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The Game

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Six months into what Olivia would call fucking with some intermittent dating and what Elliot would probably call a serious relationship, they have devised a strange little game. It starts with an innocuous question that makes sense for two people who had a ten-year break in talking, except this question is a tell. A signal that one of them wants the truth, not for the sake of it, but the truth so it can snake through the moment like a live wire and push one of them against the wall. 

The question is simple: 

“Tell me something I don’t know.” 

And tonight, Elliot asks it. 

“Alright,” Olivia puts her wine glass on the coffee table and thinks. Flips through the years like a cookbook, trying to land on something that she’s got the appetite to sink her teeth into.

“Ok. In the third year of our partnership,” she pauses, “I was pregnant but –.”

Elliot’s relaxed posture on the couch immediately sobers, “What?”

“Let me finish,” Olivia holds up a hand, “I was pregnant for about five weeks, so barely, I miscarried and –”

“Olivia,” And now, he’s standing. 

“Elliot. You’re breaking the rule.” 

The “patience is a virtue that will get you laid” rule that got implemented after Elliot’s envy, pain, apologies, endlessly big feelings couldn’t stop interrupting Olivia’s answers. 

He runs his hand over his head, trying to rein himself in. 

“It was a one-night stand. And I didn’t even really know how I felt about it, being pregnant – and then it just disappeared. It weirdly put a thought into my head though – one that followed me around for years,” Olivia picks her glass back up, “Okay. Go.”  

The second part of the game. The person who asks the question gets a handful of chances to figure out why the other chose this story. 

“Year three of our partnership, so 2002?”

“That sounds right.” 

“What month?”

“That’s not what this is about.” Another rule of the game, there are no sad answers. No answers to provoke anger. Only answers that will make Olivia wonderfully sore tomorrow. 

“Did he come in to pick you up?” 

“You didn’t meet him and,” Olivia looks up at him, a smile slipping onto her lips, “This interrogation needs work.”

“Alright,” Elliot takes a deep breath and thinks for a handful of seconds, realigning himself with the game, “Getting pregnant put a thought in your head.”

“Mmhmm.”

“You got turned on thinking you could get knocked up after that? Didn’t you?”

“Wow. You’re quicker than you look.” 

Elliot couldn’t get comfortable back on the couch. Olivia almost felt bad at how quickly she could either make his blood pressure rise or fall. It was like she practiced some dark art on him. Dark art. Something interesting there. She files that away for next time. 

“Fuck, Liv.” 

“Do you mean bad fuck or good fuck,” she drops her voice like she’s a teacher asking a student why he’s having to stay after class again, “Elliot?”

“I mean, I don’t know yet,” He huffs and she loves this when he’s simultaneously controlling his frustration about her past sex life and turned on hearing about it, “Okay. Were you just spending nights galavanting around not using protection with random assholes after that?”

“No,” Olivia decides to throw him a bone, “It was something that got me off, alone.”

“You,” She sees his throat bob and his next question form as a surprise to himself before he says it aloud, “Did you touch yourself thinking about getting pregnant?”

“I did, yes.” 

Elliot licks his lips, “Did you think about anyone, in particular, getting you pregnant?”

“Why?” Olivia asks faux innocently, taking a sip of her wine.

All of a sudden Elliot’s grasping frustration wipes clear off his face and in its place slots something dangerous, “Because I need to know.” 

“Yes it was someone in particular,” Olivia leans forward, enunciating each word, “But he was married.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, so I don’t think it’s appropriate,” She goes to lean back, but Elliot’s hand shoots out to grasp one of her arms, firm, “...to say who it was.” 

“He still married?”

Olivia looks down at his hand, widely splayed, gripping her bicep. She shakes her head “no”. Elliot closes the space between them, his face inches from hers. 

“So tell me, Captain Benson,” Elliot’s voice cups her ear, “And start from the beginning, what you thought about when you thought about this man getting you pregnant?” 

“I—,” Olivia always thinks she’s in control when it comes to Elliot, but there’s always a sea change, when his chivalry, his upstandingness drops away leaving the naked intensity at his core, “I thought about how he’d be the one that fantasized about it, that he was plotting for it…”

Elliot’s mouth drops to where her neck and shoulder meet, she hears his voice heavy against the thin skin, “You pregnant,” he sucks deeply, “Marking you.” 

“Marking me,” Olivia repeats as she rolls her head back. 

"As owned."