olivia." he rasped.

When she turned and finally made it to the door handle, something still felt unsettled. She spun on her heel to face him, watching him as he held himself together as best as he could. "For what it's worth, sir… You deserve better than this."

Before he could reply, she had let herself out and grabbed the ringing phone at her desk.

Why the hell heels weren't made to run in, she wasn't sure. All she knew was that she had an entire closet full of useless footwear for when it came to hauling ass. With a stack of files carefully tucked under her arm, she managed to sprint from the 22nd floor to the 45th floor in a matter of minutes. Stabler's meeting with the board of his technology branch had begun when the internet had crashed and since technology was more vanity than functionality, nobody seemed to own a printer that wasn't wireless.

Casey had made quick work of calling IT to resolve the problem, meanwhile, Olivia had run around with the files on a flash drive while searching for a computer that still understood what wires were.

Fifteen minutes was her new personal record in the area of problem-solving. She'd managed to pull herself together just before walking into the conference room, fixing her hair in a nearby window's reflection.

"The paperwork you requested, Mr. Stabler." she spoke quietly as she came up behind him, delicately placing the stack in front of him. "Is there anything else I can get you?"

Elliot had just begun to thank her and excuse her before he was interrupted. "Well, since you were late, there was no coffee." Ed Tucker, the CFO snarked from across the table. "I'll take mine black."

Biting her tongue and swallowing her words, Olivia gracefully nodded. "Of course, sir." She silently thanked God that there was a coffee maker in the corner of the conference room or else a trip to Starbucks would've likely made her quit her job. She recognized every man in the room, already memorizing their coffee orders from previous meetings. Asking would only delay them even more.

She didn't mind listening in on the meetings, hearing them as they pitched ideas back and forth. Most people who found themselves working at Stabler Enterprises were there for some sort of resumé boost or a way to climb the ranks in the company. If it meant having her ear pressed to the wall, she'd do what she could to get to where she wanted, and where she wanted to be was in the exact seat of Ed Tucker.

"We've been offered a partnership with Apple to develop a new series for their smartwatches and an exercise based application to be paired with it." one of the conceptualists broke the silence. "Smart fitness is all the rage these days, and Apple would be a smart investment, they're a staple when it comes to cutting edge merchandise."

Before Olivia could stop herself, she snorted out a laugh. A deathly silence fell over the room as she stilled, squeezing her eyes shut as if she could somehow take back the murderous mistake she had just made. Sheepishly, she turned around to see twelve sets of eyes staring at her.

"Something funny over there?" Tucker asked, venom dripping from each word as he glared at her. Her eyes darted between him and Stabler, who looked more perplexed than angry.

"No, sir." she fought back a smirk.

"Because if you have any great ideas from where you're standing, by all means, waste our time a little longer by sharing them."

The eyes across the room were all turning towards Tucker now, bated breath as they all waited for the next interaction. And in the flames of her job melting in her hands, she had a moment of bliss. A calm falling over her as Stabler's eyes locked with hers, not a single angry strand within his iris. If she could put her finger on it, she'd say he was actually impressed.

"Um, well." Fuck, she might as well bite the bullet. She'd laid awake for many nights wondering what the very first idea she ever pitched would be, though she never expected it to be used as a joke.

Though, the thought dawned on her. It didn't have to be a joke.

She braced the countertop behind herself as she leaned against it, finally letting the smirk breakthrough. "Red Light." she stated simply.

"Excuse me?" Tucker asked with an incredulous expression.

"Red light." she repeated. "An application called Red Light. Pairable to phones and smartwatches. Designed for women in the city to feel safer while walking alone, especially at night. If they feel like someone's following them home or they feel as if they're in danger, they open the app and can send alerts to police as well as on-call female volunteers. If there's a volunteer in the area where they ping the app from, it alerts them of the location so they can come assist with either walking them home or making sure that if something did happen, the proper help can be given."

Stabler grinned and Olivia was certain she was going to pass out from the adrenaline that flooded her system.

"Smart fitness may be popular, but even more so than that, women around the city, the country even, feel unsafe walking around due to the amount of predators who prey on those they view as weak or vulnerable. Women will pay any dime it costs to feel safer, especially knowing that other women, the volunteers, want their safety too. On average, there are over 433,648 women sexually assaulted in the United States alone."

She started to cradle the mug of Tucker's coffee, strutting across the room. Elliot's eyes never left her as she grabbed the attention of everyone in the room. In fact, he was smiling.

"Most women are told to walk home with a friend because an attacker is less likely to pursue them if they risk having a witness. Though, not every woman has the privilege of walking home with someone every night. This would hold the potential to create an entire network of volunteers and resources, not to mention the handful of other conglomerates that would see the success and offer partnerships with us. The app could also host resources on self-defense, self-protection, and information on what to do in cases of an attack."

She stepped closer to his seat, watching him recoil under her glare. "Right now, we are living in the Me Too era, not the smart fitness age. Your coffee... sir." she finished, grinning as she stood nose to nose with Tucker, setting the mug down in front of him.

Eyes glanced at each other throughout the room, nobody quite sure of what to say. She didn't care. She had found the euphoria that she had been in search of. Tearing through them like a tornado, showing mercy to nothing in her path. Elliot's eyes had never left her through her entire pitch, only becoming more entranced with each word that left her lips. He was the first to end the millennium of silence.

"I like it."

Tucker cut in, leaning forward in his seat. "You can't possibly think this is a good idea, Stabler. We—"

"I said I like it." Elliot growled. "She came in here with an argument and statistics prepared with a solution for every roadblock, meanwhile half of the idiots pitching ideas to me couldn't even tie their shoes properly. Our tech department needs a boost, and so do the, what were the numbers? 433,000 women in the United States?" he asked, turning to look up at Olivia.

"Yes, sir."

"Alright," Elliot clapped his hands together. "Let's give it the old college try, shall we? Raise your hands if you cast your vote to Red Light." he grinned, pointing his finger around the room at the 14 raised hands. "Fifteen to one, Tucker. Looks like you're the odd man out."

Olivia felt a chill run through her spine as the room began to speak in agreement. Through the overlapping conversations, he was silently staring at her. The blaze in his eyes became only more electrifying when paired with his impressed grin.

The elevator doors closed and her breath felt heavy in her lungs. The backlit white walls surrounded them, nearly blinding her as it combined with the invigoration of being barely shoulders apart from him. Every hair on her skin stood at a tension, her body aligning with the rhythm of the atmosphere in their field.

"I liked your pitch today," he stated simply, neither of them taking their eyes off of the door as the elevator whirred.

She took a deep breath and fought against the urge to close her eyes. "I- I'm sorry, sir. I shouldn't have inserted myself into the discussion. I was out of line."

Her job was hanging on an unsteady fault line and she was going to sink into the San Andreas with it.

He reached out, pulling the emergency stop on the control panel. The lighting of the paneled walls flashed from bright white to a deep red, soaking her in the color. "What are you doing?" she asked, wishing her words hadn't sounded so breathless.

"I… would like to ask you something," he stated simply. The crack in his tone caught her attention, his words had always been fluid and eloquent. She could feel his breath just as bated as hers.

For a moment, she thought that the emergency stop in the elevator had been the source of the ringing in her ears, until her exhale came almost just as loudly and she realized that the small space was completely silent. "Ask away."

"Do you do it on purpose?" he grated the words out and the shivers down her spine only grew sharper.

Her brows furrowed with confusion and her eyes finally looked up to meet his. The red lights of the paused elevator bled into his eyes, and she saw a deep shade of magenta staring back. Red and blue make purple, whispered a small voice in her head.

"Um…" she cleared her throat. "Do what? I don't understand what you're asking." Lie. If lying was one of the seven deadly sins, she wondered if she was officially locked in for eternity. Lust was down for the count and she'd never deny it. Maybe even greed since she simply couldn't fathom the idea of another woman's touch on his skin. Or maybe that was envy.

"Stare." he clarified, his Adam's apple bobbing as he gulped. "You stare a lot. I'm just wondering if you do it on purpose?"

If she wasn't a glutton for punishment before, she was now. Four out of seven wasn't so bad. Though, pride was on tailing close to her heels at this point, and five out of seven deadly sins would win the majority.

"I'm sorry if I've made you uncomfortable," she breathed, her eyes training to his lips as soon as he turned to face her.

If she didn't know any better, she'd say that her soul was being bargained with the devil. Maybe by proxy, given that seeing him owning the sin of wrath would send her on a first-class trip to Hell.

He chuckled deeply, the red lights still bleeding into his eyes. "Uncomfortable isn't the word I would use."

"Oh?" she questioned, her words barely audible. She was barreling towards crossing all seven deadly sins off of her list because she was in no hurry to end the moment. That had to qualify as the sin of lacking effort. "What word would you use?"

"Intrigued." he answered boldly. "In fact, I'm certain that I haven't been careful with keeping my eyes to myself either."

She was millimeters away from the lips that she would burn cities if that was what it took to taste. "What are you saying?"

He sucked a breath through his teeth, but his gaze stayed glued to hers. "I am asking you, politely, if you would perhaps be interested in… getting to know each other better. If the answer is 'no' then I will not bring it up again and I will apologize if I've made you uncomfortable. I value consent above all things, Ms. Benson, but I feel as though if I don't ask you, then I am wasting a very valuable opportunity. As I said, you...intrigue me."

His voice ran over her skin like the texture of velvet and the mulberry hue that had now taken up his irises continued to burn into hers. The red light beaming from the walls felt appropriate given that the devil was whispering directly into her ear.

Her teeth gently grazed her bottom lip and she saw something twitch within him. Her eyes followed as his hand carefully raised, his thumb ghosting over the lip that was already growing red from the assault of her teeth. "Careful, you'll hurt yourself doing that." he whispered, coaxing her bottom lip free.

Her eyes crossed as they followed his finger down to her lip. "What are you proposing?" she asked, feeling herself completely melting under his powerful gaze.

"An arrangement, of course."

If this meant she was going to hell, so be it. Heaven was overrated.

Chapter Text



The apartment door slammed behind her as she pressed her back against it. Her head rested against the barrier, her eyes rolling into the back of her head. All of the fresh air in NYC couldn't take away the rush in her head. Her body still thrummed with the heat of his touch against her lips, blazing from where his thumb had guided her lip from her teeth.

"Shit, I thought you were Alex. You're home early. Stabler take the night off?" Monique asked, turning on the couch to face the door.

"Uh, something like that." Olivia nodded, not quite processing the conversation she was immediately thrust into. She had fifteen minutes to get dressed and evade as many questions as possible without raising suspicion. Given that her mind was a million miles away, the latter was a little far fetched.

"Jesus, Liv. Are you okay?" she asked, readjusting her grip on the edge of the couch to get a better look as Olivia scrambled around the room.

"Oh yeah, I'm fine." she said with a quick exhale. "Uh, I'm actually going on a date. Is Alex coming over?" deflection didn't always work on Monique and she knew it, but it was worth the try. She knew it was their six-month anniversary, and she hoped that the idea of having the place to themselves would excite her enough to end the incessant questions that were to come.

She quickly plucked the stray tube of lipstick off of the kitchen counter and the heels that she had kicked off in the hallway from the day before. She didn't dare look at her friend or the possibly disapproving look on her face. God only knows that if she did, she'd cave in and tell her everything.

"Yeah, she is. We're gonna drink wine and watch the Bachelorette." she giggled, her eyes sparkling with joy. "Nice try. Now tell me, who's the lucky guy that's got you running like you're catching the last chopper out of Saigon?"

If she couldn't avoid the conversation, she could at least avoid being in the same room. She quickly pranced down the hall, debating on locking herself in the bathroom. Though, that would only raise more suspicion. "Just... some guy at work." Liar. "Total spur of the moment thing, I guess. Where the hell did I put my waterfall earrings?" she called out from the bathroom.

She knew Monique better than she knew herself. She knew that the 3rd degree was simply from a place of care. Monique had always been that way, working in lockstep with whatever plan she had made up to understand who her best friend was busy with. Too many times they had both been in dangerous situations together, and the endless questions were simply a ploy to cover up the fact that she deeply cared.

Even coming from a place of love, it was still annoying.

"Medicine cabinet, to the left." Monique answered back. "So, just some guy? What happened to the silver fox hunt for Stabler?" she laughed, crossing her arms over her chest.

That finally broke through to Olivia. She poked her head out from the bathroom doorway with a lethal glare. "I do not have the hots for Stabler, nor am I going on a 'silver fox hunt' for him." she chided, quickly returning to swipe the earrings from the cabinet.

Monique grinned, rolling her eyes as she turned back to the project in her hands. Olivia ran from the bathroom to her bedroom, quickly flipping through the hanging dresses in her closet. She quickly ripped her first option off of the rack. A skin-tight black cocktail dress that resembled the texture of latex. She quickly ran back into the living room and held up the dress for Monique to see. "What about this?"

"Oh, honey! You're gonna get pregnant in that thing!" she cackled. "Where the hell is he taking you?" she leaned back, examining the dress up and down.

Olivia glanced around sheepishly. Lying wasn't worth the risk, but ripping the bandaid off didn't feel much better. "He's taking me to Per Se."

"Per Se? Un-fucking-believable." Monique gasped, smacking the couch cushion. "I've been with Alex for six months and she's never taken me to fucking Per Se! Whoever this guy is, you've known him for less than a month and he's wine-ing, dining, and 69'ing you at friggin' Per Se."

Olivia wasn't listening to the rambling that filled the room. Instead, she laid out the dress in front of her, carefully inspecting it for the oncoming night. He made her skin burn with a simple glance, she needed something she could still breathe in while wearing. At least with more skin exposed, she could cool down faster.

Or that's the bullshit that she fed herself enough of to actually believe it.

"Uh, Liv?" Monique's voice broke through her barriers. "I'm not sure if they'll let you in with that dress on."

"I'll wear a blazer over it." Olivia said defensively before retreating back to her bedroom. She made quick work of shedding her work attire and sliding into the dress, finding the one pair of Jimmy Choo's that he hadn't yet seen her in. The lipstick that she carefully applied to her lips was a shade darker than what she had worn to work, something deeper to define her lips under the ambient lights of the restaurant.

She had two options. She could keep lying and pretend that this wasn't as big of a deal as it really was. Or, she could tell the truth and watch Monique internally combust. She was walking a thin line and she knew, Monique would undoubtedly know it too. She always had been the one in the friendship whose vision had always been more clear. Monique was always the one who could see the risks and the danger before Olivia could. If there was something shady or risky about this, she would see it first.

Telling her felt like setting herself up for a disaster, lying didn't feel much better.

She made quick work of ripping the blazer off of the closet rack, simultaneously slipping her arms into as she stepped into the heels. Her heart hammered in her chest with nervousness and uninvited anxiety. One simple question repeated in her mind as she moved about her bedroom.

How could something so wrong feel so right?

This was asking for trouble, all of it, but it only accelerated her even further. One tiny move in the wrong direction could send both of their lives in a flaming downward spiral yet she needed that flame more than she needed air to breathe.

She braced herself against the vanity, letting her head drop forward as she forced a deep breath into her lungs.

Giving in felt guilty. Tainted with the unknown of just how much she could destroy with one simple touch. If his lips could burn cities, she wondered if his touch could sink nations into the endless ocean.

By the time she had lifted her head to look in the mirror, she realized that a bright red blush was creeping up her chest and into her cheeks. She tried to focus on the sounds of traffic coming from outside, anything to take away his low and raspy voice reverberating in her ears.

'Man up, Olivia.' she whispered to herself.

Her phone vibrated against the top of the vanity, illuminating a photo of herself and Monique in the background. She swiped it off of the surface, quickly unlocking it and launching the messages.

'Look out your window.'

She frowned, pulling back the light blue drapes. She looked down to the ground level of the building, her eyes instantly catching the black Mercedes with tinted dark windows. She could see Skylar patiently standing beside the vehicle, his arms crossed in front of him. "Shit," she whispered.

'I'll be right out,' she quickly texted back.

"Alright, I'm leaving." she announced as she walked through the living room, fastening the blazer's buttons to cover the bodice of her dress. "I'll be back... maybe."

"And seeing how you chose the dress anyway, I'll schedule you an appointment at the clinic." Monique called back, earning a sarcastic laugh from Olivia before the door shut behind her.


"So, tell me why you wanted to work at SE." he asked as the waitress set their plates down in front of them. His eyes looked up slowly, connecting to hers with a magnetism she couldn't describe.

"Is that what this is?" she chuckled, rolling her head to the side as she watched him pour their wine glasses.

"Is what?"

"A work date?"

"Fine, let me rephrase that. What are your career goals?"

She licked her lips, raising her brows with amusement. "Do you want the unabridged version or the nice version?"

"Oh well," he laughed, "how about both?"

"Politely, I'd say that it's an amazing opportunity to establish myself at a Fortune 500 company such as SE." she batted her eyelashes with an undeniable look of innocence.

He grinned. "And the unabridged?"

"I'm going to pry Ed Tucker right out of that CFO seat if it's the last thing I do." she said without missing a beat, her expression turning into that of a predator seeking its prey.

His grin grew wide as he fell breathless. "Well then. I'll be waiting for you at the top."

She leaned forward, playfully looking around before locking eyes with him again. "You aren't going to tattle on me, are you? To Tucker? God forbid he finds out my plans to overthrow his royalty." she giggled.

He groaned in disgust. "Please. I want that windbag out of there more than you do."

Her expression contorted with confusion. "Why'd you hire him then?"

She saw his shoulders shrink down as he rolled his eyes. "Eh, between you and me, I had to. When I started the business, we were still merged with another company. Eventually SE got on it's feet and we went our separate ways. So, when we split, the board had to split too. It was a pick and choose for who got which board members and he was the last pick of the draft and technically I can't fire him without valid reason."

She leaned back in her seat as she giggled. "Sounds like you lost a bar bet with the other CEO."

"Oh, absolutely. He wiped the floor with me."

"Can I ask you something?" her teeth tugged at the side of her lower lip, instantly attracting his eyes. "Is that why you liked my pitch? Because you knew Tucker would hate it and rebelling against him would piss him off?" she poked her fork at her food, nervously moving around the mesclun greens against the plate.

"No. I liked your pitch because I have a daughter."

Her eyes shot up towards him, looking like that of a deer in headlights. "You— you have a daughter?" she gulped. Mentally, she went through every second of Casey's training, trying to remember if his daughter had ever been mentioned. There was nothing. Not a sticky note, not a wikipedia search, just nothing but her own embarrassing shock.

"Kathleen. She's only twelve years old. I try to keep her out of the public eye as best as I can. But I don't like the idea of my little girl being one of those 400,000 women you mentioned today. That's why I will take your pitch and die on that hill if I have to."

His eyes blazed in a different way. Something feral that brought on a wave unexpected respect for him. It was quickly becoming clear that something inside of him would murder for his daughter. The flame had switched from impressiveness to lethality at the drop of a dime.

"Um... how come she never comes around to the office?"

"She lives with her mother... I believe you know her as ex-wife #2?" he chuckled, watching Olivia blush with embarrassment. "The uh... the split was messy. For a while I figured it was best if she wasn't around me, I was a miserable person and I didn't want her to see me like that. But, time passed and we never quite reconnected in the ways we should've. I see her from time to time but uh... well, tell me more about you. You probably already know enough about me."

"I don't think I do." she whispered and he's practically breathing in the breath that she has exhaled. For a faint moment she can feel the electricity in the air and it feels like butterflies on every inch of her skin.

The light in his eyes changes in an indistinguishable way. Not quite dulling but not changing color... just shifting. The closest thing she could pair it to was restraint. "You said you wanted to be a CFO. Where'd you go to college?"

"Um..." she gulped, feeling the conversation barrelling towards a territory she didn't want to cross. "Columbia."

"Columbia," he parroted her words with shock. "Wow. Ivy league, that's impressive."

"Got my MBA in my first two years there and I just received my CPA." she smirked.

"Jeez." he took a sip of his wine, feeling exasperated by her. "So, the question begs to be answered, why the hell are you doing an assisting job? There's no way I pay you enough to get an MBA and a CPA at Columbia."

She chuckled, rolling her eyes at his arrogance. "No, you certainly don't. I uh — There was a scholarship fund set up in honor of a... family member who worked at Columbia. I graduated valedictorian of my class in high school and they offered me the scholarship."

"Brains and beauty." he tilted his head, matching her previous smirk as he leaned back in the chair. "Shouldn't be long until you've got Ed Tucker packing up his office."

"I mean, I like my job though." she said, a sparkle glimmering in her eye. "It's a very interesting position to be in." They were passing the control of the conversation back and forth, each time offering for the other to be the one who kept it all tethered. It was a game of power and nobody was keeping track of who was winning.

Maybe they both were.

"Interesting how?" he leaned forward again, the ice in his eyes becoming more vibrant than the moments before.

She set her fork down, craning her neck around as his words worked through her. "I get to learn things that nobody else knows. I find value in that. Well, that and I'm with the CEO, sipping a Cabernet Sauvignon that looks like it came straight from Napa Valley's premium vault. Could it get better?"

"Yes," he answered, barely allowing her to finish her sentence. His stare was unrelenting, pulling her in with its entirety. He was full of unspoken secrets that she had yet to learn, but yearned for. 

There it was again. Like a flicker. The extinguishment of the flame in his eyes, as if he were forcing himself to calm down. She was beginning to notice the rise and fall of the blaze in his irises as she spent more time a few mere inches away from him.

"So, tell me more. What about your childhood?" he asked, taking a sip from the glass of wine next to his plate. His gaze averted down to the table in only what she could describe as the second wave of the calming flicker.

"Uh... It's sort of a heavy topic. I'm not too sure if it's first dinner material." she answered with apprehension, suddenly wishing she could go back in time to the moments before when his glare looked as if he were ready to jump across the table for her. Scaring him away with her emotional wounds and scars was not an option, not now.

"Understood." he replied with a soft nod. "So... what is first dinner material then?"

She lifted her head, closing her eyes as she took a deep breath. "You said that I intrigue you. Tell me why that is?" she asked, bringing the wine glass to rest delicately against her lips.

A smirk unfurls on his lips and she can see the flames growing again. "I couldn't tell you."

"And why is that?" her brows lifted playfully. "You can't tell me because it's something you want to keep private or you can't tell me because you simply don't know?"

"You..." he stopped, his breath hitching as he took in the sight of her in its entirety. Sitting across from him, staring with just as much of a flame in her eye as him. She was everything that the others weren't. "I can't figure you out." he said, refusing to blink as he stared through her with unknown depths. "I can't figure out who you really are underneath it all. I can't figure out what it is about you that makes working feel impossible and what it is about you that keeps pulling me in. You are a magnet, Olivia, a magnet that I have no resistance towards. I can't figure out why the universe put you in front of me. You walked in forty-five days ago and forty-five days ago was the last time I remember being sane."

She sat back, dumbfounded by his statement as her heart violently pounded in her ears. She took in every word, watching his lips move and his eyes revert back to the inferno she had come to recognize. "My existence isn't that profound." she whispered.

"See, I don't believe that," he leaned in closer. "because when you walked in, I stopped breathing, but if you were to leave, I wouldn't start breathing again. So, for some reason, unbeknownst to me, you exist in my life with far more purpose than your job title... and I'm going to figure out what that reason is if it's the last thing I do."

She could feel the sweat breaking against her skin as his gaze had morphed from a crackling fire into molten lava. Her breath was long since gone, caught somewhere in her lungs which already felt as if they were turning to stone beneath her chest wall. The magnetism, she understood what he meant. Wherever in the room he was, even if she wasn't aware, there was always an instinct to turn her head and each and every time, she'd caught him. Just a whisper in her ear telling to look left and the agony that came with resisting it. She always caught him.


Her job was on the line. Why hadn't she thought this through? She had made the decision to start at SE as an assistant for a reason; it gave her the opportunity to climb a bigger ladder. With her qualifications, she could get a job at any decent business that was hiring. But she chose SE because it was risky and because the outcome could be more than she ever imagined.

So why the hell did she not think about that when sitting across the table from him at a five star restaurant while she allowed her libido to take the lead? Was it worth it? Was he worth it? There were six millions ways she could royally fuck this and her entire future up, leaving her to have to start over even later than she should. She'd made a promise when she'd joined Stabler Enterprises, a promise to herself.

She would do everything in her power to get her dream job.

This... this was a mistake. This was a risk to everything her future had to hold. For God's sake the CEO's hand was on her bare thigh in the back of his Mercedes while they were driven around with no direction.

She made a promise to her younger self as well, a promise that she would climb out of the ashes and become something bigger than she could ever imagine.

His hand was on her thigh.

She didn't want that hand to move.

But keeping his hand there meant she could easily be barrelling towards career suicide. This could be the loss of everything she had ever worked for. Blacklisted by the network of businesses that she had aspired to work for. She was making a mistake.

This was a mistake.

"I should go home." her words stunned him for a moment, leaving them both to breathe in the thin air of her decision. She hadn't expected her words to come out so frantically and her pulse hammered beneath her skin.

His hand slipped away from her thigh. "Uh— okay?" he sputtered, staring at her as if the answer was written on her face. What did he do wrong? What did he say to create the sudden change within her. Had he misread the entire situation? He knocked on the partition that separated the back of the car from the front. "Skylar, can we head to Ms. Benson's apartment, please?"

She wanted to disappear into thin air. How could her entire body want one thing and her mind yell at her for another? She had worked so hard. Endless nights of studying, working, missing sleep. She had walked across the graduation stage with a goal, but why did it have to be like this?

He had done nothing wrong and the guilt of leaving him thinking otherwise was crushing. She hadn't meant to lead him on, but the ramifications hadn't set in until his skin was on hers and her body ached for him.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, fighting back the tears that burned in her eyes. She quickly looked out of the tinted windows, realizing they were pulling up towards the sidewalk outside of her building.. "I had a great time, I really did."

He tried to reach for her as she unbuckled herself. "Liv, I'm sorry. Did I do something to upset you?" the genuine hurt in his eyes only made it worse. She shook her head, barely able to make eye-contact with him as she did so.

"I swear, you didn't do anything wrong." she pleaded for him to understand but she could already tell from the look in those stupid icy eyes that it wouldn't work. Hell, she'd probably already lost her job at this point. " Thank you for tonight. I really did enjoy it. I'll uh — I'll see you at work."

She shut the car door before he could say anything and shamefully ducked her head as she walked into her building. It hurt to walk away, like something inside of her was being torn away from where it was meant to be.

Somehow, she didn't feel any better. One mistake felt like it was multiplying into several mistakes. No relief came from leaving him behind, no positive affirmation that she had done the right thing. Just more of a mess in her stomach that screamed at her about how badly she was fucking everything up.

She quickly pushed past the door of her apartment, rigidly shuffling towards the living room where she could hear Alex and Monique talking. "Stabler," she called out, alerting them of her presence. Both of them turned their heads towards her as she stood, shoulders as stiff as stone. Her breathing was heavy and her eyes had no real focus within them. "You were right, it was Stabler taking me out and we went to dinner and we were gonna go back to his place but I panicked and I left. It was Stabler."

Alex and Monique both stayed silent, looking back and forth at each other. After a moment of emptiness, Alex was the first to break with a snort. "Did he have a chance to get you pregnant in that dress first?" she laughed.

Monique cackled as she pointed at Alex. "I said the same thing earlier!"

As they giggled together, Olivia let out a huff of air. "Guys! Focus! I'm having a personal crisis, can you stop fawning over each other for 3 minutes and help me?" she dropped her purse down with a heavy thud before anxiously running her hands through her hair.

"You're right, sorry." Monique threw her hands up in defense. "You're attracted to him, right? And don't be coy please, you've just admitted that you were on a date with him so none of that bullshit about not going on the silver fox hunt."

She sighed, sitting down on the chair that faced the two of them. "Yes," she sighed, her voice dropping with defeat. "I like him... I like him a lot. I — I think 'like' doesn't actually cover it entirely."

"Wait," Alex interjected with a confused brow raised. "Are you saying you love him? Or are you referring to complete animal attraction. You need to specify what you mean when you say ''like' doesn't cover it'"

She shuttered. "I obviously don't love him, I barely know him! But... I wouldn't say 'animal attraction'." Olivia said with a hint of disgust.

"I would!" Monique shot upright from the couch. "You come home every night from work all hot and bothered. Like a sexually frustrated teenage boy. You never shut up about him, Stabler this, Stabler that. Every time you mention his names you get this glazed look in your eyes. You dated Cassidy for a year and you didn't look at him like that even once!"

"Ew, please don't mention him right now." Olivia recoiled, throwing her hands up in front of her. "I'm... attracted to Stabler. Obviously. I mean, he's good looking, he's nice to me, he's strong and my god, you should see his —"

"Okay! Okay, you're starting to daze off here." Monique called out, Alex giggling beside her. "So, why'd you run? He was gonna fuck you six ways from Sunday and you left. Why?"

"I—" she sucked in a deep breath. "I started thinking about my job. I'm not there to be a temp, I'm there to work my way up the chain. I mean, this could have two outcomes. One, we screw around, things eventually go bad and I get fired. Two, we screw around, things go good, people find out, and suddenly every promotion I get comes with people's idea of thinking I fucked my way up to the top. I don't wanna throw away my shot here."

"But you are throwing away your shot." Alex stated. "With Stabler. You have the skills to climb any ladder to the top in this city, any company you choose. But only one has Stabler. If you don't throw away your shot at him and people find out, who cares? People get mad about those who fuck their way to the top when it's undeserving. For you, it's not undeserving. Just strut your moves. You can prove to anyone there that any promotion you get is well deserved."

She squirmed uncomfortably. "And if I get fired?"

"Like I said, you have the skills to climb to your dream job anywhere. This is not a lose-lose, Liv. This is a win-win." Alex leaned forward, a devilish look in her eye. "You get to climb under the covers— or up against a wall, it's your choice, with the passively attractive billionaire, Elliot Stabler and work with him. Enjoy your time with him but also work harder too, he'll likely be paying a hell of a lot more attention to you at the office and it will give him more of an opportunity to see your skills. You're not taking advantage of him because you actually like him."

"That is... genius and disturbing." she shuttered.

Alex cocked her head. "Something is still bothering you, what is it?"

"I just —" she bit down on her lip, turning away from their gazes. "You know me. The whole... sharing myself thing isn't really my forte. I kinda clammed up at dinner a few times. I think he noticed it too. I don't know if I exactly wanna commit to something serious. I just know that I want a chance to be with him."

"Tell him that." Monique gave her a soft smile. "Just be honest. Liv, you've always closed yourself off in ways that you shouldn't have had to. I get it, I understand probably better than anyone else. But just tell him the truth, just a little. See how it feels."

Olivia exhaled, staring at the floor for a solid moment before pushing herself up from the seat and silently retreated to her bedroom. Monique and Alex exchanged silent glances for a moment before Olivia returned, strutting towards the door with a tan trench coat covering her body.

Monique giggled, elbowing Alex as they watched Olivia charge out of the room. "What are you wearing under that?"

"Not a goddamn thing," she answered, punctuating her statement by closing the door behind her.


"Sir," Skylar said, stepping into the living room of the penthouse with an iPad in his hands. "Security cameras just picked this up. She's on her way up through the private elevator, but we're not sure how she gained access.." he handed the computer over to Elliot who furrowed his brows in confusion.

"It's Liv, she has a key just in case. What is she doing here?" he frowned, handing the tablet back to the man before rushing over to the door. "I got it from here, you can go." he waved off at Skylar, hoping he made quick work of disappearing. He could already hear her heels coming up the hallway from the elevator and she knocked just as he'd reached the entrance. "Olivia?" he swung the door open. "It's late, are you okay?"

"I made a mistake." she breathed, her eyes darting frantically in his direction. She was breathless, probably from charging through the hoops it took to get to the elevator.

He cocked his head in confusion.

"I left thinking I had just saved myself from making a mistake. I didn't realize that I was actually making a bigger mistake by leaving. I uh— I don't want to go on like this. I don't want to keep letting the days pass without me knowing what it would feel like for you to touch me. I don't want to keep dreaming about what it would be like to taste your lips. You— you're doing something to me and I don't know what it is. All I know is that I've never felt it before and it uh— it's beginning to hurt. Physically. It hurts to look into your eyes, your eyes goddamnit, Stabler. God. I thought I was wasting an opportunity to work with you if I slept with you, but there are a million jobs out there but there is only one you."

"Liv," he tried to interject."

"You asked me at dinner about my childhood," she cut him off, her volume rising. "and I told you it was too heavy. I can't tell you everything, but I can tell you something. My mom died when I was 12, she drank herself to death. Growing up, I thought the only way out was to make something of myself and make my life worth living and risking that scares the living hell out of me. But, my mother, she was a literature professor at Columbia, she specialized in all the classics. If I learned anything from her and the thousands of cheesy romance novels that she made me read, it's one thing: If you feel something that you've never felt before, you chase after it... You electrify me. So, fuck my job, fuck my future, fuck all of it... Fuck me."

She let her coat drop to the floor, revealing the black lace bra and matching panties underneath of it. A garter belt hugged her waist, the straps firmly wrapped around her thighs with black stockings attached. "Do you still want me?" she whispered.

He huffed out a deep exhale, a smile tugging at his lips. "Get the hell over here." he grinned, scooping her into his arms with one hand on her back and one hand on her ass. Her arm wrapped around and was thrown over his shoulder, dragging him down by the neck as his lips crashed down onto hers.

Finally, she understood the tug and pull in her gut and exactly why her entire body was set aflame when she was in his vicinity. She understood why every time he passed her by the wind would chill her deep into her spine. It was because his tongue tasting hers was heaven and hell both wrapped up in a little box with red ribbon attached. He was every taste she had ever craved and every touch she had ever yearned to feel.

It was because she was bowing down in the presence of the inevitable.

With her hoisted into his grip, he pushed her up against the door, fighting for any traction that could give him a deeper taste into her lips. He held her up with a knee between her legs, quickly moving to make sure she was secured in his arms. His nails dug into the back of her thighs as she cupped his cheeks. "You are an enigma to me, Olivia Benson." he grit the words out against her mouth before his teeth bit down on her bottom lip.

He smelled like sandalwood and he tasted like whiskey even though they had been drinking wine, but that was him. That was always him. Always a surprise to her and nothing short of that. The taste of him, the touch of his skin, always something different, better. Always better than she expected.

He lifted her away from the door, his mouth dragging down her neck as he relied on muscle memory to find his bedroom. Her dark auburn hair framed her face as she towered over him in his arms, her head falling forward as he nipped at the skin on her collarbone.

They made sense. They shouldn't, but they did. He was seventeen years her senior and she was from the lowlands of the city, meanwhile he had grown up knowing the scent of first prize roses and the air of the Hamptons. But the magnet did not pay attention to their differences, their polar opposite lifestyles. It was fury and an undeniable need buried deep within both of them. A need so powerful that she was almost positive that it was charged on an atomic level.

By the grace of God, or whoever else it was that had put her on his doorstep in nothing but a scrap of lace, they'd made it up the stairs without separating or breaking any bones. With a swift movement, she had found herself landing on the bed, lying on her stomach at the edge of the mattress. Before she had gained her bearings, she felt the force of his hands pulling her legs off the bed. She gripped the sheets as his touch lingered over the lower half of her body, desperately holding in a moan as he smoothed his palms down the back of her thighs.

She felt his hands hover at her hips before roughly pulling down the garter belt and thong. The straps and lace dangled at her knees as his palms massaged into the smooth skin of her ass. "I would've preferred to do this over my desk, but there's always time for that later." he knelt down, slowly nipping at the skin down the side of her hips as she quivered beneath his touch.

Her grip tightened, white-knuckling the dark purple satin sheets as his mouth continued exploring, his tongue dragging a trail from her hip down to the back of her thigh. She let out a high-pitched whine as a shiver ran down her spine, mentally noting how much better his tongue felt there than his just his hands. "Please," she whimpered, unable to phrase just what it was that she wanted.

"I'm pretty sure you can handle just a few minutes of teasing. After all, you've been the one teasing me for weeks now." she could feel him smile against her skin as he purposely avoided the one place she wanted his mouth more than anything in the world.

She was sinking into the abyss of the unknown. It thrilled her to the bone and scared her all at the same time. There was no room for words, no way to understand what he would do or what he was like. He was still the same mystery in a dark suit, now sans the dark suit. But as long as the abyss would have her, she'd continue to sink.

His hands ran smoothly up both cheeks, sending jolts down her spine once he gripped down on the skin. Her cries were muffled through the fabric of the bedding, She wanted to feel every ridge of every fingerprint, the burn of his nails digging into her skin. Whatever he had to give, she wanted.

She could finally feel his tongue dragging towards the inside of her thigh like an answered prayer. She writhed against the bed, her legs shivering harder as his mouth worked over the sensitive skin. With what little traction she had, she tried to sway her body closer to where she'd hoped his mouth would land.

In one swift movement, his hands were back at her hips and forcefully steadying her to where he wanted her. "None of that, or I'll make you wait even longer. Understood?" his husky voice demanded before returning to the inner side of her thigh.

For less than a fraction of a second, she lets out a soft chuckle, allowing herself to relish the moment of being entirely in the palm of his hand. "Yes, sir." she breathed, grinding her breasts against the bed in desperate search of friction. She liked the command in his voice. As if he knew his demands held just the right amount of truth. It wasn't the same arrogance that she recognized from the office, it was better. Stronger suited for him, instilling the perfect ratio of trust and fear into her.

"Oh, I think I like that." his palm came down in a thrash against her ass, earning an unabashed and uncensored cry from her lips. She fought the urge to raise her lower back in an effort to come closer to his touch again, but the electricity coursing through her body was beginning to control her. Every cell of her skin thrummed with the frequency of him.

While his mouth went back to work on her thigh, she felt the tips of his fingers brush against her folds. She yanked the sheets harder, trying to suppress her moans through the fabric. Why did she feel so starved? Every hand that had ever touched her had never made her react in such a way, and yet all he did was graze her skin.

His tongue moved closer towards her core as his fingers swept through her arousal. She was spiraling, her vision going blurry even with her eyes covered by the duvet. Her head swirled and she lost the ability to control any sounds that erupted from her.

"Fuck!" she cried out. He'd finally abandoned the mark he'd left on her thigh before his tongue delved into her center. His right arm hooked under her shaking legs, the fingertips of his free hand rubbing searing circles around her clit as she continued to cry out.

Behind her eyelids, the world and any other preoccupation faded away. Each of her senses were slowly picked away, leaving her with nothing but the amplified ferocity of touch. His touch. The memories of her apprehension disappeared along with the rest of the world, and so did any reservations of living a life that differed from this moment in any shape or form.

"You like control, Olivia." the power of his lowered voice broke through the barriers that restricted her senses. Each vibration of his words thrummed against her skin, nearly just as powerful as his ability to entirely subdue her mind. "You thrive on it. Let me take some of that control off of you. Let me take care of you."

Her response could only be relayed as a shiver throughout her limbs. Though she had no words to articulate it, he did have control over her. Complete and total abandonment of any shred she had left that her body belonged to her.

His tongue continued to work along with his fingers, torturing her as she felt herself on the outskirts of an impending orgasm. The feeling of him lapping at her pussy only blinded her to more of the sensations around her, focusing solely on every move he made.

And then he stopped and so did the world's rotation. She cried out in protest, unable to form the words that would express just how agitated she felt from the lack of him. From behind her, she could hear him ripping off the button-up shirt he wore and the rattling of his belt buckle falling apart. She felt him as he reached up and gripped her underneath her jaw.

If she were thinking straight, she wouldn't be praying that the strength of his hand wrapped around her throat would bruise. That his fingerprints would be imprinted onto her skin as a representation from the moment he owned her. But she wasn't thinking straight, she was consumed by only thoughts of him and how he knew every maneuver to completely take her over.

Her back arched, her stomach rising off the bed as he used his grip on her to tether them together. Her vision was dying out from the thrill and the lights of the skyline through the floor to ceiling window went out with a twinkle. She could feel him gripping his cock, readying himself towards her entrance. "Do it. Fuck me." she rasped out. "Fuck me, daddy."

Despite her efforts to control her cries, the word slipped from her lips as easily as the breeze. With that, she suddenly understood exactly how the darkness co-existed with the ice in his eyes, because every barrier separating the two had finally snapped. She could see it in the reflection in front of them; he had become something else.

That was his undoing. He filled her, inch by inch with little time to adjust. Every ounce of air that remained in her lungs released as she gave in to his hold on her. She focused on every ridge and contour of him as he slid into her, and just how perfectly he fit. The perfect stretch, the perfect moulding. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

All of her weight relied upon his hold on her. The hand that had guided himself into her core had come to her hip, digging into her skin as he slowly pulled out just to thrust back in with the perfect force. He leaned in closer towards her, guiding her upwards with his hand still beneath her jawbone. "Say it again." he grit the words lower than she could've ever wondered that his voice could fall.

In between a desperate cry brought out from another thrust, she whimpered the name. "Fuck, daddy. Please." she felt a wetness drip down from her eyes and it hit her that the pure perfection of his body melding with hers was like an impossible itch being scratched. He was everything she had ever been looking for.

He let go of a guttural moan into her ear, his hips snapping to meet hers. "Look at yourself." he nodded his head towards the reflection in the window. With what little willpower and control she had left, she managed to open her eyes to see him as he towered over her. She could see the sweat glistening on his chest and shoulders. She could see the whiteness in his knuckles as he held onto her hip.

The senses she had lost were flooding back to her, overwhelming her in every possible aspect. Her legs continued to shake as she panted for air, watching him lean down and run his tongue against her jaw. The hunger in his eyes was visible even from the window, a vibrancy she had never seen him wear before. Somewhere, lost in the haze of her arousal, she prided herself in being the one who brought that out in him.

"See what good can come when you relinquish just some of that control? When you let just a little bit of that worry melt away?" he chuckled darkly in her ear, the force of his cock thrusting into her pushing her further down into the bed.

"Fuck," she whimpered, feeling his length plunging into her sweet spot. "I ca— I can't." she breathed out. "Fuck, I'm close."

"Do not cum yet." he ordered, his mouth contorting into a grin. His movements were swift as he pulled out of her, quickly flipping her over so she was lying flat on her back. She was splayed out in front of him, squirming from the loss of him inside of her. He took a moment to appreciate the view with an animalistic stare before giving back into her. His hands made quick work of the black lace bra that still clung to her chest. "We're not done."

This time, he relished in the sight of her as he pushed his cock back into her. Her jaw dropped, her eyes straining against closing as he filled her core. Her legs wrapped around his back, anchoring him against her as he started to fuck into her again.

His head dropped down to her chest, forcefully grabbing one of her breasts. His tongue ran against her nipple, sucking on the protruding bud. She let out a sob as he circled his tongue around the sensitive skin. There are no consequences with him. Not now. There are no repercussions for losing her self control. At least, she hopes that somehow his persuasion will also come with protection.

Now is not the time to worry about the fallout.

Her hands cupped his cheeks, bringing him up and away from her chest. She stared into his eyes as he bucked into her dripping wetness. Something inside of her was reawakening the control she had given up, she wanted to stay lost in the eyes that tormented her.

She pulled his face down towards hers, enveloping him into a full-fledged kiss. His tongue dragged along her lower lip before taking it between his teeth. Her whimper vibrated against the skin where he bit down, only adding the electric buzz of the atmosphere surrounding them.

His movements were quick and skilled, rapidly pulling her hands away from his cheeks and pinning them above her. His grip held both of her wrists with one hand. "Ah ah, I see you fighting for that control to come back. Let it go, Liv." he whispered. "I'll take care of you, I promise. Trust me."

His words reverberated in her ears. She trusted him. She had no fucking reason to, nothing to truly back up his word. She barely knew him, but the trust was there. It was in those goddamn eyes that left blisters on her skin.

She was submitting to him, finally allowing the walls around her to wash away.

He craned his neck, finding her pulse point with the guidance of his lips. Her body continued to move against him, occasionally falling out of rhythm just to find its perfection again. He licked and kissed at the skin of her neck, carefully dragging up towards the back of her ear. He was everywhere on her, no escaping his perfect capture over her entire body.

"Fuck, don't stop," she panted, her breath speeding up as he made his mark throughout her skin. The fervent thrusts of his cock were speeding up against the perfect places, quickly dissolving her ability to hold back. The legs wrapped around his back were growing tighter against him, her body's natural instincts kicking in as she forced him closer to her.

The feeling of her becoming undone was his kryptonite. He knew that she could only teeter on the edge for so long before she would inevitably come crashing down. But it was the edge that had him hooked. "Say it. Say it and I'll let you cum." he growled in her ear.

"Fuck." she cried out. "Daddy, please." as soon as she felt his hands release their grip on her wrists, her arms wrapped around him with a magnetic force. Her nails dug deep into his skin, leaving a red track in their path as the control over her body only fell further away from her.

His hand quickly came down to her clit, the motions of his fingers working in tandem with the striking of his hips. "Good girl. Cum, Olivia. Let go." he whispered, groaning as he felt her clenching around him. As soon as the words fell from his lips, she was sunk. Her back arched off the bed once again, her head thrown against the duvet as the uninhibited cries filled the room.

She shivered and shook beneath him, causing him to unravel just as quickly as she did. With one last thrust, he buried himself as deep as he could go, his own orgasm taking hold of him with deadly force. His head fell forward into the crook of her neck as they rode the wave of their release.

As soon as her heartbeat stopped pounding in her eardrums, she eased up on the grip of her nails into his flesh. Their breathing fell in sync with each other, both of them treading in the waters of a frozen moment. He raised his head to look down at her, seeing her widened brown eyes peering back at him.

They stared at each other in shock and silence before a grin broke out across her lips. She giggled as she saw his face soften. His forehead was sheen with perspiration, his lips just as swollen as hers. She lifted her hand to his cheek, thumbing over the flush of his skin. And suddenly, it didn't hurt to look into his eyes anymore.

Instead, she saw a piece of herself woven into the intricate details of his irises now. 


Chapter Text


His button-up shirt billowed over her body as the wind grazed her skin. She leaned against the glass balcony that overlooked the city, watching as the lights of buildings blinked in the darkness of the night. Her eyes closed, allowing the sounds that swept over the streets to hum in her ears along with the breeze.

Back in his bedroom, Elliot's clock ticked on from 3:42 and forward, but she wasn't in any rush. Instead, she let the previous night's events play through her mind. Each moment savored as the wind touched her in the same places that his hands had been not too long before.

Standing on the terrace of the Stabler Enterprise building's penthouse felt better than being at the top of the Empire State building. It felt undeserving and unearned, but thrilling. In that building, in that bed, she had fucked one of the most powerful men in the country.

Despite her worst fears, she had, in some sense, fucked her way to the top.

But it no longer loitered her worst fears; it was pure power at the tips of her fingers. Power that she had no intention of abusing, but power felt like heaven against her skin.

"Mmm, come back to bed." he whispered hoarsely in her ear, coming up from behind her. His naked body pressed into hers as he wrapped his arms around her waist. Her hands gripped his forearms and she chuckled as her head fell backwards into him.

"I couldn't sleep." she murmured back, feeling herself becoming consumed with him once again. He swayed against her, lightly pecking at the red spots on her neck that his mouth had previously left.

"Who said anything about sleep?"

She chuckled again, already suspecting by the exhaustion in his voice that he was full of empty recommendations. He gently tugged her away from the edge, leading her back into the open glass double doors into his bedroom.

She crawled into his bed with him following in suit, curling into him as they became reacquainted with the silk sheets. Her head rested against his shoulder as he laid flat on his back. His fingertips lazily ran up and down her spine while she traced circles on his chest. "Never took you as a cuddler, Stabler." she giggled.

His head turned to the side and from the city lights beaming through the windows, she could see an outline of a soft smile. "Why don't you ever call me Elliot?" he asked, pushing a strand of hair out of her face.

"I don't know." she whispered back, shaking her head "I guess it seemed too personal?" her eyes fell to his lips as he continued to brush his hand through her hair.

He leaned his head in closer to her, his voice dropping to near silence. "Say my name." he gently coaxed. His forehead rested against hers, staring deeply and unrelentingly into her eyes. "Go on, say it."

She hesitated, searching in the mystery of his eyes for something, anything that would hint at what he wanted. Was it a power play? Was he just turned on by her voice?

"Elliot," she breathed, staring at him through her long lashes. She threw her leg over his waist, cupping his cheek as she drew his lips down onto hers. "Elliot," she repeated, speaking into his open mouth.

She felt his hand move away from her face and dip under the covers, swiftly finding her already soaked entrance. He smirked as he ran his fingers through her arousal. "So that's why you don't say my name, huh?"

"Shut up," she groaned, her hips grinding down as he teased her with his fingers. She hated how much she loved this, how embarrassingly wet she already was and how he knew exactly how to tear her down. Her toes started to cramp from how tightly she curled them, her knee gripping into his hip as she fought for more friction.

"Say it again." he flicked her clit, earning a loud yelp before returning to his previous teasing. "Say it again and I'll give you what you want. Keep saying it and I'll keep giving it to you." he nipped at her bottom lip, pulling another soft moan from her chest.

She wanted to sob from how good he made her feel by barely touching her. "El— Elliot," she forced the words out as his fingers finally pushed past her folds and dipped into her throbbing center. "Please,"

"I like how my name sounds in your voice," he said, his tone gravelly with arousal as she continued to writhe under his touch. His thumb found her clit as his middle finger thrusted into her. "God, you're stunning."

She whimpered and panted something in the resemblance of his name as he added a second finger, his thumb still swirling against her clit. Her arm hooked around his neck, her head falling against his chest as she quickly felt the world fading away. "Elliot, don't stop."

"Every time you say it, you get wetter." he chuckled. She shuttered against him, murmuring his name into his skin as she forced herself harder against his fingers. "And wetter, and wetter," he drawled on, watching her become more and more riled up with tension.

"Fuck you," she grumbled with what little force the power-hungry version of herself still had. He laughed in her ear, pulling his fingers out before thrusting them in harder. She cried out without restraint, gripping at whatever parts of him she could. "Jesus Christ."

"That's not my name, you've got the wrong guy." he teased, his fingers speeding faster as her wetness dripped down onto the sheets. He curled the digits inside of her, watching as her lip trembled while she fought off her impending orgasm. "You're so close, keep going."

She sobbed and shivered as the burning of his fingers nearly brought tears to her eyes. "Elliot," she pleaded frantically. "Elliot, please. Please, please." She wasn't even sure what she was begging for at this point. Mercy, maybe? She knew she was within a moment's distance from finishing, but the incredible stretch of a third finger was something she never wanted to end.

She hates how calm and collected he is and just how terribly it contrasts with the fact that she's never begged within an inch of her life to be fucked. She hates how he's right, that the sound of his name is enough to move mountains. She hates that he poses this much control. But that was the price to pay for the feeling of euphoria; of knowing that nobody else could ever make her unravel quite like this.

"Good girl," he murmured through another loud and guttural cry from her shaking body. "You're right there, Liv. Say it, say my name. You know how it will make you feel."

He's arrogant and cocky. He's the devil and they both know it. Except all she knows right now is his name on her lips as she lets the cries and moans come without restriction. "I'm gon— Elliot," she struggled, feeling the immaculate heat rise from her core as his fingers thrust deeper. "I'm gonna cum. Elliot!"

His fingers curled one last time and the light behind her eyelids was blinding. His own groan from watching her was lost in the sound of his name on repeat. Her body stiffened, her grip on him undoubtedly leaving bruises. He marveled as he watched her, a completely different side of her that nobody knew except for him.

Her body relaxed with an exhale, her eyes remaining closed as she came back down to earth. "You..." she fought to catch her breath. "You are such an ass." she gave a half-hearted laugh with the small amount of energy she still had left.

"Yeah," he grinned, slowly pulling his fingers out of her. "But I don't think you hate me for it." he pulled her closer, pressing a kiss to her sweaty temple. From what he could see in the dark, her cheeks were red and flushed, her bottom lip swollen from the assault of her teeth.

"Just give me a second." she nuzzled deeper into him, reaching for his hardened cock from under the blankets. "I need a minute to catch my breath,"

He reached under and found her hand, gently extracting it. "It's okay, don't worry about me. You need to rest." he intertwined his fingers with her, grazing his lips against her knuckles in a tired kiss.

"That's not fair to you," she protested, already falling asleep from the exhaustion and force of her orgasm. "Are you sure." she mumbled, her eyes closing involuntarily as she rested her head against his warm skin.

"More than sure." he pulled her closer, wrapping her up in his arms as her head rested on his chest. "I'll take a raincheck."

The light sounds of opera music drifted through the Stabler penthouse as Olivia moved about the kitchen. Elliot's shirt still hung loosely over her body, covering her from whatever view could be seen from the windows that overlooked the city.

She was in Elliot Stabler's home. The thought of that should terrify her, it should be chilling her to the bone, even though it didn't. She should be high-tailing it out the back door before the world resumes spinning and life starts up again.

But his shirt is comfortable and she's hungry.

Her third guess was correct when it came to finding wherever the plates and silverware were stashed in the kitchen, and the clinking of the utensils became louder than the music.

"Someone is happy," his voice echoed as he came down the staircase and into the kitchen. He smiled at her, a sappy grin that she wasn't familiar with when it came to their work life. It was something blissful, something that suited the fact that the burn in his eyes was no longer smoldering.

From the quick glance, she can see the marks and bruises on his skin right along the neckline of his grey shirt. She hadn't taken a proper look at the new indentations he's left on her own body, the thrill of seeing her evidence on him is more than enough. His arm raised to stretch over his head, revealing the scratch marks that coated the curve of his hips.

"Correction, someone is hungry, and that someone is me." she chuckled. For a moment, she wondered if he'd caught her gaze falling on the dark green sweatpants he wore and the impressive shadows they casted. "Did you know that if you simply ask Skylar to do something, he does it. No questions asked?" she marveled, pointing at the greasy McDonalds bag on the counter. "I thought I was your assistant, I guess maybe he's just your bitch."

He pulled up a barstool, laughing at her as she emptied the bag of food onto the plate. "He's not my bitch, Olivia. He's security. He also happens to like the bonuses that come with helping me out around here, but he's for personal life only. I gotta keep work and personal life separate somehow."

She snorted through her nose with an incredulous expression, rolling her eyes at him. "Yeah, that's working out great." she said, unwrapping the egg mcmuffin out of the yellow paper and placing it on the plate in front of her.

"Well, I guess I can make an exception since you got us breakfast."

"Nope. I got me breakfast." she smirked, taking a bite from the muffin. His hand quickly reached across the table, swiping one of the hashbrowns from the plate. Her jaw dropped as he bit into it, quietly laughing at her. "I was kidding! I got you breakfast too." he reached for the other bag on the counter behind her. "Now gimme that back."

He chuckled as he handed the food back to her, standing up from his seat to come around the corner of the island. His arms wrapped around her hips, his head resting on her shoulder as she removed the rest of the food from the bag. "This is a sight that I could get used to."

"What, a woman in your kitchen?" she smirked, huffing under her breath.

"No." he said with a smile that wasn't in her line of vision. She could feel it though, the way his jaw moved against the crook of her neck. "Just you. It's been a while since I've had a morning like this. Something calm and quiet, just us."

"Speaking of which," she turned on her heel, pressing almost skin to skin against his chest. She felt his arms tighten around her waist, her vision averting somewhere other than directly into his. "We need to talk about this. About us." more specifically, what 'us' actually was. It was a blurred line for the both of them. The date where they had been meant to talk about what this relationship would actually consist of hadn't been much of the sorts.

"So, let's talk." he could feel the apprehension melting off of her in waves. Whether it was a spike in her pulse or simply the atmosphere around them, he wasn't sure; all he knew was that he could feel it. Her body was tensing, some sort of invisible shield erecting in an effort to protect herself.

For a split second, her breath was caught in her chest. Her mouth opened, and the words were forcefully pushed out. "I— I'm not ready to dive into something big." she placed her hands on his chest, staring up at him with sad and widened eyes. "But... I don't want this to end." Her finger traced over his shirt, dragging along the outline of where his peck divided into his sternum.

He saw this coming, and somehow, he'd still allowed himself to feel even just an iota of disappointment. Well, maybe not so much 'allowed' but rather was left unable to fight off. It was low and distant, not quite ready to touch the surface of what he felt in the forefront of his mind. Though, it existed. Disappointment. "I understand," he swallowed, taking his pride along with it.

"Look," she gulped, closing her eyes. "Right now, I have to choose my job over everything. It's just the decision I made when I finally decided what I wanted to do with my life. I have had to climb up from the pits of rock-bottom to get what I have now, I don't wanna lose that. But I don't wanna lose you either." she stopped, pausing to think.

"But just tell him the truth, just a little. See how it feels." she remembered the look on Monique's face as she had said it. History and pain, all wrapped up into two small sentences. The one person on Earth who understood her better than she understood herself had essentially promised her that telling the truth would be okay. She'd said it in their own language, the language of shared trauma and memories. She wouldn't have made a promise like that unless she was certain.

"Elliot — there's a lot you don't know about me. Things that I'm not exactly proud of or even ready to talk about, but I promise that those things make my decisions valid."

"Liv, you don't have to explain yourself to me," he interrupted, and she witnessed the rare moment of when the ice blue eyes weren't so icy. Something warm and something comforting, an unexpected safety guard. It wasn't often that a wordless warmth could give her enough comfort to surrender to it.

"You can tell me that we can do this whole thing behind closed doors or you can tell me to fuck off right now, either way I'm fine with that. I'd be asking too much if I asked otherwise." she whispered, sinking into the arm that he rested on her back.

"We'll move at your pace." he replied, his voice dropping just as low and quiet as her own. "Whatever you want, however you want it, we'll make it work. I don't want to lose this either..." he trailed off, his other hand rising to stroke the high point of her cheek. "You do things to me, Olivia." His thumbprint gently stamped onto her cheek, just another reminder on her skin that he exists in her presence. "You said it last night, to chase that feeling if you've never felt it before. I wanna chase that feeling with you."

She fought back the tears that threatened to well up in her eyes. God, she wasn't even sure why she was on the verge of crying. Maybe from the fact that nobody had ever really spoken to her in a way that truly made her believe that they'd still be around tomorrow. That had always been the stem of her problems. People and their presences were never interminable. They always left in the end — so leaving first was always her first plan of attack.

"But first," he smiled wide. "I wanna show you something downstairs in the office."

"I— I don't have any clothes." she chuckled, looking down at her ensemble that consisted only of her bra from the previous night and his white button up.

"I have a hoodie and some sweatpants you can wear. I'll be back,"

She watched as he jogged off to some other part of the ridiculously large penthouse. Once she was re-acquainted with the silence, she allowed herself to slow the rapid beating of her heart. Her fight or flight response had kicked in right from under her nose. She gripped the countertop, trying to steady the feeling of waves beneath her feet.

There was no yelling. There were no threats of losing her job. There were no accusations of gold-digging or taking advantage. Nothing. Just... safety.

The elevator doors opened, revealing one of the floors closest to the ground level. She hadn't visited this part of the building often, it was mainly reserved for the heavy duty work as well as storage. The walls were less polished than the rest of the elegant building. It was more industrial than anything, cement walls and cement floors with high ceilings and visible rafters.

"Did you take me down here to kill me?" she deadpanned sarcastically. He just laughed, motioning for her to follow.

The lights flicked on, allowing them to see the rest of the open space which felt more like an entire floor of the building itself. She vaguely remembered delivering coffee down here on one of her earlier days at SE. A photoshoot set had been built for the promotionals of a new product. That day, Elliot had chosen to oversee the project himself. She had looked around in amazement, seeing the versatility of the space and that day, her mind had wandered. She had wondered how many times the environment had been transformed to host life for a new product.

He stopped walking when he'd reached the center of the floor. Three easels were set up, each one holding a white sheet over whatever canvas was underneath.

She looked at him with confusion, her eyes darting back and forth between him and the mystery canvases.

"After hearing your pitch, I asked a few of my guys in the design department to stay back and create a few mockup poster ideas for the app."

Her heart stopped dead in her chest, her eyes blowing wide. "No way," she muttered, her jaw falling and staying open as he pulled off the sheets from the canvases.

Each one was some sort of red design, various logos and stock photos as a placeholder for whatever tailor-made design would come in the future. On each of them were two words that just about set her on fire.

'Red Light.'

"Yeah. I mean, it's just a rough copy of some ideas they had but I figured you'd wanna see it." he shrugged nonchalantly, watching her as she came up to inspect each poster with amazement.

"Elliot.. what is this?" she spun around to face him, frantically searching his face for answers.

"This is your design suite." he stated simply.

"Excuse me,"

"I mean, it will be." he frowned, looking up and around at the ceilings. "It's pretty sparse right now as you can see but you're free to do whatever you need to do down here. Make it your own, leave it the same. It's up to you. Whatever you need or want to do with the place is up to you."

"You... you want me to moonlight this project?" she sputtered in disbelief, feeling the urge to pinch herself just in case she was diving headfirst into a disappointing wakeup call that this was all just a pipe dream.

"Yes." he nodded, folding his hands behind his back. God, he always did that when he felt macho. She had a love-hate relationship with that stance. She hated it because it was the height of his arrogance and loved it because it made her melt.

She wanted to be happy, she wanted to jump up and down until the building collapsed. But, as always, guilt set in. The feeling of inadequacy and a voice in her head telling her she was unmeritorious. "Elliot... I can't do that. I'd be stepping on God knows how many people's toes if I did that. I'm not a designer, I'm not a board member. I'm your assistant."

"Yes, but this was your idea." he smiled, stepping closer to her. "Look around, Liv. This, this is you. You walked into a boardroom full of seasoned conceptualists and pitched a better idea than any of them have in the last fifteen years. You're talented, you're smart, and you're not gonna be an assistant forever."

"Yeah but... you can't possibly think I'm ready for this."

"You were ready on the spot in the boardroom. Hell, you didn't even flinch. You had your numbers crushed and your resources lined up. Believe me or don't believe me but I'm telling you right now, nobody has ever walked into this building with that sort of talent. I meant it when I said I liked your pitch, it's only fair that you get to see it through."

She sensed the ferocity in his voice. Raw and unabated passion for both his line of work and for her. He... well, he believed in her.

"Aren't people going to be a little suspicious when they realize that the CEO's assistant is running the project?" her head lolled to the side with disappointment. "They'll never take me seriously."

They already don't. She wanted to dump that goddamn mug of steaming coffee right down Ed Tucker's pants. He'd stared at her like she was just part of the furniture. They all did. As much as she wanted to rise to prove them wrong, to show off just how damn good she was, the voice of anxiety in her head said otherwise.

"Which is why we're gonna call it an apprenticeship." he took her hands into his own. "It won't really be that, I mean, all of the control will be in your hands but the label should at least kill some of the questions."

"Elliot... I don't know. They'll never listen to me." she winced, biting at her bottom lip.

He leaned in, a despicable grin on his face. "You'll just have to put the fear of God into them, Olivia. Just like you did in that boardroom. And if they don't like an order, you tell them that it came from the CEO himself."

"Yeah, but this isn't really your scene." she rolled her eyes, trying not to think about just how many times she's watched him command without really giving any command. "You're usually signing the paperwork, they're gonna assume you don't know anything about the project."

"That's also gonna change." the smile grew bigger, yet became just a bit more shy. The sparkle in his eye was becoming brighter and her vision was instantly drawn to it. "You uh... you inspired me, to say the least. I'd like to work on this project with you. It's been a while since I've gotten my hands dirty, and I wanna see how you do."

Finally, her own smile broke through. The apprehension was shifting and was instead replaced with the small amount of excitement she was allowing herself to feel. "I don't even know what to say."

"Look, it's your first gig. I know you're working towards CFO, but I'd really like to see you try this out. If you really don't wanna do it, just say the word and I'll get my other guys on it. But... you've got something here that nobody else does. You have a drive like no other. I knew it the minute you walked in."

Her head tilted, eyes softening as she smiled at him.

"You wanna go places in the world, I get it, I've been in your shoes. It takes a force to be reckoned with to get where you wanna go. So, this is your force. It'll take a lot of free time and it won't be easy, but at the very least, I believe in you." his hand traced her cheek, swiping behind her ear as he cradled her head in his palm.

She forced herself not to cry. There was no crying, not here and not now. Though, it was the look in his eye, the undying honesty that she had only ever seen a handful of times in her life.

'I believe in you.' Powerful words that many took for granted when they heard them. "Elliot,"

"I get it, you're scared." he cut her off, knowing exactly where her train of thought was heading. "But whenever you're scared, just come down here and look around because this isn't going away. Okay? No matter what happens, between us or your job or whatever, this is yours."

He wanted to be different. Different than anyone who had ever crossed her path. This was his promise that lying in his arms at night wasn't going to destroy everything she had worked tirelessly to build for herself. He needed to be different than the people who had hurt her, the people who made her believe that the sight in front of her wasn't something she deserved.

'This is yours,'

The words reverberated in her mind as she stared at him. With one swift movement, she was on her toes, pulling him down with a crash against her lips.

And despite whether or not she knew it or even believed it, she was his. 

Chapter Text


When the rain falls on Monday, she doesn't feel herself brought down. She doesn't cry from the water stains that will surely destroy her shoes or the fact that the water has left her hair somewhat disheveled. No, she doesn't find herself in a mood to care. Her mind was already preoccupied, too busy to worry about the unavoidable weather.

The clouds in the sky were nothing compared to the hurricane in her mind.

She shouldn't be excited. Excited feels too cliché and her life had become far too cliché in the past several days. She was sleeping with the millionaire bachelor boss who offered her a job opportunity not because of the sex but rather as a spotlight on her skills and very possibly as a romantic gesture. Her life had become the basis of every crappy romance novel sold in the discount section of the grocery store.

All she truly wants is for the most uneventful of days. One wrong move and her cover will be blown, everyone will be able to smell it on her. The secrets, the sex, the fact that her professional life is hanging by a thread all for a risk barely worth taking. She feels transparent now, as if everyone can see directly through the walls she has erected around herself.

If the day is quiet and she isn't forced to be in everyone's line of vision, she could get away with this. But, it's monday, and most of her wishes don't come true anyway.

She smoothes her hands down the front of her dress as she walks into the building, flicking the stray droplets of rain off of the fabric.. The two tall blondes that work in the lobby barely smile as she waves to them, but they never really do. Celine and Jaqueline, she thinks? She's never really caught their names.

By the time she reaches her designated floor, it becomes clear that her Monday wasn't meant to be quiet and reserved. As soon as her heels click against the marble floors, she's hit with the wave of chaos. She spots Casey amongst the sea of frantic people, quickly grabbing her by the arm and pulling her aside. "What in God's name happened?"

"All hands on deck. Tucker is proposing a vote on the board to pull the fundings from our electronics department. He wants it shut down entirely, Stabler wants all of us branching out our resources to see who we can fall back on just in case." Casey's reply came just as frantic as the room's atmosphere.

Olivia's breathing came to a halt as the words washed over her. An electrifying fear rising through her spine, wondering if her cover had already been blown. "Uh — okay. Let me talk to El— Stabler. The office can't stay this way the entire day or it'll be burnt to pieces by the time we clock out."

Before Casey could get another word in, or realize she had sputtered on the name, Olivia was charging towards the glass doors of Elliot's office. A calmness fell over her as the door shut behind her, blocking out the noises from the central office. Though, it didn't last long given that Elliot's atmosphere was charged with an intense worry and anger. "El, it's me." she called out, watching him as he stared out the window. She saw his furrowed brows in the reflection of the windows, and the tightness in his shoulders was visible for miles.

"That fucking dick." he muttered simply, refusing to turn around.

"What the hell happened?" she asked with desperation, taking another step towards him. If it weren't for the glass, she'd stand at his side and hold his arm. Instead, she settled for standing six feet away.

He finally turned on the heel of his shoes. He was holding his words back, she could see it from the refusal of eye contact. For the first time, she saw neither fire or ice within his eyes. She saw an unfamiliar darkness. The usual pristinely clear irises were nearing the shade of onyx, and worry filled her further.

His mouth opened and closed a few times, never giving more than a breath in response.

"Talk to me!" she pleaded.

"He's retaliating." he stated simply, finally making sympathetic eye contact with her. "He's mad that you showed him up in the boardroom. He's mad that myself and the rest of the board agreed on the app. So, this is his way of fighting back."

"He can't do that!"

"He can try." he said, taking a step closer. "He's the CFO, he's in control of the money. His way of showing off his power and frustration is by trying to tank the entire department. Your app goes down with it. It won't be that hard to convince the other board members to vote on his behalf."

"Then... pull the app idea," she whispered, trying not to let the sinking feeling of defeat break through. Her shoulders shrunk as she realized this was her fault. She went out of line, not bothering to think of the repercussions it would have on the entire business. If backing out was the only way to save the branch of the business, it was a no-brainer.

"I can't do that." he replied, acting as if it were the most far-fetched idea. "First of all, I don't want him to think he can bully me in my own damn business. Secondly, your app idea is groundbreaking. I'm not gonna let that little fucking weasel take that away." he stepped forward again, and she watched as those onyx eyes slowly became translucent again. The fury was fueling him. "I own this place. I run this show. I built this from the ground up."

She took a deep breath, a smirk growing on her face. "I have an idea. When is the board meeting for the vote?"

He glanced at his watch, "3:50, why? What's the plan?" his eyes narrowed, taking in every inch of her as he looked over her from head to toe. If the stress wasn't turning him nearly blind, he would've realized it was the dress that always made him drool.

She stepped closer to him, "I need to borrow Skylar and Casey, I'll be back by 2:30." her smirk grew into a full smile. "And I'm gonna need your credit card."

He stood still for a moment, watching her with confusion and excitement. The assertive side of her would always excite him more than the side of her that fell to her knees for him. Slowly yet surely, he reached into his back pocket and cautiously handed her the leather wallet. "Don't do anything too bad."

"A little incentive never hurt anybody," she grinned, swiping the wallet from his hands. "Keep your phone on. You may need to approve a few small purchases for me." she announced as she turned on her heel and headed for the door. He stood, frozen and slack-jawed as she sauntered away.

"Casey," she called out, instantly pulling her attention. "Come with me, we're going for a little ride."

There were perks to having her ear pressed to the ground constantly. Half of the time she wondered if it was worth storing all of the intimate details in her head, questioning if it would ever pay off. She knew things about the board members that other people simply didn't bother to learn.

In front of her was the list of all 16 board members, including Elliot and Tucker. With Elliot's vote already against Tucker, she only needed 8 more members to win the majority. Trying to persuade the 14 other members was a waste of time and money. Instead, she'd pluck the weakest ones out of the group and make sure they knew exactly what they were voting for.

There wasn't a doubt in her mind that Tucker had already reached those same 14 people, so she simply had to beat him at his own game. "Where to first, ladies?" Skylar asked, eyeing them from the rearview mirror.

"Manhattan Motorcars on 11th, please," she turned to Casey, a smile blooming on her face. "First on the list, Don Cragen. He's always been a good guy compared to some of them and he's as clean as can be, so today he's gonna get a little reward for all of that kindness."

"God, some of these pricks on the list don't even deserve to have a seat at the table. I'm pretty sure I've caught half of them staring at my ass on multiple occasions." Casey grumbled, leaning back into her seat.

"Which is exactly why some of them aren't gonna get the pleasure of meeting my nice side today." Olivia zeroed in on the list, scribbling notes in the margin of the paper. "Tucker is busy buying them off, but it'll never be enough. We have the upperhand here, Case. We know things that they'd rather keep secret. I'm gonna take a shot in the dark here and just assume that our silence is worth whatever price they're willing to pay. Only, they won't be paying. Free silence? That's a damn deal they're not gonna wanna pass up."

"And Stabler signed off on this?" Casey chuckled.

Olivia felt her cheeks beginning to warm up. Casey was clearly oblivious in the best way possible. She desperately wanted to tell her that she didn't need Elliot's approval. In fact, Elliot was the one whose jaw would drop with pride by the end of the day. "I fix things, Casey. It's what I'm good at. So, I'm gonna fix this."

When they finally reached the dealership, Skylar quickly helped each of them out from the vehicle. Casey stared around the lot in amazement, while Olivia was more focused on keeping her eyes on the prize. "Casey, we don't have all day, c'mon."

Olivia charged through the front entrance of the dealership office, finding one of the first sales managers on the office floor. "How much for the white 718 Spyder model you've got out on the front lot?" she asked, directly cutting to the chase.

"Uh," the manager chuckled awkwardly, walking closer to the two of them. "I'm sorry ma'am, it's a little bit more complicated than that."

"Oh, really?" Olivia laughed, squinting to catch the name tag on the man's jacket. "I'm sure it is, Mike. But you see, I'm in a bit of a hurry today. You know, lunch rush, budget cuts, my dog ate my homework, whatever excuse works. I know that procuring one of those vehicles is a bit of a stretch, but I'm almost certain that if you and I work really hard, I can have the keys in my hand in fifteen minutes. Look, I know I'm a woman and all, you probably think that there's no way in hell I could afford one of those, right? Wrong. So, I'll ask again. The 718 Spyder model."

"I don't think—"

"The price, Mike." she raised her voice, interrupting him with a smile before he could get another word in.

The man gulped, switching his weight from one foot to the other. "That model in particular is going for $97,300."

Olivia laughed and clapped her hands together. "Perfect! I'll take it."

"Ma'am, if you could just come back to my office so we could discuss the options we have here. It's a very expensive vehicle and I can't just let anyone walk off the lot with it."

"You're exactly right, Mike." she stepped closer to the man. "You can't let someone walk off with it. That's why I'm going to drive off with it instead. You said around 97 right? Well, how does cash sound? Paid in full, right here, right now? Even better, I'll round that right up to a solid 100, and that's $2700 left over just for you. Maybe you can buy the wife something pretty with it?"

Mike stood as still as stone, completely at a loss for words. Slowly, he nodded. "Paid in full sounds great." he whispered.

"Wonderful." she reached into her purse, pulling out Elliot's wallet. "Here's the card, and here's the number you'll need to call to authorize that purchase. Tell him that Olivia sent you, how does that sound?"

Mike nodded nervously, practically running back to his office. Olivia smirked as her arms folded over her chest. Casey stood as still as stone, watching her with her jaw completely fallen. "How did you do that?" she whispered.

