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if we're sinners (then it feels like heaven to me)

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CHAPTER THREE: this is the place where we mend or we break


- previously -

“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.


They stood there, lips locked for a few minutes, tongues sliding over one another, bodies pressed against each other. When his mouth left hers, and began to travel along her jaw, she suddenly opened her eyes, and exhaled a sigh. Quickly, she moved her arms from around his neck and placed her hands on his shoulders, trying to push him back a little. To create space.

FUCK.

She just made out with Elliot. With her partner. With her married partner. Her head bowed and her forehead hit his chest as his arms wrapped around her. She was trying to regulate her breathing, but her body was doing everything in its power to betray her.

“Elliot.” she whispered, hands sliding from his shoulders to his chest, her forehead in between them. His fingers were stroking the bare skin of her back, underneath the hoodie. She knows he’s fully aware now that she’s not wearing a tank top or a bra underneath the zip-up gray hoodie that they’ve passed back and forth over the years.

“Olivia.” His voice is soothing, comes out in a dulcet tone that she feels like she could just listen to all the time.

She hummed, pulling back her head from the solid wall of his chest and tilting her head up to look at him, she ran her tongue along her bottom lip, swollen from the kissing they’d just done. She’d just kissed him back. What the hell did that say for her?

“El? What was that?

“I’ve, - Olivia, I’ve wanted to do that for…years.” Elliot answered, his fingers dancing up the middle of her spine.

“Why didn’t you?” She asked, pulling her swollen bottom lip between her teeth. “Why didn’t you do it years ago?” She took a step back, away from his touch, away from his body, away from the temptation that she felt was standing right in front of her. “You’re married, Elliot.”

Elliot interlaced his fingers together and brought his hands behind his head, arms out to the side as he exhaled heavily, his cheeks puffed out. “Yes, I know…I know I’m married, I’m sorry…Liv, I’m sorry. When are you talking about, Olivia?”

 His blue eyes watched her pacing back and forth in front of the couch, her long legs were distracting him, and he watched her cross her arms in front of her chest, afraid that she was too exposed in the gray hoodie…and he knew she was only wearing the gray hoodie and the cotton shorts. He felt a twitch in his pants at this thought. She brought her fingers up by her mouth and chewed on the middle nail, when she stopped in front of the middle cushion of the couch. He leaned forward, hands on the cushion, the couch between them.

“El.” She gave a warning glance in his direction.

“What’s wrong, Liv?”

“You’re my partner, Elliot. My married partner. My best friend. I don’t want to lose that. El, I can’t lose you.”

“Didn’t you hear me?” He reached his hand out, in the process leaning forward over the couch and making contact with the sleeve of the hoodie. “Liv, I said that I’m done. I’m not coming back to work at the end of this investigation. You’re going to get a new partner.”

There it was again. That bile in her throat. She swallowed it down again, shook her head, and took a deep breath in.

“Do you think that’s what I want? Elliot? That I want a new partner?” she rested her hand against her chest, fingers sliding underneath the material, palm resting over her heart. The zipper wasn’t all the way up and he could see the slight swell of her breast underneath her pinky finger. “I don’t want you to leave me.”

“This isn’t about you.” He shook his head, retracting his hand, placing it back on the cushion. Her mouth opened as she listened to him speak. “Olivia.” He swallowed, visibly, she watched his neck move. “I shot a teenage girl. They said that they want me to go through counseling sessions. They want me to take anger management classes. That I’m incapable of being objective when my partner is in danger. I don’t want to leave you either, Liv, but they’ll try to take you down with me.”

“Who said that, Elliot?”

“Internal Affairs. Huang. Hendricks. The Cap.” Elliot began listing off people, “Kath.”

What?” Olivia gasped. “You shot Jenna because she was literally killing people…Elliot.” She shook her head, closing her eyes. “You’re a protector, Elliot. It’s what you do.”

