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As he waits outside her apartment, sitting in his car and fidgeting with the sleeves of his dress shirt, he thinks about their op tonight. How they decided to go undercover in a swingers’ club as a married couple. How they didn’t hesitate or allow another plan to form. How they do this as often as they can. How as much as he tries to keep it professional, he can’t help getting lost in it all.

This could be his life. Right now, he could be waiting to pick up Olivia for a night out – without the job, without pretenses – but he’s still married, still waiting for Kathy to realize once again that they aren’t meant to last. They’ve outgrown one another, or at least, he’s outgrown her. She’s stuck at seventeen, still living in the early life they built together, but he’s unable to settle. He’s a greedy SOB, always has been. He’s always wanted more than what life has given him. He loves his kids, loves his job, and at one point – before spending his days avoiding or waiting on a signature – loved his wife.

Nowadays though, he’s recognized a side to Kathy that doesn’t blend with the woman he always saw before. He’s changed, and with new eyes, he sees that she isn’t who he always thought she was. After Eli’s birth, he lost his blinders when it came to Kathy, and these last few years have left him wanting more.

He looks toward Olivia’s apartment, considers shooting her a text, but loses all train of thought when she suddenly emerges from the building. He’s blown away by the strapless, figure-hugging dress that accentuates her natural beauty and the black heels supporting her as she confidently traverses the street to get to him. Her walk is entrancing, her slightly swaying hips hypnotizing as his eyes follow their movement.

She is more.

It’s all he can think as she approaches, her attention diverted to the items inside her purse.

She is more.

He swallows, breaks himself free from her unknowing grasp and tries to remember what life has given him already. He shouldn’t be greedy, shouldn’t seek out something else when he already has more than most people – one being her.

He steals another glance; she’s closer now and his head spins at the pattern of her dress, at the way her curls cascade loosely around her shoulders, at the bounce of her breasts.

He wants more and as he watches her climb into the passenger seat, he ponders if life gave him Olivia Benson as his greatest temptation or as a flashing sign that more awaits him. If only he would reach out…

She sighs, relieved to finally be ready, and then sends him a happy, playful smile. “You ready, Honey?” She asks, teasing him with their roles for tonight. He can’t respond right away, can only stare at her as her voice sounds over and over in his ears. He has his answer on what Olivia Benson represents, the answer he’s known since the moment he met her.

She is more.

He swallows against that thought, that realization, and finally teases back before she gets concerned. “Yeah, sweetheart, let’s go play.”

With that and her soft chuckle, he directs his car out of its parking space and heads towards The Swing Set where he’ll get to play pretend with Olivia as his wife for the next few hours. If this isn’t a confirmation of what is his for the taking – if he could only do what needs to be done – then he doesn’t know what else to do with his life.

~*~*~*~*~

Elliot pulls into the same empty parking space from the start of their night and shuts off the engine. It was a successful night, in more than one way. He has more answers now then he did at the start of the evening, then he even needed to find, and that was the goal. He glances at Olivia, notices she’s trying to slide off their wedding ring, the same one they’ve used for years during their undercover ops. It tears at his heart to see it twisting away from its home on her finger. Without thought he reaches over and covers her hands with his own, unable to let her do this tonight. He needs to be her husband a little longer.

“Not yet.” He whispers, his eyes glued to the sparkling gemstone poking through their entwined fingers. He feels her tense briefly then settle, and watches as her right hand slips back to her lap, giving in to what he wants. The corner of his lips lifts in appreciation and he slowly slides the ring back into place before holding her hand in his, his thumb brushing back and forth over the top of the band.

“I’m getting divorced, Olivia.”

She inhales sharply, threatens to pull away, but he tightens his grip on her hand. His brow furrows until she relaxes, her trust in him once again overtaking all other emotions. “El-.”

“I’m not happy with her anymore. I tried, God, I tried for so many years, but I need more.” For the first time since leaving the club, Elliot lifts his eyes to meet hers, baring his intentions, his heart, his soul, and showing her everything he can’t put to words. “I need more.”

~*~*~*~*~

He talked to Kathy, finally broke through to her. The papers are signed; he plans to file them in the morning. Right now, though, he needs more. He can’t go a minute longer than necessary to finally quench this incessant thirst.

He takes the elevator to her apartment, grateful for once that it’s working. When he reaches her floor, he bolts down the hall, her name falling from his lips in a desperate chant. He needs to see her, to run his fingers through her hair, to have her wrapped around him as the shield she’s come to be for him.