"Everybody wants something." she grinned.

The keys landed in her palm fairly quickly after that, and somewhere deep inside of her, she wished that Elliot had been there to see it happen. Though, she could settle with knowing he'd see it all come to fruition later. Maybe having him see the bigger picture when it all came together would be just as exhilarating.

"Alright, tell Skylar to take you towards 5th avenue. I'll be behind you, I'll call you in a few minutes and update you on which way to go, I just gotta call Stabler first," Olivia ordered as they marched through the lot. Casey quickly loaded into the SUV, Skylar driving them off as Olivia slid into the driver's seat of the Spyder.

She chuckled under her breath as her palms ghosted over the leather steering wheel. She dug her phone out of her purse, quickly dialing Elliot's number as the engine roared to life.

The line finally clicked and she couldn't hold back the smirk on her face. He was silent for a moment, but his breathing was just loud enough to hear. "So, out there spending my money?"

She could hear the smile on his face when he said it. "It's for a good cause, don't worry." she quipped back, continuing to inspect the dashboard of the vehicle. "Though, it isn't my plan to pay all of these bastards off. Some of them might just get what's coming to them."

"Oh, really?" he asked, his pitch rising as he grew more intrigued. He walked over to the window that overlooked the city, pushing the drapes away as if he would somehow be able to spot her among the skyline. "Pray tell, what exactly do you have in mind?"

"I'll give you a hint. Keeping your ear pressed to the wall in my line of work comes in awfully handy." she smirked, setting the phone on speaker as she laid it against the console.

"That's vague, but I kinda like it." His grin reflected against the glass, his tall form and stress-ridden body on display for all of New York to see. But if they see that, they see the happiness. They see the pride. "Just don't do anything illegal. I don't wanna have to come bail you out of jail."

She chuckled on the line. "I'll be good, I promise." she purred, knowing full well it would rile him up. Before he had anything to add, she disconnected the line, leaving him to wonder what her day would entail.

The engine roared again as she pulled out of the dealership, veering off into the busy streets. With one hand on the wheel, she used her other hand to dial Casey's number. As soon as the line clicked, her mind was off of Elliot and back to business. "You're near 5th right? Head to West 33rd. I'll meet you there in just a minute."

It wasn't long until the engine of the Porsche died down, parked behind the familiar black SUV that Casey and Skylar were in. She double checked her list again, making sure she was in the right place.

She slid out from the vehicle, clicking the lock on the keys before striding over to the back seat's window where Casey's vague silhouette reflected against the dark tint windows. She knocked her finger on the window, motioning for her to step out. "Follow me, we don't have much time."

Casey smoothed her hands down her dress after closing the door behind her. "Where are we?"

"Cragen's separate office outside of Stabler's building. He's the CTO so obviously he wants the technology and electronics department to remain open. The only problem is, there's an empty seat on the board coming up — a better one. I'm sure that Tucker has already found some way to convince him that the seat will be his." Olivia said, pushing past the glass doors to the main entrance

"So you think he'll forfeit a better position at SE for a car?" Casey asked, eyeing Olivia with worry and suspicion.

"It's a hell of a better bonus than what he'll get with the new seat." she replied, nearing closer to the receptionist outside of the office in goal. "Hi there. I'm Olivia, I'm here on business for Elliot Stabler. Is Mr. Cragen in?" she leaned in closer against the granite desk, flashing her signature smile.

The receptionist instantly sat up straight at the mention of Elliot's name. "Uh, yes. He is. I'll let him know you're here. Can I get you anything, a coffee or water?" she was clearly on the edge of her seat, fearing that one wrong move would result in the end of her career.

But Olivia remained cool and collected. "No, thank you. I just need to speak with him as soon as possible. It's urgent." she grinned, sliding away from where she leaned against the granite.

It wasn't long until the man himself stepped out from behind the door. Olivia and Casey both smiled at him, Olivia stepping forward. "Miss Benson, Miss Novak, it's nice to see you both."

"Oh, please. Call me Olivia." she chuckled, returning the handshake he had stuck out to her. "If you have a moment, there's something we'd like to discuss with you. Is now a good time?" she flashed her signature smile again, charming just about everyone in the room along with instilling the fear of both God and Elliot Stabler into them.

"As good as a time as ever, come on in." he gestured towards the door, holding it open for the both of them. Olivia glanced around the office, admiring the view from the window. It was nothing compared to the view from Elliot's office. "How can I help you ladies?" he asked, seating himself behind the large mahogany desk.

Olivia pulled the keys from her purse, dangling them in the air. "A gesture of good will from the man himself. Mr. Stabler sees how hard you've worked for his company and he wanted to extend his gratitude for your service."

Cragen's mouth dropped. "Is that—?"

"The keys to a brand new 718 Porsche Spyder with your name on it? Yes, sir. It is."

Still struggling to breathe normally, Cragen cocked his head to the side. "Does Mr. Stabler know that bribery is frowned upon in this business?"

Olivia laughed. "Of course he does. That's why this is not a bribe, but rather a gift." she set the keys between the both of them on the desk, staring at him with a sparkle in her eye.

"A gift? That just happens to come on the same day as the board meeting that will vote to potentially burn down his entire technology department?" Cragen asked, his brows raised in suspicion as he carefully eyed the keys.

"What can I say, he's a man of impeccable timing." she crossed her arms, leaning back against the chair. "Now, normally I'd be curious as to why you're hesitant. I mean, if Tucker pushes this vote, you lose your job, correct? Or maybe you won't, maybe Tucker has offered you something under the guise of being bigger and better, right? If anything sounds like bribery to me, it's that."

The man took a deep breath. "What are you getting at?"

"We both know Tucker. You've known him for a very long time. So, I guess what I'm getting at is the fact that you and I both know he is not a man that keeps his word very often. Sure, you'll get the new job title, but how likely is it that you'll get everything else that he's promising you? The things that he's promising you are dreams, Don. Nothing more. What I'm offering you is a chance to keep your job. The big difference here is that I'm showing you your results today. Come on, we both know Marge has told you time and time again that you're not allowed to buy your dream car. So, here it is." she nodded down at the keys. "All you have to do is save your own ass today in that meeting."

He stayed silent, flexing his jaw as he stared down at the keys.

Her tone switched entirely from charming to assertive in mere moments. "Maybe I should add that this deal is time sensitive, and by time sensitive I mean you have 10 seconds to decide before I take the keys without any plan of returning. So, do we have a deal?"

A tense fraction of a second passed before he nodded, swiping the keys from the desk. Olivia smiled, standing up from the chair along with Casey. "Wonderful. Enjoy. It's out front waiting for you. I'll see you in a few hours." she winked, letting herself out from the office.

Hours had passed and names were quickly crossed off of the list. The meeting was barely a few hours away and time was wearing thin. "Alright, next on the list is Muldrew. He was on Tutuola's board before they merged with SE, but he still spends time in that building. So does William Dodds. Those are the only two left on the list." Olivia said, handing one of the sheets over to Casey.

"Says here that his kids go to the Stuyvesant School, are you sure that's enough to flip him?" Casey asked with confusion, flipping the sheet as if there were something she was missing on the page.

"Yeah, there's a little something I left out on his file. It'll be enough. Our main concern here is that after we talk to Muldrew, he's gonna call to warn Dodds that we're on our way. I know a few people who work in this building, and lucky for us, we'll be arriving right on time for Dodds to head downstairs, as he does every day, for his regular coffee run." Olivia frowned as she spoke, carefully placing a bulk of the paperwork back into the manila file.

"Coffee run? Doesn't he have an assistant to do that for him?"

"Normally, yes. In the mornings at least. There's a barista there whose shift starts at two at the Starbucks in the lobby. He goes down there to flirt with her, just not long enough to keep him away while we talk to Muldrew." she grabbed her phone from her purse, dialing a familiar number. "Luckily, I have a friend who works right across the street. She can be there in minutes." The line clicked and Alex's voice greeted her on the other end of the line.

"Hey, wanna make a quick fifty bucks?" she asked, looking over at Casey with a smirk.

The three of them stood in the lobby, huddled together as they went over the plan.

"Alright. Alex, in a few minutes a guy is gonna come down and stand in that Starbucks line. See that blonde girl behind the counter?" she covertly pointed, Alex nodding at her. "He's gonna spend a few minutes desperately trying to get into her pants. I need you to stand in line with him and distract him."

"Is this what best friends do now? Whore out their friends?" Alex laughed.

"You said the other day that I'm good at what I do, I just need the ability to do what I'm best at." Olivia quipped back. "He's usually there and back by 2:08, If you can keep him out of his office until 2:15, that's enough time for me to talk to Muldrew and get to him before Muldrew calls him to warn him that we're here. Can you do that?"

"How do you think I got Monique to finally go on a date with me? I annoyed the hell out of her. I've got this." Alex giggled. "I'll stop him after he's finished eye humping blondie over there and I'll text you when he's on his way back up. What does he look like?"

Casey held out her phone, a photo of Dodds on full display. "You're his type. Just play it slowly, we need as much time as we can get."

"Got it." Alex nodded. "I'll wait here. Good luck."

Casey and Olivia charged off from the lobby, quickly heading in the direction to Muldrew's office. Time was cutting close and they were both expected to be back at 2:30 and she had spent the entire day dealing with people whose experiences were much less appropriate than Cragen's. Sealed lawsuits, ugly divorce details, DUI charges that were paid to be kept quiet.

These two would be different. These felt more dangerous than all the others, real consequences that they never faced. The power of having that knowledge was both incredible and heavy on her shoulders.

By the time she reached Muldrew's office, she was tired of the niceties. No more smiling, no more charm. Her claws were out and she was ready to end this. Not just for Elliot, but for herself. She knew how solid her app idea was, she knew how many women it could save. Like hell was she going down.

As they got closer to his office, Olivia stepped closer to Casey. "I know that the information about the Stuyvesant School isn't much, just follow my lead. Okay? I've got this." Casey nodded as they reached his assistant's desk. "Hi, is he in? I'm gonna go ahead and assume the answer is yes."

"You can't just barge in there!" the assistant called out.

"Elliot Stabler sent me," she answered back, her hand already on the door knob when the assistant sat down, a bolt of fear struck into her at the mere mention of the man's name.

When they walked into the office, Muldrew rose to his feet with confusion. Olivia put her hand up, silencing the words he hadn't even spoken. "Yes, hello, Mr. Muldrew. Sorry for barging in but I'm sorta in a time crunch here so just hear me out. You may remember me as Elliot Stabler's assistant? I was the one in the boardroom the other day if you recall."

"Y-yes. I'm aware of who you are. Why are you here?" he asked, his guard still visibly up from the intrusion.

She leaned against the guest chair adjacent from his desk. "In an hour, you'll be waiting in the Stabler Enterprises boardroom to vote on defunding the electronics department. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and assume that Ed Tucker already bought your vote, correct?"

He sputtered, no real answer coming from the string of expressions.

"So that's a yes." she nodded. "Do me a favor and tell me a little bit about your personal life. Just humor me. How's the family?"

"I'm uh— I'm married and I have two daughters. Why exactly is this relevant to my professional life and the board meeting?" he finally sat back down, the leather chair bouncing back under the weight.

"Two daughters, I've seen them. They're quite beautiful, you should be proud." she smirked. "Or maybe you shouldn't be, y'know, from what I've heard." she leaned forward, planting both hands on the surface of the desk as she came face to face with him. "Word on the street is that your daughters, Callie and Lily, right? They started attending the Stuyvesant School this semester. That's a really great school."

"What are you getting at?" he grumbled.

"Last time I checked the admissions rate for that school was pretty slim. What was it, Casey? 3%?" her head whipped around to the other assistant nodding at her. "And that's with incredible test scores. Now, how much do you wanna bet that I know the exact dollar amount that you paid to cover up their real scores and get them to the top of the admission's board?"

He grit his teeth as he stared at them both, anger burning apart in his eyes. "My girls are incredibly smart. Their scores were official and they aced the tests."

Olivia pursed her lips and nodded. "Hmm. Is that so? Then why do I have the official documents stating that Callie scored a 345 on the SHSat and Lily scored a 410? I'm no mathematician but those numbers seem pretty far off from the 690 and 683 out of 700 that got them admitted into Stuyvesant."

"Whatever documents you think you have are completely false and inaccurate, and I resent —"

Olivia quickly cut him off, sticking her hand up in the air to silence him once again. "Save it. You have two choices. You can simply vote to keep the tech department at SE open, or you can get a nice cozy cell next to Aunt Becky for bribing a school admissions board. Stuyvesant is using a federal grant right now, so you're pretty much swimming with sharks in the world of the law."

Her phone buzzed in her purse and she glanced at the clock. 2:08. Shit. "You have 40 seconds to decide," she said, pulling out the phone.

'It didn't work. He's on his way up. Blondie ducked in the back when he came by and he wouldn't talk to me.'

"36 seconds,"

"Fine." he jumped, his words rushing with a lack of breath. "Fine, I'll throw Tucker's vote."

Olivia grinned, throwing her bag over her shoulder as she and Casey quickly shuffled to the door. "Pleasure doing business with you,"

"You got a text, was it Alex?" Casey asked, catching up with Olivia as they began to run through the hall.

"Yes. Dodds didn't bite, he's on his way up now. We have to hurry." she said, finding the closest door to the staircase. The elevators would take too long, and Dodds was probably already on his way up. Olivia ripped the heels off of her feet before darting up the next two floors. "Hurry!"

"I'm trying!" Casey cried back.

Olivia flicked her wrist to check her watch as Casey finally made it up the last few steps. She slipped her shoes back on, pushing past the double doors, looking as if nothing had happened. "Dodds is in office 302. He's right down the hall. Hopefully we beat the elevator."

"God, no wonder Stabler likes you. You just took your fucking shoes off to run up a flight." Casey huffed, blindly rearranging the fly hairs from her ponytail. Yeah, that's not the only reason he likes me.

Olivia practically cheered when she saw that Dodds' assistant wasn't at the desk. She could hear the ding of the elevator down the hall when she and Casey quickly sneaked into his empty office. 

"Sit! Sit! Make it look like his assistant let us in to wait." she ordered Casey. Just as the both of them slid into the chairs, the doorknob rattled.

In walked Dodds with a cup of coffee in his hand. "Oh," he stepped back, doing a double take as he saw the women sitting across from his desk. "I wasn't aware I had a meeting. How can I help you?" he asked, shutting the door behind him.

"Your assistant let us in. We don't have a meeting, just a quick discussion. She said she forgot to mark us down on your schedule." Olivia replied calmly, her eyes following him as he moved behind his desk.

"Oh, well then what can I do for you ladies?" he asked. Before she could reply, the phone began to ring. Every vein her body went cold at the sound. Casey's head whipped around to face her, panic filling her eyes. "Excuse me, I just need to take this real quick."

"Alice!" Olivia blurted out just before his hand reached the phone.

His head shot up, his jaw squared with the instant look of fury and defense in his eyes. She watched as the panic rose up his chest, his body stiffening with anger and confusion. The atmosphere in the room charged with the sensation of a battle for power. "The woman you're sleeping with behind your wife's back, her name is Alice." Olivia slowly and carefully annunciated every syllable.

He grit down his teeth, the sound of the ringing phone reverberating off of the walls. She could see the breath he was holding back within his lungs, careful not to release it for the entire building may collapse beneath them. "What do you want?"

She looked at him as if they were defusing a bomb. "Pick the phone up and then set it back down on the receiver." she carefully instructed him. With his breath baited, he paused for a moment that seemed to go on for lifetimes before he listened. As soon as the phone clicked back down on the cradle, the room fell completely silent.

"Who are you and what are you doing here?" he asked, his voice low and gravelly.

Olivia's eyes stayed glued onto his, embracing her own version of the burning Stabler irises that she had grown to love and fear. "She's your housekeeper. Your wife nearly fired her a few months ago because she was dating your son Mike and they broke up but you convinced your wife to keep her around. You're sleeping with her."

She needed to control the room, but she could tell that he wasn't ready to fold. Her plan had fallen apart at the sound of Muldrew's call. One wrong vote and SE's entire tech department would vanish; one wrong move.

"You are going to vote today, and you're going to vote to keep Ed Tucker's proposal as far away from Stabler Enterprises as possible." she prayed that it sounded as demanding as it did in her head. "Because if you don't, everyone will know. I will personally tell your son, your wife, and every colleague you'll ever have from now until the day you die that you are nothing more than an adulterer whose fucking his son's ex."

Aside from the ringing in her ears, she could practically hear all three of their hearts beating out of their chests. From the corner of her eye, she could see Casey cowering as she was caught in the crossfire.

Dodds took a deep breath, completely unblinking as he stared Olivia down. She squared her shoulders, glaring at him as if they were nothing but two hungry lions ready to grab the same deer. "You have no proof." he whispered.

Her eyes only gained fire as the words filled her with anger. "Do you wanna take that bet? Because if I were you, I wouldn't underestimate me."

"I'm here, I'm here." she covertly called after Elliot as she saw him charging towards the boardroom. She slowed her pace as soon as she caught up with him, trying not to come off as too suspicious.

"What are the odds here, Liv?" he whispered. "Am I gonna sink or swim because I need to be prepared for what I'm about to step into."

She didn't dare look him in the eyes, fearing her own reservations would become apparent to him. The last thing she wanted was to psych him out before he even had the chance to command the room. "You're gonna do great," she said, mustering up as much confidence into her words as she possibly could.

When he opened the door to the boardroom, she could already feel the tension amongst the silence. Half of them staring at her with dead fury in their eyes. All she needed was to hear at least 9 of them to dissent Tucker's proposal and they would be home free.

She quickly scurried to the back of the room as Elliot started the meeting, rushing to prepare each of them with their usual coffee requests. Despite how much she usually paid attention to these meetings, she tried to tune it out. If she heard even so much as someone's voice trembling, all of her confidence from the day would be shot to hell.

She couldn't let him down. Not as the woman who was sleeping with him, but as the woman who wanted to be seated at that very table some day. She knew the job required a backbone, but she wasn't his assistant right now, she was his protégé.

As she handed each of them their coffee, she tried to ignore the blazing glares that several of them gave her. She had shown them up all in different ways, threatening their personal and professional lives. She couldn't cower now, not if her future depended on it.

Finally, Tucker's voice broke through the chatter she had tried to tune out.

"Let's put it to a vote."

Stabler was the first to vote against the deal. Slowly, different voices added their yes's and no's. Her eyes followed along the seats at the table, carefully watching each person she had spoken to today. She counted in her head, taking each answer down with a mental tally.

Then, their eyes shifted to Dodds. The tie-breaker. Out of the sixteen of them, the vote had completely split, leaving it all up to him.

Every cell in her body wanted to will the one simple word from his mouth into existence.

She turned on her heel, making direct eye contact with the man as everyone awaited the answer he was mulling over. Her heart pounded beneath her ribs, her eyes bleeding a threatening rage into his.

"No," he said, finally breaking the silence.

Olivia let out the breath she had been stuck holding, nearly keeling over with relief. She watched Elliot's shoulders untense as he grinned, shooting a cocky smile in Tucker's direction. "Sorry, Ed. A for effort though," he smirked.

As the meeting came to a close, she followed Elliot out of the room, finally putting Tucker and the entire day's stress behind her. Each of the members filed out of the room, throwing caustic glares in her direction, but the adrenaline was too satisfying for her to care about them. "Miss Benson," Elliot said, careful in case anyone was listening. "May I speak to you in private?"

Her hand came to rest on his arm and she peered down either side of the halls. Casey was back at her desk, still reeling from the stress of the day. Tucker was angrily charging towards his office, and the rest of the board members were already heading towards the exits.

"Mr. Stabler," she grinned suggestively, her voice matching the alluring look in her eyes. "I'm sure I can make time for that."

She looked down the halls once again, making sure that they weren't in anyone's line of vision. As soon as the coast was clear, they snuck into one of the private bathrooms down the hall from the boardroom. He quickly flicked the lock, his hands gripping her as he backed her up against the sink. His mouth crashed down on her neck, fiercely rushing themselves into the moment.

"I thought no fucking in the office was one of our rules?" she whimpered, gripping the back of his neck. His lips planted sloppy kisses down the razor sharp edge of her throat. The cold porcelain of the sink's edge dug into her skin, only adding a chill to the burning of her skin.

His free hand pried her legs open, pushing aside the string of her thong before his fingers dipped inside of her. He chuckled against her throat as she released a guttural moan. "Technically we're not in the office. We're in the office bathroom."

"Semantics are for assholes." she grumbled, pulling him away from her neck and directing him to her lips. She opened her mouth into him, allowing his tongue to invade as she tried to feed into the kiss. She was already losing control, but that was old news to her. His fingers slid out from inside of her wetness, slowly probing against the warmth of her core. She shivered against him, spreading her legs for further access while he hungrily bit at her bottom lip.

"You played hardball today, you knew what that would do to me. This is on you." he growled as his fingers worked faster, her body stiffly writhing against his actions. The hand that wasn't occupied by gripping the nape of his neck had found the waist of his pants. Her fumbles with the belt were to no avail, and she settled with simply palming his erection through the fabric of his pants.

Deep down she knew it was less about hardball and more about power. He enjoyed watching her save his ass, but he also enjoyed seeing what his own power did to her. How she simply melted when he took the reins.

"Well, you better hurry up and do something about this." she chuckled, pulling her lips away as her forehead fell against his. "Fuck me. Please, I need you so badly." she whined, gripping tighter on the outline of his hardening cock. Her mouth watered at the feeling, his weight barely in her hands and she could already feel the thrum of exhilaration in her spine.

With a whining protest from her, he withdrew his fingers and sucked them clean. Her eyes stayed glued to his, watching the ice crawl through his irises as they bore into hers. She gripped the edge of the sink, her legs hanging off the edge with total weakness, her body melting as she watched him lick every bit of her arousal away.

When his thick and calloused hands fell to his belt, she nearly squealed. The clinking sound of the metal falling apart filled the small space of the bathroom. His pants fell to his ankles, his cock bobbing in the air from the final release of constriction. Her mouth watered as she stared at him, slack jawed while his own hand stroked the growing length. "Good girls stay nice and quiet. Can you be my good girl?"

"Yes, daddy." she whimpered. With a whirlwind, he had lifted her off of the edge of the sink and had her back pressed flush against the wall. She held back the moan that came from feeling his hands gripping the underside of her thighs. He would leave a mark and she knew it; his intricate fingerprints indenting on her skin from the force of her weight bearing down against his hands.

Her legs wrapped around him in the instant that he pushed into her. Her head fell forward, biting into the jacket that still covered his shoulders. Her back slid up the tile wall with each thrust, his lips on hers being the only filter that stopped her volume from peaking. She focused her attention to the feeling of him inside of her. Every throb and pulse from his cock as he fucked into her core. He fit inside of her with blinding perfection, the perfect stretch and the perfect angle. Everything about him moulded to her as if it were made to match, only heightening every flare of every nerve ending. Not an inch of her lacked the blaze as his fire bled into her own. He was made for her.

His lips fell back to her neck and she felt her own mouth opening, threatening to cry out as he filled her deeper. The fight to stay quiet drained every ounce of willpower from within her, a battle she had forgotten was so damn difficult. Her breathing sped up and she felt herself losing the fight against her vocal chords. "Please," she begged, the word escaping in a whisper. "Elliot, please."

"Grip the sink, grip the sink" he growled, rapidly letting her down from her post against the wall. His cock had barely left her aching pussy as she fell forward, bending against the sink. He braced himself behind her, pushing back into her with a perfect force that nearly drew tears from her eyes.

His hand came down and struck her ass cheek, sending her core into a violent clench around his cock. The hand that wasn't marking her skin was instead tangled through her hair, pulling it into a ponytail within his fingers.

She hated how much she loved it. The franticness, the fight not to alert anyone on the other side of the thin walls. She loved the risk, the thrill that bolted down her spine as he pulled her head back. With a rapid thrust inside of her, her back arched into him. Her knuckles paled as she gripped onto the sink, channeling all of her energy into her fingertips in an attempt not to cry out.

"You knew the dress would do this to me," he growled, pulling her hair downward just enough so she could see his reflection in the mirror. "Is this what you wanted?" he grumbled in her ear, never breaking the eye contact that burned from the glass of the mirror. The rampant throttling of his hips into hers had washed away any remnants of her ability to speak. She nodded as best as she could without allowing the hand holding her hair to come loose. "Words, Olivia. Use your words."

"Yes," she whimpered, clenching around him once again.

The hand that laid steady on her hip tightened. "Yes, what?" he asked, surely leaving indentations of his fingerprints on the smooth flesh.

"Yes, Daddy,"

Every inch of her body that was still covered with clothing burned like the fire in his eyes. His gaze through the mirror alone was enough to leave her knees trembling, but instead, it was more than that. It was him buried to the hilt within her, tightly pulling her hair back while his other hand held her still. Everything else compared to the blaze in his glare was simply an accessory to the moment.

"Open your eyes," he ordered, her not even having realized she had closed them. Her orgasm was cresting over, she could feel the rise throughout her nerves. Electricity bolting through every cell of her skin. She forced her eyes open, watching while his hand released her hair and instead tightly grabbed at her breast.

It took everything not to have an out-of-body experience. She was watching herself getting fucked senseless by her boss in the middle of the work day. If she thought about it for a second longer, she would explode. Though, she wasn't far off from that anyhow. Her grip on the sink was loosening from the sweat in her palms and her knees were bound to give out at any moment.

"El, I'm close," she cried in a hushed voice, still somewhat aware of the fact that they were in a semi-public place. Her lip quivered as he continued to hit the perfectly sensitive spots from within her. She watched the concentration on his face, admiring the fact that he was lost in it all. Lost in her. It was becoming clear to her that this was an art form to him, and every move was deeply calculated for the purpose of making her melt.

"Do not cum yet," he grit the words out through his teeth, reiterating his point with a forceful thrust. "Not until I tell you to. Understood?"

She gulped, her eyes nearly rolling back into her head. "Bu—but,"

"I said do you understand?" the hand that had steadied her hip fell away, quickly coming down against her ass as the authoritative tone echoed against the walls. "You will not cum until I tell you to."

As he drove deeper into her, her body fell forward against the sink. The countertops dug into her ribs, surely adding to the marks that would discolor her skin by late evening. A shaky breath left her lungs, her ability to stay quiet quickly fading.

She answered with a nod, unable to form the proper words it would take to acknowledge his command. Her eyes fought to close but with sheer force, she kept them pried open so she could watch his reflection in the mirror. 

His jaw was clamped tightly as he concentrated on working her body, the veins becoming more prominent in his forehead. With a quick glance, his eyes caught hers and a moan erupted from deep within his lungs. Watching her, seeing the way she fit perfectly around him, it was becoming too much. He forced his eyes closed again, knowing how unfair it would be if she wasn't allowed to cum, just to have him finish first. But what could he say, she was a force.

In the back of her mind, she knew where the power was coming from. He was beyond proud of her bold behavior which ultimately saved his ass, but some part of him felt the need to retain that very power. The fine line between the workplace and the bedroom — or in this case, the bathroom.

His angle shifted and her ability to stay quiet was quickly departing. He could feel her as she clenched around him, staving off the beginning of the end that she could feel trembling within her. He was teetering right along the edge with her, the mixture of adrenaline and electricity thrumming through the both of them.

"Cum." he grunted in her ear. "Cum, Olivia." his thrusts came more frantic and one hand on her hip moved down to her clit. His fingers became reacquainted with the wetness of her core, working her right over the edge with him.

The fluorescent lights of the bathroom only added to the blinding light behind both of their eyes. Her body stiffened, shivering against his as she rode out her orgasm. His grip on her waist was strong enough to crush titanium, and yet she yearned for the bruises his fingers would leave. She could feel the hot puffs of air against her neck as he came with her, the warmth of his own orgasm dripping down her thigh.

Once she was back down enough from the high, she giggled as her head fell backwards against him. Her breath was still leaving in heaves, but as both of his hands came up to wrap around her chest, she felt a blanket of comfort fall over her body. His chest rumbled with his own deep chuckle. "Oh, you are something else."

"I'm not the one who got all hot and bothered in the conference room." she quipped back, watching the mirror as he placed small pecks down her neck. She slid out from his grasp, turning to face him. She smirked as she helped him tuck himself back into his pants, her palms straightening out the crinkles in his shirt. "Don't worry, I won't tell anyone how much it turns you on when I save your ass. It'll be our little secret." 

Chapter Text


Two weeks had passed since Olivia had forced the fear of God into a handful of Stabler Enterprises’ board members. As soon as the technology department was no longer in a downward flaming spiral, the funding for Red Light had come in. Suffice to say, the bulk of her evenings were spent in the design studio at the office or in Stabler’s bed.

She was starting to forget what her own home even looked like anymore, only running home for a change of clothes and a quick shower. It was strange, but the design studio felt more like home than her own apartment did. She was in her element — an element she wasn’t even aware was hers. Each new design, each new decision made only furthered her understanding for why Elliot was absorbed in his work.

She felt like a God.

A very, very tired God.

Any remnants of her life before working at SE felt a million years behind her. His presence had installed a permanent thrill running down her spine, the adrenaline she felt becoming a staple in her every day life. He had changed her; it all had.

Alone in the studio, she sat hovering over a sketch desk. The mechanical pencil in her hand was beginning to leave a red indent in her fingers as she scribbled and erased and repeated the process. Her mind was so enveloped into the sketch in front of her that she completely tuned out the sound of familiar footsteps coming from behind her.

“Someone’s working hard.” Elliot chuckled, gently placing his palm on her back as he peered over her. His eyes scanned the lines on the paper, a deep twinge of pride growing in the pit of his stomach.

Her head snapped up, her eyes meeting his almost immediately. “You scared me.” she giggled, letting her head fall back down to face the paper. “I’ve been working on this all night, I can’t get it right. It’s missing something.”

“Show me what you’ve got so far,” he said, pulling up a rolling stool to sit beside her. He could see parts of the mockup screen layout mapped out on the page, scribbles of options covering the pages.

“Well, I have the initial design for the actual panic button in the app figured out.” she pointed at the circle in the center of one of the screen drawings. “Accessible by fingerprint ID to avoid accidental triggering, 4 digit codes for devices without fingerprint ID. Accidental triggering can only escalate a situation, we don’t want that.”

“Brilliant. What’s the problem?” he asked, his eyes coming up to meet hers. He could see the stress behind them, the urge for the entire project to be as perfect as possible. In some way, he could see the drive and purpose in her.

“Well,” she sighed, dropping the pencil down to comb her fingers through her hair. “It’s missing something. I have some resource page ideas mapped out as well, but I don’t think that’s the best to open with. It might only add to the fright that will come when you’re a woman about to press a panic button. Not to mention that the resources included are more for exploratory purposes, not immediate attention.” she sighed again, falling forward against the desk with exhaustion and frustration.

He couldn’t help but smile at her. She had what most people in their line of work lacked. She had compassion. She wasn’t thinking about the dollar sign behind the creation, she was thinking about every woman who would walk the streets at night.

“Hey,” he laughed softly, guiding her back upright. “You’re incredibly smart, you know that right?” he asked, staring deeply into her eyes. She stuck her lower lip out, not quite answering his question. “I wouldn’t have put you in this position if I didn’t have the confidence that you’d figure it out. It’ll come to you. Just give it time, okay?”

Her eyes softened, her pout turning into a small smile. “You’re right,” she ran her palm over his cheek, pressing a kiss against his lips. “Thank you for believing in me.” she whispered, softly resting her forehead against his.

“Well, I have no choice. You’re a big investment,” he chuckled, earning a weak slap across the chest from Olivia. “It’s already past 6:30, Liv. Come back to my place, you’re tired.” he pleaded, seeing the way she was wilting by the minute.

She opened her mouth to answer but the sound of her ringtone filled the room before she could speak. “Excuse me for a second,” she muttered, standing up and stepping a few feet away to answer. “Monique, is everything okay?”

“You, me, Alex. We’re going out tonight.” Monique answered on the other line. “Alex got us into 1 Oak and we’re leaving in a little bit. When will you be home?”

Olivia sighed with a heavy exhale, pressing her palm to her forehead. “Mo, I’m really tired. I’ve been working overtime and I don’t think I have it in me tonight.” She glanced over at Elliot who was giving her a sympathetic look.

“Liv, please! I haven’t seen you in ages and it’s been months since we’ve had a girls’ night out!” she whined into the phone, and Olivia could already picture her pouting with slumped shoulders. “You’ve been dying to go to 1 Oak for months now, and you’re really gonna blow it off now? For Stabler?”

Olivia flinched, praying Elliot hadn’t overheard. “You’re way off base!” she snapped. “Look, I’m sorry I haven’t been around as much, okay? Can we please just do this another— you know what? Fine, I’ll be there.” she rolled her eyes, fully knowing that if she didn’t just suck it up and go that she’d never hear the end of it.

“Atta girl! See you then.”

Olivia dropped her phone down against the desk, crossing her arms over her chest. “Sorry about that,” she grumbled. Elliot smiled softly at her, stepping closer before standing toe to toe with her.

“Don’t apologize.” he brushed a strand of hair out of her face. “I only wish you’d do what’s best for you. You’re obviously exhausted, I’d hate to see you burn out completely.” his arms came around her waist, rocking her leisurely back and forth.

She grinned tiredly, throwing her arms over his shoulders. “Trust me, I’d much rather be at your place in that big bathtub with you.” she smirked stepping on the toe of her heels to peck him on the lips. The smell of expensive cologne filled her nose, calming her almost instantly. “But I guess I do owe it to her. She’s right, I haven’t been around very much these past few weeks and I don’t want her to think she can’t depend on me.”

“Depend on you?” he frowned with confusion. “I mean, is one night out gonna break that trust?”

“It’s complicated.” she said, staring up at him through her lashes. That had become her famous line lately; or at least the more he wanted to get to know about her. It’s complicated. It’s always been complicated. Her life wasn’t really her life without complication, but neither was Monique’s. “I’ll explain more some other time. For now, I have to go drag myself out to some club in West Chelsea to prove that I haven’t abandoned my friends.”

“Well, at least try to have fun. Maybe I can take you up on that big bathtub offer tomorrow or Sunday. After you’ve got some good rest.” he pressed a long kiss against the soft skin of her neck before releasing her from his hold.

“Only after I’ve rested? Well, then I’m tempted to skip the club and go home for an Ambien.” she smirked, starting to walk away. She grabbed her phone from the desk and the coat laid over her purse. She spun on her heel, reaching up to clutch his chin between her thumb and forefinger. “See you soon.” she punctuated with a kiss.

The lights were too bright, the music was too loud, and she started to wonder when she had become a 40-year-old woman. Her head throbbed every time the bass of the music changed and she swore she could hear her pillow calling her from miles away.

The three of them were seated in a private booth, drinks scattering the table. Monique was the first to grab a shot when more were delivered. “Cheers, to finally dragging Olivia away from her job and her billionaire boyfriend.” she sloppily smiled in Olivia’s direction which was promptly returned with a sneer.

“He’s not my boyfriend!” she called out over the excruciating music. She let her shot sit on the table, instead deciding to nurse whatever fruity pink cocktail had been handed to her at the start. “Please excuse the fact that I’d rather be in bed with him than at a loud club after clocking in nearly 60 hours a week.”

“So being in bed with him is also better than being at home with your two best friends?” Alex asked, just as drunk as Monique who she was currently pulling closer to her. “Sounds like he’s gone some world class peni—”

“Alex!” Olivia barked at her, finally ripping the shot from the table and forcing it all down her throat. If she was gonna listen to them all night, she’d need as much alcohol as she could get. “I never said that I didn’t want to be home. I’m just trying to balance it all!”

“That’s why we dragged you here!” Monique raised her voice over the music again. “Work-life balance. If you can’t do it, we can make you do it!” she curled inward to Alex, both of them giggling to each other.

She had a work-life balance. The only issue was the fact that her comfort zone was no longer in her own apartment with her friends. It was him, it was work, it was everything that had changed her life in a matter of weeks. That didn’t help the guilt very much though. She knew Monique missed her. There was a time when they relied on each other for survival, attached at the hip and beyond. But her job was becoming more serious, her entire life was becoming more serious. She had the app to work on, her… situation with Stabler, not to mention her actual job of assisting him.

“I’m gonna go get us a few more shots.” Alex called out, sliding out from the black leather booth. Olivia was afraid to look at Monique, afraid she’d see some sort of drunken resentment or disappointment in her eyes. She was being a buzzkill and she knew it.

Instead of dwelling further into her annoyance, she decided to do something about it. Pretty much all she could do; get drunk as hell. She swiped one of the drinks from the table, unsure of who it belonged to. All she knew was that it looked much stronger than the pink shit in the martini glass she had. She whipped her head back, pouring the remainder of the drink down her throat.

When she pulled back, she shuddered at the taste. Whatever it was, she could taste the strength of the tequila in it. She wanted to ignore the voices in her mind that told her all she was doing wrong. Maybe not just ignore them but gag them completely. One voice telling her what a shitty friend she is, the next telling her that she might as well just drink like her mother. The worst of all was the loudest one, telling her how terrible she was for dragging Elliot into her fucked up life.

As soon as Alex was back at the table, Olivia swiped the closest shot on the tray and knocked it back. Both of them looked at her with wide eyes, witnessing the sudden shift in Olivia’s demeanor.

“You want me to party, let’s party.” she called out to them, slipping out from the booth and heading towards the dance floor. As soon as she was on her feet, she could feel the drinks beginning to settle within her. Her mind was going fuzzy, the exhaustion beginning to fade. Monique and Alex exchanged looks before shrugging it off and following her.

The lights flashed against the sequins of her black dress, reflecting throughout the room. She strode towards the center of the floor, each step working the drinks further into her system. A tingling warmth rose from her fingers up, relaxing every tense muscle in her body.

She allowed herself to drown in the music, bathing in the flash of the strobe lights. Her vision was stirring more and more as she moved, the room around her blurring and becoming a mixture of brightness and darkness. The burn of tequila still remained on her taste buds, but the burn was about the only thing left that she could feel.

The rhythm in the air changed as she danced, gliding around her rather than her body working against the centrifugal force of gravity. In the haze, she could see Alex and Monique on the floor together, moving with the beat of the music. She snapped her eyes shut, attempting to focus on nothing except the pounding bass in her ears.

She didn’t want to see any of it. Not the scenery, not the lights, not the normal friday night life she had once loved. It was easier to pretend she liked it when her eyes were closed. But with every clench of her eyelids, foggy memories flashed through her mind.

‘Focus on the music, Olivia.’ she told herself. It wasn’t working. The flashes came and went, reminding her of exactly where she wanted to be. The glass fireplace mounted into the wall across from Elliot’s bed. No. His back as he’d stare longingly out from the office windows overlooking the city. No. The smile on his face as he’d jokingly left an egg McMuffin on her desk to remind her of their first breakfast together. No.

She didn’t want to think of the silky amethyst colored sheets that he looked so elegant while wrapped up in. Instead, she wanted to think about the sequins on her dress digging painfully into her skin. She didn’t want to think about the airy opera music that floated through his apartment, she wanted to think about the blaring loud rock that was currently deafening. The random bumps of strangers behind her, not the soft touch of his skin grazing hers with that devilish look in his eyes. Disgusting bitter alcohol, not expensive Napa Valley wines.

“Olivia!” Monique shouted over the music, her callings ignored. Olivia squeezed her eyes tighter, drowning herself in the music as if nobody else in the world existed. She needed the alone time with herself, anything to give her a minute to think. God, she just wanted to think, damnit! If the alcohol numbed her body and if the music blew her eardrums, maybe she could just think.

“Liv, look!” Monique tried again, shaking Olivia’s arm. Her eyes begrudgingly opened, bringing her back down to Earth despite her greatest efforts to remain limitless. Monique pointed over Olivia’s shoulder in the direction of the door.

She spun on her feet, squinting to get a better look. As soon as she laid eyes on him, her jaw fell slack. Elliot walked in, icy eyes sweeping the room from side to side. His fingers toyed with the sleeves of his army green shirt, exposing his forearms as he pushed them up three quarters length. It was rare to see him in casual wear, something so starkly different than his normal designer suits. In fact, she wasn’t sure if she’d ever seen him in denim.

Without thinking, she started making a beeline towards the door. Her body collided with others as her equilibrium fell off kilter. She briefly wondered if she was about to make a complete idiot out of herself since he’d never seen her this drunk before.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, pulling his attention. He smirked at her, casually stepping closer to her. There wasn’t much room for personal space with everyone pushing and pulling each other, so being pushed almost chest-to-chest with him wasn’t shocking.

“How was I supposed to know that this was the same club in West Chelsea that you’d be at?” he asked with feigned confusion. “I figured I’d see what all the fuss about this place was for.”

She grinned wrapping her arms around his waist, leaning her head back to stare at him. “So, you’re stalking me now?”

“Oh, you wish.” he rolled his eyes, leaning down to kiss her. He could taste the tequila on her mouth and feel it in her actions. With an unfamiliar aggression, her arm came up to the back of his neck to pull him down closer. She bit down on his lower lip, deciding to drown herself in him rather than just the liquor. The hands he had placed on her hips grip tighter as he feels the warmth radiating off of her. He could feel the vibrations of her moan as her fingernails dug into the nape of his neck.

She pulled away, out of breath and lips bruised. “Let’s dance,” she smiled. Before he could fit another word in, she grabbed his hand and led him to the floor. He could see simply from her footsteps that she had already had quite a bit to drink.

She thinks about the red lights of the elevator, the day he had hit the emergency stop and her entire life had stopped as well. This time, they’re drenched in the purple lights that beam down from the ceiling in thin strands. Her life had shifted so much since she had witnessed the red lights fill his icy eyes. Red had turned purple and the strict rule of keeping herself away from temptation had shattered.

The song shifted as soon as they’d squeezed into an open space on the floor. She pressed her back to his torso, his arms trailing over her body with no clear path of direction. Her eyes closed again, allowing her to follow the euphoric mindset she had been searching for earlier. Though, it was different. He was here now, his fingertips gripping her ribs as she ground into him.

She didn’t need to picture nirvana, she had found it.

Her head fell back as she released a soft yet strangled breath. She could feel his hand rising up to her breast torturously slow. He took advantage of the openness of her neck, craning his head down and dragging his tongue to her pulse point.

Her small hands made a stark contrast to the largeness of his as they covered his knuckles. She guided his movements with her own, pressing his touch harder against her body. She didn’t bother to wonder what the people around them may think. They were all drunk anyway. Though, she knew he was a man who valued privacy above most.

Did he know what he was doing? The risk he posed to the empire of his personal life, the one he tried so hard to protect?

He was stepping into the fire. A public nightmare if anyone possibly recognized him. The tabloids never left him alone, constantly speculating on his marriages and his relationships. He was being stupid. Though, the minute she had slammed the shot glass down on the table, she had made the mutual decision to be just as stupid.

A match made in heaven. A human resources nightmare.

Her hands reached behind herself, hooking around the back of his neck as she pulled him down further. She could feel the zipper of his jeans digging into the thin fabric of her dress as she arched against him. Every inch of her body screamed to be closer to him, to touch him in some way or another.

She spun against him, her chest flush against his as she gave him a sultry grin. “Let’s get out of here. We can go back to my place.” she said, nipping at his lower lip. She could feel the quirk in his smile at the thought of screwing her in a new place. “I’ll go tell Monique that we’re leaving.”

Given that her eyes had been closed, she hadn’t seen that Monique had watched them as they danced. Alex had stopped her own movements when she felt Monique tense up. Though, the expression on her face hadn’t been what Olivia would’ve expected to see had she seen it at all. It wasn’t disgust or disappointment, it was genuine curiosity. An alarming wake up call that she hadn’t seen Olivia relaxed in a long time, not until Stabler had shown up.

Olivia struggled her way through the wave of people, spotting the familiar faces a few feet away. It was completely lost on her that Monique looked slightly shaken up.

She stared at Elliot and Olivia in disbelief, tinged with the regret of mocking Olivia. She didn’t trust Stabler. Hell, she didn’t trust any man in a position of large power. Yet, she hadn’t quite witnessed Olivia relax so easily. She had never seen the guard melt away from her best friend so fast.

Rather than bringing her comfort, it filled her with dread. She and Olivia both knew the flying embers of hell, she knew any sort of vulnerability was never in the cards for either of them. Where there was supposed to be happiness for her best friend, there was the fear that she would be left to clean up the inevitable mess that would come when heaven transformed back into hell.

Once Olivia had finally become close enough, Monique was practically out of breath. “Are you gonna hate me if I leave a little early?” Olivia asked, her volume fighting over the music.

Monique stared at her, not exactly sure how she felt about any of this, let alone being ditched. “Uh, no, that’s fine. I’ll see you back home later!” she waved her hand as nonchalantly as she could, trying to wash away her fears with the smile on Olivia’s face.

Olivia wrapped Monique into a hasty hug, kissing her on the cheek before running back off into the crowd.

The way she tumbled into bed with him wasn’t steady nor graceful. Electricity thrummed from her spine down, every nerve in her body begging for him. She managed to roll him to his back, fighting for traction on the bed so she could climb over top of him. With swift movements, his shirt was discarded to the floor. Her palms grazed over the smooth skin of his chest, the warmth of his body tangling with her own.

“Get the— get the belt,” she muttered, helplessly fumbling with the metal clip. He knew it was pointless for her, she couldn’t see an inch in front of her let alone his belt in the dark. His hands reached down under the covers, quickly undoing his belt and zipper before kicking the jeans off. Her hands immediately fell to his erection, wasting no time stroking him in her palm.

“Lift your arms,” he ordered, grabbing the slinky black dress by the hem and pulling it over her head. He let out a deep groan when he’d realized she had ditched the panties for the night. She released his cock from her grip, grabbing his wrist instead. She guided his touch down to her core, earning a satisfied moan as his fingers dragged through her wetness.

She leaned down over him, her breath in hot puffs against his ear “Let me ride you, Elliot.” she whispered, her words slurred pleasure rather than just the alcohol. She was beginning to sober up anyway, an effect he always managed to hold over her. When she rose herself back upright, she could see the apprehension in his eyes. Despite her state and the darkness of the bedroom, she could read him as clear as day. ‘Tonight, you can. Tomorrow, you’re mine.’

As she reached down to grab his length, he curled forward into her, watching as she slowly lowered herself onto him. A breathy gasp fell from her lips, attempting to take in as much of him as she could in one go. In her mind, there was no time for teasing or preperation, she needed him more than she needed air to breathe.

She rose up until he barely had an inch within her before she tried again, biting her lip as she took in more and more of him. Through his own heavy breathing, Elliot’s hands came up to release the clip of her bra. She managed to pull the last remaining article of clothing from her body with little effort, throwing it into the pile on the floor. His palms smoothed over both of her breasts, pinching her nipples as he worked the skin.

With one final thrust, she let out a harsh whimper when she became fully seated on him. Her head tipped backwards, her hips picking up a slow rhythm as she took the lead. Any cry came uninhibited, suppressing her usual habit of trying to remain quiet no matter where they were.

As she further adjusted to his size, he could feel the tension in her moves. She was rushed, riding him as if it would be her last chance. A voice in his head told him that he should slow her down, but the stronger voice in his head was telling him to match her intentions.

She was harnessing the control that he was usually in charge of.

It wasn’t an unwelcome change, but rather something that struck a bolt of curiosity into him.

His hands moved up her back, his fingertips ghosting over her ribs before clutching tighter. She leaned forward as she continued to fuck herself against him, white-knuckling the headboard for leverage. Uninhibited cries poured from her lungs, the sensation of his warmth wrapping her up. 

Through the darkness of her bedroom, he could see the way her eyes squeezed shut. She was alone in her own little world, experiencing the whole and entire feeling of simply him. Drowning herself in the glorious sensation of burning nerves and unbridled pleasure.

His hands came away from her ribs, pushing back the duvet so he could stroke her legs. Where her thighs met his hips, his thumbs grazed the velvety skin. Her grip on the headboard became tighter as he ghosted his touch along the inner side of her legs. He felt her grow wetter as she worked harder to feel every inch of him within her.

His right hand came away from her thigh, cupping her breast as he lifted slightly off of his back. She leaned forward just enough for him to run his tongue across her nipple. He sucked the ruthlessly hard bud, his lips teasingly working the entire area as she fell deeper into the blinding lights of adrenaline.

He was overcome with the sudden urge to take over her. To exert the power that both of them knew he harnessed. He had been meticulous about holding off, constantly fighting the feeling to show her every single thing he wanted to do to her body. Yet, he continued to try to ease into it. It was her power that caused him to fail.

He released her breast from his mouth, working harder in tandem with her motions rather than allowing her the right to completely take over him. “Fuck, Elliot!” she cried louder, his cock pulsing against every sensitive spot inside of her. On an undeniable whim, his hand came down against her ass, slapping against her cheek as her pace only furthered. She could feel her fingers aching as she held tighter onto the headboard, though she couldn’t bring herself to release it. She craved the gravity, the raw need for him to meld with her as much as possible.

It took every ounce of his willpower not to flip her over and take her from behind. He could feel something within her movements, a desperate need to chase the pleasure rather than something else. Whatever it was she was running from, he couldn’t put his finger on it. She was searching for everything about him that could blind her, to melt reality away. She wanted it, it was only fair that he gave it to her.

“Are you close?” he rasped, whispering despite the fact that the entire apartment was empty. Still lost in her own world, she aimlessly nodded. Her head fell back, her breath coming in shivers as she felt the thrill within her growing unbearable.

When his hand came to her neck, she bit her lip with a high-pitched whine. His finger squeezed beneath the sides of her jawbone, gripping down on the thrumming pulse points beneath her skin. The lip between her teeth quivered as he stilled her own writhes against him. The power she held over him drained away with the force of his hips, his control over the movements only adding to the wetness that enveloped him.

If she had the power to open her eyes, she would see the fire in his eyes that she had become acquainted with. Maybe even molten this time, something much stronger and more fierce than she had seen before. But she was busy focusing on the stars behind her lids as his hand pinched her neck harder.

He felt her tighten against him, and with the tell-tale sign of her orgasm, he released the grip on her throat. As soon as his hand came away, she was sucked into the whirlwind of lightheadedness from both the sudden reconnection with oxygen and the intensity of her orgasm. Her grasp on the headboard was quickly replaced with her hands clutching his shoulders. She was deaf to her own cries, the intensity of her world exploding around her leaving her senseless to anything except for the feeling of him.

When her high began to subside, she could still feel the stiffness of his cock inside of her. She finally opened her eyes with the actual ability to see again. She could see the pained look on his face as her movements stilled. She leaned forward, nose to nose with him as she pressed sloppy kisses against his lips.

“Let me make you cum,” she whispered, practically pleading with him. Hell, she had already taken almost all of his control already, it wasn’t exactly like he wanted to deny himself this opportunity.

He groaned as the history of her arousal dripped down his cock. She moved her hips torturously slow, her hands coming up to cradle him by the back of his head. His hands roamed down her body, clutching her ass cheeks where he’d left a red palm print.

“You’re so close, El. I can feel it.” she murmured, wincing at how sensitized she had already become. She picked up the pace, focusing solely on him and his climax. His breathing became heavier with each passing second, her hands roaming around his chest as she egged him on. She leaned forward to whisper in his ear. “Cum inside me, Daddy.”

Another audible moan erupted from his chest. She knew exactly which buttons to press to send him over the edge. His hips rose from the bed only a few more times before one hand held her hip and the other gripped tightly into her hair, thrusting deep inside of her as he filled her with his warmth.

They both crashed against each other, fighting for the return of their breath. Olivia’s palm landed on his chest as her head came down to rest on his shoulder. She could feel the warmth thrumming under his skin as the stress of the long week melted away.

His arms pulled her tighter against him and he felt her breathing beginning to slow into a steady rhythm. She was out cold before her cheek even hit his collarbone. He craned his neck to look down at her, smiling softly as he ran his hands through her hair.

The wave of sleep was upon him, he could feel the heaviness in his eyelids as he fought it off to stare at her for just a little bit longer. With each blink, he felt himself losing the battle that called him to sleep.

The last thought that graced his mind was how fucking perfect she looked while bundled in his arms. She was an enigma to him.

On her way to her own bedroom for the night, Monique tiredly trudged down the hallway of the apartment. She paused at Olivia’s room, staring at the shut door as if she’d magically be able to know if Olivia was inside. Worry rose in her chest as she wondered if Olivia was okay. Did she come home? Did she go to Stabler’s? Was she safe?

Despite the nagging voice in her head telling her to leave it be, the anxiety won. She cautiously opened the door just enough to peek inside.

She gulped as she stared at the picture displayed in front of her. Wrapped up in the sheets, Elliot Stabler slept with Olivia held contently in his arms. Olivia’s head rested against his bare chest, flowing with the rise and fall of each breath.

Monique’s hand fell away from the door handle, a quiet sigh filling the silence.

They looked happy.

She looked safe.

Olivia wore a soft grin as she remained oblivious to the world around her, his protective arm thrown over her naked back.

She felt guilty and nothing but. Guilty for wanting her best friend to herself. Guilty for expecting the relationship — or whatever it was, to fail. Olivia had taken care of her since the day they had met, taking her under her wing like a sister would. She hated herself for being more worried about losing that rather than having Olivia be happy.

She carefully shut the door, leaving them to sleep the night away, and for herself to sulk.

When he woke up the next morning, the rising sun flashed through the curtains. He felt the weight of her body resting against him, blissfully unaware of the world around her. His lips curled into a soft smile as he pushed a strand of hair from her cheek.

The silence in the apartment left him questioning if he was the only one awake, or if anyone else is there at all. He’d prefer the apartment to themselves in all selfishness, but the assumption would be dangerous.

He slipped out from the bed, careful not to wake her from her deep sleep as he retrieved his clothes from the foot of the bed. He watched as she tossed in her sleep, snuggling deeper into the indentation of where his warm body had previously lied.

He slid into his jeans as quietly as he could, carefully watching for any sign that he’d disrupted her. When he turned to fasten his belt into place, he spotted a frame on the wall shelf. He furrowed his brows as he stared at it, cautiously picking it up from its place. His hand carefully swept the dust off of the silver ornate frame, his eyes instantly falling onto a young girl with dark brown hair and matching eyes. Before he could stop himself, his head whipped around behind him to look at the sleeping woman. When his eyes reacquainted with the photo, he realized the resemblance. Beside the young Olivia was a photo of an unfamiliar woman.

The resemblance died with the woman’s blonde hair and blue eyes. They looked to be what most would call happy. Though, he could see it in both of their eyes. People like them, lives dysfunctional, they were trained to see the secrets in the irises. Any family photo of himself and his family was the same; smiles on the mouth but closed doors everywhere else.

The young Olivia looked as if she was told to smile. That’s how they always looked. A command followed, an order obeyed. A lie. He wondered that if he weren’t aware of her mother’s tragic passing and the state of how it came to be, would he still spot it? Would he still be able to tell that little Olivia had probably cried that night? Or was it just his default setting now given that his childhood had the same experience. Always obeying.

If he knew any better, he wouldn’t assume it was her mother in the photo. Though, he doesn’t know better. He doesn’t know her. He only assumes because she hasn’t spoken a word about her father and how she might resemble him or anyone else for that matter. She’s so young in the photo, he assumes it’s the year her mother died. It pulls at his heart when he realizes that his daughter is the same age as Olivia was when her mother passed. Though they look nothing alike, he assumes that the woman in the photo was all she had.

And as faux-happy as Olivia looks in the photo, his heart broke for her. Between that captured moment and the Olivia he knows now, it is left almost entirely blank to him. Her story is elusive and guarded, her traumas are kept deeply hidden.

He carefully set the photo back to where it lives on the shelf and when he turned to take a look at her, his heart clenched again. He could see the sleepy smile that broke through and the safety she felt surrounded by the nothingness of slumber. She survived, he thought to himself. Pride filled his lungs. Though, his mind wandered to what exactly it was that she has survived between then and now.

As soon as he was reasonably dressed, he quietly left the room.

He wasn’t exactly sure of what his intentions were with wandering and he felt guilty for the urge to snoop even further. Breakfast in bed wouldn’t hurt. As soon as he walked into the kitchen, he spotted the familiar roommate standing at the counter as she looked over the newspaper. “Oh… Uh, hello. I don’t think we’ve been formally introduced, you must be Monique.” he walked closer, sticking his hand out for an unreciprocated shake.

“You must be Stabler.” She didn’t move or even flinch at his presence, her eyes keeping a strong grip on his. “We didn’t have much time to be introduced, y’know, with you swooping in and all last night.” She said, taking a sip from her coffee mug.

Elliot chuckled awkwardly, scratching the back of his neck. “I’m sorry about that. I didn’t mean to intrude.”

“Didn’t you?” She smirked, seeing him tense up. “Relax, I’m just busting your balls.” Though, her tone wasn’t that convincing. “So, you two seem to be pretty taken with each other.” she said as she leaned against the kitchen island, narrowing her eyes in his direction.

He stopped for a moment, carefully articulating what he wanted to say next. “Well, we’re taking it day by day.” He replied, refusing to allow the impromptu interrogation to throw him off. “We enjoy each other’s company.”

She huffed out something resembling a single chuckle. “So I’ve gathered.”

He smiled, sucking air through his teeth while trying to maintain some semblance of neutrality between them. “I get it if you don’t like me, that’s fine. I should’ve taken the time to get to know everybody before I —“

“It’s not that I don’t like you,” she cut him off, giving him an incredulous look. “It’s that I don’t trust you. All of you Fortune 500 guys, it’s all dishonesty and business. I think you can imagine my worry when I see my best friend becoming entangled into that. Y’know, I can’t help but fear for her.”

He had to appreciate the smugness and confidence in her tone. He was used to the cower, to the way people would shiver if they looked in his direction. Yet she remained unperturbed. “I understand that. I’ve met my fair share of those kinds of people in my line of work.”

“Look,” she smiled again, giving a deep exhale. “Let’s not dance around this, alright? You terrify some people. A lot of people, I assume. But you don’t terrify me. In fact, I think I might actually terrify you. That’s the thing about people like me, we’ve seen things. We’ve been through things. The fear you instill in people is only mechanical, but people like me have feared much worse.” her hands slid across the counter as she moved closer towards the side. “So, believe me when I tell you that if you even breathe one wrong breath in her direction, I will ruin you. I do not care who you are or how much money you wave around. I will hunt you down come hell or high water and let me be clear, I am both the hell and the high water.”

Nose to nose with her, Elliot narrowed his eyes in return. His icy stare refused to penetrate beyond the glare in her eyes. “Understood.” he rasped.

“Good!” she chirped, her mood taking an entire 180°. “Now, normally I’d bust you up some more, measure how much you can take, see how weak you are. I’m not gonna do that because for the first time in our lives, I’ve seen a side of Olivia come out that seems almost happy. I would like for her to remain happy, despite the epic lack of trust I have in you. I owe her everything, she saved my life, so I’m not gonna ruin this for her. I expect the same out of you.” she grinned, turning away from him to refill her coffee mug.

Elliot leaned back, his expression filling with concern. He replayed the words in his mind, trying to wrap his head around the millions of scenarios that played out. “Saved your life? How so?”

Monique spun on her heel, casting a look of doubt towards him. “You don’t know?” she asked, genuine confusion altering her demeanor. She watched as the ice in his eyes melted, worry replacing every emotion he could convey.

Olivia wasn’t an open book, he’d learned that from their first night together. Pushing her to open up always seemed to be a faster method of pushing her away. He knew her mother had died and that she was given a scholarship in her mother’s honor. Nothing less, nothing more. “No?” he whispered almost to himself. The mystery of Olivia washed over him like a wave, reminding him of how much he truly did want to know about her.

Monique shot him a look of pity before it transformed back into a subtle smugness. “Well, I guess you don’t know everything.” she mumbled into her coffee cup, just barely loud enough for him to overhear.

“She uh… she doesn’t tell me much.” he scratched the back of his head, thinking of the photograph he had seen earlier. “I try not to push her. Don’t get me wrong though, I’d listen to whatever it is about herself that she shares, and I wish she’d share more.” He looked around the room, feeling his voice fall quieter as he spoke. “Like how she affords such a nice place.”

Monique set her mug down, her brows knitting together as the realization dawned on her that despite what she had thought, Olivia truly was closing herself off. She’d hoped that her best friend had opened just a bit more, especially to the man who seemed to have an effect on her like no other. “Wow, she really didn’t tell you…” she whispered, her words sounding just as hollow as his.

When he toed back down the hall, he opened her bedroom door with caution. Expecting her to still be exhausted, he didn’t bother to wake her as he gathered his things. His jacket and shoes were strewn at the foot of the bed, next to the glittery black dress she had worn the night previous.

“Don’t go,” she spoke softly, alerting him of her consciousness. His head whipped around to see her deep brown eyes staring at him. He grinned, walking to the edge of the bed where she started to sit upright. The sheets gathered around her chest, barely covering the naked skin of her torso.

“I have some stuff I gotta catch up on and you’re exhausted, Liv.” he whispered back, stroking her cheek. She softly nuzzled her head against his palm, giving him a blissful grin.

“Thank you for showing up last night.” she shifted closer to the edge, basking in the warmth that filled her as a sliver of light bled through the curtains and doused his skin. “I didn’t wanna be there.”

“I know,” he replied, his voice huskier than moments before. “I probably shouldn’t have invaded but I was worried. You’ve been working yourself to the bone.” the thumb that rested on her cheek moved slowly down to her bottom lip, stroking the plump pink skin. Her eyes closed as the ridges of his fingerprints only brought more heat to her skin. “I really should go,”

“No, wait.” she reached out to stop him, grabbing his wrists with a small but sultry grin. “Let me actually thank you,” while his brows raised, her eyes fell to the zipper of his jeans that was now at her height. She pressed the bed sheets further against her chest as she brought herself closer to him.

Wordlessly, her fingers slowly worked to undo his belt, prying down the metal of the zipper with a torturously slow pace. She could hear the deep breath he sucked into his lungs as the sight of her began to overwhelm him. She was the closest thing to being on her knees beneath him and he forced himself to mentally capture the entire picture in front of him.

She pushed his jeans just past the bones of his hips, her hands delicately creeping between the fabric of the denim. His breath shivered as she grazed the length hidden behind the layer of underwear. Her palm stroked him, feeling him growing harder against her touch. When he looked down, he was met with the image of her intently focusing on her goal.

Holding back the urge to forcefully take control, he opted to carefully thread his fingers through her hair. She looked up at him with a smirk as his face contorted into restrained desire. His moans were muffled by the pressure of him pursing his lips, fearing the other occupants in the apartment may overhear.

Her fingertips pried beneath the waistband, pulling them down slowly until his erection sprung free. He heaved a deep breath out as she unconsciously licked her lips, softly taking him into her palm. As she ghosted her grip over his cock, his hand came down from her hair, his thumb falling back to her mouth. She glanced up at him, allowing his thumb to dip between her lips.

He stifled another groan, his eyes closing on instinct as it all became too much. Her hand continued to work down his length, coaxing him to grow harder with each massaging touch.

Her lips puckered against his thumb, swiping her tongue against it before releasing it. He could see the want growing in her eyes and he couldn’t help but note how stunning she looked when she had a look of unwarranted innocence in her eyes. His nerves fried at the thought of her wanting to taste him. Wanting to feel the weight of him between her lips. It was a thought that invaded his mind day in and day out, but he’d never pushed.

She looked ethereal beneath him, the message in her eyes completely in sync with him. The auburn glow of her hair was caught in the light and never in his life had he seen someone look so much like a goddess on their way to do sinful things.

When she leaned forward just barely an inch, the sensitized tip of his cock brushed against the silk skin of her lips. A shutter ran down his spine, hitching the breath in his lungs. He used all of his force to keep his feet planted on the ground, fearing that if he unwound himself, he would push too far.

His fingers grazed the back of her scalp as his head fell slightly back. He couldn’t watch as she swiped her tongue slowly the delicate skin, carefully sampling the taste of him. “Olivia,” he gave a shaky murmur, making the mistake of looking down to see the wide brown eyes staring back at him.

He liked testing her, but she liked testing him too, which was all he could boil it down to. She was not the most delicate woman in the world and he had a growing suspicion her gentle actions were only to rile him up further. Though, he couldn’t bring himself to care this time around, not as soon as the head of his cock disappeared between her lips and was met with the velvet touch of her tongue.

His body shuttered again, his knees buckling as her tongue swirled around him, her hand still smoothly stroking the rest of him. She released him from her mouth, dragging her tongue up the underside of him with a featherlight touch. She was begging. A different beg that didn’t come from cries of pleasure. She was begging him to react, to melt beneath her fingertips. Goddamnit, he was about to.

When her head bobbed back down against him, she slid more of him into her mouth. His breathing continued to speed up, constrained groans sounding from above her. She could feel the energy of him thrumming throughout him, and each drop of self restraint he had being used. 

Her free hand gripped his hip, steadying herself as she swirled her tongue and sucked harder. Her pace was beginning to pick up as soon as testing the waters became owning them. She owned him in that moment, and in every sense but literal, he was the one on his knees for her

Stars formed behind his eyelids when he grazed the insides of her cheeks. His hand no longer cradled the base of her neck, rather gripping it instead. He fought to keep the unutilized force that beat through his body with each thump of his heart at bay, doing everything in his power to contain the urge to fuck himself into her mouth.

Taking him by surprise, her gentle movements stopped and turned into something that nearly took him off of his feet. She took in his entirety with one swift motion, sliding his cock against her tongue. She held him there for a moment, one hand gripping the base of him while the other dug her nails into his ass. There was no hiding the noise that ripped from his chest. His eyes fell forward, watching her grow accustomed to the feeling as she swallowed around him.

She pulled away, her tongue sliding alongside of him as she released him with a gentle pop. He could hear her chuckle under her breath as her hand resumed the work. He allowed himself the leeway to thrust his hips as his length against her grip. He fought to catch his breath, unaware that he had even been holding it in as long as he had.

The smirk on her lips and the mischief in her eyes nearly sent him into a spiral. She knew what she was doing to him and how every little movement broke him down piece by piece. She guided him between her lips again, settling both hands on his hips before taking him all in once more. He bit into his fist as her nose bumped against his abs, the way she hallowed her cheeks pushing him closer over the edge.

She sucked harder, claws digging deeper into her grip on his hips. He didn’t bother ending the thrusting movements that his body involuntarily gave, not when it seemed to light her fire even more. Her tongue drew delicate designs around him, her hands leaving his hips to ride up under his shirt and palm the taut skin of his chest.

“Liv,” he muttered in what sounded like a cry falling on deaf ears. “Liv, please.” he wasn’t sure of what he was begging for, or why he was begging at all. Elliot Stabler didn’t beg, but apparently he did a lot of things when she wanted him to. She had a certain ease with taking charge, something entirely foreign for him to witness.

But the track her tongue left and the softness of her hallowed cheeks, he didn’t really give a fuck. 

“Olivia, you have to stop.” he pleaded, trying to steady her head to no avail. “Olivia, I’m gonna cum.” The warning was useless and her pace only picked up further. Her eyes opened, searching until they found his. She could easily see the helplessness within him as his legs trembled, hurdling him off the edge of no return.

She held tighter onto his hips, refusing to let him pull away from her. The string of profanities leaving his mouth grew more harsh as she sucked harder. Like a wave crashing against dry land, his climax overtook every nerve in his body. The pearlescent heat of his orgasm spilled into her mouth with the bucking of his hips. He steadied her head without warning, crying out in a strangled moan as she swallowed around him one last time.

When she pulled away, she swiped her smile and any remnants of him with the back of her hand. He struggled to catch his breath, his legs threatening to give out from beneath him. She lifted herself from the position she sat in, planting her knees on the bed so she would be eye level with him. Her arms wrapped around his neck, the sheets falling from her form to reveal her body still unclothed from the night previous.

“I tried to warn you,” he said breathlessly, his hands falling to her bare hips. She closed the gap between them, bringing him in for a deep and ferocious kiss. For a moment he wondered if she wanted him to taste himself on her lips, but the thought ceased when she pulled away.

“I know,” she grinned, her voice dropping to a whisper. “But spitters are quitters.” her forehead fell tiredly against his, her nipples hardening from brushing against the fabric of his henley. Her body swayed against him as his palms moved down from her hips to her ass.

“And all that was simply a ‘thank you’ for barging into girl’s night?” he asked, nipping at bottom lip as she chuckled.

“More or less,” she hummed, unwrapping her arms from around his neck to help tuck himself back into his pants. “Maybe I knew it would get me a nice reward in return.”

The corners of his lips turned into a cheshire grin. “Good girl,” he mumbled against her lips, kissing her one last time before she knelt back down to cover her exposed body. “I suppose I should start thinking of ways to repay you for that favor.”

“I suppose so,” she smirked before sudden realization dawned on her. “Wait! Can you hand me the notebook and pencil on my desk? I just thought of the solution for the Red Light home page!”

He scuffed with a laugh. “You’re turning into me, work on the mind all the time!”

“Hurry!” she giggled. “I don’t wanna forget!” she reached her hands out frantically as he handed her the notepad, instantly scribbling down the reference of her idea. Intrigued, he stood beside her as she sketched it out. “The opening page, it’ll be fake. It can have a custom setting to look like a newspaper page or the Uber app, a bunch of options.” she said as she rapidly drew out the mockup. “Something discrete so if someone following them sees them opening it, they won’t know what’s about to happen. If someone following a woman sees them opening a familiar panic button, they may be inclined to attack sooner. This will disguise the main opening screen and the entry to the panic button itself can be in the bottom center.”

Elliot pulled back and looked at her with disbelief, a proud smile blooming in the corners of his mouth. “I think you might be a genius.” he leaned down, pressing a long kiss to her cheek.

His eyes flashed to the photograph on the shelf and back to the woman in front of him, the pride growing. Whatever she had gone through, she had survived in spades. She’d grown up from the girl with the sad eyes into the woman with the strong ideas.

She was changing his life.

“I’ll see you soon.” he whispered, departing from her as she shut off the world around her to do what she did best.


Chapter Text


Everything in her head was out of order. When she was at the office, she wanted to be in the studio. When she was in the studio, she wanted to be home. When she was home, she wanted to be with him. Constantly chasing some state of mind that was thrown into the mix of others.

The weight was getting heavier on her shoulders, the push and pull of everyone needing her. Elliot needed her for work, Monique needed her for friendship, the app team needed her for approvals. She was beginning to forget what it is that she needs.

Elliot had been quiet since the morning he left. Despite the overwhelming state she was in, his own attitude didn't escape her. She was just appreciative that he wasn't cold or callous towards her, but just quiet. Something was on his mind, but he was always the most unreadable.

She tried to run a list in her head of reasons why he'd be acting this way. She couldn't think of how she'd made him angry or upset. His schedule was more lax than usual which always seemed to benefit his mood.

She felt like broken glass that he was tip-toeing around. As if he'd be pricked by a sharp shard if he spoke the wrong way. She'd always hated kid gloves, but she also knew that it was entirely possible that it wasn't her fault.

The sound of his glass office door opening pulled her attention as he stepped out, gearing towards Casey's desk rather than hers. She furrowed her brows as she tried to listen to what he was saying.

"Casey, would you mind running this file down to the finance office?" he'd asked politely. She responded with her usual 'Of course, sir.' and hurried off with the manila envelope in hand. When he turned, he was met with Olivia's confused eyes.

He flashed a smile as he walked towards her desk, seeing her own grin beginning to replace the confusion. She dropped the mechanical pencil that she had been sketching with for the last hour. Design blueprints covering her desk rather than the usual business side of paperwork.

"Don't look so hurt that I didn't send you running off to Ed Tucker's office." he chuckled. "Now that the coast is clear, I was wondering if I could ask for your company tonight? I've got a bottle of Pino with your name on it." he smirked, leaning against the white plexiglass desk.

"Well, well. Mr. Stabler, have you forgotten that we are in the workplace?" she feigned, crossing her arms over her chest. "Might I remind you that I am currently working two jobs for the price of one, and once my assisting shift is over, my design shift begins. That'd all be well and fine if the design team didn't end their shifts when mine begin? I'm a bit swamped."

He raised his brows, "Is that a yes or a no?"

"As much as I would like to—" she started, watching as his shoulders slumped with disappointment. "I'm behind on a lot with Red Light. I'm heading the team, El. They don't do anything without my say so which makes it difficult to leave them to do it without me."

"Please?" he said with pleading eyes. "There isn't a set launch date for Red Light yet, you can take the night off from it. The boss says so."

"Oh, does he now?" she laughed at the sparkle in his eye. He was proud of himself and it was almost adorable. Though, she knew better than to label Elliot Stabler as anything remotely related to 'adorable' due to his nature.

"Liv, I literally live on the top floor of this building. The design suite is below ground level. You won't be far. You need some relaxation time, so I'll ask again. You, me, a bottle of wine, a few hours away from the chaos."

It was the look in his eye, she notes to herself. The look in his eyes that resembled a crackling fireplace that made her relent. "Fine," she dramatically sighed, rolling her head to the side. "But I'm going home first to get into some more comfortable clothes." she protested, earning no argument from his end.

He smiled, retreating back to the solitude of his office.

When she walked into his apartment that night, donned in a cozy white knit sweater and leggings. She set her bag down on a lounge chair, lazily smiling as he handed her a pre-poured glass of wine. She reached out, her fingers brushing his as she took the glass from him. Her eyes scanned him up and down, taking in the fact that he was still in the suit he had been wearing at work.

The heel of her boot clicked against the black marble floor as she stepped down the split-level flooring of the living area. She'd never really had the time to actually look around and admire his home. Naturally, it fit every mental image of a modern penthouse that she could conjure up in her mind. Black and dark wood tones complemented by ceiling to floor windows overlooking the skyscrapers of the city. Here and there she noticed the simple touches that made it his own. Miniature statues and decorations from the various places he'd traveled around the world, his favorite plants and flowers accenting each room.

She sat down on the couch, facing the crackling electric fireplace that had been installed into a dark stone wall. Her mind wandered to the color in his eyes the first night she had practically burst through his door. The flames in his eyes, she thought to herself, and how they suddenly matched that exact fireplace.

