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Seasons of love

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There’s a full moon out tonight.

They walk a short distance from where she’s parked her new suv to the door of his apartment building.

The chilly autumn air in early November makes her cheeks red and her lips purple. He thinks about taking her face in his warm hands and making a home. But they don’t do that sort of thing.

It’s a Friday night and the apartment is dark when he turns the keyhole. Nobody is home.

Liv is quiet as he fumbles for the light switch. The apartment lights up in its emptiness, and he’s grateful for the silence.

There’s new mail on the kitchen island. Kathleen must have tidied up, because he can smell the faint scent of clean laundry and watered flowers.

Olivia’s only been here once, but her stride is purposeful as she makes her way to the kitchen island. She passes him, shedding her coat, drapes it around her chair.

“Eli?” she stops, remembering that he has a kid too.

“At a friend’s place.”

Her smile is soft and short-lived as she proceeds to cover her eyes with her hands. “What a fucking shit show tonight has been.”

She doesn’t swear all that often, and it burns the back of his throat each time he hears its sweet poison. Makes him want nothing more than to hear those words and that voice uttered somewhere between his sheets and his new walls.

Time. Space. Healing. Do not rush her.

“Bell doesn’t seem to think so.” He disagrees, placing a cup of scotch in front of her. She sips only once. She’s never been a scotch girl, he knows this, but he also knows she’s trying to cut back on wine and coffee and any other fucking thing that might make her happy.

“Her cover could have been blown tonight had we not interrupted that party when we did.”

“She’s not your problem, Liv. You can’t protect everyone.”

She tilts her head to the side, offended almost. And then her expression falls, tired. She no longer wears the bulletproof vest from earlier that night, but she looks like she wishes she still had it on. He remembers watching her shed it lose as she bid goodbye to Fin, remembers the way it made her seem ever more powerful, remembers the way her breasts seemed to appreciate its absence. Elliot remembers everything and yet he can never tell her any of this.

“You know, since your return. I don’t think svu has ever worked with oc so much until now. Is that a coincidence?” There’s a mischievousness to her eye, and he wonders when she got so good at diverting conversation.

“Would you believe me if I said yes?”

“Whatever," she shrugs. "Beats working with Chicago PD.”

“Svu has worked with Chicago PD?”

She nods, sips again, “Twice now. The rapport was always good, and I got on well with Han.. their sergeant but the travelling was always a headache. Eventually, I was kinda glad to see them go.”  

“How so?”

“Well, for starters, Noah was barely crawling. I could hardly cart him around on flights back then.”

“And now?”

“How do you mean?”

“Don’t tell me the kid hasn’t seen the outside of New York city, has he?”

She snorts, entertained. A weight is always lifted when Noah is the topic of conversation. “Don’t worry, we took the kid to Paris when he was only 3. His passport feels heavier than mine.”

She downs the rest of the scotch. When she eventually looks up to meet Elliot’s unwavering surprise, her face settles in startling clarity. She let herself slip. For once since his return, the absence of her golden vest gave him added advantage. She let herself slip.

“We?”

Olivia swallows.

She shifts off and down from the stool. Taking in the apartment, her heels clatter against hardwood floors as she moves to inspect his open floor plan. She’s gotten so good at running that even walking seems like segregation.

Brick walls adorn the space as she moves around, and he thinks his new place has never felt more undiscovered than with her in it.

“I love the photos.” She gestures to the family portraits that adorn the entrance wall. Her eyes are tender, too tender, when she picks up a photo of Kathy from the dresser.

“You think she would’ve liked the apartment?”

She’s soft spoken when under the velvet crush of his dead wife’s name. 

“No. I’m pretty sure she would’ve hated it.”

Her laugh is faint and genuine all the same. She thinks and talks about Kathy with her whole damn heart and it thickens his own every time. Kathy might’ve been his wife, might’ve been a good reason why he left Olivia all those years ago, but Liv hasn’t a bone of resentment because of her. How can a woman be so good and all of him at the same time?

“Liv.”

“Hmm?”

