Chapter Two || there’s a great unknown from you to me
I’m done, Liv.
“El?” she swallowed, no. No. No. This couldn’t possibly be it. "Say something. Out loud."
"Liv." He reached his hand out and placed it on her cheek, taking the half-step closer to her, his chest now pressed against hers. "I need you."
[ • TUESDAY, MAY 17TH, 8:00 PM • ]
[ • OLIVIA’S APARTMENT • ]
[ • 203 WEST 89TH STREET • ]
His one hand was resting still on her cheek, his other gripping her waist just above the folded band of her shorts, but underneath the hoodie. She could feel the warmth of his fingertips against her hip bone and a flutter cut through her chest. Stay Calm, Olivia. Her brain was spinning. She felt dizzy by the closeness of his body against her own.
They’d always invaded one another’s personal space, but this…this felt different. She swallowed and turned her head, finally breaking eye contact as her lips parted and she took a deep breath. Finally, she turned her face back to his, taking in his expression.
This was a broken man. Her partner was broken. But at the same time, as she looked into his eyes she realized what he was saying to her.
He needed her.
Not just to listen to him, not just to sit next to him, not to hold him. He needed her on a carnal level. This realization was overwhelming and she felt herself begin to shake. She wasn’t sure if it was due to his closeness or the realization that he was asking for her.
For her. For all of her.
“Elliot…” she swallowed again, shaking her head slightly, “Are you…do you - …” she moved her hand and cupped it over his against her face, doing her best not to lean into his palm. Wrapping her hand around his hand, their fingers intertwined as she brought it down between them, removing it from her face. Finally, she could breathe again. “El, you need to think about what you’re doing here.”
The last time they’d held hands was a few months ago when they were undercover at The Swing Set.
It had felt normal, natural, and not the least bit awkward.
This is my wife Olivia. I’m Elliot.
In another lifetime, perhaps.
She closed her eyes, holding back the tears that were threatening to spill. Stop, Olivia. Her hand moved up and rested against his chest, trying to push him back to make distance between them. He still hadn’t spoken, just stared at her, lips parted. She squeezed his hand that was in hers, trying to bring him back to this moment. Trying to center him, ground him.
“I – Liv…I can’t go back to Queens tonight. I have an IAB interview tomorrow, they gave me a hotel room for the night. But…I can’t be – you know I can’t…I can’t be alone. I just I tried to lay down but I closed my eyes and blood..I just saw – “ She dropped his hand and brought her fingers up to his lips.
“Shh. El.” She finally cut him off, speaking softly, moving her fingers away from his lips and resting her palm against his cheek. “Did you call Kathy? Let her know you’re okay at least, Elliot, I’m sure she’s seen the news or heard from someone –“
“Yes. I did. I told her...I told her that I was okay.” He moved away from Olivia and she felt a little bit of a loss as he moved into her living room and sat down on the couch, rubbing his hands over his face. She made her way into the living room and sat down next to him, their knees touching. “Told her that they put me up in the Holiday Inn…she asked if I wanted her to come in, and I told her no. Told her I…needed to be alone for a while.”
When he turned his face to look at her she swallowed, gripping the sides of the hoodie and pulling them together. His hand extended and landed on her bare knee, causing her to inhale a little at the contact. She could feel her heart beating in her throat. His thumb rubbed back and forth on her knee, resulting in goosebumps breaking out on her bare skin.
“Elliot. You should talk to someone.” She whispered, “Huang or someone…”
“I’m here. Olivia.” He whispered, his hand still resting on her knee.
She leaned back on the couch, fist still gripping the material between her fingers, her thumb on the inside, rubbing against the soft cotton. He leaned back onto the cushions next to her, turning his face to look at her.
“Tell me what I saw in your eyes isn’t true.” She whispered, surprised when he gripped her legs and put them over his lap. They’d never sat like this in all the years they’d been partners. He’d never touched her skin this much. It was almost overwhelming. But she understood the need for contact after experiencing something traumatic like they’d just been through. She understood that he didn’t want to see his family.
She understood why he wound up at her door.
There was nothing but shared trauma between the two of them at the moment. She’d never told him about Sealview, but she knew he was probably going to need to see a therapist about PTSD.
“Liv…” He whispered, his hand lazily tracing a path from her ankle up to her knee.Control yourself, Benson. This is your married partner. Maybe she should have gone to put on leggings while he situated himself on the couch...She watched him, her head leaning against her fist. “I’m done.”
There it was.
The sucker-punch to the gut. His eyes hadn’t been lying. She jumped up from the couch, walking around the white column, running her hand around it and leaning against the desk that sat against the wall between her bedroom and bathroom. Bringing her hands up and running her fingers through her damp hair, she pressed her fingers against her scalp. He turned around, his arm over the back of the couch as he watched her. She was doubled over, and had moved her hands to cover her face.
The pain was a dull ache that started in her toes and she could feel it creeping up.
She pulled the chair out that sat underneath her desk and sat, her elbows resting on her knees, still covering her face. Don’t cry. Don’t cry, Olivia. Whatever you do…don’t cry. She swallowed the bile that had risen in her throat as she looked up, her eyes stinging with the unshed tears.
“What…Elliot. What do you…what do you mean by you’re done?” She managed to croak out. “Done with…with what, exactly?” He made a move to stand up and she held her hand up, shaking her head, “No. I need you to stay right there for a minute, Elliot.” She closed her eyes, as though that action would keep the tears within them. “Please.”
“I…uh, Olivia, I’m done with…SVU.” He swallowed. She had opened her eyes again and they had managed to lock with Elliot’s. Leaning back in the chair, she felt like pulling the hood up on the grey sweatshirt and disappearing.
‘That’s not how it works, Olivia.’ The small voice in her head whispered.
“So…what? You’re done being my partner?” The sound of her own voice felt foreign, as though she’d just uttered words in a language that she didn’t speak nor understand.
His mouth opened and closed a few times and the only sound that could be heard was the sound of the fridge and a slamming door down the hallway mixed with the sound of their steady breaths. But the sound of her heart racing in her ears was drowning even those noises out.
She was trying not to freak out. She was trying to stay calm.
She was so damn tired of trying.
Blink your lights.
You stubborn son-of-a-bitch.
This is my wife, Olivia. I’m Elliot.
That’s when the dam broke. She’d always done her absolute best to not break down in front of her partner, but at the moment, he was telling her he was done with SVU. He still hadn’t answered whether he was done being her partner. But she knew that if he said he was done with SVU, unless he was asking her to transfer somewhere with him, that’s what he was telling her.
He said he needed her.
“Elliot? Goddamnit, answer the fucking question.” She managed to hiss at him.
He sat back startled, mumbled something that sounded to her like ‘Fuck it all’ and was now gripping her arms in his hands, pulling her to her feet. Standing in front of one another, the distance between them the same as it had been moments earlier at her front door, she struggled to breathe.
The tears were slowly leaking down her face as he released her arms and brought his hands up to cup her face, his thumbs swiping the tears away. Standing this close to her, he could see her freckles, the light brown ring around her iris, and the flush of her skin underneath the zipper.
“I don’t know.” He answered, his face mere inches away from her own, yet again. Her heart was beating out of her chest as she swallowed. Trying to comprehend what it was he was saying.
As her eyes flicked from his blue eyes to his lips and back up again, he pulled her face in and thirteen years of wondering were suddenly answered as his tongue slid past her lips and she let out a squeak of surprise against his lips, her arms wrapping around his neck, her eyes closing.