He needs more.

His fist bangs on her door, his voice loud as he calls out for her. His patience is thin. He’s barely keeping it together. Freedom can make a man desperate, excited, reckless, and he’s tasting it so clearly now.

“Olivia!” He hollers out once more, but the lack of response is sending his heart on a wild rollercoaster ride. Too many times does it soar only to drop. He fishes out his keys, shuffles instinctually to the emergency spare she gave him years ago, and shoves it into the lock, twisting and pushing until the door gives way.

He needs more.

He barges into her apartment, darts through its entirety in search of her, but she’s not home. He shakes his head, catching his breath as he stands in the middle of her living room, his eyes scanning every inch of the space around him. Where is she? Did he scare her, force her to run away again? He can’t lose her, not now, now when they can finally have more.

He wants more.

He has to find her. He runs a hand over his face, trying to calm down long enough to figure out her latest move. His stare lowers to the coffee table, stopping on the loose scrap of paper and shiny gemstone resting in the middle. He holds his breath as he plops onto Olivia’s couch, slowly reaching out for the note she left him.

His heart pounds, his stomach sours, and his eyes water as he brings the words closer, as he finds the courage to give them a voice.

“El, this isn’t what you need right now. You need time and maybe, I do, too. Take the time, El. Really think about what you’re doing. What it is you truly want. I won’t be home tonight, but don’t worry. I’m safe, staying at Fin’s. If you need a place, mine is yours. I’ll see you at work. – Liv.”

He releases his breath, letting it slip away slowly as he reads her note again. He’s had time, too much of it. He’s thought about this decision more often than he likes to admit. He knows what he needs and what he wants. It’s as clear to him now as the diamond in their ring. He lowers the paper, replacing it with the ring, twirling the piece of jewelry as he thinks about Olivia, about what she’s asking him to do. He doesn’t need the time now; he already has his answer.

More.

He needs more.

He wants more.

And she is more.

Everything he needs and wants starts and ends with Olivia Benson.

Elliot drops the ring into the palm of his hand, enclosing it within his fist. He wants to chase after her, but he knows what she’s actually asking him for tonight. She needs time, to think, to hope, to take down her walls. He wants to give her that, to show her he can follow her lead with this.

But he needs more.

He pulls out his cell phone, opens their messages, and sends her one short acknowledgement. He won’t have her worrying, tossing and turning all night. She needs an answer, too, and just like she gave him his earlier, he wants to do the same for her now.

“I’ll wait for you, Olivia, for however long. Take all the time you need. Yours only, El.”

He tosses his phone on the table and then curls up on the couch, too tired to move, too drained to do anything but stare into space as sleep painfully takes it’s time claiming him. He takes in her living room, saving to memory each little detail he sees. He wants to know every single thing about her. He finds comfort when he realizes he already knows so much, recognizing most of her belongings.

“I’ll be right here when you come home.” He whispers into her apartment, his eyes slipping close, his muscles finally relaxing, his world quieting for now.

~*~*~*~*~

He stands in front of their lockers, listening to the faint sound of the shower going in the other room. He knows it’s Olivia, watched her disappear as soon as the captain caught up on their latest arrest. He’s breathing heavily, nervous and excited, as he stares at the sparkling diamond sitting on the shelf in her locker. He’s spent months searching for something better, something new he could give to her, but this ring is the only one that measures up to all that they are. It’s been theirs since he first picked it out in the early years of their partnership. It spoke to him then and it speaks to him now. Her eyes still light up each time she looks at it. There is no other ring that will do their love, their history, justice.

He hopes she’ll accept it. Move its home back from her right hand to her left. He needs to see it there again, needs to know that’s where it’ll stay for the rest of their lives. He carefully picks up the ring, sending a quick prayer as he lowers to the bench behind him. There hasn’t been a day over the last year and a half that he hasn’t known what he wanted, hasn’t known where life was taking him. He’s the happiest he’s ever been, and he owes that all to Olivia. He loves her.

The shower shuts off sending his heart racing. This is the moment, the one he’s dreamed and plotted a hundred times. Though he knows her inside and out now, this is still the one area he’s unsure about with her. He knows she wants to be married and to have a child, wants that fairytale love and life, but what he doesn’t know is if now is the right time. If it’s too early, he’s likely to scare her. He shakes his head, letting the voice that tells him to go for more drown out the one that screams with doubt. He knows she loves him.