Her back is turned to him as she attempts to fix crooked photo frames on the wall. She stops at the one of him with a younger Eli, precise as she shifts to make it perfect, whole again.

He doesn’t have the heart to tell her to stop fixing his things.

“Will you look at me please?”

She’s startled at the plea in his tone, shows in her expression as she turns to meet him.

“Why won’t you answer any of my questions?”

“I answer your questions.”

“Paris?”

“El, please drop it.”

He cannot shrink. Not even when he sees the breath catch in her throat, or the way her eyes glisten at the cost of his piked interest and his… possessiveness. He feels ashamed.

“Do you not trust me? Is that it?” he questions, voice barely there.

“Of course I trust you.” Her eyebrows furrow. She scans him from head to toe like he’s lost his damn mind. “I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

He’s humbled, truly. But none of it is good enough and he feels like an ungrateful asshole because of it.

“Do you trust me?” she questions.  

Her words jerk him out of his decline. She leans against a bare wall now, arms behind her back. She’s gorgeous and yet so far away. The veins in his wrist scream for her touch.

“Do I really have to answer that?” His answer should be obvious.

“Now look whose doing the avoiding.”

He doesn’t like it when she turns the conversation like this. An explosive weapon that he’s recklessly unafraid to disable.

“All of me,” he begins. “I trust you with all of me.”

“Good.” she murmurs, heavy eyelashes brushing lazily against delicate skin.

He’ll go to war for her, but never against her. So he lets his head hang backwards, resigned. It’s the first time he’s seen the kitchen ceiling of this apartment and he wonders for how many more ceilings he’ll hang backwards for until this woman finally lets him into her own. Maybe this is his penance. Olivia putting him at arms-length always and forever. Maybe this is what true consequence feels like. Not even his privilege can save Elliot from a lifetime of holding Liv at only a distance. Of loving her at only a distance.

Its takes her exactly two minutes to move again. When she does, he can’t fathom how a woman with so much power can suddenly appear so small in his kitchen.

“Months ago we talked about the letter.” She starts.

He braces himself, shoulders rising, fists tightening, body tensing. He can hardly breathe.

“You…” words betray her; a sense of helplessness washes in with the timbre of her voice.

“I’m here Liv.”

“You told me…”

She pauses again, silent, voice fluctuating between the Liv he used to know and the Liv he’s come to know. She’s fearless in all rooms except for his.

“I told you I loved you.”

He wasn’t ashamed to admit it the first or second time, even when she effectively pushed him out of her apartment and back into the solitary confines of an empty identity. His own doing of course, and a humbling experience at best.

“Yes.. and I told you I thought you were... I thought..”

Jesus Christ.

“That I was lost in grief.” He finishes for her.

“Yes.”

“Olivia…”

“I don’t think that anymore.”

A deep rumble builds in his throat, comes out in what seems like a crumbled sigh.

“Sometimes I think you’re more whole than I am.”

If this her idea of a bad joke, she’s not smiling and nothing about it is funny.

Except, he finds himself smiling anyway. Except, this woman might just fucking kill him before he’ll ever get the chance to hold her again.

“Olivia…”

“Do you understand me?”

He rocks back on his feet.

“Better than myself.”

“Do you still want me?”

She’s unblinking, unfazed. Entirely self-possessed. When minutes ago he heard her nervous rattle, now he thinks he’s the one who needs saving. She’s the wildest paradox he’ll ever know.

Do I still want you… do I still fucking want you?

“Yes.” His answer comes out more strangled than any Elliot he thinks she’ll ever know. “But how can you not know that?”

She closes her eyes again, breathing steady. Look at me, he thinks. Look at me.

“If you’re looking for permanence, I’m afraid I’m not it.”

He’s wild. He’s raw. He’s all her.

“You’re wrong.” He treads forward, wonders when she started to believe such a thing. Was it when her mother broke her heart the last time? Was it when she broke the tenth heart of some poor man who couldn’t hold her attention long enough for her to stay? Was it when Elliot himself broke hers?

“You’ve always been the most permanent thing in my life. Even when you weren’t, you were.”