"So, what's the real reason I'm here?" she asked, breaking the silence as her mouth formed into that just short of a smirk. He looked down at her, still standing as he cradled his wine. She could see the unspoken question in his eyes. "You've barely spoken to me in the past few days, Elliot. I have been wracking my brain for anything I've said or done to — I don't know, push you away ? Then, suddenly you want me here and clearly, it isn't just for sex because I'm wearing a sweater and it's not on the floor yet. So, spit it out."

He exhaled an unsteady breath, raising his brows as he tried to regain his composure. She always had a knack for catching him off guard. "Liv, you haven't done anything wrong." he smiled softly, taking the seat on the couch beside her. "I guess, I've just been thinking a lot. I suppose I don't know as much about you as I thought I did… or wish I did."

Her forehead knit together as he stared into her eyes, something soft yet hesitant written in the lines of his irises. "What do you mean?" she whispered nervously.

"Well, how much do I really know about you?" he huffed with something resembling a chuckle. "It's understandable that you know the ins and outs of my life, that comes with the job title. Nevertheless, when I look at you —" he stopped, sending her nearly to the edge of her seat with worry. "I don't really know the story of who I'm looking at."

She sat in shock, her jaw clenching as her head slightly jerked back. "My story? " she asked with an incredulous tone. She could feel her metaphorical walls rising, regret washing over her as she felt the regret of letting them down in the first place. Her eyes fell away from his, gently dropping to the detailed patterns on his tie. "I guess I wasn't sure what this was," she whispered almost shamefully.

It was his turn to feel the knee jerk of her words. He gulped away the lump in his throat. "It doesn't have to be if you don't want it to be." he murmured back, hoping the disappointment in his voice wasn't as apparent to her as it was to him. "Either way, I want you to know that you can talk to me. About anything, Liv."

Her eyes involuntarily closed as she exhaled, setting the practically untouched wine glass on the coffee table. She leaned back into the couch, hesitantly turning her head to look at him. "Then ask me something." her words practically inaudible as she felt the natural recoil begin to occur in her system. "One question, that's the best I can do right now. Ask and I'll try to answer it."

He did everything he could to keep the smile off of his face and only in the depths of his eyes. Effort, he could live with that. Millions of questions swarmed his head, all of them seeming just as important as the last. Though, one question in particular had been stuck playing on a loop in his mind for days.

"Monique said you saved her life. What did she mean?"

Olivia's head whipped back towards him, an expression present on her face that he had never witnessed before. "She spoke to you?" she asked in disbelief, her body going cold with the feeling of betrayal. "When?"

"The morning that I was at your apartment. I had woken up a little bit before you did and we just talked briefly," he answered, trying to remain calm for her benefit. He knew if his own defenses went up, she'd only back away further.

"It must not have been that brief if you got far enough into the conversation that this would come up." she grit the words out, using all of her effort not to lose her temper. The panic within her eyes was becoming more clear as her attitude neared towards defensive. The last thing she wanted was for him to see her caught off guard this way, but as the reality of it sunk in, it became harder to untense her shoulders and relax. She felt the hot sting of unfallen tears beginning to burn in her eyes. "What the hell did she say to you?"

"Olivia," he softly raised his hand. "I promise, she didn't say anything really, that's why I asked. She casually dropped it thinking that I knew what she was talking about. Look, if you don't feel comfortable telling me, I understand. I didn't mean to upset you."

"No," she exhaled, forcing herself to calm down. She wiped her finger under her eye despite having not lost any tears. "No, it's fine. It's just… it's a heavy topic and I didn't expect it to come up yet."

"If you don't wanna tell me yet, or at all, that's fine." he spoke quietly, gently grabbing one of her hands. His thumb stroked hers, his eyes sparkling into hers when she finally looked up from her lap to face him.

"Can you just ask me something else? Just something that isn't as heavy?" she quietly pleaded, her head cocking to the side as her brown bobbed hair swiped against the knit fabric of her sweater. She didn't want him to look at her with anything but that sparkle in his eye, and she knew it would diminish as soon as she told him the truth.

"Okay," he chuckled with a nod. "Tell me how the hell you afford such a nice apartment in Manhattan." he laughed, earning a giggle from her as her shoulders relaxed and the tension began to lift.

"That I think I can answer." she laughed. "So, when my mom passed away, her entire will was left to me. I didn't even have a clue until I aged out of foster care. She had set up a trust for me to be accessed as soon as I was 18. That, and by some stroke of luck, I found out that our old apartment was never foreclosed; some error on the bank's end. It was signed over to me and I sold it. When Mo and I were in foster care together, we made a pact to take care of each other, so I invested a lot of the money and made back more than I could've ever imagined. I helped her with student loans and we both were able to get on our feet."

Elliot's hand never left hers as he listened intently. He grinned at her in amazement, fully knowing he wasn't exactly 'self made' as she was. In fact, she was a marvel to him. Sometimes, he let his imagination wander to what he thought her childhood was. Even in those imaginary thoughts, he knew he could've never done what she'd done and made it this far. "You don't work at SE for the money, do you?"

"No," she huffed out a small laugh. "I told you, I work at SE because that's the ladder I wanna climb. I'm obviously not set with my assets but it was enough to kickstart me into the right direction. It's not always about the money, Elliot." she grinned, giving him a sarcastically pointed look.

His eyes averted downward with guilt as he laughed, realizing that there was an entire world of things she could teach him that nobody else could. "The uh — the reason I asked you here tonight is because I had a question." he nervously shifted his body, preparing for an array of reactions she could give. "I was wondering if maybe you would like to take a trip with me somewhere? I know things have been kinda stressful at the office and it might be a nice getaway."

"A trip?" she parroted, her brows raising with curiosity. "I mean… is that even allowed? That sounds like a human resources nightmare." she giggled.

"Our last few weeks have been an HR nightmare," he rolled his eyes. "We'll call it a work trip. You're my assistant, so technically you can go with me anywhere. I have a few branches of SE around the world, I usually check some of them out a few times a year. I think a few days in paradise might be good for the both of us."

She curled into his arm that was placed behind her back, resting her head on his chest as she faced the fireplace. "I'd have to think about it, El. Especially if it's not really all that work-related." she felt the panic rising in her stomach. She couldn't deny that she loved the idea, but it was the fact that she loved it that drove her nerves into an electric mess. "Can I have some time to sit on it?"

He hesitantly nodded, letting go of a deep exhale. "Sure, take some time. If you decide you don't wanna go, we can scrap the whole idea." his voice had dropped a few octaves as his fingers traced along her back.

She squeezed her eyes shut, knowing he couldn't see it from where he sat. If there was any reason for the intensity she was feeling, she wasn't aware of it. It all suddenly felt so… domesticated. She had control over the relationship when it was just sex; when it wasn't hurdling down the road of… well, the road of what was exactly in front of her.

When had the control slipped from her fingertips? More importantly, how did she allow that to happen?

"Um, do you mind if I go lie down for a little bit?" she cleared her throat, gesturing towards the stairs that led near his bedroom. "I think I'm just really tired."

He craned his neck to look at her with concerned eyes. "Sure, go right ahead." he nodded sympathetically. "Yeah, I have a few things to catch up on so I'll be in my office, it's right down the hall from here." he pressed a kiss to her temple before standing up, helping her to her feet.

She dropped her purse on the bed, hastily tearing out the contents from it and placing them on the sheets. She made quick work of the sweater she wore, pulling it off over her head before shedding out of the panties and leggings. She missed the fire, she thought to herself. The fire in his eyes that had seemed to be dulling lately.

Her eyes fell to the lingerie on the bed that she had placed out. The same black and lace set she had worn on their first night together. She shook her head to herself, deciding against it. Instead, she chose the dark grey silk robe, detailed with intricate black lace along the sleeves.

She wanted the fire from the first night with him. The thrill of not knowing what to expect from him. In some ways, she wondered if he had begun going easier on her for fear of going too far.

Her body shivered at the thought of how far he would need to go to warrant it being considered too far.

Words didn't work for her. Explaining her feelings outright never did. She wanted the fury within him to come back to her. Though, the words would never leave her lips. Instead, she had planned on doing what she was best at. Provoking him.

She slid the silk robe over her frame, not bothering to tie the front of it. She wanted 'too far' and then some, but she knew it would take time. Much like herself in a way, he wasn't keen on diving right in. As he would need to work the secrets out of her, she would need to work the beast out of him.

Her feet padded against the cold tile floors of the en suite bathroom. She hovered over the sink, staring closely at her reflection in the mirror.

She was not gentle like a flower. He did not need to tiptoe around her. She wouldn't shatter. She was gentle like a bomb. She wasn't fine china and she wouldn't run at the first sight of him taking control. 'You like control, Olivia. You thrive off of it. Let me take some of that control off of you, let me take care of you.'

Oh, how she wanted those words whispered against the shell of her ear again. She wanted the urgency, the pure and feral need. When her eyes closed, she pictured him stopping the elevator as he once did. The red emergency lights that drenched his body. The ice had been so clear that day, but now she wanted the fire. The fire that she knew had been hiding behind the ice. His coldness tamed the fury, the need within him that he was once again trying to remain hidden.

Cheek kisses were for couples. Nights on the couch were for partners. That wasn't their original arrangement. He was different before, and deciding between which side of him she preferred was a consistent battle in her mind. He touched her like a lover, he fucked her like an enemy. Wanting both wasn't an option.

Using her middle finger, she dabbed away the slightly smudged eyeliner from her eyes. Maybe she shouldn't have taken control the last time. In the darkness of her bedroom, offering no room for change. She had ensnared him, and convinced him to comply. Elliot Stabler did not accept such influence. Not usually.

If her actions were causing the change in him, then the only option was for her actions to alter. He had been so careful before. Careful everywhere except within the tangled sheets. His words, his gait, his stares. All so perfectly calculated with restraint. She was changing him and the simple thought of that made her want to throw her hand through the mirror.

She was not going to break. She was not weak. She was brutal and just short of invincible. He could touch her without her disintigrating at the tips of his fingers, why didn't he fucking understand that?

She let go of a deep breath and released her grasp on the sink, spinning on her heel to reenter the bedroom. Scattered clothing items were hastily put back into her bag which was laid beside the bed. The cold sheets chilled her skin as she climbed within them, the amethyst colored silk gathering around her legs.

She was learning his ins and outs, his points of rage and hunger. He was trying so hard to keep himself tame, she could feel the energy of it beneath his skin. No more containment, no more holding back.

Maybe she was going insane. She felt as if she was. Could it get much crazier than poking the beast with a stick? Knowingly provoking a response out of him simply to feel alive again?

She grabbed her phone from the nightstand, quickly navigating to the most recent text conversation between the two of them. Her manicured fingers tapped against the screen, carefully crafting a message that would grab his attention.

' There's a surprise in your bedroom,'

She wanted numbness; sex that would drag every whisper of a thought from her mind and fill her with nothing but the present moment. It was hard to breathe when memories swirled in her mind, she could barely see the room as it spun.

The numbness, that's all she wanted.

She waited a moment, finally exhaling as soon as the familiar ringtone beeped.

' I'll be right there,'

He'd convinced himself to get up and out of his home office, where no real work had been done since he'd sat down. He'd pushed her too hard, crossing a line he should've known better. The previous conversation played in his head on a loop as he trailed through the familiar hallways of his home.

He'd seen the look in her eyes, the fright as she had flinched when he'd asked her about Monique. God, he thought maybe she had pushed her best friend out of the way of a passing car, but nothing as serious that it would warrant that reaction from her.

As soon as his eyes reach her, his footsteps come to a complete halt. He could feel the breath ripped from his lungs almost in tandem as her breath filled her own. He stood, completely off guard watching as her fingers lazily rubbed her clit. Her robe had fallen open, giving him a clear view of her entire body as she stared straight forward into his eyes. As his body stilled, he could feel the heavy thumping of his pulse in his neck, furiously pounding beneath his skin. "Olivia," he warned, his jaw clenched in place. "Put your hands up."

He enunciated each word slowly, watching for minuscule changes in her temperament. Her eyes never fell away from his and her movements never ceased. He watched the writhe of her body as her hips slightly rose, gingerly grinding against her own fingers. He felt the heat creeping up his neck and into his cheeks, his fists clenching at his side. His steps towards her were slow and calculated, each one another chance for her to obey the order she was denying.

His knees reached the foot of the bed, mere inches away from the ability to reach out and grab her. From the look in her eye, he could see her searching for something within his. Whatever it was, he wasn't sure. She wanted something from him. "Hands. Up." Last chance.

She was playing him and he could feel it, the disturbingly enthralling sensation of knowing she was pulling at his strings. When her hands refused to move away from her core, his strides were swift towards the side of the bed. He ripped the tie away from his neck, using his other hand to fiercely grab her wrists. She took in a sharp inhale as he fastened the tie around her wrists and the tie to the headboard.

He stepped back, taking a look at the image in front of him. The instinct to soak up every modicum of the sight displayed in front of him was overwhelming. Her eyes had blown wide, her jaw slack as she awaited his next move. She was watching him as if he were a predator and she was the prey, knowingly giving in to the reality of what fate she was to meet.

Her pupils were blown and he could've seen it from a mile away. Whatever her plan was, she was enjoying it. There were times that he could read her as easily as he could read a book, and it was clear as day to him just how badly she wanted more. Her tongue swiped across her bottom lip, her teeth nipping at the sensitive skin. Whatever she wanted, he wanted to give it to her.

Back to his near light speed, he leaned over her, a callous palm gripping the soft and sensitive skin of her inner thigh. She whimpered as she sucked in another sharp breath, feeling his fingers electrifying every nerve they touched. "In your bed, you are free to do whatever you please. But in my bed?" he whispered, the heat of his breath warming the shell of her ear. "In my bed, the only hands that touch you are mine."

For a moment, she wished he could read her mind; so he could see how alive she felt the moment the fire had returned to his eyes. The exact thrill she had encountered during their first night and then some.

He pulled away, releasing the grip on her thigh. He easily shrugged out of the blazer jacket he had worn all day, rolling up the crisp white sleeves of his shirt to the middle of his forearms. Her mouth watered at the sight of him, statuesque and bathed in the warm light of the dark bedroom.

Her eyes followed every step he took as he moved from one side of the bed to the other. When he reached down and grabbed her purse, her breath became trapped in her throat. His eyes stayed with hers as he reached into the bag, grabbing a small and familiar pink device before laying the bag back down on the floor.

"You think I didn't know about this?" he casually smirked, holding up the travel sized vibrator for her to see. His fingers toyed with the buttons, buzzing it to life for a moment before powering it down. "Seventeen days after you started working at SE, I saw it in your purse by accident. I'd say my assumption that it stays there all the time is probably correct." his movements back towards her are slow and languid, feeding into the need that overpowered her. "Although I'm not, I should probably feel a bit more ashamed of the thoughts that filled my head after seeing it."

He heard a barely audible moan emit from her as he neared closer to her once more. Her breathing has sped up, he could hear it a mile away. The way she desperately wanted to reach out and grab him. He leaned back down, once again his mouth to her ear. "Do you remember your safe word?"

She nodded fervently, letting the word out in a short exhale. "It's red. The word is red."

The corner of his mouth turned up in a cocky smile. "Good, because you've disobeyed me, Olivia." Still fully clothed, he climbed into the bed and lodged himself between her knees. Her legs wrapped around his waist as he settled himself in. "So, we're going to have to take care of that."

Her hips lifted off of the bed with anticipation as the device in his palm whirred to life. His free hand came down against her lower stomach, flattening her back down onto the bed. "Do not cum without my permission. Do not make a sound. Got it?" he buzzed the device against her thigh, jerking electricity through her limbs before pushing her back down again.

Her teeth crashed down on her lip as he buzzed the head of the toy against her skin. He could see her arousal glistening already, her core soft and wet and calling out to him. Though, he knew part of denying her meant denying himself. As much as he wanted to dip his fingers into her aching center, he knew it would only lead the moment somewhere that it shouldn't be led.

She wanted to tease him, it was his turn; that meant sacrificing the touch and taste he desired.

"Is this what you wanted?" he growled, moving the toy just above her clit. She could feel the rhythmic vibrations just out of reach from where she wanted to feel them. She bit harder down on her lip, fully knowing her lungs were ready to forsake her at any moment. His free hand held tightly down on her thigh, restricting her upward movements. "I think you like disobeying me."

Her arms tugged against the tie but it gave no leniency. The tip of the toy neared closer to her most sensitive spot, her hips searching for more friction with complete abandon. His voice ran over her like a smooth leather, coaxing her further into the trance she had been searching for.

The emotional numbness induced by him and his touch was settling over her like a warm blanket. The swirling thoughts began to dissipate and had become replaced with raw anticipation. She closed her eyes and focused on every sensation that he fed into her. The vibrations of the toy near her clit, the ridges of fingerprints on her thigh, the sound of the growl in his chest.

Without warning, he moved the vibrator to rest directly against her clit. The reflex in her knees jerked and her back lifted from the sheets once again. Just as her teeth were about to slice her lips from the strength of biting down on them, a loud and unrestrained moan ripped from her chest. "Oh, fuck!" she cried out, instantly regretting it.

He pulled the toy away, giving her a pointed look. "What did I say about not making a sound?" he growled, pressing the vibrator near his chest enough that she could see it in her line of vision. "If I'm not mistaken, it seems like someone is chasing consequences."

"I'm sorry," she blurted out, gasping for air as her hips rolled. "Please, Daddy. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." she sobbed. The insatiable ache refused to waver and the flash of anger only added fuel to the fire.

"You better be," he mumbled before reverting back to the light pressure of the toy against her clit. He watched her fight with all her power against gasping out again, thrashing her head against her shoulder to help stifle the sounds. "No sounds, Olivia." he warned, failing at hiding his smirk.

He flipped the switch on the vibrator, turning its power up a notch with it still firmly in place. He watched her lip quiver between her teeth, the sight of her fighting off her natural instincts only furthering his need to drive her insane. He could feel the tightness in his pants becoming more uncomfortable as his cock grew harder. He knew his own resistance was wearing thin along with hers, but for now, his focus fell solely on her.

Her legs tightened around him as he sat still between her knees. Through squinted eyes, she could see the focus on his face. As if he were studying every morsel of the image of her in front of him, filing it away in his mind as a masterpiece. She saw the way his tongue dragged over his bottom lip, the fight in his eyes to control himself.

His vision raked up her body, taking in the sight of her olive-toned skin; her torso exposed in all of its glory. He was once again hit with the mouth-watering need to lick and taste her. The sight of her lithe skin and the hardening of her dusky nipples was quickly becoming his kryptonite. He could spot every inch on her neck that he craved to mark, to leave a sign to the world that she was the only one who could ignite him quite like this.

When he looked back down, he could see the small drip of her arousal, a clear glistening against her skin before it marked the sheets. He could sense from the strangled effort to remain quiet that she was nearing closer to breaking one more rule.

Her thighs squeezed harder against him, shivering as his hand came down to rest on the soft skin. She was on the edge, exactly where he wanted her. "Nod if you're close, Olivia," he murmured, pressing the toy against her with more pressure.

The fervent nod came before he had even finished his sentence. With her answer, he slowly pulled the toy away from her clit. She visibly fought against crying out from the sudden loss, her teeth sinking into her bottom lip like an anchor. "No sounds," he whispered, stroking her thigh. "Nice and quiet, good girl."

On any other day, he could listen to the sounds of her pleasure on a loop, drowning himself in the hymns that her body sung. Though, this time, the satisfaction he felt came from watching her as she followed his order. Her body searched frantically for any sort of friction, her moves entirely on auto-pilot with the slight pressure of his hands on her legs holding her down. He wondered if it were her lack of being able to express herself through sound that made her body move with more need.

"See? You know how to listen, Olivia. You know how to follow rules." he hummed, meeting her pleading eyes. "And to think, if you had followed the rules, you would've been allowed to cum all over that toy. So, next time, think about what you're feeling right now." he shot her a deadly smirk. "Think about how your legs are shaking and how wet you are. Think about how amazing it would've felt to cum a few moments ago."

She shivered against him, tears of absolute need forming in the corners of her eyes. He could read every word that her lips refused to express, almost as if they were written on her skin. She was begging within an inch of her life for him.

Powering the vibrator back to life, he rested it directly against her clit. The sudden reacquaintance with the toy shocked her body, still she managed to suppress the sound of the air being sucked from her lungs.

He leaned back as the toy laid against her, his fingers tracing the lining of his shirt tauntingly slow. She watched avidly as the buttons popped from the crisp white shirt, revealing the familiar flesh tones of his skin. Each button came undone with a torturous pace, inciting a reaction from her with every inch of skin that had become visible.

She tugged against the tie once more, desperate to reach out and touch him. The need to feel him against her palm was nearly more intoxicating than the vibrations against her core. As soon as the shirt fell from his frame, he leaned back into her with an almost primal sense.

Just as he could read her face, she could read his. She could read within the molten irises that his own patience was wearing thin and the urge to touch her was overpowering him. His hands ventured down to his belt, unfastening the leather buckle as well as the zipper of his pants. Her eyes fell down to the visible erection bulging through the material.

Without warning, his right hand was back to holding the vibrator steady against her. His eyes never left hers as he dipped a finger into her center with his other hand. Her jaw dropped, head rolling back against her shoulder, though nothing but a small release of air sounded from her. Her hips rose as his finger slid deeper, fighting for more than what he was offering her.

A second finger slipped into the wetness of her arousal, finally filling her with a bit more satisfaction and relief. His movements sped, up, the vibrator circling around her clit as his fingers drove into her.

The sensation of losing herself was becoming more overwhelming with each pump into her, each rumble of the toy against her core. Every blink was turning the stars behind her eyelids into constellations. Euphoria and nirvana had become senseless words to her compared to the reaction he had conducted her body to have.

By the time his third finger had slipped into her, he knew she was too far gone to deny it. Any shred of sanity that had remained through the first denial of her climax was clearly a lost cause now. She remained soundless with the exception of soft gasps, all of her strength being directed towards keeping herself from moving too forcefully against his touch. He could feel the swift onslaught of her orgasm from her pulse. "Cum, Olivia." he instructed through his own gritting teeth.

Feeling her come undone against his fingers was the final straw. He leapt forward, leaning over her as he undid the tie from the headboard that had bound her wrists. As soon as her hands were free, they instinctively wrapped around his neck as his lips crashed against hers. Never again did she want to take for granted the feeling of her hands roaming is back, the texture of his skin beneath her touch.

He swung her limp legs around his hips, lifting her off the bed as he secured the weight of her in his arms. His steps were jagged and much less graceful than he cared to admit, but he landed the both of them exactly where he wanted them.

The frigid cold window made contact with her back as he pressed her up against the glass. The endless row of lights that filled the city illuminated the outline of her body, silhouetting the parts of her that he faced.

"Do you think they can see you, Olivia?" he rasped, maneuvering himself to slip inside of her soaked entrance. Her eyes rolled back as she felt him bury himself to the hilt inside of her.. "Do you think the city can see the outline of your body and just know that every nerve ending inside of you is on fire?" He turned his head, sliding his tongue up the soft skin of her neck.

Her left hand intertwined with his, her knuckles hitting against the glass pane as he gifted it above her head. His other hand helped support the weight of her as he slid his hips away, thrusting back into her with sharp vigor. "I think they can see you." he whispered in her ear as soon as his tongue was drawn away from her throat. "I think they're watching you getting fucked, Olivia."

Her jaw quivered, her eyes never leaving his gaze as soon as they reconnected. The hand that wasn't gripping his was clawing at his back, begging for more traction. With each pistoning movement of his hips, she could feel the throb of his cock inside of her. He was painfully hard from watching her squirm under his touch until he allowed her dam to break.

"Let them watch," she breathed, her voice as low and gravelly as his. Her hand let go of his, wrapping around his neck to hold on tighter. She was nearly certain that with the strength of his movements, the glass that held her up would shatter into a million shards.

His lips crashed down on hers, his teeth nipping at her lower lip. He could still taste the luxury wine on her tongue tangled with the flavor of the strawberry lip balm she had been wearing. The vibrations of her strangled moan rumbled against him from his mouth down to his chest, pressed flush against hers.

She watched as his brows knit together, his drive into her becoming stronger with each passing second. It still amazed her that the simple image of him bordering his climax could bring her own pleasure to unexplored heights. It was becoming a power-hungry move for her, compelled by the idea that she had the ability to create such a reaction within him.

"Harder," she egged him on, watching for any sort of reaction in his face. "Fuck me harder, Elliot." she ordered, a smug grin growing on her lips. She clenched around him, earning a throaty gasp from deep in his chest. "Fuck me like you mean it." the words came with a deadly grit, fully knowing it would only make him angry. A flash of red filled his eyes for a fleeting moment and the idea that she could induce such a force of nature from him only fueled her adrenaline.

In one swift movement, he released his grip that held her up against the glass. He quickly spun her around, pressing her bare front to the freezing window. Without warning, his hands emphatically spread her legs apart, his cock immediately thrusting back into her. His hand rose to her hair, grabbing it in a makeshift ponytail as he pulled her head back with it. "You do not tell me how to fuck you." he growled in her ear, pushing her deeper against the window.

She braced herself with her hands against the pane, allowing herself the range to work with him as he fucked into her. Even with aggression in his movements, she finally felt in sync with him. The vehement need to feel his power was coming to fruition and the euphoria was finally returning.

With his new position behind her, she could feel him reaching her most sensitive spots. Her mind was wiped clean from the ideas of how to rile him up, instead replaced with the utter need to claim her release, and incite his own. Though it gave no traction, her nails still tried to dig into the glass, anything to hold her stance as her knees began to quiver.

His pace sped up, another synchronicity between the two of them. His fingers dug into her skin, steadying her as he drove harder into her core. Her cries came unrestrained as she teetered on the edge, her mind relinquishing control over her movements and allowing her body to stir as it needed. He tugged her hair back tighter, his other hand lifting from its place on her hip to grip her throat. His fingers squeezed her pulse points, instantly pushing her from the precipice and sending shockwaves of her climax through her entire system.

As she ground herself down on his cock, she tightened around him. Stars behind her eyelids replaced the city lights as he continued to guide her through. The reflexion in the window of her face overcome with pleasure was his final undoing. One last powerful thrust into her wet center and chills ran through his body. An animalistic roar ripped from his chest as he came inside her, thrashing to grab whatever part of her body he could hold tighter against himself.

Her forehead tiredly rested against the window as she came down from her high. She could feel the light sheen of sweat from his chest as he fell forward into her. Her breath fogged against the glass, her entire body growing limp.

With what little energy he had left, he carefully swept her up from her feet and carried her to the bathroom. Her head lolled against his shoulder with exhaustion before he gingerly placed her into the massive white bathtub. Her body relaxed against the porcelain as he turned on the hot water tap, grabbing a bottle of bubbly soap from the cabinets and pouring a healthy dose into the water.

He leaned down pressing a soft kiss to her forehead. "Good girl," he whispered to her, despite the fact that she was barely awake. He smirked at her as he grabbed a few towels, heading towards the glass shower with a direct view of the bathtub. He watched as her lips turned upward into a blissful and sleepy smile.

She laid curled up in his bed, nothing but the silk robe from before covering her body beneath the blankets. She mindlessly flipped through channels on his TV before he emerged from the bathroom. With a towel wrapped around his waist, he sauntered into the room, his phone drawn out in his hand. "Here," he handed her the device. "Take a look."

"What's this?" she asked, adjusting her vision to the screen. She scrolled through the bright and beautiful pictures of somewhere that was clearly not located near them.

"A few places we could go for that trip." he replied, continuing to dry off the upper half of his body. He crawled into the welcoming silk sheets, leaning over to point at one of the pictures. "That's one, the white buildings with the blue roofs? Santorini. It's in Greece. Beautiful place, like nothing you've ever seen before. There's an international SE base there that I've been meaning to check up on. Whaddya' think?" he smirked, lying on his stomach on the bed, propping himself up on his elbows.

"Wow," she blinked, continuing to scroll through the photographs. "It's stunning. How many other assistants have you flown out there?" she asked sarcastically, fully matching his shit-eating grin as she handed the phone back to him.

"I guess I've been waiting for the right one to tag along with me." he replied without missing a beat. He flipped himself onto his back, maneuvering her closer against him until her head was resting on his bare chest. His fingers stroked through the dark locks of hair that were still damp from the bath. "It'll be amazing, I promise. We'll go for a few days, I'll stop by the SE base, and then we can enjoy everything Santorini has to offer — including lots and lots of international sex."

She giggled as she traced lines along his chest. "International sex, huh? You sure do know how to win a girl's heart, Mr. Stabler." she took a hesitant deep breath, running the scenarios of the trip through her head. "I'll have to make arrangements ahead of time. I don't want Monique to think that I suddenly dropped off the face of the Earth."

"Obviously," he scoffed. "I'm not gonna throw a bag over your head and kidnap you just so you can relax for five minutes in Greece. We'll take some time to prepare, and that way I can have my place all set up and ready for our arrival."

"You have a place in Santorini?" she asked in disbelief.

His chuckle rumbled in his chest, vibrating against her cheek. "It's a quaint little place, I promise. It's like a villa, you'll love it."

She allowed herself one more moment of ignorant bliss as if her mind wasn't made up before she sighed. "Well, then I guess we're going to Santorini."

"Geez, don't sound too excited," he said with feigned hurt.

She laughed, swatting his chest with her palm. "I'm kidding, El. I'm excited, don't worry. You're right, it's been a stressful few weeks and maybe a few days away can do us both a world of good. But I mean it when I say that it better include a mimosa and some very pleasing international sex."

His arms wrapped tighter around her as he leaned down to kiss the crown of her head. "When hasn't the sex been pleasing? Do I need to prove myself again tonight?"

She laughed harder that time, feeling him bury his face into the top of her hair. "Calm down, Tiger." she patted her hand against him. "Not tonight. I think I'm maxed out on pleasing sex for the night, but that could change by morning."

She could feel the smirk that returned to his face. "Oh, I'm counting on it."


Chapter Text


"Are you seriously doing this, Liv?" Monique asked, leaning her arm against the couch as Olivia zipped her suitcase. "This does not seem like the type of thing you'd do. Jetting off to some remote country with a man you barely know?"

Olivia rolled her eyes as she dragged the luggage off of the seat. "First of all, I know him very well, thank you very much. Second, it's not a remote island, it's Greece, you can easily spot it on the map if you try. Third, it's a business trip."

"Oh, I wasn't aware that having his face all up in your business constitutes a swipe of the company's credit card." she smirked, grabbing one of Olivia's bags and setting it at the door.

"Ha-ha," she feigned. "We're going there to check up on an international office of Stabler Enterprises. He's thinking about expanding exports in that region and it never hurts to have a look around and see how things are running."

"Okay, I can see how that's justifiable." Monique rolled her head to the side, "On the contrary, I'm not sure sex on the beach holds the same merit."

"Are you really gonna do this right before I leave?" Olivia whined, her shoulders slumping as she watched Monique pace around the room. "I'll be gone for almost a week and I really don't want an argument to be our last conversation before I go."

Monique stared at her for a moment before giving in. "Fine," she sighed, walking over to her best friend and wrapping her arms around her in a tight hug. "But, you better call me at least once a day and bring me back some sort of fancy alcohol. In return, I'll keep your plants alive and I won't burn the apartment down."

"Deal," Olivia giggled, squeezing the hug tighter before hearing a knock at the door. "That's probably Skylar here to get my bags." she pulled back, resting her arms on Monique's shoulders. "I promise I'll be back soon. Have Alex over, enjoy some time alone together, and try not to miss me too much."

"Good morning, Miss Benson," Skylar greeted with his usual stoic and emotionless face as Olivia opened the door. He instinctively grabbed her bags and began carrying them towards the elevator. Whoever said chivalry was dead?"

The ride down to the lobby was awkwardly silent, but it always was. She had never really had a conversation with Skylar before, nothing more than a few short syllables exchanged between the two of them. She'd always wondered about the man; who was he and why did Elliot trust him with his life and hers? She often questioned what was going on in his silent mind as well. Why did he follow every one of Elliot's whims?

"I'm sorry if El— Mr. Stabler made you come all the way up. I could've taken my bags down, I think he just likes to add the flourish." Olivia whispered, trying to break the tension.

"It's not a problem at all, Miss Benson. That's what I'm here for." the man answered, his jaw just as squared and the tension still just as terrifying. He scared her and comforted her at the same time, it was quite odd, actually. Only Elliot had been able to do that except Elliot was the only one who added the arousal with it.

Skylar wasn't her type. He looked a little like Elliot — maybe 20 years ago. He lacked the authoritarian energy that Elliot had seemed to embody with perfection and ease. Whereas Skylar was simply that of a body meant to be used as a shield. He always looked battlefield-trained, eyes alert and focused on the things that normal people wouldn't blink twice at.

Reading him was futile, and it gave her a headache. As soon as the elevator dinged, she stepped out and could see Elliot outside through the lobby's glass doors. He was smiling, his shoulders spread apart as his hands folded behind his back. That fucking smirk, she couldn't help but laugh as she charged towards the door.

"Ready for paradise?" he asked, slowly stepping away from where his back was pressed against the black SUV. His arms extended outward to catch her as her pace picked up into a full-fledged run.

She giggled as she jumped into his arms, immediately being caught with his fingers digging into the backs of her thighs. Her forehead rested against his as she kissed him, her smile still pasted onto her lips. She pulled away as he set her down. "Don't make me say something cheesy like 'it's always paradise with you' because neither of us wants that."

She palmed his chest as he pulled her in, admiring her and the tight black dress that hugged her curves. Skylar was loading the luggage in the back of the vehicle, following his training to completely ignore whatever questionable behavior his boss was acting on with an assistant. "Last look at the city before it's all villas and beaches."

"It's a work trip, Mr. Stabler," she whispered in a seductively teasing voice, patting his chest. "Or is that some code for sexcapades that I didn't get the memo about?"

"All work and no play makes Elliot a dull boy," he quoted, opening the back passenger door of the SUV for her. She giggled as she climbed into the back seat, smiling from ear to ear as he winked at her.

Monique had a point. This was… beyond what she had signed up for the day she put her application in at SE. Even though parts of her consciousness screamed at her about how wrong this was, the thrill from her spine to her fingertips had become addictive.

It was the first time she had ever arrived at the airport and surpassed security, with Skylar driving them directly to the tarmac. As soon as she looked up, she'd spotted it. Through the tinted windows of the vehicle, she could see the matte, dark grey jet with the staircase down.

"Holy shit," she mumbled. On the wings, she could see the Stabler Enterprises logo in a glaring white color. When she looked over at Elliot, she couldn't help but to laugh at his shit-eating grin. He was such a damn show-off.

"Our chariot awaits." he chuckled. As the SUV came to a stop, he jumped out and rushed to open her door for her. Her eyes immediately trailed upward at the massive size of the plane. It was larger in person, that much was for sure.

Elliot wandered over to greet the pilot as Skylar unloaded their bags from the back. It was easy to forget that there were two sides of Elliot. Most of the time, she saw the relaxed, normal man who was underneath all of the money and success. Then, as soon as this side showed, it was almost just as shocking as the first time.

She stared at the jet, eyes helpless wide. All of this, it was all his. The thought of that made her brain feel like it was going to explode. The cars, the homes, the massive freaking plane she was standing under. She couldn't stop herself from wondering how the hell he came off as so normal to her at times.

"Ready?" he asked, breaking her from her reverie. His fingertips ghosted against her upper arm and she felt her breath shiver. Her eyes finally found his as she nodded breathlessly.

As she headed towards the steps, she turned her head and saw Skylar beginning to drive away. "He's not coming? I thought he was your security detail?" She wasn't sure why it made her nervous, but the more that she thought about it, the more she remembered just how much of a lingering presence the man was.

"No, I have someone on staff for that in Santorini." he answered, his hand on her back as he ushered her towards the staircase. "It's easier that way."

When she reached the top of the steps and made her way into the jet, she physically stopped her jaw from falling. The spacious area was unlike anything she had ever seen. Instead of rows of seats, the setup was more of a sitting area rather than a commercial plane. The walls and seating were grey tones, ranging from white to matte black. Two black leather seats sat side by side, accompanied by a bottle of champagne on the tabletop.

She reminded herself to keep moving and stop gawking, they were on a schedule and she didn't want to hold them back. Across from their assumed seats was a TV with the SE logo spinning playfully on the screen.

"It's sort of… a lot." he mumbled with a small laugh.

"Sorta, yeah," the breathlessness was more prevalent this time. She tried to shake it off, moving forward to sit in her seat and get comfortable. The best she could do was try to stuff down the almost star-struck sense of awe. She knew he liked when she became amazed at something about him, and she didn't want to give him that satisfaction.

"Buckle up, it's a long ride." he said, sliding into the adjoining seat beside her. He grabbed the bottle of champagne from the table and the two flutes, pouring a glass for her and then himself.

She could see the smirk he was trying to hide and she wasn't sure if she wanted to kiss it off of him or slap it off of him. Instead, she wordlessly clinked her glass against his as the engines began to roar to life. "You're a bit of a showoff, you know that right?"

His teeth sparkled as he laughed. "Yeah, I've been told." he took a sip from the glass before setting it back down. "We can fly back coach if you'd prefer that."

She rolled her eyes, harmlessly elbowing him in the arm. " You , in coach? Esquire would have a field day with that one, Stabler." she laughed into her drink, letting the carbonation prickle against her tongue.

A few hours into the flight and things were mostly quiet. Olivia mindlessly flipped through a magazine as the TVs in front of them played a calming fireplace. She had fallen asleep after the first hour, her head lolling over to rest on his shoulder. He had been just about ready to offer her a pillow before he realized that it was much more preferable with her slumbering peacefully against him. Neither of them had spoken about it when she had woken up, allowing themselves to just enjoy it.

He pushed up the armrest that divided their seats, giving him room to reach over and dip his hands between her legs."Elliot, we can't. Not here." she groaned under her breath, feeling his fingers dance along her thighs. She was wide awake now, and the magazine she was thumbing through was in the back of her mind.

"Yes we can." he said with a grin that would give the Cheshire cat a run for his money. "All of the flight attendants are behind those doors." he pointed at the partition in the front of the cabin. "They all signed NDA's anyway, so whatever they think they saw… they didn't."

"It's a bit alarming that you've had them sign those. How many women have been on this jet with you, Stabler?" she grimaced before gulping down the lump in her throat. His fingers were teasing the soft skin of her thighs, gaining momentum as they went closer to their target. They'd taken risks before, the bathroom at the office could account for that, but at least that had a locking door.

She wanted him, there was no point in telling herself otherwise.

"They signed them for business reasons. Sometimes, important conversations take place in these seats. Can't let competitors catch wind about that. It just so happens to also cover whatever they see." His fingers dipped further down between her and her head rolled back almost in slow motion. Her lips parted and for a brief second, he wondered if she would cry out for him. Instead, a wispy breath and nothing else escaped her lungs.

She gripped the aisle seat's armrest while her other arm snaked around his shoulder for support. A pained expression took over her face as she tried to suppress any impending noises that could slip. His fingers slid through the evidence of her arousal, gathering the wetness before rubbing it on her clit.

"I think it's been far too long since you've cum on my fingers, don't you think?" he whispered cooly in her ear. He was a bastard. An arrogant, impulsive, cocky, son of a bitch bastard with a touch that could instantly demolish her resolve. Every curve and contour of his movements were perfectly harmonized with what she needed, as if he had spent hours planning the exact movements of his fingertips and where they would go. Arrogant, yes. But nobody could ever say he lacked the true talent of making her quiver.

She bit down on her bottom lip, fully throwing her care for the effect it had on him to the wind. One digit slipped between her folds and she could hear him sigh at her tightness. Still maintaining his collected demeanor, he stroked the finger in and out of her.

"Elliot," she whined almost inaudibly. He knew it was only the warning shot as to what would become a babbling mess of pleas and cries. He was drinking up every moment of it and she knew it. Again, arrogant bastard. With his nice suits and expensive cars and private jets and fingers that would put the fabled God of lust, Eros, to shame.

"Yes, Olivia?" he answered with a smirk. "Was there something you wanted to say?" his breath was hot against her neck and she squirmed further. Before she could answer, a second finger filled her and she bit down on his shoulder. Her brows were furrowed together in full concentration, trying not to make a scene loud enough that the flight attendants would come running. "It seemed like there was something you wanted to say."

If there were any blood in her brain right now, she'd be calling him every name under the sun, but she was horribly out of touch with her thoughts. "More," she gulped, muttering the only word that came to her mind.

"More?" he asked with a chuckle. "But I thought we couldn't do this? That is what you said earlier, you know—" he paused, working a third finger into her. "When you send these mixed signals, it's very hard to read."

When his fingers curled, she saw either Jesus or the back of her eyelids, or possibly both. She was high enough in the sky to reach Heaven, right? Her cries muffled into his shoulder as she buried her head in his neck. She was fading fast, much faster than she wanted to admit and yet, there he was, almost completely unaffected.

"Fuck you, Elliot." she bit the words out cruelly as he continued to sweep his fingers upwards, electrifying her spine with every movement.

"Fuck you or fuck me? You're gonna have to repeat yourself, I didn't quite catch that. I mean, the engines on this thing are pretty loud, wouldn't you say?" he grinned once more, rapidly jittering his fingers inside of her for a moment until she moaned unintentionally. "Turbulence, I guess."

She choked on a sob as his fingers began moving more languidly in and out of her. He didn't need to feel her wetness to know it was there, he could practically hear it. He liked this side of her, he always had. She always became somewhat unpredictable — if she wasn't already unpredictable. He wasn't sure if she'd cum right then and there or say fuck all to her fears of being caught and ride him right in the seat.

The arm that wasn't straining to fill her with his fingers was maneuvered to her chin. "Look at me," he demanded in a low whisper as he guided her up to look at him. "Olivia, open 'em. Look at me." Two of his fingers were pinching her chin and three were stroking every raw nerve ending in her core. Somehow, she'd managed to lift her lids just enough to see the devilish look on his face. "Good girl." he leaned in, pressing a chaste kiss to the tip of her nose.

She was putty in his hands and nothing else. If that's all she ever was for the rest of her life, so be it. She wasn't going to think about how his dominance over her with a single small action could set her on fire. She also wasn't going to think about how her body automatically responded with something as simple as a praise because how goddamn embarrassing that was.

Her breath came in uneven puffs and she poured all of her concentration into the feeling of him and his fingers. It was beyond surreal and she feared it would become a dream she would wake up from. They were on a private jet to Santorini and businessman extraordinaire, Elliot Stabler had his fingers so far up inside her that he could feel her pulse.

Her hips started to move along with his fingers as she lifted herself just an inch off of the seat. Her eyelids felt like lead, completely unable to stay wide enough open to watch him work his magic. She wanted to cry and scream out but she knew the partitions separating the cabin from the stewardess quarters were thin. Instead, she settled for whimpering moans and sharp inhales.

"God, you look beautiful right now." He muttered, his own arousal apparent in his voice. "Open your eyes and look down, Olivia. Look down and watch my fingers slide in and out of you."

She bit her lip once more with a defiant shake of her head.

"Look down ," he repeated with just the slightest bit more of a bite in his words.

She gulped as hard as she could before forcing her eyes open. Her head bent enough to see the way he'd pulled aside the black dress and matching thong. She watched his fingers disappear inside of her with a thrust, completely unaware of why it brought her to such a high point of arousal.

Elliot Stabler's fingers were enveloped inside of her. Maybe that was why.

Her head lolled against her shoulder as she kept her eyes open. She could see the glistening wetness that covered the digits. Her control over her actions was slipping faster than she'd ever like to admit, and the sight was far too much for her to handle.

"Elliot," she warned, refusing to take her eyes off of his ministrations. She wasn't sure of what his next move was or what he would direct her to do. Did he even want her to cum? He always seemed to find thrill in making her wait.

"Nobody is stopping you, Liv." he grinned, his words as warm as honey. "It's just you and the magic."

The calloused pads of his fingers were pushing all of the right pressure in all of the right places and her control was damn near gone. His thumb pressed against the edges of her clit, swapping out a new sensation every few moments as he changed directions.

He lifted himself out of the seat, towering over her without letting his hand leave her body. Before she had a moment to let out a building moan, his lips were on hers with the ferocity that she craved.

She thanked God that there was enough room for him to kneel in front of her. Goddamnit, him hovering over her was far too much. His movements became more skilled and detailed given his new trajectory. He was on his feet, leaning down and craning his shoulder as his pace sped up.

She was tempted to rip off the crisp white shirt that covered his torso, but her body was barely responding as it were. "I'm close," she heard herself whisper.

"Well, the seats are leather so don't worry too much." he chuckled. Pompous, arrogant, goddamn heathen, she thought to herself. When her eyes opened once more, she saw the shades of darkness in his irises, interwoven with the hues of blue. Cocky smirk, just as she expected. He enjoyed this and she couldn't decide if that was a horrid side effect of his ego or just downright unbearably sexy.

It took one turbulent for her to come undone. Just one small shake of the plane, his fingers curling one last time and she was done for. A low and deep sob erupted from her chest as her jaw fell as far as it could drop. Maybe it was the air pressure or just the overwhelming presence of him over her and inside of her, but the sheer force of her orgasm was nearly enough to stop her heart from beating. She had reached up from her iron-clad grip on the armrest and grabbed at his shirt, twisting it in her clasp.

Her legs shivered as the high only went higher. His fingers didn't stop moving even as her body tensed, and she knew the sadistic side of him liked watching her go from the perfect orgasm to the slightest bit of overstimulation.

She somehow managed to look downward, seeing the dribbles of her wetness beading down his fingers. Her breath was far from returning despite him slowly slipping out of her and sitting back down in his seat.

As she fought to calm herself, his other hand reached over for her chin, directing her to watch as he licked her orgasm off of his digits. His eyes never left hers as his tongue dragged along, playfully licking away any evidence of what had just transpired.

She stared at him in disbelief, finally finding a steady rhythm in her breathing once more.

"I told you, it's been far too long since you've cum on my fingers." he smiled, pulling her into a deep kiss so she could taste on his lips just how perfect she was to him.

When they stepped on the tarmac in Greece, she wanted to kiss the ground. Yes, the plane was lovely and yes, it was luxurious, but comfortable? Not for 13 hours. Her legs wobbled down the steps as they walked out into the cool night air. It smelled different here, it smelled like sea salt. It chilled against her warm cheeks, the light wind brushing playfully through her hair.

Elliot was right behind her on the staircase, talking indistinctly to someone back at headquarters. As soon as they'd both reached the bottom, she'd spotted a man who seemed keen on talking to Elliot.

"You must be Christos," Elliot's voice boomed from behind her. He extended out an arm still covered in his navy blue jacket. She could hear the welcoming grin through his words alone as he shook hands with the stranger.

"Christos Andino, yes." the man smiled and nodded, shaking Elliot's hand in return. "I'm your security detail for your time here in Santorini. It's a pleasure to meet you, sir."

"Pleasure's all mine, whattaya say we get this tired little lady settled in the car?" Elliot's warm hands gripped softly on her shoulders and it nearly made her cry of how badly she wanted to fall asleep right there under his touch. "It's been a long ride."

"Absolutely, sir." he responded, leading them to a similar black SUV that had driven them to the airport in New York. The interior lights were like a shining beacon as she hoisted herself up into the vehicle and sank into the warmth of the seats.

Elliot leaned in the open space that was left from the door but didn't step inside. "I'll be right back, I'm gonna say thanks to the staff for getting us here safely." he whispered, kissing her gingerly on the forehead.

An egomaniac at times? Certainly. But, his manners did seem to stick out to her when it counted. He was — in short, a good man. He was kind and caring, and there was a gentleness about him that made her feel warm. Yes, he could be a cocky bastard, but he had his ways of making up for it and she was absolutely not in love with him because that would be insane. Right? Even though she felt more at home with him lately more than she did in her own bed. Even though the only time she could ever feel her entire body relax to its deepest state was when he carried her in his arms like a bride. Even when his smile was the only light after a long day and still that was enough.

It would be insane to love a man who made her feel as if she were the reason the sun shined, with or without material items, right?


That was the last lingering thought before sleep overpowered her.

The drive to his villa was quiet. Through the tinted windows, he watched the scenery pass them by. Olivia was sound asleep on his shoulder once more, her breathing coming in quiet and soft puffs. Every few minutes, he would look back down to see the long black lashes flutter against her cheeks. A smile would become inevitable and he'd look back out to the skyline once again.

Lights from homes blinked and flickered as the car strode beside them. Blue lights glowed and reflected off of the homes as their backlit pools stood out the strongest. Orange spotlights were embedded in the mountainside, casting an unusually beautiful array of bliss along the homes.

He wished she was awake to see it, but her exhaustion had become clear towards the end of the plane ride, and she needed sleep. She looked peaceful, he mentally noted. His free arm lifted to brush a strand of dark hair out of her face.

He'd told himself it was a business trip.

Both of them had known that was a lie.

He could do things that would consider it a work trip, of course. He could visit the Greece headquarters of SE, he could visit the warehouses. He could walk around and meet the locals, spotting room for new and innovative products that could change lives. He could do it all and call it whatever he wanted, but he knew that it was more than that.

With her, goddamnit, it was always more than that.

He yearned to show her the parts of the world that he had the privilege of seeing. Not because she couldn't see them herself, he knew that she would always find a way. But rather, to see the excitement in her eyes and hope that it would never leave. He knew in his heart that she was bound for success and nothing would ever hold her back from seeing the things he saw someday. Though, he wanted her to see them now; with him .

He believed in her.

It wasn't the ugly situation it could've been. She wasn't a suck-up to him and he wasn't grooming her with luxury just to get in her pants. Most of the time, she barely batted an eye at the style of his world. That always impressed him. As if, somehow, in the armour of his success, she had been the only crack.

It was a welcomed crack in his shell. When he had built his business and became who he was, he had feared there would never be another person on Earth who could see through it and instead see him. Then, there she was, drooling just a little bit on his shoulder as she slept.

He believed that she was destined for an amazing life, with or without him. Most people would've heard that and held onto it with an ironclad grip, but she knew it too. She didn't need him to be the one to tell her that she had the power to make her biggest dreams come true.

He admired the Island once more, and its astounding beauty.

They rolled into a villa that was familiar only to him, headlights shining against the white exterior of the home. Liv was still dead to the world and peaceful against him. The idea of waking her hurt deep in his chest and he wasn't sure why. "Liv, we're here," he whispered, watching her stir awake quietly.

She blinked, looking around the cab of the car before nodding at him. Her fists rubbed her eyes as she reached for the door handle.

Elliot climbed out of the car to follow Christos to the trunk. "I'm gonna grab her bag and get her settled in first," he said to the man, hauling out Olivia's suitcase. She was standing off to the side, wobbling in her heels as she tried to remain upright.

"Not a problem, sir. I'll unload the rest while you get comfortable." Christos smiled at him, watching him guide Olivia into the villa with a hand on her back. Over his shoulder, he could hear Elliot speak under his breath to Olivia.

" Your pajamas are on the top inside of the suitcase, right? Alright, we'll get you comfy, don't worry."

Christos waited until the two of them were out of earshot before reaching for his phone in his pocket. With a wary eye set on the villa, he dialed an unlisted number from the previous call logs.

"Are they there?" the raspy voice on the other line asked without greeting.

"They're inside now, I'm outside unloading the luggage," he answered, hauling Elliot's suitcase out of the back hatch. "I'm staying in the adjoining villa, so the task at hand shouldn't be too difficult."

"I want pictures, Ardino. Video too, any physical proof. I don't care if you have to camouflage yourself in the fucking shrubs, you get me impenetrable evidence of misconduct. Understood?" the man ordered with a demanding tone.

Christos took one more glance towards the villa, seeing the silhouette of Elliot lifting Olivia's shirt through the window. "Copy that."

Chapter Text


When her eyes opened, she was hit with the memories of the day previous. The Santorini sunshine beamed against the stark white walls, casting a comforting warmth over her body. She could hear the waves crashing from down off from the mountainside, and the sea salt in the air was even stronger than it had been last night.

With a tired sigh, she rolled over under the tumbled white sheets. Without even needing to look, she could see a shirtless Elliot propped up on his elbow, staring down at her. When her eyes did open once more, she saw the grin on his face and the sparkle in his eyes.

"Morning, sunshine." he smirked, taking a sip from the coffee cup he held in his hand.

Her dark brown hair was splayed over the crisp pillowcase, highlighting the almost invisible red tint in the strands. She smiled lazily, taking a deep breath through her nose. "Do you always stare at me when I sleep?" she mumbled.

"Yes," he stated matter-of-factly.

She giggled, sitting up and taking the coffee mug from him and taking a sip. "So, what's on the docket for today?"

"Whatever you want. We could go for a boat ride? Maybe a wine tasting?" he removed the coffee mug from her grip, setting it on the table beside him. "Both?" he leaned down, hovering over her before pulling her into a kiss.

"Don't we have to visit HQ at some point? Mmph..." she trailed off. Her arms wrapped around his neck as he kissed along her throat, sending her into a fit of giggles. "Business trip, remember?"

"Trust me, I'm all business," he whispered, nibbling on her ear. "Just enjoy yourself, will ya? We're on the most beautiful island in the world and you're thinking about work. You're beginning to sound like me."

When he was nose to nose with her, she smiled. It was a lazy, came-with-ease smile as she sunk deeper into the bed beneath her. She was happy, and it was strange. She wasn't sure what it was that he had said that changed her mind, but she felt the shift. He was right, there was no shame in allowing herself to enjoy life a little bit.

She pecked his lips softly, her arms still hooked around his neck. "Okay, you're right. A boat ride and some wine does sound much needed." Her eyes closed at their own volition as she took in the intoxicating scent of him. Yesterday's cologne was wearing off and the natural musk of him was peaking through. The warm weight of him above her was every nerve in her body jitter with anticipation and glee.

Her arms pulled away from his shoulders and her hands came up to cup his cheeks, pulling him back against her once more. She could taste the bitter black coffee on his tongue and her brain went haywire. That was the thing about kissing Elliot; once she started, she never wanted to stop. She could spend endless days doing nothing but kissing him. He communicated through touch as if it were his first language and only she could understand.

"I'll make breakfast if you wanna take the first shower. Or, we could shower together," he smirked against her lips, nuzzling his nose against her cheek.

"Slow down, hotshot. Wine and dinner were promised for later, so I guess you're gonna have to earn it first." she smiled, sliding out from under him in nothing but her tank top and panties. First she grabbed her swimsuit from her bag and the black slip to cover it and then she swiped the mug of coffee from the nightstand. She stopped in the bathroom doorway, leaning against the doorframe as she took a sip. "However, I wouldn't be opposed to that shared shower later."

She shut the door before he could respond, finding herself in possibly the most beautiful bathroom she had ever seen. The entirety of the room was stark white and marble, the shower made entirely of clear and visible glass. On the far end of the room beside the window was a massive oval shaped tub with sleek, stainless steel taps. The design was minimalist and yet it screamed luxury. Her mind wandered to the idea of what it would be like to slip under the water in the tub with Elliot behind her, given that it was the perfect size for the both of them.

Beside the double vanity, she grabbed a set of the fluffy white towels that had been set out. The breeze of Santorini was somehow flowing through the bathroom, only further igniting the bliss in her bones. Work could wait, Red Light could wait, it could all just wait while she let herself relax and enjoy it.

Santorini was obviously special to him, and even more so given that he wanted to share it with her.

The ride to the marina was short and quiet, both of them just taking in the view of the amazing island. The windows were rolled down and the breeze ran against both of their faces. Olivia was too consumed with the surroundings to focus on Elliot, especially since she had been asleep when they'd first arrived. She had missed the beauty of it, wanting now to soak in as much of it as she could.

The vehicle pulled into the parking at the marina and Olivia was instantly blown away at how crystal clear the water was. As she stepped out of the car, her breath was taken away at the sight. "God, this is stunning." she gasped, trying to take it all in.

"I've been to a lot of places, but I can't ever get over how beautiful it is here," Elliot commented, tugging on the first button of his white shirt. He looked around, surveying the area with a familiar sense of nostalgia. He felt at home in a lot of places, that was just part of his job, but Santorini was a bit different. It was his one true runaway. "Hey uh — Christos? Why don't you hang back? Take the car, do whatever you want, and we'll give you a call when we're on our way back. I think we've got it from here."

"Are you sure, sir?" the man asked, suddenly looking anxious. His chest puffed out the slightest bit, his jaw visibly clenching. They were standing toe to toe and for the first time, Olivia realized how similarly statuesque he was to Elliot. Although, it didn't make her feel the same safety she felt around Elliot. Instead, she just felt further discomforted by the man. "Not to step out of line, but you hired me as your security detail. I can't really do my job if I'm not covering you."

Elliot stepped forward, his brows furrowing slightly as his lips pursed. Olivia recognized the look on his face, it was a look she had seen often in the office. Usually, it came with a non-verbalized threat against anyone who tried to one-up him on his own turf. She only ever labelled it in her head as his 'nearly feral' expression. He slid his aviators down his nose, "I hired you as a cautionary measure, and I appreciate the loyalty," he grinned, stepping even closer as if he were an animal hunting its prey. "But I do believe I am a man who can protect himself for a few hours on the very water that I have been on countless times. Like I said, I've got it from here."

The silence was choking her as she watched the showdown between the two men. Elliot was staring him down without even so much as a blink for several seconds before the other man relented. His gulp was audible as he stepped back. "Yes, sir."

He and Olivia began walking closer towards the dock, leaving Christos behind as if he hadn't even existed in the first place. Elliot carried a bag on his arm and Olivia could hear the clinking of bottles of booze and snacks between the canvas tote. She remembered that he'd mentioned something about bringing their lunch out on the boat. In all fairness, she was hoping that the food would be native to the location because they hadn't gotten around to trying actual greek cuisine yet. "My boat isn't far from here,"

"Your boat? I thought we were getting a rental or something, I didn't know you kept a boat here." she laughed.

"I got it a few years ago." he replied, smiling at her. "I didn't have the heart to get rid of it so I've been paying the marina to look after it, and a few guys down at the HQ here to spruce it up every once in a while."

"Is there something special about it?" She asked, looking up towards him as they strolled.

He didn't answer for a few moments, choosing rather to let the sun beam down over his face as he tipped his head back. She heard the sharp inhale, realizing he was immersing himself with the scent of the sea water. His mouth opened and closed as he reluctantly began to answer her."I uh — I spent a lot of time with my daughter on the boat when she was little."

It took everything in her not to stop right there in her tracks. He hadn't mentioned his daughter in a long time, and she nearly forgot about her existence. "Oh," Olivia answered back, feeling sheepish after the confession.

"And this —" he stopped, a huge grin growing on his face. "This is her." He held up the keys as his head nodded in the direction of one of the boats. It was beautiful — of course. Newly restored it seemed, especially given that there wasn't an inch of peeling paint or rust on it. The entire deck was as white as the walls inside their villa, with a blue stripe around the body of it. "I had the guys come out and take it for a test drive a few days before we got here, she still runs like the day I got her."

With a sense of giddiness in his steps, he ran down the dock and threw himself over the edge and into the boat. "Here, take my hand," he reached out pretending to grab her by the arm only to pick her up by her waist despite her giggling pleas for him to be careful. Once her feet were planted firmly on the floor of the deck, he tossed his keys up in the air and caught them. "Ready to hit the open water?"

"As I'll ever be," she smiled back, sitting in a seat near the navigation as he took over. The boat whirred to life, the engines sounding just as sharp as they did the day he first got the keys. Through the dark shade of her sunglasses, she saw the smile he wore as the sound hit his ears. It was music to him, that much was painfully obvious.

As they strode across the clear blue water, her thoughts wandered away from her. She thought about his daughter and suddenly, she understood the sacredness of this place. He wasn't here to woo her and win her over.

He was here to share.

She could see it in him. He wanted her in on the experiences that made him the happiest. That stirred something in her, but she couldn't put her finger on exactly what it was. It scared her. She would be a fool if it didn't. Elliot was never shy about showing her love and adoration. For a while, she wondered if that was just his way of expressing any sort of care. It wasn't long until she realized that she was wrong; it was just her.

Even though the rip between the boat and the water was deafening, it was peaceful. An unspoken serenity between the two of them as they ventured out past the alcove of the marina and out into the open water. Everything about it was perfect, from the way the sun's shining warmth didn't burn to the cool breeze coming off the water.

"Come here," he smiled, motioning for her to walk to him.

She pushed herself out of the chair, cautiously walking toward the navigation.

"Wanna drive?" He grinned as she laughed, completely taken back by the offer. "C'mon, it's easy. Here," he placed her in front of him, his hands on top of hers as he guided them to the wheel. She looked over her shoulder and laughed as he steered through her hands. She could feel the heat of his breath on her neck along with the chill of the air.

His hands moved away from where they rested on hers, instead landing on her waist. He pressed his body against her back, chuckling deep in her ear. "See? You got it. Wanna go faster?"


Her eyes practically rolled into the back of her head. Without saying anything, she simply nodded, trying to focus on the path in front of her. The GPS had mapped out the course on the screen and she watched as they slowly veered off course.

One hand remained on her hip but the other left to grab one of hers from off the steering wheel. "Clutch this," he placed her hand on the lever. "Slowly push it upwards, towards the windshield."

She wanted to melt into him as he guided her movements further. The wind pushed further against her, colliding a coolness against her where the warm sun beamed down. This was living, she thought. The adrenaline pushed a smile to her face as the boat sped up, an unintentional giggle rising to the top of her lungs. It was just them and the wide channel of translucent water.

Magic, that was the best word that came to her mind. When she thought of the fearlessness she felt on the water and the way his touch felt like sparks against her skin, it could only be defined as magical.

"You're a natural!" He shouted, forcing his volume to rise higher over the increasingly loud sound of the waves.

Magic, and maybe freedom.

"So... you spent a lot of time here with Kathleen?"

They had dropped anchor out in the middle of the water, no sight of land anywhere in their range. She was lounging peacefully on the deck while he sat back with a drink in his hand, taking in the warmth of the unshielded sun.

His comment about his daughter from earlier hadn't left her mind, and she knew it wouldn't until the cards were on the table.

"Yeah," he smiled, his eyes falling to the floor. "We'd all come here to Greece, my ex-wife thought of it as the only place I'd ever actually allow myself to take a break. She would literally beg for us to come here, I always just thought she liked to vacation but she was just trying to get my attention." his eyes went sad as he allowed her the smallest glimpse into his past. "But sometimes she'd go out and go shopping, something to give me and Kathleen some time alone to bond. We'd always sit out here and just... talk. I mean, there's not much conversation to be had with a toddler, but we'd make it work."

"Sounds like some of your best memories were out here," she smiled softly at him. She could feel the awkwardness, there was no point in trying to hide it. She was afraid of overstepping, he was afraid of his emotions, it wasn't a perfect mix.

"She liked to uh," he paused, laughing into his hand as his head shook. "She liked to lean over the edge of the boat and 'say hi to the fishies' as she called it. I'd hold her by the straps on her little pink life-jacket and she'd wave her hand at the water. Every day we were here, she'd beg to come say hi to the fishies."

He was trying not to choke up. It may not have been an audible give away but she prided herself in at least understanding and expecting his next move. He was on the cusp, she could feel it. Yet, she couldn't stop the prying. She wanted to. She wanted to find the ability to shut up and stop toeing the line but the line was right there and it was calling to her.

"Do you miss it?"

Her eyes found his and there was something deep hidden in her stare. Something resembling disapproval. She hadn't outright expressed her cross feelings for his absence in his daughter's life, it wasn't her place. But it was hard to hold it back when she knew what it was like to go through life without a parent.

So, her question sat there like a loaded gun. Do you miss her? Do you miss the moments that don't even need to be missed? She remembered what he had said that night at their fancy dinner, about how his second divorce was messy and he was so miserable that he wanted to keep Kathleen away from that.

"More than anything," he answered, shamefully looking down into his lap. The boat rocked against the soft waves, the gentle breeze blowing in both of their ears.

It was making more sense to her as the moments passed. A realization that was somehow both comforting and absolutely terrifying at the same time.

His intent in bringing her here was much deeper than he probably even knew. He missed his daughter, but he had created those memories of her with the wrong woman. As long as Olivia was there, he could relive those memories with his daughter in his head alongside the person he'd wished had been there with them.

"You uh — you never told me the full story, you know. About Kathleen and everything." It was her turn to stare into her lap, picking at the strings that hung from her bikini. She didn't want to push, but that was what their relationship was. A constant push and pull against each other.

Though, he got what was coming to him. She hadn't forgotten the ambush at his apartment, about Monique and her mother. She had spilled part of her soul out, it was his turn.

He wearily shook his head, staring down at the floor. "It's not a pretty story."

"Neither was the one about my mom." she quipped without hesitation.

"Fair enough," he chuckled, his head cocking to the side. He scratched the back of his neck, his tell-tale sign of nerves but she wasn't going to let up. Not if they wanted this to go anywhere further than just her telling her secrets and him remaining emotionally locked up. "Like I told you, my divorce was hard. I've been married three times and it was the only marriage that I actually put effort into — and the only marriage that lasted more than two years."

Olivia nodded, ensuring him that she was paying attention.

"Kathy, or 'ex-wife number two' as you know her, she wasn't what you think. It was never about money for her and sometimes, I think it would've been easier if it had been." he wiped at his face, growing more nervous as she listened. "At least that way I could've made a much more clean break of it all. Except, there were feelings involved and that made it so much worse. I honestly thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with her. Though, as you know, I'm a workaholic and she didn't like that, so we grew apart."

"You're not as ice cold as you like everyone to think." she murmured.

"I became... very bitter. I felt ashamed because I thought I had let myself get played; I wore my feelings on my sleeve. I wasn't clear-headed when the divorce started to happen, I was a mess. But the one clear thought I was absolutely sure about was that I didn't want my daughter in the crossfire. So, I surrendered. I knew that the harder I put up a fight, the more bitter towards Kathy I would become." he paused, his eyes closing with one deep exhale. "My girl... my little girl, she didn't deserve to become a pawn and I was afraid that I would unintentionally turn her into one if the divorce got any worse."

"So, you saw it as an act of love?" She asked. The ultimate sacrifice, yet all misplaced.

"Not a single day goes by that I don't wish she was by my side. Believe me. I've never missed a piano recital, a career day, a ballet performance. I pay for her to get the best education and I make sure she's got everything she needs. I'm just not the dad that's there every day and I hate it. I... I fucking hate it, Olivia."

"So... if you're not the dad you want to be, what dad are you?"

"The one who knows his daughter's name but not her favorite color," he sighed. "The one who has her photos on his desk but isn't in any of them. I'm a little less than a stranger to her. I distanced myself to protect her but in the process, but I always thought that it would only be a short matter of time until we were back to our normal relationship. I let time slip away."

His eyes were red from the denial of tears and he wasn't looking at her. How could he? Meanwhile, she stared him down with the force to burn a hole into him.

"What's stopping you now?" Olivia asked carefully. She could feel that anger, it was on low boil but it could rise to the top at any moment. You have no excuse not to be in her life.

"Fear," he answered bluntly. "Of what, I'm not sure. Maybe I'm afraid to face that our bond isn't what it used to be, or that it never will be again. More than anything, I'm afraid she'll look at me with those bright blue eyes and only see a failure. Someone who gave up when, in reality, it was the opposite."

Olivia nodded, understanding the logic that he had ingrained into his mind. From the outsider's point of view, it might not make sense. But it made sense to him. "That's why we're here," she whispered, her voice hoarse from the tension of unspilled emotions. "You feel closer to her here."

He nodded once, refusing to look up.

"Sometimes, we cling to memories because they're safer. They are unchanging and unrelenting. Reality, on the other hand, is static. Unexpected and completely in the air at all times. We spend more time fearing the outcome than we do experiencing it. Except now, you're sitting here, a million miles away from home while chasing a memory when you could be making new ones. Take it from a girl who doesn't even need to explain what her paternal situation is — you walk in the door and be a dad to that little girl, she'll be a hell of a lot more forgiving to you than if you never return."

The silence was thick enough that it could be cut with a knife. He didn't know what to say, or if there was even anything to be said. In his gut, she made a lot of sense. That was something he had come to realize about her; sense was her superpower.

Instead of using words, he stood up and walked along the deck to sit beside her. Wrapping his arms around her, he laid the both of them back into the lounger. Her head buried into his shoulder when his hand rested on her waist. It was a promise of something that words couldn't do justice for. It was a plea for her to understand that she was immeasurably helpful to him. It was a promise to sit on her words and consider them, despite the fear. It was appreciation that he wasn't chasing a memory alone, and that she might become the very guiding light that brings him to the forefront of something new.

"I'm lucky to have you," he murmured into her hair.

It was rare when their touch wasn't something that came with electricity beneath it. When it was just two people finding comfort in one another. There was no intent behind where he touched her and no reason why, no ulterior motive. Just the sunshine, the presence, and the relief that she still had hope that he could make better decisions.

"The wine tasting tour was postponed so I hope this can make up for it," Elliot whispered in her ear, guiding her into the beautifully lit restaurant. String lights hung from the ceiling and greenery made up the walls. The entire restaurant was overlooking the stunning sea as soft music drifted through the building. "The tasting is tomorrow after we drop by SE headquarters."

"This is... wow," Olivia gasped, eyeing her entire surroundings up and down. The whole restaurant was empty, and despite the fact that she'd hoped otherwise, she knew exactly why it was empty. Elliot had done what Elliot does — he'd bought the place for the night. She could tell because the staff stood around waiting for them with a smile as if there was a gun to their heads.

He stepped beside her, pulling out the chair at their designated table for her to take a seat at. Without needing to be asked, one of the waiters rushed over a bottle of what he knew was her favorite wine. "I'd like to propose a toast," Elliot said, as soon as the filled glass was in his hand.

"What are we toasting to?" she raised her glass in alignment with his.

"Well, I know I was aiming to make this trip a vacation for you, but there is a hint of work news that I think you'll be happy to hear." He gave her a devilish grin. "After the U.S. and Canada roll out your Red Light app, Greece will be one of the next countries following suit. That's part of the reason we're here. I wanted to check in with HQ to make sure that they're beginning preparations for whatever service departments will need to be placed here in order to run the app."

Olivia's jaw dropped, almost as if it were in slow motion as his words washed over her. It wasn't a wooed, blown away by a romantic gesture kind of gasp. It was small; she felt small. She, Olivia Benson who was simply herself, was responsible for this. "Wh-what?"

"Funding has already been set up for when Phase II of the project is done, which is the service centers that host the app. Several of which will be set up here in Greece following the launch. You're worldwide, Olivia, and you don't even know it," he smirked, clinking his glass against hers which remained in her frozen hand. "Cheers."

"Cheers... I mean, I—" she sputtered, forcing herself to take a deep breath. "Isn't it a bit early? These things take time and trials and working out the kinks. Why are we funneling funding into this when it's not even finished being developed yet?" she gasped, spewing her words without a single pause.

"Because, like I told you before, I believe in you." He smiled, reaching for her panicked hand across the table. "Your idea is solid, Liv. I'd be a fool not to do everything I can to make it a reality. Is it risky to put it all on the line so early? Yeah, but only if I wasn't 100% sure that it would come to fruition swiftly. I think you're forgetting that my ego and confidence has gotten me to where I am, not luck."

She nodded, forcing away the tears in her eyes — which he still saw despite her effort to hide them. "Isn't Tucker going to be pissed?" she laughed through a sniffle. "He runs finances, he has to know what's happening."

"Don't worry about him." Elliot sneered, picking up the menu. "I'd love to hear him protest the creation of an app like this. He knows damn well it's groundbreaking, he just won't admit it because it didn't come from the people who usually pitch. He knows why we're here — or, at least why we should be here."

"I don't want you to catch any flack about this, El," she sighed, also picking up the menu. "I mean, you might be the CEO but he's in a seat where he can make your life miserable with just a few votes. He plays the system dirty, just like he tried to do last time. If it weren't for a very nerve-wracking trip to a Porsche dealership and extensive background searches for blackmail material, he would've gotten his way."

"I promise, you don't have to worry about me. I will fund this damn project out of my own bank account if I have to, Liv. I meant it when I told you how much I support this idea. It's risky to make the moves ahead of time, yes, but that's just part of the game." He sighed, flashing her a soft smile.

One of the waiters came over and nervously took their orders, not long before the sound of live violin music flowed through the enclosure. Olivia's eyes went wide once more and Elliot had already plastered a smirk on his face before she could say anything.

"So, tonight we celebrate. We celebrate hope, we celebrate a victory, we celebrate new beginnings. We celebrate you, Olivia Benson, because you are one of the hardest working people I've ever met and you harbor a passion that is rare and admirable."

The words nearly slipped out, she felt them on her tongue. Three vulnerable, terrifying, life-changing words that were so close to falling out that she feared she had actually said them instead of just thinking them. But she didn't, and she thanked God for that. She lifted her glass once more, chiming against his and withholding the words that floated around in her mind, instead deciding to go only with "We celebrate,"

As their evening was spent with soft laughter and passing glances, a familiar yet unknown presence watched carefully. Each accidental touch and expression of admiration towards one another was mentally noted by the man standing guard there to protect them.

He strode out front of the villa, spotting the SUV that they had arrived in. Some of their luggage was still stowed away in the back. As he unlatched the back, he stopped at the sound of footsteps behind him.

"Mr. Stabler, sir. Could I offer you some help?" Christos appeared, his arms folded behind his back as he smiled.

"Uh...yeah," Elliot paused before nodding, stepping away from where the two suitcases in the back sat. "Yes, please." He didn't like the man. There was no legitimate reason to dislike him, only that the new guard gave him a chill down his spine every time he smiled. It was something in his eyes, they were dark and all-knowing, but knowing what, he wasn't sure. He couldn't see that far into them, and maybe that's what he disliked the most.

"I was about to retire for the evening when I saw you come out here," Christos grinned, grabbing one of the suitcases from the trunk and hauling it out. "Are you enjoying your stay here?"

"Yeah, it's nice to be back." Elliot smiled, forcing himself to try to relax. How harmful could the man be, after all, he was there to protect Elliot. "It's been a while since I've been here but it's just as beautiful."

