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I knew if I heard your voice (or The one where a [sexy] geriatric detective accidentally sends his [sexy] geriatric captain friend an explicit voice iMessage)

Chapter Text

She can’t believe she’s at a pool hall and that she let them talk her into this.

Amanda has the neck of her beer bottle dangling precariously between her index and middle finger, but she doesn’t seem concerned at all. She’s clearly in her element, and even Sonny, out of his usual heavily starched suit and hair gelled to oblivion, seems comfortable. He’s laughing as Amanda whispers something in his ear, and Olivia quickly averts her eyes, feeling like she’s intruding on an intimate moment.

She smiles to herself, thinking I knew it for the 100th time in the past week, and looks down at her phone. Noah is at the weekend sitter’s, and it’s a good situation. The sitter has twins that are around his age, and he loves going over there. But she still feels guilty. Her long work hours make her feel like any free time she has should be spent with her son, but she also knows she can’t just be a mother and a cop.

She takes a sip of her red wine (Is she seriously drinking red wine at a pool hall?) as she hears her phone vibrate against the surface of the heavily lacquered and extremely sticky round cocktail table. She looks down and sees she’s gotten a text message. She swipes left and taps View with her finger. It’s a voice iMessage. And it’s from Elliot.

That’s weird, she thinks. She’s never gotten a voice iMessage from – well – anyone, let alone Elliot. And it’s two minutes long.

She holds the bottom end of her phone up to her ear and presses the Play button. She thinks she hears someone breathing, heavily. Well, maybe? She can’t be sure. The pool hall is loud, too many people talking and music blaring from the jukebox, so she’s straining to listen. She holds the speaker closer to her ear and then –

“Hey, Liv. Your turn,” she hears Amanda call. She looks up and the detective is smiling widely. Her arm is outstretched, holding a cue stick towards her. Sonny is standing right behind Amanda, his hand grasping her firmly at the waist. He’s smiling like a fool, and Olivia rolls her eyes, but its accompanied by a sincere grin. They’re annoying in the sweetest possible way, and she really is happy for them.

Olivia swings her legs to the right and lowers herself off the stool. She selects Keep underneath the voice message before sliding her phone into her back pocket. Walking towards Amanda, she takes the cue from her hand. “Alright, you two,” she says. “Let me show you what a sharper looks like.”

Amanda snickers.

“Counselor, how ‘bout a round of beers and Patron over here? Let’s celebrate,” Olivia says, as she dramatically positions herself and aligns her vision center with the cue ball.

Sonny lifts an eyebrow, smiles, and looks at Amanda, who just shrugs her shoulders and laughs.

“Alright, Cap,” he says. He leaves them to place the order, hearing Olivia loudly call her shot: “Red. Left corner pocket.”

The night is still young, and the message from Elliot is temporarily forgotten.


“Well, I have to say,” Sonny muses, nursing a beer. “Still waiting for Hustler Liv to make an appearance and take me for all my money, but I’m actually impressed. You're as close to a shortstop as it gets.”

Olivia laughs. “Well, a few more ounces of that tequila and I could probably win a world tournament, but,” she clasps a hand over her mouth and doubles over, feigning nausea. “I'd also probably have to do it seated.”

“And I think they prefer competitors to be sober at those things - and, you know, vertical," Amanda adds, clearly enjoying her captain's remarkably light and playful disposition.

“That’s probably true. Oh well,” Olivia shrugs. “Guys, this has been a really good time. I’m glad I decided to join you. I’m just sorry Fin and Phoebe couldn’t be here to celebrate with us. But I know they’re really happy for you, and I am too,” she says.

Sonny pulls Amanda closer and they both smile at her. “Thanks, Liv. Really,” Sonny answers. “Your support means so much to us.”

“I’m glad,” she says. “And I needed this myself, so thank you. But I think I’m going to call it a night. Best stop while I’m ahead or tomorrow morning will be painful and then I may not be so happy for you anymore,” she says playfully. 

“You’re probably right. We have two little girls who will definitely be calling right when the sun rises, and if we keep this up, we won’t be happy for us either,” Amanda replies, slightly emphasizing the we have. Olivia notices.

The three of them rack their cue sticks and exit the pool hall. They exchange goodbyes while they hail separate cabs. As Olivia gets into hers, she slides her phone out of her pocket and thinks it’s strange that it hasn’t vibrated even once in hours, and even more surprised that she hasn’t really thought about it all night. How much did she drink?

She taps her screen.

Nothing.

She taps it again.

Still nothing.

She presses the power button, and shit. That’s why. Her phone is dead.

How is it dead? she thinks. She could have sworn it was fully charged.

Damnit. She feels a flutter of momentary panic, hoping she hasn’t missed anything important. Noah? Work? Ugh.

She takes a deep breath to settle herself and spots her building up ahead.

It’s fine. Everything is fine. She’ll be up in her apartment and her phone will be charged soon. She’s also instantly decided it’s time for a new phone, and that from now on, she’s carrying that stupid portable NYPD-branded power bank that’s been sitting in her desk drawer for over a year.

She kind of misses landlines. That thought makes her feel momentarily old and deserving of an "okay boomer" reaction, as Noah would say. She really shouldn't let her kid on Tik Tok. Would he even know how to work a landline? She shakes her head and marvels, still, at how much has changed over the years.


She’s showered and moisturized and not quite sobered up, but her cell phone has powered back on. She hears her phone as it starts vibrating. Buzz. And then another. Buzz. Buzz. Buzz

She’s panics. OH MY GOD. What’s wrong?

She looks at the screen and swallows thickly.

 

Text Messages

23 Notifications

Phone

12 Notifications

 

All from Elliot Stabler. 12 missed calls but no voice mails. 23 text messages. What the hell? She opens up his message window and see the last one first: Olivia, PLEASE.

She scrolls up to go to the beginning of all his texts from the evening. The first is the voice iMessage. Then –

 

 

Liv. That was a mistake. Don’t open that.

                  ***

Liv? Did you get my text??

                  ***

Please let me know you got my text!!

                  ***
LIV!!

                  ***

Oh my god, Olivia. Please don’t listen to that voice message!

                  ***

Shit, Liv. It’s gone from my phone. I don't see it. Is it still on yours? Please say no.

                  ***

Liv. Please answer me!

                  ***

Shit, Liv. I just checked on Google and I guess its gone from my phone after a few minutes but stays on yours for 2 minutes after you’ve listened to it. But I don't know??

                  ***

Please tell me you didn’t listen. Olivia.

                  ***

I wish you had READ receipts on your phone!! Are these even going through?

                  ***

You’re mad. I bet you are mad. I’m sorry. Where are you?!!

                  ***

I wish I could ask my kids or Jet about this!! I hate these stupid phones.

 

And eleven other messages, each one more desperate than the last. What the fuck, she thinks. What the fuck is going on? She scrolls back up to the voice iMessage and stares. What doesn’t he want her to hear? So, of course, she does what Olivia does.

She presses play.

Chapter Text

Just as she presses play and hears the first ragged breaths, her phone starts to vibrate. Elliot Stabler flashes on her screen.

It’s a voicemail. For some reason, it hadn’t come in before. She presses the phone icon, taps on his message, and hits Play.

“Olivia, I’ve gotten called in. We really need to talk. Listen, I don’t know if you heard that voice iMessage (he huffs) but…um…I just, we just need to talk, Liv. I’ll let you know when I’m done and I’d like to come see you. Okay? Olivia, I am really sorry. I want to throw this damn phone into the Hudson. Anyway. I hope you’re okay. Liv? Text me or call me.”

The message ends.

Okay, NOW she’s really curious.

She takes a deep breath and steels herself as she goes back to his text message window. Her hands are shaking a little. 

Stabler, what have you-, she thinks.

Her thoughts are interrupted by the heavy, ragged breathing and the panting. It’s all a little muffled but it - definitely sounds like him? There is a loud moan. Is she listening to Elliot moan? What the hell is going on?

“Yeah. Ohhhhh. Liv.” 

There’s no mistaking it. It’s Elliot’s voice.

She can’t possibly have heard what she thinks she heard.

Her jaw goes slack.

 



Elliot is in the car. Ayanna had texted him about an hour ago to meet him at the Esplanade, with her pinged location. He thought it was strange she was asking him to meet her on the Lower East side at this hour, but he also knew she must have a good reason. 

His entire drive to Brooklyn is spent with his mind racing. Was Ayanna in trouble? This shit with the Mercy Killers was escalating. It was a tangled web of complex connections, and the hole went deep. He’d been worried about Ayanna and her proximity to it all, and he could tell she was carrying something heavy every time they spoke. He knew that things with her wife were tense, even though she didn’t talk about it much, and Ayanna had confided in him that she was worried about Nova and how deeply she was in it all. She’d told Elliot that she spent many sleepless nights worried about him when he was UC with the Kosta Organization, but that it was worse somehow with Nova.

“I don’t know, Elliot. She’s always been a tough nut to crack, but I’m really worried. The way she was after Penda’s death. Maybe I shouldn’t have pushed her so hard. I should have gotten her out rather than pushed her back in. Something about this doesn’t feel right,” she had said.

“Nothing about this is right, Ayanna. Undercover work is…” and his voice had trailed off because he hadn’t been able to put it into words. 

“Yeah, you would know,” she had snickered. “But it’s hard for the people on the outside too, and maybe even harder because we are so helpless most of the time. We call you assets, but you’re people, and I just worry how long a person can do it and not get lost,” she had answered.

Elliot had thought about that, how he had felt like Eddie Wagner at times, even liked being him some days. 

“Sometimes it’s easier to be someone else, especially when your own life is falling apart,” he had answered truthfully. 

She had looked up at him, tilted her head slightly, and smiled empathetically. “But you have to eventually come back to you. And that’s the thing, Elliot. No matter how deep you got, I knew Stabler was still there. Don’t get me wrong,” she glares. “You were reckless and wandering around the city half-cocked and singularly focused on bringing down the man that murdered your wife. But that was the connection to you. That and your kids, your mom, and -” she had stopped short with “and.”

“And?” he had asked.

“And, Captain Benson,” she had replied.

Elliot had looked at her, eyes narrowed. But he hadn’t responded, because they both knew it was the truth.

“Look, Ayanna,” he had offered instead. “Nova and I really aren’t that different in that respect. She knows the job, and it’s important to her to see this through. In her mind, she is righting a wrong and making sure Penda’s death isn’t meaningless. She’s tough and smart and she’ll be alright,” he had tried to assure her.

“I just hope she doesn’t completely lose herself, Elliot. I have to be careful with Nova. She’s not you. You’re incredibly pig-headed and fearless, and you don’t give a single, solitary fuck about much, least of all your own safety, when you’re in the field - which, by the way, I could’ve just beaten the shit out of you for sometimes.” she had said, lightheartedly but also clearly serious.

“I would’ve like to have seen you try,” he had muttered under his breath, jokingly. Ayanna had rolled her eyes at that and given him a “don’t push your luck” look.

But,” she had continued. “You’ve been in the game a long time and I know I can be straight with you. Nova, she’s skittish. That’s what worries me,” she had said.

Thinking back to that conversation, Elliot is now sure this meetup with Ayanna is about Nova, and it makes him press the gas pedal a little harder.

However, no matter how hard he tries to focus on his work and get his mind right for whatever he’s walking in to, Elliot can’t stop thinking about Olivia and that fucking recording. He keeps envisioning her listening to it, what she must be thinking. 