She takes another step forward, and another, until the black heels she wears stop inches before his toes.

“Aren’t you afraid?” she whispers.

All of the world narrows itself down to the woman before him. He wants nothing more than to scoop her up and lock her away from the war outside.

And he understands exactly what she means because he’s all of her and he reads Olivia’s anxiety like he reads his own. Elite and well-practiced and wholly uninvited.

“For 23 years and more.”

“Then why should we bother?”

It probably scares her too, when he smiles, but he doesn’t care. he doesn’t care because she’s standing inches away from his face, willing and more present than any of their fears.
“Because I love you.”

It’s not a good enough reason, he knows this.

But when she closes her eyes again, inhales deeply and releases her fears, he thinks it might have to be enough for tonight.

What he doesn’t expect, what he doesn’t see coming is for her to take the lead. Her fists bunch at the fabric of his shirt and her eyes are bottomless when she pulls him down to her lips. 

In another life he would cradle her jaw and taste her lips carefully at first. In another life he would pull back and smile and think this was the best first kiss of the century. In another life he would dive back in for another. In another life he would ask her, like a gentleman, what it was she wanted.

But they’re not those people, and his mouth is just as hungry as hers. White teeth scrape against the other and then she’s biting his bottom lip and his hands are all over her and this kiss is cruelly frantic, too fast for any subconscious to retain.

She tastes like scotch and raspberries. She smells like the ocean breeze and white musk. She somehow feels immortal and harmless under his fingertips.

He doesn’t know how. Because for one moment he’s pinned against the counter and then in the next they’ve submitted to the nearest hard surface, and he has Olivia Benson trapped against this wall he calls hers already.

She moans under his lips, eyes closed in a holy place while her arms tighten around his shoulders. His hand finds her rib, and the space under her arm, and then her breast and it’s the first time he’s ever held her there. It feels like everything he’s ever imagined. Tonight is confirmation. Tonight is his chance at atonement.

When she parts, breathless, he searches for any hint of resistance. Finds nothing but sanctity.

“Make love to me.” She whispers, all self-assured and entirely Olivia as the back of her hand grazes his cheek.

Yes, he thinks. Fuck yes.

He will not fail her. Not now and not ever.

****

When they reach his bedroom, the room is dark.

They stumble their way into the void, his hands are on her ass and hers are on his belt, tugging roughly when they knock into a dresser.

Something crashes to the ground. Neither care for the damage done. But then she’s laughing, and he can do nothing but grin against her lips. 

She’s the one with better vision because she finds the lamp first. He’s the one without a plan because as the dimmest of light seeps into the void, he watches her observe the room.

There’s brand new furniture and a brand-new leather chair and a brand-new electric fireplace at the center wall. But there’s no bed, just an air-mattress. He has no plan.

And Olivia doesn’t care. She lunges forward, taking his face in her hands. When she tugs at the buttons of his shirt and it has the fucking audacity to betray her, she growls and rips it apart.

He’s the one who laughs this time.

The airbed is long forgotten. He yanks the blanket onto the floor, manages to toss a few pillows onto the ground before he feels Olivia’s hand travel around his torso. She stands behind him, semi naked and shorter without her warrior boots. Her hard nipples graze the bare skin of his back. He feels overwhelmed that she exists.

The air is cold, the fake fireplace is switched to burn, the night is young, the future still worrisome, but he can see nothing but blinding temptation. 23 years, he has waited.

“This is it,” he warns her in the dark. The flame of the fireside illuminates their shadows against another bare wall. Binds them as one.

Liv’s chin rests from behind his shoulder. Her hands trace the bold borders of his chest, stopping at his abs. She traces the banks of its muscles like they’re hers. “There’s no going back from here, Liv.”

He shudders when delicate lips press against his shoulder blade. Her toes tip up as she deposits another to the nape of his neck, his ear. He can never let her go, and this scares the shit of him. If she runs, he’ll chase her. He’ll trap her. He’ll tie her down. He’ll beg her to stay. He’ll claim her as his forever and always.

“I want you. I’ve never wanted anything more.” She tells him.

There’s no going back from here.