"And Miss. Benson? She's enjoying her stay also?"

Elliot stopped and turned to stone. His jaw locked up as he replayed the last twenty four hours in his mind, word for word. He traced back to every single conversation shared with the man, repeating verbatim in his head. It wasn't the tone of the man's voice that bothered him, despite the fact that it sounded as if it was meant to be secretive. It was something else.

"Hey, Christos..." Elliot smiled, stuffing his hands into his pocket and taking a step closer. "How do you know her name?"

"Pardon me, sir?" Christos shrunk into his shoulders. "I assure you, you've told her her name before. On the tarmac, yesterday, I believe?" His smile did not relent and neither did Elliot's as they entered into what seemed to be a staring competition.

"No, you see, at most, you've heard me use her first name. I don't recall a single time where I mentioned her last name to you." Elliot took another step closer, refusing to blink as he stared the man down. There were a million unspoken words in his eyes, a handful of which were obvious threats.

Though, it was then when something eerie happened. The smile on Christos' face had warped from unsettling to absolutely bone-chilling. Elliot wasn't sure what had changed, maybe the certainty in his eyes? As if he had plotted a surefire exit point from the conversation.

"Sir," his smile grew wider, eyes glued to Elliot's. "Her name is printed on the tag."

It took Elliot a moment to catch on and given that the man in front of him made no effort to point to the direction he was referring to, Elliot had to find for himself that Christos' fingers were clutching the white flight tag still on Olivia's suitcase. His eyes flicked down to the luggage and back up to the guard's.

God fucking damnit.

It was a stroke of luck and nothing more.

Christos hauled the last suitcase from the trunk before wiping his hands at his sides. The arrogant and threatening smile was still just as prevalent as before. "She is your... assistant, no?"

It was at that moment that he severely regretted not bringing Skylar along for the trip. At least he didn't ask questions, much less about Olivia.

Elliot remained statuesque for a moment before grabbing both suitcases by the handles. He didn't have time to weigh his options of answers. One was a lie, the other was too much truthful. Before parting, he stepped toe to toe with the guard, staring down at him with narrow eyes. "Good night, Mr. Ardino." Stabler grinned, turning on his heel as he dragged the luggage into the home, leaving Christos to watch.

His blood felt cold.

"Liv?" he called out as soon as he re-entered their villa. The entire place is without a sound and he'd said there wasn't a strike of fear going through him. His pace throughout the apartment grew faster as he made his way into the bedroom.

The conversation played through his mind as he wandered around the area, searching for Olivia. More than anything, he just wanted her in his sights for a solid second to know that she was alright, and to ground him back to reality.

"Olivia?" he tried again, no response.

He came to a full halt as he spotted a small piece of folded paper on the bed. Carefully, he stepped close enough and unwrapped the little letter.

'Follow the trail,' he repeated out loud. He glanced up, trying to figure out what trail the note was referring to before he spotted her sandals near the patio door. The note was ditched and he stalked carefully towards the black flip-flops.

As soon as he'd reached those, he could see the vague outline of her silk swim-cover a few yards away beyond the glass. He let himself out through the sliding door, feeling a smirk growing on his lips. He had wondered when the first move would be made, but he'd thought it would be him making it.

She always liked to prove him wrong.

Once he reached the slip that laid carefully on the stone pathway, he narrowed his eyes at what was ahead of that. He trailed closer, unable to make out what the object was in the dim lighting.

God damnit, Olivia.

He leaned over, picking up the slinky black bikini top that was strewn on the ground. He bunched it up, stuffing it in his pocket as he neared towards the pool. The pathway curved around and the reflection from the lights in the still out of sight pool was bouncing off of a nearby wall.

On the glass gate entrance to the pool was the matching black bikini bottoms, dangling from the post. He looked over the barrier, spotting her on the far end of the pool with her back to him. Her hair was brushed slickly back and her arms were folded on the ledge as she overlooked the view of Santorini.

Everything around them was a mixture of orange and blue hues, alternating from the light of the pool and the lights around the villa. She looked ethereal to say the least. The bare curves of her body stood out to him, the orange glow accentuating every feature. From there, he could see how soft her skin looked and how perfectly her ass would fit in the palm of his hand.

As silently as possible, he opened the gate and let himself through. He knew she was aware of his presence even without having seen a reaction in her. He wondered for a moment if she was smiling or smirking as her eyes scanned over the view. It had to be one of the two, she knew what she was doing.

His bottom lip dropped into a soft grin as he slowly unbuttoned the crisp white shirt that covered him. For now, he was content with just watching her. Even with no movement or intent, she was a lot to watch. He wanted the image of her burned into his memory, the outline of her body seared into the backs of his eyelids.

"You just gonna stand there, Stabler?" She asked, not bothering to turn around and look at him.

Another button on his shirt popped from the careful ministrations of his fingers. He paid close attention to the curved arch of her lower back. His smile broadened

"I might," he retorted, the obviousness of his Queens accent becoming clear. He did that a lot, she noticed. When he'd end a sentence and keep his mouth opened, he always sounded a little bit more like his New York roots. "I got your invite."

"Took you long enough. You're late to the party," she replied, still not bothering to pick her head up and look at him. He started to wonder less about the smile on her face and more about what her eyes looked like. Another button came loose from his shirt. Were the lights from the view ahead of her reflecting from her deep brown irises? They were probably golden by now; he'd noticed that about her eyes when they caught the light.

"So, you're the one calling the shots now?" He asked playfully. Another smirk, and at this point, he worried that his face would get stuck like that.

"Let's be honest," she finally turned, her bare chest on display as she leaned against the edge of the pool. Her arms stretched out on either side of her, resting on the concrete. "When aren't I calling the shots?"

It took everything in him not to waver at the sight of her. His mouth went dry and all of the blood in his body was rushing south. Everything about her was all too inviting and the intent to slowly ease into this was gone. The remainder of the buttons on his shirt were nearly ripped from the seams. He tossed the shirt on a lounge chair he was certain was behind him somewhere. Fuck it, the shirt was expensive but not nearly as priceless as the vision of her.

Not bothering with his shorts, he shocked her with his urgent dive into the pool. They'd spent all day denying themselves of what they actually wanted, there was no point in waiting any longer — not that he was positive he even could wait.

The splash of water drenched her but she was far from actually caring. As soon as the droplets were brushed away from her eyes, she looked around to see if he had come up. Before she could spot him, she felt his hands from underneath the water grazing up her legs.

She shivered as one hand reached down for him, wading through the water until she caught him by the shoulder. Her palm stroked up the back of his neck, toying with the prickly hairs from his buzz cut.

Most of their time together was spent at work, and even then, they barely kept their hands off of each other. The entire day spent in the most beautiful place on Earth without finding release in each other? It made the day seem longer than she had expected. She was learning all too quickly that keeping their hands off of each other was a chore.

Bubbles of air escaping from his mouth mixed with the touch of his lips on her stomach was all she could feel. The entirety of her focus was on the heightened sense of him. Almost two days without them properly fucking — how could she feel this starved? The last time he had been able to explore her full body with more than just his fingers while 42,000 feet in the air was the night before their flight.

In some odd way, it thrilled her even more. She had spent the entire day wondering when it would happen. The boat seemed the most likely to her at first but the conversation had hit something beyond their usual boundary and sex was off of the list after that. Obviously, he couldn't do much at dinner. Still, she had waited and waited all day for a moment that hadn't come.

He came up for air, his bare chest against hers as the water dripped from him. Before he could catch his breath, her arms latched onto his neck, her lips attacking his with ferocity. Her legs wrapped around his hips, anchoring him tightly against her. She could feel the hardness beneath his shorts as she ground against him, searching for the closeness that they had been without for too long.

The way he kissed her felt different. There was something more than just want mingled into it, he was kissing her with the intent of marking her. He made no room for a dominant fight over the kiss, taking all control and refusing to offer a compromise on that. He kissed her as if there was a message in his lips, a plea for her to understand something.

She could feel his urge to claim her, which only fanned the flames inside of her. She grasped at his back, clawing her nails over his skin trying to eliminate any space between their bodies. Her eyes felt as heavy as lead when she tried to open them, she was too relaxed in his arms. Though, she could only imagine how absolutely beautiful he looked. That's what he was to her — he was beautiful. Chiseled like a masterpiece of Michelangelo. Reflections of light in the beads of water on his skin, replicating diamonds from the finest jewelers. He was beauty.

"It's just you and me," he whispered, reminding her as if she had forgotten. Maybe she had. Some part of her was still tense, feeling as if she was crossing some line by having sex with him in circumstances of business. It wasn't a quickie in the bathroom at the office, it was more than that. But it was just the two of them, she mentally reminded herself.

She pulled away for a moment to stare at him in amazement. "This... this has been one of the best days I've had in a while. Thank you." she whispered with sincerity. Her hand came up to caress his cheek, his hand covering hers as she did so.

With a softness in his smile that matched his eyes, he leaned back down for a slower kiss. His hands went under the water to lift her back up closer against him, firmly settled so her thighs rested on his arms. Carefully trying not to let go of the weight of her, he pushed down at his boxers until they drifted down past his ankles.

He could feel how wet she was from where she rubbed against him, feeling the obvious difference in texture from the pool water. Excitement thrilled through both of them as his cock nudged against her. Her head fell back slightly as he ground deeper against her. "El," she whispered.

He reached down, rubbing the tip of his cock against her entrance before slowly pushing into her. He bit back his own sounds as she breathed heavily under him. Through barely open eyes, he could see the ferocious bite she had going down on her bottom lip. Her legs hooked tighter around him as if some magnetic pull had tethered her to him.

"I will never get used to how amazing you feel," he managed to get the words out without shuttering. One of his hands freed, moving to grip the edge of the pool for more traction. His body moved perfectly against hers, his thrusts meeting her clit with every inward motion.

Her mind was elsewhere. She was overcome with the euphoria of finally feeling relief from the pressure that had been between her thighs all day. Her cheeks were rose red from the heat in her body, and she silently thanked God that they weren't in the hot tub because she'd probably melt all together.

His hand that remained under the water gave a tight squeeze on her ass, which in turn made her clench around him. She sucked in a breath, trying to keep her volume down for reasons unbeknownst to her. "Elliot," she whispered again, unsure of why she was calling for him. It was an automatic response, when she felt herself spiraling out of this realm from his touch and his touch alone, she called to him.

"I have waited," he stopped, out of breath as he worked against the weight of the water to fuck harder into her. "I have dreamt of fucking you right here for months." he admitted, his words falling against her neck as he licked and nipped at the skin. "Months, Olivia. You, me, and paradise."

There she was again, dangerously close to dropping those three words that she had promised herself she wouldn't say. She had but an iota of strength left in her and all of it was used to force herself from saying what she wasn't ready to say yet. It was hard not to, given how perfectly it burned when he stretched her. When it felt as if there was not a single person on the planet who could fit her like he did.

"Harder," was all she managed to squeak out as her nails dug deeper into him. The water splashed around them in the most obscene ways he ground down into her. The further back her head fell, the more access he had to mark her neck. She wasn't going to last much longer and she knew it. Her mind had spent too much time over the past two days wondering what it would be like for them to fuck in Santorini, her fantasies had primed her too much.

The words were swirling closer in her mind, on repeat. Her constant internal monologue screaming them as loudly as possible, begging for her to just open her mouth and say them. Every thrust, every squeeze, every moan, there was nothing else she wanted to say other than those three goddamn forbidden words. What else was there to say when she was in a beautiful place with a beautiful man feeling the utmost incredible pleasure?

"Jesus Christ, Elliot."

Okay, not those three words but it was better than saying what her mind had on repeat.

When his hand came down to her clit, she knew she was on the brink. Her legs clutched him tighter against her body, her breath speeding up as he fucked into her against the wall of the pool. "I'm gonna—" she started to murmur, getting lost in the sparks that flew behind her eyelids. It was the epic rise that she could never describe unless she was experiencing it in real time. The up and up that didn't waver.

"I've got you," he groaned in her ear, his fingers moving just as perfectly as they always did. At that moment, she snapped. The up and up reached its highest and all she could was the violent thump of her heartbeat in her ears as she came around him. She grabbed at any part of him she could reach and the flashes of light grew brighter.

Her undoing led him to his. He'd tried to make it through her entire orgasm without his own taking over, but gladly failed. His growl was almost animalistic as she squeezed around him. As if they were seeing the same fireworks, splashes of bright white lights filled his vision through closed eyes — just the same as hers.

On instinct, her lips found his and crashed down. His breathing was just as jagged as hers as they came down from their mutual high. He pulled away from the kiss, resting his forehead on hers. "Round two inside?" he mumbled with a laugh.

"Absolutely," she chuckled.

What neither of them had been aware of was that the bright flash of ecstasy just happened to come at impeccable timing. As soon as both of their eyes had closed in the throes of their climax, a carefully timed flash of a camera had gone off from a covert location. For the first time since the start of their... arrangement, there was photo-proof of the very messy situation. And whose hands it would end up in?

Only the wrong ones. 

Chapter Text


Her hands pawed at the glass panels of the shower but found no purchase. With nothing to grip, her palms slid down the slippery surface and repeated every time her instincts told her to hold onto something. She stood with her legs shoulder-width apart, her face and bare chest pressed to the chilly pane.

Elliot was on his knees beneath her, prying her thighs apart as his tongue overwhelmed the sensitive nerves of her core. With each devouring swipe through her folds, she released a guttural moan that echoed off of the shower's glass.

The entire front of her body pressed harder against the transparent walls of the shower. The cool surface was a stark contrast compared to the heat of her forehead and cheeks, so much so that it nearly gave her brain freeze.

She felt his thumbs dig into the back of her thighs as he tried to stabilize her, but she couldn't stop herself from squirming every time his tongue flicked her clit. Her cries grew louder as his focus on pleasuring her narrowed. She was close, he could feel it in the way her hips writhed and he could hear it in the pitch of her whimpers.

As soon as she felt him dip his fingers inside of her, she was nearly overcome with the instinct to reach behind herself and grip onto him. It took everything in her to fight the urge and just allow him to have his way with her. What could she say, she was handsy. Though she knew the moment she would reach down to touch him, he'd pin her hands back up against the misty glass.

Perhaps the best part was that he enjoyed what he did to her. Most men saw it as a chore, he saw it as an utmost pleasure. Any time he could get his head between her legs, he took advantage of the opportunity. His movements were precise and detailed, as if somewhere in his mind was a diary of all of the things she loved the most.

The further his fingers pumped into her and the faster his tongue worked, the harder she felt herself barrelling towards her climax. A string of indistinguishable pleas and cries left her lips, her fingers clawing harder at the condensation-covered glass. She needed traction and friction and that was all she could think about.

He moaned against her and the vibrations sent an ungodly amount of shivers down her spine. He dipped another finger inside of her, causing her to emit an even louder noise than before. The familiar sensation of warmth filled her belly and as he sucked the delicate bundle of nerves one last time, the warmth broke free from her stomach and filled her head to toe. The volume of her cry echoed off of the walls as blinding lights filled the sight behind her eyelids.

"Cum for me. Good girl."

She felt his fingers withdraw and he moved both of his hands to stabilize her legs as she shook. She rode out the aftershocks of her orgasm with less than gracefulness, somewhat unaware that there was an entire world that existed around her. He released the grip on her thighs, instead choosing to hug her body as he rose off of his knees.

His movements up her body stopped as soon as his forearm covered her breasts. She leaned backwards into him, panting out of breath as he steadied her on her feet. Her hands came up to rest where his arm cradled her, a small chuckle escaping from her mouth. "Mr. Stabler —" she shook her head. "You have one wicked tongue."

"So I've been told," he smiled, leaning in to suck the sensitive spot on her neck. She moaned again, feeling the hardness of his erection against her back. He released her from the grip of his forearm and moved to cup his hands over her chest. He rolled his calloused fingertips around her nipples, sucking down her neck and towards her collarbone. "I've got a big day planned for us."

"Mmm, if it requires leaving this house and putting clothes on, I make no promises of attending." She giggled as he kissed her shoulder, nipping at the soft skin.

"Weren't you the one telling me I needed to get at least some work done while we're here? Why, Miss. Benson, you are a terrible influence on me," he feigned shock, earning a laugh in response.

"Fine." she slipped out of his grasp and turned to face him, her chest flush against his. Standing on her tippy toes, she mumbled against his lips. "But first, you gotta sit on the bench behind you." Her eyes darted past him as she stared at the marble bench that was built into the wall.


With her palm flat against his chest, she pushed him back until his knees buckled and he was seated. "Because, I wanna do this. Why else?" She smirked before dropping to her knees and the sounds of his groans reverberated off of the walls of the shower.

'I shouldn't be allowed to love you,' he thought to himself as he watched her take a look around the foreign HQ building for the Greece branch of Stabler Enterprises. There's a wonder in her eyes still, something he has watched fade out of people as they passed the days working. Although, not many of them had the same amount of passion as she did. She enjoyed her work, she enjoyed fighting for success. She had a sense of drive that was rarely seen anymore.

She looked around the place, inspecting it with an insightful gaze. There was appreciation in her eyes for the business he had worked so hard to build. He could see it just by looking at her; she was the type who looked at a business and thought of all that went into it.

She had the potential that so many wished they had. A potential that he, as a high-profile business owner, didn't see often anymore. Most jumped in with the mindset of only dollar signs, she went in with a thirst for knowledge. She was better than him. He shouldn't be allowed to love her.

"Different international branches of Stabler Enterprises are setting up their own wings for the world of tourism." Demitri, the manager of the Greek SE branch stated as he guided them through the building. "That's why one of the first international headquarters that will be implementing Red Light is here in Greece. We have a large tourist rate, so it feels fitting that an app designed for the protection of women be here. People want to know that they are safe wherever they're traveling, it puts their minds at ease."

He led them to the new addition of the building. It was fresh, almost as if they had just finished within a few days. The smell of paint and cement was pungent in the air, and the fluorescent tube lighting was brighter than the sun.

"So, this area of the building will be home to the management of tourism-friendly products?" Olivia asked, eyeing up and down the walls with a sparkle in her eyes.

"Precisely," he smiled. "We have other tourism-friendly apps and products in the making that will be housed and managed in the same HQ buildings that are participating in this upgrade. For example, SE has been working on a faster AI translation system for smart tech. They have the function of quick analysis and response to help cut down the language barrier during travel. Apps and such like that will all be managed under these divisions."

Olivia turned to Elliot, looking rather impressed as he smirked. "How many other international branches are doing this?" she asked, feeling somewhat stunned that one of her own ideas would find a home in these halls and others around the world.

"So far, seventeen branches have signed on for the tourism upgrade – which means they'll be managing their own Red Light division. Places like London, Paris, Barcelona, Tokyo, Milan, and more, as well as here. Places where SE has their own branches and are known for heavy tourism." It was hard to keep his smile from growing, but she just looked so damn amazed and proud. "We have a lot of new projects coming out that can benefit tourists as well as keeping them safe."

"This is... wow," she exhaled, wide-eyed and shocked. She knew that Red Light would be amongst other new designs and launches, yet she still felt a thrill run down her spine at the thought of contributing. One moment of a lapse in judgment during a meeting had led her to this.

"Demitri — could I have a moment alone?" he asked, slyly putting his hand on Olivia's back.

"Sure thing, Mr. Stabler." he smiled, reaching for Elliot's extended hand and shaking it. "It was nice to see you."

As the man departed, he and Olivia were alone in the empty room. With a shy smile gracing her lips, she turned inward to face him. "Quite the business you've got here, Stabler."

"I owe this part to you," he whispered, pressing his forehead against hers.

She giggled and shook her head. "No, no, Red Light didn't start this. I can't take credit for this," she stared up through her eyelashes, still unable to lose the smile.

"No, but Red Light certainly got the ball rolling. It's going to be the basis for the tourism department. Without it, we wouldn't really have much else to go on. So, you need to take credit for that. Look around, in a few weeks this entire half of the building will be largely dedicated to your creation." He pulled his forehead away from hers, instead opting to press a kiss right above her brows.

'I shouldn't be allowed to love you, I will only disappoint you.' He thinks to himself one more time. He knows her ambition, it's a familiar taste of his own past. His past had led him to a rocky future. His ups and downs were the highest of highs and lowest of lows and though it was incredible, it was painful. He doesn't want her to suffer the same way this business had made him suffer. He had made so many sacrifices. She's too good for this. She should be out saving the world like a fucking superhero. He loves the pride in her eyes but he knows the price tag it comes with. Long hours, failed relationships, torn families. She deserves better than that.

"What do you say we do that wine tasting now?" he asks, taking her hand as they search for the exit.

It was bothering her, how fast all of this came to be. More specifically, how fast she had allowed this to happen. In the beginning, she had promised herself she would keep her emotions in check. She would keep her introspection as in tune as possible. When had she gone wrong? At what point did the roads cross and she turned into the skin she was living in?

Was he aware of it too? Though, he had never been shy, not even at the start. He was loud about how he felt and completely unabashed with her. Maybe not entirely in words, but his actions spoke loud enough. Did he realize the change inside of her? God, was that his goal this entire time?

Somewhere along the way, no strings attached turned into a downward spiral. It turned into sunsets in Santorini and candid conversations about family. Her reflection was laughing at her – fucking bitch. She wanted to stick her tongue out at it, curse that smile staring back at her that mocked her. Look at you, Olivia. You're not the ice queen you thought you were.

The worst part was the utter lack of any motivation to stop this change from happening. When his hand would come to rest on the small of her back, she allowed herself to succumb to the butterflies. When the kisses turned into those that lead them nowhere closer to the sheets, she still kissed him back.

She liked the idea of remaining in limbo sometimes. The way they could touch and she wouldn't need to worry about anything other than the moment in front of them. There was no pressure to easily fall into the definitive patterns of what relationships were meant to be. She could hold onto him and know that she wasn't doing it with the intent to become something more profound.

Yet, here they were. Just so happening to fall into those patterns, to fit those molds.

She hated it.

She hated that she wasn't at liberty to put a stop to it either.

It all came too easily. It had to, given that she hadn't realized it sooner. Lying in bed with him, even on the nights where clothes were not shed, it was effortless. To simply roll over and see those deep blue eyes staring back at her and the mischievous smile to match. His hand would sometimes find hers, intertwining fingers before bringing them to his lips for a soft kiss.

Sometimes, the fire in those eyes ceased. That, above all else, scared her the most. The fire was there when he looked at her with intensity. Back when all of it meant nothing to either of them. Now, the storms in those irises had calmed. He cared; he cared too much to let things fall through the cracks.

They were at the wine-tasting, amongst other travelers. Some were flying solo, some were groups of friends, others were romantic couples enjoying their vacation. She tried to put herself at ease, to rest her shoulders and unclench her jaw. Though, it felt impossible. Christos was somewhere behind them, lurking. That's what he did, she noticed. He lurked. She missed Skylar. At least he made his presence unknown for the most part. He didn't linger or obviously eavesdrop.

Christos, on the other hand, always had his eyes on them. It was unnerving.

Though, being with Elliot was somewhat calming her down. He made her feel safe more than anyone did. Despite always keeping a security detail around, he was the type of man who would spring into action at any given moment. He had briefly mentioned his stint in the Marines before he had started SE, so she knew that he was no stranger to self-defense.

She wanted to enjoy the way his hand rested on her back as she walked along the tour line. It was beautiful in the vineyard, surrounded by empty pastures and pavilions that housed the antique barrels. Yet, the idea of him touching her with familiar eyes behind them was different.

"You okay?" he whispered in her ear, trying not to interrupt the guide.

She glanced up at him, caught off guard. "Yeah," she nodded, faking a smile as best as she could. She tried to pay attention to what the guide was saying, but it processed as gibberish to her. She felt those eyes burning in the back of her neck, staring at her and Elliot as if he was waiting for one of them to make a move.

"What's with the thousand-yard stare?" he asked, craning his neck so he could look into her eyes.

"Oh — uh, I guess being at the SE building made me start to miss work," she was lying right through her teeth and he knew it. She knew that he knew, but she hoped that by some prayer, he would let it go. Although, she knew Elliot, and she knew that was unlikely.

"You're there every day, but you know where you aren't every day?" he smirked, turning to face her as he cradled her hips. "On a wine tasting tour in Greece. Relax, Olivia. Work will be there when we get back." He leaned forward, pressing a kiss to her forehead as her hands came up and rested on his chest.

"I know," she laughed, moving her stare down to the floor. "Trust me, I'd rather be here than at work. I'm just... on edge," she glanced over his shoulder, spotting the watchful eyes of their security detail. Goosebumps rose on her arms and she felt her body begin to tense up.

She slipped out of Elliot's grasp as the group moved forward. They were led to the next part of the tour, the actual wine tasting. Finally, she exhaled as she took the first glass of wine and drank down a healthy amount. She needed something to settle the chill that wasn't leaving her body.

She quietly parted from the bulk of the group, wandering towards an archway that led out to the pastures. She leaned against the frame, holding her glass close to her chest as she took in the beautiful sight. He was right – she wasn't relaxed whatsoever. There was no shaking the gut feeling that something was wrong.

A voice in her head screamed at her that she was being crazy. Though, the paranoia she had woken up with wasn't going away and it was becoming a disruptive force. She tried to convince herself that it was all in her head, that maybe it was just from being in a different setting. Except, she knew when she was okay and when she wasn't. She knew when she was alone with Elliot that all was well in the world. This was different.

He'd come looking for her in a moment, she just needed a few more moments to collect herself. The sun was setting and she tried to focus on the beautiful colors that it painted across the sky. It was a shame that she couldn't just appreciate it like she wanted to. She wanted to sit in the grass with him and only him and watch the colors migrate. She wanted the crowds to disappear and maybe even everyone else in the world so she could have just a few minutes to stare at the sunset with him.

"Pretty sunset," the familiar voice broke her out of her reverie. She rolled her head to the side to look at him and couldn't fight the smile. "Look, I can tell something else is wrong. Do you wanna call it a night?"

She stared at him and fought back the tears that she felt coming. The look on his face was just so damn soft and sincere, it caused some sort of reaction that she wasn't expecting. She swallowed it down with one more sip from her glass before stepping away from the arch. "I'm okay, I promise."

She took his outstretched hand as he led her back under the pavilion. Setting her glass down on a nearby surface, she curled into him. The scent of his cologne and the feeling of his sturdy body against hers was enough to calm a little bit of the storm in her head. Her eyes involuntarily closed for the moment as she soaked in all of the comfort he had to give.

He wrapped his arm around her, holding her tighter than his usual grasp. It was strangely domestic to her, him holding on as if the daylight didn't threaten to unveil their truth. She hated how accustomed she had become to this, to all of this. One day it wouldn't be there anymore and she'd have to crawl back to what she used to know. But that day wasn't today as far as she was concerned.

It was the flash that caught her attention, sending a river of coldness through her veins. Elliot's back was turned away from the direction it had come from. She froze, her eyes darting across the room to see the culprit of her paranoia.

Christos. Shoving a cellphone in his jacket pocket.

She closed her eyes once more and breathed deeply, steadying the sway of the world that came with the onslaught of anger. She needed to be methodical about this, which was hard to sort out in only a matter of seconds.

Slowly and carefully, she slipped out of Elliot's embrace. "I'm going to go use the bathroom, watch my glass for me?" she pointed behind herself, hoping it would keep his attention away from the man behind him.

"Sure thing, I think the restroom is up in the lobby," he replied, barely noting how she had turned as white as a sheet. He had sensed her edge all day, he simply wrote this off as the same frayed nerves he had been witnessing.

She charged behind him and watched as Christos darted behind a hedge-leaf wall. The ice in her veins turned hot in a matter of seconds as she trailed after him. Her skull began to ache from the grit in her teeth.

Once she rounded the corner, she grabbed him by the collar of his jacket. Stupid bastard underestimated her. Forcing him against the wall with all her might, she was nose to nose with him. "You have five seconds to explain why you were taking a photo of your boss."

"Miss Benson, I assure you I was simply capturing the scenery. It's quite beautiful, no?" His smirk was short-lived as she re-slammed him against the wall.

"Bullshit," she bit back, forcing herself to control the rage that was consuming her. "Who told you to take pictures? Press? Someone at SE?" Her questions were less than fruitful as he only sneered at her. "You can tell me, or I can hand you off to Stabler. Be wise, because I guarantee with every fiber of my being that he will not be as merciful as I am. So, you're going to hand me the phone, or I'm going to hand you to him. Your call."

When he only glared back at her, she released one grip on the collar of his shirt and reached into his jacket pocket. "We wouldn't want these to fall into the wrong hands now, would we?" She pulled out the phone and threw it on the ground. She took a step back, keeping her eyes glued to him as she forced the pointed end of her heel through the phone until shards of glass were scattered around it.

"Now, I advise that you go to the vehicle and pull it around. Be waiting there when I return. No pit-stops, no phone calls. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Understood?" She didn't wait for his response, instead turning on her heels and marching back to the pavilion.

Though, it would've been smart not to leave the phone lying on the ground. What she didn't see when she turned was him reaching down and retrieving the severely damaged device.

Memory chips were bastards.

And so was iCloud.

When she made it over to Elliot, she grabbed him by the arm and steered him back towards the direction they came from. He didn't have time to ask questions. Her eyes were glued in front of them, not bothering to look at him. "Get in the car, do not say a word to me. Sit up front, don't look at me. Don't speak to him or anyone. I'll explain everything when we get home, but just trust me."

His mouth opened and closed several times but no words came out. Instead, he simply nodded and charged alongside her.



The drive back to the villa was unbreathable. Every breath of air felt like sharp needles. Nobody said a word or moved a muscle. As instructed, Elliot sat up front and pretended not to be aware of her existence. It was the equivalent of throwing a water balloon at a wildfire but it was the best she could do with very little.

The car hadn't even come to a full stop outside of the villa before Olivia had unbuckled and rolled out of the backseat. Elliot followed in suit, trying to match her pace as she bolted for the front door.

Once they were safely tucked away inside, the questions started. She hushed him, instructing him to close any open blind in the room. They both ran around in a frenzy, shutting curtains and closing windows until darkness consumed the home.

"You gonna tell me what the hell is going on?" he asked as he followed her into the bedroom.

"Give me your phone," she stated.


"Give me the damn phone, Elliot!" she shouted, ripping it out of his hands as soon as he'd handed it towards her. He watched her closely, waiting to see something like her rifling through his texts, but it didn't come. She simply turned it off and handed it back to him. "Keep it off."


"Is the jet still here?" she asked, crossing her arms over her chest. She paced in circles at the foot of the bed, trying to calm the lethal mixture of nervousness and rage.

"Yes, why?"

"We need to leave. Like, now."

"Woah, woah, slow down." His hands rose in protest. "Talk to me, what happened?" he asked, rushing over to her. He placed his arms on her biceps, halting her from running circles into the floor.

"He was taking pictures, Elliot! Of us," her voice raised. "Not the pretty sunset, not the delicious wine, us. More specifically, you holding me. For all we know, he could've taken hundreds more from this entire trip!"

"Son of a bitch," he muttered.

"The pilot, where is he?" she asked, breaking free from his hold to resume her nervous wandering. She was stuck on the one-track mindset of getting the hell out of dodge, not worrying about Christos' plans — whatever they may be.

Elliot pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. "He and the co-pilot are staying at a hotel on the mainland. They're on call."

"Good, call them. Have them meet us on the tarmac."

"Liv, this could just be a fluke —" he tried to interject but she wasn't having it.

"No," she stopped, giving him a sharp stare. "I'm telling you that we need to leave. Security is compromised and the longer we stay here, the worse of a situation we put ourselves in. I don't care if we have to sit on that damn jet on the tarmac for five hours, we are not staying here." she marched up closer to him, the brown of her irises having turned black. "And before you say anything, I'm not talking to you as your... well, whatever I am to you," she trailed off. Her head shook as she tried to clear away that dilemma of its own, finding her anger and rising tone once more. "I'm talking to you as your assistant! So, please hear me when I say that it is time to go."

He stared down at her for a moment, pursing his lips in thought before slowly nodding. "Okay."

"Good," she exhaled a sigh of relief. "Use my phone, you call the airport, have them get prepped for our departure. We pack up as fast as we can. Leave the blinds closed. Then we call a cab to take us there. No more connections with any of your team here until we reach the airport. Do you have security cameras up around here?"

Somewhat thrown off by how fast she was going, he paused before nodding. "Yeah, yeah I do. Outside."

"To whom and where does that footage go?" she asked, beginning to hastily throw her belongings into her luggage. He was beginning to see in action how good she was at her job, despite the small amount of time he had to appreciate her for the force of nature she was.

"Usually it's a direct feed to my office in New York. If something trips the alarm, it's forwarded to Skylar and Skylar alerts the team here to come check it out," he answered, taking her phone to dial the airport. "When I'm here, it's forwarded to the security base at the SE headquarters here."

She tried not to think of who would be in control at the security station here, and what possible ties they had to their main problem. "What trips the alarm?"

"Uh —" he wracked his brain for the answer as the line trilled in his ear. "If I'm not here, it's motion censored in the back, near the exits... If I'm here, it's set to a constant live-feed — Yes, hello, this is Elliot Stabler calling..."

She hurried around the room, grabbing everything in sight that belonged to her and stuffing it away. It was less than neat but it was the absolute last thing on her mind. She eavesdropped mindlessly on his conversation with the desk attendant at the airport. She mentally noted that he was careful to keep the conversation to a bare minimum.

She stopped when a specific realization dawned on her. Elliot hung up the phone and watched her stand frozen. "What's wrong?" he asked.

"When you say constant live-feed... do you mean recording?" she replied, refusing to move and look at him for fear that she would break into a million little pieces.

"Yes. It's all recorded and stored on the server here. It's uploaded to a cloud that can be accessed in New York." he answered, not following her point.

"The pool," she whispered, lip quivering as a rise of nausea went through her. Whiplash memories hit her so hard it nearly knocked her over. Flashes of images in her mind of his hands skimming her body. "Elliot, we were in the pool."

God, how could he be so reckless? He hated the way that his inhibitions were lowered with her. He cared less and less about his own privacy and safety when he was around her. It was dumb, a rookie mistake.

Olivia forced herself to resume packing, despite wanting to keel over and throw up. That footage could be anywhere now. "How good is your cybersecurity team in New York?" she asked, trying to ignore the sound of her own shaking voice.

"They're good. The best, why?" He grabbed his own suitcase, rushing around to fill it as fast as he could.

"Call them too. Use my phone. See if they can hack into the HQ database here and get the video file. Make sure they don't leave a trace of them sending it to New York, and then have them delete it entirely off of the database here." she responded. "The HQ building here is closed down for the night, which means all security issues would be forwarded directly to your detail, in this case, the person we absolutely don't want this file to end up with. But that also means that the HQ here will less likely be aware of a breach in their security."

"Why forward it to New York and not just delete it entirely?"

Olivia stopped, staring directly at him with a hungry anger in her eyes. "Because, if worst comes to worst, I wanna make sure that the bastard was caught on tape. If he saw us out there in person, it'll show up on the tapes. But they have to get the file before someone here can get to it - if they haven't already." she stopped and gulped at the last part that left her lips. "Call them now, I'll finish packing your stuff. I'm grabbing some clothes for you to change into, something more discreet. While you're at it, call Skylar, tell him to meet the cybersecurity team, and if necessary, that he is the only one who lays eyes on that file."

She debated on whether or not to cut the WI-FI as well. The cameras were fed through that connection. It was a double-edged sword. If she cut it and something happened from now until they left, they were screwed. On the other hand, it was a risk to keep it running.

She dug through Elliot's suitcase and put together the lowest of lowkey clothing she could find. A plain grey hoodie, denim jeans, sneakers, and a hat. For herself she grabbed a casual jacket, leggings, another baseball cap from his bag, sneakers, and a pair of dark sunglasses. Even though it would be pitch black outside by the time they reached the airport, it was for the best.

She quickly shed out of her dress and changed, tying her hair up into a ponytail and shoving the hat on. Her last stop was the bathroom, where she hastily tucked away any and all of her cosmetic items. They could run the risk of just leaving then and there without worrying too much about what they left behind, but she was certain that whoever had put Christos up to this would find a way to have eyes inside the house. It wasn't worth the risk.

It forced her to stop and wonder if any of this was worth the risk.

Elliot came back in the room and handed her phone back to her. "Pilots should be there when we get there. Taxi will be here in 15 minutes. Security team is working on getting the files off of the cloud and onto a hard drive to give to Skylar. I'll go change." he grabbed the pile of clothes she had left for him and shut himself into the bathroom.

Olivia had put the sunglasses on prematurely, mainly so he wouldn't see the tears that had broken through her fight against them. If she knew him well enough, she knew he'd have enough guilt once the magnitude of the situation would set in. Adding to that wouldn't do either of them any good.

She hauled her suitcase and purse off to the door, leaving it ready and waiting for when the time came. On a whim, she pulled out her phone and sent one last text before turning it off completely.

To Monique: Change in plans. I'll be home soon.

Elliot eventually came out and packed away his clothes from the day. Both of them stood by the front door, silently waiting for the cab to pull up. God knows it wouldn't be safe for either of them to travel under their normal conditions.

Both of them were too afraid to say anything. For all they knew, everything was up in the air for them. A sense of violation crept into both of their senses, only making it harder. They'd screwed up. They'd gotten messy and careless, God only knew how it would come back to bite them.

The headlights of the cab pulling up felt like seeing a beacon of hope. Neither of them wanted to be in the house anymore, it felt too dirty.

Just before they were about to leave, Elliot stopped her from opening the door. "Liv," he whispered.

She pulled off her sunglasses momentarily, trying to look into his eyes without feeling paranoid.

"I'm sorry," he shuttered with the apology, and she recognized the guilt. She recognized the agony and fear behind his eyes.

It would be a long ride home, one where neither of them would feel at ease. She leaned over and pressed one long and hard kiss to his lips. "I know," she whispered back with a small nod before putting the sunglasses back over her eyes.

They worked in unison with the cab driver to quickly stow away their bags, fully knowing Christos' watchful eyes could be leering from the next villa over. With that, they both jumped into the backseat and left Santorini in the rearview mirror.

I shouldn't be allowed to love you because I'm putting your hard work on the line.

Chapter Text


She was shaken up. They both were. Maybe 'shaken up' was an understatement. After the torturously long flight back, she had gone directly home. God, had she been thrilled to see the familiar face of Skylar in the driver's seat. She and Elliot had both agreed it would be best for her to stay at her apartment until his was swept and cleared. She knew, beneath the surface, it pained him. He would never say it, but his sleep had been terrible and it was all due to the fact that his bed was cold.

It felt strange, not speaking to Elliot. It wasn't that they weren't speaking, but the opportunity just wasn't there. The following Monday was the first time she had seen him since he'd dropped her off at her place. The conversation was short and sweet, but mostly professional. Casey had sensed the sudden change in atmosphere as soon as they'd both returned, but she didn't ask.

That Monday morning was a hard one.

She had walked in with her head low, pretending to keep focused on not spilling the tray of Starbucks she had come in with. It was a façade. But when her head did rise and she made the mistake of looking directly towards his office, she saw him. There he was, standing tall and proud with the phone up to his ear. His eyes met hers and for a brief second, she saw his shoulders sink. Her heart sank with them.

He missed her, she could see it.

God damnit, she missed him too.

The incredibly sparse conversation was nothing but professional and fleeting, and only in person. Elliot's security team was still trying to make sure that his phone and number weren't compromised. Beside her in the break room was the only time, and last time that he could slip a careful question asking her how she was.

By the evening, she was down in the dungeons of the building, working away furiously on the Red Light project. It felt strange to go back home, and there was no going into Elliot's apartment. Her room was too lonely and there was nowhere else to go. Instead, she chose to surround herself with work. Given that he was in charge of her job, it made it even harder.

There was no animosity between the two of them, just a terrible state of limbo. Once the dust had settled, she had assumed that he would pester her in an attempt to figure out what the hell they were doing. It never came. To her greatest surprise, her sudden invisible boundaries were respected. She wasn't even sure of what those boundaries consisted of anymore. Enough time for both of them to figure out where to go from here? Maybe.

Guilt had set in after arriving home. A crushing amount of it. She felt responsible for what had happened. He had opened up to her in Santorini, explaining why the place was so important to him. Now what? Could he even go back? Would he even want to? She knew the guilt was illogical and unnecessary, yet it wasn't showing any signs of leaving. It was there to stay and make its mark on her.

For the first time in a very long time, Olivia Benson felt meek. Her thoughts stayed mainly inward and she kept to herself. There was no dare in her movements, not many stolen glances, and absolutely no reckless behavior. She was there to do her job, nothing else.

There was one moment replaying in her mind on a loop throughout the day. Elliot's office door had been slightly opened and she could hear him on the phone. She'd thought about joining the line to listen in but she was already knee-deep in trouble, that would only worsen things. It was his Chief of International Staffing and his investigators on the other line. Elliot had tried to keep his voice down but he was loud enough for Olivia to hear him asking about the security detail in Santorini. He was boiling beneath the surface, her trained eye was the only one who could see.

"His name is Christos Ardino. I want his bank statements checked. Anything suspicious, any lump sum of money or frequent and consistent deposits checked. I don't even think I need to say that I also want him fired immediately. And I want everyone in that office, and I mean everyone looked at. Sit downs with every employee in the security detail department. Find the leaks and close them."

Her stomach had dropped as she listened. Casey had eyed her from across the aisle, trying desperately to see the pieces of the puzzle in front of her that were missing. Olivia just shook her head and returned back to her work.

When her mind resumed back to the task at hand, she'd realized she had been staring at the drafting desk for ten minutes without moving a muscle. Nothing added to the designs of the app, no notes in the margin for additive ideas. She had to admit it, her brain was fried for the night.

She glanced at her watch, realizing it was almost 7:30 at night. Usually, when working down in the Red Light room, she'd stay until the sun was no longer. Tonight was different though. She craved the feeling of her head on her pillow and the weight of a book in her hands. There was no point wasting away down here if there was no work being done.

With a deep sigh, she pushed herself off of the stool at the desk and grabbed her bag. She was the only one down there, as the design team had left for the evening. Even alone in the basement of a skyscraper, the darkness and solitude was comforting. She trudged towards the door, flipping the switch and watching as the industrial overhead lights died out one by one.

She left Santorini with nothing to show for it but a seashell and a broken heart.

"Hey, you're home," Monique turned and leaned against the cushion of the couch, facing Olivia. "I was beginning to think you didn't live here anymore."

"Har har," Olivia quipped back, hanging her coat up on the rack. Her head turned and faced the kitchen island. "Tell me that wine isn't open for a special occasion because I really need a drink or five."

"It's all ours. Grab it and bring it over," Monique smiled softly, patting the seat beside her on the couch. Olivia sighed with relief, grabbing the uncorked bottle and the nearest glass. She crashed down on the couch with a slump, mustering up enough energy to throw the other end of Monique's blanket over her legs.

She poured herself more than she should've but there wasn't much care on her end. As soon as the open bottle was safe on the coffee table, she leaned back and rested her head on Monique's shoulder. Her friend's arm wrapped around her, holding her close.

It reminded her of the nights during their childhood when that was their only comfort - each other. Strange homes where the beds were unfamiliar and they'd end up snuggled under the same blankets.

"Wanna talk about it? Or do you wanna watch the Food Network and make fun of how whipped Ina Garten's husband is?" Monique giggled in her ear, earning a small snort from Olivia in response.

Monique knew about Santorini — or at least some of it. Olivia was so damn shaken that she wasn't sure the entirety of the story had been told. "It's just so weird, y'know? I feel like I'm waiting for something and I just don't know what it is. Even if security comes back clean and things go back to normal, will they even be normal?" Olivia asked, taking a sip from her glass.

Monique's hand threaded through the dark silky hair of Olivia's bob cut. "I don't know, Liv. I wish I had the answers. But whatever it is that you feel, it's okay. You know that, right?" she cocked her head, trying to find Olivia's eyes. "Your privacy was violated, and you don't know how long for. Anyone would feel scared after that."

"Stabler is a wreck," Olivia groaned. "He isn't showing it, but he just looks at me with this sadness in his eyes, I've never seen it before." Another sip, another moment passing. "It isn't his fault."

"I know," Monique answered back, much to Olivia's surprise. "At first, I thought I would go ape-shit on him for what happened. I think you expected me to," she giggled, Olivia laughing in return. "It's not like he knew either though. I mean, as much as I don't trust the guy, he seems like he gives a shit about you more than just beyond the bedroom. Like, he cares about your job."

"He does," Olivia responded quietly, burying her head deeper against Monique's shoulder. "Even though he has just as much at stake, he's still trying just as hard to protect me as he is trying to protect his own ass."

"Which is exactly why he still has both of his kneecaps as far as I'm concerned." Monique chuckled. "Most men, especially his type, would've left you for the wolves. He's not half bad."

"Can I get that in writing?" Olivia cracked back, leaving the both of them a laughing mess. "He really isn't, Mo. I know you're weary about him because you care, but… I don't know. It feels like something has changed. Something more than I thought it would be."

"The Olivia Benson that I know doesn't usually let herself fall. But when she does, she falls hard."

"I'm not 'falling'," she retorted, her tone not even convincing to herself. She was too tired to make the lie elaborate enough to be believable. "It's just… when I saw that camera flash, Mo — I felt the world shake." she wiped away a stray tear with the blanket. "Everything sorta just flashed in front of my eyes and I realized how dangerous all of this was. I mean, if the wrong people find out? He could lose his job!"

"He's the CEO, how is that possible?" Monique asked.

"That's why they have the chairmen there. The Board is meant to make sure that everyone in a position of power is held responsible. A few wrong votes and he loses his seat at the table." she cringed. "I don't want him to lose everything he's built over this… over me." A shiver ran down her spine at the thought. There was no stopping the voice in her head, bullying her over how reckless she had been. For what? For a fucking vacation?

"What about the guy there? Christos, you said his name was? What are they gonna do about him?"

"Right now," Olivia sighed into her wine glass. "They're tearing that entire department to shreds. I overheard Stabler saying that he wants everyone in that security department under investigation. They've fired Chr— him, as far as I know." Saying his name felt dirty. It made her want to scrub her skin in scalding hot water for the millionth time since returning home. "It doesn't mean shit though. Whoever he's working for is likely here. They just need to make sure that in Santorini, it stops with him or else it's all pointless. I'm assuming they'll start tracing the people here after they've cleared the Greece HQ."

Monique could see the stress in Olivia's demeanor. Ever since she had returned home, she was a shell. Dark bags had formed under her eyes and most of her language was short and sweet. She was living in her own little caves of darkness wherever she could find them, and hell, it had only been three days. Monique was more than surprised when Olivia had hit the couch with her rather than close herself off in her bedroom for a fourth night in a row.

"Liv, it's understandable." Mo's mouth opened and closed a few times as she searched for the right thing to say. "I guess what I mean is, I can understand why this is more traumatizing than you may have thought it would be."

Olivia sucked in a deep breath and closed her eyes. Don't go there, Monique. Please, she mentally begged. She knew why it was getting to her, she knew why the violation felt like so much more than that. It wasn't just about the withdrawal from Elliot and readjusting to being back in New York. It was so much more, some of which even he didn't know.

She didn't wanna go there, not now. Not when the walls inside of her mind felt like they weren't on solid ground. Monique had a point, and she made note of that, but she wanted to pretend that none of it was linked. None of it was tied to how her life had altered many years ago.

She wanted nothing of her past to be tied to an experience with Elliot. None whatsoever.

Though, it did soften her heart a little to know that her best friend understood without it needing to be said.

"I just… I'd prefer, at least for now, that he doesn't know the whole story. What he's going through right now is anger and betrayal of his people. Not to mention the lack of contact between the two of us. He thinks that I'm just nervous about the repercussions." Olivia frowned, staring down into her lap. "He doesn't need to know the rest of why I feel the way I do."

"That's understandable." Monique shrugged, taking a sip from her own wine glass. "I mean, if you eventually do decide to tell him, God knows he'll probably be overprotective. Telling him right now might only make that even worse. I know you hate being treated like a porcelain doll."

"Well, that's why you and I were always such a good team," she grinned. "Where we come from, you're not allowed to break. It toughened us up. Neither of us wanted to be treated fragile and so we always knew how to protect each other without crossing that line."

Monique laughed from deep in her stomach at the memories. Even if they were no laughing matter, they were both able to look back and reminisce with each other about how hard things were and how they'd made it through. "Yeah, I'm blanking on what your nickname was," she lied, knowing it would get a rise out of Olivia.

"Don't even start with that, Jeffries!" Olivia cracked up, setting her wine glass down so she wouldn't spill it in the laughter.

Monique feigned ignorance, "Batting Cage Benson?"

"Baseball Bat Benson!" Olivia shouted through laughter. "And don't you forget it!" As soon as their laughter died down, they were left with the chilling silence of remembering that back then, there was no laughing about it. In fact, all those years ago, they were both certain they'd never laugh again. "I just don't think I can stomach the idea of him knowing what I've done. Not yet."

"I was surprised you kept it a secret." Monique shook her head. "With how fast things were moving, I really thought you'd tell him. You told Brian, didn't you?"

"Ugh," Olivia cringed at the name. "Yeah, but Brian was different. He was a system kid too, he understood. Stabler is cut from a much different cloth than Cassidy."

"Thank God!" Monique yelled.

"Yeah well, like I said, Brian was different." she paused, anxiously fidgeting with her hands, "I know it's not like he's gonna look at me any differently. At least, I don't think he will. I think… I think it might actually make him feel more. Everything is already moving at the speed of light, I'm not sure if I should accelerate it by bearing my fucking soul to him and confessing all of my past."

Elliot knew small parts. Here and there, things that had slipped out or questions that she hadn't dodged. He knew the bare minimum about her life in Foster Care with Monique. He also knew, in some sense, that Olivia had once saved her life. Opening that can of worms was dangerous, especially now. It wasn't a bomb she was ready to try to diffuse.

"You'll tell him when you're ready," Monique whispered, wrapping her arms around Olivia and pulling her into a tight side hug. "On your own time, Liv."

Olivia closed her eyes and sunk deeper against her best friend, welcoming in the warmth that she had to offer. Despite the fact that she wanted the cold and the darkness, Monique would always be void of that. She would always be the one who convinced Olivia otherwise that she wasn't meant to hide in the shadows when her heart hurt.

She must've read the same sentence four times before realizing that it simply wasn't filtering through her mind. Her computer screen glared in her vision, God, she was exhausted. The dark circles under her eyes were enough proof of that. There wasn't enough concealer in the world to cover them either. Monday was bad, but Tuesday felt worse.

With her elbows firmly planted on her desk, she rested her head in her hands with a deep sigh. When she came in the following morning, it was eerily silent. Elliot's desk was empty from the moment she had walked in. In fact, his entire office looked untouched. Usually, she could spot his briefcase by his chair and the first cup of coffee from his morning before she'd bring in the next. But there was nothing.

Sure, he had meetings lined up for the entire day, but it was still a rather uncomfortable moment to have with herself when she saw that he hadn't even bothered settling in. The whole floor felt like a ghost town.

Casey didn't seem to notice, Olivia had mentally noted. Casey had, of course, recognized the difference in both Elliot and Olivia after their prompt return to New York. But today it seemed to be only an average Tuesday to her and nothing more. It was funny how that worked; the world kept turning for everyone else except for her.

She was busy chewing anxiously on her pencil and trying to get work done.

But dark clouds sat over her desk and Elliot's, clouds that only they could see. Every few hours, one of the security team members would be strolling through the building and made it abundantly clear that they recognized Olivia.

She had to give credit where credit was due, Elliot's security team was fiercely loyal. When they looked at her, she didn't feel embarrassment or the keen sense that they were laughing behind her back. None, actually. They looked at her with sadness, and probably even pity. But the one thing she didn't pick up from them was the idea that they saw her as disposable. In fact, she wondered if they knew how intensely protective Elliot was of her. They had guilt in their eyes as well.

We're sorry we couldn't protect you.

He's  sorry he couldn't protect you.

At least that was better than being the talk of the water-cooler. Even though she felt like she'd probably deserve that, she preferred life without the judgemental stares of her colleagues. Pity was harsh but had the looks been scornful, she wasn't sure she could've taken that.

"Hey, Casey," Olivia called out quietly to the woman across from her. Casey glanced up from her screen, raising her brows in response. Olivia looked around quickly making sure that nobody was within earshot of them. "Come here."

Casey frowned in confusion for a moment, pushing herself up out of the desk chair and moving to sit on the corner of Olivia's desk.

"You were here earlier than I was today, was he in his office when you got here?" she asked, nodding her head slightly towards Elliot's office.

Casey looked up and over towards the office as well. Olivia watched as she frowned once more, as if she were trying to backtrack her memories. "Uh — I don't think so, why?"

Olivia looked up at her, concern dripping from every aspect of her expression. "He is here… right?"

Casey looked back and forth between Olivia and the empty office a few times. "I mean — he has to be. He has meetings lined up all day and if he was missing them, our phones would be ringing off the hook."

Olivia tried to feel comfort from her reasoning and logic yet it still bugged her. "Yeah, I guess," she spoke in a decompressing whisper, trying to find her inner calm. It wasn't working, she was anxious and denying it wasn't helping anyone.

"He's been kinda weird since you guys got back," Casey said carefully, monitoring Olivia's face for any sort of reaction. "Did something happen on the trip?"

Olivia's body stiffened and she didn't dare meet Casey's eyes. The moment she blinked, the memory played like a movie on the backs of her eyelids. The camera flash, the way her blood had gone cold, and even worse, how it had been the last time Elliot had touched her with love and not panic. She gulped, forcing herself back down to Earth. "There was a slight problem at HQ. Just a tech issue, it's being dealt with."

"Oh," Casey shrugged it off, suddenly deterred by the idea of caring more about the job than she was obligated to. She hoisted herself off of the corner of the desk. "Well, that probably explains why he's not around. Tuesday madness plus international issues will tie anyone up."

"Yeah," Olivia mumbled, glancing back towards Elliot's empty office. "Hey, quick question…" she paused, squirming in her chair. "Do they still keep hard copies of personnel files here?"

The beat of silence made Olivia's heart beat faster and faster. It was a strange and unwarranted conversation and the last thing she wanted was for Casey to start digging deeper than necessary. "Yeah, they're down in one of the basement offices. I think it's across from the Red Light design room.

Olivia sighed with relief, realizing that any suspicion had gone completely over Casey's head. "Oh. Uh – mind if I take the first lunch break?"

"It's all yours." Casey smiled.

There was one major perk of spending a lot of her time in various parts of the building: it rarely raised suspicion. More often than not, when someone saw her in the basement of SE, they knew her project was housed down there. Not many bat an eye when she strode through the halls.

Something good needed to come of Santorini. Something meaningful. If the memory would be clouded with the hell of the last few hours there, then she needed to know it wasn't all for naught.

If she was going to lose her job and possibly even Elliot, it couldn't be in vain. Every moment spent in the SE building since returning made her feel as if an hourglass was running out somewhere. If she was ever going to make sure that Santorini had purpose, it was now or never.

The records room. She stopped in front of the large grey door, taking a deep breath. When she looked down at the door handle and saw a regular keyhole instead of a card swipe, she thanked God. She could pick a lock, but she couldn't make up a bullshit excuse about why she was down there when they saw the records of her ID card scans.

Pulling a bobby pin from her hair, she knelt down at the handle and maneuvered it into the keyhole. Some skills were never lost, no matter how long it had been since the skill had been used. She closed her eyes, waiting to feel that unmistakable click in the lock.

The lock clicked and she felt the blood rushing to her head from relief. She glanced down both ends of the hallway before slipping into the darkness of the room. The lights came on and brought the dull room to life, illuminating the silver handles on the nearly three dozen filing cabinets.

She was invading his privacy. There had to be guilt in there somewhere, she just wasn't sure if it was worth feeling or if what she was doing would make up for it in the long run.

The first cabinet that caught her attention had red tape across the top drawer. She squinted as she walked towards it, feeling her heart begin to speed up.

'Board Personnel' was written on the card with a bold black marker.

Well, Elliot was on the Board so if she had to start somewhere, that was her best guess.

Her luck began to turn when she realized that the cabinet was unlocked. As soon as she slid the drawer open, her fingers rifled through the worn and torn manila folders. 'Stabler… Stabler… Stabler!'

It took both hands and nearly blistered her fingers to fully lift the thick and heavy file from its snug space. The pages threaded through her fingers until she reached one of the sub-folders inside of it.

Stabler, Kathleen

Her mind flashed back to the boat, and the sadness in his eyes as he spoke about his child.

"My girl... my little girl, she didn't deserve to become a pawn and I was afraid that I would unintentionally turn her into one if the divorce got any worse."

She opened to the first page in the file and a small chuckle left her lips. Paperclipped to the edge was a small, wallet-sized photo. Curly blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and a contagious smile. She was definitely his girl. The picture was old, she couldn't have been more than eight or nine when it was taken. Olivia couldn't hold back her own smile. God, she looked so much like her father, it made her heart pound.

"Not a single day goes by that I don't wish she was by my side. Believe me. I've never missed a piano recital, a career day, a ballet performance. I pay for her to get the best education and I make sure she's got everything she needs. I'm just not the dad that's there every day and I hate it. I... I fucking hate it, Olivia."

He had taken her to Santorini, a place where he went to be closer with the people he cared most about. He had opened up to her about his fears for his child and how he had tried to protect her from himself.

Yet, here he was, risking it all for someone who wasn't Kathleen. That just wouldn't do.

She just… she had to see Kathleen's face to know that she was doing the right thing — to know that her meddling would mean something. Elliot missed his daughter, he made that very clear in Santorini. So, if all she left Santorini with was knowledge, she was going to use it.

Despite already being knee-deep in shit for her own recklessness, she couldn't sit around with what Elliot had opened up to her with and do nothing about it. Maybe her timing was bad, maybe it was as awful as timing could be, but her time felt short anyhow.

She ran her fingers over the edges of the photo, staring down at it with the threat of tears in her eyes. She was once that kid, wondering where her parent was or why they weren't involved. Only, her situation was much more grim. Kathleen's didn't need to be that way. She didn't need to stay awake at night wondering with such a young mind when her father would come home, when he would walk in the door and never leave again.

Olivia remembered when she was fourteen, fresh into the system. Her first foster home, her first night with all of her belongings in fucking trashbags. Nobody had known, but that first night, she hadn't slept. She had snuck out of bed and sat on the staircase and just prayed that her mom would walk through that door and take her home. She had stories to tell from the nights on those staircases, and she could live with the idea that it was only her. She couldn't live with the idea of it being anyone else.

Kathleen was lucky, she had a mother who loved her deeply and despite his absence, a father who loved her just as much. But he could do better, Olivia knew that. She also knew that if Elliot was going to be in her life, she couldn't sit by and watch him waste the opportunity to be a father.

And if the worst came to worst and she was forced out of her job and Elliot's life, she at least wanted to leave him with a changed heart.

Tuesday had come and gone and not a single time had she seen Elliot. It was safe to say that waking up on Wednesday was even more exhausting than the day before. It took willpower that she wasn't even aware she had to force herself out of bed and into the office. She expected things to be its normal mixture of chaos and quiet — she wasn't wrong. With Tuesday's meetings finished, Wednesday was reserved for doing all of the things that had come into action from the day previous.

Phones rang off the hooks and she wished that was enough of a distraction to calm her, but it wasn't. She had come into the office again, sighting no signs of Elliot anywhere near his desk. It was untouched, just as it had been yesterday. No tall and dark suit brooding by the window, contemplating the future of the business. No smirks and not-so-subtle glances from across the view.

When had she become this? She hated everything that Santorini had turned her into. Moping over a man who she just hadn't talked to in a few days. She was better than that, wasn't she? Stronger? More independent? God, she felt pathetic. Where was the Olivia Benson who marched on her own without the need for anyone else? Was she left behind in Santorini? Was it walking up the steps into the jet? Or was it the moment the flash went off and everything she had worked so hard for was suddenly dangling in the air?

She was snapped back into reality by the sound of Casey putting the phone back on the receiver. "Liv, that was Washburn from downstairs. He said they need your opinion on something before they finalize it."

Olivia looked down at the mountain of paperwork in front of her. "Uh – is it an emergency? I'm kinda tied up at the moment,"

Casey could see the look of overwhelm on Olivia's face. "Go ahead, I'll cover you," she smiled.

"Thank you," Olivia exhaled, giving Casey the deepest look of appreciation she could muster up. She needed to get out of there, she couldn't breathe. Not when the emptiness of Elliot's office was weighing down on her like an elephant on her chest.

Her heels tapped against the stairs as she took the long way down. She needed time to think, to breathe. She could do that better in the staircase than she could in a tightly packed elevator.

Where was Elliot? Was he avoiding her? Was he in trouble? Monday was a few lost glances and nothing since. Maybe he was angry at her. Maybe he had realized how stupid it was for the two of them to risk everything. The empty staircases provided no answers.

How had this turned into a process similar to grief? There was the sadness, and there was certainly the thought of bargaining. She wasn't sure if she had reached denial yet. Maybe this was him reaching anger. Wherever he was on the scale, she was at guilt. That voice screaming at her about how goddamn stupid she was, it wasn't letting up. It only furthered the rationale behind why he would be angry at her.

Wherever the logic was in her brain, it was asleep. Normally, she'd know that none of it was the case. He pursued her, he invited her, he signed up for this. And if that voice did have the chance to break through, the guilt would combat it with the simple declaration that she had accepted. In her mind, she was just as much to blame.

The trip down the floors ended all too soon, and she found herself once again wandering the cold corridors of the basement floor. She pushed past the doors into the design suite, noting the sight of the team working endlessly to bring the vision to life. At the very least, she had that.

"Washburn, what's up?" she asked, striding in under the bright lights that filled the room. Freddie Washburn, she pulled up the mental file she had made of him. He was smart but geeky, eccentric but not always the most thorough — not unless he needed to be.

"You left some of these drafts on my desk for the design of the homepage, but there's several of them. We're writing the code for it right now, so we need a decision on which one you want." he said, handing the papers to her.

It was amazing how easily she fell into her zone once her eyes were on her project. Like no matter what was wrong in the world, she could escape to a place where the only thing that mattered was the work that went into it all. "Go with option B. The home screen of the app designed to disguise as a news website with the access to the panic buttons at the bottom."

"Got it," he nodded, looking back over the design.

"Also, I've been bouncing around an idea in my head for a few days, maybe you can bring it to life." she started, walking over to find the notebook on her draft desk. She flipped through the pages, finding her goal. "Maybe introduce a map on the application that can show where the nearest safety volunteers are. Right now, it's set up to only show who is around when the alarm has been triggered. If we add access to it without the need to ping the alarm, users can see who may be in their area."

"Nice!" he cheered a little too enthusiastically for her mood. "Another thing we called you down for. Some of the designers were thinking that reviews can be left on the volunteers. They have to keep a certain score high enough to remain on the site, that'll help keep misuse or possible explicit intentions away. If someone connects with a volunteer, they can leave a review for other users on how the situation was handled, how the volunteer helped, and whatever else."

"I like that," she knit her eyebrows together as she flipped through the remaining pages of her notebook, double-checking to make sure she wasn't missing anything. "You have it set up so that profile pictures need to be approved and scanned with the biometric AI systems, right? To ensure that people are actually using their faces and not anything else, correct?"

"Yes, ma'am," he answered. "Because users have to be over the age of 18 to register as a volunteer, we're implementing approval via photo ID as well. That helps the AI systems match the profile pictures with an accuracy to know that they are who they say they are."

"Good job." she closed the notebook, setting it back on her desk as she started to move towards the door.

"Miss Benson?" Freddie called out. Olivia stopped, noticing the apprehension on his face as soon as she turned. "You're really good at this, you know. Have you maybe considered transferring down here to work on the app full time? I mean, I know Stabler has you running this as a sort of apprenticeship but it seems like you're more involved with this than you are upstairs."

It was the paranoia that came back first. She wanted to slap him and tell him he was out of line for assuming she was involved with anything or anyone. Though, she realized almost immediately later that he meant no harm. It was the stress of everything around her, all of it convincing her that she was exposed and under a microscope.

She stopped and let his words run through her. In short, no, she hadn't considered it. She hadn't considered anything that would change walking in every day and seeing him adjacent to her desk. She put her passion into Red Light, but she hadn't thought for a moment about it going any further than that.

She was here to climb the ladder, to jump the ranks and make her way to the top. There was a point to his statement, in some sense. She was much more likely to make it to the CFO seat from here than as an assistant.

Then came the thought that she might not walk in and see Elliot's face every day as it were. That seemed to be where this was potentially heading, right? She'd gotten too close, even just sitting next to his office, she was too close. They'd look for that soon if the scandal of Santorini came to light. They'd search up and down to find how many ties she had to Elliot. At least down in the basement, some of those ties would be cut.

Maybe burying herself into Red Light now would be better than having it all come down the line that she was right there next to him the entire time.

Maybe Washburn had a point.

Thursday had come and gone with the same anxiety as the previous days. Elliot was nowhere to be found. There was no sign of him anywhere. Nobody even seemed to be that curious either. She was starting to wonder if she had made Elliot's existence up in her head. As unreasonable as that would be, the thoughts had crossed her mind. His desk was untouched, nobody was looking for him, there had been no calls or texts.

It certainly felt like he didn't exist. She couldn't smell him on her clothes anymore and she was forgetting what it felt like when his hand skimmed her body. Maybe he had been a mirage the entire time.

By the end of the day, she was questioning her sanity. The only thing that had kept her head above water was the fact that she still had the seashell from Santorini. She knew that couldn't be fake. He had walked with her on the beach the day before their last. The sun had started to settle in the sky and they'd put off all of their plans until the next day — the day it all crashed and burned.

He'd picked up that seashell that had laid beside the crystal clear water and held it up to his ear. It was a smooth cerith shell, he told her. 'You can hear the ocean in those.' She just laughed and followed along, even though she was certain you could only hear the ocean in conch shells.

She was wondering if her mind was telling her he didn't exist in preparation for the time when he wouldn't. When she would last step foot into SE and all of this would come to a daunting end.

She had stayed late, once again, working endlessly on her project in the basement. No actual work was getting done as she would've preferred to believe. Just notes written and erased and written again in her notebook until she scrapped the paper altogether.

Pushing the notebook aside, she reached down and grabbed her purse. The shell was there, right in the safety of a small pocket in the bag. She ran her fingertips over the smoothness, admiring the swirling colors of beige and orange. On a whim, she held it up to her ear and listened for the ocean.

It was just her heartbeat in her ears. No reply from within, nothing to remind her of the sunny beach and the sand that warmed her toes. She closed her eyes, trying to listen harder. Maybe if she just tried hard enough, the universe would will it into existence for her. Her head shook to herself as she lowered her hand away from her ear. It was silly, she knew that.

She glanced around the room, an idea springing to life in her mind. There were perks to being in a design suite: there were tools everywhere.

For the first time since Monday, she felt herself smile. She pushed herself off of the chair, moving to rifle around through the many drawers and cabinets in the suite. They were constantly building 3D models down here, it wouldn't be that hard to find what she needed. All she really needed were pliers and a spare screw.

After an anxious search, she'd found what she was looking for. As she slid back into her seat, she flipped on her desk lamp and laid everything out in front of her.

Starting with a nearby pencil, she marked a small circle towards the top of the opening. She was careful with the nail, painstakingly cautious not to crack the shell with too much pressure. With steady hands, she managed to poke the nail through the surface.

She unclasped the simple silver necklace from around her neck. With the pliers in hand, she pulled away the small rings that held the pendant to the chain. She could replace the chain, it wasn't special. The previous pendant was placed into her bag, and with the pliers, she carefully fastened the small hooks into the hole of the shell.

There was no holding back the gentle smile as she stared down at the makeshift necklace in her hands. It wasn't perfect, but it didn't matter. She didn't need it to be perfect.

Packing up her belongings, she kept the necklace safe in her grasp as she locked up the design suite for the night. Instead of taking her normal turn to head out the front door, she found herself rounding towards the elevator and up to her normal floor.

It was eerily quiet up there at night, even more so than the basement. Usually, the entire floor was bustling with life, but now there were no signs of anyone. The night sky over the city was clear and visible from every window, and the lights were dim.

It had become a strange sight to see Elliot's office empty, but even stranger to see it all empty at this hour.

She strode towards the glass doors that led into his office, taking a moment to breathe as soon as she stepped inside. It still smelled like him in there, and she didn't expect her heart to hurt as soon as the scent hit her nose. Everything was just as it was when he'd left on Monday, completely undisturbed. His notes scattered on his desk surface, his blazer on the back of his chair.

"I miss you," she whispered at the sight of the empty chair. It felt so stupid. She knew he was probably upstairs in the penthouse. He was less than a few floors away and yet she had never felt further from him. "I wish I could close my eyes and see you sitting there with that stupid fire in your eyes like before," she continued.

Her steps were slow and directionless. "You could've at least told me, you know?" The back of her hand rose to her cheek, wiping away a tear. "I mean, maybe that was the whole point. Not telling me?" She asked the silence but the silence didn't answer. "I feel horrible, in case you were wondering. I feel like this is all my fault and I don't know how to fix it."

If she just closed her eyes and let the scent of him overwhelm her, it was as if he was right there. "So, if you're gonna break my heart, do it now. Please," she begged, not bothering to wipe the new tears that fell. "Do it now, while I still have a shot of being okay, because I think you're the only one who could break me." Her voice cracked in the silence, but nobody was around to hear it.

She walked over to his desk, grabbing a notepad and pen before sitting down in his chair. She set the seashell necklace aside, carefully scribbling the words along the lines of the paper.

To: Kathleen

From: Dad

'If you hold the shell to your ear, you can hear the ocean. Now, you can take the ocean wherever you go.'

She tore off the piece of paper, gingerly setting the necklace around the words in hopes he would get the idea. She wasn't sure where any of this was going, but wherever it may go, it needed to go with purpose.

She stepped back from the chair, letting go of a deep sigh as she tried to pull herself together. In a split-second decision, she grabbed the blazer of his that was hung over the back of his chair. It was the blue one, the one she loved so much. He always commanded the room when he wore that suit, more so than the rest. She held it up to her face, taking a deep inhale.

Whiskey, cologne, and just a little bit of fire. All Elliot.

Folding it over her arms, she slowly departed from the glass doors. She passed by her desk with her head hung low, aiming towards the exit. She briefly wondered what would happen if she took the private elevator up to the top. Would he answer the door? Would he kick her out? Hell, maybe he wasn't even there.

"Olivia?" a voice called out quietly, startling her beyond belief. She glanced up, spotting the confused face of Casey who had stopped dead in her tracks.

"Casey! Jesus, you scared me," she pressed her hand to her chest, trying to ease the pounding beneath her ribcage. "What are you doing here?" she asked, trying to catch her breath.

"I left my phone here. I came back to get it," the other assistant answered, slowly stepping towards Olivia with suspicion in her eyes. "What are you doing here?"

"Uh – apartment key," she lied. "I left my apartment keys on my desk. I was downstairs working for a little bit and so I… came back up." Overkill and she knew it. Even she wouldn't believe herself.

Casey slowly nodded, staring a hole into Olivia's face. "Is that Stabler's jacket?"

Olivia's jaw opened and locked as she looked up and down from the jacket and back to Casey. "Yeah. Yeah, I saw it and figured I should get it dry-cleaned. Y'know, for when he gets back." All she had to do was get through this conversation without shedding another tear and she would be in the clear.

C'mon, Olivia. You don't cry, that's not who you are. Toughen up.

"Yeah." Casey softened the slightest bit. "I heard he's been working from his home office for a few days. I guess he only told the people who needed to know… which apparently isn't us," she laughed dryly.

"Huh, yeah. Apparently not." Olivia hung her head again, feeling the familiar sting return in her eyelids.

An awkward silence fell over them for a few fleeting moments, and Casey's stare didn't waver. "Liv, what happened?" she asked, casting a sympathetic look towards her friend. "Did something happen on the trip? I mean, you can tell me. Whatever it is, I can keep it to myself."

She didn't buy that for a minute but she knew Casey meant well. She had always been fairly kind to Olivia given the high-tension circumstances. Olivia looked back up again, not bothering to fight off the sadness in her eyes. "You don't wanna know," she murmured, shaking her head. She'd hoped the silent seriousness in her expression would be enough but she knew it wouldn't.

Casey took a careful step towards her. "He didn't… hurt you. Did he?"

"God, no!" Olivia answered before Casey could practically get the words out. "Nothing like that, I swear."

She saw the exhale of relief come from Casey, feeling it in her own chest as well. She wondered for a moment what it would be like to come clean. Three people knew, well, four, and the fourth was the reason she was here in this horrible spot to begin with. Monique, Alex, and Skylar. The only people who were meant to know. Now, she wasn't sure who would know. So, she wondered - how would it feel to tell the truth before the truth was told for her?

"There uh— there was a security issue when we were there," she gulped, testing the waters of truth. "It was scary and a little traumatizing. Now, it's just a matter of… figuring out what to do."

She tried to choose her words carefully, and maybe she had already gone too far. But her heart hurt and the idea of nobody understanding why was suffocating. The last thing she wanted was for anyone to know what had happened, but somehow it was worse when nobody knew there was a problem.

"I'm so sorry," Casey whispered, as if, somehow she got it. As if somehow, she understood the pain behind Olivia's eyes. "If there's anything I can do, let me know."

Olivia stared at her for a long moment, allowing herself to feel deserving of the care - something which she struggled with quite often. "Thank you, Casey."

Climbing under the covers in a fresh pair of pajamas, Olivia exhaled. This was getting harder with each passing night. Sleep was a fight to earn. Maybe it was less to do with the fact that Elliot wasn't with her, but that she wasn't sure when he would be again. The uncertainty fueled the insomnia as if it were a renewable resource.

She rolled onto her side, clutching her pillow with one arm under it and one over it. She held Elliot's blazer between her arm and the pillow, breathing in the calming scent as if he was right there with her. Her face snuggled deeper into the rough fabric, and she tried to imagine his chest was beneath it. When had she become this person? The person who can't breathe unless they have the person they want beside them?