Where the hell is she? Why isn’t she answering his calls or texts?

He looks down at his phone and opens up her text window. He scrolls up the thread. My god. He had texted her over 20 times. He’s glancing at all the blue and it only serves to deepen his shame and quicken his pulse.

To add insult to injury, she still hasn’t responded. 

“Fuck,” he mutters. So much for “My friend, Olivia.” 

He tosses his phone onto the passenger seat with disgust. He’s really done it this time. Maybe he’ll find himself taken hostage, or better yet, shot tonight. Both those options are preferable over having to face her with his body in tact after this. Perhaps lying with another bullet hole in a hospital bed on the brink of death will help her forget what she’s inevitably heard by now. 

Then he realizes he knows Olivia, and she would probably have the doctors bring him out of his coma just so she could hold the phone to his face and ask him what he was thinking. This, Elliot? This is how you tell me you want me?

He’s squirming in his seat.

She’s bold and brave and untouchable, and she doesn’t avoid things, at least not anymore. She will go toe to toe with him, and god, would he love that. He loves her. And…he’s a little turned on?

What’s wrong with you, he asks himself, as he pulls into a parking spot. 

 


 

Olivia is still in the bathroom, sitting in stunned silence on the edge of the toilet seat lid. She’s leaning forward on her toes with her elbows resting on her thighs. Her hands are cupping her mouth, and she is in a mild state of shock.

Did she just - did she just hear that? Had she really just heard Elliot getting himself off while - while moaning her name over and over? Had that really just happened?

She gets up and anxiously walks in circles around her small bathroom, looking down at the tiled floor and running her fingers through her hair. 

“What the hell?” she asks aloud, and thinks she should start searching for the hidden cameras inevitably recording this whole scene. 

This has got to be a joke. It can’t possibly be real.

She knows, though. Deep down - not even that deep down - she knows she just heard Elliot-Fucking-Stabler jerking off to some shitty online porn video while moaning her name.

This cannot be happening.

She’s never been an avoider (well except for that one time when she transferred to computer crimes rather than face her feelings about him. And yes, okay, also that other time when she moved to the other side of the country rather than, well, face her feelings about him). But she’s a grown ass woman now with a whole kid. She faces conflict head on, but her predominant thought at the moment is how she wishes she could just pretend she never heard it and go on with her life. She could do that, right? Just act like she doesn’t know what he is talking about in all those text messages. Tell him no voice iMessage came through so whatever he is freaking out about, he can stop now.

Or, she could just avoid him altogether, right? 

Elliot Stabler who? Nope. Never heard of him.

Ha! That’s not happening. That could never happen. She can’t avoid him forever, and one look at her and he would immediately know.

Goddamn it. 

Okay, okay. She takes a deep breath and tries to settle, entering a negotiation phase. Maybe it’s just the initial shock of it all. Maybe it’s not really that big of a deal. Men fantasize about these things all the time. They think about sex, what, 75 times a day, or so she’s heard? And, they imagine every woman naked. Their neighbors, their friends’ moms, the clerk at the bodega. They’ve pictured them all naked at some point. It’s normal. T O T A L L Y normal.

Even their ex-partner. Their ex-partner of 12 years with whom they had spent 4,380 days around almost constantly except for a few breaks. Their ex-partner with whom they had gone undercover in sex clubs and fake adopted babies and who’d had to ask herself if she minded her potential date getting harassed for no reason except going out with her. Their ex-partner who they ghosted for 10 years and then came back to and quickly admitted they loved. Their ex-partner with whom in a parallel universe, it had always been them. 

Yep, totally NOT normal. Fuck. That logic certainly did not help.

Wait, but what if - Olivia thinks, really trying minimize - maybe it really is just the shock of getting the message in the first place. And that, coupled with Elliot’s frenetic texts and endless calls, had her in a dysregulated state the first time she listened.

Plus, she is even more sober now, so.

Benson, are you really going to press play again?, she thinks. 

She has to. She has to be sure, so she walks over to her cell, picks it up, and does what she has to do.

There’s a lot of heavy breathing and panting. Some shitty music track is playing in the background. She can hear disembodied voices clearly in the throes of passion. Lots of “Oh yeah, right theres” and “Unnhhhhs.” God, even his porn choices are dated as hell.

And then she hears Elliot’s voice. 

“Yeah. Ohhhhh. Liv, right there. Uh, baby, that feels so good.” 

First of all, baby? She’ll kill him.

More background noise. One of those people is clearly Meryl Streeping it, working hard for that check. There have to be at least three people in that video, she realizes. Is he watching a threesome? Group sex?  God, she knew it. Vanilla, my ass, she thinks.

She hears Elliot’s voice again. “Liv, you’re so wet. I always knew you would be wet for me. Uhhhh.” 

His voice is really ragged and he’s breathing even heavier now, and he sounds so sexy. She closes her eyes briefly and envisions him sitting on his bed, his hand on his dick, pumping himself with incredible speed. Maybe his other hand is cupping his balls. Maybe -

Her eyes jerk open. What is she doing?

And where was his mother? Where was Eli? He’s being so loud.

“I just want to turn you over and rail you from behind so hard. I want to hear you scream my name, Olivia,” she hears him say. 

Boy, he’s a talker. 

“I’m…I’m close. You gonna come for me, baby? You like the way I fuck into you, Olivia. I want to see you come for me.”

She can feel the flutters in her stomach, and the shock and embarrassment of it all is waning. She feels her walls contract a little and the temperature of her body is rising. Is she sweating? She’s definitely lightheaded. Would he fuck her like that? He obviously wants to. How big is he? She bets he’s a good size, and what he lacks in length he makes up for in girth. How hard does he get? Probably like a rock. What would his mouth feel like on her lips - both sets?

She imagines herself sitting on the very edge of his bed, completely naked, her legs spread eagle. He’s kneeling in front of her, one hand firmly gripping the inside of one her thighs while he uses the other to run his thick fingers along the indentation of her folds and her clit. She soaking wet for him, and she can tell he likes that because he looks up at her with a sexy smile and then bites his lower lip. He slides his index and middle finger inside her, pumping in and out slowly, then faster, and she thrusts her hips up and down to take them deeper. When he slides them out, they’re glistening, and he brings both fingers up to his mouth, sucking them dry. She hears him moan and say “hmm,” before leaning into put his mouth on-

His “Oh, fuck. Why the fuck is this thing-” snaps her out of her fantasy, and she realizes that must have been when he saw that his phone was recording the whole thing. Seriously, how did his dumbass manage to not only record but also SEND it to her?

She realizes then that she is very turned on, and that it's worse than she originally thought because not only is she no longer wishing she could pretend this never happened, but - well - because she’s actually wishing he had been doing those things with her. To her.

She’s not kidding herself. She’s always been attracted to him, loved him for a long time, and she’s lost track of how many times she’s gotten off to fantasies about him, but this is different. Now she knows for damn sure he feels the same way. And, she has a sneaking suspicion this isn’t a one-time thing for him.

She’s walking around again and she’s adjusting herself because, fuck, she’s wet.

It’s so much to deal with, and she knows she’s not thinking clearly AT ALL, but she also knows there is no denying any of this anymore. Neither of them can. And whether he meant to or not, he’s made the first move, and the ball is now in her court. 

The only thing left to figure out is, what is she going to do about it ?


Chapter Text

His phone buzzes in his pocket as he is walking up to meet Ayanna. He pulls it out and sees Olivia’s name on the screen. His heart skips several beats, at least.

And, he’s lost sense of time and space too, apparently, because his feet are glued to the floor when he hears Ayanna.

“Hello, Earth to Stabler.” Her voice brings him out of his trance and he slips the phone back into his pocket. If he reads Olivia’s message now, no matter what she’s said, he knows he’ll be fucked and he’s working, for chrissakes.

“Hey, yeah. Sorry. Everything okay?” he asks her.

“I should be asking you that question,” Ayana answers, eying him suspiciously. “Are you okay?”

“All good, Sargeant,” he quips. “But, Brooklyn?”

“Yeah, I’m sorry for the cloak and dagger routine. I was at dinner with Denise and some of her colleagues, and I got a call –“

She’s cut off by the loud buzzing of Elliot’s phone. He takes it out of his pocket again and looks down. It’s a second message notification from Olivia.

Ayanna lifts an eyebrow. “Do you need to respond to that?” she asks, when she sees his wide-eyed expression.

“No, it’s, uh, nothing,” he answers.

“Are you sure? You’re not acting like ‘it’s nothing.’ Elliot, is everything okay?” she asks.

No, Ayanna, everything is not okay. I accidentally sent Captain Benson a voice message of me jacking off earlier tonight and she’s probably going to murder me if I don’t spontaneously combust before then. So this may very well be the last time you see me.

But of course, he doesn’t say that. Instead, he shakes his head and does what men do.

He lies.

“It’s…It’s just my mom checking in. She’s been rattled, you know, since the whole Wheatley thing,” he responds.

Stupid, Stabler, really stupid. Bernadette Stabler does not know how to text. For God’s sake, you can barely text.

“Ugh,” Ayanna says in disgust, seeming not to catch on. “If I never hear that white man’s name again, it’ll be too soon. How is she holding up?” 

“She’s fine. I mean, better,” he answers, wanting to change the subject. “Sorry, what were you saying about a call?”

“While I was at dinner, I got a call from Nova. Some of the Mercy Crew are meeting an ‘associate’ at a warehouse a few blocks from here. We need to follow. Now that Preston Webb knows her relationship to Derek, it’s just not sitting well with me. I want eyes on her. And maybe we can figure out who this mystery associate is,” she continues.

Elliot’s phone buzzes again. Shit, he thinks. That can’t be good. He pulls it out of his pocket, and sees a third message notification from Olivia. This time, Ayanna sees it too.

“Your mom, eh Stabler?” she asks, shooting him a knowing look before turning to make her way to her car. “Answer your girlfriend so you can focus, will you?”

“She’s not my…we are friends, Ayanna“ he replies, following behind her.

“Yeah, yeah, friends,” she says, obvious disbelief in her voice. “Well, the Captain will have to wait, at least until we are done here.”

Elliot shakes his head but doesn’t say anything else as he opens the passenger door to Ayanna’s car.

It’s going to be a long night.


Is really doing this?

She’s nursing her third glass of red since 1 am. After the third, or was it fourth?, listen of Elliot’s message, she was in such a state she needed something to calm her down. The vibrator (coupled with the message…well, shit, she’d probably listened to it at least 3 times during that alone) helped a little but her mind is still racing.

Olivia looks down at the three texts she’s sent him.

First of all, you’re an idiot. 

Then: I have so many questions. 

And last: An invitation to join her on Wickr, with her username atalanta

She laughs at the last one because that dummy probably won’t even know what that is when he sees it. But Olivia’s not reckless – okay, what she is about to do is totally reckless, but she’s not stupid – and she’s not about to send him any of the things she has in mind through iMessage. Given his poor track record, he probably has previews enabled and he’ll have his damn phone on the counter or on his desk and they’ll just pop up along with her name OLIVIA BENSON and –

She shudders at the thought.

Nope, she’s definitely using a double encrypted app with a shredder and a configurable expiration timer that won’t be associated with her phone number. She knows she can’t take him down in hand-to-hand combat, though the thought excites her a little – or a lot, actually – but she can run circles around him in every other way. And if she’s honest, she’s turned on by the thought of pulling rank in the bedroom.

I’m standing right here, Captain. That memory ignites another fire between her legs.