****

Its autumn when he enters her for the first time.

The air is heavy with want. Mistakes and regrets are shed to the ground like fallen leaves, and the days are shorter, leaving more hours in the night for his nature and her life to harmonize as one.

His first thrust elicits a sound from her throat, a moan he’s never heard before. Its deep and profound and holy unapologetic as she tilts her head backwards. Eyes closed, mouth parted, she sighs. “Yes. God yes.”

And he’s hard as hell as he dives deeper into her wetness for a second time, a third, a fourth.

She’s still not looking at him, with her eyes closed, her legs falling limp, she lay ravenously as she receives his thrusts just where she’s wanted them. Her nails dig into the flesh of his lower back. When she opens her eyes, there’s a dark thrill to her hue. She lifts her head to view behind his shoulder, lips brushing the shell of his ear, she’s observing the muscles of his prime ass fucking into her, slow, deep. She moans god’s name.

Elliot can do nothing but thrust deeper, and when she shifts her forehead to press against his, one arm cradling his head while the other elbow rests behind her back. The movement changes their angle, brings her closer to him somehow while rocking her deeper and higher.

She closes her eyes again, moaning, arching up into his chest.

“Look at me.” He instructs, its tender right up until it isn’t.

Her eyes are dark when she fixes him with one of her own expressions of possessiveness.

“Say you’re mine.”

Elliot is determined as he watches her every expression with another thrust, and another. He stops when she doesn’t answer, licking his lips as he catches her whimper.

“You already know.” She pleads.

“Say it.” He’s a fucking asshole, he knows it, he won’t apologize for it.

She thrust her hips upwards to get him going again, and he groans at the wet hot heat of her but still, he doesn’t move.

Olivia hisses, smacking him with a hot kiss, she bites his lip and then drowns in the sea of his blue atlantic eyes. “I’m yours.” She croaks, hand resting at the nape of his neck. Her tone is too gentle and too kind for a man like him, a man who begs a free woman to submit to him as if all in the name of love.

“I’m yours El. All you..” the rest of her sentence is muffled by a strangled scream as he thrusts into her again, harder and deeper than ever before, causing her to fall lose on her back, taking him with her. Angling his hips up he nails a spot that has her jerking beneath him.

They both cry out.

****

Its wintertime when his mouth slides across her body. She shivers as his tongue traces her nipple, trailing between her breasts, and then down to her belly button. He wants her in the sweetest of places, unafraid to tell her this as he turns onto his back, pulls. His hands twist her hips enough so that she understands… gets her ready to ride his face while he licks and fucks her with his tongue. In another season the seed blooms, in another they harvest, but it is wintertime that he gets to enjoy her. The beam of a fireside illuminates her face above him with hues of orange and reds blazing her skin. She rides his tongue like an expert.

Her moans are loud, louder than before, and his dick is hard again, but he can’t stop. Not when she’s a writhing and honorable goddess just above him.

Her eyes are dark as she gazes into his, mouth parted and her hands on his head. He moans into her core, sending vibration through her. Just as he thinks she’s about to come, she abruptly moves off and away from his face.

For a brief, insecure moment, he’s confused. He expected her to come into his mouth, but of course she finds another way. The wildest paradox he’ll ever know.

Pulling him to a seating position, she strokes his hard erection. Every muscle except for his heart feels cold until they’re both sitting, facing one another. Her legs hook around his back as she sinks down and takes him whole. She’s as tight and as warm as the first time, and they sigh in unison, mouths wide and pressed to one another, she refuses to blink. Stares only as they rock together.

She wants to come with him inside her, that’s why she moved, that’s why she pulled away. It’s so fucking hot he thinks he might explode already. She wanted their hearts to touch and their mouths to meet, she wanted his forehead pressed to hers and more than that, she wanted him at a different angle.

They’re wild and animalistic as they fuck for a second or third time, her hips rocking in strident paces while he uses the strength of his core to meet her blinding speed. She’s a vision as she holds him close, fucks his mouth with her tongue while she lets her body do the rest. One arm holds himself steady while the other bruises her thigh, pressing her closer to him. He meets each of her individual thrusts with equal passion. The war outside is thoroughly forgotten. For him there is no war, no people, no family, just this room and her.

