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they are lost and found in each other

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When he falls asleep, he is spread the length of her couch and she is curled into the armrest near his feet, legs tucked under herself, the familiar and well-defined line resting invisibly between them. 

But when he wakes…  oh, when he wakes, she is nestled tenderly into his side with her arm draped across his chest, her fingers barely grazing his ribs, their feet tangled together. Wisps of her hair tickle his neck, and he doesn’t dare breathe for fear of waking her. 

God, he wants to lie here with her forever.  He squeezes his eyes closed, not wanting to break the spell but knowing their bones will protest this much time on the couch. 

Elliot reaches up to brush the knuckle of his index finger across the smooth apple of her cheek and she stirs quietly against him, burrows herself deeper between him and the back of the couch, hums contentedly. 

“Liv,” he coaxes gently, and she sighs so, so softly that it makes him ache. 

“Olivia,” he tries again. She shakes her head against his chest, unwilling to acquiesce. 

“C’mon Liv…”

“Don’t ruin it, El,” she warns, heavy with sleep, barely more than a whisper. Her warm breath fogs through his shirt, seeping into his skin. He thinks his heart stops altogether when she splays her fingers over his ribs and pulls herself impossibly closer to him; draws them impossibly closer together.  

Elliot closes his eyes and presses his nose and lips to the top of her head. Breathes in the warm comfort of her; spicy clove and sweet honey, like home. 

When he falls asleep, she is hunkered down into the shelter of him, their feet still tangled together. And oh… oh, how he can’t wait to wake up with her just like this.

She rouses in the middle of the night, all warm and dark; the edges of everything fuzzy for a brief moment until she feels his palm at her back, fingers gently pressed into the flesh of her hip in an unconscious gesture of protectiveness. 

She lifts her head, neck sore from the last several hours propped against his shoulder, and looks at him. Listens. 

His breaths come slow and deep, in and out through his nose.  His eyelids flutter but don’t open, and she finally takes a deep breath herself.  She thinks he deserves this peace, this quiet, and she wants to preserve it for him however she can. 

Olivia allows her gaze to roam over his face. She ponders the creases of his forehead and notes the length of his eyelashes; she studies the slope of his nose and takes in the gentle flare of his nostrils as he breathes.  

Her eyes travel over his lips, and she likes that he has shaved recently even though she appreciates the salt and pepper color of his wiry facial hair. She smiles at the memory of his lips pressed against her head as she floated to sleep just hours ago.  

It surprises her, the sudden urge to kiss him. To run her tongue softly across his bottom lip, just to see if he’ll wake up.  To take his lip between her teeth. 

She feels a warm flush bloom in her belly as her gaze lingers over his chin, down his neck, across the broad expanse of his chest.  She discovers her own hand there, trapped possessively beneath his, and wonders how she could have missed the beat of his heart at her fingertips.  It’s been there all this time. 

Olivia is reverent; humbled by the sentiments that come with the intimacy of this moment. Admiration, respect, familiarity. Gratefulness and peace and love. Desire. Wholeness. Home. 

She lowers her forehead to his chin and steadies herself with another deep breath. Feels the length of her body pressed against his, and it grounds her. She catches his earthy masculine scent; a heady combination of cedar and bergamot, she thinks. Woodsy and floral and citrusy; inherently Elliot. Rogue tears escape the wells of her eyes, and she lets them fall because they are finally, finally tears of relief.

His fingers curl gently around hers and she knows he’s awake now. 

“Hey,” he mumbles against her forehead. She can’t answer because she’s thinking about the soft, supple feel of his lips on her skin, his calloused hand on hers. She’s thinking about how he’s alive and real and here.

“You ok?” 

When she still doesn’t answer, Elliot untangles their hands and lifts her chin with his finger. She tries to hide, but he’s always known how to find her. 

“Talk to me, Liv,” he says. When she offers a shy smile, he raises an eyebrow, unconvinced.   

“I’m good, El,” she reassures him. “Really,” and her voice breaks, just barely. Tears glisten in her eyes and he hums when one spills over. He thumbs it away more tenderly than she’s ever seen him do anything, and a brand new wave of emotion crests the ship she holds in the glass bottle of her heart. 

Elliot regards her with soft affection, contemplation. He’s reading her, chapter and verse. 

“Olivia, I…” He’s not sure how or where to start in saying what he wants to say. It is complex in its simplicity, their synergistic relationship, and he is left searching, grasping for the right words. Instead, he finds himself drowning in the ocean of her, his own eyes brimming with salty tears. 

She knows; knows what he means in the words he’s not saying, because she has read him, too. Olivia shushes him. “We’ve said everything there is to say, El... all the important things. We’ve done the work, for ourselves and our families, for us.  We’re here, now.”  Fisting the fabric of his shirt, “we’re here,” she implores. 

Elliot shifts beneath her, just enough to bring both of his hands to her face. He delicately tucks her hair behind her ears and lets his fingers trace her jawline before cupping her cheeks. 

She drags her thumb across his bottom lip; her gaze drifts to his mouth before she brings it back up to meet his eyes. She finds hope there, reflecting back. 

In each other they find redemption and absolution; love and desire and endless possibility.  Elliot and Olivia move simultaneously, always so in sync.  Their lips meet, and time stops. 

They are lost and found in each other.