It gets easier with time.
Olivia scoffed, yeah right, she thought. 23 years working SVU and she was still waiting for the easy part. But then again, when was it supposed to be easy? Meeting people on one of the worst days of their lives? Confronting people who would make her hate humanity if she wasn’t surrounded by a wonderful team. No, Olivia had decided long ago that having it easy would not be preferable. Having it easy would mean losing herself.
With a sigh, the captain leaned back in her chair. She removed her glasses and rubbed at her burning eyes. It was 11:47 pm and she was trying to complete the paperwork McGrath suddenly wanted to see the next day.
Olivia allowed herself to take a breath, closing her eyes in the process. She had sent the squad home hours ago, so the department was running on skeleton staff. For once it was calm. In the background, she could hear the soft tunes of her playlist. Oh, what she wouldn’t give to be relaxing in a warm bath with a glass of wine.
Minutes passed with her remaining still and enjoying a short reprieve. She wasn’t sure that she hadn’t been falling asleep. But a soft rustle at her office door drew her attention.
She slowly opened her eyes and caught a smile directed at her – a smile that made her knees weak and all sense she had acquired in her 50 years of living fly out the door.
“Hey, you.” She greeted softly, her eyes meeting the blue ones of Detective Stabler.
“Sorry, I didn’t want to disturb you.” His reply was equally soft. He remained against the door; eyes focused on Olivia with an easy grin on his face.
Olivia waved the words away and sat up, “You’re never a disturbance. This paperwork on the other hand,” she looked down, gesturing in the general vicinity of her desk, “can easily combust and I wouldn’t lift a finger to put it out.”
Elliot chuckled, his heart clenching not for the first time at the realization that his Olivia managed to make such a success of herself. He clapped his hands against his empty pockets, “I’m afraid I buried my arson equipment with Eddie Ashes.” He said simply and watched as a grin spread over Olivia’s face.
“I’ll forgive you this once.” Their eyes met, and they allowed the tranquillity to wash over them for a moment.
I will always need you
If you ever need me, can't you see?
We are love
Like the Earth and ocean
We're the same devotion, you and me
We are love
The song on Olivia’s playlist reached its crescendo and Elliot turned his attention to it. He chuckled softly, “You listen to Il Volo?”
Olivia’s eyes widened in surprise, “You know who Il Volo is?”
“I lived in Italy for four years. You have to live under a rock to not know who they are.”
“Well, well… Three-piece tailored suits, coffee connoisseur, and knowledge about the Italian classics. I’m impressed, detective. Italy really rubbed off on you.”
“What can I say? When you’re surrounded by style, it’s difficult not to learn a thing or two.”
Je t'aime, mi amor, io ti amo, we are love
Adoro te, tutto al mondo, we are love
The song finished on a high and the short gap between songs made the atmosphere even more intense than the crescendo. However, the soft strains of the next song started, and everything softened out. Elliot looked at Olivia for a second more before making his way over to her desk. He held his hand out to her and she gave it an odd look.
“Dance with me,” Elliot said simply, his hand still outstretched.
Olivia laughed nervously and shook her head, “Don’t be ridiculous.”
“I’m not. With you being called away from the not-wedding we never got the opportunity to dance.” I never got to hold you in my arms, is what he wanted to say. But he learned long ago to pick his battles with Olivia Benson.
“I’m working, Elliot,” Olivia flinched at the sound of her voice. It was supposed to sound assertive, like Captain Benson. Instead, it was a little breathless. How embarrassing.
Elliot looked over the paperwork on her desk and lifted an eyebrow, “Are you saying you would rather dance with the papers than with me?”
Olivia bit her lip, her eyes travelling between Elliot’s hand and his eyes.
“Come on. It’s just one dance. And nobody to see it.”
Without meaning to, Olivia placed her hand in his and allowed Elliot to pull her up. He moved them to the side of her office where there was a little more space. One hand settled on her back while the other held hers, her other hand resting gently on his shoulder. They began swaying to the soft rhythm.