Little miss independent was independent no longer.

Nothing but the faint sound of car engines and her own breath filled the silence. For nearly four days, she kicked herself for agreeing to go to Santorini. None of this would be happening if she had just stayed fucking put.

Her eyes focused on the opaque curtains that covered her window. She could still see blobs of light pouring through, some red and some orange. The city that never slept. Always loud, always bright.

Elliot's bedroom windows were almost always visible. She vaguely remembered a thin, nearly transparent black shade that bunched up at the very end of the rod. He always slept with the windows openly visible. She liked that. Somehow, it made her feel on top of the goddamn world. Untouchable, but so visible.

"Do you think they can see you, Olivia?" he'd rasped, maneuvering himself to slip inside of her soaked entrance. "Do you think the city can see the outline of your body and just know that every nerve ending inside of you is on fire?"

She shuddered at the memory, still able to feel the crisp coldness of the window against her back.

"I think they can see you." he'd whispered in her ear as soon as his tongue was drawn away from her throat. "I think they're watching you getting fucked, Olivia."

Her eyes squeezed shut but she wasn't sure if she was trying to welcome the memory or banish it completely. She was painstakingly aware of how alone she was now.

Her phone caught her attention, buzzing on her bedside table. She propped herself up, squinting to adjust her eyesight for the brightness of the screen. Bright and bold across the top of the screen was a sight she was unprepared for.


Her stomach dropped as soon as she saw the words pop up. It continued to buzz in her hand as she stared at it, debating on whether or not to answer. After everything that had happened, the last thing she wanted was to add more damage.

"Hello?" she exhaled as she quietly answered. She gripped the duvet cover, her knuckles turning white as she waited for an answer from the other line.

"Liv, it's me," a familiar and haunting voice rasped on the other end.

Olivia sunk back against her mattress, trying to slow her heart before it beat right out of her chest. "Christ, Elliot. You scared me."

"I know," he whispered sympathetically. The line crackled a little bit and something about the lack of clarity in his tone made her want to cry. Hell, she was already at the point where crying wasn't too far out of her reach. "I'm sorry. The security team still has my phone. I'm on a secured line right now, just until everything is cleared up. They've got me on a tight leash."

"It's okay," she whispered back, feeling hot tears streaming down her cheeks.

Neither of them really knew what to say. The moment they had walked out of the front door of the villa, neither of them knew where they stood. Everything was treading on thin ice and for all they knew, the kiss shared in the darkness of the villa could've very well been their last.

Her heart ached in her chest and just from the sound of his voice, she could tell his did too.

A moment passed and then another, and still, neither of them were sure where to go.

"I miss you," he mumbled, his voice thick with pent-up emotions that she just knew he wasn't letting out. She wanted to hold his hand and tell him it was okay, that he could cry if he needed to. Even if it sounded like parting advice. Even if it meant that their last kiss really was their last kiss.

"I miss you too," she sniffled, praying to whatever God would be merciful enough that he wouldn't be able to tell that she was holding back a sob.

She closed her eyes and imagined it was his calloused fingers wiping away the burn of her tears. In reality, it was the pillowcase beneath her soaking them up. And with her eyes still closed, she imagined he was standing in one of the tall windows in his bedroom, staring out at the city as if he could see her. As if he were searching for her.

"This will all be over soon, I promise," his voice was strained to the point where it made her throat hurt just thinking about it. Maybe he was just like her; not crying for the lack of the other person, but crying for all of it. For their jobs, for their safety, for each other.

She'd missed the sound of his voice; his real voice. Not the insincere passing of professional titles to each other, Good morning Miss Benson. She'd missed it more than she thought she did because hearing it made the dam break. Instead of being wrapped in his comforting arms, her fears lay beside her in bed. Unconstrained, ready to linger.

She sniffled once more before speaking, hoping it would clear her voice. "Um, any new leads? Anything?"

There was a long and decompressing sigh on the other line and her heart sank. "No," he said with disappointment. That's what this was, right? He'd disappointed himself, he'd disappointed her, he'd disappointed his business. "Nothing solid. The Greece HQ said that he was gone by sunrise, they can't get ahold of him. He's in the wind. I think he got the memo that his job was done when you caught him. Security pulled me from working in the office as soon as they heard he was AWOL."

Great. Fucking fantastic.

No leads meant no plugging the leaks. So much for this being over soon. She rolled over in bed, facing the other side of the wall. She couldn't stare at the window anymore, she couldn't keep hoping that she'd magically spot him from miles away.

"So, what does this mean?" she asked, burrowing herself deeper into the mattress. If she could have her way, she'd sink as far into it as it would allow and stay there forever.

"We keep looking," he answered, trying to sound at least halfway hopeful. "We hope that the security tapes are in our possession only and that any photos that may be out there are blurry enough to cause reasonable doubt. I just…" he sighed, pausing and leaving a dead silence on the other end of the line. "I don't want you to feel like this is gonna end everything. With work... with us. I won't let this change anything."

"Elliot," she whispered. Her voice would crack soon, she felt it deep in her chest. "This changes everything. We can't deny that. I don't want anything to change either, but we clearly can't pretend that we're in the clear."

"We could… we could come clean. We could talk to human resources and do what we need to do."

She huffed at his naivety. "El, the Board will vote you out and you know it. Tucker nearly got your tech branch shut down out of bribery. I won't let you gamble with your job like that, not for me."

"Liv…" he breathed. She could already see the way his eyes were scrunched together, his fingers pinching the bridge of his nose as he did all he could to stop from breaking down. "Please, please don't say what I think you're saying."

"I'm not!" she rushed to say, to put him at ease. She didn't want him to know about her consideration of putting in for the job in the design department. Not yet at least. "I'm just saying that we have to figure out something better. Something safer. We got lazy, Elliot. We stopped caring for two seconds and we have no clue what's going to happen because of it."

"Just don't lose faith in me, please." he sounded desperate, more desperate than she had ever heard him before. "I'm begging you, let me figure this out, Olivia. Please."

She was a moment away from an unbearable sob and she knew it. The longer she listened to him breaking on the other end, the shorter her fuse became. She didn't want him to hear her like this, not now. "Good night, Elliot." she murmured, forcing herself to hold back as hard as she could. She was a ticking time bomb waiting to erupt. Please, God, please. Don't let him know how bad this hurts.

"Wait—" his voice crackled through the line again. She came to a full stop, listening to him almost inaudibly sputter on the other end. He was looking for something in his words, she could feel it. Her eyes narrowed. "I–"

He wouldn't… would he?

Then, she heard him falter. He was backing down and some part of her thanked God, because tonight wasn't the night for any of it. It wasn't time to hear those words. "Good night, Liv." They both let out a sigh, which was somehow the closest they had been in almost four days.

"Elliot…" she was the one to stop him this time.

"Yeah?" God, he sounded halfway hopeful and it broke her a little bit more.

She took a deep breath and squeezed her eyes shut. The one good thing that could come of Santorini, the one good thing that might come of her existing in his realm. If worst came to worst and it all fell down; if she could just leave one footprint in the sand for him. "Call your daughter, Elliot."

Chapter Text


With dark grey clouds overlooking the city, rain drizzled down over every possible surface. Her sneakers had become drenched in the puddles as she continued to jog through the weather. The streets of New York were just about abandoned by walkers as the rain had scared everyone off into their homes.

She liked the rain. It was something about the droplets falling that made her feel less alone.

Of course, Monique had tried to tell her how stupid it was to go jogging in a storm during the Saturday evening time. She didn't listen, she never did. She'd put on a baseball cap, a pair of spandex leggings, and a long-sleeved shirt before taking advantage of the moody weather.

Everything was bleak and grey, and in the strangest way, she felt like the eye of the storm. She ran as if she were chasing the clouds that never stopped moving forward. They were out-running her steps with ease.

She stopped amid the downpour and ripped the baseball cap from off of her head. Instead of outrunning the clouds, she decided to watch them as they moved hauntingly forward. Rain-soaked through her hair, dripping down the short ponytail her hair was pulled back in. With her head tilted back, she let the water skim her cheeks. She was drenched and it was the first time her body had felt anything in 12 days.

That was the last time she saw Elliot Stabler with her own two eyes. The Monday after their return from Santorini.

Nearly two weeks.

One phone call, nothing else.

She peered back up at the sky, her eyelashes dripped with rain. She could see the SE building from where she stood.

Even on the busiest day of the week, it felt like a ghost town. The administration desk had caught wind that Elliot was no longer in the office, and the calls to their floor had slowed to almost none at all. She and Casey spent their days guarding an empty office.

She had become more bold since his disappearance. There was no point in sitting and waiting for a phone to ring that wouldn't. She'd started to get up and leave, clocking in her time down in the design suite. At least down there it was somewhat busy enough to keep her distracted.

Elliot still had no idea that Olivia was considering the transfer, not that she really had the chance to tell him anyway. In her mind, she figured that he would want her to focus on Red Light while he was gone. He seemed to have so much faith in her about the project, even he knew it would be better for her there in the meantime rather than wistfully staring into his empty office.

She stared up at the building from her spot on the sidewalk, wiping away the rain from her eyes. He was up there, at the very top. He was probably sitting in his home office with his head hung low while he mindlessly signed off on piles of paperwork.

He must feel so alone. Maybe as alone as she feels.

She tucked her hair back under the baseball cap, stretching her arms across her chest before resuming her jogging. If she stops long enough to think about him feeling alone, she may never start again.

Thunder clapped from above her as her shoes continued to splash against the muddy puddles of the sidewalks. She needs this, she told herself. She needs to feel the ice-cold rain drowning down on her to remind her that she's still moving.

"Is it normal to feel this nervous? I mean, I kinda feel like my lungs are on fire! And my hair, does it look okay? I wasn't sure this outfit would look good, I —"

"Monique!" Olivia cut off the ramblings of her best friend with a shout. She grabbed Monique's shoulders and gently laughed. "You look great. Everything is gonna be fine, there's no need to panic. You worked hard, you're confident in what you've done, this is your moment to shine." She smiled as Monique's tense shoulders eased.

It was Monique's last semester before receiving a degree in fine arts, a subject that Olivia knew she felt passionately about. She remembered the first day she met her, and how the sketchbook in her hand had never left. Twelve years old to twenty-nine years old and still, her love hadn't changed.

The school was putting on gallery shows for fundraising, and tonight was the night that Monique had been working towards for months on end. An entire studio filled with nothing but pure creations of her mind.

Olivia had already felt guilty as it was that she hadn't been as present for Monique in the past few weeks as she should've, but she'd promised that nothing would get in the way of the art show. So, Olivia tried to put aside her own flaming mess in her head to be the best friend that she needed to be. As far as she was concerned, Elliot didn't exist tonight. The photographs of her didn't exist tonight.

"Look out the window," Olivia whispered with a smile, gently leading Monique around the corner. "See all those people?" she motioned towards the window-front. "All of them are here for you tonight. Because they believe in you, they believe in your dreams and your art."

Monique exhaled a long deep breath, nodding in hopes that she would find herself believing Olivia's words. "So, they're not just here for the free champagne?"

"No," Olivia laughed. "No, you worked tirelessly on this and they're here to see it through with you. The champagne is just a bonus."

Monique turned to her and smiled softly. "Thank you," she whispered. "For everything. I wouldn't be here without you."

"Yes, you would be," Olivia grinned. "You would've found a way with or without me. Now, they're gonna open those doors, and you're gonna start thinking in terms of the best-case scenario, not the worst. Okay?"

Monique shook her head more fervently than before, straightening her shoulders and lifting her chin. "Okay," she took one last sharp inhale before turning to the gallery director. "Let 'em in."

"You got this!" Olivia whispered one last time before stepping back, allowing the crowds of people to flock to the art and the artist. She stared at Monique with pride in her eyes, watching the fear melt away as the first few people began to approach her with compliments and questions about specific pieces.

Olivia wandered towards the back of the gallery, into a separate section filled with canvases on the walls. She thought back to their childhood and how that same sketchbook in Monique's arms had become a haven. Not just for her, but for both of them. When they were lucky enough to be placed in the same group home or foster family, they often spent their nights under blankets with flashlights. They would sit and create stories together, Monique sketching them out into comics and Olivia devising the plots.

Every single story they ever came up with had a happy ending, no matter how bleak the times were for them. Looking back on it, she wondered how two young kids without a shred of hope for the future managed to dream it up. They took from nothing - no example of promise, and still found a way to bring it to life.

And where no hope had lied, they still made it out. Barely. Just barely. By nothing but a miracle, they were on the tracks they had prayed so hard for.

When Olivia had discovered the trust fund at eighteen, Monique's art school dreams had been her first thought. Not herself and the temporary disposable income. Her best friend, who had kept her alive through her own passion. When Olivia had nothing to her name but a drawing on the wall from Monique in her darkest times, she had been kept alive.

Elliot didn't know that story yet. Almost nobody did. He'd come close that day when they'd sat on the couch and he'd dropped the bomb that he knew in some sense she had saved Monique's life as well.

They got each other through, that's what they did. That's what they always did. Looking at Monique's art restored a little bit of the hope she had been losing after everything in Santorini. If that little kid Olivia and little kid Monique could make it out of a much worse situation, she could make it out of this. She was standing in the epicenter of proof. Compared to what she had once gone through, her current problem was nothing.

"Hey," Alex's cheerful voice pulled Olivia out of her daydream, and she nearly melted into the comforting hand her friend placed on her shoulder. "Amazing, isn't it? I might be a little biased, but I think my girlfriend has Picasso beat."

Olivia giggled, nodding in agreement. "I won't argue with you on that one. How's she doing up there?"

"Mo? She's fine." Alex waved her hand around like it was nothing. "As soon as that crowd flooded the door with their jaws dropped, ready to ask a million questions, she was perfect. I think she may already have a few donations."

"That's amazing!" Olivia beamed. She thought back to before Monique enrolled in the school. She and Alex weren't nearly a couple yet, a basic case of unrequited love that wasn't actually unrequited. She and Monique were still living in their first apartment together and Alex came by daily to watch Monique paint. "Remember back when she was afraid to even enroll?"

Alex laughed at the memory, taking a sip from her own champagne glass. "Oh yeah. Then, when the admissions letters came in the mail, she hid in her room for three hours and refused to open any of them? She was so afraid of being rejected."

"Times have changed," Olivia hummed. They both turned, watching Monique from across the room as she spoke to several people at once. "She did it. She made it."

Alex could hear the distance in Olivia's voice. "How about you? How are things?"

She knew what Monique knew, which was just the slightest bit less than what Olivia herself knew. Alex knew that Elliot was gone, vanished into thin air. She knew about the incidents and the risks it posed.

Olivia sucked in her bottom lip, a lying tic she wished she could rid herself of. "I'm fine,"

"Really?" Alex prodded, turning back to face Olivia. "Because there's something I've noticed, Olivia. In the very front room of this gallery, there's a massive painting Monique did of you. The one where your cheeks glow and your eyes don't look so lost. The real you, the happy you. I'm standing here, staring at the muse for that painting and I don't see the slightest resemblance anymore. Where is the Olivia from that piece of art?"

Olivia felt no threat from Alex's words, only an embarrassing sense of truth. Even she couldn't deny it anymore, the queen of denial herself. She looked a little more sallow now, less vibrant than the acrylic image of herself. Lack of sleep had left bags under her eyes and everywhere she looked, she looked with the thousand-yard stare. "That Olivia?" she paused, looking away from Alex. "That Olivia is in Santorini."

Alex bowed her head with a simple nod. "Yeah. You don't have to lie and say that you're okay, Liv. You aren't, and nobody is expecting you to be."

"I'm expecting myself to be," Olivia interjected. "This isn't who I am, Alex. This has never been me. I let my laser focus dwindle for a moment and it's costing me. I never thought it would be so damn hard to sleep without a warm body next to me."

"Did you ever stop and think that maybe it's not Elliot who has left you like this?" Alex asked, earning a confused stare. "Liv, all of this, it isn't over a man. C'mon, we both know that. What happened in Santorini was scary and violating, I think that's what might be getting to you. And even if it's both that and the sudden lack of Elliot in your life, there's no shame in that."

Olivia dropped her eyes to the floor, realizing they were suddenly knee-deep in a therapy session in the middle of Monique's art show. "You never get used to it, y'know... the violation," she whispered. "You think you will, but you don't. Then, when it happens again, admitting that it happened again can be even worse. It's easier to sit here and tell myself that I'm sulking over a man, rather than to sit here and admit that there are vulnerable pictures of me out there and I don't know what to do."

Alex brought her in for a tight side-hug, feeling Olivia's shoulders release their tension against her. "But you keep going, and I'm proud of you. You're here, supporting your best friend, even though we both know you would rather be under the covers in the dark with your thoughts. You keep going."

"I always keep going," Olivia whispered, looking back up at the art on the wall. Young Olivia didn't have the option of giving up, and neither did she.

Two hours into the art show and Olivia's feet ached in her heels. She kept a smile plastered on her face, quietly eavesdropping in on the conversations of the art admirers. She knew Monique would want to know the details of everything everyone said about her paintings, so Olivia's job from the start had been to be the one with her ears open.

Donations for the school came in faster than anyone expected, and Monique was in her ultimate glory. Olivia's heart swelled at the sight. Every word she overheard was nothing but admiration and positivity, and Monique deserved every ounce of it.

But despite her pride in her best friend, Alex was right; she wanted to go home and crawl into the darkness. She had become accustomed to a slow life at work over the two weeks that Elliot had been gone. Being around so many people again was practically a culture shock to her. Voices overlapped and the scene was constantly changing.

Just as she felt herself suppressing a yawn, Monique came barreling through the doorway into the back room of the gallery. "Olivia! Holy shit! Your painting!"

"What happened?" Olivia shrieked, quickly spinning on her heel to grab Monique before she could crash land into her. "What's wrong?"

"Wrong? Nothing's wrong!" Monique shouted, out of breath. "The gallery just told me that the painting of you that's displayed up in the front was sold! Not a print, the actual piece."

"Oh, oh my God." Olivia's eyes blew wide, a hundred different questions rushing through her head like who the hell would want a painting of her.

"There's more!" Monique's grip on Olivia's arms tightened. "There was a donation with it. $20,000 fucking dollars, Olivia!" she squealed, jumping up and down. "Who would do that?"

Olivia froze in place, her jaw slightly dropping as her veins went cold. She tried to gulp down the lump forming in her throat but it only grew with each passing moment. "Um — I have an idea of who," she mumbled, choking out the words. She felt dizzy and the room started to spin her around like a fairground ride.

Monique stopped her frantic jumping, steadying herself as she watched Olivia's eyes go through the motions. Then, it hit her. "You— you don't think? Do you?"

"I don't know," Olivia breathed, feeling the sudden inability to process her thoughts. The room was swaying around her as she tried to understand what was happening. "Who else would? I mean, did you see who it was?"

"No, I didn't even think to ask who bought it and the place is so swamped I couldn't see!" Monique replied, seeming to feel all of the emotions that Olivia was lacking.

Olivia's eyes drifted away from Monique's as she deflated with a deep exhale. "He was here..." she whispered, losing the battle that kept the feeling of defeat hidden away. Her throat was constricting even tighter as tears threatened to well up in her eyes. "H-he was here."

Monique stared at her as if she were crazy. "Then what the hell are you still doing here? Go!"

"Go?" Olivia's head shot back over to her friend's, an incredulous expression taking over. "Go where?"

"Girl, go after him!" Monique yelped, smacking Olivia's arm. "You haven't seen him in two weeks! If he was here, he's still close by. You might be able to catch him!"

"Catch hi— Mo! I can't! I'm not leaving here, it's your night and I promised I'd be here!" Olivia argued back as if it were the simplest thing in the world.

"Listen to me." Monique shook Olivia once more, as if she were trying to shake some sense into her. "If that bastard just came here and donated that much money for my school, I don't care if you jet off to Vegas right now and marry him! Now, quit standing around and get running before I throw you out of here myself!"

"Are... are you sure?" she asked with her lip quivering. She had to admit, with each passing moment, the idea of finding Elliot became more alluring. He could be right outside the door for all she knew.

"Yes, I'm sure! Now go!"

Olivia hastily nodded, finally agreeing with not only Monique but also herself that she was going to chase after him.

Her feet burned even worse as she sprinted down the streets of New York. Her shoes bit into her skin, already blistering the tender areas as she picked up her speed. The SE building wasn't far from the gallery, a few blocks at the most. The rain slowed her down but she kept her pace through the gritting weather.

She wasn't sure at this point which droplets on her face were the rain and which were the tears. They had fallen from her eyes as soon as she'd made it out of the gallery's doors. Some of her was angry, some of her was heartbroken, she couldn't decide which one was winning. If it was him, if it truly was, then she was furious. How could he be so close and not bother to see her? Not even tell her that he was dropping by? How could he appear and just leave all over again?

The building was no longer in the distance, but suddenly right above her. She stopped in her tracks, staring up all the way to the penthouse floor as if she would be able to see him through the windows. The rain was coming down harder now and she was drenched from head to toe. A goddamn mess, no doubt.

She turned and aimed for the parking garage, planning her moves with more strategy now. Her footsteps echoed through the empty lot, the lights flickering as they guided her towards the familiar service elevator. It was the only elevator that led only up to his apartment, and she was the only one with a key.

Anger was winning now, she could feel it in her bones. She grabbed the keys from her clutch, jamming it into the lock and searching for the signals that it would allow her in. Nothing clicked. Not a light went off or even a sound. Son of a bitch.

The elevator was turned off.

"Hey!" she shouted, looking up at the security camera that blinked with a red light. "Hey, asshole!" Tears started falling even harder now, no longer co-mingling with those of the clouds. "I know you can see me, and I know you can hear me!"

A sob escaped from her chest as she backed away from the elevator door and into a better view of the camera. "You were there tonight, I know you were! Goddamnit, Elliot! How could you do that to me? How could you just leave like that? We— we could've talked! We could've found someplace private and just..."

She stopped, blowing a breath from her lips. There was no stopping the pathetic laugh that followed the sobs. "Look at me. I'm screaming at a fucking camera. This is who I am now; the crazy bitch who screams into the nothingness! This is who I've become, and I don't like it, Elliot! I don't like it at all!"

She rubbed her knuckles against her cheeks, finding the dark smear of mascara across her skin. "Fuck, I miss you, damnit! You could've talked to me, but you left me! You left me and I needed you!"

Olivia knew her words were no longer focused on what had happened at the gallery, but rather what had happened in total. She sobbed once more, fighting to catch her breath. "I needed you, Elliot. I needed you and you left me here, alone. Every day, I have to stare at your empty office and every day is the day I think you'll come back and you never do. You never do!"

She wasn't sure if she was saying it for him or for herself. For two weeks, she hadn't allowed the thoughts to break through to her consciousness, fearing it would break her all together. Olivia Benson was not the person who allowed herself to break, especially over a man. Yet, here she was; leaving it all out in the open.

Her eyes went back up to the camera, hoping for once that he could see the hurt in them rather than hide it. "You're breaking my heart," she whispered, just loud enough for only herself to hear. "I miss walking into the office every morning, knowing you're gonna see me and smile and that everything will be alright. I miss whispering to you in the break room while we're getting coffee. I miss you hovering over my shoulder with that stupid amazement in your eyes while I work on Red Light. I miss the nights on the couch with a bottle of wine and I miss waking up at midnight in your bed."

She was talking to a blinking red light, pouring her heart out to it knowing damn well there was a chance nobody was on the other side. That's who she had become. That's who Santorini had turned her into.

"If you're doing this to — I don't know, keep me safe? I don't want that, okay? I don't care. I— I stopped caring, El. I don't know when or how but I stopped and I'm okay with that," she cried, not bothering to try to end the downfall of tears. "I stopped caring when I realized that caring too much meant not having you around. I don't need you to protect me from myself, okay? Or anyone else for that matter. I just need you to come back... please."

She waited as if there would be some sort of answer, some sort of familiar voice calling out to her. There was nothing. Just the painful void of silence as the security camera just kept blinking. "Please," she whispered, her voice helplessly cracking.

She waited a few more moments before allowing her head to drop. The excess rain from her hair dripped down her face and shoulders. She felt defeat in its truest form, and weakness alongside it. One more glance up at the camera and the tears burned against her cold cheeks. "Good night, Elliot," she whispered before walking away.

Elliot stared at the iPad, watching with his own tears in his eyes as the black and white camera feed showed her trudging away.

"Sir," Skylar interrupted his moment as he stood behind Elliot. "I know it's against your current security protocol, but we can unlock the elevator if you'd like."

Elliot cleared his throat, trying to hide any evidence of his emotions. He coughed into his fist as he shook his head. "No, no. She uh – she left." His eyes squeezed shut as he threw the iPad down on the couch, the image of her walking away with her arms crossed over her chest still vivid in his mind.

For the first time in her career at SE, she called in sick. The night had ended with her drenched in rain and her shivering body had rocked her to sleep. When the sun rose the following morning, she wasn't moving. She wasn't running down the street trying to balance several coffee cups. She wasn't frantically throwing together the best outfit she had yet to wear.

The best she could do was send a simply-worded text to Casey that she wasn't coming in. They'd be fine without her for the day, even in the Red Light room. Hell, the entire point of her job was gone now that she couldn't really assist who she was there to assist. It was like going into school and finding not a single teacher.

She was fucking tired, and she deserved to be. The paranoia was getting to her, leaving her wondering if every eye on her was an eye that had seen those photos. She was tired of leaving the house with her hopes up. Even if she couldn't have him anymore, she at least wanted the normalcy to return.

If she had to, she would deal with whatever splintering emotions would come from seeing him and not being able to touch him. If she could just see him. It had been so dark out when they'd touched down back in New York, after the flight home from Santorini. She had barely seen his face. Now that she thought about it, she had barely seen him in the villa that night either. When she had rushed in and closed the curtains, cutting off any connection of light from the inside out. When was the last time she had actually seen him?

This wasn't the deal they had made. When had their rule of no-strings-attached become a matted mess of tangled webs?

She rolled over in bed, moving to face away from sharp beams of sunlight coming through her bedroom window. Of all the days it had to shine outside, why now? She wanted the rain to return, it had become a constant comfort lately. If she had to feel dark and dreary, at least the rest of the city had to feel it with her. She liked knowing that when she had tears in her eyes, so did every statue in New York.

Glancing over at her alarm clock, she squinted at the LED letters. God, it wasn't even morning anymore. The morning had passed her by, leaving her in the hours of the afternoon to wallow. It was already 2:00 pm. Time was swallowing her up faster than quicksand.

"Hey," Monique whispered as she slowly peaked through Olivia's bedroom door. She could see the back of Olivia's head as it rested against her pillow. "I brought you a sandwich. You need to eat."

"M'not hungry." Olivia grumbled. She had fallen back asleep somewhere in the afternoon, completely unaware that time had continued turning. She could tell from the color shining through her curtains that the sun was setting.

"Liv, c'mon." Monique sat on the empty edge of the bed, setting the plate of food down on the bedside table. "I'm fully on board with you spending the entire day in bed, however, you're gonna starve."

"What did I do wrong, Mo?" she asked as she rolled over onto her back. "I know screwing your boss isn't a smart move, but why does it have to be like this? Why can't we just do what normal people do in this situation? Work together and fuck out our frustrations."

"I don't know, sweetheart." Monique moved a strand of Olivia's hair behind her ear. "I don't think it was you who did anything wrong. Obviously, you had your privacy invaded. But for whatever reason, I truly don't think you did anything to cause that. If someone is after him, it's not fair that you're in the crossfire."

"I don't mind being in the crossfire, believe it or not," she whispered. "It's being in the crossfire without him."

Monique pushed herself further into the bed, curling up at Olivia's side. Olivia buried her head in her shoulder. "It's only a matter of time before things go back to the way they were," she whispered to Olivia, gently stroking her back. "You hate change, Olivia. You always have. But this change is temporary. It might not feel like it, but you'll get through it. He'll be back soon and things won't be so scary."

Olivia quietly sobbed as she curled in tighter against Monique. The scent of her best friend brought a wave of comfort over her, allowing her body to untense enough for her to finally cry. That was always her problem — she could never cry because her body seemed to lock up to the point where her tear ducts were shut. However, it took one ounce of relaxation for her to allow herself to break. She couldn't sink if she was holding onto Monique like she was a life-raft.

"Everyone at work looks at me like I have the answers," she cried. "They're all just wondering where their boss is, I can't tell them that he's hiding out because there's a mole in the company who has explicit pictures of him and his assistant."

Monique pulled Olivia in closer, holding her as she cried. "This isn't your fault. This is not your fault, Olivia," she whispered, feeling her own tears brimming. Something about seeing Olivia heartbroken always got to her in ways that she couldn't explain.

Her phone buzzed beside her and for a moment, she wondered if it was even worth it to look. Deciding against her tired instincts, she grabbed it and squinted at the screen. As soon as she saw the name, she shot upright in bed.

"Who is it?" Monique asked, readjusting herself so she was leaning on her elbow.

Olivia stared in confusion at the screen. "It's... it's Skylar? Elliot's head of personal security. He's gonna be here in a few minutes."

"What?" Monique's brows furrowed "Why?"

"Not sure," Olivia ripped the covers off of herself, shooting over to her closet and pulling the first thing she saw off of the rack. It was a short sundress, a pretty floral pattern that she hadn't worn in ages. She quickly shed her pajamas off, sliding the dress over her frame before stepping into a pair of flats. "Don't know, don't care."

She reached for her brush, quickly dragging it through the knots that had formed in her hair from lying in bed all day. She was rushing around the room, applying mascara to her lashes as quickly as she possibly could.

"Did he say anything else?"

"No," Olivia exhaled, grabbing her phone and wallet as she continued to scurry around her bedroom. "But there are only two reasons he would be here. One, Elliot wants to see me..."

"And two?" Monique asked.

Olivia stopped and stared at Monique with fear in her eyes. "We don't talk about option number two. Option two means bad news and I just don't have that in me right now." She darted out of the bedroom as fast as her feet could carry her.

"Hey! Take the sandwich!" Monique called out after her, but she was gone.

"Where are we going?" Olivia broke the silence as she watched Skylar turn off the freeway. She had only ever been out of the city a few times, there wasn't much she could recognize.

"Westchester County."

"Westchester? Jesus," she exhaled. "What's out in Westchester?"

"Mr. Stabler is," Skylar answered, not taking his eyes off the road. "He has a house out there. Only a few people know about it. It's all handled under pseudonyms and cash outside of him and the business. He bought the house back when his daughter was born, in case anything ever happened and they needed a safe place that couldn't be traced back to him."

She stared at him through his rearview mirror, hoping he would look at her. Her jaw fell slack as she processed his words. Elliot? She was gonna see Elliot?

"Wh-why is he in Westchester now? Why hasn't he stayed in the city?" Olivia feared as soon as she asked that she may not like the answer. As far as she had known, he was in the city the entire time. Plus, if he had been at the gallery on Sunday, that meant he had left more recently than she would've expected.

"I'm not at liberty to say, Miss. Benson. However, I assure you that both Mr. Stabler and yourself are in good hands."

"Alright," she forced herself to keep breathing. "Then answer me this. He rarely ever goes anywhere without you, you're his off-site security detail. Which means you were with him Sunday night," she stopped, trying to curb the emotions that came with the thought of her standing in that parking garage, screaming at the camera. "The gallery... was that him?"

Skylar peered over his tinted sunglasses and finally looked her in the eyes. "Yes, ma'am."

Her eyes closed as she softly nodded. She wasn't really sure what she had wanted the answer to be; it was a double-edged sword. On one hand, some creep didn't have a massive painting of her. On the other hand, he had left without even attempting to speak to her.

"So uh... my little temper tantrum in the parking garage. He saw that, didn't he?" she asked, hanging her head in shame as she picked at the hem of her dress.

Skylar didn't answer right away, putting his eyes back on the road. "Yes, ma'am."

"Well, it must've caught his attention," she groaned inwardly before turning to look out the window. The sky was orange, fluffy pink clouds drifting by as the remainder of the blue faded below the edge of the earth. Telephone poles passed them by as she tried to relax into the leather seats. "So, how long until we reach Westchester?" she asked.

"About another forty-five minutes, ma'am."

Forty-five minutes was enough time for her to think up every scenario possible of how this was about to play out.

The vehicle pulled into a long road, houses scattered on hilltops with land surrounding each of them. She paid careful attention to each house, wondering which would be the one they would turn towards. All of them were beautiful and perfectly manicured. Her breath hitched every time they neared another driveway, her heart pounding its way out of her chest walls.

Finally, the vehicle slowed as they neared a driveway that led up to a house that looked as if it belonged on a golf course. Her palms started to sweat as soon as the car turned and started the climb up the driveway. She tried to see as far as possible through the windshield, spotting a figure standing in the doorway of the house.

"Elliot..." she whispered, fighting back tears. The further they drove up, the better she could see his face. Two fucking weeks and she finally laid eyes on him.

The car had barely come to a stop before she barrelled out of the backseat, sprinting towards him. She wanted to scream and cry out his name, but all of the air in her lungs was occupied with keeping her running as fast as she could.

At fifteen feet away from him, she stopped. If she was running towards a figment of her imagination, she wanted to know now. Her body had halted completely, taking in the image as he stood within throwing distance of her. She couldn't stop her jaw from hanging just the slightest bit, none of it felt real. Not the rose bushes that surrounded the front of the house or the man standing in front of her.

Is it you?

Is it really you?

Her mind wandered between the two simple questions, not allowing for anything else. He stood with his hands at his sides, something he only did when he felt weak. She knew that about him, she knew his mannerisms and body language. Had his hands been behind his back, he would've been proud. He was anything but proud right now.

"Elliot," she whispered under her breath, helplessly staring at him as he stood as still as a statue. Finally, her legs allowed her to move and resumed the sprint in his direction.

Both of her arms wrapped under his, her hands gripping onto his shoulder blades as if her life depended on it. She felt his palms on her, one on her lower back and one in center. "Jesus Christ, Elliot," she cried with her face buried in his neck. She pulled away to look at him, secretly fearing he was nothing but a cruel mirage that would slip away with one glance. "It's been two fucking weeks."

"I know," he murmured with guilt and sadness, his eyes dropping down away from hers as he kept her in his grasp. "I'm so sorry, Olivia."

It was sincere, and that's what chilled her the most. He said it as if he'd been waiting the entire time to spill the words out. From the bottom of his soul, he was sorry for the hell they were going through.

"Just hold me," she whispered, feeling a tear trickle down her cheek. She regained her grip on him, basking in the scent of him that she spent two weeks craving. His skin was warm against hers, striking familiar nerves with every inch he touched. Any apology he could give right now would be accepted as long as she was in his arms.

She swore that with her face in his neck, she heard him sniffle. Her grip became tighter, pressing him flush against her. She could feel his heart beating, the faint thrumming almost in sync with her own. He was intoxication in its purest form, sating her with nothing more than just his skin on hers.

"Let's go inside," he breathed, nuzzling his nose against her cheek. She pulled away, her mind in a hazy fog as she agreed. When he opened the door, he allowed her in first and gave a nod to Skylar — who was to be posted outside of the house.

As soon as they were behind the closed door, she was back to being wrapped tightly against his body. It had taken her off guard as she felt her back press against the door with a fury hidden deep in his strength.

The crash of a kiss was anything but well-orchestrated. It was a frantic clashing of teeth and tongue. She clawed at his shoulders as her head dipped back, him leaning over her as he sought familiarity in her lips.

She whimpered as he bit her lower lip, possessively claiming it between his teeth. This was coming home, it had to be. This is what the return to comfort must be. If everyone who ever described the feeling of coming home meant this, she understood for the first time how sacred it felt.

Her arms enclosed around his neck as he continued to explore her mouth, anchoring him against her. The tears were still melting along the waterline of her eyes, not yet falling again. His hands patted against the backs of her thighs, signaling for her to leap and wrap her legs around him. "God, I fucking missed you," she whispered.

With her steady in his arms and secure around his waist, he moved the both of them away from the door. His brain was short-circuiting at her long-overdue touch, nothing but muscle memory left to guide him in the right direction.

As he carried her through the foyer of the house, she cupped his cheeks and continued finding purchase in his lips. Her forehead fell against his and the rest of the world ceased to exist around them. The sunset bled through every window of the house, casting an orange glow over them as he continued towards the nearest bedroom.

She didn't want to sit and talk, and she knew he didn't either. Talking wasn't what they needed right now. It was quelling the sudden touch-starvation that they were forced to face. That was all that mattered at the moment.

As soon as he recognized his surroundings and realized there was a guest bedroom nearby, he hurried his pace. Each passing moment grew with need and desperation to explore every inch that he missed of her.

They both nearly crashed through the doorway and before she knew it, she was placed down on a comfortable mattress. Neither of them had time to think about where to go next, only that they had to go or else the world will melt at their fingertips. "I've been dreaming of this moment for two weeks," he growled. There was anger in the words that she swallowed from his lips. Not anger at her, but anger at himself.

Wordlessly, she pulled him back down with her hand on the back of his neck. It was forgiveness and agony wrapped up in one ferocious kiss. She could feel that anger was at everyone and everything else, just not her.

Her hands snaked between the two of them as he hovered above her, moving to pop each button out of its designated security. As soon as the shirt was open, she pushed it down the back of his shoulders, her hands grazing every tense muscle in his arms. His biceps flexed as he shook the shirt off of his frame and let it fall to the floor.

With her guidance, he crawled over top of her on the bed. Normally, she felt like his prey when he did so; not this time. She wouldn't allow him to be angry, not now at least. He wanted to fuck the anger out, but she refused to allow their likely short amount of time together to be only that. Somewhere inside of himself, he knew that, and was beyond appreciative that she had the control that he lacked.

She directed him to sit with his back to the pillows, climbing into his lap and gripping his face in her palms. Her forehead fell back to his as she was the one to tower over him. He could feel her slowing the pace down, relishing in her ability to finally have him all to herself. Her nose swiped against his, her upper lip brushing along his before reclaiming him in a kiss.

His hands drifted under the hem of her dress, palming her ass with a deep-seated need to touch every inch of her. With every grip of him kneading her flesh, her body shuttered. Blindly, he found the lace of her thong, sliding it down with his thumbs until it rested where her knees were kneeling between him.

"Take your pants off, Elliot," she whispered against his lips, not bothering to do it herself. Her hands were too busy cradling his face, steadying him as she reacquainted herself with the taste of him.

The clink of his belt buckle hit her ears and a thrum vibrated down her spine. By the time he had rid himself of all of his clothes, his erection throbbed between his legs. She sat back on her calves, lifting her dress above her head and discarding it with the rest of their clothes. She slipped the thong out from around her knees as he worked to unhook her bra.

She swore she heard a shivering moan erupt from his chest as she sat in his lap with not a shred of fabric covering her. It was easy to sense that he was holding himself back, and all of that anger that was pent up inside of him too. She simply rebuked the idea that reuniting with him would be fueled by hatred for the person or people who divided them. Her anger was washing away with the pull of every tide on Earth.

She took in a sharp inhale, stepping into dangerous territory of taking control. Shuffling closer to him in his lap, she grabbed his chin and brought his eyes up to hers. "You are not going to fuck me, Elliot." Even now, defying his past demands seemed terrifying. "You're going to show me what you feel for me, not what you feel about the people who angered you. You're going to touch me with the feelings of how you missed me. You can be angry at the universe, but right now, we're going to appreciate this moment together. Got it?"

He stared at her with amazement and hunger. She was being brave and at that, he owed her a great deal of credit. A small nod to her signaled his compliance. Her willpower was something to be reckoned with, because she was right, he was on the verge of screwing her into oblivion just to spite God and everyone else who took her away from him.

He didn't want that. For once, he wasn't interested in playing games and testing their limits. God forbid they ever admit it out loud, but he was going to make love to her.

His hands came to graze her waist as she reached down between them, softly stroking his cock. Fuck, how she had missed the beautiful weight of him in her palm. Her thumb smeared the wetness of his precum around the tip of him, earning a sharp inhale from his lungs. His touch moved downward, his thumbs moving along the V shape of her hip bones.

"You're so beautiful, Olivia," he managed to get the words out without his sentence breaking. She could hear the pain in his voice, deeper than the surface of his need. His anger was becoming hurt; hurt that he had to miss her.

Her focus was on the hardness in her hand, rubbing the softness of her palm down the length of him with a painfully slow speed. By now, he would have his finger buried to the hilt inside of her, but he didn't trust himself. His head wasn't on his shoulders and she seemed to know exactly what they both needed. If he took control now, he would break the unspoken promise he'd made to show her how he missed her, not how he would usually take her.

She leaned forward once more, back to resting her forehead on his. Only now, the difference was that her eyes were open and staring at him. She raised her hips, guiding his aching cock to align with her core. As the tip of him brushed against her folds, she took a sharp inhale. Her eyes were glued to his as she slowly sunk down on him. Their mouths dropped in unison as the sound of constricted breaths filled the silence of the room.

She took each inch slowly, basking in the long-awaited stretch that she loved more than life itself. Every nerve ending inside of her was struck back to life. To feel him filling her after what felt like an eternity without him was a feeling she wanted to remember. Her eyes stayed on his as she sunk lower, watching every contraction and dilation of his pupils. She had almost forgotten that he fit inside of her like a missing puzzle piece. Every curve and every shape gliding against exactly where it needed to be.

One of his hands had moved away from her body and instead gripped the sheets with every drop of strength. He wanted nothing more than to grind his hips up into her, to search for the friction he craved. Her breaths were in short and light puffs, her eyes closing as she took in the final inch of him.

She was frozen with him inside of her, mentally memorizing how every single centimeter of her body felt in that very moment. He finally released the sheet from his knuckles, instead moving to brush his fingertips over one of her swollen nipples. She finally let out a proper moan, high pitched and sung in the beautiful tune that he had missed.

When he spotted her bottom lip within her teeth, he took her in for another deep kiss. Finally, her hips started to rise and fall. Her pace was still agonizingly slow, but with her skin under his palms and fingertips, he could breathe again. God, how he could breathe again. Every breath was an assault of her scent, working like a pheromone in his system.

Her thighs trembled as she continued her rise and fall on his cock, her breaths coming in whimpers. Overwhelmed with the urge to feel closer to her, his hands sought out hers. Their palms brushed against each other before he interlocked their fingers together on both hands. She moaned once more, feeling him lift their connected hands just above the height of her shoulders.

Her pace sped up but not nearly enough. She was enjoying every second she had with him inside of her, promising herself to never take it for granted ever again. His hips gave the slightest recoil with each of her gentle thrusts, careful not to give in to the oncoming resolve.

Her breasts bounced in front of him as she repeatedly slid down his length. Still holding both of her hands in his, he leaned his head forward to bring his tongue to her nipple. He could feel the surge of wetness between her folds as he did so, another cry leaving her lips like a hymn. His tongue swirled around the bud, the delicate suction motivating her to ride him a little harder.

Her noises rose in volume and her control over herself was wearing thin. His mouth detached from her nipple for a brief moment. "You're so fucking tight, Olivia," he said with a shiver, his hips meeting the rise and fall of her thrusts. "So tight and so wet and oh so perfect."

"Elliot," she cried out when he hit a particularly sensitive spot inside of her. Her hands gripped his tighter, turning her knuckles into a pale white shade. He could feel her nearing her climax, her movements rising in urgency. Her head started to fall back, pushing her chest out and giving him more room to work his mouth over her nipples.

She was a whining mess within moments, dancing on the precipice of her orgasm. Her speed was faster than before, working a little more desperately to feel him and the friction she so badly needed. This was the moment she had spent two weeks waiting for, praying for, begging for.

He knew the moment she let go of his hands that she was moments away from falling apart on top of him. His lips released her breasts, his arms moving to wrap her up within them. His mouth met her neck as her cheek grazed his forehead. He licked a line up to her earlobe, cradling her as she thrust down harder on him. "You're so close, Liv. I can feel how badly you need to cum."

Whatever she had responded with was incoherent, and he would've settled for nothing less. He held her tighter, her chest flush against him as she lost herself in her own movements. "That's it, that's my good girl," he whispered. "Let me feel you cum. C'mon, sweetheart, gimme all you've got."

A high-pitch gasp tangled with her moans as she felt herself tighten around him. He knew her well enough to know that when she was in control, her mind shut out everything in the world except for the pleasure she felt. His words, despite how amazing it felt to say them, were for her. A reminder that he was there with her, holding her as she fell off the edge. And she did just that. Broken cries spilled from her mouth as she frantically rode him through her earth-shattering climax.

Heat raced through him as he made the split-second decision to push her onto her back. Her head was a few inches away from the footboard of the bed as he pulled his throbbing cock out from her. She groaned at the sudden loss, being met with a string of hushes from him.

He positioned himself with his head between her legs, deciding that he desperately needed to remember her taste. He managed to get her limp legs over his shoulders, his hands prying her thighs apart. "So beautiful," he mumbled. "So wet, so beautiful."

"El—Elliot!" she gasped, her hips jutting upwards at the overstimulation of his tongue swiping through her. On instinct, her hands came down and gripped his head. She wasn't even near recovered from her first orgasm and he was already on a mission to give her a second.

His tongue circled her clit, lapping up the dripping juices from her core. Tasting her after so long was better than tasting any fancy wine or whiskey. He traced shapes along her core, not missing a single spot on her. He was desperate to take what was his, to taste all he could after days and endless days without her.

She writhed under him, her brain becoming the equivalent of a nuclear meltdown. His tongue explored every fold before plunging inside of her. She cried out, her nails digging into his head as his mouth diligently worked her over.

Taking her by surprise, he brought his fingertips up to swirl against her clit as his tongue continued delving inside of her. Nothing in the world could've stopped the lungfuls of moans that shattered every iota of silence in the room. His fingers massaged the edges of her clit, driving her absolutely insane from the screaming nerve endings.

He switched up his movements, sliding his fingers inside of her and instead placing his tongue on the sensitive bundle of nerves. Two fingers pumped in and out of her, meeting each snap of her hips. He curled the digits inside of her, sending her even further into oblivion.

"Gonna cum, gonna cum, gonna cum!" she shouted quickly as soon as she found her breath. The overstimulation was too much for her, allowing her no time to rebound from her first orgasm. "Please, Elliot, please!" she begged, unaware of what she was actually asking for.

"What do you need, Olivia?" he asked, continuing to tease her with his fingers. He watched a bead of her wetness drip down her ass cheek before swiping it away with his tongue.

"You," she answered, trying with all her might to collect her thoughts. "Need you. Need all of you."

She was sobbing for him, making him even harder than he thought he could ever be. He had wanted to feel her orgasm ride out on his mouth, but at this rate, he couldn't deny how badly he wanted to be inside of her. Slipping his fingers out of her, he placed a kiss on her clit before moving to sit up on his knees.

He wasted no time sliding into her, knowing that the begging was enough to throw him closer towards his own finish line. He hovered over her, wrapping her legs around his waist as he leaned down to kiss her. She could taste herself on his lips, and the thought of that sent shivers into every nerve of her limbs.

He knew that she wanted things slow, but his promise was breaking and he hated himself for it. It had been too long without her, and his body seemed to have a mind of its own. He buried himself to the hilt inside of her, groaned as she squeezed around him. It would just be another broken promise, right along with the one about how everything would be okay.

Her nails left deep red indentations in his back as she clawed at him. Every moan and cry was swallowed into his furious kiss as he fucked into her. Her toes ached from curling so tightly, but every time his tongue slipped around hers, she couldn't help but continue to tense up. "Elliot, I'm not gonna last," she sobbed out into his kiss. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry,"

He pulled away from her kiss to realize she was actually in tears as she clenched around him. He moved a hand up to her face, brushing her hair behind her ear. "Oh honey, don't apologize," he whispered, forcing himself to slow his pace. He looked down at her, finding her eyes and smiling softly. "Don't apologize, okay? You've got nothing to apologize for."

He knew that she was crying about more than just the intensity of him filling her to the brim. She was crying because, fucking hell, it had been too long since she had been able to feel him like this. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling his face into the crook of her neck as she fought off more sobs. It had been too long and the two weeks of misery was getting to her.

But she was here with him now, in this moment. That only made the tears fall harder.

She wasn't gonna say it... not now. Not with his cock buried in her while finding herself in a mess of tears. Now was not the time to say it. She couldn't say it on the phone, she can't say it now.

But she felt it, and that mattered to her.

"Liv, you feel so amazing," he cooed in her ear, hoping it would ease the onslaught of emotions. He planted open-mouth kisses on her pulse points. "I'm right here with you. Jesus, I wish you knew how fucking perfect you felt"

"I missed you," she whimpered, her hoarse voice cracking. She clawed at his back once more, urging him to press his body tighter against hers. "So much, Elliot."

If someone had told the Olivia that walked into that restaurant with her boss all that time ago that they would end up here, she probably wouldn't have believed it. Yet, here they were. She could feel his own burning hot tears spill against her neck. He missed her too. The both of them had been living in mutual agony for two weeks, of course, it would come out now.

"Mmf, 'Livia," he grumbled. She knew what his voice was communicating that his words weren't.

"I'm close, El," she held on tighter to him, allowing the beat of her heart to speed up as she accepted the fact that they were together right now, and that was all they could be for the time being.

His hips heaved into hers faster now, both of them fighting to get the oxygen they needed. As soon as she squeezed around him, the tightly-wound coil in his stomach snapped. He groaned against her lips, his long-overdue orgasm spilling into her. Her own hips rose off of the bed, the idea of him filling her being just enough to send her tumbling off of the edge once more. She came with him, milking every last drop out of him as she held onto him like her life depended on it.

They laid there, the sun having long since set. They laid there with his head against her throat and the weight of his body off to the side so he wouldn't crush her. She couldn't see his eyes, he couldn't see hers, so the tears must not have been there at all, right? If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If they cry and their eyes avoid each other, was there actually any evidence of their own personal wreckage?

"Elliot?" she whispered, her fingertips trailing softly along the jagged edges she had left on his back. A thought finally dawned on her, a thought she meant to ask him sooner.


"Why are we in a safe house?"

Chapter Text


She listened to the silence, paying close attention to the sounds of his breath and the beat of his heart.

"Why are we in a safe house?"

He rolled off of her, slumping down beside her. His eyes refused to meet hers, fearing that the moment they did, he would actually answer her question. He’d struggled to look into those eyes clearly since the moment she was left on his doorstep. There was too much emotion in them, or at least too much that he couldn’t fend off. “You’re not in any danger, Liv.”

“That’s not what I asked,” she persisted, frowning as she tried to move into his line of sight.

He hummed as he pulled the blankets over them, their heads still down by the footboard of the bed. “Honestly, you don’t have anything to worry ab—”

“Don’t!” she cut him off. “Don’t do that, Elliot. It’s not a good color on you. Tell me why you are in a safe house. I know you weren’t here yesterday, and we will get back to that in a moment, believe me. Last time anyone knew, you weren’t shacked up in the hills of Westchester.” She was glaring and she didn’t like that. The last thing she wanted was for an argument to erupt.

He stared at her, finally, allowing a sigh of forfeit to escape his lungs. “My security team thought it wouldn’t hurt, just in case.”

Her brows raised with suspicion. “Just in case of what?”

“You’re relentless,” he groaned, scrubbing his palms against his face.

She didn’t miss a beat. “Yes, and you like that about me. Just in case of what?”

“There was a threat made, nothing serious.” He saw instantly from the look on her face that she wasn’t going to be as relaxed as he’d hoped. “They tracked down our guy, Liv… they found him.”

Her temples tensed as she braced herself. Swallowing away the rock in her throat, she tried to speak. “Yo-you mean… you mean the guy in Santorini?”

“Yes,” he answered, finding one of her hands and wrapping his own around it. “They brought him in and he was… agitated. Obviously, he can’t do much from Greece. However, he’s working with someone here, that much we do know.”

“With who?” her lower lip quivered as she looked away from him. He had the kid gloves on and she knew it, yet there wasn’t a single ounce of her that was against it either.

“We don’t know,” he continued, remaining calm. “He wouldn’t name names, there’s nothing we can do to make him name names. But he did insinuate it was someone at the head office in New York. So, my team pulled me out until they could do an investigation.”

“What kind of threat?”

He grumbled, his brows knitting into a frown.

“Elliot, what kind of threat?” she pressed on further.

“He didn’t go into much detail with that either. It wasn’t a physical harm threat, it was just…” he trailed off, staring at her with disappointment that was really meant to be delivered to his own reflection. “He said the pictures would be leaked.”

“Oh god,” she shuttered, rolling over to bury her face into his shoulder.

“But we got rid of the pictures, Liv. Our team hacked into the system and got the videos and you smashed his phone,” he intervened with his logic as fast as he could, trying to stop the panic before it took her over.

“What does he want? Why is he doing this?”

“That’s the worst part,” he sighed, pulling her closer against his bare skin. “There isn’t a ransom, no blackmail. He wants nothing, so I have nothing to give him. Whatever is meant to come out of this, it can’t be bought or given.”

She fought off the tears that were close to brimming in her eyes. A thick silence hung over them as she took in what he said. She ran the scenarios through her mind, processing each one as quickly as possible. “So, it’s gonna happen whether we like it or not… or if we can stop it before it does.”

He nodded. “Exactly,”

The silence returned as he threaded his fingers through her hair. Her cheek nuzzled against him, a helpless sense of sorrow creeping deep into her bones before a horrifying thought crossed her mind. “Elliot…”


“I smashed his phone…” she paused, her eyes reaching his as they filled with fear. “But I didn’t take it with me.”

His brows furrowed in confusion at her statement. “Okay? What are you trying to say?”

Chills ran through her entire body, he could feel the goosebumps rising throughout her flesh. She took in a shaky breath as she fought to get the words out. “The photos… they’re on the cloud. He still has them.”

Eventually, he had managed to move the both of them out of the guestroom and into his bedroom. She had fallen asleep against his warm body, murmuring quietly when he’d picked her up and carried her up the staircase. The weight of her in his arms was heavy enough to know that she hadn’t been sleeping well lately.

He had settled her gently into the softer, more worn mattress that he had been sleeping on. In her sated sleep, she had picked up on the overwhelming scent of him, curling closer to the sheets.

He couldn’t help but stare down at her in disappointment; he had failed her. He had put everything she worked so hard for on the line. Invincible Mr. Stabler, forgetting that she was not untouchable. He could fight his own tabloid battles, his own scandals and controversy. He did it every day. But she was so fresh and new, even when she didn’t want to be.

His selfishness did this to her.

With his head hung low in guilt and exhaustion, he climbed into the other side of the bed and settled under the sheets. He hadn’t meant for this to happen. Maybe she knew that, maybe she didn’t. He hadn’t meant to make this mess and he hadn’t meant to leave her behind in it.

He stared at her and the chocolate strands of hair that rested on her cheeks. Her chest rose and fell with each deep breath she took, completely oblivious to the world around her. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, tucking the strand behind her ear. “I’m so sorry, Olivia.”

When she awoke the next day in an unfamiliar bed, it was the first time in weeks that she hadn’t felt the urge to search for him. Every day she had woken without him, her body had looked for him against her will, still drowning in sleep. Now, the scent of him surrounded her as she snuggled closer into the sheets.

Except, his side was empty and disappointment reigned.

Carefully, she tried to recall the events of the last twelve hours, vaguely remembering as he carried her into a different room before she had drifted back to sleep.

Olivia sat up, stretching her arm as she yawned. Her eyes adjusted to the sunlit bedroom, which was fairly different from his home in the city. Back in Manhattan, everything felt so… well, modern. Here, it felt history existed within the walls. Maybe not his history, from what she understood, but the bones of the house were old enough to know someone else’s story.

She slipped out from the side of the bed, quietly padding over to the curtains that allowed slivers of sunlight to shine through. When she pulled them aside, a small gasp escaped from her lungs. Beyond the floor-to-ceiling window was a balcony overlooking acres upon acres of land surrounded by a beautiful waterfront. She remembered pulling up the driveway the night before, seeing the house that appeared to be more like a country club than a home.

Classic… that was the word that she had been looking for. This felt like a home, not just the nicest and most modern apartment that money could buy in the city. This was everything someone could ever want in a home. Yet, it was so unlived in.

What a damn shame.

She slowly trailed along the line of windows in the bedroom, opening each curtain to allow more light in.

As beautiful as the home was, it wasn’t his home. He knew this, she knew it too. It incited an uncomfortable rage within her. This was supposed to be a calming and relaxing place where one could watch the ripples in the body of water. But she was so damn angry as she overlooked the beauty of the property. He didn’t belong here.

No matter what threats loomed, he belonged in the city. He had an empire to reign, a skyline to rule. New York needed the man who always took charge, the man who had more control than anyone else. Hiding out on a lake in Rye was not the Elliot she knew, he wasn’t a runner, he was a confronter.

He was a dominator.

If she was ever going to get him back into the city, she needed to remind him of who he was. She was the only one who knew how to do that; the only one who could. The flame in his eyes needed to be lit once again before it died out.

Nothing brought out the beast in him quite like anger did.

Olivia stepped into the kitchen, one of his button-up shirts dangling from her smaller frame. She crossed her arms against her chest and watched him as he drank orange juice straight from the carton.

“Are you a coward, Stabler?” she asked, her voice falling low.

First, the gasoline.

His movements froze as his body stilled. He stood like a statue, perfectly carved out of the finest marble as heat began to rise up his neck. “Excuse me?” he asked, nearly in a growl as he stared directly into her eyes.

Then, the flame.

She stepped closer towards him, still a decent seven feet between the two of them. Her heart sped up as she toed into dangerous territory. “You heard me. I asked, are you a coward, Stabler?”

The juice carton hit the countertop with a thud and she saw the veins in his biceps bulge. “Olivia,” he warned, looking as if he was staring directly through her and right past her plan.

“Because last time I checked,” she cut him off, sneering at him, “only cowards run and hide. Nice place you’ve got here, what a perfect little getaway to replicate the idea that you don’t have an entire company relying on you back home. A company that you’ve been neglecting.”

“You know damn well that I am not a coward,” he glared at her, gripping the edge of the granite kitchen island. They stayed staring at each other, like two cats in a turf war trying to find their opponent’s biggest weakness.

“So, why are you here?”

“I already told you, Olivia,” he growled. “Security risk, my team sent—”

“Bullshit,” she bravely interrupted him, stalking closer towards where he stood. “You can stand there and make excuses but you and I both know that they don’t have any sort of higher authority over you, Elliot. They can’t force you to do anything. They make recommendations, suggestions. They suggested that you run and hide away in the hills of Westchester, rather than face it… like a real man.”

She was digging her own grave and she knew it. However, a simple voice in the back of her head continued to remind her that it was necessary. He needed to be reminded of the rage that could flow in his veins, the power. It was in there somewhere.

He slowly stepped out from behind the kitchen island, furrowed brows as he stared down at her. Each stalking step struck fear into her in the best way; she was poking the beast with a sharp stick. Elliot, her Elliot was just beneath the surface. “A real man, huh?” A hauntingly low chuckle followed his words.

She took a step backward, goading him on. “I think you’re scared,” she smirked. “I think you’d rather let some spineless little blackmailer call the shots for you. Are you going soft on me, Stabler? Since when does someone other than you make decisions?”

He was towering over her, practically casting a shadow over her entire body. Even in fear, she kept her glare towards him.

“Where’s that power, Elliot?” she asked, continuing to walk backward as he walked towards her. “Where’d it all go? The strength? The control? I think I might be right, I think you’ve gone soft.”

Before she knew it, her heels hit the wall behind her, his tall frame fully cornering her. All she could hope was that in the amount of backward steps she had been granted, she had pushed all of the right buttons. She didn’t want to feel small under him, but it was necessary for her cause.

He stared down at her, the seconds stretching into a moment of eternity as he searched deep within her eyes. She was playing him and he knew it, doing everything she could to push him over the edge. Just as she thought he was going to walk away, his lips quirked upward into a haunting grin and a shallow chuckle.

Boys… they’re just so easy to manipulate. All he needed was a little reminder of who he really was.

Within a split second, she was lifted off the ground and hauled over his shoulder; getting exactly what she wanted. The anger, the rage, all of it was rising to the top, the man he used to be.

“You are so out of line,” he growled as he planted her on the ground, pressing her up against the back of the couch.

She wanted more fire in his eyes, it was only embers flying so far. She needed to see the flames in order to know that she was getting what she wanted. With one quick movement, her arm reached up and pulled him down by his neck. His tongue connected with hers in a sloppy kiss, purposely fighting him for the power she knew he wanted.

He reached and gripped tightly on her wrists, forcing them back behind her without breaking the kiss. His teeth nipped harshly at her bottom lip, scraping the delicate skin until it was red and swollen.

As he pulled away, she noticed how harsh his breathing had become. The embers in his eyes were turning into flickering flames the more she goaded him on; and oh how she loved to play with fire.

She wiggled her arms, knowing he would tighten his grip on her wrists. Soon, she felt the burning that his calloused palms created on the sensitive skin. “Do… not… move,” he ordered, teeth bared in a snarl.

She didn’t blink as she stared at him through her lashes. “Make me,” she whispered, wiggling her hips to feel his erection pressed firmly against her thigh. His eyes caught hers, spotting the mischievous glint that sparkled in them.

In yet another rapid movement, she had been spun around and bent forward against the back of the couch. Without warning, his hand came down and struck against her ass, her knees buckling in response. She tried to swallow the moan that came but it broke through her gasping breaths.

He squeezed a cheek, digging his nails into the perfectly rounded skin. She clawed at the couch cushions, hoping they would provide some sort of mercy from the intensity of the perfect burning handprint. “You are wildly defiant, Benson. You know, you could use that mouth for better things than talking back.”

His low drawl in her ear sent shivers down her spine.

He couldn’t see the smirk on her face from where she was positioned. This is exactly what he needed; a reminder that he was in charge in the only way he would receive the message. His hand struck down again, her entire body jerking under the harsh touch. Once again, he clutched down where the red handprint formed, sending her nerves into a frenzy as she shuttered.

She clawed at the wooden frame of the couch, forcing herself to stand steadily between him and the furniture. “I should leave you here, all hot and bothered,” he spoke, his dark timbre warming her despite the coldness of his words.

“Please,” she whimpered.

Her words always did know how to make him melt. His fingers danced around the band of her panties before quickly yanking them downward. She couldn’t stop herself from moaning as his fingertips grazed the insides of her sensitive thighs. His hand came up, gripping her jaw as he harshly brought his lips to her ear. “But you and I both know I wouldn’t do that to you,” he whispered, continuing his previous statement.

Without warning, two fingers slid inside of her, ripping the air from her lungs as she once again fell forward against the back of the couch. She didn’t need to be told how wet she was, she could feel it the moment he had backed her against the furniture. Her head was swimming with dizziness as he worked her core with his fingers.

The lovemaking from the night previous was nice, but she’d be a stone-cold liar if she said she didn’t miss the moments like these. The moments where her control was no longer up to her, but in the hands of someone safe. However, he was oblivious to the fact that in the grand scheme of things, it was her who had him on the strings like a puppet for her plans.

Harmless plans, nonetheless.

Her knees started to buckle as his fingers curled inside of her, but his other arm managed to catch her before she fell. The arm that braced her weight pulled her against his chest, his fingers never leaving the warmth they were within.

“Please,” she cried, unaware of what she was begging for.

“Please, what?” he asked, speeding up his pace of fucking her with his fingers. “Please, fuck me? Please, bend me over and fuck me with your tongue? What is it, Olivia? Be more specific.”

She wanted to punch him for how cocky he was, and even for how he managed to stay so calm while she was limp in his grip.

“Please fuck me,” she managed to choke the words out. “I wanna feel you. Please, let me.”

He chuckled low in her ear, withdrawing his fingers. She whimpered at the loss, but was quickly distracted when he picked her up and pinned her against the wall.

Her legs wrapped around his waist as she crashed her lips down onto his. Her hands cupped his cheeks as his tongue fought against hers. From where she was on the wall, she was higher above him, her hair falling forward and framing her face as she leaned down to deepen the kiss.

She wasn’t exactly sure how he’d managed to keep her propped up and unbutton his pants at the same time, but she made quick work of discarding the spare shirt of his that she wore. Clothes eventually piled onto the floor beneath them, the warmth of his skin keeping her from catching a chill.

That was another moment when those three unspeakable words nearly slipped out. When she was staring down at him from her place on the wall, her hair casting a shadow on his face as her nails grazed his scruff. She had to catch them before they left her lips, and she barely did.

Instead, she replaced the words with another searing kiss. Somewhere in the mix of movement, he’d lined himself up with her entrance and plunged into her. He swallowed her moans as they burst past her defense of keeping silent. Her hips rolled against him, taking him in deeper with each thrust.

She missed the fire, the fury in his movements.

The taste of his lips was addictive; as soon as she thought she could pull away, the hunger for more had overwhelmed her.

If she closed her eyes tight enough, it felt just the right amount of familiar. As if they were back home in Manhattan, violating every possible surface in his home with ungodly acts. Roughly toeing the line of pleasure and limits. If she just closed her eyes, things were normal again. In the end, that’s what they both wanted more than anything.

His thrusts into her sped up, his breathing becoming erratic. He was getting lost in it all, she could feel it. Last night was one thing, this was another. This was what they had gone too long without. The rage in each pump, the volatility and unexplored territory in each step. Last night was bliss, but he missed the sin.

“Fuck me,” she whispered devilishly in his ear. She wanted to rile him up, that had been the whole goal; to remind him of who he could be. “Fuck me like you mean it,” she always did have a tendency to start topping from the bottom.

He simply growled, digging his nails into her back as he pushed into her as far as he could. His slight change in angle struck her like lightning, a harsh cry falling from her lips. He fucked into her with abandon, doing all he could to milk more reactions from her.

His head fell forward, his mouth latching onto one of her nipples and giving a restricted bite. The feeling of his teeth and the way his cock was pressing every nerve deep inside of her only electrified her more, sending a surge of arousal down to her core.

She didn’t bother crying out that her orgasm was approaching, he knew. She knew that he knew because she could feel his as well. He had patterns that she had grown to recognize, like how his pacing became turbulent and his breath would hitch, she knew his climax was on the verge.

When his mouth came away from her nipple, her body lowered down against the wall a few inches. She reclaimed his mouth, seemingly unable to stop herself from doing so lately. He didn’t protest, he never did, but they both knew that intimacy was creeping into what would normally be a time of powerplay.

Her orgasm surprised her, having thought that it was still just out of reach. She cried out against his mouth, high-pitched and helpless. The sound made him instinctively hold on tighter to her, hearing how overpowered it had made her feel.

Knowing that he was the cause behind those precious yet filthy moans was what sent him over the edge. He gripped onto her with all of his strength, riding out his orgasm as his cum filled her.

She collapsed in his hold, forgetting just how exhausted he could make her. As the aftershocks of her orgasm rippled through her body, her hand gripped the back of his neck as her face fell to his shoulder.

She walked out of the bedroom, her dress from the night before back on her body. Her head dipped to the side as she watched him concentrate on the screen on his laptop. “I think I’m gonna head home.”

His head shot up with worry in his eyes. “Wait, what? Why?”

She set her purse down on a nearby surface. “This isn’t reality, Elliot,” she whispered sadly. “I can’t stay here forever and pretend like nothing is happening outside of these walls. Neither can you.”


“Don’t,” she put her hand up in a gentle protest. “Just don’t.”

His voice was soft and weak, one of the most vulnerable sounds she had ever heard from him. “But I don’t want to be without you,”

“Then come with me!” she urged, taking a step closer. “Nobody is forcing you to stay here! Just take my hand and get in the back seat of the car and we can go home together.”

His eyes closed and she watched as he mustered up the strength to make his decision. “I can’t,”

She nodded, moving to turn away before a flash of frustration ripped through her.

“You know, Elliot… I’m the one who is really at risk here.” She stated boldly. “Yeah, you have a company to run but you have the double standard on your side. Screwing your assistant? That’s expected of you, it’s practically a rite of passage in the world of CEO scandals. But I don’t have that luxury. If those pictures leak, I’m done. Yet, I still show up to work every single day despite the fact that at any given moment, I’m gonna be Monica Lewinsky and you’ll just keep being able to be Bill Clinton.”

He stared at her in disbelief, a hint of heartbreak glimmering on his face. “Don’t you think I know that?”

“No! I don’t! Why should I?” she laughed sarcastically. “You’re here, you’re hiding and you don’t even have that much to be afraid of! Your career would jump right back on track a few weeks later as soon as Page Six is refocusing on a Kardashian baby or a celebrity engagement. Meanwhile, I won’t be able to get a decent job within a five-hundred-mile radius of the city. How is it that I can show up to work with the scarlet letter but you can’t?”

He didn’t answer, allowing the both of them a moment to cool down before things would get any more out of hand.

He couldn’t tell her the whole truth. He couldn’t just blurt out that he thought things would be easier if he were away from her. God forbid the pictures did come out, being seen together would be even worse for her. Him being in exile was meant for her, not for himself.

“Look,” she sighed, stepping towards him and placing a hand on his shoulder. “I’m going home because I have a job to do,” she spoke calmly, trying to gain access to his eyes. “I hope you’ll do the same, because this? This isn’t the Elliot Stabler that I know and... care about. And when you’re ready to be a member of society again; and to be a leader again, I’ll be there, ready and waiting to be by your side,” she leaned down and kissed him delicately on the cheek before grabbing her bag.

She made it to the door before turning and spotting him with his head hung. A deep sigh emitted from her lungs before she turned back and let herself out through the front door. The sun was beginning to set in the distance, painting the sky into a beautiful mural that she didn’t have the energy to appreciate. Skylar was waiting beside the vehicle, holding the door open for her.

“Back to the city, please,” she mumbled, sliding into the back seat. Her head fell back against the leather headrest as she exhaled, too tired to cry, too tired to care.

Olivia trudged into work, closing her umbrella as she navigated through the lobby. It was an hour earlier than her normal arrival, which meant no coffee run and breakfast that barely counted as a meal.

She made it past the confused faces that stared at her on her way up, leaving her just as confused as she was.

She held up her phone in the air, waving around the unlocked screen with the opened email. “Any reason I need to be here an hour early?” she asked Casey as soon as she made it towards their corner of the office. “Everyone is staring at me like I just killed their firstborn child.”

“I didn’t send the email, we all thought you did,” Casey replied sipping her cup of coffee. “It came from the corporate account, something about a meeting. Stabler usually tells you to send those emails out.”

Olivia stopped in her tracks. “A meeting?” her blood went cold. “A meeting that requires… everyone? I can safely say that I did not send out that email.”

“Well, someone must’ve called IT and told them to send it. Wasn’t you, wasn’t me, whatever it is it better be well worth the early day.” Casey responded.

Olivia nodded cautiously, turning on her heel to set her bag and coat down at her desk. She rushed off to the bathroom, locking the door behind her as she took her phone out once more. She landed on Elliot’s private cell number and dialed.

Paranoia was settling in faster than she could ward it off. The line continued to trill until she was hit with his voicemail.

“Hey, you’ve reached Elliot Stabler. Leave a message at the tone,”

“Elliot, I’m worried,” she said. “IT sent out a mass email about an early meeting today, it didn’t come from me or Casey. What if it— just call me back, okay?”

She dialed again… nothing.

“Hey, you’ve reached Elliot Stabler. Leave a message at the tone,”

“Seriously, El. I’m panicking. Either call me back or get here soon because I don’t have a very good feeling about this. If you know anything, please tell me now.”

“Hey, you’ve reached Elliot Stabler. Leave a message at the tone,”

“God damnit, Elliot! Pick up the phone!”

“Hey, you’ve reached Elliot Stabler. Leave a message at the tone,”

“Alright… I won’t call you again after this. But if someone called this meeting as a way to leak the pictures and you’re not here,” she paused, forcing away the lump in her throat. “I won’t ever forgive you for this.”

She let out a tearless sob as she ended the last call. She began to mentally plan out escape routes to get her out before whatever was about to happen. Her hands braced the sink countertop as she forced herself to breathe deeply.

A knock on the locked door pulled her awareness back to the present moment. “Liv?” she exhaled as soon as she recognized Casey’s voice on the other side of the door. “They want us gathered in the office.”

“Be right out!” she answered back, double-checking in the mirror to make sure her makeup hadn’t smudged. The longer she stood there, the more escape routes popped into her mind. She could run like hell right out of the front door. She could slip out and take the service elevator up to his apartment. She could pull the fire alarm.

Instead, she put on a brave face and unlocked the bathroom door. Although she felt as if she were off to her execution, she did her best to hide it. At least two hundred people had filled the open lobby-esque office space. Familiar faces looked in her direction as she joined the chattering crowd. Ed Tucker was staring daggers at her but she told herself it was just paranoia.

This would be it. Someone would drop a banner with her photo on it, naked in a pool in Santorini with the boss. Her life would be over before it even started. Dread filled her every nerve, exhausting her before she even had time to live out the day.

Just like that, the room fell dead silent. From where the hallway cornered off, she saw him stride in with a fresh suit and a clean shave. Her jaw dropped as he walked towards the center of the room, his eyes connecting with hers.

“Elliot,” she whispered, not loud enough for anyone around her to hear, despite the proximity.

He had pride in his eyes, looking at her as if she had solved all of his problems. Meanwhile, all she could muster up was shock. “Good morning everyone, thank you all for finding the time to come in early,” he greeted the crowd, barely taking his eyes off of her.

“To be honest, it wasn’t my plan to be here today,” he chuckled. “Before you ask, no, I have not been on vacation. I’ll spare you the details, but I came to apologize to you all.”

The crowd of employees and board members exchanged confused glances.

Elliot continued on. “As CEO, it’s my job to be a leader. Having been gone for the past two weeks was not the proper way for me to show how much I value this company and my position as a leader. Better yet, how much I value each and every one of you. During the past two weeks, I thought that I was doing the right thing, but I was being a coward… again, I’ll spare the details. But I’ve thought about it, and someone managed to remind me that leadership is not just a position, it’s an action, and it’s meant to be earned,” he smiled softly. Olivia eyed him with pride, a grin creeping upon her lips as her head bowed down.