“El?” She calls out cautiously, standing within the doorway to the showers. He startles, quickly closing his hand around the ring as he swings around to look at her. The words on the tip of his tongue die as he takes in the water dripping from the ends of her hair, a white fluffy towel tightly wrapped around her body, long legs bare and on display.

“Yeah?” He barely gets out, and as she starts to approach him, the butterflies in his stomach pick up speed. He can’t take his eyes off her, greedily drinks in the view before him, itching to touch.

Her brow furrows as she glances toward the locker room door. “That door was locked. How did you -.”

He smirks, interrupting her as he answers with a proud, “Stole the janitor’s keys.” He chuckles at her eye roll, breathing in deeply as she stops in front of him. He pulls comfort from her proximity, the butterflies calming down as her scent cocoons him. She shakes her head, leaning forward to steal a kiss while they have the time alone. He moans his appreciation, chases her as she pulls back, and lifts a hand to play with her hair, the strands slipping through his fingers as she stands straight.

“Did you get a confession already?” She asks as she steps closer to her locker. He follows her movements, scooting to the end of the bench to stay by her side.

“Waiting for you.” He mumbles, slowly losing focus as he watches her, as the ring still safely contained in his fist burns against his skin. He’s wasting time, postponing the inevitable. He needs to ask now while they are alone, while the time is perfect. This is the place where he first gave her the ring, where he first slid the band onto her finger and said, ‘I do’, where she continued to answer in same each time a case demanded they play these roles. He’s secretly married her handfuls of times now; it’s only right to make it official, to make it as real to the rest of the world as it’s always been for them.

He snaps out of his thoughts at the frantic gasp that leaves her, at the panicked way she scours her locker for the item he stole moments ago. “Liv, it’s okay. I’ve got it.” He calls out, his voice freezing her movements until she slowly looks at him. She swallows but gives him her full attention. He swears their hearts are beating in sync now, both aware of what’s happening. “I came in here for a reason, a very important one.” She nods, encouraging him to continue, and it brings tears to his eyes.

“For all my life, I’ve always sought out more, needed more. With you, Olivia, when I seek more, it’s only for you. Whatever will make you more happy, more loved, more fulfilled. All I need anymore is you and for the rest of my life, I promise, I will be more for you than you ever dreamed possible. You will never long for anything again because I’ve made it my sole purpose in life to give you everything you want and need. All I ask for in return is, maybe, a yes to my next question. Though if you say no, I’m not going anywhere. I’m yours however you’ll have me.” Elliot slides off the edge of the bench, catching his weight on his knees. His eyes trace the shape of her body until he finds her watery eyes again. He exhales shakily, trembling as he lifts his hand to hold out the diamond ring. “Olivia Benson, will you give me more than I ever deserved by promising to stay with me for the rest of our lives? Will you marry me? Without all the pretenses this time.”

She chuckles wetly, tears spilling past her lashes as happiness overwhelms her. She nods repeatedly, unable to say more than a quick, quiet yes between soft sobs. Elliot laughs with relief, with happiness, with love as he reaches for her left hand. He kisses the back of her fingers, wiping away his teardrop from her skin before sliding the ring back into its rightful place.

He holds her hand, staring at the sight through teary eyes for another minute. He’s entranced by it, in awe of what he has in life, and if it weren’t for her gentle caress of his cheek, he would have never looked away. She pulls him up, guiding him back onto the bench before leaning over to give him soft kisses, the words ‘I love you’ slipping from her lips each time they part from his. He reaches for her, tugging her closer by the hips and deepening their kisses. He holds her in place between his legs, gliding his hands up and down her sides until he can resist no more. His fingers curl into the fabric of her unnecessary towel, pulling it free from her body. She protests slightly, only because they don’t have time. He shakes his head, taking in her naked form before pressing his forehead against her stomach. His lips press gently into her skin as he inhales deeply. “I can’t wait to give you all the children you want.”

She stutters out his name through a single sob, hearing the promise in his words. She’s biting her lip when he pulls back to look at her, and before he can rise to his feet, can wrap her in his embrace, she’s pushing him back on the bench and straddling his hips. Time can wait for them for once. She wants him more than anything else in the world at this moment. She kisses him as her hands eagerly work the buttons on his shirt. Though she’s felt like his wife for years in so many ways, she cannot wait to be his wife on paper, to the rest of the world. She cannot wait to be a mother to his, their, children, and she plans to start this journey with him now. She’s earned the chance to put herself first for once. The rest of the world can be damned for the next little while. She can finally have more from life, and for her, that’ll always start and end with Elliot Stabler.