My god, is she really ready to do this? She closes her eyes momentarily and can hear him in her head. He’s moaning her name and she can see him touching himself and –

That bastard. That goddamn coward, screwing around with other women while undercover and then privately imagining fucking her.

Well, privately. Ha, so he thought. She wonders for the millionth time how such a smart, beautifully sculpted man can simultaneously be such a dumbass, but she also can’t help finding it endearing and such a turn on. She’s so soft for him but also pissed AND horny, and it’s just a massive clusterfuck of emotions.

She grabs her phone again and fires off one last message.

I’m ready when you are. 


Two hours later, they’d laid eyes on Nova and crew, and Ayanna had managed to snap some grainy photos of the “associate” that had already been sent to Jet to run through facial recognition software.

As soon as he’d gotten back in his own car, Elliot had quickly opened up the text messages from Olivia.

There was no question now. The voice iMessage had been sent and listened to. He wasn’t sure what he expected, but this definitely wasn’t it: I’m ready when you are. 

What. The. Fuck. 

He’d tried to download Wickr (the text just directed him to the App Store, but it was going really slowly), and it takes nearly the whole drive home for it to install.

Elliot pulls into a parking spot by his house and cuts off the engine. He stares at his phone, a little dumbfounded. What was happening? Was she – was this – what was this? She didn’t seem angry, maybe mildly annoyed when she called him an idiot, but not mad. And the I’m ready when you are…was that an invitation? He wants so badly to drive to her place, but his lingering embarrassment and the knowledge that if he showed up there, after this, and with her son home, they’d definitely never find his body, stops him from doing that.

So instead, he texts her.

Ready for what? 

His finger hovers over the blue arrow pointing up, and he takes a few shallow breaths before pressing it.

She responds immediately. It’s an eye-roll emoji.

Did she just…eye-roll emoji him?

He pulls up his emoji keyboard but he doesn’t know what most of them mean, because of course he doesn’t. What ever happened to words, he thinks. Why aren’t those good enough anymore? He swipes through all the emojis slowly. There are a bunch of yellow faces making all kinds of expressions (he gets the angel one from Eli often), body parts (is that tongue one…sexual?) and hand signals, animals, weather, lots and lots of food items, various objects (Maureen randomly sends the plate and utensils one to remind him to eat), symbols, and flags. He finally settles on the two red question marks and sends it as a reply.

Olivia immediately replies: My god, Elliot. The app I sent. Use Direct Message in that.

Damn, she is fast.

Elliot opens Wickr and sees he has to create an account to accept her invitation. He’s truly not in his element. He has to choose a username and password. He sees hers, atalanta, makes a mental note to look that up later, types in EStabler as his username, and uses one of two passwords he has memorized. After three attempts to match passwords (thick fingers, he thinks, that must be it), he sees the Direct Message option and messages her Hi.

Real smooth, Stabler. 

atalanta: Hi, yourself.

atalanta: Really, Elliot? Your real last name? 

Whoops. Was he not supposed to do that?

He thinks he should go inside his house, because he probably looks really suspicious sitting out in his car at 3 am, but he doesn’t even have a chance to before he sees a new message.

atalanta: Glad you figured it out, at least. 

He scoffs at that.

EStabler: I’m a quick study.

atalanta: We’ll see.

We’ll see? What is she doing? 

He realizes then that every message except the last one she just sent is gone. He tries to scroll up but nothing is there.

The next message is audio. He swallows thickly and presses play.

“I want to feel your hands on me the next time you moan my name.” Her voice is breathy and husky and oh my god, is that Olivia’s sex voice? Is she actually saying –

But he gets his answer immediately when a photo comes in.

He nearly passes out.

 

Chapter Text

She sitting on her bed now. Both her nightstand lamps are on, and a soft ember glow fills her room. She’s also lit two candles on her dresser, and she can smell a hint of NEST’s Ocean Mist & Sea Salt. It smells amazingly sexy – and for 50 bucks a candle, it better. She’s wearing only her blue silk robe with cream colored silk panties underneath, and she’s actually put on makeup and fixed her hair. It falls in loose waves around her face, her standard hair style these days. The fact that she’s fixed her face and hair at 2:30 am has not escaped her, but if she’s going to do this, she’s going to do it right.

Leaning against her giant mound of pillows, she looks down at her phone and shakes her head when she sees his name pop on her Wickr app confirming he’s accepted her invitation. She’s truly flummoxed. 30+ years of various undercover gigs, and this man is using his government name for what is clearly a private messaging app. Seriously, how is this possible?

And his first message is Hi. He’s been out of the game a long time. Jesus Christ.

Olivia shakes her head and replies: Hi, yourself.

He must be done working, she thinks. And really, he used his actual name?

Really, Elliot. Your real last name?, she messages him, because she can’t get over it.

He doesn’t respond to that. Good, she thinks. Maybe he’s rethinking his entire life right now.

They exchange a few more messages back and forth before she presses the audio record button.

Here goes nothing, she thinks. There is no turning back now. She’d already thought about what she would say. She needs to confirm for him that she's listened to his voice note (she’ll keep the little detail of how many times to herself – for now) because, well because it’s Elliot, and so she goes for it. She leans back, throws several pillows onto the floor, and slides her legs down until they’re flat against the mattress. Her right hand goes to her left breast and she rubs her nipple until it’s hard. That always makes her breath catch in her throat.

“I want to feel your hands on me the next time you moan my name.”

She immediately presses send before she has a chance to back out. Surprisingly though, she’s not nervous. Not even a little. She’s had hours to think about this, to make a sane, rational, adult decision, and with each passing minute, she’d just felt more confident in her decision.

It isn’t payback, exactly. She thought at first she would play this up, let him stew in his embarrassment because she knows – with all those hysterical texts, how could she not – that he is absolutely mortified. At first, she was too, but.

But, if there ever was a time to seize the moment, this is it. Sure, he’s been shooting his cute little shot for months, inviting her to his house with her son and his family, asking to take her out to lunch on a Saturday afternoon with Noah. It was sweet and he means well because he is trying to include her son, and she knows he’s telling her he understands they’re a package deal, but it hasn’t been enough. There were so many other moves he could have made, not just leaving her to read-between-the-lines and resolve the subtext. The choir boy act isn’t going to cut it with her. Not anymore.

Then tonight, the universe – that fucking parallel universe he’d mentioned in the letter and tried to explain when he was high as shit – had decided for him. And she wasn’t going to let him backpedal. No way in hell.

Not this time. It’s her turn.

She lies back further and splays her hair across her pillow. Her knees are slightly bent and she’s dropped them carefully to the left, angling her body in the most flattering position possible. Her left arm is raised above her head. The robe has fallen open, exposing a little over half of her right breast, with a bit of her nipple visible. She uses her right hand to hold the camera up above her in a way that captures three-quarters of her body perfectly. She parts and upturns her lips slightly so she’s not quite smiling but looks…inviting.

She snaps the photo, thinks about a caption for a second, then laughs at what she’s about to type. Safety first, right?

atalanta: Screenshot it and I’ll have your badge.


She’ll have his what? Screenshot? His badge? He’s confused – by absolutely every.single.thing that is currently taking place.

He rubs his eyes and stares at the image before him. Anyone looking in from the outside would think he was a lecherous old man because he keeps licking his lips and compulsively rubbing his hands roughly down his chin. His eyes must be deceiving him.

It’s…Olivia. Olivia, like he has never seen her. She’s wearing…what is she wearing? A robe? Barely. He can see so much of her skin. Is that her nipple? OH FUCKING HELL ITS HER NIPPLE. She’s completely golden, with her beautiful honey streaked hair creating a halo around her head. And the way she is looking at the camera. She’s looking straight at him, her mouth slightly ajar, her lips are pouty and she looks - mischievous?

Elliot has to lower his phone for a minute because he really think this has to be a dream. A very real, very amazing, fairy tale dream. That’s the only explanation. He’s fallen asleep and dreamt this entire scenario and his brain is really messing with him. Or, he’s fallen and hit his head. He's mildly concussed and…having a sex dream about her. It’s happened before, right? Or, maybe he actually was shot tonight and he’s lying on an operating table and she’s out in the hospital lobby waiting for news about his condition while he's dying and…having a sex dream about her. Or, he'd imbibed a lot while undercover with the Albanians. For months and months, he thrown back too many shots and beers to count, and maybe his liver gave out and he’s in a coma, waiting for her to donate a lobe while he…has a sex dream about her.

He’s sick. It’s probably not any of those things, but that’s besides the point. He’s truly sick in the head.

He uses his index finger and thumb to form a V of sorts and presses on his eyes. Once. Twice. Three times. When he can focus again, he lifts his phone and holds it about 10 inches from his face (he really needs readers, he thinks, but then that would make him a grandpa with readers), and looks down at his phone.

All the messages are gone. The audio, the photo, the messages. They’ve all…disappeared.

Nooooo, he pleads silently, scrolling back up. But there is nothing there. 

“Dammit,” he growls. How? What did he press? Where did they go? So he can send messages he doesn’t mean to but deletes ones he wants to look at every minute of every day for the rest of his life?!

He closes the app and opens it again. Still nothing.

He sends Olivia a message.

EStabler: Did you delete those off my phone?

atalanta: Elliot.

That’s it. Just his name. And a period.

He waits to see if she will send another message. She doesn’t.

EStabler: Everything is gone.

atalanta: That’s how Wickr works. Nothing stays for long.

atalanta: How did you think I can delete things off your phone from here, Elliot?

Shit, he doesn’t know. He's an idiot, but the stuff Jet can do, isn’t anything possible?

Oh, shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. He wished he has saved that picture. HOW IS IT GONE?

His mind is racing now. He’s trying to figure out what to do. He’s still sitting in his car. It’s been, what, 15 minutes, and he realizes his windows are completely fogged up and he’s suffocating. Is he suffocating or has he forgotten how to breath? He’s contemplating taking off his jacket, cracking his windows, and just spending the night here, because what the fuck is actually happening, but gets his wits about him. 

He gets out of his car and hits the key fab once to lock his doors. As he makes his way to the side gate, he decides he needs to call her. He just needs to hear her voice and this will all make sense. He opens up his phone tab and searches for her name.

It rings. Once. Twice. Then goes to voice mail.

His phone immediately vibrates. It’s a Wickr notification.

atalanta: That’s not how this works, Elliot.

What? What is she talking about?

Establer: I want to talk to you, Olivia. Please pick up.

She doesn’t respond.

EStabler: I’m confused.

atalanta: Confused? Or aroused?

Well, fuck. Yeah. Yeah, he’s aroused AND confused and he just wants to talk to her.

EStabler: Both.

atalanta: Are you more confused, or aroused? There is one right answer.

He’s inside his house now, and he’s frantically pulling off his jacket with his left hand while he uses his right to hold his phone and try to message her back. But that’s not working. He throws his phone on the couch and practically tears one sleeve of his shirt getting the right cuff of his jacket off his body. He picks up his phone again.

Establer: Aroused.

atalanta: Good answer.

The house is very dark and Elliot fumbles his way to his bedroom, trying to be as quiet as possible. He really can't have a normal conversation with anyone right now. He shuts the door quietly behind him, kicks off his shoes, and sits on the edge of his bed. Before he has a chance to respond, another message has come in.

ataltanta: Now its your turn.

His turn? His turn for what? He’s needs guidance.

Establer: My turn for what?

He needs help. My god does he need help. 

atalanta: Show me what you looked like when you were recording that voice note earlier. I need to see it.

