~ PROLOGUE ~
A soft hum fills the air. Her voice is sweet when she hums like this. Though he’s learned from her singing in the shower that as soon as her mouth opens, she can’t carry a tune to save her life. He still hasn’t figured out what she’s humming, but she does it often. The same tune over and over. It could just be a self soothing song she made up, something to calm herself with. He’s not sure but he could listen to it all day.
She sits there on the edge of the bed, in only a pair of gray cotton underwear. He lies there in the spot he fell asleep in the night before, blue eyes fixated on her. She turns her head just enough so that he can see her face. Her eyes are closed, dark eyelashes resting heavily on her flushed cheeks. The sun bounces off her face, illuminating her with an orange-ish glow.
Fuck, she’s stunning.
Olivia Benson opens her eyes and turns her head over her shoulder to look at him. Chunks of messy dark hair fall into her face. Her mouth curls into a soft smile, the remnants of last night’s lipstick still hanging around on her plump lips.
“Don’t get soft on me, Stabler.” She says to the man lying behind her. Her voice is hoarse, groggy. She sees the way he’s looking at her. The way he studies her. He’s been doing a lot of that lately.
“Me? Soft?” Elliot laughs.
Olivia’s expression fades for a moment before a grin graces her lips. She turns around and crawls back into bed with him. He accepts her with both arms, wrapping them around her tightly.
“You’re the softest man I’ve ever met.” Olivia whispers against his neck, placing a kiss there. There’s wine red little marks all over his neck from the night before.
Silence fills the room. He doesn’t know whether to ask her if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. To be the softest man she’s ever met. Sometimes he feels like a concrete wall, laughing at people who slide down it on days when he’s feeling particularly vile enough to dampen them.
“But a sweet place.” Olivia adds, her hand traveling down his bare chest.
The motel room glistens in some strange way. The walls aren’t the cleanest, they need repainted. The navy comforter on the bed is dated, but clean. She could smell the tide on the pillowcase when her face was buried in it last night.
A motorcycle blasts down the road near the motel, but neither of them jolt. They do nothing but lie there in each other’s arms. Mornings together are few and far between. Usually she has to go before he does, but this morning — happens to be a morning she has to herself that she decides to give him.
Olivia’s eyes focus on her gun and badge, lying neatly on the bedside table.
“Are you here?” Elliot asks.
She smiles faintly.
“Here.” Olivia snuggles into his chest.
. . . . . .
An hour later, Elliot is in the shower. Olivia sits on the edge of the bed, this time wearing his blue button up shirt. Her hands are braced on the edge of the bed as she stares straight ahead. Blankly at a closed blind. She turns her attention to the gold band sitting on the bedside table. Her gun and badge sit behind it and for a moment, she finds it a little funny that they’re in such close proximity to one another. Just a little.
The longer she stares at it, the more something vicious stirs around inside her chest.
Olivia stands up and reaches for the ring, fidgeting it around between her fingers a few times before turning and walking into the bathroom with it. She pushes the door open, the sounds of the shower becoming heavier.
“Change your mind about joining me?” Elliot asks, his eyes closed as he washes his hair.
Olivia flings the wedding band into the toilet.