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what the heart wants

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She’s beyond mad at this point, the way Chief McGrath is accusing her of sleeping with Detective Stabler because she’s defending his honor to the police force. Defending her partner, who she’s always trusted, without a doubt. 

 

“He’s married!” She growls towards the phone, having him on speaker, too irritated to even bother holding the phone. “And Chief, if you’re going to question and second guess me and my trust in other detectives, in my people, as a Captain of the NYPD, then let me just surrender my gun and badge to you now. I haven’t gotten this far in my career, in my life, without having unwavering trust in my abilities to do my job and trust my people.” 

 

She huffs and listens to his reply before they both hang up quite abruptly, and she’s mad she had the phone on speaker, wanting to slam it down after the call had disconnected. 

 

She sighs and hears a knock on her open office door and Fin walks in as she lifts her head up.

 

“You were wrong, y’know.” He says, and she looks at him with a glare, feeling betrayed at his words.

 

“I don’t want to hear it!” She says, slamming a file down on her desk. “You don’t trust me either? You can take over.” She snaps, but Fin’s face only holds a soft expression, and so hers softens too, realizing that wasn’t what he had meant. 

 

“He’s not married.” 

 

“Fin, quit while you’re ahead, please.” She’s not in the mood to talk about this or argue or whatever is about to come from this conversation, she doesn’t have the energy for. “I just want to finish this paperwork and go home. Noah’s at dance competition this weekend and I have a date with a bottle of wine and my bathtub.” 

 

“I’m just sayin’ maybe you need to—”

 

“I’m so sick of people telling me what I need to do.” She huffs in frustration, sitting down in her chair. 

 

“Then do what you want to do Babygirl.” It grabs her attention and she looks at him, standing at her doorway still. “Do what your heart wants, and fuck everyone else.” He urges. 

 

She scoffs at the sentiment, and wishes it could just be that easy. 

 

“He’s not married anymore. Time has passed. He's back home and settled. It’s time for you to be put first now.” Fin says, and with that, he gives her a nod and pushes off the door jamb and heads back to his desk. 

 

Olivia rests her elbows on her desk and lays her head in her palms as she sighs. 

 

What the fuck does she even want? She thinks to herself. 

 

She knows what she wants. She’s just not sure it’s what he wants. 

 

But for once, she wants to listen to Fin, really listen. And so, she finds herself packing up her desk, straightening things out silently as he watches her from his own desk. And she picks up her keys. 

 

“You leavin’?” 

 

“I'm doing what you said, I'm doing what my heart wants.” She smiles. “Hold the fort down?” 

 

He nods, and she walks out, following after what her heart wants.

 

Which leads her right to Elliot's door. With no plan. Nothing. Not a single thought either. Except when he opens the door. 

 

“Are you alone?” 

 

“I am.” 

 

“You’re not married.” She states blatantly, trying to work through her thoughts and makes a straight shot to his couch. 

 

He’s not following her whatsoever. It’s been so many years since they’d had to be on the same page. “Wine?” he asks, holding up a bottle of red and white each. “And no, I am not.” 

 

“White please. You’re not married.” 

 

“I am not married.” 

 

“Every time someone would insinuate something between us during our partnership, that was—“

 

“That was the answer, the excuse,” he finishes, rounding the couch and handing her a glass, finally on the same wavelength as her again. 

 

It felt good. It felt familiar. It felt terrifying

 

“And now I'm not married anymore and you’re freaking out because you said we could be friends for now.” 

 

She doesn’t give him an answer, but she doesn’t need to. With the look he gives her, the gulp she takes of her wine and the way she slumps into the back of the couch with a sigh tells him everything he needs to know anyway. 

 

He stares at her, for a moment, taking her in as she sips at her wine, eyes closed in frustration. 

 

He gets it. 

 

The gold band on his ring finger and his commitment to his vows had been the only thing holding him back from her. From telling her how he felt and wanting to be with her. 

 

And he’d done just that during that damn intervention she and his children had ambushed him with. 

 

He’d told her he loved her, in front of his children, nonetheless who’d all just lost their mother. His wife. 

 

He’d been ashamed of himself. But he knew they’d mostly all understood. 

 

Dickie had just given him a smirk and shook his head. 

 

Liz quietly whispered to him that they knew, after he tried to deny it and save face. 

 

Maureen told him that they just want him to be happy. 

 

Kathleen told him she’d always known. From the way she’d listen to him talk about Olivia, how their mother would talk about her. How Olivia talked about him in the few times she’d seen her since they’d entered her life again. 

 

Eli didn’t understand because he wasn’t around for their partnership, but he’d been coming around to the idea of Olivia in their lives, and the way she just cares for all of them without overstepping. 

 

He shakes his head, focusing back on the reality in front of him, finding her staring back at him. Her arm is resting on the back of the couch, propping her head up and she’s got one leg tucked up under her and the other leg stretched across the couch, her toes tucking underneath his thigh as she faces him and she brings her wine glass to her lips, sipping it this time rather than trying to down it all in one go. 

 

“What are we doing, El?” 

 

“We’re drinking wine on my couch,” he answers and he knows if she didn’t at least tolerate him, she’d have grabbed him by the shirt and shoved him against the wall. 

 

Though now that he thinks about it, maybe he doesn’t want her to tolerate him. He’d love to have her pressing him up against—

 

“I meant what are we doing?” she reiterates, clearly annoyed in the moment. 