Oh, holy hell. When did Olivia - when did she - when did she break into the amateur porn business?

atalanta: C’mon, Elliot. It’s not nice to send a girl an audio without a visual.

She’s going to cause him to have a massive coronary. He needs water. He needs something. He throat is dry as the Sahara and this woman is trying to kill him, but not in the way he worried about earlier. He finds a half-full water bottle tossed on the floor, and he downs it one one large swig before responding.

EStabler: You want me to send you a picture of me, you know?

He can’t believe he just typed and sent that message. On purpose. Once again, her response is quick as lightening.

atalanta: I want you to show me what you looked like when you were fucking me earlier, Elliot.

The room starts spinning. He squeezes the phone so tightly in his hand that he thinks he may crack the screen before falling back onto his bed.

He’s not going to survive the night.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

He is in the worst mood. It’s 10 am on Sunday morning, and despite the beautiful day and the delicious cup of coffee in his hand, he’s shitty. He hadn’t slept a wink last night. After acquiescing to Olivia’s request to show her “what he looked like” while he was "fucking" her, he hasn’t heard a damn thing back. No *winky face,* no follow up photo, no reaction whatsoever. Was that a bad sign? Had she been testing him? Was she disgusted? What? WHAT? 

This must be the thing Eli is talking about when he says he’s been “left on read.” Jesus, he thinks, he’s truly too old for this mess. 

He had laid in his bed looking down at his phone every minute for nearly an hour, truly not believing she hadn’t bothered to respond. After his third “Hello?” he'd finally given up. He'd thought he’d embarrassed himself enough with the 20+ texts earlier (and not to mention THE VOICE NOTE),  and figured he’d reserve d e s p a r a t e Elliot Stabler for more traditional text messages. At 7 am, he’d finally gotten up, powered on his laptop (it was dead, of course, and it had taken him a good 10 minutes to find the charging cable), and decided it was time to learn a little bit about texting etiquette in situations like this. First up was understanding what truly happened to that damn voice iMessage he’d lost. He'd found the first paragraph of what seemed like a relatively smart person sharing information about it on the website www.quora.com, but it wanted him to sign it using an email account (was it ELKAStabler or KAELStabler?), and Kathy was the one who'd had their personal email password saved, which he'd had no idea where to get now. He'd been able to find a YouTube video that explained it well, though, and after several pausings and restartings of the video, he'd figured out how to change the Audio Message expiration from 2 minutes to 1 year in his phone settings.

Wow, there is a lot of shit on thing, he’d thought to himself, marveling at his iPhone.

Next up was understanding the Wickr app, and that was way more confusing. He'd thought he'd found information about it on a website called Reddit, but it turned out to just be a lot of pictures of people texting very explicit things back and forth, which kept him mildly distracted for about 20 minutes and given him some good ideas he'd committed to memory. When he'd felt he understood just about as much as he could about "strong encryption, Perfect Forward Secrecy, content that literally disappears when not needed anymore (that certainly was bullshit because he still undeniably needed that content), and untraceable IP addresses," which honestly was about 1/15th of it, he'd decided he needed to brush up his sexting skills. He'd wished he could just type in "What does Olivia Benson find sexy" but even he knew that was a ridiculous thought.

What he did find was that the one thing pretty much every person who wrote opinions on the internet agreed on was that the "dad/dude/uncle selfie” was never something he should do. The New York Post had some article literally dedicated to the topic: "Why men take selfies from below and women from above," which explained the evolutionary reasons for this. Apparently the tilted up angle made men appear more powerful and taller. The article also suggested that people intuitively manipulate the vertical camera angle (what the hell is that?) to embody how they want to be perceived by the opposite sex. Ha, he'd thought. The only thing he wanted Olivia to "perceive" was how much he wanted her and how much he could please her with his dick. Then he'd thought she would definitely roll her eyes at him for that, and in the end, he'd had to agree that the article made  - well - good points. He'd looked at various examples of the dad selfie, all men who were clearly over 45, held the camera too close, were usually wearing sunglasses or squinting, and always seemed to feature their noses – and sometimes their nose hairs – most prominently. He hadn’t done that. Well, at least he didn’t think he had, but when he went to the Wickr app to double check, of course he couldn’t because THE FUCKING PHOTO AND EVERYTHING ELSE WAS GONE. "Disappears when not needed anymore" his ass.

The article in GQ on taking a selfies like a male model was helpful, but the only thing he could remember was proper lighting, *abs* (he that one in the bag), and "having fun." Also, forearms, he'd added of his own accord. She'd spent years staring at his forearms. 

Lastly, he'd found a piece on - Mashable was it? - entitled “How to sext better” from 2021, and that one did have a lot of great tips. The first thing it mentioned was consent and LOL he didn’t have any doubt about that. He'd discovered he could buy app-controlled sex toys, but the article had warned that blue tooth sex toys have a lot of connectivity issues, and he'd decided to put that on hold because 1 - that was moving way too fast and 2- he was barely keeping up as it was.

So anyway, here he is, at 10 am, with a lot of new information swirling around in his brain but still in a state of mild disbelief. And it's pissing him off that he can't just go back to confirm that everything he thinks happened actually happened. It is taking an enormous amount of self control not to message her.

As it turns out, he doesn’t have to mull that over too long, because an iMessage from Olivia comes in at exactly 10:09 am. 

Olivia Benson: Hello, my friend Elliot. 

He immediately (well...not immediately because his phone keeps correcting “morning” to “mowing” and he has to erase and retype it four times) replies Good morning, my friend Olivia, with an exclamation point because he doesn't want to sound too needy, after all. Ugh, he's a sad, sad man. 

He sees three blue bubbles pop onto his screen, and then disappear. What?, he thinks, I fixed that setting

Then –

Olivia Benson: Turns out that Fin and Phoebe are having some friends over on Friday evening for drinks, and I’ve been asked to invite you. Noah is in rehearsal until 7:45, so I only have a few hours, but would you like to join me there? 

Is she...is she asking him to come with her – as his date? Okay, okay, so this is new. He doesn’t hesitate, though. He texts her back, I’d love to.

Olivia Benson: Great. See you Friday! 

Wait, is she serious? That’s it? Really? He opens up his Wickr app and there is absolutely nothing there. He shakes his head and can’t help but laugh at her. 

What’s going on here, Benson?, he thinks. But he doesn’t send her that. Instead he rises from the patio chair, long forgotten and now barely tepid mug of coffee still in hand, and goes inside the house for a very, very cold shower. 


Olivia presses the side button on her phone to lock it, and sets it screen down on the coffee table. She’s pretty pleased with herself. She actually had received a call from Phoebe that morning inviting her over on Friday, with a casual, “Fin says to invite Elliot if you want” thrown in, and she had jumped at the opportunity. 

Last night had been really great, and she’s feeling refreshed. Excited, even. Elliot had sent her the photo she requested, well sort of, and she *had* taken a screenshot of it, saved it on her personal cloud, and promptly deleted it from her phone. She had to admit, he looked fucking delicious in that photo. It wasn’t as racy as she'd hoped (there was plenty of time for that), but it was a great start. 

He was holding the camera a little higher than waist height and ever so slightly angled down. She could tell he was flexing his pecs and left bicep. He appeared to be completely naked, but she couldn't see past his abdominal v line (so fitting they call those "sex lines," she'd thought), and he'd completely left out his face.

"Interesting choice, Stabler," she'd thought, and she'd decided she would ask him about that in the future. Finally, she'd guessed he was trying to keep it classy, really testing the waters, and her initial disappointment had transcended into something softer.

Fuck, oh i s s h e f u c k e d. She truly loves this man. 

***

Olivia spends rest of the day with Noah, shopping for some cooler clothes for spring and a new dance bag. They visit the library to check out a few books, and top off their day copping a squat at Bryant park while enjoying gyros and listening to an acapella group practice a medley of Alicia Keys' songs, which gives Noah an idea for a new routine. It truly has been a beautiful day, and Olivia can't help but fantasize about her, Noah, and Elliot watching the New York Philharmonic's Picnic Performances in the summer. Or would that be too soon? Sure, 20+ years too soon.

By 8:45 pm, she has Noah tucked into bed, and she gets in the shower. She's really electrified, and she can't help but hum Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" to herself as she soaps up. It's 9:15 before she is settled into bed, book in hand, and staring at her phone. She thinks about how she shouldn't start this with him tonight, but she really, truly, absolutely wants to, so she decides one message won't hurt.

She opens up her Wickr app and sends him three lines.

atalanta: Sorry I didn't answer you last night. After you sent that picture, my fingers found their way in between my legs, and I get sleepy after sex. I can't wait to see the rest of you soon, Elliot.

She closes the app with a satisfied smile and opens her book to Chapter One of Taylor Jenkins Reid's Maybe in Another Life

Chapter Text

It’s finally Friday, and it’s been a long fucking week. He hasn’t seen her since Tuesday, after their faux fight at 1PP and the aftermath, which he hadn’t stopped thinking about since the moment she told him in that sexy, husky voice, “You’re undercover, as Elliot Stabler.”

The way she'd stood so close to him and inched even closer when she’d said “Elliot, my friend, you’re doing the right thing,” was a scene he’d replayed in his head many, many times. He’d wanted to grab her and kiss her right then. He hadn’t been able to stop staring at her mouth and the look she’d given him hadn’t said “stop,” or “what are you doing?”

So, he’d tried to shoot his shot, but she’d denied him, once again. Standing there in that leather jacket and bedhead waves – she’d had the audacity to turn him down.

He’d opened that goddamn app so many times since then and – nothing. Until now.

It looks like a link, maybe? He’s not sure what to do with it.

He’s sitting at his desk, and he looks up so he can scan the room. He doesn’t see anyone, but thinks maybe he should go somewhere else - the bathroom or outside - but he doesn't have the patience. So instead he presses down on the underlined words.

Suddenly, he’s out of the app and in a new window. A video plays. He hears a siren and rain.

The music starts and the volume is loud. Too loud. He’s frantically trying to turn it down.

I just wanna show you how much I appreciate you (yes). Wanna show you how much I’m dedicated to you, plays from the speaker. He can’t find the goddamn volume buttons.

He sees Ayanna and Jet peak their heads out of her office. “Stabler, what the hell?” the Sergeant asks.

“I know. I-,” he mumbles, as Jet makes her way down the stairs. “Don’t you know how to turn that down?” she asks, grabbing the phone from his hand.

“Don’t-,” he says, trying to reach for it, but Jet already has turned the volume down and is handing it back him.

“Jesus Christ,” she says, as she shakes her head and walks back up to Ayanna. He doesn’t even know what to say.

“If you’re going to watch Beyoncé videos at work, you should probably get headphones,” Ayanna says, laughing, as she and Jet go back into her office and close the door.

Headphones, he thinks. Shit, does he have those?

***

He knocks on the door twice and waits a moment. Fin opens it and gives him a smile.

“Hey, man. Glad you could make it,” Fin says, taking a step back so Elliot can come inside. “How you been?”

Elliot gives Fin a half-hearted smile. “Okay, you know,” he replies, and Fin nods.

“Yeah, I heard. Crazy man.” Then, “She’s talking to Phoebe in the living room.”

They both know who she is. Elliot just nods.

He makes his way through the apartment when she comes into view. He knows she’s just come from work, but she’s wearing a pencil skirt suit with a champagne colored blouse underneath, which is – new? She’d never been one for skirts or dresses at work unless it was related to a case, and it hugs her in all the right places.