“Olivia. I’m done.” He moved around the couch, reaching out for her again, taking her arm in his hand, his eyes searching for hers, imploring her to understand the words he was saying. “I’m done. I’m leaving. Olivia, I’m leaving.” He shook his head, “I’m sorry if I startled you by kissing you just now, but I needed to. Liv, I just needed to know. Haven’t you ever wondered?”

She felt her mouth go dry listening to him speak, inhaling, she could smell his body wash again. His presence was always intoxicating to her, comfortable, his faith in her was a beautiful thing. He always looked out for her, made sure she was safe, alive, protected. No. He can’t possibly be telling her goodbye. No. Absolutely not.

“Haven’t I ever –“ she began, before she let out a harsh sounding laugh. “Are you fucking kidding me, right now?

“What?” He looked down at her, trying to figure out what he’d said that had pissed her off so much, made her release the harsh sound she’d made. “Liv, I’m not kidding. You know, I’m sorry if I made all of this too complicated for you.”

“El…don’t.” She paused, “Don’t apologize. I’m a big girl, and I could’ve stopped you from kissing me. I don’t want to be the reason you mess up your marriage or your kids’ lives. I’d never ask you to – “

“Liv, c’mon.” Elliot grasped her other arm in his other hand, pulling her in closer to his body, taking note that she hadn’t moved her arms any, but wasn’t clenching her fists, so he took that as a good sign. “You have to know that you aren’t, -“

“Elliot.” She shook her head, “Don’t.”

“Just answer the question, Liv. Haven’t you ever wondered?”

“Are you being fucking serious? Of course I have. God, I thought that you knew that, El.” She wrenched herself away from his grasp and walked toward her kitchen, opening the cabinet and pulling down a glass, filling it with water. “I was never on your radar though, Elliot. Even when you and Kathy were separated. But yeah, I’ve fucking wondered.”

“You kept telling me to go home, Olivia. How the fuck was I supposed to know?” He moved to stand on the other side of the bar, his hands on the countertop.

“Because I was telling you to go home to spend time with your kids, Elliot. Not to fuck your –“

“Why didn’t you tell me that?!” He threw his hands up in the air, shaking his head. “All those years, Olivia, I’d sit across the desk from you, staring at you talking on the phone, speaking one of the millions of fucking languages it seems you can speak, and I’d feel my heart flutter and I’d feel guilty because you’re so fucking beautiful…and you expected me to know that you had what? Feelings for me too?”

“I thought you knew. Elliot.” She shook her head, finishing the glass of water and placing it in the sink, turning around to put her hands back on the countertop, trying to keep space between the two of them. She didn’t know how much restraint she actually had where he was concerned. “I thought you understood what I was fucking saying that night we sat on your stoop after the Valerie Stennett case.”

“Yeah, you were asking if our partnership was alright and I told you I needed to be able to disagree with you without it ruining our stable fucking partnership. You said I was the longest relationship with a man you’d had.”

“And no one else could put up with me, Elliot. What the hell do you think that means?!” Olivia threw her hands in the air, her eyes wide, brows raised, her half-damp hair falling in front of her eyes.

“That I was someone you could depend on, Olivia.”

“No.” She whispered, exasperated, walking from behind the counter, back over to her couch. “You signed the paperwork…Elliot, you made a point of telling me you signed the divorce papers. I was flirting with you. You took me to breakfast.”

“What?” Elliot turned around, walking over in front of the coffee table, leaving the surface between them. She ran her fingers through her curly damp hair. “What are you saying?”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Liv, what are you saying?”

“I don’t know if I can accept that you’re done. Maybe I just need time, Elliot.” She tried to change the topic, go back to the beginning, but Elliot seemed hell-bent on hearing her out. “Maybe you – “

“Olivia.”

“I get it, El. I know why you came here tonight. I understand what you see when you closed your eyes alone in the Hotel room, but I don’t want to – “

“I get it.” Elliot nodded, crossing his arms in front of  his chest, shaking his head. “You think I came over here for a quick fuck or something, Olivia? That I’m just trying to get into your pants, after all these years, because I don’t want to be alone tonight – because the things I’m seeing in my head? Is that what it is? You think I just want to take advantage of your empathy and then show up at work in a week?”