 

But she’s nervous of his answer, because she drops his gaze and starts picking at her fingernails, trying to preoccupy herself and not look at him. Because he knows her. He knows all the little things that make her tick. He knows he’d missed the big things in her life, like her adopting her son, and being kidnapped for days and held at gunpoint. He knows about Ed Tucker, much to his dismay, and hell, even Brian Cassidy.

 

“Whatever you want, Liv,” he says softly, reaching out for her wine glass and taking it from her, and putting them both on the coffee table. 

 

He then reaches out and takes her hands in his to stop her nervous fidgeting and gently forces her to keep eye contact with him in doing so. 

 

“If you want to stay friends, then we’re friends. If you want to never see me again, I’ll leave,” her breathing hitches at the near mention of him leaving again, and it makes his heart beat just a little faster knowing that she didn’t want him out of her life for good at least. “And if you want more, then we can—“

 

“What if I don't know what I want?”she says softly, unsure, but there’s something in the tone of her voice that makes him think she does know, but she’s just scared. 

 

“Then we can figure it out together. But listen to yourself, listen to your heart Liv,” he pleads with her, pulling her closer to him. 

 

His eyes never leave hers as he pulls her closer to him. The leg that had been stretched out under his thigh is now tucked behind him and the one that was under her is now hiked over his lap as he pulls her as close as he physically can, resting his forehead against hers and breathing her in. 

 

“Can I tell you what I want?” he asks softly, and the only acknowledgement he gets is a soft hum of approval and the slight nod of her head against his forehead. 

 

“I wanted everything with you,” he starts. “I wanted the white picket fence and the kids, and hell maybe even a damn dog. I wanted to come home to you. I wanted to put a ring on your finger and kiss you good morning and good night every day. The day you told me you’d been denied to adopt a kid, Liv, I wanted to be the one to give you that.” 

 

He can tell she’s crying, from the droplets of tears dripping off her cheeks and onto their joined hands between them and the change in her breathing as she struggles to fight back the tears. 

 

“And i couldn’t have it, because I’d been married and I’d made vows and I was committed to my faith, to death do us part,” he whispers the last bit. 

 

“But you’re not married now, so what about-what about what you want now?” she asks, and she’s still looking down, but her fingers are holding his back tight. 

 

“I want what you want, Liv. Whatever you want, whatever you’ll give me, I’ll take. I love you. You’ve gotta know this by now, but if you don’t, I’ll say it again and again until I'm blue in the face.” 

 

He didn't think it was possible to have gotten any closer to her, but she proves him wrong when she practically crawls into his lap and wraps her arms around him and tucks her face into the crook of his neck. 

 

His arms wrap around her waist, holding her against him as he feels her chest heaving against his as she lets out a few heart wrenching cries. 

 

And he holds her, like he’s never been able to before. He holds her, and runs one hand through her long locks, longer than he’s ever seen them on her before and he loves them. 

 

He breathes her in. and commits her scent to memory, because it’s changed in the last ten years, and he’s happy for her to have change in her life but it makes him sad that she’s just a little bit different from how he’d left her. 

 

And he cries with her. sniffling back his own tears, and wanting to just take all of the pain away. Take it all back, take the pain of him leaving her all back and he wishes he’d never gone about it that way, but what he said before was true. He wishes he could change it, but he knows if given the option, he’d do it all again because he knows if he’d heard her voice he would’ve never been able to leave. And he needed to then, for his wife, for his son, for his family, for her. 

 

And she’d understood that. Because that’s who she was. That's who Olivia Benson was, someone who understood and empathized with anyone and everyone, no matter what they threw at her. 

 

It's one of the reasons why he loves her so damn much. 

 

“I know,” she whispers after a beat, after she’s able to control her breathing again, but with her face still tucked into his shoulder. “I know,” she repeats.

 

“I love you,” he repeats again too, and hears her sigh softly against him. 

 

“What if I know what I want but I'm scared?” 

 

He adjusts her, and pulls her back so he can look at her when he tells her. 

 

“Then tell me so we can face your fears together. That's what partners do, right? Stick together for better or worse?” 

 

He doesn't get any type of verbal answer, just the feel of her lips crashing against his as her hands come up to cup both of his cheeks and then slide against the back of his neck before she intertwines her fingers together. his thumbs press into her hips as he holds her against him, kissing her fervently. 

 

He’d dreamed about what it would be like to kiss her. What it would feel like, how she would taste, when it would happen, where, everything. 

 

And nothing could prepare him for how right it felt, how comforting and perfect it felt to finally have her like this in his arms, kissing her like she was breathing life back into him, and as if they were dying all at the same time. 

 

“And what if I'm not scared anymore?” she mumbles against his lips, breathlessly, in between more softer, chaste kisses.

 

“Then I’m going to tell you I love you as I lay you out on my bed and commit your body to memory, and pray to God I don’t wake up from this dream,” he says, standing up with her in his arms and she lets out a shriek as he carries her to his bedroom, kicking open the door and turning her so her back closes it and he heads to his bed, setting her down gently before crawling over top of her. 

 

He stares down at her as she looks up at him, toying with the knot on his tie. 

 

“You sure you’re okay with this?” he asks again, wanting her full consent. 

 

She takes a deep breath before looking up at him and pulling his face down, centimeters from hers. He can feel her breath against his lips as she hesitates in her words. 

 

“I'm sure, Elliot. I love you, and I want this,” she says before leaning up and closing the gap between them. “Partners, right? We do this together?” 

 

He just nods into the kiss.

 

Partners, he thinks, Yeah they’ll do whatever this was, together, because he was never letting her go again.

 

She wouldn’t let him go either.