She’s definitely changed in the years he was gone.

Phoebe says something that makes Olivia toss her head back and laugh. He can’t stop looking at her. Phoebe notices him and they make eye contact. She tilts her chin towards Elliot. Olivia turns around and they lock eyes.

She looks – incredible. His mouth goes dry.

“Elliot,” Olivia says, making her way over to him. "I'm glad you came.” He can feel the energy radiating off her, and he's never felt anything like it before.

She slips her hand into is and she leads him over to Phoebe, who leans in for a hug and a kiss on the cheek, before scolding him. “You didn’t show up to dinner last time. I wasn’t sure you were going to make it today.”

He doesn’t have chance to respond, though, before Olivia says, “Oh, he wasn’t going to miss this, were you Elliot?” and she is definitely flirting. He feels like he’s been hit over the head and he’s trying not to trip over his words. “Yeah, I’m sorry. I – I was undercover and didn’t have a chance to, you know.”

Phoebe just looks at him with an “uh huh,” before asking what he’d like to drink. He tells her a beer would be fine, and she leaves them standing alone.

“So,” Elliot starts, looking down at his shoes. “How’s your week been?”

She ignores his question completely.

“What kind of music are you into these days, El?” she asks, practically growling him name. He shifts, uncomfortably. Is she…teasing him?

“What?” is all he can manage.

“Heard any good songs lately? Something I should add to my playlist?” she asks him, seductively, and he’s saved by Phoebe reappearing with his drink.

“I need to talk to Fin for a second. Is he in the kitchen?" Olivia asks.

Phoebe nods, and she and Elliot watch as she leaves the room.

“She’s a beautiful woman,” he hears Phoebe say. Elliot doesn’t answer, just shakes his head in agreement and takes a long sip of his beer.


Heard any good song lately? She’s a bitch for that. And it makes her smile.

She’d been wanting to send him that video all week, but she’d decided right before they met for drinks at Fin’s would be the perfect time.

It was worth it because his face was priceless.

After toying with Elliot for another hour or so, she’d had to leave to pick Noah up from rehearsal. She'd ordered them their typical Friday night pizza and taught him to play a few card games. During their third round of Gin Rummy, she'd brought up the subject of Elliot.

“Noah, remember I told you about my friend, Elliot?” she’d asked.

Noah, who'd been intent on winning that hand, had asked, “Your old partner?” 

“Yes, my partner from years ago, from way before I was Captain,” she'd answered.

“Yeah, why haven’t I met him yet?” Noah had replied.

“Well,” she’d explained. “Things have been very busy for everyone, but I was thinking that I might want to introduce you to him sometime soon. How do you feel about that?”

“Sure, I’d like to meet him,” Noah had answered.

And that had been that. No fanfare. No more questions. She thought maybe she was making a bigger deal of the whole thing than it was, and now that he is safely tucked into bed, she's reflecting on the exchange and thinking that next time Elliot asks to take them to lunch, she'll say yes.

She is thinking about other things, too.

Still fully dressed from the day, she sits on the edge of her bed, opens the Wickr app, and sends him a message

atalanta: Did you like the song?

It isn’t even a minute later when she gets a reply.

EStabler: Yes. I liked it a lot.

atalanta: Would you like for me to dance like that for you?

EStabler: Do you even need to ask me that?

atalanta: Answer the question.

EStabler: Yes, I would like for you to dance on me like that.

On. He’s being bold. He’s learning.

atalanta: What are you willing to do for it?

EStabler: Anything.

Oh really, Stabler?

atalanta: That’s what I like to hear.

atalanta: Are you up for a game of Confessions?

EStabler: Yes.

EStabler: What is it?

She laughs because he really would agree to anything right now.

atalanta: We each take turns picking topics, and we both have to answer a question about them. No lying, no holding back. Then each of us can ask one follow-up question.

atlanta: And if I like the way it goes, you'll get a reward.

EStabler: What kind of reward?

atalanta: I’ll dance for you.


Just as he reads "I'll dance for you," he hears a knock. He hastily closes the app with a “Just a minute” and shakes his head like he's clearing the marks on an Etch-a-Sketch before opening his bedroom door to find his youngest standing on the other side.

“Hey, dad. Just wanted to say goodnight,” Eli says.

“Okay, good night, Eli,” he answers, pulling his son in for a hug. “Is your grandmother in bed?”

“Yeah, she turned in a few minutes ago.” Elliot sees Eli looking around his room, his eyes landing on tangled headphones. His son chuckles. “Do you even know how to use those?” 

“Actually,” Elliot says, walking over to pick them up. “No, because of this thing.” He's pointing to the headphone jack. “I don’t understand where this goes. It doesn’t fit anywhere on the phone.”

“That's because those are the old headphones. Where did you even find these?" Eli questions. "You need the Earpods with the lightening connector."

Elliot looks at his son, confused.

“Where’s the box that your iPhone came in?” Eli asks.

“I don’t know. I don’t think I have it anymore. There was nothing else in the box,” he responds.

“Dad, the phone always come with headphones. They’re underneath the inside packaging. You probably threw them away.” Eli shakes his head and mutters “Boomer” under his breath.

“What?” Elliot asks, “What’s that, Boomer?”

Eli rolls his eyes at his father. “Never mind, dad. I probably have an extra somewhere. I’ll look for them tomorrow,” he says, tossing a “'Night” over his shoulder as he walks down the hall.

Elliot closes his bedroom door, locks it for safe measure, and picks up his phone.

There are two messages waiting for him.

atalanta: I’ll go first.

atalanta: Have you ever kissed a stranger? And not the one that drugged you that night when you came to my apartment.

Establer: Yes.

atalanta: Who?

EStabler: I was at a bar. A woman was flirting with me the whole night. When we left, we were standing outside waiting for cabs. I kissed her. She asked me to go home with her. I didn’t.

atalanta: When was this?

EStabler: You said one follow-up question. I answered. Your turn to answer.

atalanta: No, I haven’t.

EStabler: Really, never?

atalanta: Really, I don’t kiss strangers.

atalanta: Your question.

EStabler: Okay, have you ever had sex with a woman?

It’s probably a typical male thing to ask, but he figures why the fuck not.

atalanta: Depends on what you mean by sex.

EStabler: That’s not an answer.

atalanta: I have kissed women before. Fooled around. I’ve never gone down on one.

Elliot has to put the phone on his lap for a second. He’s reeling from reading about Olivia doing anything sexual with another woman.

atalanta: You? Ever had sex with a man?

EStabler: No.

atalanta: Ever watched male gay porn and been turned on?

He doesn’t want to answer that.

atalanta: Elliot, you have to answer.

She knows him too well.

EStabler: Yes.

atalanta: Hmm.

atalanta: Have you ever called out the wrong name during sex?

EStabler: Yes.

atalanta: Whose?

EStabler: Yours.

atalanta: Oh my god.

EStabler: It happened more than once, but that’s all you get. Your turn.

atalanta: I have not. I don’t use names during sex. It’s all moaning and yelling. Hopefully, anyway. 

She includes a winking emoji in that response. He thinks she actually is trying to kill him once and for all, but he's undeterred.

EStabler: When did you know you were attracted to me?

atalanta: The first time I had a sex dream about you. I woke up and realized I had orgasmed in my sleep.

EStabler: Do you remember the dream?

atalanta: Vividly. We were fighting, but I don’t know about what. You grabbed me and pushed me down to my knees. Then you put your dick in my mouth. I was going down on you for a while but before you came, you lifted me onto the desk, pulled my pants down, spread my legs open, and fucked me hard. I think maybe I called your name out in that one.

His fingers don’t work anymore. He’s dizzy, again. His dick in her mouth. She just told him he put her dick in her mouth in a goddamn dream. He can’t do this. He needs her now.

EStabler: Olivia.

atalanta: Want to finish this on camera?

Chapter Text

She’s tried video calling him three times. THREE times. And each time, she hears two long beeps and gets a Failure to Connect message on her app.

What. The. Fuck.

She’s trying a fourth time when she sees he's calling, and not in the app. She hesitates a moment before answering.

“Yes?” she answers, and she knows she sounds annoyed.

He can tell immediately. “Olivia, I’m sorry. Don’t be mad. I know I’m not supposed to call you here but…” he says

“But what, Elliot? Out with it,” she replies.

“Well, this thing says a video call is coming in, but when I go to answer it, the call just disappears,” he answers.

She groans. This can’t just be easy, can it? She was – ready – in the mood. And this is like a cold shower. A very cold, very painful shower.

“I don’t know what to tell you, Elliot. Mine is working just fine,” she says.

“Well, can I just call you on FaceTime?” he pleads.

“No, you can not 'just call me on FaceTime,' are you nuts? That’s not how this works. There are rules, Elliot,” she reminds him.

“Okay, okay,” he sighs, acquiescing.

She feels a little sorry for him then and adjusts her tone. Patience, Olivia. Patience. You know this isn’t his strong suit.

“Look,” she says, softer this time. “What model iPhone do you have?”

“What model – what?" He sounds bewildered.

“Good grief, Elliot. You don’t know the model of your phone? How long have you had it?" she presses.

He tells her he's not sure, four or five years, he guesses.

“Four or five – Christ, Elliot. That’s why it isn’t working. That phone probably can’t even get software updates anymore,” she says.

“Olivia, speak English,” he says.

“These phones, they – they aren’t able to get software updates from Apple after about five years. And these apps are developed according to software specifications. Which means the app probably doesn’t work well on your phone anymore. Honestly, I’m amazed we’ve been able to communicate on it at all,” she explains.

“Soooo…?” he asks, because he's still not getting it.

“Soooo…unless you upgrade your phone, what we were just trying to do won’t be possible,” she continues, flatly.

“Well, how do I upgrade my phone then?” he questions.

She finds herself momentarily considering if she truly wants to fuck this grandpa. Of course she does. Its not a serious question, but honestly, where the hell has he been living, amongst uncontacted tribes in the Amazonian rainforest?

“Tell me, Elliot. How do you function like this at work?” she has to ask, because she truly can't fathom it.

“I don’t know, Olivia. They give me what I need and show me how to use it. I’ve just never thought much about any of this other stuff for personal use and Kathy always-“ Before he realizes what he's said, Olivia's already cutting him off.

“Okay, let me stop you right there, Elliot. Go buy a new phone. And while you’re at it, go ahead and pick up a pair of AirPods and a phone stand of some kind. You’ll,” she drops her voice and clears her throat, “need those, too.”

“New phone and stand and – what else did you say? iPods?” and she hopes to god he's writing this down because he'll need the notes.

“No, Elliot. AirPods. They’re wireless headphones that connect to your phone. For god’s sake, don’t try to buy an iPod,” she tells him.

“Okay, I’ll get them tomorrow,” he assures her, “but for tonight, can we-“

“Goodnight, Elliot. Sleep well,” she says, before ending the call.


At 9 am the next morning, he’s knocking on Eli’s door. He gets impatient after the fifth try and enters his son’s bedroom to find him stretched out across the bed, his feet and hands dangling over the edges.

They really should make a bed for extra tall people, he thinks, as he tries to shake Eli awake. The boy sleeps like the dead.

“Eli,” Elliot says, louder. “Ellliii.

“Huh, huh. What?” Eli says, straining to open his eyes. Elliot's already opened the curtains and blinds, and the morning light is flooding the room.

“God, dad. It looks like I’m standing on the sun in here,” Eli complains.

Elliot laughs. “That’s dramatic. I need you to get up. You’re coming with me to the Apple store.”

