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The First Time

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Elliot Stabler was already dreading the day. It seemed like nothing was going right. His tie kept coming out crooked, the kids were arguing over breakfast, his car had a flat, which made him late for work, which made him late to meet his new partner. Who was of course the root of all his irritation.

He was being forced to train the new green horn and he did not look forward to it. SVU was difficult for the toughest cops, but showing someone new the ropes put you face to face with the reminder of how gruesome the job really was for the untested.

The last rookie he trained had vomited in the bushes at their first crime scene.

He had tried to pawn her off on Munch - he was more seasoned, he had been doing this longer. But Cragen insisted that Elliot take one for the team.

"Meet the new kid on the block yet?" Munch asked when he passed him in the hallway at work. Elliot shook his head as Munch smiled, "Be careful not to look her in the eyes."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Elliot asked, not in the mood for Munch's cryptic humor.

"You'll know when you see her," he said as he walked away to the elevator.

Great, so she was probably a harpy then. He got to spend his foreseeable future with some ranting person who probably liked to bitch about the injustice of the world while she wore a chip on her shoulder. Or even worse, someone who felt the need to prove herself but instead would make the job that much harder.

He needed coffee before he could bring himself to face her. He had just poured himself a cup when he heard Cragen say, "Elliot, come meet your new partner."

He tried to savor his last few moments of peace before he stepped into Cragen's office.

"You're late," Cragen said by way of greeting.

He shrugged and answered, "Flat tire."

"Call next time."

Elliot nodded and looked at the woman sitting at Cragen's desk as she looked over some paperwork.

"Elliot, this is Detective Olivia Benson. Benson, this is Detective Elliot Stabler."

Benson stood up and turned to face him and that was the moment that Elliot thought, Oh fuck.

And his second thought was that he should have taken Munch's advice and not looked her in the eyes.

In later years he would reflect and think back that that was the moment it had all started for him. That was the moment he had fallen in love. Which was ridiculous because he didn't believe in love at first sight.

He held out his hand to shake and she reached out to take it. Her eyes were large and dark and seemed to carry the world in them. And then she smiled and any resistance Elliot thought he might have mustered up completely disappeared.

Oh no.

"Pleasure to meet you." Her handshake was firm but her skin was soft and he held it a beat too long.

"Benson has already begun looking into your next case. She'll catch you up and you can go from there," said Cragen.

She nodded her head and they both walked out of Cragen's office.

"I'm a fast learner," she said to Elliot when she sat down across from him at her new desk.

Great, her desk was facing his - he would have a constant view of her all day long.

This is not good.

Elliot smiled at her and said, "So catch me up to speed."

She brushed her hair over her ear and began telling him about the case, her face animated and, truth be told, her reasoning and observations were sound.

Elliot took a deep breath. This was going to be a long day - and it would only be followed by more long days - days spent with her.

When he finally made it home at the end of his shift Kathy asked, "How did it go with the new partner?"

He shrugged and grabbed an apple from the counter and took a big bite of it before answering, "It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. She's smart, she has that going for her. I think it's gonna be okay."

Kathy laughed at him, "It's because she's pretty isn't it?"

He stared at her blankly. How could she possibly know that?

"I didn't notice," he finally responded.

"Hah," she laughed, "That's a yes."

She walked up to him and placed a quick kiss on his lips as she passed him by.

"Just don't fall in love with her pretty face and you'll be fine."

Shit.