She’s untamed. She’s experienced. She’s done this before, many many times. It’s all he can think about as he watches her tilt her face, scream his name, clutch him tight, feel her whole. There’s just no way a woman who’s climaxed all but 30 seconds ago can keep going like she hasn’t. She’s waiting and willing for his turn to meet her loudening crescendo. His impending jealousy of any faceless men who might have been here is distilled by the sheer sensation of her movements. Unrefined doesn’t even begin to describe it, it’s a new kind of diet that he’s wholly unprepared for. A drug he thinks might only be found in an underground economy.

Her moans turn into whimpers, and his groans are so loud its humbling. Admiring the way her breast bounce, the way her hips rock fast and hard and deep, he comes inside of her, loves the power that surges through him as he plants his seed. He’s still breathless and hard when she continues whimpering, head tilted back with one arm now resting somewhere close to his thigh, she leans backwards, angles herself deeper and holds him by the neck with one arm as she fucks him vigorously. He reaches out to hold her shoulder down, deeper into him. He licks his other fingers, finds her clit. Its seconds later when she climaxes for the third time that night.

He’s winded. He’s eager. He’s smug. He’s just been fucked brilliantly by the love of his life and only for the first night in their lives. How did he go so long without this? Without her?

Beyond repair, he’s both dumbstruck and in awe as he kisses her fondly, lets her fall to his side as they collapse to the ground.

“Jesus christ.” he mutters, breathless. “That was…”

“Yea.” She agrees. Arms splayed above her, hair sweaty and spread out, breasts bare and full and all for him to look at. The mere sight of her feels like a mirage. Unreal.

Except that she is real. When she’s regained her breath and not her strength, he pulls her to his side. He’s only warm again when he feels her burrow into his arms, feels her press a gentle kiss to his neck, his jaw, his cheek. He captures her lips in his own. They connect under a winter warm blanket. From this point on, he thinks, they’re bonded body and soul.

****

Its springtime when he wakes up.

The room blossoms with early morning spirit. The air is warm. A time of rebirth is on the horizon.

At one point they eventually made it to the airbed. They haven’t made love on this surface yet. But at least they shared words here, which was more than what they had given the floor just hours ago. Fucking one another into oblivion seemed more practical than talking. And he still can’t wrap his head around what they have done.

He’ll make himself a thousand promises and he’ll keep them from hereon but fuck… how is it that those before him were able to let her go so easily?

Elliot is intelligent, he’s forward thinking, assertive. But not even he can muster the strength to let that go. He’ll never want sex again if it isn’t with her.

A shadow steps in from the light that blinds his sleep, and he lazily lifts one eye to see a pair of tanned legs standing before him.

Olivia is a vision in nothing but a pair of his fluffy socks and an oversized t-shirt. She owns his clothes now.

“Rise and shine sunshine.” She sing-songs.

He thinks he’s a bird let out of a cage when he feels the airbed shift with her weight. Two soft fingers trail the banks of his shoulder blades. He’s awake now. And she sits at his side with her knees curled up and a hot cup of coffee in her hand.

Her finger is gentle as she draws on his back. At first he thinks she might be awaiting the melting snow from the previous season to subside, but there is no flood in her wake, only peace. She draws deliberately, and he feels deliberately, and he waits deliberately.

Olivia writes a sacred ‘I LOVE YOU’ on the skin of his back. And he soon realizes he’s not the bird, she is. A bird who gives into falling is a bird who is well and truly accustomed to flying. He’s grateful that she’s finally found him on earth.

Olivia pauses, takes a sip of her coffee. Hair curtaining her face, she observes him freely and she loves him freely. She loves him.  

It’s no secret. A bond like theirs will always go beyond loyalty. And yet his heart leaps for her bravery.

His hand travels to cover her thigh, gently squeezing. There are no words needed in this sanctity of theirs, just truth.

She leans in. Lips soft as she covers his mouth with her own. Her cheeks damp with fresh tears.