“The Apple – what? What time is it?” Eli asks.

“It’s a little after 9. C’mon, get dressed. Yelp says the store has wait times of up to 3 hours by noon,” Elliot continues.

“Yelp – Dad? What are you talking about?” Eli mutters.

“Up, Eli. I want you dressed and ready to go in 15 minutes,” Elliot says, as he exits his son’s room. “We’ll pick up some breakfast sandwiches on the way there.”

Eli groans and sits up on his bed. “Good to see you moved on to a new phase of unhinged weirdness, dad,” he calls out.

“15 minutes, Eli,” Elliot warns again, and he’s already out of his son’s view.

***

25 minutes or so later, they’re in the car eating bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits. Eli’s drinking a large Red Bull because “How else am I supposed to wake up at the butt crack of dawn on a Saturday,” he complains, to which Elliot replies that he’s already been up for hours.

“Cool, dad. What secret award are you competing for?” he retorts. Elliot doesn’t respond, just lovingly swats his son on the backside of his head because his kid is funny as fuck sometimes.

Another 20 minutes, and they’re approaching one of the Apple associates. Elliot explains he’s looking for a new phone – holding out his current one as evidence of his need – a phone stand, and an iPod.

“An iPod, dad? They don’t even sell those anymore,” Eli tells him.

“No, wait, not an iPod. The wire-free headphones. What are they called?” he asks the associate.

“AirPods,” the associate and Eli both respond simultaneously.

“You want AirPods, dad? Since when?” Eli inquires, eying him suspiciously. “And a phone stand?”

“Yes, Eli. And mind your business. Anyway,” Elliot clears his throat, “they’re for work.”

“Dad, work gives you a phone. And this is my business because you dragged me out of bed at-“

Elliot cuts him off. “Eli, I said they’re for work.” He turns back to the associate. “So, can you help me?”

“Sure can,” the associate answers, cheerfully. “Follow me.”

“Dad,” Elliot tells his father as they follow the store employee to the row of new iPhone 13 and 13 Pros. “You know you can just trade in your phone at Verizon. They’ll give you a credit and they always have deals.”

“Now you tell me,” Elliot mutters, and Eli rolls his eyes. “Well,” he says, “If I had known exactly what you were planning, I would have.”

An hour later, they’re leaving the store. Elliot has a shiny, new green iPhone 13 Pro, protected in a MagSafe clear case, a JOBY tripod, and a pair of AirPod Pros. And for his “troubles,” he’d bought Eli the AirPods Max in silver, with a promise that he’d shut up about his father’s mysterious purchases. “Not a word, dad,” he’d promised.

Most importantly, Elliot had learned to save everything to the cloud, and had gotten all the data on his phone transferred to his new one, including his downloaded apps. And it was everything, because his 64 GB of iPhone storage was completely full. He hadn't ever backed up a single thing anywhere else.

He feels a little bit of sticker shock when he looks down at the receipt. He’d spent a grand total of two-thousand, one hundred, twenty-two dollars, and seventy-six cents.

Worth it, he thinks, as he stuffs the receipt into his pocket. He remembers Olivia’s dream and smiles to himself.

Eli notices (the fact that his dad is actually smiling after just spending over 2 gran is incredibly dubious) but doesn’t ask any questions, just mutters under his breath, “You’re a weirdo, dad.”

“Yup, that’s your old man,” he responds. “Come on, I’ll get you back home so you can lay around like a bump on a log all day.” At this, Eli grins. His dad may be a weirdo, but he gets him.


Olivia is watching Noah as he plays catch with another boy at the park. Her son is a good catcher, and she feels a twinge of nostalgia as she remembers him playing baseball with Peter. He was so young then, and the boy she's currently watching is practically a pre-teen. Somehow, it just seems time passes by more quickly now.

She looks down at her phone and sees a message has come in on Wickr. She opens the app.

EStabler: I’m the proud owner of a new iPhone 13 Pro, AirPods, and a tripod.

She responds with a clapping emoji and types out: Welcome to the 21st century!

EStabler: I tried to take a picture of it to show you, then realized that was impossible.

Olivia can’t help but laugh.

EStabler: So, can we pick up where we left off?

atalanta: Soon, yes.

EStabler: Soon? Soon like tonight?

atalanta: What’s the hurry?

EStabler: Are you joking?

She laughs again because he's so predictable.

atalanta: Sort of. Not funny?

EStabler: I’m dying here.

atalanta: Oh, you poor thing.

EStabler: Olivia, I’m serious.

atalanta: Okay, okay. Tonight it is. How does 10 pm sound?

EStabler: 10 pm sounds amazing. I’ll just have to distract myself somehow until then.

atalanta: I’m sure you can think of something. How about learning how to use that camera and stand? And maybe, practice? Sharpen your skills - all of them.

She sends that with the tongue, taco, and sweat droplets emojis. He doesn’t respond, and its because she knows here’s trying to decipher that code.

atalanta: And Elliot, while you’re at it, learn what that means, too.

She closes the app, feeling proud of herself.

This may damn well be the best idea she’s ever had.

Chapter Text

He’s sitting on the sofa, phone in hand, trying to figure out how to decipher the emojis she’s just sent.

A tongue. A taco. And – what is that? Water, maybe?

The first thing he googles is tongue taco water. Of course, all he gets are dozens of recipes for authentic beef tongue tacos.

Has he ever had beef tongue tacos? he wonders, but only briefly because he doesn’t have time to waste.

No distractions. He’s on a mission.

Next, he decides that maybe he’ll have better luck by typing the emojis into the search bar, but that turns out to be an exercise in frustration because he can’t master toggling the keyboard.

Finally, he decides he will try tongue, taco, water again and add emojis + sex to the end. That does the trick. The first article is “19 Dirty Sex Emojis to Heat Up Your Sexts.”

The first thing he sees is that there is an emoji – an eggplant – that means penis.

How do people come with this shit, he wonders, but he also can see why it makes sense, and he knows he’ll definitely be using that one at a later time. He then discovers that an “ok hand” refers to anal sex, and he has to swallow hard and take a deep cleansing breath because OH MY GOD, he can’t even deal with that idea at the moment. Scrolling further down, and getting deeper into his thoughts about how he plans to use (and do) every one of these things to Olivia, he finds what he is looking for.

Apparently some emojis can stand alone, and some, when used sequentially, form whole sentences.

I am going down on you until you come.

He blinks hard. Those emojis, in that order, mean oral sex. And, they mean Olivia wants him to do that to her.

He’s squirming in his seat, lost in this thought, when he hears a voice behind him.

Eww, dad.” It’s Kathleen. At some point, his daughter had entered the house, but he’d been so far down the rabbit hole of  “sex-on-the-internet-for-Driving-Ms-Daisys” that he hadn’t heard.

“Kathleen, I-” he stammers, the very picture of someone who is undeniably guilty of doing something very embarrassing. He’s trying to get out of the Safari window, but his hands are so shaky that his phone goes flying to the left, over the arm of the sofa, and lands with a loud thud on the floor. He frantically scrambles to retrieve it, but his daughter beats him to the punch. She pulls her arm away as he tries to regain possession of it.

He’s glaring at her, but she’s unfazed.

“Hmm,” she says, looking down at the screen.

“Kathleen,” he warns, but she ignores him and scrolls up to see the title of the article.

The associate at the Apple store had shown him how to zoom in on his phone, so of course the text size is at 175% and he has the brightness turned all the way up.

No dark mode for gramps.

“19 Dirty Sex Emojis, dad?” she questions, lifting an eyebrow. “I see you are making good use of your days off,” chucking as she hands the phone back to him and turns towards the kitchen.

“So how are things, Katie?” he asks her, but she’s not quite done with her questions. 

“Are you trying online dating?” she presses. 

“No, what - no, Kathleen,” he tells her. “Do people actually do that? Date online? How do you - how does that even work?” 

“Online dating is huge. It’s a billion dollar a year business. I’ve been to four weddings in the last few years for couples who first met online.”

She sees her father still looks absolutely lost.“Gosh, dad, surely you’ve seen the commercials for E-Harmony. They’re on all the time.”

Realizing the topic is futile, she decides to forgo explaining Tinder and Grindr, because his head would probably explode and anyway, it’s a gross conversation to have with her father. 

She also decides to leave the nice guy, Joe V., that she recently matched with on Hinge and has been talking to every night out, of the conversation. It’s too early for that, and her father would probably turn the tables on her and grill her for an hour about talking to strange men she doesn’t know who could be rapists or abusers or have bad intentions blah blah blah. 

“Eli said you were acting really weird this morning, that you dragged him out of bed early to go get a new phone and…other stuff, but he wouldn’t tell me what,” she says instead. 

That little shit, Elliot thinks, pissed at Eli for opening his mouth in the first place but also grateful he can at least keep some confidence. 

“My phone is old, ‘s all, and - and anyway, I’m the adult here and I don’t need to tell you kids about everything,” he says, hoping that’ll end the third degree.

Laughing at his obvious defensiveness, Kathleen grabs a beer out of the fridge, pops off the cap, and brings the bottle to her lips. Elliot watches as she takes a big swig, wipes her mouth with the back of her hand, and exclaims “Ahhhh.” 

“In case you forgot dad, all of your kids except for one are ‘adults’ now,” she tells him, raising her beer as if in cheers, and burping - all for his benefit. He purses his lips, giving her the classic “disapproving dad” look.

“Kathleen,” he warns again because he’s annoyed - not because she’s drinking beer, but because he wants to get back to his…research.

Kathleen comes around from behind the counter. “Relax, dad. I’m just giving you a hard time. I opened this for you,” she says, handing him the bottle. “Clearly you need it, and I don’t drink this shitty domestic beer anyway. With all the great breweries in this city, and after having lived in Europe, you’d think you’dve given up drinking Michelob.” 

“Well, what can I say,” he tells her as he brings the bottle to his lips, “some habits die hard.” 

“Yeah, I bet they do,” she quips back, “Like Olivia.” 

He chokes on the sip, forcing a cough which causes the beer to spray violently from his mouth. As he’s wiping it off his shirt, he hears his daughter’s laughter. And before he can scold her again, she’s already way down the hall, calling out for her grandmother.

He truly cannot catch a break.


Olivia’s rummaging through her closet looking for the adjustable phone stand she bought so she could take pictures of her and Noah on Christmas and other special occasions. She adores her little family, but one of the most annoying things is how hard it is to take a photo of both of them that isn’t selfie style. Once the iPhone cameras became so advanced that she didn’t need a digital one anymore, she’d invested in the stand, and she’s used it to take some of her favorite photos of them over the years. 

Now, she finds herself looking for it so she can, at nearly 55 years old, what, have video phone sex with her - with Elliot? The thought makes her pause momentarily and question who the hell she’s turned into.
 
Seriously, what was she doing?

She thinks about how this all started, the accidental voice message that blew it all wide open, and how it was so twisted that this is where they were.

Classic Benson & Stabler.

But she’s also still a little, or maybe a lot, terrified of ripping the bandaid off without the safety of rules and distance. In some ways, they had created an AU where they were both them, just in a non-3D way. For now, anyhow. 

This is definitely the way to go, she assures herself, and she resumes her search. She finds the stand on the left of the top shelf and pulls it down. 

She’s already showered, and she’s in her robe. Her hair is secured in a clip, with the money pieces in two perfect waves, each tucked lightly behind an ear. She’s makeup free except for a little blush and tinted gloss she’d applied after her moisturizer. She’s also set up her room. Candles are lit, soft music is playing from her Google Home speaker, and her bed is neatly made. 

