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A/N: I’d like to explore a universe where Elliot never left. Everything that’s currently canon still happened, but instead of leaving he got divorced in S13 and they got together, and he transferred to OC. This ficlet is set in that universe, at the end of Stabler’s current UC op.

*originally posted on ff dot net

 


 

As soon as she gets the call that they’re pulling him out, she’s running.

 

Out of her office, out of the precinct, into a squad car, dragging Fin along to drive her. She flips the lights and sirens on, on her way to the scene of the fire in less than five minutes. They pull up at least a block away, not able to get any closer amidst the squad cars and fire trucks.

 

She gets out and starts flashing her badge, nudging past barricades, ducking under yellow tape. The scene is huge, and within a few seconds she’s asking anyone who looks like they could be in charge if they know where he is.

 

Detective Stabler?

 

Have you seen Detective Stabler?

 

Minutes that feel like hours go by, until finally she hears her name and turns to see Ayanna waving her over. She starts jogging again, and then he’s there; paramedics wheel someone past her, and the crowd parts, and she can see him. He’s leaning against an ambulance, talking—probably arguing—with two paramedics, but he’s standing.

 

He’s in one piece.

 

He looks up and finds her eyes when she’s fifteen feet away, and holds her gaze until she’s brushing past the paramedics, wrapping her arms around him.

 

“Hey,” she breathes, nearly choking at the intensity of the smell of smoke on him, “Are you okay? You okay?”

 

“Yeah,” he manages, raspier than usual, “I’m good.”

 

His palms splay out on her back, and he buries his face in her neck.

 

“El,” she whispers, leaning her cheek against his temple, “Let’s not do this again for a while?”

 

He huffs out a laugh and shakes his head, drawing a circle between her shoulder blades. After a few seconds, she feels how heavily he’s leaning on her, and she bends her knees to take more of his weight. He’s a big man, but she’s used to bodily handling people even twice her size; she’s been trained for it, understands the dynamics of it. His body is so familiar that she has no problem holding him up, and she steps into him even more, steadying him. His breath stutters when she does it, like he’s been putting on a brave face for everybody else and it won’t last much longer. She has no idea what happened to him before the fire, but he’s clearly been knocked around and it makes her blood boil.

 

“Where do you hurt?” she asks softly, right against his ear, holding onto him when he starts to sway again, “It’s okay, I got you. I got you.”

 

He groans, pressing his forehead into her shoulder. “Think my collarbone’s broken. Ribs. I’ll go in the ambulance, just wanted to wait…knew you were coming.”

 

He’s already suffered all of the injuries he’s described, and she trusts him to recognize them again.

 

“Okay, let’s go,” she breathes, immediately coaxing him into walking beside her, arm draped over her shoulders, “I got you. Okay. Guys, let’s go.”

 

The paramedics spring into action, looking surprised that he’s agreed to treatment all of a sudden.

 

One of them glances at her shield, which she’s hastily clipped to the front of her pants.

 

“Captain, are you riding along?”

 

She glances back, letting Elliot push off of her as he climbs into the ambulance with a long groan.

 

“Yeah, but not on duty, I’m his wife.”

 


 

“Thank you,” she says softly, pacing, “Yeah, just tell Noah I don’t have good service but if he wants to video call later I just need to figure out the wifi. Okay yeah, give him the—hi, honey. Dad’s gonna be okay, he should be awake soon. Okay. I’ll tell him. Okay, bye, baby.”

 

She hangs up and pockets her phone, turning to go back into Elliot’s room.

 

He’s still asleep, bare-chested with his arm in a sling, ribs wrapped, butterfly stitches above his eyebrow, bruises blooming over him.

 

She sighs and sinks back down into the chair beside his bed, rubbing her forehead. The soft beep of his heart rate monitor is reassuring, and she closes her eyes to listen to the steady sound, the tangible reminder that he’s alive. When he stirs, his heart rate picks up a little, and before she can say anything he’s startling, spiking the monitor, hissing in pain.

 

She’s out of her chair in seconds, hands on him. “Whoa, whoa…you’re okay…you’re okay…shhh…”

 

Fuck,” he grates out, squeezing her hand tight when she slips it into his.

 

“Yup,” she agrees, resting her palm on his forehead, “Deep breaths…don’t move, okay? Slow it down. I know.”

 

It takes another minute for him to get his breath back, settle onto the bed, and open his eyes.

 

“I’m out.”

 

The first words out of his mouth are a sigh, a declaration that he’s done being undercover, and she smiles gently.

 

“You’re out,” she soothes, keeping her hands on him, partially to keep him calm but mostly for herself.

 

“The hell happened?”

 

“Your blood pressure dropped in the ambulance, you passed out,” she sighs, leaning against his bed, “Turns out you were just dehydrated. Then they sedated you to set your collarbone and your shoulder.”

 

“Yeah,” he grimaces, shifting a little, “I got that.”

 

“You were right, broken collarbone. Dislocated shoulder. Six cracked ribs,” she says gently, ticking off his injuries, “You took a beating.”

 

“Great,” he sighs, squeezing her hand, “M’sorry.”

 

“Why?” she breathes, brows furrowing, “You got him. You scared the shit out of me but I’m not gonna hold it against you. No need for sorry.”  

 

He stares into her eyes for a few seconds, and a slow, sleepy grin spreads across his face.

 

“I love you, you know that?”

 

“Yeah,” she sighs, smirking at him, “I do.”

 

She cradles his face and leans down to kiss him, humming softly into it. “We are getting old, though. Too old for you to be getting the crap kicked outta you.”

 

“Hey,” he murmurs, letting her soothe him with her mouth, “You should see the other guy.”

 

She rolls her eyes, hard, and goes back to kissing him, not ready to stop just yet.

 

“I smell like a chimney, I’m sorry,” he rasps, knowing she’s not great with the smell of burnt…anything.

 

She shakes her head, brushing her nose against his. “I don’t care. Missed you.”

 

“I wanna see the kids,” he says softly, blinking up at her, “God, I can’t wait to be home. I just wanna sleep next to you. When are they letting me outta here?”

 

“One thing at a time,” she murmurs, sitting on the edge of his bed, “Noah and Eli wanna see you, they just texted. I just need to figure out the wifi—“

 

“—oh, great,” he groans, chuckling, earning himself a slap on the thigh, “Hey! I’m injured.”

 

“Not on your thigh, you’re not, I watched them cut your pants off—“

 

“Don’t make me laugh,” he begs, pressing his palm against his ribs.


A/N: Thank you for reading!