Their river is no longer a violent valley. Their water runs undisturbed, their love runs freely. Elliot hasn’t been to church in months, but he thinks he’s finally come to owe God a favor.

****

Its summertime when he questions her true intentions. If she wants to break him or just keep him bound to this bedroom forever, she can now, because the days are long, time infinte. He can barely recall for how many hours they’ve been going at it.

And he aches.

From head to toe he aches while charging into her from behind. She’s groaning his name, dragging his hand to thumb her clit while his other squeezes her breast. The air is hot and dry, and he’s pretty sure they’re both dehydrated and swimming in sweat, but neither can really find the strength to stop.

He’s wild as he tries to claim her, pumps into her as she moans harder and yes then plunges her face into the nearest pillow.

She’s on all floors, literally. But the edge of the mattress is there for her grasp and fucking her feels so good that his vision is increasingly blurry.

“Close.” He growls.

She moans louder into the pillow, sweat beading at the nape of her neck. He pulls her by the hair gently at first. Brings her back against his chest. It changes their angle, but he’s still deep inside her as he widens his legs.

“Do it again.” she pants. He thrusts into her harder.

“No… pull my hair.”

He swallows. She wants to kill him. That is her intention.

And he won’t ever make her ask him twice, so he does it again, more forceful. Yanking her head to the side, she yelps, and he covers her mouth with his own.

She binds their hands together and guides it to her center, making him work. He’s fucking her front and behind and he feels like a god. With her head tilted; she can only whimper his name in his mouth.

It’s a rally, it’s a fight, its reckless, it’s sensational, its blinding. There are bruises on her hips, bite marks on his shoulder, violent red lines on his back, and as they both climax, crying out into their newest drought, he knows they’re marked forever.

These are the days in which he’ll remember. When they’re apart, when he’s undercover, when she’s turning her back on him, when she’s not laughing at one of his jokes. When she is. He’ll remember her name on thanksgiving and thank autumn for giving them their first kiss. He’ll remember the warmth between her legs when winter is harsh and she’s sleeping in her bed, not his. He’ll remember the freckled constellations of her face while staring at a lonely moon in spring. He’ll remember the nectar of her mouth when his throat is desert dry and a New York heatwave is their only concern.

This is his something truth. He measures his love in seasons, seasons of love, and for 23 years she’s taken up every single fucking one. This is something that will never change.

****

Its autumn again when he bids her goodbye.

There’s a towel wrapped around his waist. His chest bare. He smiles approvingly when her eyeline crosses his solid abdomen, not for the first time, certainty not the last.

Her hair is still damp from the shower. She’s been fed actual food this time. Leftover lasagna from the fridge, he’s heated it up and fed her like a child while sharing the same spoon.

Sitting at his kitchen island, Olivia is attentive when she asks about the kids. He’s been a poor father this year, but she makes it so that he might be a good one. Her faith in him is perpetual.

“Speaking of, I have to pick Noah up from his sleepover soon.” She tells him, feet dangling off the stool.

He feeds her the last spoonful. Tosses the dish into the sink before pulling her into his arms again. The shell of her ear rests against his heart. Like a tower, he studies the gentle fluttering of her lashes from above. She closes her eyes; falls into his embrace.  Everything he loved is something which he thought was other than himself. But she’s half - if not all of him. Which means he must love himself too. This is a delicious autumn truth that will follow his every seasonal move.

He walks her to the door, body still throbbing from their lovemaking.

“I want to see you again.” he demands, feels strange when he hears her laugh. For a moment he’s actually terrified that he’s reminded her of somebody else.

“I’m not running.” She reads his mind. Her hand is steady as she holds it against her lips.

“Just going home.” She adds.

Home.

There’s a light in her eye that swells his heart. Last night and this morning and an hour ago were some of the most liberating experiences of their lives. Yet her best role is in motherhood, and he’ll fight tooth and nail to experience that too.

“I’ll call you tonight.”

It’s the season of promises, autumn. So, he believes her. When he kisses her forehead for the last time he tells her he’ll be waiting.