Next up is her wardrobe. What do you wear to seduce and *fuck but not fuck* the person you’ve been in love with for so long? Her mind goes to watching Elliot over the years in every possible scenario. It definitely has to be low cut because the man was constantly distracted by cleavage. He’s equally into asses because he found ridiculous reasons to stand behind her every single time she wore jeans. She also recalls the 70s-inspired porn music in the threesome/group sex video he was watching and laughs to herself because she definitely does not have a sexy maid’s outfit or crotchless underwear. As she’s reaching for a large beige box underneath her bed, she hears her phone buzz. It’s a notification from the Wickr app. She looks at the clock, which reads 9:29 pm, and frowns. 


EStabler: I’m running a little behind but not much. 25-30 minutes at the most. I’m so sorry, Olivia. Please PLEASE tell me we can move the time up. I’ll explain later. 

He doesn’t say it’s work, and if it was, he would have specified, so she’s a little annoyed.  

atalanta: You’ve got until 10:30 the latest. Then I’m going to bed

EStabler: THANK U 

Not the “u,” Olivia thinks, then considers there must be a good reason for him to make her wait, because she’s waited - they’ve both waited - long enough. 

It’s then that it hits her. She knows exactly what she is wearing tonight. She knows exactly how this needs to go.  

atalanta: Make it up to me by dressing in a suit. Not your new Italy inspired looks - old school, or the closest you can find. Have your gun and badge on you, too.

She hits the sleep/wake button, slides the box back under the bed, and gets to work.


He’s been hard for her all day. Literally. He hasn’t been able to stop thinking about their “date,” and it’s made the entire afternoon and early evening a disaster. To make matters worse, it’s 9 pm and his entire family is still there. Everyone. His mom. All his kids. His grandkids. Liz has even brought a friend with her. 

He’s excused himself three times to try and get a grip. Twice during dinner, and once when they were all sitting around playing “Telestrations.” At one point, he’d heard Eli mutter “I told you,” to Kathleen, who’d whispered something in response. Eli had just looked up at him, smiled awkwardly, and gone back to playing the game. 

Fuck. He was fucked. Were his kids onto him, or at least those two? He had a Verizon family plan with Eli and his mom, but there’s no way his son knew anything about his digital dalliances with Olivia because…well, he’d learned the app they were using was secure in a bunch of ways he didn’t quite understand. He also knew, though, that his kid most definitely could run circles around him with all the tech crap. 

He was sweating. It was now 9:08. There was no way he’d just be able to excuse himself, go into his room, and - and do whatever he was going to do with Olivia, by 10 pm. He needs an exit plan, he decides, an excuse that won’t freak them out, because he knows how he’s been for the last year and a half, but-

Work! He’ll get a call from work. 

Right, work. But then where will he go? 

He thinks harder, completely missing Maureen asking if he wants some coffee or tea, and finally decides he’ll have to check into a hotel. He knows there’s one of those boutique hotels about six or seven blocks over, and he prays to God they have a vacancy. 

“Earth to Dad,” he finally hears his eldest say. He looks up with a “Huh?”

“I asked if you wanted some coffee or tea,” Maureen says. 

“No thanks, honey,” he tells her, momentarily ashamed to be abandoning his family for some pussy.

He’s a pig. 

It’s not just any pussy, though. It’s Olivia Benson’s pussy. Satisfied with his own justification, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out his phone.

***

It’s 10:17 when he finally enters the hotel room. The last hour of his life has easily cost him 5 years in exchange. When he’d left his house, amidst a cacophony of “are you sure you’re okay, dads?” and “you don’t look greats,” he’d driven a block when he saw the text from Olivia specifying what he should be wearing. He’d gone back home and had to relive the initial experience, only to get back into the car again and realize he’d forgotten the tripod and his iPods. Or AirPods, whatever the fuck they were called. He’d entered the house a third time, but he didn’t have to dodge questions because the minute he reappeared, all talking had ceased. They no longer looked worried, and he didn’t even have time to process what exactly they were discussing because he was on a deadline. 

“For work,” he told them, as they all eyed the tripod box tucked under his arm.

When he finally checked into the hotel, to the tune of $400 plus taxes and fees for one night, and had hastily told the front desk attendant that no thank you, he wouldn’t be needing any information about the amenities or 24 hour cocktail/charcuterie bar available to all guests, he felt like he’d run a marathon.
 
At least he’d kept his boner in check during that time.  

No matter what, his call with Olivia is happening tonight, he tells himself, stripping off his jeans and Henley and putting on the most dated suit he has, which isn’t very dated. His badge hangs around his neck, and his gun is in its holster secured to the front of his pants, above his left pocket. He has no idea why he’s dressed like this but he doesn’t care because he’s so grateful to be given exact instructions rather than have to try and figure out what he’s supposed to do in this situation. 

He goes to the bathroom and washes his face. She won’t know, but he does. Next, he sets up the tripod facing the - bed? He’s not sure but figures that’s probably the best bet. Earlier in the day, Eli had paired his ear buds for him and ensured him they should automatically connect when he opens the case. He puts them in his ears. 

10:23. Record time.  

He opens up Wickr and messages her that he’s ready.


She stands back and looks at herself in the mirror. Her hair is pulled back into a lowish ponytail, and her eyes are rimmed with thin charcoal-black eyeliner, which she’s used an angled brush to apply. A currant color stains her lips, and she’s reapplied just a hint more blush to her cheekbones.

She’s dressed in a gray pantsuit with a black top underneath. She rarely wears pantsuits anymore, but there might be occasion for her to need it a few times a year, so she always has at least one in her closet that fits. And despite the way the styles and colors in her wardrobe have evolved over the years, her suits are always gray or black. Her NYPD badge, as well as her gun holster, are clipped to her pants. 

Looking at the image in front of her, she’s slightly taken aback. She hasn’t seen this person in a long, long time. 

She turns around and surveys her room. She’s moved her makeup vanity so it’s away from the wall. She’s also cleared it of her products and detached the mirror so it can pass for a desk, and she places the phone stand to its right. She’s turned both lamps on to create enough light for the camera but not so much that it feels clinical.

Her phone in on her bed, and she hears it vibrate against her duvet. She takes a deep breath, rubs her palms up and down her thighs twice, and walks over to get it. She doesn’t even need to look at the notification. She automatically swipes up. The Wickr app is open. 

EStabler: Ready when you are. 

She bites her bottom lip, considering how best to set this up. 

atalanta: Is everything okay? 

EStabler: Everything is okay. Had to find an alternate location. 

An alternate location? What is he talking about? 

atalanta: What does that mean? God, Elliot, don’t tell me you’re in your car or at work. 

EStabler: I’m in a hotel. It’s a long story. Funny to you, probably. We can talk about it later. 

She can’t believe he’s in a hotel, but she decides not to press the issue because she doesn’t want to lose any nerve here. 

atalanta: Okay

atalanta: Have you ever done any role-play? 

She immediately regrets asking the question that way and quickly types another message. 

atalanta: Don’t answer that. Do you know how to role play? 

EStabler: Olivia, I’m a detective. 

atalanta: I mean, in the bedroom. Erotic role play.

EStabler: I’d say the skills are transferable, but you’re making me nervous. 

atalanta: Don’t be nervous. I’m just making sure. We need to know from each other what turns us on. You first.

atalanta: And don’t say “you.”

She adds an eyeroll emoji because she knows that’s exactly what his dumb ass will respond. He’s taking a while, and she wonders if he’s being careful about what he tells her.

atalanta: It’s okay to be completely honest, Elliot. That’s what this is for, and there’s probably not much you can say that I haven’t done. 

It doesn’t take long for him to respond after that. 

EStabler: The idea of going down on you in the shower. Reaching in between your legs and under your skirt to feel you wearing no underwear and dripping wet for me. Pulling on your hair as I fuck you from behind. Sucking on your nipples and hearing you moan my name. You deep throating my cock while looking up and making eye contact with me. I could go on and on. 

She’s reading what he’s written, noticing he’s used “you” but added his turn-ons, and she’s impressed. He may be completely ancient when it comes to all this tech stuff, but he’s got a handle on the What Women Want front. 

atalanta: Hmmmm. I’m imagining all those things myself. 

EStabler: Good. Now your turn.

It is her turn. She goes for it. 

atalanta: You coming over when I’m sitting on my desk, spreading my legs apart, and leaning in so I can feel how hard you are for me. You coming into the cribs while I’m resting and we’ve been going nonstop for days, locking the doors, and waking me up to you in between my legs. You bending me over in the interrogation room and fucking me hard and fast, until every part of our day has faded from our memory. You leaning over in the squad car, grabbing my face to kiss me with the same intensity with which you look at me, and placing my hand on your crotch so I can feel how hard I make you. 

EStabler: I wanted to, you know

atalanta: Wanted to what? 

EStabler: Do all of those things. For so many years, so many times, I wanted to.

Olivia feels a little overwhelmed. The back of her eyelids sting and feel full with the threat of tears, but she cannot let herself fucking cry. She’d thought this was a good idea, an easy role play for them, where she gets to exorcise some of the demons she carried for years - times she’d convinced herself she was nuts or at the very least terribly confused about what she was sensing - but she’s regretting it now. 

She thinks of calling this off, telling him she’s too tired, but then he sends her another message.

EStabler: I know I can’t come over, and you can’t come here, even though that’s what I really wish right now so I could prove it to you in person. And I understand what you’re telling me, and why I’m wearing this stupid suit. I get it, Liv.

atalanta: You’ve always been a dumb kind of smart

EStabler: It’s one of many endearing, irresistible qualities. 

atalanta: True, that and how hot headed you get sometimes. 

He responds with the fireman emoji and she laughs because there it is - there’s the dumb.

EStabler: Olivia, give me a chance to show you, please. Give me the chance. That’s all I’m asking.

atalanta: I guess, since you went out and bought a new phone and all. 

atalanta: And paid for a last minute hotel room. That must have cost you. 

EStabler: Would’ve spent 10 times that for you. 

He’s got her with that one. 

She presses the video call button.

***

She’s calling him. SHE’S CALLING HIM. His heart is beating - no, thumping - hard in his chest as he presses answer with a shaky finger. He hears a beep, and there she is. 

“Well, hello,” she says. 

“Hi,” he replies. He can only see her from the shoulders up. Her hair is pulled back, she’s wearing that sexy reddish lipstick he hasn’t seen in years, and god, it’s almost unreal how much it reminds him of an earlier version of Olivia Benson.

“Liv-“ he starts, his voice raspy.

“Mmm, Detective Stabler, it’s been such a long day,” she purrs, stretching her neck side to side and lightly raking her fingers down her throat. 

Okay, so they’re not talking about that, then, he realizes. 

“It has been,” he agrees, and he’s playing along but also agrees because it sure fucking has been. 

“I’m gonna set the phone down so I can have my hands free to…do work. Maybe you should do the same,” she suggests. 

He watches while she mounts her phone and takes a few steps towards something that looks like a desk. She comes into full view now and he can see her outfit. A grey suit.

She went all out, he thinks. 

She takes a seat in the chair and looks straight at the camera. “Detective, aren’t you gonna…come help me?” 

“Oh, uh. Yeah. Lemme just-,” he tells her. He walks over to his tripod and tries to adjust the holder, dropping his phone facedown on the carpet in the process. For a few seconds, all she sees is black, and she hears a “Shit” and a “Goddamn it” before he comes back into view.