“So, I want to say that I’m sorry that I’ve neglected my role and it will not happen again. Also, thank you to all of you who kept this business running strongly in my absence. Your loyalty and hard work has not gone unnoticed. Now that I’m back, I’m dedicated to not only our company growing stronger but also to us growing as a family. That’s what we are here, a family. We look out for each other, we care for one another, and we work our hardest to provide the world with new ideas and advancements. I couldn’t be any prouder than I am right now.”

Olivia’s heart pounded in her chest as she watched him embody the man she once knew. The man she had missed so damn much. Her Elliot.

“And, as a token of my gratitude, I’ve worked out a deal with HR granting everyone here an extra two weeks of paid vacation,” he chuckled as faces in the crowd lit up with excitement. “Thank you, everyone. Now, back to work.”

The crowd dispersed but Olivia stayed planted where she stood, smiling gently as he took cautious steps towards her. His smile matched hers with only a hint of smugness.

“Welcome back, Mr. Stabler,” she whispered, maintaining her appropriate distance from him. Although, both of them knew how badly she was ready to jump in his arms and kiss him.

He chuckled, bowing his head down. “You were right, I was being a coward.”

“But you’re here now,” she forced herself to refrain from reaching out to caress his chest. “That’s what matters,”

“I suppose you’re right. Thank you for showing me the error of my ways,” he laughed again, earning an even more prideful smile from her in return.

“So,” she turned, facing his main office at the end of the hall as she moved to stand beside him. “I believe your empire awaits,”

Her eyes cast up to him, meeting his stare. Her cheeks hurt from smiling, and as did his.

There was always one thing that could never be torn down without a fight; a united front.

Chapter Text




Olivia felt Elliot's hand cover her mouth as she clawed deeper into his back. The old metal filing cabinet that she was seated on top of rattled with each thrust he made into her, clanking against the walls. Despite her cries being muffled by his hands, their attempts to be as quiet as possible were moot.

"You need to quiet down!" he urged in a hushed tone, trying to make eye contact with her. "We're gonna get caught with all of those filthy noises you're making."

If she had any grasp on the reality around her, she would've laughed. However, her mind was too busy drowning in a sea of oxytocin to even hear what he'd said. The clinking of the cabinet became more prominent with each passing moment, and he prayed that nobody would be wandering the halls to hear it.

Her legs squeezed harder around his waist, forcing the friction to its height. Her shuddering sob vibrated against the palm of his hand.

She clung to him as her orgasm flowed through her, his own climax following closely in suit. A shivering moan managed to make it past the barrier of his hand and she squeezed around him, milking every drop he had to offer.

Elliot fell forward against her, panting as he tried to catch his breath. "Jesus Christ." He rasped, "I forget how good office sex could be." His head rested on her shoulder, placing appreciative kisses up and down her neck.

Her hand lazily stroked up and down his back as she steadied her own breathing. "Agreed. However, we have to find a better place because I'm pretty sure the entire building could hear the cabinet hitting the wall." She giggled as she moved her hand up to the nape of his neck, gently caressing the soft skin.

After his return to the office, things had heated up to an even higher degree than before. It was hard enough to keep their hands to themselves even in private, but having to even try to do so on a daily basis in public was agony.

It wasn't until he had gotten back that she'd realized how much she'd actually missed it all. The rush and thrill of sneaking off, fucking her boss in any private room they could find. Both his and her libido seemed to skyrocket once the normalcy returned.

He finally lifted his tired body off of hers, deciding that it was best to get back to work before running out of borrowed time. He reached down, grabbing his grey button-up from off the ground and slipping it back on his body.

"I think you wanted them to hear," he smirked, doing up the buttons. "I think you that's why that pretty little mouth of yours just can't stay quiet." He leaned in forward, pressing a hungry kiss to her lips as she giggled.

When he pulled away, he crouched down on his knees, picking up her discarded heels and gently slipping them back onto her feet.

"Yeah, you wish," she replied with an eye roll. "Have you seen my thong? It must've gotten tossed somewhere."

"Oh, you mean these?" He reached into his pants pocket, flashing just enough of the lacy red fabric for her to recognize it.

Her eyes widened at the sight. "Hey! Give me that!"

She reached out but he turned his body away from her, raising his brows with a devilish grin. "They're mine now. Sorry, finder's keeper's, losers weepers." He shoved the material back into his pocket, stealing one more kiss from her before reaching out his hand for her to take. With his help, she landed with her feet back on the ground instead of dangling from the cabinet.

"You're paying for those if you're keeping them," she narrowed her eyes but still decided to wrap her arms around his neck.

His hands went to her waist, traveling downward until he was squeezing her ass through her dress. "I'll buy you fifty new pairs, but I'm keeping these. I need something to remind me of how glorious the sex was."

She feigned a pout. "Isn't the sex glorious every time?" she asked, pressing her chest against his as she kissed the corner of his mouth. "Or do I need to up my game, Mr. Stabler?"

He bit back a groan at the use of the title. "Oh, your game is perfectly up to date, Miss Benson. However, I just can't seem to get enough of you." He bit down on her lower lip before slipping his tongue in. He could feel her beginning to melt in his hands once more as she cradled his face in her palms.

"Mmph—" she moaned before forcing herself to pull out of the kiss. "Listen, are you gonna be okay without me for a little while? The coding team is coming down to look over the design for Red Light and I'd like to be able to hear their thoughts just in case."

"Look at you." He smirked, fixing his tie and cuffs. "You're very sexy when you're charging headfirst into business mode. Anyway, yes, I think I can manage a few hours on my own. Although, I can't say it'll be fun."

"You just had your fun." she giggled, raising a brow. "A few times if I recall correctly. Don't be too harsh on Casey while I'm gone, you tend to behave a little less rationally when I'm not around." Giving in to the urge, she pressed one more longing kiss on his lips.

"Can you blame me?" He asked as she walked out the door, smirking once more when she turned on her heel and rolled her eyes at him. "Hey, one more thing before you go."

Olivia hugged the door frame as she watched him adjust the last of his disheveled outfit. "What would that be?"

"What do you wanna do tonight?"

She hummed for a moment, looking down at the floor before looking back up at him with a grin. "Surprise me."

The street lights reflected on the puddles from the leftover rain. Bright orange blurbs of light floating along the pitch-black roads. Olivia strutted out from the lobby of her building, adorning a black dress that hugged every inch of her while holding her clutch bag at her side. "You're late." she grinned.

Elliot stood against the limo that was parked on the side of the street, his feet crossed at the ankle as he smirked at her. "And you're sexy."

She snorted softly, cocking her head at him. "Well, this is my favorite dress."

"Mmm, mine too." He licked his lips, eyeing her up and down. She just laughed and waved him off. He stepped away from the limo, opening the door for her to slide in. He followed directly behind her, closing them off from the surrounding city in the back of the darkened vehicle.

"So, where are we going?" Olivia whispered against his lips, wrapping her arms around his neck to deepen her attempt at a kiss.

He gave into her for a moment, allowing himself to appreciate the taste on her tongue before pulling away. "You told me to surprise you. You can wait until we get there to find out."

The limo pulled off into the street but neither of them were focused on that or anything other than the other person. Olivia pouted, her forehead pressed against his. "At least give me a hint?" she asked, her voice rising in pitch, mimicking a whine that she knew would crack him. "Please, Daddy?"

He exhaled deeply through his nose, fighting off the urge to rip her dress off right there. "Brooklyn. The rest is a secret."

She laughed against his mouth. "Brooklyn, huh? I didn't even think you knew that place existed."

When he pulled away, he laughed again, matching her signature eye roll. "I'm not that uncultured, you know."

Her chuckle was like a holy praise to his ears, an ever soothing sound that knew right where to rest inside of him. Bliss settled in his system as he relaxed into the leather seat. He was enjoying the simplicity that life was returning to him. He had his job, he had Olivia, and he wasn't taking either for granted again.

The stars in her eyes were slowly returning as soon as she realized that he wasn't going to leave again. Every day, her smile had a little bit more sparkle in it and her laugh was more frequent. With him back, the vibrations between them was nearly as high as the tension.

He had become addicted to her all over again. They do say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but whoever said that forgot to mention that it also made the sex much hotter. Becoming reacquainted with her was like subjecting himself to the torture of her pheromones. Being in exile had flooded his imagination with all of the things he wanted to do to her, and returning had opened the gates to all of the possibilities.

She moaned as she peppered kisses along his neck. "Today was impossibly long. All I wanted to do was drag you up to the apartment and blow off the rest of work."

"That's certainly no way to talk to your boss," he replied sarcastically. He leaned into her touch as her hand felt up his chest.

"Oh, but it's okay for the boss to have his cock buried inside of me during the work-day? Or were you not my boss during that?" Her eyebrows shot up before she leaned into him and tugged his lower lip between her teeth.

"I'm always the boss." he said gruffly. Being careful not to hit her head on the roof of the limo, he swiftly picked her up and thrust her into his lap. She giggled and protested until she was fully seated on him. With her straddled on him, his palms squeezed and kneaded her ass. "Don't forget that."

A shallow breath left her lips and her childish expressions were nowhere to be found. She had quickly slipped back to pleasure mode, feeling the hardness between his legs grinding against her center. His hands lifted the thin material of the short dress, exposing her bare skin to his hands. Without warning, a small slap came down against her cheek, her body jerking in response. A whine escaped her lips as her head fell forward into his shoulder. "How could I forget?"

Elliot double checked ahead to make sure that the partition was up and that they were in private. Even then, he kept his voice in a low drawl. "I have an idea on how to make you remember."

She pulled away to look at him, her eyes glazed over with need. "I have a better idea." Without another word, she slid off of his lap and onto the open floor of the limo. He looked down at her with confusion as she settled herself on her knees. The confusion soon turned to unadulterated lust when he realized what she was doing.

"Have you ever had your cock sucked in the back of a limo before?" she asked, batting her eyelashes. Her fingers trailed along the inner seam of his pants.

"Can't say that I have, no." It was clear to her that he had to fight to get the words out. His breathing was speeding up and the sight of her on her knees was always one he wanted to memorize. His hand lifted, gently stroking her cheek as she licked her lips.

"Well, there's a first time for everything." She bit down on her bottom lip as she leaned forward, palming the bulge beneath the fabric of his suit. His breath shuttered at her delicate movements, shivers sparkling through his spine.

She paused to look up at him through her lashes, waiting for the silent permission that came with a nod a few seconds later. With that, she took it as her cue to continue. She carefully freed his erection from the confines of his pants. He hissed as soon as the cool air hit his warm skin.

It always amazed him how small her hands looked wrapped around him. Enough so that he almost always had to look away before getting too excited. She leisurely stroked him up and down a few times, feeling him harden further from her touch. She licked her lips once more as she took in the sight of him in front of her.

Elliot sucked air through his teeth as soon as she leaned forward, swiping away the precum with the tip of her tongue. As if on instinct, his hand trailed up the back of her neck, gathering her hair into a make-shift ponytail in his grip.

Her tongue dragged a slow line from the base of her grip up to the tip of his cock, her head bobbing as she sucked in the tip between her lips. He groaned as quietly as possible when her tongue swirled around the sensitive skin. The passing street lights sparkled in her eyes and God, she was so fucking incredible. He'd never find the words to describe it.

She slowly introduced more of him into her mouth, teasing him with the kitten-licks of her tongue. He forced his eyes up to the roof of the car, fearing that the sight of her would become too much too fast. His hand gripped tighter in her hair, fighting off the urge to buck forward and fuck himself into her mouth.

This time when her head bobbed, she surprised him by taking the entirety of his length into her mouth. The tip of her nose brushed against his clothed abdomen, a strong groan ripped from his lungs at the sensation of her taking him all in. Her hands traveled down to his balls, cradling and massaging them in her palm as she slid him against the back of her throat. His hand yanked her hair on accident, a string of profanities leaving his lips.

She rose back up, fighting for her breath as she released him with a pop. Her tongue resumed its streaks up and down the backside of his cock, licking and teasing every area of skin that was available. When he looked back down, he could see the impending evil in her eyes. The plan to drive him wild, just waiting for the right moment to strike.

She had gone from delicacy to intensity within a blink of an eye.

Her cheeks hollowed out as she took him back into her mouth, her head falling and rising as he twitched against her tongue. Her hand wrapped around what didn't fit in her mouth, pumping him in sync with the tempo of her mouth working him.

She sucked harder, vehemently urging him closer to his climax. He knew he wasn't going to last much longer given the intoxicating sight of her on her knees mixed with the velvet softness of her mouth. "Christ, 'Livia," he grunted, becoming lost in the sensation that was her and nothing but her.

His hands searched for any sort of purchase in her hair but there wasn't much to receive. He writhed against the leather seat, hanging onto a prayer that he wouldn't lose control without warning.

She eased up, pulling back just far enough so that only the head of his throbbing cock was in her mouth. Her hand went back down to his balls, massaging the delicate area with her fingertips. Her tongue swirled and sucked on the tip of him, refusing to go down. She knew what she wanted, she was going to get it.

"Olivia, I'm gonna —" he was cut off with another incoherent moan as she teased his most sensitive nerves. Her tongue licked along his slit, egging him on towards his finish. "Liv," he warned one last time.

She moved her hand up towards the middle of his shaft, holding his cock in place as she opened her mouth. His swollen red tip resting on her tongue was his undoing. Her mouth was open enough for him to watch himself as he painted her tongue with white spurts. The sight was enough to make his climax feel twice as long. His grasp of her hair was stronger than she had ever felt it.

Staring directly into his eyes, she closed her mouth and swallowed the remnants of his orgasm with a nearly invisible smirk. His hand left her hair, harshly grabbing her by the back of the neck and pulling her up until his mouth crashed against hers. He devoured her mouth, tasting himself on her lips with a fury.

When he parted, his hands cupped her cheeks and his forehead rested against hers. "You... you are such a good girl," he muttered, gasping for air. Her lips were swollen and bruised, but she had never looked more perfect to him.

"Oh... my... God." Olivia blurted out, eyes wide as her head turned in each direction. "I have always wanted to see the Botanic Gardens at night. This, well this just blew my expectations away."

She looked around at the most stunning setup she had ever seen. Trees layered with fairy lights that reflected in the water surrounding them. The foliage was unlike anything she had ever seen; as if she had stepped into the perfect photograph of some mysteriously secret world. It was clear that each flower had been planted with a delicate touch, allowing the garden to blossom into perfection.

"And it's ours for the night." Elliot smiled as his hand came to rest on Olivia's back. "They're setting up dinner in The Palm House for us."

Olivia turned around to face him, her smile nearly reaching both of her ears. "Tell me you didn't rent this entire place out for us!"

He laughed in return. "You told me to surprise you." His palm cupped her cheek as he leaned down to kiss her. "Surprise," he mumbled against her lips.

She wrapped her arms around his torso as she leaned into his kiss. "You're too much," she giggled as he kissed her again.

When he pulled away, his hand found hers and he began to guide her towards the indoor venue. "Yes, I am. So, how does braised lamb sound for dinner?"

"Honey," she giggled, leaning her head against him as they walked. "After seeing all this? They could serve me leftover Chinese food and I'd still be just as happy."

Even Elliot had to admit that the inside of the venue was absolutely stunning. He had seen a lot of beautiful places in his years, but something about this stirred in his heart. The gorgeously crafted chandelier that hung in the middle of the room and the way the windows overlooked every angle of the gardens. It took away the breath from both of them.

Olivia knew he probably had some guilty pleasure of showing off, but the view was enough to throw away any care she had about that. Nobody in her entire life had put this much effort into thinking about what she might like. Although, she didn't expect them to either. But seeing the way Elliot knew exactly how to make her feel like the most special person in the world, she couldn't have felt luckier.

Their table was set with flickering white candles and dishes that probably cost more than her entire apartment. He pulled out her chair for her, making sure she was comfortable before settling himself in.

"I think you set the bar for a date pretty high, Stabler." Olivia smirked. "How will you ever outdo yourself again?"

He grinned back at her, swirling his wine glass in his hand. "Oh trust me, I'll find a way."

Dinner was beyond anything she had ever eaten in her life. However, it wasn't the meal she had been most excited for. It was the gardens themselves. She had always meant to find the time to do a tour, but she never expected to have the place at night, entirely to themselves.

Everything about it was so beautiful that even one wilted petal would've felt like a sin. It looked like a dream that even she could never have conjured up the image of. The water flowed gently as they walked alongside, taking in the sight of the natural beauty.

Elliot was silent, seeming to enjoy the simple company of having her by his side. Though, Olivia could sense a shift in him since they had arrived. Elliot didn't do 'nervousness'. That was never an emotion he portrayed. But if Olivia didn't know any better, that's what she would've assumed from him.

Elliot stopped in the middle of the bridge that they were crossing, catching her in the perfect light. She smiled softly at him, the reflection of the twinkle lights sparkling in her eyes. "There's something that I've been meaning to say. I just... I guess I couldn't find the right time. Everything has been so crazy and it's finally going back to normal now, I didn't want to mess it up."

Olivia's eyes widened as he spoke. It was starting to hit her. The dinner, the gardens, the rampant overload of unnecessary luxuries.

He was going to say it...

"Olivia, I —"

"Don't say it, not yet." She whispered, gently resting her hand on his arm. He would've been alarmed had it not been for the glimmer of hope in her eyes. "Not until you are completely and fully certain that you mean it, because once you say it, there's no going back. And it will change things. I've almost said it too, more times than you'll ever know. But the moment can't be full of grandeur. It can't be in the heights of emotion because we all come down eventually. The words need to be more special than the moment"

A teary whisper of a smile formed on his face.

"Say it when you least expect it. Say it when we're lying on the couch watching House Hunters, drinking wine and laughing at the choice of flooring. Say it when it's the middle of the night and one of us hogs the covers but it's okay because we keep each other warm. Say it when the ride home has been too long and you're just happy to be back where you've been longing to be. Those words need to be sustainable in the caverns of normalcy, not just on the exciting top of the mountain. However, if you can hold on saying those words until you are as certain as can be that it's the right time, I promise you that I will say them back."

"Everything's a business deal with you, Benson," he chuckled, forcing himself not to tear up.

She sniffled and laughed in return. "Yeah. But more importantly, I need the words when they're just you, El. As beautiful as the gardens are and as lovely as the dinner was, it's best if you tell me those words when there's nothing to lose; when it's just you and the things you feel."

His hands gently guided down to her waist, her hands clasping his cheeks as he enveloped her in a deep kiss. At least the moment was memorable, and that's all he really could've asked for. However, he wasn't walking away empty-handed. He knew one thing, and it was the most important thing: she felt the same way.

Those three little words that weren't so little would wait to see another day.


Chapter Text

"It's been a week." Olivia sighed, crashing down on the couch opposite of Monique and Alex. The wine in her glass sloshed around, nearly spilling onto the coffee table. "I don't think I've ever met someone who was busy almost every night for a week straight. He's obviously mad."

"He's not mad!" Alex interjected.

"He is!" Olivia argued back, her shoulders slumping down in defeat. "I can't blame him either. I'd be a little upset if I was going to tell someone that I loved them and they told me not to say it."

"Fair enough, but it's not as if you cut things off with him." Monique chimed in. "In fact, it sounds like the moment was still something special."

"Usually I'm the one that backs away from things when they get too... emotional." Olivia grimaced at the word, stopping to sip from her glass. "I never thought I'd be the clingy type. I don't know," she sighed. "I just wish he'd say something other than 'I've got paperwork to do' every time because it's sounding more and more like a lie every time I hear it."

"I think you might be overreacting a little." Alex giggled.

"The last time we went an entire week without fu—"

"No!" Alex threw her hand up in the air while Monique covered her mouth to avoid laughing. "Nope. Nuh-uh. We can make our point without explicit details of our sex life, thank you."

"Did he seem upset after that night?" Monique asked.

"No!" Olivia threw her head back with a harumph. "That's what's bugging me! He was completely fine but the next day was like a totally different man; a man who was so distracted that I don't even think he heard a word I'd said."

Alex's eyes narrowed as a thought crossed her mind. "How long has it been since you guys made it official?"

Olivia paused, avoiding eye-contact from either of them. "Well... it's complicated."

"Oh really?" Alex laughed. "So complicated that you just turned several different shades of red when I asked?"

Olivia sputtered on her words a few times before finally finding the right ones. "We never actually made it official. It's all just gone somewhat unspoken. Literally." She rolled her eyes at the last bit.

"So, he almost told you he loved you, you told him not to, and you're not technically dating?" Alex asked with a raised brow. "Damn, Liv. That's quite the clusterfuck."

Hearing it out loud, Olivia realized how strange the situation was from an outside perspective. To her, it was the most natural thing in the world. She and Elliot had been doing this for so long that nothing about it actually felt wrong. They had grown comfortable in their routine of pretty much playing pretend.

"So, what do I even do at this point?" Olivia exasperated. "Confronting him would feel weird! We never talked about being exclusive so I can't just walk up to him and ask him if he's seeing someone else. Especially not after I dodged his near admission of love!"

"Liv." Alex cocked her head to the side. "I think nearly saying that he loves you is a little higher on the ladder above verbally saying you're in a relationship."

"I second that." Monique said. "Talk to him. Just get a feel for the situation and see how he acts when you bring it up."

She let go of a deep and stressful breath, eyeing the wine in the glass. Despite how sucky the situation was, she knew that part of it was because of the hole she dug for herself by avoiding the communication they both needed.

Olivia allowed for a beat of silence to pass before starting to speak again. "He still doesn't know everything. I think... I think maybe that's why I didn't let him say it."

Monique looked down at her lap, swallowing away the lump in her throat as she listened to Olivia.

"Do you really think that if he knew the truth, it would make him love you any less?" Alex asked.

"I don't know." she shrugged meekly. "That's what I'm afraid to find out. And if he's gonna say it, and mean it, I don't want him to find out the truth and feel betrayed. Or suddenly look at me as if he hasn't really known me. I mean, think about it. Imagine telling someone that you love them just to find out that when you look at them, you don't see the whole truth."

Alex nodded softly, leaning forward to pour more wine into her glass. "Maybe you should tell him. You're burning the candle at both ends here, Liv. The longer you wait, the worse it'll be."

"It just feels like there's never a right time." She mumbled. "We do amazing things, see amazing places and I'm just supposed to drop this on him? And even if I do find the right time to tell him the truth, he could kick me straight out of his life and my job. Then what?" She thought about Red Light and all of the amazing things it could do. Even if she was asked to leave, she'd want Red Light to stay with him and the company. There was nobody out there who she would trust more with it.

Monique tilted her head with a soft look on her face. "Then, it's up to you. Nobody can make that decision for you, Liv. If you decide to tell him before things go further, great. If not, it might be a good idea to prepare for his reaction. Not that it'll be bad, but..." she trailed off, sinking with her own guilt. "There's always that chance."



The next day at work, things were quieter than normal. Casey had slipped out for her lunch break, and Elliot was alone in his office. Olivia was embarrassed at how often she craned her neck to see through the large panes of glass into his office. She barely missed eye contact with him on a few occasions too. God forbid he witness her peeking.

When the coast was clear, she pushed her desk chair out from under her and smoothed her hands down the gray and black dress she had chosen that morning. Meekly, she opened the glass door into his office, alerting him of her presence. Feeling small under him was usually more fun than it was right now.

"Do you have a moment?" she asked quietly. She felt her body caving inward with anxiety.

He looked up at her with a gentle smile, setting his pen down from the papers in front of him. "Sure," he nodded. It was clear from the sight behind her into the offices that he couldn't exactly use the 'busy' excuse.

She took two careful steps forward, her lip nearly quivering from fear. "Are you angry with me?"

She felt a little relief when he let out a small chuckle. "Of course I'm not."

"A-are you sure?" she sputtered. "Maybe it's just paranoia or flat out psychosis but I'm getting the vibe that you don't really wanna see me... which is okay!" she quickly added. "I'm not trying to cling to you or anything, I just... I wanna make sure that we're okay."

He stood up from his desk, walking towards the bar in the corner of the room. She knew that was one of the only blind spots in the room where the rest of the floor couldn't see into the office. She followed him, carefully looking over her shoulder to make sure nobody was watching.

"We are okay, Olivia." Elliot put his hand on her arm, stroking gently with his thumb. "I haven't meant to be so distant."

She looked up at him, doe-eyes filled with a hint of sadness. "And... this isn't because of what happened? Or — didn't happen?"

"Nothing of the sort, I promise." He smiled, pressing a chaste kiss to her forehead. She knew that should bring her comfort, but still, something felt unsettled inside of her.

"An Elliot Stabler promise? I guess you're being sincere," she cracked with a small grin.

He let out a laugh that she missed hearing. "Yes, a promise. Y'know, the end of the fiscal year is coming up so I have a lot on my plate. I'll try to be more available, okay?"

Her hands played with his tie, twirling it under her fingers. "Starting tonight, maybe?"

He stiffened and she felt it. His face dropped for a moment. "I actually can't tonight. I have something going on tonight, I can't miss it. I'm sorry."

She did a mental scan of his calendar. She was his assistant before anything else, she would know if his schedule was blocked off. Deciding not to pry, she gulped down the lump in her throat and nodded. "Okay. I'll see you soon then? And not for a quickie in the closet, I wanna actually see you."

"Yes," he chuckled again. "I promise."

"A double Stabler promise in one go? Phew, that's a new record" she gave him the best smile she could conjure up as she walked away. "Be careful, you don't wanna head towards 3 promises. I don't think the world could take it."

She made her way out of the room and back to her adjacent desk, hoping her undercutting joke was enough to come off as unsuspecting. He was lying, she could feel it.



"He lied?"

"Right to my face," Olivia answered Monique, leaning against the kitchen island. "I didn't call him out on it because —"

"Because if you ignore it, it isn't happening." Monique interjected, earning a glare from Olivia.

"No... because I just want us to get back into a good place!" she countered.

Monique didn't waver. "Yes, a good place is always built on the ignoring of a lie."

Fuck. She had a point.

"Maybe he did have something going on!"

"Without you knowing?" Monique asked. "You're his assistant, you know what color underwear he wears. You really think he would have something planned and not tell you?"

"Yes!" Olivia exasperated. "It could be a family thing. Or maybe he told Casey and she forgot to pass it on! Hell, maybe it's some super secret confidential work thing that I can't know about!"

"Right... the coat check girl who is actually the head of a huge project and has an MBA from Columbia doesn't know about something huge her boss-slash-boyfriend-slash-booty call is getting into." Monique rolled her eyes, calling Olivia's bullshit because she's the only one who can.

Olivia grumbled into her glass of wine. "Just let me live in blissful ignorance, please?"

"Nope," Monique grinned cheekily. "Blissful ignorance is a town populated by idiots. It wouldn't be in my sisterly-interest to let you be a resident there."

"He can have things to do without me knowing!" she protested. "I'm not the clingy, need-to-know annoying girl. That's not who I am. I should just trust that he's doing whatever he needs to do and it doesn't involve me."

"So this is who you've become after several days without getting laid." Monique snorted. "If I was an idiot, I'd say you're in love."

"Well, it's a good thing you're not an idiot then," Olivia retorted. "We are not going back to that conversation. That L-word conversation is dead. It's buried in the backyard."

"Whatever you say," Monique said in a sing-song tone. "Why don't you go over there? Say you forgot something at your desk and you decided to pop up to the penthouse to say goodnight."

"That's the most pathetic excuse I've ever heard. Even I don't believe that." Olivia rolled her eyes.

"Then you can come up with something better on the cab ride over there. But you're not gonna sit here all night cooped up with your own thoughts and a bottle of wine because you'll be dead by morning if you do."

"That's not true!"

"Yes, it is!" Monique laughed. "Your inner sleuth is dying to take control for a few hours and get to the bottom of this. So, go! March your happy ass in there with a better excuse and who knows, maybe he won't even be home!"

"So you're telling me to waste cab fare because you think I should go stalk him?"

"If it'll ease your mind!"



This was not a good plan. Not even a little. Usually Monique's plans weren't but she had powers of persuasion and Olivia was too wine-drunk to keep herself from being convinced. Her knee anxiously bounced the entire cab ride over to the office - where she must've left her phone charger. Her head was swarming too much to come up with a better excuse.

She did, however, have a plan. To cover her tracks, she went through the service elevator, down to the Red Light room just in case anyone needed proof that she was looking for something of her own belongings. She grabbed the spare charger out of her desk down in the design room, and made her way to the private elevator that went up to his apartment.

One thing did strike her as odd, though. Skylar's car was gone. That could mean one of two things: either he was on assignment with Elliot or Elliot gave him the night off. Her heart hammered at the thought of either of those things being true because both of them could have bad results.

She fully knew how far off this was from her own personality. For Christ's sake, this was everything she stood against! Never in all her years had she been the type to go this far. It made her skin crawl. But, she didn't know how to revert back to her normal ways either. That's what Elliot did to her. That's how much she cared.

Enough to change.

She debated sending the elevator back down but it would've been a wasted trip. She'd come this far.

The elevator stopped off at the corridor that led to his home. Thankfully if he was home, he wouldn't have been able to hear it.

Carefully, she approached the main entrance to the apartment, listening for any signs of life from within the place.

On the other side of the door she heard... piano? She knew Elliot played, he did have a huge grand piano in his living room, but she'd never actually heard him play. The chords were dainty and unorganized but somewhat cute to hear.

When she listened closer, she heard Elliot's voice, barely able to make out what it was he was saying.

On a very bad whim, she carefully opened the unlocked front door. Not enough to make her appearance known, but enough to see inside. Down the small hallway leading into the decadent apartment, she could see him sitting at the grand piano with a smaller someone beside him.

Natural blonde curls pinned back and little pearl earrings dangled beside the face of the little girl.

"Good job, now do you remember the C chord?" Elliot asked the 12 year old. She nodded cheerfully, placing her hands onto the proper keys of the piano.


That's why he had been distant. He had been spending time with his daughter.

Olivia, despite feeling like a horrible person, leaned against the wall and watched with a smile. She had never witnessed Elliot being an actual father. Hell, half of the world that knew him didn't even know he was a father.

It suited him. Just like everything else did. Fatherhood suited him beautifully.

"Okay, great, now how about the A chord?"

She couldn't pry her eyes off of them, it was like watching an anomaly happen in the moment. He had taken her advice. Her pleads to him to be a presence in Kathleen's life. She knew what it was like to grow up without a father - and to grow up with no parents at all. She had wanted Elliot to realize that Kathleen didn't have to go through that either.

When the little girl turned slightly, Olivia recognized the necklace she was wearing. It was the seashell from Santorini. The necklace she had made for him to give to her.

She stayed and watched for a few moments longer, amazed as she saw Elliot play an elegant tune from his end of the piano.

While she was grappling with the fact that she was changing into someone she didn't like, he was changing into a better man. She took one last look at them, soaking it in to be a permanent memory before turning and leaving unseen.

At this point, she didn't care why he had lied about work. It didn't matter. It was a rare occasion where a lie had ends that justified the means. He didn't owe her an explanation, not when it came to family.

She ducked her head in shame as she made her way out of the building. Her life had been filled with reasons not to trust anyone; not to let anyone in. And once she did, it got the best of her. She didn't want to be the sneaking and untrusting type. She knew that if Elliot knew the whole story, her whole story, he'd likely be compassionate to that. But beating herself up over it was a given.

She was supposed to trust him because whether he'd said it or not, he loved her. And she didn't trust him in return. She had to work on that.



He had invited her over the next day after work. As much as she wanted to hide her head in embarrassment from last night's out of character actions, she knew it was the best opportunity to come clean.

She walked in to see him pouring a bottle of her favorite wine and his biggest smile. Guilt ate her apart as she walked towards him, falling into the arms he had opened to her. She rested her face against his chest, taking in the comforting scent of him. "Elliot, I did something I shouldn't have." Her words were muffled from the fabric against her face, but he heard them.

She pulled away, looking into his concerned eyes. "What happened?" he asked empathetically, motioning for the two of them to sit down on the couch.

"I... I didn't trust you," she murmured, feeling the bile rise in her throat. "I was worried that after, well, the whole thing at the Botanic Garden that you were angry with me."

He nodded, taking her hand in his. He could sense the frayed nerve endings within her. She was practically choking on her own words.

"So, when I hadn't really seen you and I thought you were avoiding me, I let my head go to some dark places." She continued on, barely looking into his eyes.

"Okay," he whispered, readying himself for whatever she was going to say.

Her lip quivered as she fought back tears. "Can I just preface this by saying that nobody has ever cared about me like you do? Monique is like my sister, so it's different. But nobody, I mean nobody has ever given a damn about me like you do. It's not something I'm used to, and it's not exactly something I can understand given my lack of experience with it. So, sometimes, I don't know how to handle it."

"I understand," he nodded, still cautiously waiting for the bomb to drop.

"Last night," she gulped. "I came back to the office. I knew you didn't have any work plans scheduled so I was curious... and it got the best of me. And I know it was wrong, but I... I came up. Here."

Elliot gave her an amused look of confusion.

"I walked in and I saw you with Kathleen. That's when I realized that I had completely overstepped and should've just trusted you when you'd said you were busy. And I'm sorry for doing that," she wiped the tears from her cheeks, shying away from his gaze. It was too scary to look at him and potentially see the end of it all. She had invaded his privacy, broke his trust, and pretty much done something that she never thought she would do.

"I shouldn't have lied to you, Liv." His grip on her hand tightened rather than pulling away, which brought her a morsel of comfort.

"I should've trusted you. I mean, I get it now. There's a litany of valid reasons why you wouldn't have told me. Some women would plunge right into the domestic life and want to be completely over-involved. Some would run as far as they can."

"That's true," he agreed. "But that's not why I kept it from you." He looked down at the floor, still holding her hand in his for their mutual comfort. "I'm still getting my footing with being in Kathleen's life. I know that when the time comes, she would love to meet you and I'd love for you to meet her if and when that time comes. But... I couldn't stomach the thought of me not being a great father right off the bat and you having to see that. It wasn't because I don't want you two around each other or that she'd scare you off. None of that. I just didn't know how to tell you I was taking your advice and trying to reconnect with her."

Her heart melted in her chest, and the tears started to come back one by one. "Elliot —"

"Olivia, I want to be a better man." he said, sincerity clear in his eyes. "I want to be a better man, a better father, a better everything. And I wanna be that for you. And for Kathleen. But when I say those three words to you — and believe me, I will —" They both chuckled. "I wanna make sure you hear them from the best version of me. The version of myself that you deserve to hear them from. A man who has left no rock unturned and tries every single day to be the best he possibly can. Because that's what you deserve."

Olivia sniffled. "I'm so sorry for what I did."

"And I'm so sorry I lied to you." Elliot wiped a tear away from her cheek, fighting back his own instinct to cry with her. "I'll forgive you for snooping if you forgive me for not telling the truth."

"Okay," she laughed through her tears. "That's a fair deal."

He laughed with her, leaning down and kissing her deeply. Whatever was unsettled in the air felt as if it was shifting back into whatever place it belonged in.

"One more thing," she said as she pulled away from his lips. "If you ever just need time, just tell me. I wholly and completely understand that repairing your relationship with your daughter is going to take a lot of time and effort. Just say the word and I'll be out of your hair, okay? She deserves to be put first in your life, all you have to do is tell me and I promise I will always understand."

The way he looked at her, she knew what he was thinking. He was thinking those unspoken three words that were on the tip of his tongue. Instead, he smiled softly and nodded. "An Olivia Benson promise? Must be serious."

Finally, an actual laugh broke out of her. She leaned forward into him, relaxing into his arms as they leaned back on the couch. She kicked her heels off and curled up beside him. "Would it be inappropriate for me to call you a DILF right now?"

A roaring laugh erupted from deep in his chest. "Yes, it would be. But I'll accept it anyway."

They were only human. Learning from their human errors and mistakes. At least they were learning together.


Chapter Text


Despite the near empty office, life at Stabler Enterprises was in an absolute state of chaos. Though, it could only be defined as the best kind of chaos. Just about everyone had spent the entire week preparing for the launch of Red Light - which entailed a massive gala to raise funding for further developments into the app. Although any job at SE would be considered stressful, the parties made it worth it. The best booze, the best guests, upscale themes. It was any New Yorker’s dream to attend.

In fact, SE had become so well known for the charity balls and gala events that an entire ballroom had been built into the first floor of their humble skyscraper.

It was taking every ounce of strength from Olivia not to micromanage the entire thing down to the champagne delivery. However, Elliot had people on staff just for event setups. If anything, he wanted her to take the time to sit back and watch the fruit of her labors come to life.

Only immediately required staff were in office today, the rest either helping to manage the setup or taking the day off to ready themselves for a memorable event. Even though the event wasn’t until tomorrow night, half days of work the day before a Stabler gala were a rite of passage.

Given that she was the head of the project itself, Olivia had much more to worry about than what dress to wear or what shade of lipstick to show off at the party. For the past few weeks, she had sat in on every board meeting involving Red Light - much to the chagrin of a certain pissy CFO who thought she belonged behind her desk as an assistant. The rest of the board was beginning to warm up to her presence, finding her a valuable asset to the company. Or, maybe it was because they were all about to get a fat paycheck from her idea. It didn’t matter to her, she was just happy to be doing the work she was doing.

However, with her newfound role at the table, it also meant that she was exhausted. Stressed didn’t even begin to cover it. Red Light was her brain child, it all had to be right or else the entire world would end on her watch. Balancing both the job as the head coordinator and personal assistant as the launch neared, she was as wound up as ever. Running on pure caffeine, nerves, and filthy sex with her boss was her new normal.

In Elliot’s eyes, she handled it rather gracefully. At least for someone who was as new at this as she was. Sure, she was a bit more neurotic than normal, but the work was getting done and it was getting done correctly. He was doing all he could do to help her keep her feet on the ground, but part of him thought she actually might be enjoying the chaos.

Olivia waved Casey off for her early departure before gathering her own belongings. She swiped the hair out of her eyes as she leaned over her desk, packing her stuff away before clocking out early. She spotted the off-white postcard tucked beneath her phone. Her freshly manicured fingertips grazed over the scrawled cursive font and the bright red embellishments.

‘You have been cordially invited to attend this year’s Red Light Gala, hosted by Stabler Enterprises and Porter Entertainment.’

Her eyes rolled as she laughed to herself, having already received an invite. She practically licked the envelopes for all of the invites. This one was a calling card.

Sauntering over to his office door, she leaned against the glass frame. “I wonder who left this on my desk?” she smirked, holding up the invite between her fingers. “So, am I invited as the assistant to the CEO who is obligated to go? Or am I invited as the sexy arm candy for the cameras?”

He chuckled as he folded his hands on the desk. “Why not both?”

She rolled her eyes with a smile, entering the office and shutting the large glass door behind her. She leaned into one of the chairs across from him, folding one leg over the other as she played with the invitation between her fingers. “Well, two reasons. One, I need to know if I’m clocking in for this event. Two, I need to know which one to RSVP as.”

Inside, she knew why he had given her the extra invite, but she liked watching him squirm as he fought to get the words out. He blew a breath of stress from his lips when he realized that she wasn’t letting him off the hook. “Well, as the head of the project, you’re already invited. However, I’m asking you… to be my plus one.”

Her smirk grew bigger as she leaned further back in the chair. “Well, I’m honored. There’s only one problem.”

“What might that be?”

“I don’t have a dress.” she bit her lip, cocking her head to the side.

“I’ve already arranged for that.”

She rose from the chair, checking to see the capacity of the exterior office. When she saw that only a few people were walking about, she walked over and closed the blinds to cover the door and the adjoined windows. “Did you now?”

“I might have,” he laughed, his smile growing to fill his face. His eyes followed as she slowly stepped around the desk and climbed into his lap. Her arms wrapped around his neck, her teeth assaulting her bottom lip.

“You made arrangements and you didn’t know if I was going to accept that offer.” she giggled, nuzzling her nose against his as she stared into his eyes.

“Well, if you hadn’t accepted the invite as my plus one, then you would’ve had to go as my, what did you call it? Obligated assistant? Head of the project? Either way, I knew you’d need a dress.” his hands gripped firmly down on her ass, forcing her downward in a grind against him.

“You’re an ass,” she grumbled.

“And you’re going on a shopping trip with Skylar tonight. Consider it a bonus.” his grip became harder with his fingers digging into her cheeks, her head lolling against her shoulders as he did so.

“I could’ve bought my own dress, you know.” she tried to retort but she wasn’t sure the words came out in the right order. She ground down against him further, feeling the beginning of him stiffening under her.

“Yes, you could’ve.” he leans forward, nipping at her neck as the hot breath of his words made her skin erupt in shivers. “But, you’re also going to be buying some very nice lingerie to wear under that dress and I’d very much like to see that charge on my credit card bill. So, I believe we’ve reached an accord?” he squeezed tighter, his grip moving towards her thighs.

“Call it whatever the fuck you want as long as you keep doing that.” she was melting under his touch, heavy breaths and soft mewls coming from her chest as his hand on her ass reached further down and under, palming against her throbbing core.

Her head fell forward, her cheek swiping against his as she worked herself further down against his touch. She whimpered under his touch. A layer of her skirt and panties both and he could still make her feel as if her entire body was set ablaze.

“I do have to admit, the idea of seeing you in a ball gown is quite enticing.” he mumbled against her mouth before biting her lower lip. The one hand that hadn’t been teasing her through the layers of clothing snuck between them, massaging her breast through the silky blouse that covered her chest. “Seeing you in nothing at all… even better.”

His voice felt like velvet on her skin, a warmth she had been searching for since long before she could remember.

“Please,” she whimpered into his mouth before deepening the kiss. She tried to hook her foot under the chair in an attempt to gain some traction to grind harder down against him.

Just before he was about to dip his hand into her bra, the phone rang. “Be good, don’t say a word.” he ordered, his glare proving his point to be serious. The hand from her breast lifted the phone from the receiver while his other hand finally slipped under her skirt and made direct contact with the lace panties she was wearing.

“Stabler.” he answered, never breaking eye-contact with her. She was biting her lip with incredible strength, forcing herself not to cry from the torture that came with his touch. She bit down into his shoulder when one finger slipped between the barrier and into her dripping folds.

“What?” he barked into the phone. “No, tell him I’m busy.”

“I’m sorry, sir. I tried to tell him, but he wouldn’t listen to me. He’s getting off of the elevator right now.”

Olivia recognized the sound of Casey’s voice on the phone and panicked. “Fine, send him in.” he said before slamming the phone back down on the hook. He looked around frantically before his eyes fell onto her. “Get under the desk.”

“What?” Olivia managed to ask through a moan.

“Under the desk, now. Casey ran into Dean Porter in the lobby and he’s on his way here. Be a good girl and do not make a single sound.” his hands released from their designated places and helped lift her quivering knees from his lap.

She didn’t have time to protest as she ducked down by his feet, kneeling beneath the desktop. Just as she made it under, his door swung open. “Stabler, good to see you! Sorry for dropping by on short notice.” Dean Porter boomed as he welcomed himself into the office.

Elliot ground down his jaw as he folded his hands on his desk. “Dean, always a pleasure.” he greeted him, faking a grin as the man reached over to shake his hand. He made sure not to return the offer with the fingers that were still wet with her arousal. “What can I help you with?”

“I was in your neck of the woods and I wanted to talk to you about the gala. I would’ve had my assistant call but I figured I was around, I overwork the poor kid anyway.” Dean laughed, earning a faux chuckle from Elliot in return.

Olivia was suddenly struck with an idea that she didn’t have the willpower to resist. Carefully, she reached up into his lap, unlatching his belt and sliding down his zipper at an incredibly slow pace, fearing that it would alert their intruder.

She felt Elliot jump in his seat from her touch and she would’ve sold her soul to see his expression. “I hate to be a bad host, but I don’t have long before I go off to a meeting.”

“I just wanted to bend your ear for a minute. As you know, my team put together a list of big dollar donors to invite—”

Olivia stopped listening to Porter speaking and instead turned her attention to listening to his body. She knew he would be furious but even so, she could feel him hardening at an incredible pace. She hooked her fingers around the waist of his pants and saw as he lifted himself barely an inch above the seat, just enough for her to pull his pants and briefs down lower. His cock sprung from its confines, barely centimeters away from her mouth.

She gripped around his length, feeling him nearly jump again. She forced herself not to giggle as he squirmed. Her hand stroked sadistically slow over his burning hot skin, her thumb grazing a circle over the tip.

“I get that Jerry is a big spender but c’mon, the guy starts shit with every other investor there when he shows up, it just drives donors away. We’d be losing money if we invited him” Dean’s voice drifted in her ears and she forced herself to go back to hearing Elliot’s breathing.

“I—I understand, Dean. I uh, I already told you that it was alright to leave him off the list. But I’m gonna send him your way when he catches wind that he missed out on the event.” Elliot forced the words out, desperate to regain his composure.

Olivia’s mouth hovered over the tip of his cock before delicately swiping his precum away with her tongue. Her head rose and fell, taking in more of him with each bob. As she rose back up, her tongue dragged along the underside of him.

“Fu-” Elliot muttered under his breath, biting into his fist.

“You okay, buddy? You aren’t looking too well.” Dean said, furrowing his brows as he paused his paces around Elliot’s office.

“‘M fine. Just uh… I think I’m getting a mi-igraine.” he sputtered as soon as she felt her hand sweep under and cradle his balls in the palm of her hand. She pressed a kiss to his tip before taking all of him into her mouth. Her nose buried against the firm skin of his abs as she blinked back the tears.

“You need anything? A drink or somethin’? I make a pretty mean G&T.”

“I’ll be fine, Dean, thanks.” he forced out, his hand reaching under the desk and haphazardly gathering her hair into his grip. His hips rolled as she sucked back up his cock, her hand stroking the inches that no longer occupied her mouth. As she increased her force, she could taste his salty sweet precum building again.

“Alright, well your people got my people on standby so if you can think of anyone else to make up what we’re missing with Jerry, give em’ a call. Oh –” Dean snapped his fingers a few times while Elliot was ready to reach over the desk and strangle him to death. “What about Lenny? Huh? You got him down? Alright, good. I’ll leave you for your meeting. Good seeing you, man.”

“You too, see you soon.” he squinted as he forced himself to smile.

Olivia brought her tongue down to the base of him, pressing kisses and swiping her tongue at the skin. Her hands continued to work his balls, rolling them in her palm and ghosting her fingertips on the underside. She could feel his legs trembling and she could only imagine the red hot skin on his cheeks as he grew flush.

As soon as the office door shut, he tightened his grip on her hair and pulled back. He peered under the desk, his cock bobbing at her cherry red lips. “Oh, you naughty girl.” he growled, giving her a mirthless smile as the adrenaline rushed through the both of them. In an instant, he fucked deeper into her mouth, giving her no time to adjust as he forced in and out against her tongue.

Letting go of her hair, he stood to his feet and held her face in his palms. “If you didn’t look fucking angelic on your knees, I’d be so much angrier.” he groaned, thrusting himself in and out of her mouth. He could see the blooming of a smile on her lips as she sucked along with his force.

His movements came with reckless abandon as he watched himself disappearing between her lips. It wasn’t long until he was holding her head against him, squeezing his eyes shut while his breath came in shakes. One last thrust deep into her, as deep as he could go before he bit back a cry, his orgasm rolling over him in waves. She sucked every last drop he had to give before releasing him with a pop.

Out of breath, he stared down at her. “The fuck was that?” he asked, struggling for air.

She raised her brows, batting her lashes as she smiled. “Sorry, Daddy.” she giggled, wiping her mouth with her arm. “Saw the opportunity and took it.”

“Oh, what am I gonna do with you?”

She rose to her feet, carefully tucking him back into his pants and doing up the zipper. “You’re gonna fuck me sensless later, that’s what.” she chuckled, pressing a chaste kiss to his lips.

“You’re not gonna let me finish you off?” he asked, growing confused as she started to walk away.

She spun on her heel, wearing a devilish smile as she licked her fingers. “Don’t worry. I had a free hand while I was down there.” she winked, shutting the door behind her and leaving him in shock.

When he sat back down, he looked under his desk and saw the pair of red lace panties lying on the floor. “Son of a bitch.” he whispered.

“Good afternoon, Ms. Benson.” Skylar greeted her, his gloved hand opening the door of the Mercedes for her.

“Evening, Skylar. Good to see you.” she smiled, stepping into the back of the vehicle. As she buckled herself in, she couldn’t help but smile. She tucked Elliot’s Amex Black Card into her wallet, rolling her eyes at the thought. It was unnecessary. He was acting unnecessary. Though, the pampering felt nice.

“Where to, Ms. Benson?” he asked, peering towards her through the rearview mirror.

She smiled again, nibbling at her lower lip. “Mr. Stabler said they were expecting me at the Valentino showroom. On 5th, I believe.” she couldn’t believe the words coming from her lips, and she hoped they never felt normal. It was the thrill, the unexpected, she couldn’t get enough. Not the material items, not at all. The adrenaline was enough for her.

“Very well.” Skylar said, veering into the busy streets. The lights of the city were beginning to shine as the hours of the night grew closer. Each glow caught in the reflection of the windows. She pulled her phone out of her purse, scrolling through her contacts to find one name in particular.


“Dinner's on you tonight. I’ll bring back leftovers.” she giggled, smirking as she listened to him chuckle on the other end.

“Dinner’s on me as long as lingerie is on you. And hey, have a fun time, alright? Don’t worry about the money, just enjoy yourself.”

She squeezed her eyes shut as she laughed. She could picture him standing in the penthouse, looking out the window as if he could somehow spot her in the rush of the city. “I might take you up on that.” she ended the call, trying her best not to squeal in the backseat.

“Hey, Skylar. Would you mind swinging by 91st street first?”

“Not a problem, Ms. Benson.” he nodded, flicking on the turn signal.

She pulled up her contacts again, scrolling through carefully before finding her second goal. The line trilled in her ear for a few rings before she was greeted with another familiar voice. “Hey, Mo. Get dressed and be ready in 5. Dinner and shopping, on me.” she grinned, soaking up the city of dreams.

“You said it’s a black tie event?” Monique asked as she swirled her flute of champagne, her voice just loud enough for Olivia to hear her as she hid behind the doors of the changing room.

“Black tie but the theme is red.” Olivia called out, slipping off her work skirt for the fifth time since walking into the showroom. A row of dresses had already been set out for her, a sticky note attached with his handwriting, ‘Roses are red, you drip with finesse, I can’t wait to fuck you in a fancy red dress.’ Which she had hastily tucked into her purse after giggling under her breath.

“Why red?” Monique asked, taking a sip as she looked around at the racks of clothing. “Aren’t these things usually masquerade balls? Red is boring, they could’ve done some gatsby-esque bullshit but they just pick red?”

“You know that project I’ve been working on?”

“The super secret one you won’t tell me anything about?”

“Yes, well, it’s called Red Light. Hence the red theme. The gala isn’t just a launch party, it’s to raise funding for Red Light, a new app we’ve been designing in Stabler’s tech department. It’s designed for women in cities like New York so they can feel safer when they’re alone. If they feel like someone’s following them home or they feel as if they’re in danger, they open the app and can send alerts to police as well as on-call female volunteers. If there’s a volunteer in the area where they ping the app from, it alerts them of the location so they can come assist with either walking them home or making sure that if something did happen, the proper help can be given.”

“Wow,” she heard Monique say from the other side of the curtain. “That’s actually a good idea, I like it.”

Olivia peaked her head out from behind the curtain. “It was my idea.” she winked before retreating back behind the curtain.

“No shit! You didn’t tell me that part? You just said you were overseeing it!” she gushed as she walked around, running her fingers over the various fabrics. “How the hell did that happen?”

Olivia smirked at the memory. “I was bringing coffee to one of his meetings. All of those millionaire mercenaries sitting there pretending they knew what consumers wanted. I may or may not have laughed at one of their ideas.”

Monique snorted from the other side of the dressing room. “Of course you did.”

“Well, this absolute asshole, Ed Tucker —”

“The one you’re determined to run out of a job, yes, I remember him.”

“Yes, well he asked me if I had any better ideas. Apparently I did because as soon as I pitched it, they were thrilled… Well, all except Tucker.”

“That’s amazing, Liv!” she could hear the smile in Monique’s voice. “Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?”

“Signed an NDA. Sadly, there was no ‘tell the best friend clause’ I could get past.

“I guess I have to forgive you since you’re buying dinner.”

Working at SE for only a few months, she hadn’t exactly experienced the real scene of a Stabler-thrown party. As his assistant, she shouldn’t have been phased by the blaring lights of paparazzi or the bright red carpet leading through the front doors towards the ball room. However, the way the air sparkled with flashes of pictures thrilled her to the bone… and scared her senseless.

Limos pulled up in a long line of sleek blackness, chauffeurs stepping out in orderly fashion to open the doors. It was glamorous to say the least. Every suit was black and every dress was either red or black, displaying the true art of fashion in New York. To her greatest relief, she felt comfortable in her dress. The one Elliot had picked was surprisingly a perfect fit for her. A relatively simple off-the-shoulder red gown that reached just above her toes. What surprised her the most was the fact that it wasn’t as revealing as she would’ve expected given it was Elliot who chose it. Its elegance was what made it sexy. Maybe the man was professional after all.

A matching chiffon shawl draped over her forearms, framing her body as she stepped out of the limo. Most people snapping photos wouldn’t question who she was - assuming correctly that she was the assistant to the man in charge. However, she knew that the entirety of the event wouldn’t be possible without her, and that was enough for her.

Elliot flashed her a quick and sly smile before shaking hands with other guests along the red carpet. As Olivia scanned over the environment, she spotted Casey who was already waiting on the top step near the door. As soon as their eyes met, Casey nearly jumped with excitement for Olivia. Both of their smiles were as bright as the flashing cameras. Casey had seen how much work she had put into Red Light, juggling all of her worlds at once and doing it with grace.

“And this is Olivia Benson, the life force behind the operation.” Elliot’s voice snapped her back to reality as he placed an open palm on her back. She turned to face the stranger, reaching a hand out and shaking. “Olivia, this is Dean Porter. He’s the head of the entertainment company who throws these marvelous events for us.”

Dean Porter. Olivia nearly choked when she recognized the name, catching a smirk on Elliot’s face. “Nice to finally meet you, I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“All good I hope?” Dean pressed, eyeing her a little too much for Elliot’s liking. And her own.

“Certainly. You know how Mr. Stabler just loves to dish out high praises.” She eyed Elliot without turning her head too far, watching a blush tint his cheeks.

“Ah, if you’ll excuse us, I believe I see a reporter from Forbes that was promised an exclusive. I’ll see you inside, Dean.” Elliot returned his hand to her back as he gave her his signature leering smile.

As soon as they were out of Porter’s earshot, Olivia turned inward to speak to him. “Forbes, huh? If I remember correctly it was two months ago that you were on their cover. Can’t get enough of you, can they?”

“Actually,” Elliot stopped in his tracks, caressing the sides of Olivia’s arms despite the hundreds of watchful eyes. “They’re here for you.”

She flinched, her expression dropping into something more serious. “Wh-what?”

He smiled softly at her. “I’m not taking credit for any of this. This, all of it, it was all you. From that day in the boardroom to the endless nights in the studio. You deserve the spotlight for this one. And who knows, now that Forbes knows your name, maybe this won’t be the last of it.”

She stared at him, completely dumbfounded by his words. “I… I don’t know what to say.” So, it appears that billionaires do have hearts.

“Say that you’ll go over there and tell that reporter the exact same thing you told me all those months ago in the boardroom. Tell them how much passion and hard work went into this. Tell them why it meant so much to you to make this happen and that you wanted to help save lives.” His hands gripped tighter on her arms, but with nothing but love and pride within the touch. “Just… just be Olivia Benson. The Olivia that marched into that boardroom and decided that 433,648 women were far too many. That even one was far too many. Because that is the Olivia that I—” he stopped, staring into her vulnerable eyes. “That’s the Olivia who made this happen. Just be her.”

A small chuckle broke through her wall of shock. “Okay,” she nodded. “Yeah, I can do that.”

Elliot smiled until his cheeks hurt, stuffing his hands into his pocket as he watched her walk off towards the reporter. That’s the Olivia that he fell in love with.

The ballroom full of people had gone from socializing to eating and drinking. Olivia couldn’t stop staring at the stage where large promotional posters of Red Light were spread out on easels. So far, the night had been a raging success. Donation after donation came flooding in, exceeding their goals beyond what anyone had imagined. It was the first time since the beginning of the project that she had been able to talk openly and passionately about it with surrounding peers. People actually seemed interested, which was the cherry on top. She had expected most of the guests to listen only out of obligation, but plenty of them were intrigued by her creation.

As everyone neared the end of their extravagant meal, Elliot walked onto the stage and tapped the podium mic. Heads turned to face him as he straightened the lapels on his jacket. He had tried to convince her to give the speech, but the interview before the gala was enough for her. This time, she wanted to hear Red Light from his perspective.

“Good evening everyone, thank you so much to all of you who came out tonight to support us.”

A large round of applause filled the ballroom. Elliot made a covert glance down at Olivia who was at the head table. She winked at him, giving him a small nod.

“As I’m sure you can imagine, this project has been one that hits home for a lot of us. That is exactly why so much hard work and dedication went into the creation of Red Light.” Elliot continued, the room becoming quieter as he spoke. “We sit here tonight and honor our mothers, our grandmothers and aunts, our sisters and nieces, our daughters and granddaughters. We honor them because every day, they march through this world with more bravery than some of us will ever know.”

Olivia fought back the tears in her eyes as she listened to his speech.

“While this project came to life, I can truthfully say that a lot of us took time to look inward at our privilege. There was no way to work on this project and not realize that a man is much safer on the streets than a woman. That’s what makes this project so special; because it’s one and only goal is to change that. To do whatever we can do to lower those statistics.”

Olivia looked around the room, watching the faces of people who took in every word he was saying.

“This project was actually a surprise to most of us. While we sat in the boardroom on an average Friday, we were trying to think of a new creation we could launch. That’s when my assistant and dear friend, Olivia, pitched the idea for Red Light. I was amazed because in less than two minutes, I had heard the most compelling pitch and statistics of my entire career. 433,648 women are assaulted on average in the United States every year. Olivia had that number ready and waiting. I think almost all of us in that room had a moment where we wondered, ‘does every woman know that number?’ More importantly, we started to wonder what we could do to lower that statistic.”

Part of her wanted to laugh when she thought back on that day, the way she had only spoken up because the alternative was spilling hot coffee in Tucker’s lap and quitting. But knowledge became power in mere moments of sharing her thoughts.

“Before we could even ask the question of what we could do, Olivia already had an answer as well. I was blown away. Every question answered, every potential error solved, just like that. She knew exactly what this project needed to be. She had the idea to create a platform to help women stay safer, to allow others to help each other, to help spread resources and information, and to potentially save lives. Which, might I add, was way above her pay grade.”

Everyone including Olivia let out a soft laugh at that.

“But all jokes aside, I realized that we were staring an amazing opportunity in the eye. An opportunity to make our community stronger. To empower women and provide them with as much help as possible to remain safe. More importantly, an opportunity to put business matters aside and truly focus on the goal of what Red Light was about; doing better.”

“So, before we go further into explaining what Red Light is and how we hope it will benefit our community, I would like to thank Olivia Benson. I mean it when I say she truly brought this project to life. She devoted so much time and energy into this, pouring every ounce of herself into creating this project. Since she was the one with this incredible idea, it was only right that she managed the project. More than managed, actually. In fact, I can honestly say that Red Light would not have reached its full potential without the love and dedication that Olivia put into this. She made absolutely sure that there was no rock left unturned. We at Stabler Enterprises will forever be indebted to her and her commitment. How about a round of applause for Olivia?”

Her cheeks turned fiery red as the entire room erupted into applause for her. Her eyes met Elliot’s as he smiled furiously at her, clapping along with everyone else. Her head bowed in appreciation of the support, a shy blush creeping onto her face.

She was certain that blush didn’t go away until the entire room went back to socializing. She had been holding a glass of champagne in her hand, talking up some creative director of another company - not really listening to a word that was being said. As thrilled as she was about how the night had gone, her feet ached in the heels and she just wanted to climb into Elliot’s bed and sleep the night away.

As if he could sense her want for him, he appeared at her side, moving a sly hand along the small of her back. “Would you excuse me, I need to steal Ms. Benson.”

The woman she was speaking to bid her farewell and Elliot was left to lean down in Olivia’s ear. “What do you say we cut this party short and start a new one upstairs?”

She couldn’t contain the giggle that came from hearing his corny pickup line. “Ready when you are.”

He smiled down at her and nodded. “I just have to get a few things out of my office. I’ll meet you up there in fifteen?”

“Don’t you have to say goodbye to your guests?”

Elliot purses his lips, looking around the room for a second. “You know,” his tongue clicked. “I think they know the way out.”

She smiled back, rolling her eyes. “Fifteen minutes. Unlike you, I’m polite enough to say goodbye to some people.”

“We both know that mouth isn’t always so polite.” He winked, walking away leaving her jaw nearly on the ground.

In an effort to get up to Elliot’s apartment quicker, she decided against her usual route of taking the private elevator. Instead, she had slipped from the party and entered one of the normal office elevators.

The lift rode upward, undisturbed for the first few floors up. A ding sounded, the elevator stopping several floors before her destination. She tried not to think anything of it until the doors opened, revealing a familiar and unwanted face.

“Tucker.” she scowled as the man stepped into the elevator.

“Benson.” he replied, his face emotionless.

She watched him press the button for a floor a few flights below her destination. Maybe if she just held her tongue, he’d leave her in peace.

“Congratulations. Your big night was a huge success. They all bought the patron saint act that you so delicately put on. Heh, you think you’re so wise, Benson.” Tucker chuckled from the other side of the elevator. Olivia stiffened, her fingernails digging a half-moon shape into her palm.

“I would appreciate it if you didn’t speak to me that way.” her voice shook as she carefully forced the words out.

“I bet you would.” he laughed again. “You walk around in those heels and those skin-tight skirts as if nobody knows who it really is underneath it all.” Tucker paused, staring into Olivia’s furious eyes. “Haven’t you realized it yet?” he took a predatory step forward.

“Realized what?”

“That you’re wrong? That someone does know what’s underneath it all? That little lie that you’re living? Because I know the truth. Does your boyfriend know?” he stepped closer and her breath caught in her throat. “I’ll bet that he doesn’t. Stabler hasn’t always been the… sharpest knife in the drawer. He probably thinks that the sun shines right out of your ass.”

“You know nothing.

“Really? You think I don’t know that you’re gunning for my job someday? You think I don’t know that you’re fucking your way up the food chain? Chief finance officer, huh? Stabler has to be either very stupid or very naive to think he should ever put that position into the hands of an attempted murderer.”

Her jaw ground down, the pain of her gritting teeth radiating through her skull. He was standing with less than an inch between them, his breath falling against her ear. She remained stiff, every muscle tensed in fear of him. “Excuse me?”

“Oh, so I guess Stabler doesn’t know. Olivia Margaret Benson sentenced to a year in the Horizons Juvenile Facility for assault. You know, it’s crazy what you can find when you look in the right places. Does he know his piece of ass is a felon?”

“I’m not a felon!” she roared, “They dropped the charges to a misdemeanor — which you shouldn’t even know since it’s sealed! How did you get my record?”

‘Sealed’ is just a fancy way of saying you have to know the right people. Besides, It doesn’t matter how I got it. What matters is the fact that you’re living a lie while pretending to be something so much different. I’m sure Stabler would love to get his hands on your record and see who he’s really in bed with — pun intended.” he grinned, his hand running up her bare arm and towards her shoulder.

“I was fifteen. It was twelve years ago. I’d also recommend that you back the hell away from me right now because may I remind you that sexual assault is also a felony, so you might wanna be careful where you touch me.”

Just as she raised her hand to bat his away, he swiftly caught her by the wrist and yanked her closer to him. “I don’t care what cunning little plan you have up your sleeve. Walking around here like you own the place because Stabler gave you a highchair at the big kid’s table. It won’t work. Not only will you be as far away from my position here as possible, but I will make sure that every company worth a damn in this city will have your name blacklisted.”

Olivia grit down her teeth as she stared into his cold eyes. “Take… your hand… off of me.” she growled.

“Watch your back, Olivia.” Tucker whispered, toe to toe with her before releasing his hand from her wrist. The elevator sounded once more, stopping at the floor Tucker had requested. He stepped away, putting his hands in his pockets as he watched the elevator close in front of her.

The elevator resumed its ride upward, encased around Olivia as she stood in shock. Her hand cradled her wrists where his fingerprints had burned against her. She stepped backwards, allowing her head to fall against the cold metal as the moment replayed in her mind.

Before she could even feel them fall, tears streamed down her cheeks. Mascara dragged along the wet lines, staining her face. She fought to catch her breath, feeling as if the air had been sucked straight from her lungs.

She had to tell Elliot. She had no choice now. It could come from her, or it could come from… well. She knew that telling him herself would at least lower the odds of him hating her. Her ears rang in the silence, only stopping when she heard the sound of herself gasping faintly.

He always wanted to know what Monique had meant when she said Olivia had saved her life. Now he was going to find out whether he liked it or not.

The idea of telling him felt only describable as the end of an era. She had gone so long, trying so hard to put that time of her life out of her mind. To just simply forget. But secrets don’t sleep well in the city, they never have. The illusion she had built herself to be was crumbling, and so was she.

The elevator stopped at the office floor, the doors opening all too slowly. She stared forward, taking in the sight of the office as her mind ran amuck. Across the room, just stepping out of his office was Elliot.

Olivia forced herself to step forward, still cradling her wrist in her other hand. When her eyes laid on Elliot, she broke. Utterly and completely.

“Elliot,” she cried in an airy breath. She stared at him with hopeless and terrified eyes.

His head shot up in her direction, his eyebrows knitted together in confusion as soon as he spotted her. Once he recognized the sobbing Olivia, his face fell. He shot towards hers, running down the floor of the office.

“Oh my god, Liv. What happened?”

There was no going back now.


Chapter Text


Her blinks came in slow motion.

The anxiety within her was winding down, spinning itself into numbness.

She glanced down at her dress, black droplets of makeup that had fallen from her cheeks were stained on her dress.

More than anything, she didn't want to be in the dress anymore. Elliot had managed to get her up to the apartment, away from where any stray employees could see her. As soon as the door had closed behind them, a blanket had been placed over her shoulders and it was still there.

She was still there. Sitting in the dress that she simply wanted to tear off by the seams.

As time passed, she became acutely aware of the beating of her heart. She could hear it in her ears. It was nearly all she could hear.

Except Elliot.

Every few sentences, the fog in her eardrums lifted and she could hear the cadence of his voice. He and Skylar talking in terms she didn't have the mental capacity to even try to understand. She preferred it when she couldn't hear them.

They were talking about security and it sounded uncomfortably familiar to when they got back from Santorini. Similar words thrown around, similar tones of worry and stress.

She could feel the guilt dripping off of Elliot, mostly because she couldn't feel anything within herself. He was angry that he wasn't there, and even more angry that the cameras in the elevator had seemingly been turned off moments after she stepped inside.

Just when the horror of their trip to Greece had started to be set behind them, it had to go and happen again. Only worse this time. This time, Elliot hadn't been there. This time, the circumstances were much more dire.

"Olivia?" Elliot spoke, setting himself down beside her on the couch.

When she looked up to meet his eyes, she realized he had been calling her several times with no answer.

Skylar was gone, presumably dismissed to go do his job and get to the bottom of this. Whatever that would entail, she didn't want to know.

"Can you tell me what happened?" Elliot asked softly.

"I already told you, he cornered me. He grabbed me and told me I was a fool for going after his job." Olivia answered, barely recognizing her own voice given the hoarseness.

Elliot stared at her, sadness in his eyes. "Okay. Now can you tell me the whole story?"

Olivia felt the numbness slip into agitation and fear. She took a sharp inhale, the air striking against her teeth as she did so. "Does it matter?" she asked, beginning to cry again.

"Yes," he said, taking the hand that didn't belong to the bruised wrist. "I have two priorities right now, Liv. Making sure you're safe, and making sure that my staff is safe. I need to know what he said to you."

Olivia mulled over his words, letting the potential ramifications run through her mind. The truth would come out, Tucker just about said so himself. The last thing she wanted to do was to tell Elliot the truth about it all, but she wasn't given much of a choice.

She cleared her throat, staring down into her lap. "Remember... a while back Monique told you I saved her life and you asked me what she meant?"

Elliot nodded, somewhat confused about what this had to do with Tucker.

"Tucker said..." her stomach twisted and she was terrified that she might keel over right there. "I believe his exact words were, 'Stabler has to be either very stupid or very naive to think he should ever put that position into the hands of an attempted murderer.'" She dropped the last two words out with shame and disappointment.

Elliot's brow furrowed, staring at her with even more confusion than before. "What?" He asked, his voice barely above that of a breath.

She finally worked up the courage to look him in the eye.

And as soon as she did, he knew that he hadn't misheard.

"After my mom drank herself to death, I was put into foster care. I met Monique when I was twelve, we bounced around group homes together countless times. We made it known that we were a package deal, and if they didn't believe us, then we proved it. If I was placed and she wasn't, I found a way to keep her around. And vice versa."

Elliot listened intently, never letting go of Olivia's hand as she spoke.

She took a deep breath before continuing. "Eventually, our social workers threw their hands up and tried to keep us together as often as possible. A few months after my 15th birthday, we were placed with what seemed to be a wonderful family willing to take the both of us. They had money, they had great jobs, they seemed perfect."

Olivia turned her head to look at him, "But do you know what the problem is with perfect, Elliot?"

He shook his head, afraid to give a verbal answer.

She leaned closer towards him, heartbroken eyes staring into his as her voice cracked.

"It doesn't exist."

Tears welled up once more, refusing to fall but rather just gathering in the ducts of her eyes.

"Everything seemed wonderful until our foster father started climbing into bed with Monique at night. He told her what they always say, that if she spoke up then she would regret it. That he'd make sure neither her or I would ever have a home again. So she kept quiet because she didn't want me to suffer. Until I caught him one night."

"Oh my god," Elliot whispered, cocking his head to the side as he tried to push away all of the bad thoughts that came with her explanation.

Olivia looked away, unable to stand Elliot's expression any longer. "Monique finally broke down and told me what was happening. I refused to let what happened to my mother happen to my best friend. So, I made a plan. I knew nobody would believe us if we said anything, and reputations get around for foster kids labeled as difficult. So... I heard him go into her room one night and I went in after him... with a baseball bat."

She sniffled, nodding her head at the end of her sentence as if she would do it all over again... she would.

"Yeah, I'm blanking on what your nickname was," she lied, knowing it would get a rise out of Olivia.

"Don't even start with that, Jeffries!" Olivia cracked up, setting her wine glass down so she wouldn't spill it in the laughter.

Monique feigned ignorance, "Batting Cage Benson?"

"Baseball Bat Benson!" Olivia shouted through laughter. "And don't you forget it!"

It had become a joke between just the two of them: a horrible way to cope with the reality of the situation.

"I beat him, Elliot." She sobbed. "I beat him until I saw red and I beat him until Monique pulled me off of him. I was arrested and charged with attempted murder. I took an assault plea deal so they would drop it down to a misdemeanor and in return I served a year in Juvie instead of being charged as an adult with a felony. Monique visited me every single chance she had, she made sure I was okay, she made sure I was alive. Sometimes she'd bring me sketches like what we would draw when we were younger. Sometimes she'd pick up extra shifts after school to have some money to put on my commissary. When I got out, we coasted through the next few months."

Elliot nodded carefully, putting the puzzle pieces together. "So.. after that you worked hard to graduate, got your mother's honorary scholarship to Columbia, and got your degree."

"I had to make a life for myself and Monique where that night never happened. Where that year never happened. The records were sealed, I don't know how he got them. I just wanted a fresh start. Then everything with my mother's estate, like I told you before. It was enough money to start over." She sniffled, bringing her hand to her nose as she fought back the next onslaught of tears.

Elliot moved closer to her, vague and nearly invisible tears welling in his own eyes to match her own. "Liv... why didn't you tell me?" he nearly begged for the answer, and she almost took pity on him for that.

She scuffed out an incredulous laugh. "How? It's not something you just blurt out to someone. Not your boss, not the guy you're with. And... I was afraid." she choked out.

"A-afraid of?" Elliot stammered.

"What you would think of me," she answered, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "What you would do if you found out. Afraid you'd look at me and no longer see me, but rather see the person I used to be. I was afraid to lose you."

"Olivia," he rested his palm on the back of her head, guiding her forehead against his. "I promise you that won't happen. That none of that will ever happen."

"The last thing I want is for you to look at me and question everything about us. I'm not that person anymore, Elliot. And I haven't been for a very long time."

"I know that," he breathed, nodding against her. "I don't see any of that when I look at you. And I never will." Both of his hands came to her cheeks, still forehead to forehead with her. "What I see is a woman who was once a girl who did what she had to do to save her best friend. A woman who has done nothing but work hard to give herself and others a better life. And I promise you, I'm not the only one who sees that."

"The hell am I gonna do now? Tucker knows, do you think he won't hesitate to use this against me or you? What about your company, Elliot? Your entire life's work?"

"Listen to me," he closed his eyes, holding her close. "Don't you worry about that. Don't worry about Tucker or the business or any of it, alright? That's my job now. I'll do the worrying, okay?"

She hesitated until the nod came involuntarily. They both knew she wouldn't end her worrying then and there, but handing at least some of it over to Elliot was better than nothing. She folded her body into his, sobbing into his chest as he held her tightly against him.

"Mr. Stabler." Skylar's voice interrupted. Elliot looked up, seeing the man holding the iPad display of security footage.

Elliot gave Skylar a quick nod, turning back to Olivia. "Hey, listen to me," he lifted Olivia's head up gently. "I'm gonna talk to Skylar for a moment, why don't you get settled in? You can climb straight into bed if you want or you can take a shower, there should be a clean bathrobe in there. I'll be there in just a little bit, okay?" He leaned forward, pressing a long and comforting kiss against her forehead.

"Okay," Olivia nodded tiredly, wrapping the blanket tighter around herself as she trudged out of the room. In all honesty, a shower had never sounded so alluring.