“I’ve always liked this song,” Olivia whispered, afraid if her voice was too loud, she would break the spell.
“The music’s nice.” Elliot agreed.
“The words too.”
Elliot’s only answer was a noncommittal grunt which brought a smile to her lips.
“You know Italian after four years in Italy, but fifty years in America and you still don’t know Spanish.”
“Italian is more poetic.” He replied simply which drew a laugh from his partner. They moved closer to each other, and Olivia dragged the hand that was resting in his, up to his arm, his chest, over his shoulder, until both of her arms settled around his neck. In turn, Elliot’s hand moved over her hips and joined the other on the small of her back. Being this close allowed Olivia to rest her head on Elliot’s chest as they swayed to the music.
La luna hizo esto
Fue culpa de la luna
Enamorado de ti
“What does it say?” Elliot asked after some time.
“Hmm?” Olivia asked, losing herself in the feel of… Well of everything. The beautiful music, the dim light coming from her desk lamp and computer, the moon beaming through the blinds, being enveloped by Elliot Stabler. The scene she had always been too afraid to dream of.
“The lyrics. I gather it's something about the moon."
Olivia was quiet for a moment. When she finally spoke, her voice was low and Elliot would have missed it had she not been pushed up against him, "It's the moon's fault. I blame the moon."
Elliot waited for more, but nothing came, "Blame the moon for what?"
"For falling in love. I never believed that someone could touch my heart." Elliot's breath caught in his throat. He knew she was reciting the song lyrics, but he could sense some of her own truth in them. Some of his own truth.
"The moon must have pulled me into your arms," she continued, "today, you are my world."
The song came to an end and so did their gentle sways. But they were still holding each other close. Olivia pulled her head back so she could look at Elliot. Their eyes met and he moved one hand to cup her face. "I want to kiss you."
"El-" her tone held a hint of warning, but Elliot quickly corrected himself.
"Not now. Not… with everything that's going on. But I want to. God knows how badly I want to.” He stroked his thumb over her lips where he so desperately wished to place his mouth. “But one day. When it’s all over. I want to kiss you and I want your permission to do it.”
His bright blue eyes that had been focused on her mouth, shifted back to meet her brown ones. Her eyes shone with what appeared to be tears, but she closed her eyes before he could be certain.
“I would like that very much… One day.” her voice was barely even a whisper but to Elliot, it sounded like she had shouted it from the rooftops. Olivia Benson permitted him to kiss her one day, hopefully in the not-too-distant future. Olivia nuzzled her face into his palm, her lips moving slightly to press a kiss against his thumb that was still hovering over them.
Elliot felt the breath leave his body. Damn, if a kiss to the thumb was this intense, he could only imagine how intoxicating their first real kiss would be.
Olivia slowly opened her eyes and cast a shy glance his way. “What did you need?” At the confused expression on his face, she elaborated, “You came here. To the precinct. I’m sure you hadn’t planned a dance break, so how can I help you?” Olivia started her shift back into Captain Benson, pulling away from his body. But Elliot stopped her by grabbing onto her hand.
“I just needed to get out of my head for a while.”
I’m in your head. Those had been Richard Wheatley’s words to Elliot and the detective was loath to admit that they were true. The last few weeks Elliot had lived and breathed for the sole purpose of bringing Wheatley under. Olivia had been afraid that Elliot would lose himself in Eddie Ashes, but he was afraid that he would lose himself to the man who had taken his wife from him.
"I needed to be reminded of who I am- who I could be."
I needed you to ground me, were the unspoken words that Olivia heard anyway.
"And? Did I help?" The uncertainty in her gaze broke Elliot's heart. 23 years and Olivia still had no idea just how much she meant to him; how often he needed her to remember who he was.
Lifting their entwined hands to his lips, he kissed her fingers, holding them next to his cheek afterwards, "More than you can ever know."
A brilliant smile lit up her face. His mother was right - he needed some light in his life. And the most brilliant of lights was standing right in front of him, waiting for him to finally notice her.
Well, he took notice. And he would follow her until her light surrounded him and guided him safely back home.