“I didn’t say – “

“You don’t have to say it, Olivia. Goddamnit, I don’t need you to say it. I can tell by your body language. I can read you…Olivia. I came here because I didn’t want to be alone, yes. But I also came here because when IAB is done with me, I’m done. I’ve told you this a million times, it feels like, and it hurts more and more the more I have to say it.” She opened her mouth to say something, but he continued, not allowing her to get a word in edge-wise. “I came here because I wanted to tell you goodbye properly. I didn’t want someone breaking the news to you by proxy. I felt like I owed you that much, Liv.”

She sat there, speechless. “So you did come here expecting – “

“To spend some damn time with you away from the job. To find out – “ he took a deep breath in, turning away from her, looking at the wall instead of her face, “To find out whether or not I was just fucking crazy all these years or if we actually did mean something to one another. If we could mean more to one another. I wanted to spend time with my best friend…” He turned back around, noting the slight wetness in her eyes, the way her mouth was open, the way the light in the living room illuminated her freckles, showed the copper colored ring around her iris. “And if something else happened to happen, then it happens. And damn the consequences of that, because at least we’d both know the truth.”

“What?”

“Damn the consequences, Olivia Margaret Benson. Do you hear me? No regrets. No guilt.” He paused, “Damn the consequences, I’ve been in love with you for years, Olivia.”

Blink your lights.

Look how you turned out.

Anyway you want to have kids, I’ll support you.

It was always temporary.

Shut up.” A tear ran down her cheek, as she shook her head, looking up at him, her arms wrapped even tighter around herself. “You can’t just fucking say – “

“I’m not just saying…Everybody knows, Olivia.” She sat there, numb, dumbfounded, slightly dizzy on his words, staring up at him. “Liv? Say something.”

How the tables have turned.

“Are you kidding?” She whispered, feeling sick to her stomach. This was Elliot. Her partner of thirteen years. The man who had never once let her down. The man she had fallen in love with.  The man she trusted more than anyone else she’d ever met.

“No.” he shook his head, seeing the devastation on her face. “Fuck. You know what, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said – “ he walked over towards the apartment door, his hand on the handle, his head bowed as he took a deep breath before turning his head to look over his shoulder, “I’m sorry, Olivia.” He turned the handle, and as he made a motion to move through the door she stood from the couch, staring at him, trying to find the right words. He stepped over the threshold and as the door was closing she ran to catch it in her hand.

“Wait.” She pushed out. “You can’t just say those things and expect me to be able to answer you right away, Elliot.” She shook her head, reaching her hand down and squeezing his tightly, pulling his arm back into the apartment. “You can’t just fuck me and then show up at work in two weeks. You can’t pretend like this doesn’t change anything between us, Elliot. If we cross this line, it means – “

“I already told you, Olivia. I’m done. If we cross this line, it means everything to me. And if you give me this gift, this allowance, - “

“Okay.” She whispered, as she closed the door, locking all the locks.

“What?” Elliot was now the speechless one.

“Take me to bed, El.”

“Liv, I don’t want to just – “

“I know.”

“Then how could you just – “

She sighed. “Fine. Whatever happens, happens. Can you just –“ she shifted on her feet, grasping his other hand.

“Liv, if it does happen, I plan on taking my time.” He looks into her eyes and she feels him stripping her soul down to the barest existence. His hand lets go of her left one and he brings his fingers up to push the errant strand of hair behind her ear, cupping her cheek. “And worshipping you. Every single inch of you. Exploring…”

“So, let’s go.” She pulls him over to the couch. “Kiss me again, Elliot. I want to know. I want to…” She bit the corner of her bottom lip. “I want to know for sure.” She sat down, and he sat next to her, his hand finding its way back to her cheek again as their lips met once more. In order to deepen the kiss, he tilted her back, against the cushion, his other hand trailing up her side, underneath their hoodie as she let out a tiny moan.

He knew then, that whatever happened between them this night would always be paramount to whatever came next.