Elliot pushed himself up off the couch as soon as Olivia was gone, pinching the bridge of his nose as he walked over towards Skylar. "Tell me it's good news."

"I'm afraid not, sir." Skylar turned the screen towards Elliot. "The camera logs show that not only were they shut off, but a 15 minute time span of the memory before and after they were turned off and back on was wiped from the server."

Realization fell over Elliot like a waterfall. "Leaving just enough time for him to slip in and out in time to turn them off and back on without being picked up."

"Another thing, sir." Skylar looked at him nervously. "Only the elevator and surrounding hallway cameras were turned off. The ballroom camera was still recording. Mr. Tucker was still in the ballroom for approximately 10 minutes after the cameras were shut off."

Elliot's jaw fell slightly open as his eyes widened. "Oh, don't tell me—"

"Which leaves no room for Mr. Tucker to have been the one who shut the cameras off in the first place." Skylar added, confirming the unfortunate turn of events that Elliot feared.

"So, he's working with someone." Elliot sighed, pacing in circles away from Skylar. "What about the cameras? By any miracle, were they turned off remotely?"

If they were turned off remotely, he could see how turning off the cameras in the surrounding areas would be a clever move to lead him away.

"No, sir." Skylar shook his head. "Logs show that they were turned off manually from inside from the master terminal."

"The mast- the master terminal? Only security has access to that entire room. Can we trace which badge was scanned to enter?" Elliot asked, wide blue eyes in search of any hope on Skylar's face.

"One step ahead of you. I retrieved all of the security badges and ran their history. None of them were granted access into the room within that time frame. Whoever accessed the room had a clone card."

Elliot felt his blood pressure rise, desperately in need of a drink or four. "Fuck!" He hated to even think this, but he needed Olivia at a time like this. Back in Santorini, she had all of the answers the moment that he needed them. This is what she did best; she problem solved. However, Olivia was as good as a thousand miles away. "Okay, so we have a security breach. All new scannable clearance badges need to be issued, even for all of our lower clearance employees. For the entire system. We need to update all of the passwords and codes throughout the building. Did the master terminal logs give an indication of anything else useful to us?"

"As a matter of fact, yes. Only one other direct order was executed from the system. All elevators except for the one were turned off. Given the circumstances, whoever planned this clearly wanted to make sure that Ms. Benson ended up in the place they wanted her. They were all turned back on at the same time as the cameras." Skylar nodded pensively. "Other than that, there were no other orders executed. No data breaches, no released information, just those few orders: delete the footage fifteen minutes prior, shut the cameras off, shut the main elevators off, and to set everything on a timer to turn back on fifteen minutes after the last order was executed in order to give whomever did this a chance to get out without being seen."

Elliot scrubbed his palms against his face. "Alright. I want a team assembled, priority only. I want files examined to see who in the office has any prior connections with Tucker. Whoever he teamed up with clearly knows the building well enough if they planned to get in and out in such a short period of time. We have to assume the worst, that it's another employee."

"Yes, sir," Skylar began to walk away until he carefully turned on his heel. "One more thing, Mr. Stabler."

Elliot raised an eyebrow at him.

"I know that evidence against Mr. Tucker at this time is minimal. However if Ms. Benson should decide to take action against him, it may be in both hers and your best interest to... document the results of the situation."

Elliot looked at him completely confused. "English, Skylar. What are you saying?"

Skylar gulped and looked down at the floor for a split second. "Her wrist, sir. Ms. Benson has a rather visible bruise forming on her skin where he grabbed her. That very well may be the only evidence she has that goes to her word. If she decides to see this through toward any sort of hearing, you'll need to have photographs and measurements of it."

Elliot's heart fell into his stomach, his eyes closing slowly as the gravity of the situation came down on him even harder. "Uh...thank you, Skylar. I'll speak to her about this immediately. You may go."

As soon as the room was empty, he leaned forward against the back of the couch, clasping his hands together. A loud and exhausted sigh escaped him but he was left to worry more about Olivia than anything else. Sure, his trust in his company was beginning to crumble like a late stage Jenga tower. But that was... well, that was nothing compared to her. Hell, he'd let the entire thing fall for her. The matters of security felt foolish now that he had Olivia in mind.

In the shower that was practically the size of her apartment bedroom, she sat on the cold floor tiles. With her back up against the wall, the water mostly fell against her feet rather than her entire frame. She cradled her aching arm in her other hand, staring blankly out beyond the glass doors.

From where she sat, she could see the bright red dress folded on the sink countertop. Against her greater instincts, she hadn't torn it off her body. It was an expensive dress - a gift from Elliot. And even though she knew that she could burn it for all he cared, she didn't have the heart to destroy it.

At the beginning of the night, she felt beautiful in that dress. As if she had been representing the fruit of her labors that was Red Light. Now she felt as if Tucker's hurtful words were written across the fabric in black ink.

It was not lost on her how the night could've turned into something much more horrifying. That wasn't to say that it wasn't horrifying already, but given that it ended where it did, she wanted to cry in relief.

The rest of her just wanted to cry.

She heard the careful sound of the bathroom door opening, and the silhouette of Elliot appeared in the glass. She watched as the silhouette unbuttoned its shirt, letting it fall to the ground.

"I'm not in the mood to fuck in the shower, Elliot."

"Neither am I," he answered back with a short chuckle as he rid himself of his pants. "But I'm also not in the mood to get my clothes soaking wet while I sit with you."

The glass door opened but Olivia's eyes stayed glued to wherever the hell they were looking at - even she wasn't sure. Elliot stepped inside, settling down on the wet floor beside her. For a few moments, while the water rained down on them, they sat in silence.

"You know," he spoke first, staring in the same direction as she did. "I think this is the first time we've ever been in the shower together not having sex."

"We deserve an award." she replied, letting out a pathetic puff of a laugh.

"Hey," He turned to look at her, both his eyes and voice softening. "Give me your hand," he whispered, gently taking a hold of the non-injured wrist. He couldn't keep the corners of his mouth from faintly turning upward as he looked at her. He admired her - to put it simply. He admired her so much. Even now, on the floor of a shower with her short brunette hair half wet and half dry. With no energy left in her body whatsoever. He admired her.

He carefully interlaced his fingers with hers, allowing himself to have this raw moment with her. "I will never..." he paused, still searching for all of the right words when there weren't any. "I will never look at you differently, Olivia. And if I do, it will only be a look that grows in amazement. No matter what colors your past is painted with, I will never look at you differently."

Olivia turned to look at him, weepy eyes that weren't so weepy after all given that all of her tears had been cried out. The skin around her eyes had turned red and sore, but he still saw only the sparkle in them. "Why do you put up with me?" she asked, sounding almost in disdain of herself. "The moment I came into your life, everything flipped upside down for you. I disrupted the rhythm of your job. God knows when you'll ever feel safe enough to return to Santorini. And now one of the biggest board members and assets to your company is on the brink of putting you in a scandal so deep you may never recover. All because of me. Why am I still here?"

His eyes were so wide they looked as if they'd fall out at any moment. His jaw was as good as on the floor. "Why?" he asked, staring at her in nothing short of disbelief. "Because I love you, Olivia."

Her stare softened as his words echoed off of the shower walls.

"Yeah, I said it," he nearly laughed. "I love you. You told me not to say it at the heights, so I'm saying here at the depths. The darkest hour, on the fucking shower floor. I love you, Olivia. And nothing you can ever say or do will ever change that."

Her lip quivered as she let his words soak in.

"I have... I have been in love before." He continued. "I have lived many chapters of my life, some good, some bad, some absolutely crazy. Yes, I have been in love before, but not like this." His eyes conveyed all of the seriousness yet certainty that she needed. "Not to the point where love would have me put someone before all else. Not to the point where I have wanted to become a better man, a better father, a bett... just better. I have made my fair share of mistakes, maybe even more than a fair share's worth. But loving and being loved by you will always be one of my greatest accomplishments... and absolute blessings."

"B-but what I did, I —"

"What you did —" he interrupted, holding her hand with both of his "is of no consequence to how much I love you. There has never been a single person who has walked in my life and changed it in all of the ways you have. In ways that are for the better. You hold me accountable, Olivia. You have taught me to look inside of myself and make better decisions. You didn't fix my life, Liv, you taught me how to fix it myself and want to fix it."

She stared at him, doe-eyes filling once again with tears. "Do you mean that?"

He brought her hand to his lips, pressing a kiss to the top of it. "There will never be another quite like you, Olivia. And I don't plan on looking in order to prove that."

"I don't deserve you," she whispered, moving to lean her head on his shoulder. With her now at a different angle, more mist from the running shower sprinkled on her. She simply closed her eyes, allowing the small droplets of water to roll off of her skin.

"I hate to break it to you, but I'm exactly what you deserve." Elliot chuckled, wrapping his arm around her bare shoulder and pulling her in tighter.

"When uh... when we were at the Botanic Gardens," she murmured, feeling shameful for that night already. "When I told you not to tell me how you felt, part of it was because I wanted you to wait until you knew the full story. And I couldn't in all good consciousness say it back to you if I knew that I was holding back pivotal parts of myself that could influence the way you feel. But now..."

"But now?" he parroted with bated breath.

"I promised you I would say it back."

"Liv, you've had a tough night. If you're not rea—"

"I love you, Elliot." she exhaled, as if the words escaping were carrying along a thousand pounds of weight along with them. Her eyes closed as she listened to the dripping of the water and the beating of his heart.

She loved him. He loved her. It was fairly simple despite all of the complications their lives had thrown at them.

Even though she didn't want it to, the sun had risen the next morning. Orange beams of morning light shone through the windows of Elliot's apartment. Olivia sat on the terrace, bundled up in Elliot's comfiest sweats while cradling a mug of hot coffee in her hand. She watched the city begin its morning, the never ending life force that was the streets. People walking down the sidewalks like blood through veins.

Through the glass guard railing, she could see it all. As if there was no limit to how far the city stretched out. It struck her as odd that in a city this big, it seemed as if there wasn't a single hiding spot in sight. That's what she really wanted, she wanted to hide.

A loose strand of brunette hair had fallen out of the small pony tail that held her hair back. It hadn't even crossed her mind that she probably looked like a mess. Not that she cared either. Not really, not now.

She hadn't slept much, and she was sure that Elliot hadn't either. At any given point in the night, they had both been awake, staring at the ceiling in silence. She inevitably had so much to come from this. She'd have to tell Monique - given that Monique had urged her to tell Elliot the truth in the first place. Casey would probably ask her why every single employee was issued a new security badge and she'd have to lie and say she had no clue. Elliot would probably spend a hell of a lot of time consumed with fruitless plots to get Tucker the hell out of the business.

They were in a world of hurt.

"Hey, honey." Elliot greeted her quietly from behind, leaning down to press a kiss against the top of her head before sitting in the chair beside her. He was holding his own mug of coffee, taking a careful sip once he was fully seated.

"Did you sleep well?" she asked.

"Nope. You?" he answered, sounding almost serene in his response despite how tired it was.


"You know, Liv..." he stopped, debating on whether or not it was even a time to bring this up. "Before everything happened, I had a plan to share some news with you."

She furrowed her brows in confusion.

"A job opened up on the same floor we already work on," he continued, carefully eyeing her reaction. "A management level job. Not too many changes to your current job but a title or two higher. I had spoken to the staffing department and given how hard you worked on Red Light, they agreed to let me offer you the position."

Olivia blinked several times, trying to process what he was saying. "But... but Casey is higher than me. Shouldn't the job go to her first?"

Elliot smirked. "Already ahead of you. I knew you'd say that which is actually why I offered the job to Casey first. She turned it down, said she liked where she was at and that I should ask you instead."

"El, I... I'm so grateful but is now really a good time for that?" she winced. God knows she wanted nothing more than to keep climbing but after Tucker had accused her of 'fucking her way up the foodchain' she felt deterred from the idea.

He nodded empathetically, turning to look out over the skyline. "I know. Bad timing. But, I just wanted you to know that the offer is there. If you don't want it, that's completely understandable, and I don't need an answer any time soon. But if you do want it, it's all yours. And like I said, it's pretty similar to what you're doing now. You'll just be more of a manager over everyone rather than just an assistant."

Olivia exhaled, cracking a small smile. "Does that mean some new assistant will come take my old position?"

Elliot let out a deep laugh as he set his coffee mug aside. "No," he said through his chuckles. "No, in fact, having two might be too much. You'd pretty much continue the same job, but whatever overlap there would be would just go to Casey, stuff she probably already does."

"You know," she glanced down at her lap. "A while back, Freddie in the design department told me I should take on that job full time. Being down in the studio, working on Red Light and what not. For a while I actually wondered if he was right, if I should've done that."

"When did he say that?"

"When uh... when you were gone. You were holed up in Westchester." she clicked her thumbnails against each other nervously, not wanting to take the conversation into the wrong direction. "I only considered it because I was mad at the world. Looking back, moving down there would've felt like giving up."

He shifted his vision over to her, offering a soft smile. "I'm glad you stayed where you were."

The silence came back, but it was peaceful. Neither of them were filled with awkwardness and the urge to disrupt the moment with more conversation. Olivia hadn't asked about Tucker or any of that situation, likely not wanting to even know. Or maybe she wanted to move past it, he wasn't sure.

However, he knew that moving past it was not an option yet. At least not for him. He could do everything in his power to keep her out of the crosshairs from that point forward, but his battle with Tucker was just beginning - and it showed no signs of ending soon.

He sat and wondered how things would be from now on. If she would have a difficult time returning to work. Part of him wanted to rip the entire fucking elevator right out of the building just so she would never have to see it again. He wanted to do even worse things to Tucker.

"Liv, there's something I need to ask you." Elliot sighed, his face dropping into something more solemn and regretful.

Her guard went up, he could see it in the shift of her shoulders.

"Do you want to press charges against Tucker?"

She stared at him for a moment, her eyes unreadable. She knew this question had been coming, she could've seen it from a mile away. "Do you want me to?"

"It's not about what I want. Not at all." He quickly answered back.

"But it's your company, El." she bobbed her head in reiteration. "A potential assault and harassment trial between an assistant and a CFO with the assistant being more than an assistant to the CEO? Who knows what that'll do to Stabler Enterprises? Your shares would plummet, business would be at an all time low, every paper in town would be scouring us for a story. It would be a scandal I'm not sure SE could come back from."

"Liv," he leaned forward. "I don't care what it does to my business. I'm more interested in what you want to do, for you. Not with me in mind, not with anyone in mind but yourself."

She took a long, deep breath and laid back against the chair. She stared up at the sky, watching a big white puffy cloud pass over her. "My gut reaction would be to say no, I don't want to press charges. I don't want to go through all of that just for it to ruin everything. He's not worth it. But if pressing charges against him would somehow help any plan you have, I'd do it."

"Oh trust me, I'm gonna find a way to get him the hell out of here with or without a report from you against him." Elliot huffed in anger, thinking about all of the ways he would take Tucker down. "Don't you worry about that."

"So," she hesitated, trying to find the right words. "You'd be okay with it if we just kept this under wraps?"

Elliot nodded softly, "If that's what you decide, then absolutely. It's entirely up to you."

She hesitated again, dropping her gaze back down into her lap as she nodded.

He turned and looked at her seriously. "Though, I do need to ask a favor, and you can say no. But if you say yes, it could help me with this situation in the long run."

She bit down on her lower lip, tugging down the sweater sleeve to cover the bruise on her wrist.

She knew what he was going to ask.

"Tilt your hand to the left a little bit," Skylar said, holding a camera up to his eye. Bright white flashes of light blinded her each time he snapped a photo. She moved her wrist more towards the ruler set beside her arm.

Elliot stood off to the side, arms crossed over his chest as he watched Skylar gather evidence.

"Now, turn your arm flat on the table."

Olivia complied, not speaking a word since agreeing to do this. Elliot had called Skylar as soon as she agreed, knowing she would change her mind at any moment. They agreed that the photos of the bruise would be locked down in some archive file, far away from where anyone could ever get them. But she also knew that having them on hand would potentially help Elliot's attempts to get rid of Tucker.

She flinched every time the high pitch ring of the flash would sound out.

"Now turn your arm to the right, please."

She was getting antsy and so was Elliot, just wanting this to be over.

The flash beamed out a few more times before Skylar packed the camera back into the bag. "I think I have all I need, thank you Ms. Benson."

"Thank you, Skylar." she mumbled, getting up from the chair at the table. She walked over to Elliot, pressing a chaste kiss to his lips. "I'm gonna go lie down."

"I'll be there soon," Elliot nodded, grazing her cheek with his palm before she walked away.

He and Skylar both waited for her to be out of earshot before Elliot began walking him to the door. "So," Skylar started. "What now?"

Elliot stared at him, his blue eyes as cold as ice. He straightened out his posture, clenching his jaw until his teeth ached.

"We go to war."

Chapter Text


It would be a while before she showed even the slightest bit of liking towards risk. Well, she had never minded it before. In fact, she had liked it before. Now, her comfort went as far as Elliot's apartment, her bedroom, and nowhere else.

More than anything, she was just glad she still found comfort in him. It wasn’t lost on her that going through something she went through - and worse - could easily derail her comfort zones. However, Elliot remained in the top spot.

When she had woken up in his bed, the first source of light she saw was the bedside clock. 3:32 in bright white letters registered first, then the lack of sunshine. She rolled over, spotting his shirtless frame as he laid asleep on his stomach. His arm was thrown over the pillow, clutching it against his body as he slept. She couldn’t stop herself from licking her lips at the sight. She had woken up with a swarming rage of need deep inside the pit of her stomach.

She leaned down, slowly pressing a kiss to his lips. Somewhere in his sleepy haze, Elliot had become more conscious, moving his arm to wrap around her back and pull her close. Her hand rested on his cheek, nails grazing his skin as she deepened the kiss. Elliot guided her leg over his hip, running his tongue along her bottom lip.

Olivia winced as she ground herself against him. The hardness growing beneath his boxers pressed against her aching center, causing agonizing friction. “I want you,” she whispered between hungry kisses, her voice barely above audible volume. “El, I want you.”

He pushed himself up onto his elbows, pulling away from her. “Are you sure?” he asked gently. It had definitely been some time since they’d had sex. Well, ‘some time’ in their book at least. Maybe not to the average couple. Sure, they had fooled around several times before the Gala. After that, after everything, things had halted. He waited for her without a second thought, not wanting to pressure her into anything she wasn’t yet ready for. “I need to know that you’re sure.”

She gazed up at him now that he was hovering over her, staring at him through her lashes. She nodded softly, stroking his bare chest with her palm. “I’m sure,” she nodded.

Without missing a beat, he swooped downward and recaptured her in a kiss. She anchored herself around his neck while he lifted her legs until her knees reached her chest. He had her caged beneath him, feeling every inch of her that he could reach. “How do you want it? How do you want me?” he asked, his breathy words warm against her mouth.

“However you want,” she replied without thinking. It didn’t matter to her, she just wanted him.

He craned his neck to nip and lick at her ear. “Do you want it like this? With me on top of you?” he asked, earning a moan as a response. He trailed his tongue down from her ear towards her collar bone. “Do you want it from behind? Do you wanna ride me? I know you love to fuck yourself on me while you sit in my lap.”

Her nails scratched at his back as she continued to whimper at his words. “Elliot,” she quivered.

He thrusted his clothed erection against her, watching her face as she moaned. “I could pull you right off of this bed and fuck you up against the wall. Or on the floor, Liv. What do you think about that?” He teased her mercilessly, watching her melt into a needy puddle. He reached down under the sheets, managing to get his hand between their tightly pressed bodies. He pushed aside the pair of panties she had on, massaging her soaked folds with the tips of his fingers.

“Fuck, Elliot.” Olivia cried out. “I don’t care how, just fuck me. Please.” She clung to him tighter as his fingers gravitated upward, moving to rub against her clit.

“Nope, tell me,” he kissed up and down her neck, sucking on the sensitive spot behind her ear. “I’m not gonna fuck you until you tell me how you want me.”

It took every ounce of effort to form a coherent thought on what he was asking of her. “Sit up, I’ll show you,”

He followed her direction, lifting himself out of his boxers before sitting up on his knees. She reached down and slipped all of the fabric off of her lower body, leaving her completely bare. She wasn’t sure how but her shirt was off and on the floor beside them.

One of her legs went over his shoulder, the other around his waist, giving him a full view of the erotic sight in front of him. He grabbed her waist, pulling her down closer to him. He chuckled with a near predatory smirk on his face.

Olivia reached forward, grabbing his cock and stroking before rubbing the tip against her wetness. Elliot groaned, one hand gripping tightly on her leg while the other covered the hand she had on his cock. She pumped him in her palm, his own strong hand guiding hers. “Just like this,” she whined. “Fuck me just like this.”

With her help, he guided himself into her core. Both of them let out a matching sigh of relief and moan of pleasure. He leaned into her, filling her as far as she could allow him to. When his hand came away from his erection, she grabbed it and intertwined her fingers with his.

Neither of them bothered to keep their voices down. She had gotten used to doing her best to remain quiet while chasing intimacy with him in dangerous places. It felt nice to not hold back any sounds that slipped out.

He gripped her hand tightly, bringing it to his lips to kiss her fingers as he slid in and out of her. She was on the verge of tears over how amazing he felt, filling her to the absolute brim. With every few thrusts, his kneeling would turn into his hips rising, this pelvis grinding against her clit.

“Fuck, harder,” she cried out, her head falling back as far as possible against the pillow.

Elliot picked up his pace, making sure to hit every exhilarating spot inside of her. As much as he hated to admit it, he knew his likelihood of lasting was minimal. It had been too long for the both of them, being inside of her again was like coming home.

He released her hand from his, watching as she moved to play with her hardened nipples. His free hand dropped down to her core, circling roughly around her clit. Her legs began to quiver, a sign of impending orgasm he had learned about her on their first night with her.

Elliot gave into his body’s desires, moving her leg off of his shoulder as he leaned down and pressed himself against her chest. “I know you wanted me sitting up, but I have to kiss you,” he mumbled, biting her lower lip as his thrusts came faster. She moaned in response, pulling him tighter against her as her legs wrapped around his hips.

The shift in position pushed her closer to her finish line, allowing for new sensations to overwhelm her. She cried out into his kiss, matching the movements of his pistoning hips. “I’m close,” she managed to choke out. “I’m so close.”

It was only seconds later when she couldn’t hold it back any longer. Her head dropped backwards, a loud cry emitting from her lips as she squeezed tightly around him. Red scratch lines covered his skin as she clung to him through her orgasm.

“Fuck, I love you,” Elliot ground out as her orgasm brought on his own. He pushed into her as deep as he could, spilling inside of her as his vision went black.

“I love you,” she replied, panting as she tried to catch her breath. Her legs stayed tightly wrapped around his waist as they both started to return to earth. She placed several sloppy kisses to his lips. “I love you too, so much.”

“So, you’re saying I have no grounds for terminating him?” Elliot asked, pacing around the table where the company lawyer sat.

“Well, it’s tricky.” Donnelly, Liz Donnelly - best in the business, rifled through a manila folder. “He isn’t just an employee, he’s a board member. You could terminate him as an employee however you’re opening yourself up to a massive wrongful termination suit. Not to mention, it would cause havoc with the board.”

“It’s not wrongful if he’s harassing one of my other employees.” Elliot grumbled. He thanked God for client-attorney privilege. Olivia had given him permission to seek council but only under the circumstance that as few people as possible had to be in the room. He only needed Liz anyway. He trusted her - and she made the notorious shark lawyers of New York look like fucking dolphins.

“Which you have no tangible record of,” she interjected. “You told me yourself, Stabler. She doesn’t want to press charges. Without that, the elevator cameras and the security breach are circumstantial. Your only evidence is the photographs of the bruises and we both know what any lawyer worth their salt will say about those.”

He pinched the bridge of his nose, continuing to pace behind her. “And if he files a wrongful termination suit?”

She gave him an unfortunate look. “Then everything comes out in court. Every skeleton in every closet on the front page of The TimesThe Post, and Page Six. Everything Ms. Benson wanted to keep private will be public knowledge. And given the circumstances, I don’t think Tucker would hold anything back on the stand.”

“Alright. Well, I trust you. So if you have any other recommendations, I’m all ears.”

She pursed her lips, as if she was weighing a thought on a scale. “Well, you can buy him out.”

His brows furrowed as his ears perked up. “What do you mean?”

“Make him an offer. Buy out his stake in Stabler Enterprises. Offer him an early retirement with a signed NDA and purge him of the company entirely.”

Elliot cringed at the idea, stopping his pacing to look her in the eye. “So he gets a reward of an early retirement for harassing an employee?”

Liz shrugged with disappointment. “You know the game, Stabler. If you can’t go low, you have to go high. Unless you can dig up something concrete on him, something that paves a smooth exit out of here for him, buying him out is your best and only option.”

He hesitated, his steps becoming more calculated as he continued pacing. “Can I speak off the record? As a friend?”

She smirked at him, “I charge by the hour, so I won’t complain.”

He decompressed with a sigh, taking a seat across from her at the table. “Part of me really wishes she would press charges. But I know that’s just easier for me and harder for her. I’d be able to get rid of him entirely but she’d have to face so much humiliation, it wouldn’t be fair.”

Her head cocked to the side as she closed the folder, pushing it away. “You know… before I was a corporate attorney for you, I was an attorney for women who charged their male employers and co-workers with harassment. I went to bat for a lot of women in her shoes who became subjected to a power imbalance leading to assault and harassment.”


“And I never saw a single case where it was easier on her than it was for him. It’s… excruciating. Every detail, and I mean every single detail of their life is on that stand. Down to whether they choose Cocoa Puffs or Cheerios for breakfast. But the men on that stand? They don’t have to go through even a fractional amount of that sort of interrogation. They just have to try to prove that they didn’t do what they were accused of. Women, however, have to validate their entire existence on the stand. If Tucker knows about your relationship with Olivia, I wouldn’t doubt for a second that his lawyer would have every thong she owned, color-coded and ready to be added into evidence for his case. She would be brutalized up there.”

He blew an exhausted breath from his lips. “Which is exactly why I didn’t push it. All I did was ask her to allow me to document the bruises on her wrists. I would never make her go through that sort of trial.”

“Well, if you care about her as much as you seem to, then it’s time to dust your knuckles off and fight.” Liz said, standing up from the table as she started to pack up her briefcase. “Because the entire time you’re fighting, all you have to do is remind yourself that your fight isn’t half of what hers would be.”

His head followed her as she started making her way towards the door. “So, if he agrees to a deal, would you be willing to help me get this done swiftly and privately?”

“One phone call and I’ll have it ready by the end of the day,” she grinned, leaving him to think it through for himself.

“Hey, Liz?” he called out, stopping her before she was gone completely. “You said you used to work cases for women who were abused by their employers…” he paused, taking a steadying breath. “Why did you come work for me?”

She stopped to mull the thought over for a moment. “I loved my job… but it takes a toll on a person after a while. But you? I picked you because I know that if I left my daughter alone in a room with you, she would be entirely safe. I think you’re the only CEO in the city that I can say that about.”

As soon as she was gone, his head fell into his hands. He’s tired - but not nearly as tired as Olivia is.

“So, you didn’t take the management offer?” Olivia asked Casey as they walked, dipping her spoon into the cup of frozen yogurt in her hand. “You know it has a decent raise, right?”

Casey laughed as she finished licking her own dessert off of her spoon. “Yeah, I know… I just don’t like change.” She stuck her nose up at the thought, hearing a small chuckle come from Olivia. “I’m happy where I am. Obviously it’s chaos, you know that just as much as I do. But it pays well as it is, and I think I’ll actually drop dead of a heart attack if I add any more chaos into the mix.”

Olivia laughed deep from her stomach. “I suppose you can’t put a price tag on sanity.” They kept walking at a slow pace down the street, enjoying the fact that they got the rare opportunity to take the same time for a lunch break. “Meanwhile, I think I thrive on chaos.”

“Oh, you do.” Casey added quickly, both of them giggling. “But you do it well. It’s a win-win for everyone. Trust me, you’re the best person for the job. I keep my sanity, you get a better check and more power, and things actually get done correctly in the office. I swear, you walked in there and made that place run like a well oiled machine.”

Olivia felt her cheeks warm up as she looked at the ground. “I don’t know. Sometimes I feel like I messed everything up at SE.”

Casey stopped in her tracks, giving Olivia a wild look. “What? In what world did you mess anything up?”

Olivia froze, remembering that Casey had no clue about her relationship with Elliot. “Oh… uh. Y’know, I guess I just mean th-the rhythm. The rhythm of the office… is what I messed up.” She wasn’t as smooth of a liar as she used to be, but she hoped the nodding of her head was enough to push the lie through. “It might be a higher functioning office, but I’ve stepped on a lot of toes.”

“Not mine.” Casey hummed, taking in another spoonful from the fro-yo. “You’ve made my life a lot easier. And besides, any toes you may or may not have stepped on belong to people who climbed their way up to the top no matter who they crushed. A little karma never hurts.”

“That’s true,” Olivia laughed. “I just don’t like the feeling of putting people out of their way. Even if this job just about requires me to do so.”

“You’re Stabler’s protégé, people aren’t being put out of their way, they are being moved out of your way. A lot of people would kill for the attention he gives you, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t happy that you get it. It means he sees something special in you and even if anyone is jealous of that, they’re also proud of you. Not your typical corporate office, but when has anything ever been typical at SE?”

They both laughed at that. SE certainly had its eccentricities, that was for sure.

Part of Olivia wanted to simply melt into the ground, or just come clean about everything to Casey. She was having an affair with her boss while a board member found out and started holding it over her head, as well as her past. It wasn’t easy to shoulder that load of emotion without as much help as she could get.

But Casey couldn’t know. It was too risky. She trusted Casey, of course. But only to the degree that she trusted everyone else with — which wasn’t much. She couldn’t afford to have this come back and bite her in the ass. What if Casey let it slip by accident? Diane in accounting could overhear and by then the entire building would know! Or god forbid, worse. What if by some chance, her intuition was wrong and Casey was working against her?

The more the paranoia came, the more tired she was. It was lonely living inside the bubble of fear. With her appetite suddenly gone, Olivia tossed her frozen yogurt into the next trash can that was on their walking route.

With Monique staying at Alex’s for the night, Olivia didn’t want to be alone in the apartment. She had run home after work, quickly packing up her duffle for the night before returning to the SE building.

As for her new normal, Skylar was waiting for her at the building when she returned. She had turned down the ride back and forth, wanting the hour to herself rather than having the guard on her case. However, once she was on the grounds of SE, he was to be at her side if he wasn’t at Elliot’s.

He greeted her quietly, ushering her to the private elevator that led to Elliot’s apartment. The ride up was filled with awkward silence, but she was growing accustomed to it. Well, maybe not accustomed so much as just being used to it. She tried to think of him as nothing other than an extra set of eyes and muscle in the worst case scenario. Much to her displeasure, it didn’t work. She even briefly wondered if this is what it felt like to have a Secret Service agent. That’s what it felt like – the black suit and the tinted sunglasses.

Once she was safely inside, Skylar remained posted outside of the entrance to the apartment. Olivia wandered in, listening for any sign of Elliot. She was sure that she would never quite get used to the strange sensation of domesticity that came from walking freely into his home. As if she could just drop her keys off on the console table by the door and never need to leave again.

She trailed through the living area, spotting no signs of life. Though, finding him in his apartment without calling his mobile was like walking through a maze. With two entire floors of the building dedicated to his living quarters, finding him was a task.

She aimed for the stairs, knowing she’d have better luck finding him up there. She nearly walked past his home office before realizing that there was a figure standing in the center of the floor-to-ceiling windows. The light of the setting sun turned his body into a dark statue.

As always, even in a moment that plagued him, he stood elegant and regal.

“El?” she asked cautiously as she set her bag on the floor beside her. She walked into the room, spotting the glass of scotch on his desk. Something was bothering him and she was eager to find out what it was.

She watched his silhouette and the way his head dropped in shame. “I spoke with Liz Donnelly today; The attorney.”

Her heart began to speed up, dread flooding her as she stepped even closer. “And?”

He finally turned to face her, the setting sun reflecting off of his back to create a glowing halo effect behind him. Sadness had taken over his entire expression. “And it wasn’t good.”

She reached up, gently caressing his cheek with her thumb. She tried to hide her disappointment; she knew this was the outcome that was most likely. Tucker was untouchable, he always would be. That was what he loved to lord over her. “It’s okay,” she whispered, her face softening.

“No, it isn’t,” he winced, his voice deep and dusky from the scotch that had burned in his throat. “I can’t let him get away with this.”

“Elliot —”

“I can’t!” he protested. “If I let this go, it says more about me than it does about him. I can’t live with myself if I’m employing a predator, Liv. I’ve tossed and turned every night since it happened. I want you safe, I want everyone here to be safe. And it’s not fair that he just gets away with it. Especially when the only other option is to put you through hell, which I refuse to do. I’m just –”

She cut off his nervous rambling with a gentle kiss, feeling his body decompress almost instantly. As soon as she pulled away, both of her hands came up to cradle his face. “Take a deep breath.”

Reluctantly, he nodded and sighed deeply through his mouth. He wanted to melt into her and the comforting touch of her palms on his jaw. She always had hope in her eyes when he had none at all.

As soon as she felt him begin to relax, she offered him a tender smile. Her hands fell away from his face, instead moving to wrap loosely around his torso. “Now, calmly tell me what Liz said today in your meeting.”

“The only actual option I have is to attempt to buy him out. A severance package, so to speak. I would buy out his stake in the company so he would be off the board, pay him an early retirement, and he would sign an NDA.”

“Okay,” she nodded slowly, running the scenario through her head. “But you have reservations.”

He sighed again, nodding his head. “It feels like rewarding him. He assaults you and this is what he gets? A huge chunk of money and absolutely no repercussions? How is that fair?”

“It isn’t,” she stated as if it were as simple as possible. “That’s just a sad reality for women like me, El. Honestly, I wouldn’t have expected Donnelly to say anything other than that. It will never be fair, but it’ll always be easier than the alternative.”

“That’s if he even takes the deal, Liv.” Elliot replied in a defeated tone. “He could laugh in my face and tell me to fuck off. It wouldn’t make a difference for him. Otherwise we’d be open to a massive unlawful termination suit which could only be proved as lawful if you came forward and I can’t imagine a worse hell than putting you through that.”

Her smile was there, but it was sad. “I know,” she whispered. “Honey, I walked into that boardroom with my numbers on sexual assault locked and loaded. Did you really think I wouldn’t know exactly how this plays out?”

“God, that breaks my heart.” He laughed, but no hint that any of it was even remotely funny to him. Just exhausting and frustrating.

“Hey, hey, hey.” Her hand came back up to his cheek as she tried to bring his focus back to her. “But you know what I love about you? Most men in your position would never even think to learn from this. Not you, though. You already have. As awful as this whole thing has been, I know that the eye-opening parts will stick with you for the rest of your life. To me, that’s better than any sort of revenge I could ever get on Tucker. Obviously, I would love to see him get what he deserves, but in reality, I get to see something so much better. I get to see you… growing, learning, loving. This world needs more of that, a leader who is willing to do what it takes to grow and hopefully urge the world to grow with him.”

He finally felt a smile creep onto his face to match hers. He bit at his lower lip as his eyes fell to the floor. With one step, he moved to further close the small gap between them. “You are… a marvel to me.”

“Eh, you’re not too shabby yourself,” she giggled before rising up on her toes to kiss him.

“Not every day I get a visit from the boss man.” Tucker spoke, his voice scratchy and deep and grating on Elliot’s ears. “You here to fire me? Because I’ll happily remind you… you can’t.”

Elliot took a deep breath, closing the door behind him. He didn’t want to stoop to Tucker’s level but his temper was unreliable, and god forbid if a passerby saw it in real time. “You are not going to speak for the next 60 seconds or I will break every bone in your geriatric body.” Elliot spoke calmly, despite the harshness of his words. “Am I understood?”

Tucker didn’t say anything, simply clenching down on his jaw as his feet switched the weight of his body.

“I am here to offer you a deal.” Elliot resumed, walking towards Tucker’s desk to inspect the minimal amount of trinkets and decor. He picked a piece up, examining it between his fingers before setting it back down. “I buy out your stake in Stabler Enterprises. I give you an early retirement - taxes not included. You sign an NDA and then you proceed to walk out of that door and never return.”

Tucker kept his stare on Elliot as hard as ice. A small exhale left through his nose that sounded awfully lot like a laugh. “No.”

Elliot’s jaw hardened. “Why?” He demanded.

“Because I like to watch you squirm,” Tucker stated, shoving his hands into his pockets as he offered a conniving smile. “I like the power I have here. And we all know someone needs to keep you in check. No matter how big the big-shot is, it’s always interesting to have them under your thumb.”

“Take the deal, Tucker.” Elliot growled.

“No,” the man continued to laugh. “You and me, we’ve reached a fairly steady impasse. You can’t fire me, I can’t fire you. The board will sway in neither of our directions. So, I’m gonna make the most of where we’re at.” Tucker’s eyes narrowed as he broadened his stance. “You can’t buy me out, Stabler. For once in your life, money won’t solve your problems.”

Elliot nodded, trying to keep himself from exploding. He thought of Olivia - and how the moment his temper got the best of him, she would be the one facing the consequences of his actions.

He stepped closer to where Tucker stayed still, not stopping until he could count the amount of blood vessels in the man’s eyes. “You stay away from her. You lay a single finger on one of my employees again, my money and what I can buy with it will be the last thing you ever know.”

With that, Elliot stormed off with a slammed door behind him, leaving Tucker in the exact same place he was when he had entered.

As he marched down the hall, he rolled up the sleeves on his angrily flexed arms. He reached up, adjusting his tie around his neck. His fists hurt from the tension that balled up within them. He just wanted to fucking breathe, but the goddamn tie was too tight around his neck!

Olivia nearly walked past him before doing a double take, rerouting her direction to go in the same direction as him. “El— Mr. Stabler,” she called, turning her head to look down both directions of the hallway. She spotted the familiar office in the direction he was leaving from, her heart beginning to beat like a drum in her ear. “Hey!” she called again, catching up with him as she tried to match his pace. “The hell happened?”

“He’s not taking the deal,” Elliot ground the words out, speaking a little too loudly for her liking. His New York accent began to thicken, just as it always did when he was mad. She could see the redness rising up his neck towards his face - an angry sight she hadn’t seen since the night of the gala.

“Okay,” Olivia said sternly, speeding up to step in front of him to stop him in his tracks. “You need to take a deep breath, like right now. You are going to cause a scene.” she spoke low, maintaining her urgent tone.

He begrudgingly closed his eyes, letting out a deep sigh as he unclenched his hands.

She wanted nothing more than to reach up and comfort him with her palm on his cheek - but the surrounding employees put a hitch in that. “El,” she whispered. “It’s gonna be okay.”

“No,” he shook his head, taking a sharp inhale. “It’s not, Liv.” His anger faded into disappointment, mostly in himself. She could see it in the big blue eyes that were neither fire or ice this time. Just sad. “I’m out of options.”

Chapter Text


With clammy hands, she gripped tightly onto the folders that were held against her chest. She waited outside of the boardroom, feeling the urge to simply run away so she wouldn’t have to face what was coming. Her leg bounced against her will, always the telltale sign that she was incredibly anxious. She had virtually no reason to be. Well… besides that one person who would be sitting at the long table loaded with men who looked at her like she was bait in shark-infested waters.

Elliot had talked her through this the entire night before, going over everything she was planning on saying in front of the board. He’d reminded her that whenever she were to feel like she couldn’t handle the pressure, all she had to do was focus on him. He would be sitting in the chair closest to her, ready to step in if she needed him.

She wouldn’t. She couldn’t.

“Olivia?” Elliot broke her out of her racing thoughts, standing in the doorway to the boardroom. “We’re ready for you.”

“Okay,” she exhaled nervously, walking in behind him. There they all sat, regal as ever. The most powerful businessmen in the city. The only thing that truly quelled her fear was the fact that the most powerful one at the table also happened to be the love of her life. He wouldn’t let her fall.

She tried not to look on the right hand side of the table, but she couldn’t help that her eyes had glanced in that direction. There he sat, poisonous as ever. The man who made her life a living hell.

Elliot cut the silence by speaking first. “You gentlemen remember Olivia Benson. My assistant and floor manager who also headed the Red Light project in its entirety,” he said, sitting back down in his seat. “She’s here to present the newest data on the project since its launch. Olivia, you have the floor.”

“Thank you, Mr. Stabler.” She tried her best to exhale her anxiety, refusing to allow them to see her nervous. She handed Elliot the stack of folders, keeping one for herself. “If you could each pass around a folder, inside you’ll find the data from the span between the launch of Red Light and now.”

“In your own words, how is the project progressing?” Elliot asked, just as they had rehearsed.

“It’s been a month and a half since the launch of Red Light. Through the application, we have successfully permitted over 2.7 million women in New York City alone to be a part of the volunteer safety system of Red Light. According to the census, 53% of New York City is made up of women, which puts our statistics of the app at 61% of the female population in New York City have been approved to volunteer.”

“Those are pretty decent numbers,” Don Cragen, CTO of Stabler Enterprises said as he looked thoroughly through the folder. “How are the reviews so far?”

Olivia’s head shot in his direction. “Very well, sir. We have a rating of 4.8 stars on the Apple App Store, as well as 4.7 on the Google Play Store. As for the website, we’ve received several testimonials from users saying that the app has not only made them feel safer on the streets, but has also been more than helpful with aiding those who felt as if they were in an unsafe situation by pairing them with a volunteer.”

“How’s it doing nationwide? We have rolled the app out across the country, correct?” William Dodds asked.

“Yes, sir. And in Canada. We are currently working on rolling it out in several European countries as well.” Olivia nodded. “We have a slightly decreased demographic in Canada as well as less populated states. However, given that our advertisements were aimed in more heavily populated cities with higher rates of sexual assault, those numbers were to be expected. As you can see on page 5 in your folders, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Atlanta are showing similar statistics to those of New York City.”

“What about the funding? The revenue being brought in?” Asked a voice that still gave her nightmares. She looked across the table, spotting Ed Tucker reading the booklet like it was homework that he didn’t want to do.

Olivia flashed a rapid look at Elliot and back at Tucker, feeling the air leaving her lungs as if it were being sucked out. She knew this was coming, she had prepped for this. Calm and collected, that’s all she had to be. Calm and collected.

“Well, given that the app is free to use and requires no in-app purchases or subscriptions, we rely mostly on advertisers.” She tried to speak as smoothly as possible, but as soon as he looked up to meet her eyes, her blood went cold. “In the past month and a half, we’ve brought in around $50 million dollars - fairly standard and expected number. As the app usage rose, so did the revenue it brought in. We’ve also received approximately $2.5 billion in donations and outside investors. More than enough to keep the app up and running successfully.”

Tucker let out a pathetic huff of a laugh.

“Is there a problem?” Elliot asked, trying not to allow his rage to get the best of him.

Tucker leaned back in his chair, crossing one leg over the other as if it was casual to try to humiliate her. “Donors dry up eventually. Investors pull out. You’re very over-confident that the money will keep coming in. There needs to be at least a basic subscription for the service if you expect to keep up.”

Olivia readjusted her stance, feeling her voice drop low. “You want women to pay to feel safe?”

“We pay taxes to have a police department, do we not?” he countered, smirking at her just enough so that she could see it while nobody else besides Elliot could.

“That’s different!” Olivia felt herself get flustered.

“How so?”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “Because it’s a volunteer based program.”

“Maybe you should take a refresher course on that MBA that you hold so tightly because last time I checked, volunteerism doesn’t pay the bills.” Tucker retorted, all too calmly.

She could see that Elliot was about to interject, trying his best to hold back and allow her to use the same skill that earned her the program to begin with.

Olivia took a moment to collect herself, dropping her folder down on the table in front of her before putting on her best, award-winning bitch face. Her eyes stayed on Tucker. “Would you all turn to page 16 in your folders? There’s a highlighted passage I think everyone should take a look at. Mr. Tucker, why don’t you read it aloud? You can still read, yes?”

Everyone tried to stifle their laughter as they flipped the pages. With a dark glare on her, he thumbed through the pages until he landed on the right one. He broke the staring contest, looking down to read off the review that Olivia had highlighted.

“For several weeks, I realized that I was being followed home each night from work. Given that I live alone in the city without many friends, there was nobody I could bring into the situation besides the police. They told me that I needed proof that I was being followed and there was nothing they could do. The super who owns my building just put cameras in, however the man following me never walked by them. He always stopped a few buildings away as I went into my home. As the days passed and the man got closer each time, I grew more concerned. One night, I requested a volunteer from the Red Light app. With my volunteer, we walked past my apartment this time to see if he would follow us further. He did. When the police reviewed the footage from the cameras that finally caught him, they recognized the man. He was a convict with a previous charge of stalking and rape. They’d found evidence in his apartment that he had been planning to harm me. This app saved my life.” — Jill H.

Tucker read off the review, scowling with each passing sentence. Olivia flashed a quick smirk at Elliot who was already doing the same to her.

“Now, if you wanna read the other outstanding 25,000 reviews from this city alone that are exactly like that in one way or another, I would be happy to print each one off for you.” Olivia cocked her head, staring directly at a clearly scorned Tucker. “Volunteering might not pay the bills, Mr. Tucker, however it saves lives. We do exactly what the police can not; we preemptively stop sexual assault. Stories like those that investors and users can read and apply to their own lives is what pays the bills.”

“You killed it in there,” Elliot grinned from ear to ear as he leaned against the front of his desk.

Olivia sat in the chair across from him, smiling up at him. “Couldn’t have done it without you.”

“Ah, yeah you could’ve,” he laughed, his arms crossing over his chest. “We rehearsed every line in that report except for the part where you tore Tucker a new one.” To say he was proud of her was an understatement. Even though he wanted to reach across the table and strangle Tucker with his own tie, it was quite a sight to see her do it with words instead.

“Well, I may not be able to get him out of here after what he did to me, but I can have my fun with him here I suppose.” her shoulders bobbed as she laughed. “It’s nice to see him doing the squirming for once.”

Elliot didn’t move a muscle other than the smile that seemed to grow bigger. “I would absolutely lean over and kiss you right now if I could.” His body language was so casual that anyone passing by would only see a boss talking to an employee.

“Yeah?” she asked cheekily. “Well, you should’ve thought about that before you had the entire main wall of your office made out of glass windows.”

He let out a laugh from deep in his stomach. “Yeah, well, I’m thinking about having them replace that entire wall with something soundproof and solid. That way I could do a lot worse than just kiss you in this office.”

Her eyes widened as she blushed. “Shut up!” Olivia nearly squeaked. It had been a while since they had done anything more than PG in the office, and even she had to admit that she missed it. She missed the thrill of screwing him in the bathroom where anyone could hear. But they had gotten messy, overconfident that nothing bad would happen. They were paying the price for that now.

“You do live on the top floor so if you truly wanted to, you could just take me up there and have your way with me.” she teased back, watching him step away from where he was leaning on his desk and instead sit down in the chair behind it. “And be back by lunch.”

“Miss Benson!” he feigned shock. “How filthy of an idea! And during work hours? I could never.”

“Oh please,” she rolled her eyes with a giggle. “I can think of a lot of worse things we’ve done. Some of them right at that desk.”

He felt heat rising up his neck and towards his cheeks. “Do uh — do you miss it?” he asked, his tone falling into something more sad yet serious. “The fooling around in the office? I know we’ve pumped the brakes on anything too risky.”

She mulled over his question for a moment, debating on whether or not to tell the truth. “Yes and no? I mean, how could I not miss the feeling of the private bathroom’s porcelain sink jamming into my ribcage as you fucked me from behind?”

Elliot rolled his eyes playfully at her sarcasm.

“I think I miss being naïve. Thinking that we could get away with anything around here.” she hummed in a disappointed tone. “I miss that rush, the thrill I’d get from knowing it was so wrong and it felt so right. I miss the risk. But y’know, after Santorini and the whole Tucker thing, I think that takes the fun out of it.”

“We could always find a dirty alley in the middle of the night. Is that enough risk?” he joked.

She snorted at that. “Maybe someday. I’m fairly certain that it wasn’t just the risk that makes our sex life great though. I think we could be in our 80’s, living in a nursing home and still have our fair share of fun.”

His eyes did that insufferably cute little sparkling thing that they always did when he was amazed. “You saying you wanna grow old with me, Benson?”

Her jaw dropped and it was her turn to start blushing. She sputtered to find the right response before diverting to her default settings of sarcasm that came out when she was caught off guard. “Well, given our age difference I think you’ll be in a home a lot sooner than I am.”

“Wow!” he belted out. His face scrunched up as he tried not to laugh too hard. “The claws are out today! It’s 18 years between us, not 63 years like Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall.”

“Oh hush.” she chuckled, aiming to change the conversation. “So, wanna do anything tonight?”

“Kathleen is coming over for dinner tonight. What about tomorrow?”

“So let me get this straight,” Monique said, sitting beside Olivia on the couch as they folded their laundry. “You two were having sex in the office, now you aren’t, and you’re afraid the sex is gonna dry up because of that?”

Olivia scowled as she folded a shirt and placed it in the basket. “I didn’t say that. I said that I don’t want us to lose the spark. Y’know… the spark that came from being risky.”

“So, do something risky!” Monique replied. “It doesn’t have to be in the office. Just something that doesn’t put your whole career in jeopardy. Adapt and overcome, young Jedi.”

“Alex made you watch Star Wars, didn’t she?” Olivia grumbled. As she was folding another piece of laundry, she tossed it aside and gave up. “What can I do that’s risky but not risky to the point where it’ll put my bare ass on the cover of Page Six?”

“You could always find a dirty alley in the middle of the night.”

“What is it with people and dirty alley sex?” Olivia asked rather loudly as she raised her arms just to drop them. “I don’t wanna get a brick-burn on my boobs. I just wanna do something that isn’t in our normal routine before it's too late.”

Monique moved the laundry basket off of the couch, giving up as well. “Fine. What’s the one thing that’s stopping you from screwing in the office?”

“I don't know? People finding us?”

“Exactly.” her best friend pointed at her. “So get rid of the people.”

“How?” Olivia laughed. “Get on the intercom and tell everyone to go home because I wanna go for a nooner with my boss?”

“No,” Monique snorted from giggling too hard. “What time do the janitors leave the building? 10-ish?” Olivia nodded. “So, wait til the clock chimes and then drag him downstairs into a spot that’s blind from the cameras and have at it. The place is built like a fortress but I’m sure you could find a place to play ‘hide the cucumber’ with him.”

“It’s not that I don’t like the idea, but that sounds like something from the sex life of a married couple with kids.” Olivia protested.

“Well, sometimes that’s what it takes.”

Olivia paused for a moment, the cogs turning in her brain before she became slightly mortified. “Wait… is that what you and Alex do to avoid lesbian bed death? Have you christened places in this apartment other than your bed?”

“Do you want a list of places or do you want to rewind this conversation and pretend you didn’t just ask me that?” Monique asked in a deadpan tone.

Despite choosing the latter, Olivia shivered as she tried to get the image out of her mind. “Look, I’m not saying we’ve lost any spark. We still have satisfying, fantastic sex. Sure, we’ve slowed it down a little bit in terms of intensity, but I just wanna make sure it stays as good as it’s always been.”

“Well, if after-hours office sex isn’t the answer, you two could always go on a little vacay. Hotels or even just different scenery seems to have the same effect of revitalizing the sex that risk does.”

“Last time we went on vacation it didn’t end well,” Olivia reminded her. The last thing she wanted was to step into another pile of trouble. She was already hanging on for dear life as it was, rocking the boat could make everything fall apart.

“At least now you know what to look out for.” Monique shrugged. “No more creepy new security guards and stay lowkey. He’s probably itching for another getaway with you.”

By nightfall the following day, she was back in Elliot’s apartment for the remainder of the weekend. She loved Friday nights with him more than any other day. No particular reason she could think of as to why, other than the fact that it meant there was a comforting weekend to look forward to.

On the couch in his living room, she breathed heavily in his ear as he attacked her throat with kisses. Her nails clawed up and down his clothed back, searching for purchase that never came. One thing she would never get tired of was their usual Friday night makeout sessions on the couch. It had a stress-relieving effect on her that she would never understand.

She released one of her hands from his back, moving it to his chin to guide him away from her neck and to bring him to her lips. Her thumb was on his lip as he came nose to nose with her. He sucked her thumb into his mouth, swirling his tongue around the digit as she moaned. Despite being fully clothed, he moved her leg over his hip so he could grind against her.

Her thumb slipped out from between his lips and he returned to attacking her lips with his own. “I wanna taste you,” he whispered between sloppy kisses. She felt his clothed erection press against her center, eliciting a whimper from her. “Every inch.”

She pulled away just enough to look into his heated eyes. “What’s stopping you?” Before she even finished her sentence, she felt her shirt being lifted. Not enough to slip off of her body, rather just enough for him to get the full sight of her bare breasts. He groaned before dropping down to take one of her nipples into his mouth, one of his hands teasing the other one. She couldn’t stop herself from writhing underneath him as his tongue lapped at the swollen bud.

She brought one hand up to rest against the back of his head as his tongue swirled around her nipple. She fought against the urge to grip his short hair for some sort of traction. “Elliot, please.”

Sensing her impatience, his tongue traveled lower, trailing down to the waistband of her pants. Carefully, he slid his thumbs into the elastic band of her leggings, hooking her panties along with them as he slowly pulled them down. She hissed at the cold air against her wetness. He slipped off the couch, settling himself on the floor between her legs. “In case I don’t say it enough, you are so fucking beautiful,” he growled. She didn’t often hear him do that.

His hands splayed across her inner thighs, pushing her legs apart so he could get a full view of her core. She was on the verge of hyperventilating from anticipation. He licked stripes up her thighs, purposely avoiding where she wanted him the most. Each time his teeth grazed and softly bit down on her skin, she felt a release of adrenaline pour into her. Her nerves were sparking like a livewire as she cradled his head between her legs.

Finally, finally, he slid his tongue through her soaked folds. Her hips rose against her will, meeting his mouth before he pushed her back down and did exactly what he wanted to do; tasted her. Every time he did, he did it because he enjoyed it. Nothing in their sex life was ever compulsory. It was always enjoyed. Valued, even.

She choked out a sob as he sucked on her clit, moving his tongue in directions that she could never predict. Her legs tried to close from the sudden over-sensitization, but his firm grip kept her exactly how he wanted her.

There was nothing she loved more than the moment everything felt as if it was suddenly moving in slow motion. It was always a random moment, always ready to surprise her. The moment when he made her body feel somehow hot and cold at the same time. It was only ever something he could manage to make her feel, and if she could feel it forever, she would.

He lapped at her wetness, seemingly unable to get enough of it. She cried out when she felt his tongue slip inside of her, taking her by welcomed surprise. The moment one of his hands released her thigh, it was similar to a rubber band snapping. Her leg rested against his face, trying to guide him closer. He used his now free hand to dip a finger in with where his tongue was.

The room filled with the sounds of both his mouth devouring her and her own whimpers and pleas. His name slipped out several times with her cries, begging him for more. For more and for harder and for whatever else came to the forefront of her mind. He dipped another finger into her, putting his tongue back to use on her clit.

“I can’t,” she gasped. “I need to cum. Please let me cum.”

“Not yet, he mumbled against her, sending violent vibrations through her skin. Her head fell back against the couch cushion as she thrust her hips upward. “I love how wet you get, Olivia. I can’t begin to explain what it does to me.” There it was again, the growling. It was as if he was hungry for her and nothing else. A different kind of starvation.

His chin was soaked and the couch would be too by the time they were done. He couldn’t get enough of her, he never could. Her taste was addictive. His tongue continued to swirl around her clit, leaving her but an incoherent ball of tension. “Elliot, I’m gonna fucking cum whether you want me to or not!” she yelled, unaware she was even speaking until she heard herself.

His fingers thrust into her faster, picking up speed against the sweet spot inside of her. She knew from the moment she felt it that there was no stopping her body from climaxing.

“Cum for me,” he spoke the words that felt like an answered prayer to her. Within seconds, her eyes were screwed shut and every muscle in her body had tensed up. He felt her core tighten around his fingers as he continued coaxing her orgasm out of her. She cried out as she involuntarily bent forward, whiteknuckling the couch cushion as she rode out the incredible high that he had given her.

“Fuck,” she whimpered as her body turned to jelly, falling back against the couch. As soon as he started lifting himself up off of the floor, her hands ghosted over his ribcage, guiding him on top of her. Once he was face to face with her, he leaned into another deep kiss. She could taste herself on his lips - always a strangely erotic sensation that she enjoyed. Against her sensitive opening, she felt the hardness tenting in his pants. “Round two?” she asked, completely out of breath.

“Round two.” he nodded, his lips still against hers as he smiled.

“Something’s changed.” Elliot interrupted the blissful silence. Her head was resting against his bare chest, both of them tangled between the satin sheets on his bed. “I’m not sure what, but I get the feeling that you’re working through something in your head right now and it’s like you can’t figure it out.”

Sometimes she loved that he could read her like an open book. Sometimes she hated it.

Olivia rolled over, her bare chest on top of his as she propped her head up on her arms. Her eyes met his as he looked down at her, running his fingers through her hair. “I’m just… concerned.”

He noted the slow and careful way she spoke. “Okay,” he nodded gently. “Wanna talk about why?”

She ran her tongue over her bottom lip in thought, trying to think of the best way to articulate her thoughts. “Our relationship is strained - it always has been from the start. That’s just par for the course when you’re keeping it a secret. I think we still handle that part fairly well. Now, add into the mix the fact that you’re my boss. Then, top it off with a demon spawn board member who is hell bent on causing problems for us and potentially destroying our careers.”

He pursed his lips as he nodded. “Yes, I see your point.”

She ran her index finger over his left pec “I just don’t want it to become too much for us. For a long time, it was just sex. At least, we thought it was just sex. Now we’re actually trying to navigate a real relationship. Granted, it’s still in secret, but I… I really wanna see this through. I don’t want us to lose any of the good parts in the process because of how hard we’re trying to balance everything else.”

“I know,” he pushed her hair back behind her ear. “It’s hard to explore the aspects of an actual relationship when it feels like eyes are everywhere in this city.”

“Yeah,” she sighed. “Maybe it’s selfish, but I don’t want us to have to sacrifice any of the best personal parts of our relationship for the sake of other people in the business. I don’t want the sex to fizzle out and I don’t want to miss the chance to actually have the romance we both want.”

‘Well,” he started, sitting up and pulling her naked form into his lap, “then let’s remedy this.”

Her arms crossed over his shoulders as she grinned. “What do you propose?”

“Well, obviously neither of us wants to come out of hiding with our relationship just yet.” She nodded at his statement. “And we can’t do much in New York since a few too many people recognize me. So, let’s go somewhere else? Somewhere that we can spend some time focusing on just us. No work, no distractions, just you and I.”

“Because that worked out so well in Santorini?” she laughed sarcastically.

“Santorini was…” he exhaled deeply, searching for the right words. “I didn’t think that trip through. There was too much mixing of personal and professional. It was naïve of me to put us both in a situation like that and expect nothing to happen. This could be different. Purely personal. Skylar can tag along for security instead of bringing someone else in. No leaving during work hours; we have a three-day weekend coming up in a few weeks so we could leave Friday and be back by Tuesday morning. Just you and I on a romantic getaway.”

She smirked as she stared into his bright and hopeful blue eyes. “You really think we could manage it? No drama or trauma?”

He chuckled. “Well, for us that might be a stretch. But we might as well try. I’ve been itching to get out of the city anyway. You know me, I can hardly sit still.”

Her nose crinkled as she laughed. “So, where were you thinking?”

“Hmm.. Well, I’ve always loved Paris during the fall.”

Chapter Text


As soon as she stepped into what seemed to be the heart of Paris, there was no wiping the smile off of her face. Her mind played music to her as if it were the soundtrack playing in the movie of her life. The jazzy riff intro from Begin the Beguine. The instrumental version, of course. The Boston Pops Orchestra version played on her playlist more than any song. She always loved the glorious swell of the song and the way it made her heart beat like a drum.

With a deep inhale, she smelled the scents that Paris had to offer. Sweet coffee and fresh baked goods. She was in heaven. Of course, New York would always call to her like a bird in the night. But Paris? It was far too lovely to be dwelling on her hometown right now. Look out, City of Dreams; She was in the City of Love now.

She had forgone her usual style of tight black business apparel, instead choosing to match her outfit to how the city of love made her feel. A pink tweed jacket with a matching skirt, pairing it with a cream colored beret and stockings. The fall breeze cooled her cheeks that had flushed in bliss.

Elliot was in line at a cafe not too far, just as excited as she was. However, he had seen Paris before, in all of its glory. What excited him most was her child-like admiration for the beautiful place. While she was busy taking in the sights, he was busy watching her do so.

He surprised her from behind, holding out a croissant in front of her. “Pour toi mon amour,” he smiled, whispering seductively.

She turned into him, smiling as she cupped his cheeks and kissed him. “Merci beaucoup,” she giggled, biting her bottom lip before pulling away to relieve him of the food he was holding. She took her coffee and croissant, sitting down across from him at one of the wrought iron tables in the park.

When he sat across from her, his smile had blossomed into one unlike anything she had seen from him. He was enamored with her and her amazement. He’d ditched the sunglasses before they had even made it to the park, realizing that either nobody recognized him or nobody cared.

“What are you smiling at?” she laughed as she questioned him. It was pure and total delight between the two of them since their arrival. There was nothing standing in the way for once. No nosey coworkers or tabloids looking for their next cover piece. No sneaking around or discreet rendezvous.

He reached across the table, taking her hand into his.

It was just them.

“Paris becomes you, my dear.” His face softened as his thumb stroked the top of her hand. He’d had a lifetime of experiences already, some with her and most without. However, there was a sense of renewal now that he was able to experience it all over again with her by his side. In some ways, it was even better this way. Her joy was enough for him. More than enough.

“Well, might I just say that Paris becomes you as well?” she smirked, taking a sip from her beverage. “I know you’re a bit of a coffee snob, so please pardon me while I say this but this is the best coffee I’ve ever tasted,” she marveled as he laughed at her.

“It’s a bit wild to think that if I wanted to, I could lean over right now and just kiss you. In front of everyone. I’ve never gotten to do that before.”

His eyes glittered, she could’ve sworn it.

She blinked a few times, shyly pushing her croissant away. “What’s stopping you?”

His brows raised at what he assumed to be a rhetorical question. Nothing, not a goddamn thing was stopping him. He stood up, taking a step to where she was still seated. She stared up at him with a cheeky grin, daring him. He leaned down, bringing his hand to her chin as he kissed her. She felt the air leave her lungs as his tongue slipped between her lips to explore her mouth.

It took willpower to hold back the moan that came as soon as he pulled away. Without fully standing back up straight, he smiled down at her. “I suppose nothing was stopping me.”

Her head was a blur now - a fuzzy euphoric mix of love and excitement. In some strange sense, she wasn’t used to this kind of thrill. The thrill they had been accustomed to was that of potentially being caught. This time, there were people. Hundreds, even. So many eyes and so little care. Whatever she had been afraid of losing with him before, she’d found it in spades.

“So,” he said, sitting back down across from her. “How about we visit the Louvre? Head back to the hotel after that and order some of that 5 star room service? Watch the sun set behind the Eiffel Tower?”

The rate of her beating heart nearly doubled. “You sure know how to romance a girl, Mr. Stabler.” Olivia muttered breathlessly.

It was strange - to be standing beside him in a crowded museum. On the off chance they went anywhere together, he usually paid whoever he had to pay in order to make the passersby leave. She thought maybe she would hate it; the lack of privacy. But no, it was actually enjoyable. It felt freeing to hold his hand and not care who saw.

Together, they stood side by side inspecting the notorious Mona Lisa. In the Salle des États, it was encased in bulletproof glass with a railing barring anyone from coming too close. Both of their heads cocked to the right, looking at the miraculous art from the angle. Her hand was still in his, enjoying the new home it had seemed to find.

“You know —” Elliot started, neither of them taking their eyes off of the painting. “I studied art history in college. Specifically, da Vinci.”

From the corner of his eye, he could see her smirk. “You? Studying art history? Okay, lay some facts on me.”

He laughed at her questioning of him. “It’s possible that the Mona Lisa is actually unfinished as da Vinci’s right hand was partially paralyzed around the time he was putting the finishing touches on it. Some also believed it was a self-portrait of the man himself. And for a short period of time, it came to America at the request of Jackie Kennedy.”

She nodded, still unable to drag her eyes off of the piece of art. “What else?”

“In 1911, it was stolen. Interestingly enough, Pablo Picasso was one of the suspected thieves of the painting as well as his friend and art critic, Guillaume Apollinaire. People believed it since the two of them expressed their disdain for the art displayed here in the Louvre. However, they were exonerated after it was found out that the theft had been orchestrated by a handyman who worked here.”

Olivia’s gaze at the painting finally broke as she turned to him. “I suppose you know your stuff after all.”

“There’s also a large conspiracy surrounding the painting itself. The Mandela effect; false memories shared by several people. While some people believe the question of the Mona Lisa was always if she was smiling, the real question asked is what is she smiling about.” He turned to look at her, grinning as she looked just as mesmerized by him as she did by the painting.

“Strange… I always remembered asking if she was smiling.” Olivia replied.

Elliot stared into her eyes, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips. “Interesting, I always remember wondering why.

They always had tension, and they always would. There were too many differences between them to not have tension. However, it felt different now. As if maybe there was a bit more of a spotlight on it. Standing in a crowded room with him always felt like it was just the two of them, but now the air was thick and crackling with something undeniable.

In some strange way, she felt the urge to almost reintroduce herself to him. With a smile and a near breathless tone, ‘Hi, I’m Olivia.’ Because for once, there was no shield up. They weren’t in the city where anyone could look over and see the spark between the two of them. They were in a field of people who didn’t know who they were, and cared even less.

Here, they were just people. He wasn’t the CEO of a big company and she wasn’t the daredevil assistant working under him to try to climb to his level.

She turned away from him, absent-mindedly admiring the other works around the room. Elliot remained standing in the same place, watching her begin to wander. “I know you’re scared, Liv.”

When she turned on her heel to give him a confused look, she saw him smiling sadly. “Scared? Scared about what?”

“The spark,” he replied. “Scared that one day we’re gonna both wake up and realize that we had let it get away from us. That we’d let it burn out.”

Her brows furrowed as she glanced down at the floor. She didn’t like it when he was in her head — at least not like this. “Yeah, I supposed I was a little bit afraid.” She took an apprehensive step back towards him. “Relationships like ours, they’re different. They require a different type of care.”

“It used to,” he corrected her, taking a step toward her and reaching for her hands. She looked up at him with vulnerable eyes as she felt his thumbs stroke over the tops of her hands. “Relationships like the ones we started off with, those require that special type of care. Ones where it’s nothing but physical hunger - that feeds off of spark because that’s all it can have.”

He could see the slight confusion on her face. “But what we have now… doesn’t?”

“It hasn’t for a long time,” he confirmed. “You know why? Because relationships that have love and romance and sex don’t just thrive off of spark and spark alone. They thrive off of hope and care. The spark isn’t as hungry when its being fed by more than just sex. Instead, we grew. We moved upwards and what our relationship started requiring has become less about surviving and more about thriving.”

She felt sheepish under his crystal blue stare. “Is uh — is that why you weren’t afraid? Less risk, less adventure? Because we stopped needing those things?”

He nodded.

“That’s not all I’m afraid of,” she admitted, her voice dropping down to a near inaudible level. “I’m afraid that, back in the city, we’re going to have to hide so much that hiding will turn into avoidance. I guess, I wanted to get away because I wanted to make sure that you and I got to experience what love could be like uninhibited. Just in case there came a time where it was all we had left to hold onto to get us through. I wanted the same thing in Santorini even if I wasn’t ready to admit it to myself. I wanted to know that if New York ever became impossible, we could love each other anywhere.”

He brought her closer, wiping away the falling tear from her cheek with his thumb. His thumb slipped down her jawbone as he cradled her face. “It never mattered where we were, because we were falling in love.”

“You always have been the romantic one, haven’t you?” Olivia chuckled through a teary smile.

“Well, there’s billions of people on this planet and yet you chose to love me. That’s a lot to live up to,” he smiled back, leaning down to capture her in a kiss.

It surprised her how she could still be shocked at such beautiful things. Her hotel room, for example. Why she was even surprised, she didn’t know. It wasn’t like she was expecting to shack up in a Motel 8. But a suite at the Shangri-La Paris still made her jaw drop.

It was everything it had ever been in the movies. Open and airy, everything a beautiful creamy color with a terrace that overlooked the Eiffel Tower. She wondered if Elliot was used to it now; if the novelty of wealth had worn off. If it had, he hadn’t become a snob about it. It just seemed to be his version of normal. The best of the best.

She laid her luggage on the bed, unpacking it so she could reach her cosmetics bag. In the next room, Elliot was on the phone. Kathleen had called him to say goodnight, despite the time difference leaving her in the mid-afternoon.

“Yeah sweet pea, I’m all settled in. Safe and sound.”

Olivia smiled. She hadn’t meant to eavesdrop, but the words that echoed off of the walls made her heart swell.

“You got an A on that test? The one we studied for? My girl! I’m so proud of you, Katie. We’ll celebrate when I get back, yeah? Some pizza and ice cream? How’s that sound?”

Olivia could hear the smile in his voice. He was a good dad. She knew he struggled with being a good father in the beginning — consumed by his fears that he would somehow wrong his daughter. But the truth was that he really was a great father and an amazing man.

“I’ll see you in just a few days, alright? If you’re on your best behavior, I’ll bring you back a present too, how’s that? I love you too, sweet pea.”

She listened as he hung up the phone, retreating into the bedroom where she stood at the foot of the bed. He grinned at her as he slipped his phone into his back pocket. Without exchanging any words, he walked over to her and wrapped his arms loosely around her waist.

Her hands came up to his cheeks, feeling the stubble that was beginning to grow onto his face. Through the open door to the terrace, they could hear slow jazz music that seemed to follow them wherever they went.

The sun was beginning to set in the distance, turning the sky behind the tower from joyful blue to a glowing orange. Neither of them were actually enjoying it though - too entranced with one another.

The white hotel robe she was wearing swayed with her as he rocked her side to side.

She was drowning in those blue eyes. A happy and welcomed death.

“Passing ships,” he whispered.

She looked at him with confusion.

“You and I, we were supposed to be just… passing ships. We were always going in our own directions, now look at us.”

She beamed at him, her cheeks glowing with affection. “Oh how the mighty have risen?”

He laughed quietly, learning to rest his forehead against hers as he cradled her in his arms. “I think, no matter what happened, we would’ve always found our way back to each other. I can’t imagine a world where we wouldn’t have.”

She feels his skin thrum against hers, allowing it to express whatever was left that Elliot couldn’t convey about his feelings. Not that there was much left unsaid. He did have quite the way with words — a way she would never have. He always knew what to say and how to say it in just the right way to make her ache.

He always made her ache.

“Can I ask you something, El?”


She took a deep breath, her brown eyes turning soft and innocent. “In the beginning… did you think you’d fall in love with me?”

He hums as he mulls over her question, still swaying their two bodies together to the distant music that floated in. “Honestly?” his head cocked to the side. “I’m not sure. I just knew there was this… pull? Like I just had to be close to you or all of the birds would fall out of the sky.”

“So, it wasn’t just sex to you in the beginning?” she questioned, her expression turning cheeky right in front of his eyes.

He chuckled softly. “I think the best way I can describe it is that I would’ve taken what I could get and would've been happy. I knew in the beginning that, to you, it was supposed to be just sex, and I was okay with that. But I just wanted you in any way you’d allow me. I never thought I’d be lucky enough to have all of you.”

She wanted to tell him that he was being sappy, but somewhere in her heart, she loved it. Even if it made her skin crawl just a little bit, she loved that someone could look at her and feel all of those things. “It’s funny that you mentioned being happy, because if I hadn’t met you, I think I would’ve gone my whole life believing I was somewhat happy. Now I know the truth.”

He raised his arm with her hand in his, allowing her to gently spin along with the music. As soon as she was back to facing him, she was abruptly pulled up against his chest. “And what truth is that?” he whispered just loud enough for her to hear.

Her breath had been stolen from her lungs as soon as she was nose to nose with him. “The truth? That being happy and being complete are two different things — and that without you, I am neither.”

Instead of harshness, the kiss was feather light against her soft and pliable lips. He secured her in his arms as he leaned forward, her back arching as he slid his tongue between her lips. Her hands came up to cradle his face as he held tighter onto her. The plush white robe draped down her shoulders, falling just enough so that her warming neck and collarbones were exposed.

Despite the colder weather and gloomy skies that had taken over New York in Autumn, her skin was still glowing bronze from the summer tan she had acquired.

She considered herself to be a person of great restraint. Most would disagree given her history, but they hardly ever knew of the things she had restrained herself from. For the longest time, falling in love was one of those things. But it had taken control of her — control of everything she thought about herself.

She was good at some emotions: usually the dark and scary ones. The anger, the dread. In those emotions, she had control. At least to some degree. She could control how she felt it and what she did with it.

Love was different.

Maybe it was due to the fact that it involved another party. Someone else who held the reins on how she could potentially feel. It was terrifying to relinquish the control she held onto with an iron-clad grip.

He laid her down on the cushy white duvet. Gently, carefully. A stark contrast to the first night they had tumbled into bed together.

He could break her heart in a second. It was hard to imagine that he ever would, but everyone says that when they’re in love. And some people who say those exact words unknowingly wake up to that exact scenario.

Her head fell back as he climbed over her, his lips attaching immediately to her neck.

Love was a sacrifice.

In some ways, it was a sacrifice of trust. Not in the other person, but in the trust that their heart would be safe. It was a passing off of that trust, handing it to the other person like a delicate glass ornament and praying that they don’t drop it and subsequently shatter it.

Love was giving up trust in herself to keep herself safe.

Her nails scraped the back of his neck, slipping past the collar of his open shirt to reach his shoulder blades. She needed more of him and she always would.

Love was a decision to be made. A choice to be made with odds that were invisible. To decide whether or not it was worth it. She could lose everything, they both could.

