Elliot Stabler ever only had eyes for two women.
It wasn't always that way. In high school, he fell in love with Kathy. Other girls seemed to find him attractive, and while he was a natural flirt, he never really paid them any mind. He just didn't see them the way he saw Kathy. Then one night, they consummated their relationship. And although Elliot was nowhere ready, he proposed. He swore to always take care of Kathy and their baby. And from then on, that's exactly what happened. Even in the Marines, his eyes never wandered. His mind and commitment was set on Kathy.
He was 33 when he met Olivia Benson. Married to Kathy for 16 years at that point, and until then his eyes and mind never strayed. But meeting Olivia felt electric. She was an engima. Someone he suddenly felt like he couldn't breathe without. They fell into step immediately. And although he seemed infatuated with her, she didn't really seem to see him that way. A thought he was extremely grateful for.
He isn't sure exactly when their dynamic changed. Maybe it was a slow process. Maybe it was constantly changing. Maybe it was when Olivia was being stalked, and he suddenly wanted nothing more than to protect her. If she or Kathy would have agreed to it, he would have kept her safe at his house. It was probably for the best they didn't. Maybe it was one of the other times her life was seemingly in danger. But at some point it became very hard for him to keep his feelings locked up.
He still had eyes, body, and mind for Kathy. He just also had eyes and mind for Olivia too.
Before he left, it seemed as if Olivia and Elliot were on the same page. Both silently acknowledging something was there between them, but never crossing the biggest boundaries. So they would hold hands going undercover, pretend to be married, but never ever crossing any physical boundaries that could turn into more.
The day he shot Jenna, he knew he was done. He wanted Olivia but if he told her how he felt, she would have kept him there. After he put his papers in, he thought about calling. Kathy begged him to call her, to talk to her. She didn't know how to deal with the brooding man in her living room drinking beer, but she knew Olivia would.
One day, he caught Kathy trying to call Olivia. He snatched the phone away and deleted her number from all the cell phones in the house, including his own.
Later he was offered a job in another part of the country. He accepted and they left. Before he left, he sent Olivia his badge and a medallion. It was the only way he could say goodbye.
For the next ten years, Elliot worked hard to fix his life and his relationships with his family. He became closer to Kathy again. His eyes were once again only for her. His mind, however, always held a piece of Olivia. He couldn't let her go. But his eyes and body were only for his wife. As it should be. He only wished his mind would keep up.
They came back to New York. A flash, a bang, fire. His wife in the street. All he could think of was Olivia. Olivia would know what to do. Olivia would know what to say. Fin told him she was a captain now, surely she could fix this. So he begged them to call her.
As soon as he saw her, his eyes and his mind screamed. SHE was here. Now he was confused. His mind and eyes were suddenly very caught in the middle. His body was ready for a fight, to hurt whomever hurt Kathy. His eyes flickered between his wife and his former partner. His mind told him to go to Olivia and stay with Kathy. He felt himself tearing apart at the very seams.
And then Kathy died.
His body shut down except for the need to fight. His eyes couldn't see Kathy anymore and only seeked for Olivia. His mind was caught in the middle and in a torrent of grief. Olivia, beautiful compassionate Olivia, said he had PTSD. His mind scoffed. His eyes searched hers for something to tell him why she would think that. His body didn't care.
Slowly his body began coming back to life. He began exercising. Getting his blood pumping. His body wanted Olivia. Had always wanted, but could never have her. It was always Kathy's. Now it was nobodies but it wanted Olivia. He called her Captain. She called him detective. It was kind of a turn on. They fought. They made up. They held hands. His mind was the only thing stuck in the middle anymore.
Finally they caught Wheatley. His mind felt relief. His eyes and body felt triumphant. We got him! They screamed. Kathy's been avenged!
He went to a wedding. Turns out, it wasn't a wedding. His eyes found hers and never wanted to leave. His body placed a hand on her lower back. His body gave her his jacket, softly touching her. His hand touched hers reaching for wine.
He was still sad. He still wasn't ready. But his mind knew that when he was ready, Olivia would be there. Olivia would wait.
And for the first time in 23 years, Elliots mind, body, and eyes were only for one woman.