It was a sacrifice.

Not a sacrifice of choosing to watch his favorite movie instead of hers or eat his favorite food. No. It could never be that simple.

It was a sacrifice to potentially leave it all behind for him. To leap into the unknown together, unsure of what they would come out with or without.

Hell, it was a gamble.

Her name was thick and hot against her ear as he murmured it. She barely heard it, just as she barely heard the clinking metal of his belt buckle as it came undone.

Of all of the things she could lose, she feared losing herself the most. That was what made the notion of love so scary — it came without notice. Without asking. If she lost herself in the process, it would be the same. It would be without warning, no blinking signs to tell her that she was going to reach the point of no return.

To fall in love was to just simply fall.

Some people fell out of love. She understood that, but could never truly apply it to herself. Any relationship before Elliot, she had never really allowed herself to fall to begin with. And even in the darkest hour, if he left her in the rain, she couldn’t fathom the idea of ever being able to not love him.

Love was change. A change more permanent than any tattoo could ever be. She could never un-love Elliot Stabler.

His palms were calloused and rough against the soft skin of her thighs, the curve of her ass. His hands explored, ultimately deciding to pull her body up closer into his. Her leg wrapped around his waist, anchoring the two of them together.

She understood what he meant: the ‘pull’ he had previously described. She’d felt it the moment she had first laid eyes on him. Something deeper than attraction, deeper than lust. The burning feeling that if she were to take her eyes off of him, it would physically hurt. It was strange at first; feeling this invisible tether to an unattainable stranger.

As his cock slips inside of her, she spends a moment wondering. In every other universe out there; the ones that were different from this, did it feel the same. Was the tether still there? Would they meet in a supermarket? Or would they pass each other on the street and just know? In those other worlds, did she feel as at home as she did now, with him thrusting inside of her?

She hoped so. She hoped that somewhere out there, on some different plane of reality, that Olivia had met Elliot and lived happily ever after. In every way, shape, and form.

She had spent her entire life searching for the feeling of a home. Even before her mother had died, she never truly felt like home was what it was meant to be. The closest thing she’d had was her little apartment with Monique — but even those walls were missing something. Never could she have imagined she would find a home here, with and within him. Or better yet, anywhere.

He cried out her name like a praise sent to God. He wanted to love her; he does love her. It baffled her still. Not that she had ever viewed herself as unlovable, but she wasn’t the easiest to love. Yet, he still chose every single day to love her.

The faith he had in her, it chilled her. It was as if no matter what she did or what adventure she would embark on, he believed with the entirety of himself that she was capable. Nobody had ever thought that about her — like she could move mountains if she put her mind to it. He would always be behind her, grinning proudly while he watched her conquer the world. Never a single doubt about it.

“I love you,” she whispered against his lips, pulling him closer against her as if the friction just wasn’t enough yet. She wanted to melt into him; to break the laws of physics and science to just become as close to him as possible.

She’d said it before, she would say it again. She would spend her life saying those three little words to him. This time was different though. It was the first time she had ever said it while fully allowing herself to understand what love really was. Without putting up barriers in her mind because the truth was just too damn scary.

She had come here to test herself. To see if the idea of true love could permeate through her mind without breaking her in half. She needed to know if she was capable of how heavy love could be.

She fucking loved Elliot Stabler.

And it left her lips repeatedly as she had reached the peak of her pleasure.

In the overtly large bathroom was a free-standing tub. In the water floated thick white suds of soap, rose petals, and whatever else Elliot had put in it. She laughed when he’d said he was going to draw them a ‘Paris bath’ — a term he had made up about 0.5 seconds before saying it.

Inside the water, he sat against the back of the bath. She laid against his chest, comfortably seated between his legs. Beside the bath and the glowing candles was a little silver cart, home to a bucket of champagne and fresh strawberries.

She lolled her head back against him, her hair up in a loose bun to avoid getting soaked. “This is the most cliche thing I could possibly associate with Paris, but I love it.” she hummed.

His laugh rumbled through his chest as he brought the flute of champagne to his lips. “Well,” he punctuated with a sip. “I hate to break it to you, but a lot of cliches that you see in the movies are real.”

“I’m not complaining,” she took a bite out of one of the strawberries. “In fact, I love these cliches so much I may never go home. Say Hi to New York for me.”

He laughed again, setting his glass down so he could wrap his arms around her chest. “I told you… Paris in autumn.”

“Well, I think bathing with champagne and strawberries isn’t a seasonal thing for Paris.” She scrunched her nose up and smiled as he leaned forward and pressed a kiss to the crown of her head. “I’m not complaining though,”

“I studied abroad here for a while when I was young. One of the best years of my life.”

The water sloshed as she tried to turn and face him. Her expression was incredulous - as it usually was when he said things like that. “There is so much I don’t know about you.”

He shrugged, as if it were oh so casual. “What do you wanna know?”

She leaned back against him, mulling it over in her head. “I suppose I don’t even know where to start.”

“How about this,” he slid further up the back of the tub to reposition himself. “You ask a question and I’ll answer it. But I get to ask you a question and you have to answer it.”

She couldn’t stop the grin that took over her face. This could be dangerous territory, she thought. But there wasn’t much bad stuff left in her past that he didn’t already know about. “Sure, okay.” she nodded gently. “Was it your choice to study abroad?”

“Wow,” he huffed. “That’s a bit of a loaded question. I guess the answer is both yes and no. I was about 17 years old and I didn’t have the choice to leave, only the choice of where to go. I chose Paris.”

She was glad he couldn’t see the way her brows knit together in confusion at that. There was something beneath his words – resentment maybe?

“My turn—” he cut off her train of thought. “Hmm… how old were you when you lost your virginity?”

Her hand splashed against the water as she gave him a baffled laugh. “God, you’re such a boy! Right to that question, huh?” She could feel him shrug his shoulders as a small chuckle vibrated from his chest. “Fine. I was 16. It was a guy I had been dating on and off most of my teen years — Brian Cassidy. We broke up for good when I was 24. And before your childish ass begins to wonder, yes you are much better than him.”

He belted out another laugh at the last part of her sentence. “Fair enough. Your turn.”

There was one question she had always been kinda curious about. “What was your childhood like? Y’know, your parents and everything?”

She felt his body pause and grow still for a passing moment before a deep breath released his muscles. “Uh — I guess it was normal to me given the people I was surrounded by. Overbearing parents and crippling expectations. Not normal by anyone else’s standards I guess. I have two sisters, Sarah and Laura. I’m the middle child. My mom spent most of her time in philanthropy and my dad was a Wall Streeter and a chairman on the Exxon board. So, y’know, a hundred au pairs and a lot of secrets. They live in the Hamptons now.”

Olivia had gone stiff halfway through his answer — realizing that it sounded more depressing than she had expected. Not that she had expected anything else, just not quite as bleak as the tone of his voice made it sound.

“What about you? Can you tell me more about your mom?”

The water felt cold now, and she didn't regret this game but it wasn’t as enjoyable as she had hoped. “I think I already told you some, right? Professor at Columbia, drank herself to death when I was 12, all that?” she asked, feeling him nod from behind her. “Um, it’s kinda hard to remember to be honest. She was… complicated.” Olivia sighed. “Very controlling for a person who had no control at all. When she was sober she couldn’t look me in the eyes, when she was drinking she couldn’t look at herself. But I do think she loved me, in her own weird way. Just not the way I needed her to.”

Elliot related to that a lot more than he wanted to. His mother did love him, he knew that. But there had always been times where he wondered if she was ever meant to be a mother.

“You said it wasn’t your choice to study abroad, why? Why’d you have to leave?” Olivia asked, changing the subject.

“I made an ass of myself,” he answered quickly. “I rebelled pretty heavily in my teens. But in the world I grew up in, that was only acceptable as long as nobody worth anything knew about it. I was drinking a lot, doing drugs, getting arrested. Things that teens do when they need attention from their parents even if it’s the wrong kind of attention. Except, one of my arrests made it into the paper — they weren’t supposed to print my name because I was technically a minor but they did anyway. My dad was furious that I had made a fool out of him and myself. That night, I was on a plane to Paris before I could do any more besmirching of the family name.”

“God, that’s awful,” she whispered, taking a hold of his hand that was under water.

“It could’ve been a lot worse. I needed to get away from the crowd I was in. I cleaned up my act, started focusing on my future. For a while at least,” he laughed. “Next question. If you could’ve chosen any other university, would you still have chosen Columbia?”

She took a moment to think it through. “I’m not sure.” she shook her head. “I liked Columbia, it’s a great school. I got my scholarship and it was basically a free ride. Part of me was afraid that by going there, I would be making the wrong decision and that I should’ve run as far away from that place as possible. On the other hand, most of the professors knew my mom, and they knew her better than I ever did. In some way, hearing the stories of the literary professor God that was Serena Benson helped repair the image of her in my mind. It let me feel closer to the version of her that I deserved all along.”

“That’s understandable,” he replied, waiting for his question.

She debated on asking, but the question itched in her mind for a long time. “Why were you married three times?”

She felt his small chuckle at the invasive question. “It’s not as bad as it sounds… well, not completely as bad as it sounds.” Elliot took a deep breath. “My first wife, Jo, I married her when I was 19. She was a year older than me and also my sister’s best friend. Our marriage was more of a joke than anything. I don’t think either of us actually planned on spending the rest of our lives together, but it pissed my sister off beyond measure so that was an added bonus. If anything, she and I were more friends than lovers.”

“And Kathy? She’s the second one, right?”

“Right,” he sighed again. “Kathy was a bit different. I took that relationship a lot more seriously. We loved each other but I don’t think we were ever in love. Kathleen came along and I thought it would make us a ‘real’ family. We tried really hard to make it work but when two pieces of a puzzle just don’t fit, the pieces tend to break. I was the one who broke. I felt like I had failed — like I didn’t know how to love. I kinda went off the deep end.”

“And #3?”

“Dani.” he groaned, reaching up to pinch the bridge of his nose. “Deep end collateral damage. We were screwing around for about 3 weeks and I was knee deep in my own unresolved, post-divorce grief. I thought a Vegas wedding would solve all of my problems but that was the booze talking. We were divorced 4 weeks after that.”

Out of all of his exes, Olivia had always felt the most threatened by ex-wife #3 from what she had known about her. She had often spent time pushing her fears to the back of her head, but was afraid that she was just a repeat of Dani. Even she couldn’t deny that it was part of the reason that her relationship with Elliot had always balanced on her having one foot out the door. She didn’t want to turn into another one of his cautionary tales.

She knew any rational woman would’ve been more threatened by Kathy. Once upon a time he had built a life with her, had a child with her. He married her thinking that they would grow old together. But she was not a rational woman, and her relationship with Elliot had started off eerily similar to that of his and Dani’s.

“What’s your favorite childhood memory?” he asked, breaking her free from her thoughts.

She couldn’t stop the smile on her face as one and only one memory came to mind. “It’s dark but… the day I got out of Juvie. Monique was waiting for me in the parking lot and she was so happy to see me without having guards surrounding us. To be able to hug me until I couldn’t breathe. We always spent time drawing together and when I was serving my sentence, she would bring me drawings and I would give some to her. She had saved up some cash and the first thing we did was go to a little craft store, buy a bunch of paper and pencils, and then we found a 24 hour diner where we sat in a booth and drew together and ate the best, most greasiest diner food you can imagine.”

“Sounds like heaven,” he mused.

“Oh, it was.” Olivia giggled. “It made that whole year feel so small because I went from being empty to being so fulfilled within hours.”

“One more question and we’ll get out of this tub? My fingers are pruning.” Elliot chuckled.

Olivia thought carefully, trying to come up with the best finishing question she would want the answer to. “Kathleen, was she planned? Like, did you want kids?”

“Yes,” he answered without missing a beat. “I might not be the best father, and I have a lot of making up to do, but the day I held her tiny little body in my arms for the first time was a day that something changed in me. Like a switch had been flipped, and I felt more love than I ever thought humanly possible.”

The following morning, Olivia had begun to pack up her things when Elliot had snuck up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. She sighed contently, taking a deep inhale as she allowed herself to appreciate the scent of him. “You know, if it were up to me, I’d leave all of my responsibilities behind and just live here full time.”

“Sounds good to me,” he replied, offering a faint laugh. “It isn’t over yet though.”

“We leave for the airport in less than five hours, what else is there to do?”

He looked down to see that she was still in her Paris attire, rather than her 7-hour-plane-ride-home-chic sweatpants. “Come with me,” he said, starting to pull her away.

“El!” she protested, “We can’t jus— gah!” she shrieked as he picked her up at her calves, throwing her over his shoulder.

“I have a surprise planned!” he said with excitement, marching down the hallway with her body hanging off of him.

Her shrieks turned into laughter “Elliot, what the hell? Put me down!”

“No!” he argued back, his giddiness mirroring that of a ten year old’s. “You’ll just go back and start packing again! That’s boring, I just need two hours of your time.”

They made it down the staircase in one piece and she wondered why he hadn’t just used the elevator. Employees and guests in the lobby gave them strange stares, but Elliot didn’t bother with it. Outside of the main entrance, she could see Skylar waiting by the rental car.

He finally set her back on her feet and she feigned irritation as she pushed her hair back into place. “Two hours or we’re gonna miss our flight,” she said, reprimanding him with a pointed finger in his chest.

“I own the jet, Olivia. We could take off in twelve hours if I told them to.” he rolled his eyes but chuckled as he slid into the back of the car with her.

“Where are we going anyway?” she asked, opening the compact mirror she had kept in her purse — the purse she had snagged right before he’d so rudely carried her out. She double checked her makeup, making sure nothing was too smudged to show in public.

“Well it wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you, now would it?”

She rolled her eyes as she smiled at him. “You are a menace, Stabler.”

“I know,” he winked.

It wasn’t a long drive to their destination — which she still didn’t quite understand. She could see the Eiffel Tower still, just as she could from the terrace in their suite. Skylar parked the car parallel to the long strip of lawn in front of the monument.

Olivia slowly stepped out of the car, eyeing around suspiciously at what seemed to be some sort of equipment setup in the center of the lawn. Over at the setup, she spotted a man with a camera around his neck waving them forward. “El, what is this?”

He walked up behind her, placing his palm gently on her back as they walked towards the waving man. “This is… an apology of sorts.”

She stopped, turning on her heels to look at him. “Apology for what?”

Regret quickly replaced his excitement as he softly braced her upper arms. “Look, Santorini was a disaster. I’ll be honest, the flash of a camera freaked me out for at least two months after. But I don’t want that experience to be so bad that we’re always afraid. So, we’re gonna take pictures. You, me, the eiffel tower, and pictures that you and I will be able to keep forever and cherish. Ones that we actually consent to taking. There’s nothing wrong with replacing a bad memory with a good one.”

She couldn’t fight the smile that took over her lips. “So, who's the starving artist over there?” Her head bobbed in the direction of the center of the lawn. She had taken stock of the guy fairly quickly and even from a distance she could see the scruffy salt and pepper beard paired with a camera and some sort of ratty cargo vest.

Elliot resumed their trek towards the center of the lawn, coaxing her to follow him. “He’s an old friend. We lodged together when I was staying abroad here, he stayed with me when he studied back in the states. He left behind his own glitz and glamor to focus on his photography passion. I trust him.”

“Elliot!” the man’s voice called out as soon as they got closer. “So wonderful to see you!”

Olivia could hear the man’s French accent mixing with the American one he must’ve picked up over time.

“Louis!” Elliot greeted him as soon as they were within a few feet of each other. He brought the man in for what Olivia recognized to be a bro-hug before stepping back and smiling at her. “It’s good to see you, man.”

“This must be the beautiful Olivia,” Louis marveled at her, taking her hand and kissing the top of it. “If I had known she was so pretty, I would’ve charged you extra,” he joked, nudging Elliot in the shoulder. The further he spoke, the more she could hear the heaviness of French in his voice.

Olivia blushed inwardly, suddenly feeling incredibly shy as she began to wonder if this was a good idea.

“You already take me to the cleaners with every bill you send me, Louis. We’re past charging extra.” Elliot cracked, setting his phone onto a speaker that was amongst the equipment setup. He put on a song with a fast beat and runway feel; something she would expect to hear during fashion week. She couldn’t help but smile as he circled back over to her, taking ahold of her hand and spinning her so that her dress flowed. “I know I already said it, but Paris becomes you.”

Olivia just laughed, trying to calm herself from the nervousness that came with the flash of the camera. Louis jumped around, twisting and turning the camera, adjusting the lighting, playing with the settings on the fan that blew her hair back. He truly looked like a kid in a candy shop.

Elliot dipped her by surprise, leaning over her as the camera snapped the photograph. After a while, it was like the white hot flashes were fading into the background. She was here, in Paris, dancing in front of the Eiffel tower with the love of her life.

“I couldn’t bring myself to leave this trip behind without some proof of the memory,” he said into her ear, another bright flash capturing the moment her eyes closed and she felt the warmth of his breath on her skin. Another flash captured when she smiled at his words.

“For now, the pictures will be for just us,” she replied, nodding to his statement.

His grip went to her hips, abruptly squeezing them quick enough that it would startle her into a fit of laughter. Her nose scrunched up and the authentic and unadulterated smile that he loved so much came out, and a flash to capture it.

For once, they’d have candid photos that weren’t taken by a threatening hand. Not for blackmail or for leverage, just love.

When their laughter died down, her hands grabbed his wrists as he cradled her face. His lips were pressed to her forehead with the tower perfectly placed behind the two of them. “I love you so much,” she whispered to him, just loud enough for only him to hear.

By the time they had wrapped up, Olivia was sure that Louis had captured enough photos to fill a museum. And knowing Elliot, he just might. She had seen a preview of a few of the photos, some of which would eventually become black and white with low exposure, others to be in competition for a Pulitzer if they really tried. She hadn’t really seen herself look so happy. It was the first time in a while that she was happy without an addendum attached to it. So many ‘buts’ and finally, she was just happy. Nothing to follow it by.

They were back at the hotel, finally doing what they were supposed to be doing an hour earlier - packing. Elliot had called ahead and let his flight crew know that they may be running behind. Of course, he showed no real remorse for it. He still had that massive print of her somewhere that he had bought from Monique’s art show. It was clear to Olivia that he treasured photos above a lot of things.

“Thank you for doing that with me,” he smiled at her, standing beside her as he tucked away one of his shirts into his suitcase. “You have no idea how much it meant to me to be able to capture everything.”

She reached her hand out, placing it on top of his for a brief moment, acknowledging him with love in her eyes. “Well, at least you can frame one and put it on your desk at home rather than at the office.”

He laughed and nodded. “How about a really big one over my fireplace?”

She rolled her eyes at that, still managing to laugh despite the childishness in his tone.

“Alright, I’m gonna go grab Skylar and a bellboy to get our bags out to the car, I’ll be right back.” Elliot leaned over and kissed her on the cheek before departing. She stood in silence, smiling to herself as she reflected on the trip. It had been a dream. It certainly felt dreamy. For the first time ever, she could look over at him and just smile — even if the sun was still in the sky and people were surrounding them. That wasn’t a luxury she had back home. That was one perk of being city-famous — where every New Yorker knew his face but the rest of the world only knew his name.

Her phone chirped with a notification. She zipped up her suitcase and sat down on the side of the bed, unlocking the screen to find a bright green bubble of text next to a private number.


Taking a  trip  down memory lane, are we?

The notification sound pinged off again.


I have fond memories of this one in particular.

Olivia felt bile rise in her throat as her heart sank to her stomach.


Before she could even look at the third message, she heard the keycard swipe at the door and the sound of Elliot talking with Skylar. As soon as he stepped into the bedroom area, he saw Olivia who was now back on her feet, staring at her phone as pale as a ghost.

“You okay, Liv?” Elliot asked, stopping in his tracks to inspect the sight in front of him.

It took everything in her not to throw up right then and there. “Yeah!” she replied breathlessly. “Just uh — Monique texted. There’s an emergency back at my apartment. Something about the water pipes. I c-can’t get a straight answer out of her about what’s actually wrong. I think a pipe burst.” Olivia laughed nervously.

Elliot continued to eye her cautiously, finally nodding slowly though still not entirely sure if he believed her. Skylar and the bellboy loaded up the tall golden cart full of their bags. As Elliot helped them load up the remainder of the bags, Olivia looked down at the third text.

A bubble popped up with an image inside of it. She clicked on it to see it in full size and it was as if her heart had fallen even lower.

It was a still shot from the security tapes in Santorini. A very compromising photograph of her and Elliot in the pool that could easily destroy her career, her dignity, and just about any chance of getting anywhere in life.

She was fucking screwed.


Chapter Text


The ride to the airport was dead silent. The tension in the back of the vehicle felt like spider webs hanging between the two of them. She had quickly shut her phone off, eliminating any chance of Elliot seeing the photos.

She should tell him about it, she knows that. But on the other hand, how could she? It would ruin their trip, it would send him into a nervous and angry spiral. Hell, maybe he'd even leave again to go back to Westchester and not come back.

It was selfish not to tell him, that much she knew. After all, the pictures had involved him too. What if by the time they landed in New York, the pictures were on the cover of every media site in the country? And if she had known about it before it happened? God, he'd never forgive her. At least that was what the anxiety told her and right now, the anxiety was the only thing talking.

He'd be so furious that he didn't have time to control it. Rush some sort of injunction against the press, not allowing them to display the scandal of violated privacy.

It was selfish and she hated herself for it. She just had to get back to New York first. That was it, right? Simple. Once Paris was behind them, they could handle it. She'd change her number and then tell Elliot or Skylar or someone so that it could all be fixed.

She was going to protect him, just like he protected her. If she could just get him home first, then she could tell him. But several hours on a plane where he could do nothing but panic would not help.

Reaching the tarmac felt like reaching the halfway mark of a marathon. Something lightened in her chest — maybe it was the guilt of not telling him? She was one step closer to being able to figure this out with him.

"Are you sure you're okay?" Elliot asked, opening up her door for her. She hadn't even realized that they had parked, let alone him exiting the vehicle to help her out.

"Uh huh," she nodded, not convincing anyone in the slightest. She took his offering hand and slid out of the SUV "Y'know, just tired. We've got a long trip ahead of us."

"Okay," he cautiously acknowledged. She tried not to flinch when his arm came to wrap around her back. She wanted to beg her body to get the fuck out of fight or flight mode if she was going to keep this from him.

She didn't want to go through this; not again. She barely made it out the last time, a second time was just cruel.

Elliot's hand on her back quickly became a saving grace since she barely trusted her trembling legs to walk up the staircase to board the plane. She gripped the metal railing like it was a lifeline, leaving behind a sweaty palm print behind with each grasp.

Sensing her 'tiredness', Elliot reclined one of the seats for her and retrieved a warm blanket from the back of the jet. She took full advantage of the opportunity to buy herself a couple of hours of quiet time to process and think about what had happened and what was to come.

Now, all she had to do was get through an 8 hour flight.

It couldn't have been more than an hour on the plane. She was sure of it. Except, she'd packed her watch and her phone was off. So, any measure of time was as good as a guess. One of the flight attendants had nervously walked over to the adjoining seats where he and Olivia sat. Pretending to be asleep, Olivia listened as the stewardess politely alerted Elliot that the pilot was looking to speak to him.

She felt him carefully shift out of his seat, trying not to bump into her and wake her from the sleep he assumed she was in.

Her curiosity got the best of her as he walked up to the head of the jet. She peeked over the seat in front of her, seeing the pilot step out of the cockpit while the co-pilot took over. It was the genuinely concerned look on both of their faces that was enough to throw her fake-sleep act out the window. She sat upright, trying to catch what they were saying.

"Everything was fine when we departed, I don't understand?" she heard Elliot say.

The pressure in the cabin was pounding in her ears, making it harder to hear the conversation.

"Mr. Stabler, do you trust me?"

"You're the only pilot I've trusted to fly this plane in the last ten years, of course I do."

"Then let me get you there safely, okay? I know it's further but it's a safer route and you'll be in much better hands there. But it's your call."

She heard Elliot pause and take a deep breath.

"Do what you've got to do,"

She put herself back into her fake state of sleep as the pilot jumped back into the cockpit. Elliot exhaled nervously as he sat back down beside Olivia, softly rubbing her shoulder to wake her up. "Liv, I need you to wake up."

"What's up?" she asked tiredly. "Is everything okay?"

The fear in his bright blue eyes was enough to send a chill down her spine. It wasn't an expression of his that she had ever seen before. Real, true fear. Nothing more and nothing but. He licked his lower lip, a nervous tic of his that she had mentally cataloged a while back. "Uh, we have to make a bit of a pit-stop."

She sat up in her seat to get a better look at him. "Pit stop?"

It was clear that he was trying to keep it together for her and only her. "Yeah," he nodded, taking her hand into his. "They're concerned because one of the engines is beginning to show signs of failure. It's too much of a risk to try to get back to New York or even north to England, we'd be over the Atlantic for most of it. We're going to Vienna."

A turbulent rocked the plane, earning an embarrassing yelp from them both.

"I- I don't understand. Vienna is in the opposite direction. And it's far from here, isn't it? Why aren't we stopping in Germany? Shouldn't we be going west out of France right now?" she asked, gripping tighter on his hand.

"The air traffic out of Paris was heavy so we were going north to avoid it, their plan was to circle around Scotland to go west back to the states with less traffic. We're still going north near Luxembourg right now but all of the airports are packed from the holiday, they can't accommodate us. Especially for urgent repairs. Vienna can."

Olivia looked far more concerned than she did convinced.

"It's not that far, I promise. I trust our pilot, he can get us there in one piece." Elliot said more urgently.

Olivia, still wide-eyed and out of breath felt her lip begin to tremble.

Another turbulent violently shook the jet. She looked around, spotting the flight attendants buckling into their seats with their own set of nervous glances. She looked back at Elliot who seemed to be pleading for her to trust him with nothing but his eyes.

His voice rose over the loudness inside the cabin. "Tell me you trust me, Liv!"

One last glance around before her terrified eyes started to water up. She nodded, squeezing his hand. He leaned to the side, embracing her tightly in his arms as if it would protect her any more than a seatbelt could.

He didn't want to tell her the truth. He didn't want to tell her that they were flying over the territory of his greatest international competitors. That any single one of them would be ruthless enough to find a way to damage their plane even further.

There were parts of the business that Olivia was learning when she shouldn't have had to. Just how bloody and cutthroat the competition could get was something he wanted to spare her from for as long as possible.

He didn't want to tell her that the only real safe way out was to seek help in Austria. Stepping foot anywhere in between France to Vienna was painting a bullseye on both of their backs.

They both had secrets.

Their plane had touched down in Vienna in one piece, as promised. Just barely. Any longer and it would've been a much more tragic outcome for everyone on board. Each turbulent had scared them out of their minds, holding each other tighter each time.

Everyone unloaded off of the jet, just about ready to kiss the ground beneath their feet. Even trying to mask it for professionalism, Olivia could see just how shaken up everyone was. She was pretty sure one of the flight attendants was busy getting sick on the other side of the plane.

The miracle worker that was Skylar had somehow gotten in contact with the airport before landing, making sure they had a car waiting on the tarmac for them. The staff had heard about the situation and had rushed to make all of the accommodations they could from clearing the runway to making sure that everyone had a ride to somewhere safe.

Unsure of how long it would be until the plane would be back in commission, they decided to unload the baggage from its designated compartments onboard.

In some strange way, Olivia felt stranded. Obviously Elliot would have them home as soon as possible. But standing on the blacktop in a foreign land with nothing but a small suitcase of belongings packed, there was an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Maybe that was from the fact that she had a huge weight on her chest over the photos that had been sent to her. Inside her head, there was only loneliness.

Elliot walked over to where she was standing, careful not to startle her. His sleeves were rolled up his forearms and his tie had been untied for quite some time now. He looked so exhausted and even more apologetic. Without saying anything, he enveloped her into his arms. A little for her sake, but a lot for his own. "God, I'm so glad you're okay," he mumbled into her hair.

She fought back tears as her arms tightened around his back. Her face was buried into his chest, the same place where her tears had fallen when they rode through turbulent after turbulent.

"Listen," he pulled away, moving a stray piece of hair out of her face. "Skylar's gonna take you to a hotel. It's not far from here. I'm gonna stay back here with the pilots so we can figure out what the hell happened and how we managed to get into the air with a problem like that."

"You- you're not coming with me?" she asked. She hated that somewhere deep down, she felt just a little bit relieved.

"I'll be there as soon as possible," he reassured her. "It might only be a couple hours before we're back in the sky. I'd just feel a hell of a lot safer knowing that I covered all of our bases before we step into another jet, let alone that one."

She hesitantly nodded, leaning forward into the kiss he pressed against her forehead. With that, he marched off empty handed with the pilot and co-pilot, moving in the direction of the massive hangers across the tarmac.

She felt Skylar relieve her death grip on the handle of her suitcase as he lodged it into the back of the trunk. He opened her door for her, just as Elliot had done before, waiting for her to get comfortable and buckled in before closing it behind him.

The ride to their destination was quiet and somber. Skylar was good at hiding his emotions — so much so that sometimes she wondered if he had any at all. Until she remembered how he had always treated her with kindness. Even wordless, it was always kindness. He didn't have much to say and only ever spoke after she had initiated conversation.

He was just a kid, really. A few years younger than her at most.

"Hey, Skylar?" she asked from the backseat, her voice sounding just as tired as she was.

His voice was the same as it always was - as if he hadn't been on that plane with them. "Yes, Miss Benson?"

She leaned forward just a little bit, trying to display herself as a somewhat comforting presence. "Are you alright? You know it's... it's okay if you aren't. What happened back there was really scary."

He took a moment to answer. She couldn't see his eyes in the rearview mirror since his usual tinted black sunglasses covered them. "Yes, ma'am. I'm alright." his voice faltered the tiniest bit at his confession. "And you, Miss Benson? Are you alright?"

She leaned back into her seat, watching the streets pass them by. The streetlights were so beautiful, just beginning to glow since the sun was preparing to set. She wanted to appreciate the beauty of the city, but her heart hurt in too many places. Taking her own advice, she decided to go with honesty. "No," she whispered. "I'm not. But I will be."

"If there's anything I can do to help, please let me know." he replied, making it sound a little less compulsory than usual. He always meant it when he said it, but this time he was saying it out of sincerity that wasn't part of his paycheck.

She turned her head back to the window, resting against the cold glass. Vienna was beautiful, but it was wrong. All they'd wanted was a few days away from it all. Now she was here, in another beautiful city, unable to enjoy it. At least not properly. It felt karmatic — but what the karma was for, she wasn't sure.

"Can I ask you something, Skylar?" she whispered. "Off the record?"

"Of course, ma'am."

She took a sharp inhale, trying to build up the courage to ask what she wanted to ask. "If you had to tell someone something... something stressful, but they were already incredibly stressed out, would you wait for the other stress to clear up first or would you tell them right away even though you know it would only add to their plate?"

Behind his steely exterior, she managed to see the cogs in his brain turning. He had a responsibility to his employer, which meant he had to assume that's who she was referring to and alter his answer to that. "Well, I suppose it depends. Could it somehow already be contributing to their original stress?"

She stopped to think about that for a moment, praying it wouldn't bring on a eureka moment that would open a whole new can of worms. "God I hope not."

It couldn't be... could it? This had to be a coincidence. The photos, the plane, if they were related in any way, she would never forgive herself.

"I suppose honesty is always the best policy, ma'am." he answered back, seemingly not too suspicious about where this was going. "Obviously if anyone is in immediate danger, it's best to say something as soon as possible."

She nodded, allowing the conversation to die right then and there. She was too tired and a little too traumatized to go down that road. For now, everything that had happened was a coincidence. A terribly ill-timed coincidence that would be dealt with separately.

The hotel room in Vienna felt more like a condo than a hotel suite. It managed to offer some sort of comforting and home-like feel to it. It wasn't in a massive location for visitors, instead it was more towards the edge of the city.

It had a balcony just like the suite in Paris did. Except this one overlooked more people living their lives, rather than tourists trying to take in everything all at once. She counted a few people walking their dogs, some of them walking home, and even a few couples walking home from restaurants.

She pulled her phone out of her pocket, knowing she was finally alone. Skylar was in his own hotel room, receiving updates from Elliot who was still at the airport. She didn't want to turn her phone on and potentially receive more messages that had been intercepted earlier from lack of service.

A little part of her wanted to die inside when she pressed the power button and the Apple logo lit up her screen. She was greeted with a picture of her and Monique smiling on her lockscreen, which never failed to warm her heart up just a little bit. She waited as the service connected, counting down the seconds until a swarm of unwelcome messages would come through.

They never came.

Little victories.

She leaned against the balcony edge, dialing the number she knew by heart. She wasn't sure what time it was back in New York, nor did she care. There was one voice she needed to hear now more than ever.

"Liv!" Monique's cheerful tone filled her ears. "Are you back? Tell me you're back and you're standing outside of our building with a boombox on your shoulder ready to sing me a song!"

Olivia sniffled, wiping away a tear from her cheek as she smiled. "No, sorry. Maybe next time though."

Monique huffed in defeat. "I thought you were supposed to be back tonight."

"I was," she agreed, nodding as if Monique could see her. Maybe she could – or at least sense it. "We ran into some issues."

"Issues?" Monique parroted on the other end of the line. "What kind of issues?"

Olivia felt more tears fall as she squeezed her eyes shut. Her voice was going to break soon, she could feel it. "Mid-flight engine failure kind of issues."

Monique heard the soft sob from Olivia, her own jaw dropping as she heard the words. "What?" she asked softly, in complete disbelief. Her voice immediately shifted to that of something much more sympathetic. "Oh, Liv."

Olivia let out a quiet sob, pulling her sweater tighter around her body as the oversized sleeves became soaked in tears. "I wanna come home, Mo."

There weren't many things that could break Monique, but the sound of Olivia hopelessly crying would always be at the top of the list of things that would shatter her instantly. She fought back her own tears for her best friend. "Are you safe?" she asked. Asking if she was okay would be a dumb question that she already knew the answer to.

"Yes," Olivia replied "I am now. We're in Vienna. El is still at the airport trying to figure out what the hell happened. They usually quadruple check these things before even considering taking off, and they did. So either it was a freak accident or..."

"Oh lord," Monique sighed on her end of the line. "I mean — you don't think... do you?"

She wanted to say no and mean it. However, with the amount of absolute shit piling up against them, she could never be certain. She couldn't tell Monique about the photos either. Not now, at least. She needed to do it where she could hug her best friend for as long as she needed. For now, a phone line wouldn't do. "I don't know," she replied dismissively, her voice becoming hollow.

She didn't need to see Monique's face to know exactly what it looked like. She was wearing her 'on the verge of making an executive decision' expression. Olivia could hear it in the way she breathed. "Liv, do you need me to book you a flight home?" she asked sternly. "Because if you do, I will. I will do it right fucking now."

Olivia cried more into her sleeve, trying not to let the sobs wrack her. She thought about Monique's offer for a moment, genuinely considering it. As much as she wanted to be home right now, she couldn't leave Elliot here. Sure, he could take care of himself. But if something happened, she wouldn't be able to live with herself if she had left him behind.

"No," she gulped, feeling some semblance of regret for not taking the offer. "No, it's okay."

"I love you, Liv. You're gonna be home before you know it." Monique reassured her.

Olivia felt another wave of tears coming on. "I love you too, Mo," she sniffled, not even recognizing the sound of her own voice.

"Come back to me in one piece, okay? And keep me updated on what's happening."

She should've told Monique about the pictures before they hung up. But if she had, Monique wouldn't have let it go. She would've wanted to know just about everything that had happened in Paris that could've led up to those texts. She wasn't in the mood to divulge that.

She wasn't in the mood for any of this.

At first, her suspicions turned to Louis, the obvious mark. He had been one of the only ones to know that Elliot had been planning a photoshoot. It added up a little too perfectly. Except for the fact that he had nothing to gain and Elliot really did seem to trust him or he wouldn't have put them both in the position to be compromised.

Then she wondered about Skylar – which didn't fit at all. Skylar was the most loyal to Elliot out of everyone. He had all of the opportunities to tear Elliot apart for his relationship with Olivia, yet he had even become complacent in their scandal.

She did want to consider the idea that maybe it was a coincidence. A very unlikely one at that. Maybe whoever had sent the photos of Santorini had no clue about the Paris photoshoot, but rather just wanted to freak her out.

No. That was wishful thinking. Coincidences didn't exist in the real world.

The worst case scenario was that whoever sent the pictures happened to be behind the engine failure too. That thought twisted her stomach into a million knots.

As much as she itched for the answer, she wasn't going to find it in a hotel room in Vienna. And she certainly wasn't going to find it all alone either.

She dragged herself away from the balcony, walking over to the suitcase that was on the bed. Unzipping it, she tried to carefully pull out a pair of sweatpants without disrupting the rest of the folded clothes. She wasn't going to be here long anyway, but her leggings were digging into her hips and she just wanted to take a nap.

As soon as she was lying on her side in the bed, her knees came up to her chest. She pulled out her phone, reverting back to the original text thread from the anonymous source. She read the words and read them again, as if some invisible clue would magically show up. Instead, her eyes just felt blurry and her skull throbbed from her headache.

There truly was no right answer. God, he had so much on his plate right now. But keeping this from him felt worse than lying.

Her phone slipped out of her hand as the screen clicked off. Her eyes closed but the sleep was far from blissful.

When Elliot arrived at the hotel room, his eyes were drowning in exhaustion. It was nearing somewhere around 10pm and they were far from where they were meant to be. When he first laid eyes on Olivia, he noted that she was sitting up against the headboard, a notebook and pencil in her hand as she scribbled away. She wasn't looking at him, only around him. As if he was there but only in her imagination.

"Well, thank God we didn't go straight west or else we would've gone down without a doubt," he sighed, ripping the tie off of his neck. "It isn't clear yet where the source of the tampering came from, there's a lot of damage to the engine so they're gonna have to dig around it to find where it all started. But it's looking intentional. The ICAO has been informed, they're running an investigation into the ground crew at Charles De Gaulle. Also put in a report with the FAA just to keep them in the loop."

Olivia didn't say anything, offering an acknowledging hum at the most.

"Enough about that though," Elliot quickly added, sensing that he didn't really have an accurate gauge of where she was right now after everything that had happened. He slipped off the button-up shirt and white tank under it, leaving his chest on full display. "How are you doing? Did you get some rest?"

She rubbed her eyes under her glasses as if it would somehow protect her from the contact she didn't want to make. "Mhm, yeah." She motioned towards her notebook. "Just trying to get back into work-mode, y'know?"

He eyed her from the corner of his eye, trying to figure out why she wouldn't look at him. She had her ways of dealing with trauma, he had seen it with his own two eyes. This was different, this was shutting him out, rather than her usual coping mechanism of shutting the whole world out.

"Anything you wanna talk about?" he asked, climbing into bed beside her.

She removed the pantos-style reading glasses from her face and set them on the bedside table along with the notebook. She managed to look over at him as he situated himself onto his side. She didn't turn to stone or melt into a puddle when her eyes met his. God, his stupid big eyes that had gone all soft as soon as he realized that she was hurting.

"I was uh... I was just working on a potential project for SE." she said, hoping that if she gained control of the conversation, it wouldn't hurt so bad to look at him and know that she was keeping a secret.

A small smile tugged at his lips as he looked up at her. "Share with the class?"

She shyly looked down into her lap, playing with a loose strand on her sweater. "Well, it's a rough draft, y'know. Nothing super planned out or whatever, but it's a separate branch of Red Light called Red Light U. Same core design, but designed specifically for college students and in its own app."

His tired eyes managed to light up with joy.

She continued on. "Kinda like each campus has their own database. Students can pair up in a buddy-system. Track their buddy's location. Alert authorities if there's issues. Request specific types of responders like only police or only EMTs, and other features offered on the existing app. Kinda like what kids are already doing, but just more organized, safer, and possibly even school-funded."

"It's brilliant," he said without hesitation. He reached out the arm that he wasn't lying on, stroking her leg. "You're brilliant. You know that?"

Dimples poked through her cheeks as she fought back a smile. It wasn't right to smile; not right now. She looked down at him, seeing so much hope in his tired smile. So much love in the weary eyes.

"El?" she whispered, feeling her heart begin to speed up. The words were right there, all she had to do was spit them out.


Big blue eyes. So stupidly full of hope.

Her mouth opened and closed a few times, but nothing but a breathy sputter escaped. "I — I love you."

He smiled. How could he smile on a day like today? Someone tried to crash his jet into the ocean and he was smiling. Because despite all of that, he loved her so much. He loved her ideas and her presence. She couldn't take that smile away; not right now. Whatever hope he was holding onto, she couldn't rip that away from him right now.

"I love you too," he reached for her hand, bringing her knuckles to his lips and pressing a gentle kiss against them.

She reached over, turning off the bedside lamp that was the last source of light in the room. Her body shimmied down under the covers, falling into his protective grasp with his body against hers. Her hand came up, wrapping around the arm that he had thrown over her.

The darkness of the room protected her from all that he could've seen in her face. The guilt was going to eat her alive until they got back home.

The night was somehow both far too long and way too short. Rest for either of them was sparse, mostly filled with tossing and turning as the hours ticked by. Both of them wanted to be home more than anything. They had an early flight to catch; something commercial so that whoever was trying to drown their jet would maybe think twice about doing it again and taking down 188 other people with them. Knowing Elliot, she assumed it would be a rank higher than first-class if that was even possible.

She didn't want to fly home. At this point, she'd rather fucking walk.

The idea of stepping foot onto another plane made her stomach twist and turn. Still, when 5am rolled around, she got herself dressed and ready to go to the airport. She tried to dress as inconspicuous as possible, but she hadn't packed for the occasion of actually having to go through American customs when they would arrive back home. God only knew who would spot the two of them together and allow their curiosity to wander.

Jesus, when had she become this person? Her mind flashed back to the days where even the idea of flying coach somewhere far far away felt like a dream.

Elliot didn't bother disguising himself. Part of her was a bit angry about that, wishing he'd be rational and try to avoid as many people recognizing him as possible. The gossip magazines always conveniently left out the fact that assistants were part of travel too. She'd be lucky if she got out of JFK without being on the Romance Radar for New York's most eligible billionaire 'bachelor'.

Nope. He had to wear a suit. Typical.

She was beginning to wonder where this frustration with him was coming from. If anything, she figured that the guilt of keeping the photos a secret would eliminate any annoyance she had towards him and replace it with fear. Maybe it was the stress. They had both been through a traumatizing ordeal while they both also pretended it hadn't happened.

Someone had intentionally tampered with the engine of the private plane they were on. Ignoring the weight of that was only going to turn into the world's worst ticking time bomb.

As Skylar loaded up their luggage for the millionth time this week, Olivia flipped her sunglasses down from the crown of her head and clutched her cup of coffee like it was a lifeline. Elliot opened the door for her first, sliding into the backseat beside her in the rented town car.

They had silently agreed that they weren't going to talk about what happened — at least not until they were back on familiar ground. She had left Monique a voicemail earlier, letting her know that she would be home by the end of the day. For the first time in a long time, she missed her own bed. And with her secret looming over her head, she wasn't sure if she could spend another night in bed beside him.

That thought pierced her as painfully as it could.

The drive to the airport was silent enough that they could've heard a pin drop. Olivia had her head resting against the window as she watched the beautiful city pass her by - unfortunately unenjoyed. Elliot was responding to a litany of emails wondering where the hell he was and why he wasn't back in the office after the long weekend had ended.

She hadn't stopped to think about what life in the office would be like once she got back. Dealing with the threat of the photos, dealing with Tucker's insanity, trying to figure out who the hell wanted their plane to crash. Hell, it'll be even worse if the people at work found out about the plane. They'd have endless amounts of questions like why was the CEO of the company on a non-business trip with his assistant?

It was a nightmare that was bound to come true. Maybe sooner than she could've feared.

It didn't matter how many times she flew, or what rank they were in. Anywhere from coach to a private jet was uncomfortable. She hated the tightness that formed in her neck and the ache in her unstretched legs. The sun was starting to set when they had touched down at JFK. It had been uneventful, thank God. Though, the few turbulence that did occur pushed a violent fear through her veins. Nobody else seemed too bothered by them.

She pulled out her phone, turning it back on and shutting off the airplane mode feature. She knew Monique was anxiously awaiting for her arrival back in the city. Elliot walked ahead of her with Skylar, sensing her desperate need to unwind and be alone. He wasn't too bothered about that, he knew Olivia felt stressed from the last day and a half. Though, it still worried him that this all seemed to start before they even left Paris.

Sliding her sunglasses over her face to offer some sense of anonymity, she started drafting a text to Monique.

Olivia: Just landed. All safe and sound. Heading towards baggage claim now.

Monique:  Thank god. I've been pacing around all day

Olivia:  Did you take a Xanax?

Monique:  I took 3

Olivia giggled at her phone, tucking it back in her pocket as they headed towards baggage claim. Having gone through customs, they knew their luggage would be waiting for them at pickup rather than having to wait for it to come from the conveyor belt.

After everyone grabbed their respective bags and started heading for the exit, Olivia could hear the unmistakable sound of cameras flashing and people talking loudly.

Her heart fell into her stomach.

Elliot heard it too, and saw it first from how far ahead he was from her. He quickly turned around, guiding them towards a blind spot where the press and paparazzi couldn't see them speaking together. After all, a work trip wasn't on the books. Being spotted with him right now would be the holy grail of evidence of their relationship.

He took a sharp deep breath as they huddled closer together against the wall, just out of sight. "They found out."

"I kinda figured." Olivia replied curtly.

Elliot tried to brush off the annoyance in her voice. "I can have you go out first, I'll wait here. Skylar will take you home."

Olivia crossed her arms, looking over her shoulder with a sigh. Her head fell back against the cool surface of the wall behind her. "No. You go. I'll call Monique and have her bring a cab. She'll get me out of here. Besides, if you go first, they'll leave in time for me to slip out."


"Please, Elliot?" she protested. "Just... please? Let me do this? If I go first, I'm walking into a swarm of people who may or may not recognize me. I'll text you as soon as I get home safely, okay?"

He stared at her, his eyes growing sad as he nodded gently. "Okay," he surrendered. She was right. If she walked through that crowd, people could easily put the pieces together of who she was. All it would take would be one determined member of the press to figure out that she was getting into a car with a license plate registered to him.

"Can I kiss you goodbye?" he asked, barely above a whisper as the sadness spread from his eyes to the rest of his face.

She glanced around the area, making sure that everyone that was around was looking in a different direction. They were too secluded to be spotted by the paparazzi who were waiting just outside the doors. She looked back at him, softening a little as she nodded.

It was slow and soft, almost foreign, the way he kissed her. He leaned down to her height with one hand on the wall behind her. When he pulled back, she could see that his eyes were still closed, as if he were savoring the moment for when he needed to remember it most.

"I love you, Liv." he took his hand off of the wall, brushing his thumb over her cheek. "And I'm so sorry this is happening."

The anonymous texts ran through her head and she wanted to banish them once and for all, because it shouldn't be this painful to tell him that she loves him too. But it is, and it makes her guilt even worse. "I love you too."

With that, he parted from her, heading towards the door where the paparazzi and press roared at the sight of him. Even standing back, she could see the bright flashes of the cameras. She stepped out from the small alcove where they were hiding, just enough to watch him walk through the crowd without them spotting her.

Olivia: Hey, I need a ride and I don't wanna ride alone. Can you grab a cab and meet me at JFK?

Monique:  Hailing one as we speak.

They were out for blood with the microphones and cameras. They knew about the plane, so they knew about the trip. She didn't think anyone in Paris had cared enough to actually take pictures of them together in public, but now the press would be fighting to find out if someone had.

She watched behind the darkness of her sunglasses as he waded his way through the lion's den of press.

"Mr. Stabler, how do you respond to the rumors that your private jet was tampered with?"

"Mr. Stabler, do you have a competitor that you think is trying to kill you?"

"Mr. Stabler, can you tell us if your investigation with the ICAO and FAA has come up with any new information?"

"Mr. Stabler, do you believe that it was an international competitor who tampered with your engines?"

"Mr. Stabler, was your trip to Paris meant for business purposes?"

"Mr. Stabler, what is your plan going forward to ensure your safety?"

"Mr. Stabler, are you worried that your employees will also be subjected to the dangers that you're facing?"

Hey, Mr. Stabler... think you can save your relationship?

Chapter Text

bonus: new cover art + chapter comic at the end!


It had been almost a week since Paris.

She still hadn’t told Elliot about the anonymous texts and pictures. In fact, she had changed her mind entirely. She was far too pissed off to tell him. Her anger was also why she had just about completely ignored him for the entirety of the week.

She told Monique about the texts as soon as she had gotten home, to which they agreed it was best to wait until the stress of the jet report cooled off. That had been the plan for a solid day before the tables turned and something else had completely derailed her plan.

The night after she got home, it was so simple. She had let out a groan of irritation when she’d spotted the empty toilet paper roll on the holder. Leaning as far forward as she could, she’d opened the cabinet under the bathroom sink to grab an extra roll. As soon as she spotted the Tampax box, tunnel vision overcame her. She dropped the roll of toilet paper out of her hand, immediately counting days on her fingers. “Oh fuck no,” she had whispered as her hands dropped down to her sides.

That was 6 days ago. She had replayed that moment far too many times in her head since then.

It was fair to say that she was pissed off at just about everyone around her. More so at Elliot, but undeservingly at anyone else. Even Monique, who was familiar with Olivia’s anger-to-cope, was doing her best to stay out of her way. Until this morning, when she had woken up to Olivia dry-heaving over the kitchen sink.

“Liv,” she mumbled from the kitchen island.

Olivia stuck her finger up at Monique. “Don’t.” she said, taking a glass of water and rinsing her mouth out.

“You have to tell him at some point. Or at least take a test.” Monique protested.

Olivia swiped her purse off of the counter, charging for the door. “I’m gonna be late for work,” she grumbled, slamming the door shut behind her.

This was not happening.

She liked being angry. It made her feel safe. Not a lot of things made her feel safe lately, especially after Paris, but more so after Santorini. At least with anger, there wasn’t a lot of room for other emotions. With sadness came hurt or depression or even confusion. Not with anger. It was a straight shot arrow into one thing she could focus on.

Anyone who got in her way was added to the list of people she was mad at, even if it was besides the point. She’d remain pissed off at Monique too now, at least until all of the other anger was gone. Even though Monique did have a point.

She had spent nearly a week living in her anger because, quite frankly, that was all she had left to give. A week with hardly more than two words said to Elliot and there was no intention of changing that. She was too angry to miss him. Somewhere deep inside, that thought hurt her like a knife in the stomach.

The elevator dinged and opened the doors into the central area of her floor. She tried to sip her coffee to mask the flooding smell of everyone’s perfume mixing together. It helped about as much as she expected, which was not at all.

Instead, she focused on the sound of her heels clicking on the granite floors. If she could just get to her desk, everything would be fine. It would be quieter and certainly have less of an overwhelming scent of Chanel No 5.

Instead, she felt a steady hand just barely grab the back of her arm. When she looked up, she saw Elliot walking elbow-to-elbow with her as he guided them off to a corridor with nobody inside. She wanted to swat his hand away and ask him what the hell he was doing, but she knew.

“Look,” he started with a whisper. “You’re pissed at me, right? I picked up on that. Maybe it’s because I’ve hardly seen you in six days or because you’ve said about three whole sentences to me since we got back. But I can’t figure out why you’re mad at me.”

Olivia didn’t respond, rather choosing to annoyingly stare at him.

“Is it because of what happened in Paris? Or is it what happened at the airport when we got home? I’ve been replaying the entire time in my head, trying to pinpoint exactly what I did to make you so angry, and I’m willing to accept that I must've done something. But I don’t know how to fix it until I know what it is that I did.”

With a sigh, she stared down at the floor. Her muteness remained unbroken.

“Liv,” he protested. “Please. Please explain what I did wrong! I’m going crazy here. I’m working on trying to get some information back from the FAA and the ICAO if that’s what this is about. And the press got nothing from my exit from JFK so nothing has been printed,”

She cut him off with a growl of an exhale. He was so clueless, it was painful and kind of pathetic to watch him flounder. She stepped forward, staring angrily right into his eyes. “I missed my period.” she hissed in his ear, pulling away to stare at him with a deathly glare. He watched, slack-jawed like a deer in headlights as she trudged away from him.

By the next day, he had taken just about every opportunity he could to get more information out of her. Yet, she was a brick wall. She also knew his schedule down to the letter which made for a much easier way to avoid him.

Of course, he had tried texting her, emailing her, or even just asking her in an unavoidable shared presence if she had taken a test. Most of her answers were just her ignoring him, some of them were more glares. He was reaching the point of his own anger with her for not telling him anything. In his mind, they could get through this a lot easier if they did it together, but it was as if that thought hadn’t even crossed her mind.

Eventually, he had gathered that she had not taken a test. And to quote the woman herself, “No, and I’m not taking one either.” But that was about it until she had stormed off yet again.

He knew that the stress on his plate was currently on hers as well, with the jet incident and now this. However, this was only adding more fuel to the fire that was his current life. He didn’t need to know much, but if he knew the answer to whether she was pregnant or not, a lot of the extra stress would likely dissipate. It was the blockage of knowing that made it worse. At least if he knew then they could make a plan and figure it all out.

The brown paper bag dropped down on her desk. Her eyes slowly traveled up the arm of who had set it there. Her eyes met his, still delivering her own version of his blazing glare. She glanced down, clearly able to see the pregnancy test shaped box in the bag’s contents.

“Take it.”

She continued to glare at him, staying silent for a moment before returning to her computer screen. “I’m working.” she hissed, dropping her eyes back down to the work on her desk.

“And I’m your boss. Take it.” he deadpanned.

“No, you don’t get to do that right now, Elliot. You don’t get to switch into boss mode and tell me what to do.” she started to rise from her chair, whispering in a lethal tone. “Especially when it comes to my body.”

She stood up, swiping the bag into her grip and ducking her head down as she charged into his office. As he followed behind her, she began shutting all of the blinds in his office windows. “You do not get to boss me around when it comes to personal matters,” she scolded as soon as she heard him shut the door. “It’s fun in the bedroom and usually you know when to keep it in the boardroom but you are not going to hand me a pregnancy test with the same attitude you use while you sign my paychecks!”

“You’re right,” he reached out his hands, trying to gently guide her away from where she was standing. “You’re right and I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that.”

She wasn’t sure if the gentleness in his tone made it better or worse.

She crossed her arms angrily, refusing to allow any of her fury crack and show the fear underneath. He was leaning back against one of the guest chairs in front of his desk, steadying himself with an out kicked leg. “I don’t understand how this could’ve happened.”

Olivia gave him a bewildered look. “Last month? I was changing my birth control and I told you that. I also told you that you needed to buy new condoms. A few days later when we were getting all hot and bothered, do you recall what you said?”

Elliot hung his head in shame. “I think I said that the ones in my drawer weren’t that expired.”

In the most belittling attitude she could conjure up, she smirked and stepped closer to him. “And then what happened?”

“It broke,” he mumbled.

“It broke!” she laughed incredulously. “So don’t you dare sit there and try to tell me how to handle this or what to do. Because yes, I am pissed off. Pissed off at you, even more pissed off at myself. I am so unbelievably angry right now that I can hardly see straight. I will deal with this however and whenever I want to.”

He pushed himself back up, steadying on his two feet. “But… Liv,” he sighed, wearing the same guilty face he always wore when he was about to say something he shouldn’t. She knew what was coming next, his voice would drop several decibels as he carefully treaded on his words. “Would this really be a bad thing? I mean, you and I love each other. Would having a baby really be that horrible for us?”

Ever so the dreamer. He was probably picking out nursery colors in his head right now.

“I feel like I’ve taken crazy pills!” she just about shouted. “Elliot, are you forgetting that less than a week ago somebody tried to kill us? In an airplane about to fly over the ocean? Or that the fucking CFO of this company has made it his life’s mission to ruin my reputation? Or that creepy mole of a security guard in Santorini who has pictures of us having sex? You think adding a baby into that situation is gonna make it all better?”

“Okay, you have a point,” he nodded.

He barely finished his sentence before she started up again. “I’m not ready to be a mom, Elliot!” she protested, a redness creeping up her neck and into her cheeks as panic replaced anger. He wasn’t going to interrupt her, he could tell that this was pent up and desperately needed to be expelled. “I’m not! I’m sorry, I’m just not. I’m not ready to be a mom or a step-mom. Hell, I haven’t even met your daughter yet! I can’t do this! I can’t… I can’t give everything up! Not yet, not now! I can’t be the stay at home Stepford wife and mother!”

“You’re right, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said what I said,” he tried to walk towards her, but she backed up with her arms in the air. There wasn’t a trace of anger left on her face, it was bona fide panic.

“No matter what that test says, which I’m not taking by the way, I’m not ready.” she sniffled, refusing to look him in the eyes.

“Okay,” he agreed, nodding vehemently as he just wanted her to calm down. “I understand,”

“I have to go,” she started to sob into her hand with widened eyes. “I’m sorry, I just — I gotta go. I can’t do this.”

He didn’t try to stop her as she rushed out of his office.

The next day, he planned a detour before going into work.

“Mr… Stabler —” Monique spoke cautiously as she opened the door to her apartment. Standing in front of her was the man himself, looking both hopeful and humbled. “Uh, Liv isn’t here. She’s at work.”

“No, I know,” he nodded. “I actually came here to talk to you.”

“Oh,” Monique muttered, still somewhat shocked at the sight of him.

“Mind if I come in?” he smiled after an awkward pause between the two of them.

“Oh right!” Monique stepped away from the door, opening it further for him to enter. “Sorry about that. It’s just strange seeing you in normal-people clothes rather than the menacing Armani suit.”

He laughed as he walked in. “Normal-people clothes?”

She rushed off towards the open kitchen, promptly opening the refrigerator door. “Yeah, you know. The henley and the jeans? Not something I expected to see.”

Elliot took a look around the apartment, shoving his hands into his pockets. He had been here before, but not often, and usually not in daylight. It was a cute place that very much fit his idea of who Olivia was in her own territory. He admired the photos on the wall of the two best friends and how happy they looked.

His attention broke when he heard the fridge door shut. He turned around to see Monique putting two water bottles on the island counter. “So, how can I help you?”

Elliot pulled up a barstool at the island, taking a seat in front of Monique. “I’m here about Olivia.”

“I figured.”

“I’m worried about her,” Elliot spoke cautiously, gauging Monique’s reaction.

Monique wasn’t a great liar. She never had been. Not unless her life depended on it. In that case, she was subpar at best. However, that never stopped her from trying her best. She knew it was always her job to cover for her best friend, but it wasn’t a job she was well-suited for.

“Um, why?” she asked, shrugging a little too hard.

Elliot saw right through it immediately. “I know you know what I’m talking about.”

“Liv doesn’t tell me everything, y’know.” she protested. “Just like she doesn’t tell you everything.”

Elliot cocked his head with doubt in his narrowed eyes. “Mm I’m not so sure about that.”

Monique looked down with a cocky grin as she started to uncap her own water bottle. “Well, you’d be surprised how many things Olivia doesn’t tell you,”

Elliot smirked with a short laugh as he leaned forward. “Oh would I?” he kept giggling. “Like how you two slept together at least four times before you met Alex?”

Every part of Monique froze except for her widened eyes. “I’m gonna kill her,” she whispered.

“Look, I know about the missed period!” Elliot quickly changed the topic, throwing his hands up in the air. “I thought maybe she was just acting weird after what happened in Paris. Then a week goes by and she’s still acting strange. Then she drops the bomb on me that she might be pregnant and won’t take a test!”

She let out a deep sigh. “What do you want me to do?”

“I want you to help me convince her to take it.”

Monique laughed sardonically as she set the bottle back down. She leaned forward, crossing her arms. “Okay, look. There is something about Olivia that you need to get through that bald head of yours, and it is that she does not do anything unless it's on her own time. She is the most stubborn person on the planet in case you haven’t noticed. And if she’s not ready to do something, she isn’t gonna do it. I’m sorry to say that there is no changing that. Trust me, I’ve tried.”

Elliot rubbed his palms over his face in defeat. “What if… what if by the time she’s ready, it’ll be too late. Y’know… to make the decision that she wants to make.”

“You think she hasn’t already thought of that?” Monique asked. “You think that thought hasn’t crossed her mind about 16,000 times today alone? That’s part of the problem. She knows the clock is ticking and she knows that she’s gonna have to face reality sooner rather than later. That’s what stresses her out more than anything. But if there is one thing I know about Olivia, it’s that her timing is usually impeccable. Right before it’s too late, she’ll have it all figured out. You should know that by now given how long you’ve been working with her.”

The more he thought about it, the more he realized she was right. “So what do I do?”

“Allow her the time that she needs.” she answered. “Be there for her when she needs you to be and allow her the space she needs when she needs it. She’ll get through it, you both will.”

Elliot nodded, slowly turning his head to look back around the room. “By the way, the place looks great. You’d never have known a pipe had burst in here.”

Monique’s brows furrowed in confusion. “Excuse me?”

“You know, Liv said you texted her while we were in Paris to tell her a pipe had burst in the apartment.” Elliot said it as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

“Oh… right,” she breathed, slowly nodding. She hoped that Elliot couldn’t read the deception on her face, but again, she was never a good liar. And what she was lying about? She couldn’t even imagine. But whatever it was, it was still her job to cover for Olivia.

Elliot hadn’t come into work and she didn’t know why. She didn’t really want to think about it either. Instead, she was holed up in the design studio. Ever since the successful launch of Red Light, the space had become much more dedicated to its project. Posters hung on the wall from the ad campaigns and the project designers were seemingly more dedicated. Not that they hadn’t been before, but now they saw their work come to fruition and saw the difference they were making.

“Morning, Liv.” she heard a voice coming from in front of her desk. Freddie Washburn, one of the original guys on the project. Always nice and full of creative ideas and still nerdy as the day she met him. He always gave off the very distinct vibe of someone who either took too much adderall or not enough. She could see that he held out a coffee for her with a charming smile. “Lake got everyone Starbucks this morning, so this is for you.”

She smiled for the first time in a week as she took the coffee from him. “Thanks, Washburn.”

“So,” he pulled up a chair from a nearby drafting table, sitting in it backwards. “A college edition, huh? We really doing this?” he asked, sipping his own coffee.

She glanced down at the tactical drawings she had been working on for the new version of the app. Red Light U. Drowning herself in work had always calmed her down, and with the last few days, she needed all of the calm she could get. “I think we are,” she nodded. “I still have to pitch it to the board, but I have it on good authority that we’ll be given the green light to continue.”

“That’s awesome!” he grinned like a dopey puppy. “I’m really excited to go forward with this.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” she nodded, giving her best fake smile. The coffee was nice but she didn’t have the energy to keep the façade of true happiness up for too much longer.

“I don’t think you understand how good at this you are!” he gushed, a little too loudly. “Seriously, I’m still rooting for you to transfer down here full time and oversee a lot more.”

She chuckled softly to herself. “You’ve said that to me before,”

Her mind went back to the time after Santorini when Elliot was gone. Freddie had told her exactly that. That she should give up the assistant job and give her full dedication to the project. At the time, she had even considered it.

Oh, how things had come full circle.

“Well, think about it.” he said, getting up from the backwards chair and putting it back where it belonged. “Think of how far you could take this thing if you did.”

She watched him as he walked away, feeling the seeds of doubt that he had planted in her. Well, maybe not ‘doubt’ exactly. More like hope that felt false? She knew that transferring would throw a wrench into everything. She’d never see Elliot and she’d be much less likely to get her rank of CFO if she was too settled into the position of heading the production of Red Light.

She stared back down at the pages in front of her, the UI plan for the Red Light U app. Something fresh and different, something she could throw herself into without being forced to think about anything else.

As much as she didn’t want to think about it, Elliot’s face from the moment she told him about Red Light U had popped into her head. He looked so happy, so proud of her. It started to hurt underneath all of her anger. It always did eventually. That was usually when she knew that it was time to let go of the anger.

But it wasn’t that easy. If she let go now, that meant getting answers. She didn’t want answers yet. She wanted blissful ignorance, but it hadn’t been all that blissful.

Even though she didn’t want to admit it, she was beginning to miss Elliot. She hadn’t actually stopped missing him, but now she was starting to feel it.

She didn’t want to be so angry anymore.

The following evening, she found herself walking the usual route through the SE building that led to the penthouse. A gray plastic bag swung from her hand with each step, because if she was going to do this, she wouldn’t be doing it alone. She wore the most comfortable leggings she could find and an oversized sweater that she’d likely be crying into the sleeves of by the end of the night.

When she reached his door, she pulled her keys out of her bag, flipping through them to find the one that matched his lock. As far as she knew, he was unaware that she was coming. Maybe it was because if there had been any more pressure on the idea of doing this, she would crack. And if he knew, that was more than the amount of pressure she could handle.

She fumbled with the key, finally getting the door to unlock when she stepped inside. As soon as she shut the door behind her, her stomach growled from the scent of cooking food.

“Hey El?” she called out. “Are you home? I uh, I wanted to — oh.” she paused at the sight of a smaller figure running towards her. Blonde curls bounced as the young girl sprinted towards her, stopping a few feet away.

“Hi, I’m Kathleen,” the girl said proudly.

Olivia looked behind her, spotting Elliot at the far end of the apartment in the kitchen. He was wearing a soft smile with the same hopeful blue eyes that were in front of her right now. Olivia slowly knelt over, matching the girl’s height. “Hi Kathleen, my name’s Olivia.” she extended her hand with a kind smile. She could hear her own voice go soft. “It’s nice to meet you.”

Kathleen shook her hand and smiled with pearly white teeth. “It’s nice to meet you too.” She was the spitting image of her father with her mother’s blonde locks. Olivia immediately spotted the seashell necklace on Kathleen’s neck, recognizing it as the one she had made with the shell from Santorini.

She remembered writing the letter to go with it.

To: Kathleen
From: Dad

'If you hold the shell to your ear, you can hear the ocean. Now, you can take the ocean wherever you go.'

“That’s a very beautiful necklace,” Olivia whispered breathlessly, unable to suppress her smile.

Small fingers with baby pink nail polish came up to grip the seashell. “Thanks. My daddy made it for me. The shell is from Greece. If you hold it up to your ear, you can hear the ocean.”

Olivia glanced behind Kathleen to see that Elliot’s grin had grown. She wanted to break down and cry just from the sight of so much love in his eyes. Olivia reached out and ran her fingers over the shell. “So you can take the ocean wherever you go.”

“Exactly!” Kathleen beamed with joy.

Elliot had stepped out from the kitchen, slowly approaching the two of them. “Hey uh, you ready for dinner, sweet pea?” he ran his fingers tenderly through her long blonde hair.

Kathleen nodded vehemently. “Daddy, can Olivia stay for dinner?”

Elliot looked over at Olivia, his mouth hanging slightly open as he was ready to make an excuse on her behalf. “Only if Olivia would like to stay for dinner.”

Her eyes darted between Elliot’s and his daughters, spotting the identical hope once more. “I wouldn’t want to intrude.”

“You’re never intruding,” Elliot said a little too quickly. He shot a glance back down at his daughter. “Hey, Kathleen honey, how about you go set the table, okay?”

She ran off with excitement into a more secluded part of the home. Olivia stared at Elliot with a lot of love and still some sorrow; her eyes conveying the apology that she couldn’t put into words. She haphazardly lifted the arm that held the pharmacy bag, wordlessly alerting him of why she had shown up.

Elliot smiled gently, stepping a couple paces closer to her before wrapping her up in a tight hug. When he pulled away, he took the bag from her and set it on the coffee table. His hands reached out, softly wrapping around her elbows. “Come have dinner with us? Please?”

Biting her lower lip, Olivia nodded gingerly. When he let go of her arms, he extended an open hand for her to take as they started walking towards the dining room table. Before they had even entered the room, they could hear Kathleen beginning to talk.

“Olivia, do you like spaghetti? Dad made spaghetti, and he’s actually really good at making spaghetti. A lot better than he is at making turkey. He made turkey one time and it burned on the outside and was raw on the inside so we got burgers instead. But he does make really good spaghetti.”

Olivia and Elliot both couldn’t help but to laugh.


A few hours later, Kathleen was tucked into bed for the night. They had enjoyed dinner together, talking all about Kathleen’s school activities and how much she wanted to be a Marine Biologist when she grew up. She asked Olivia all about her favorite colors and books, absolutely overjoyed when the answer was Anne of Green Gables because that's what Elliot always read to Kathleen. There was a lively debate about which Harry Potter movie was the best because Elliot had said that it was Prisoner of Azkaban while Kathleen and Olivia agreed that it was definitely Goblet of Fire.

Olivia had smiled when Freddie brought her coffee in the design suite, but not nearly the same smiles that came with sharing dinner. Kathleen was the best parts of her father, bubbly and funny with an absolutely unmatched wit. Olivia didn’t have to fake an uncomfortable laugh as she did around most kids, instead she genuinely enjoyed the company.

After dinner, Kathleen had absolutely mopped the floor with Olivia and her father during several rounds of Uno. Olivia had promised to bring Monopoly next time, which they both knew Elliot would win given that he knew business better than anyone.

For once, it was actually the most peaceful night she’d had in a while. Sure, she found peace in a bottle of wine on the couch with Monique, but this was different. In some way, Kathleen’s optimism and joy made her feel like a kid again. Without all of the heartache.

But when the sun had set, the night had shifted. Both she and Elliot sat on the bathroom floor while they waited for the pregnancy test to develop. She started to wonder how many nights they would end up spending on the bathroom floor. Last time it was the night of the gala when everything went to hell.

For a while, their silence was peaceful. Even sitting two feet away from him, he held her hand while they waited.

“I’m sorry I’ve been such a bitch to you,” she whispered, staring down at the marble flooring.

“It’s okay,” he nodded.

“No it isn’t,” she replied. “I’m not… I’m not good with feelings sometimes. Especially the scary ones. But that doesn’t mean I should take it out on you.”

“We all work through things in our own ways. Sometimes it's avoidance. I’m just as guilty of that, Liv. Remember Westchester?”

It didn’t make her feel a whole lot better, but his empathy on its own always would. “I’m gonna work on it, okay?” she spoke quietly, finally looking in his direction. “I promise, I'm gonna work on not being so angry when I’m scared.”

She thought back to what he had said in his office, about them having a family and how it wouldn’t be so bad. She still wasn’t ready, and that was okay. But he wasn’t wrong. It wouldn’t be so bad. But just not for a while. Someday maybe.

“I uh… I talked to my doctor today.” she interrupted the silence that had come back.


“Yeah,” she nodded. “She said there’s a chance that I missed my period because of changing birth control. And stress on top of that. She asked me if I worked a stressful job and I said yes,” she chuckled.

Thinking back to the past few days, he was inclined to agree. He started to laugh with her. “Yeah, ‘stressful’ definitely fits the bill.”

After their mutual laughter died down, she sighed. “But we’re gonna be okay though, right? No matter what happens?”

He squeezed her hand. “Of course we are. I’m right by your side no matter what.”

Before tears could well up in her eyes, the timer on her phone alerted them both. They both froze, neither of them sure of what to do next.

“Should uh… should we look at it together?” he asked.

“Yes, please.” she replied in the smallest voice.

She moved closer to him on the floor, her hip pressing into his. He reached behind the both of them and grabbed the test from the counter, covering up the results with his hands. “Like we said. No matter what, it’ll be okay.” he reaffirmed. Olivia nodded, feeling the anxiety rip her stomach apart.

He lifted his hand away from the screen of the test.


A horrid beat of silence passed between both of them.


“Oh thank you, Jesus!” Olivia said a little too loudly with a deep exhale that she had been holding all week. Her body slumped against his, reveling in the relief of seeing the test come up negative.

Despite what he may have wanted for the future, Elliot was just as relieved. She had been right, it wasn’t time yet. They had far too many demons to deal with before it ever even became a topic of discussion. Not to mention that Olivia’s relief added to his own.

He tossed the test aside, wrapping his arm around her shoulder and pulling her in tight. She allowed herself to enjoy the scent of him without a wall of anger dividing them. The sound of his heart beating in her ear became a hell of a lot more welcomed than it had the days before.

Only, her bliss was interrupted not long after.

“Liv, I have to come clean about something.”

She pulled back, running her hand over his shirt to straighten it out. “Okay, what is it?”

His frown was soft and sad. “I know about the pictures.”

For a moment, she had forgotten all about that. All of the guilt she had felt had been taken over by the anger of thinking she was pregnant. “What? How?”

“Because… I got them too.” he admitted hesitantly.

She wasn’t exactly sure if this was meant to assuage her guilt over not telling him. She scootched away from him on the floor so she could see him better. “Wait, really?”

“Yeah,” he sighed. “I think I got them right before you did. It was at the photoshoot in Paris. You looked so radiant and happy, I just didn’t have the heart to tell you. I was gonna tell you once we got back in the city but obviously that took a bit of a turn for the worst.”

She wasn’t angry, she didn’t really have the right to be since she had kept it a secret too. “How did you know I got them?”

“Well, when I talked to Monique and she had no clue about any burst pipe in your apartment,” As the words left Elliot’s lips, Olivia looked down in shame. “I kinda put two and two together. You started acting strange and so I figured that was when it happened.”

Her eyes were filled with sadness. “I should’ve told you,” she said. “I was gonna tell you when we landed, but like you said… it didn’t exactly go according to plan.”

“I’m glad you didn’t tell me in Vienna because if I had known, hell, I don’t know what I would’ve done. I was already so freaked out about the jet and I just wanted to hold it together for you and —”

She cut him off by leaning forward and kissing him. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered when she pulled away. She pressed her forehead against his, holding his face in her palms.

He guided her to straddle his lap, keeping the close contact of her face touching his. “I am too, Liv. For all of this.”

They both fucked up. Their relationship had always been bound to be bumpy. But they were trying to learn; to navigate through the turmoil. They had a lot of learning left to do.

“I love you, El.”

“I love you, Liv.”

!!!! CHAPTER ART !!!!

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Chapter Text


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.