“Having a little trouble there?” she asks with a soft laugh, then adds “Focus, Elliot.”

God, he’s fucking trying but he can’t adjust the holder with only one hand so his phone fits landscape, so he sets it down on the floor. 

“Nice view,” she teases.  

“Oh yeah, laugh at an old man’s pain,” he chides, and then steps back so she can get a good look at him in full uniform, as requested.

Success. 

“I don’t see an old man, Elliot,” she tells him, her voice getting deeper and throatier by the second.
 
“Captain, you’re so -,” he starts, but she cuts him off with a sexy laugh. 

“I don’t see any Captain here, either,” she corrects, slightly spreading apart her legs.

Detective Benson,” he clarifies, clearing his throat. “You look very tense. Why don’t you get out of that jacket and unbutton at least four of those buttons?”

She immediately stands up and does as he instructs. She tosses the jacket onto the floor and looks straight at him while she slowly opens the buttons. Her pace is almost painful. By the third button, her bra is completely exposed, the tops of her breasts spilling out. The way she is looking at him - he’s never seen anything like it, and for the umpteenth time since they started this, he thinks he might die. She sits back down, crossing her legs. 

“No, keep them open. Imagine me standing between them,” he tells her. “I reach up and take that ponytail out of your hair. Take your hair down, Olivia.” 

She reaches up and removes the hair tie, her long tresses falling in her face. She shakes them out and runs her fingers through them. 

“Imagine those are my fingers,” he says, and she closes her eyes and drops her head back.

“That feels so good, Elliot,” she says.

He’s already hard as a rock, and he’s adjusting himself just as she opens her eyes.

“Maybe you would be more comfortable out of that jacket and tie - and, it seems like those pants need to come off, too,” she adds. 

“Then I’ll just be in my-“

She doesn’t let him finish the sentence. “All of it except your underwear. Off, Elliot,” she commands, and he wants to tell her she really sounds like a Captain, but he restrains himself. 

It’s hot as fuck, anyway.

He starts removing his clothing, loosening his tie and unbuttoning his cuffs first.

“I’ve always loved watching you change your shirt,” she confesses.

Her disclosure enhances his confidence. “Tell me more,” he says. 

“I’ve always imagined I was the one unbuttoning those buttons, slowly, while I kissed your neck,” she muses, and her hand goes between her legs. He sees her cross them and squeeze. “My hands slowly slide the shirt off your shoulders, and I scrape my nails down your chest, then my palms. When I feel how hard your nipples are, I bring my mouth down to one of them, then the other, and suck, swirling my tongue over each. By then, my hands are working your belt buckle, and unzipping your pants and -“

He’s down to his boxer briefs now, and he knows she can see his erection. 

“And that’s what I feel. Can you feel my hand on your dick, Elliot?” she asks him, her actual hand still between her legs.

“Down to your underwear, Olivia,” he growls. 

Before she gets up, she kicks off her shoes and slides off her socks. Then she’s on her feet, unfastening the remaining two buttons, and tossing her shirt near the jacket. She reaches behind her back and swiftly unhooks her bra, letting it fall to the floor. 

Fuck fuck OH MY GOD

He doesn’t realize he’s said those words out loud because he’s transfixed. He’s looking at Olivia completely naked from the waist up, and all he can think about is burying his face in her tits. 

“God, I wish I could-“ he says, reaching down and stroking his cock a few times through his briefs. His balls are so blue it’s almost painful. 

They’ve been so blue for weeks, they’re damn near purple at this point. 

She lets him ogle her for a few moments before saying, with a saccharine-laced voice, “Detective, we have a little problem.”

“I see absolutely no problem here,” he answers. 

“No, see. It seems I, um, forgot something when I was getting dressed to come into work,” she tells him. 

“What’s….ohhhh,” he says, sussing out her implication. 

“My, my, Olivia. You came to work without underwear?” he asks. 

“I did,” she answers, and her mouth is pouty like she’s regretful, but her eyes are daring him. 

“I guess it’s a good way to learn your lesson. Off,” he instructs. “But I want you to move to the bed,” he adds. 

She relocates the stand so it’s facing the bed. He’s been on his feet the whole time, so he takes a seat on the edge of his. She’s now standing in front of the left side of what he determines is probably a queen-sized mattress. The left must be the side she sleeps on, he thinks, as she unbuttons and unzips her pants. As soon they’re over her ass, she plops down and lowers them the rest of the way. 

The heart attack is imminent now. He knows. He just knows. 

“El,” she says, her voice low. She hasn’t called him that until this moment, and the realization doesn’t escape him. “I think it’s only fair, since,” she waves her hand in front of her body to indicate her state of undress, “I’m completely naked that you should be completely naked.”

He nods his head in agreement. “I think that’s fair,” he says, standing and sliding his boxer briefs down his legs. 

He hears her suck in air at the sight of his erection, and it makes him even more confident because he’s a pretty prideful motherfucker when it comes to his body. 

“Scoot a little further to the edge of the bed,” he tells her. When she does, he asks her to spread her legs for him. “How wet are you? ”She brings two of her fingers down and runs them along her folds, pressing in and exposing herself for him even more.

“Uhh,” he groans. She responds by holding them up for him. “Very,” she answers, separating her index and middle finger into a V so he can see her arousal clearly. A moment later, she’s bringing them to her mouth.

This does him in. 

“I need to fuck you right now, Olivia,” he says. 

“So fuck me, Elliot,” she answers. 

He gets it. He wishes he had his hands all over her body, but he’ll take this for now. 

“Get up on your hands and knees. I’m underneath you right now. Can you feel my cock, Olivia?” He’s stroking himself, and she can hear his slightly labored breathing. It’s a sound she know well this point, courtesy of his voice iMessage. She grabs one of her fluffier pillows and places it in between her legs, turning her body so she is facing the camera. She’s up on her knees, the pillow positioned so it’s corner is hitting her clit perfectly, and she starts rocking back and forth. 

“Talk to me, Elliot,” she pants, one hand on her thigh and the other stroking and pinching her nipple.

“You fell asleep in the crib after a long shift. I come in and start kissing your neck. Your eyes open and you smile at me, pulling me down for a kiss. Your tongue feels so good in my mouth, and I’m already hard for you. Your hands are down my pants, and its not long before we’ve stripped down to nothing. You push me down onto the mattress and climb up my body, nipping and sucking along the way. You rub your pussy against my cock a few times, and you’re so wet, and-“

He’s getting more breathless with each sentence, because he’s stroking himself hard and fast now. Every 5 seconds, he has to stop and tighten his grip around his dick because he knows he’s going to unload any minute. 

Olivia is a fucking sight to behold. Her back is arched, her breasts so swollen they look at least half a size bigger than before, and she is grinding hard against that pillow. He can hear her moaning and panting, and it feels Iike she’s doing it right in his ear. 

He’s never seen anything hotter than this in his nearly 60 years on Earth. 

“Don’t - stop - talking - Elliot,” she manages to get out. 

“You take hold of my cock and thump it against your clit a few times. You lift up slightly to position me right at the entrance of your pussy, and slowly lower yourself down, and my god Olivia, it’s heaven. You’re dripping wet. It’s warm and tight and your walls are gripping me so hard. You lean forward slightly so you have friction against your clit, and you start grinding down on me. You’re riding me like a fucking wave, Olivia, do you hear me? You lean over even more to run your tongue across my lips, and I grab you by the hips hard and buck up-“

“Elliot, I’m, I’m so close, I’m-“ she says, barely getting the words out. “I want you to - come - with-“

She’s managed to open her eyes so she can watch him. He’s stroking himself so fast his hand is just a blur, and she’s riding that pillow with such intensity that he knows she’ll have to trash it when they’re done.

He hears her cry out. First an “ughhh,” then a “mmmmhhmmm,” then an “Elllll,” and that does it for him. He cups his balls with his other hand and and comes so hard his body is involuntarily jerking for a minute. 

He sees her falls onto the bed, pulling the pillow out from between her legs and throwing it to the side. Her legs are bent slightly at the knee and dropped to one side. “That was,” he hears her say. “It was-“

“Unfuckingbelievable?” he offers, and she responds with a hoarse laugh. 

“Yeah, that,” she tells him. He sees her rise from the bed and walk over to the phone, hearing a pop as she unhitches it from the stand. Her hair is mussed like she actually just got fucked, and her hooded eyes betray just how spent she is. 

“I’m glad we did this,” she tells him, and he responds with a “You have no idea how happy I am we did this.” 

She gives him a sleepy smile. 

“Well, thank you. I need to get some sleep because I have an early day tomorrow. Talk soon?” she asks casually.

He’s dumbfounded because is she fucking serious? That’s - that’s it? 

“Yeah, okay. Yeah, talk soon,” he replies. 

“Nite, Elliot,” she says through a sleepy yawn, and before he has a chance to wish her sweet dreams, she’s hung up.

Is he supposed to call her in the morning? Show up at her place with coffee and donuts? What is the protocol?

Once again, he’s completely lost because he has no idea what the fuck he’s supposed to do next. 

 

Chapter Text

Fin is outside the precinct waiting for Olivia. When he finally sees her approaching, 45 minutes later than usual, she’s wearing khaki cropped pants cinched at the waist with a gold-buckled self-tie belt, a satin white tank with lace trim, a fitted white blazer - not one of the boxy ones she normally opts for - and nude wedges. This is different, he thinks. She looks good, and not in the normally “good” way because even though he’s never seen her as anything more than his closest friend – damn near a sibling –  he’s not blind to the way men and women notice her all the time.

He also sees she has an AirPod in one of her ears and is mouthing lyrics, maybe, and not dancing but, sort of skipping?

Something’s up. He knows immediately. And he hates the idea of killing her good mood, especially first thing in the morning.

Olivia looks up when she hears a whistle. She sees him standing right outside the doors, a shit-eating grin on his face, and rolls her eyes.

“Does your Captain know you’re outside of a police station catcalling women?” she asks him, removing the AirPod from her ear and slipping it into the case attached to her keys.

“You can ask her yourself when she gets here, ‘cus I don’t know this person in front of me,” he answers.

“Yeah, yeah, wise ass” she says, walking past him and reaching to open the double doors. “Why are you outside, anyway?”

“Uh, Liv,” he tells her, gently pushing against the door and taking her by the forearm to lead her to a small enclave. “Man, I hate to do this to you because you look like you’re having a good morning – and I am going to ask you about that later, trust me – but bad news. The Commissioner is sitting in your office right now.”

“Fuck, I haven’t even met her yet,” she mutters. “Any idea why?”

“Nah,” he shakes his head. “But-“

“Yeah, I know. It’s never just a social call,” she says, slipping her sunglasses into her purse and looking down at the vibrating phone in her hand. He sees her swipe it open and read something on the screen. She mutters  “Idiot,” but her lips are turned up at the corners. Pressing the side button, she drops it into her bag, and looks up to see Fin’s smug smile and narrowed eyes. That’s his, "I know you’re up to something and I’m gonna find out what” look. The very second she sees him thinking about asking, she holds up a hand in protest.

“Nope, not now,” she says. “And, has anyone ever told you that you’re nosy as hell?” He shrugs his shoulders and grins.

“I’m just happy that whatever or whoever has you like this,” he says, “has good timing. Clearly the commissioner got nothing on-“

“Fin,” she groans.

“Okay, alright. Listen, want me to get into a fight with Velasco to create a distraction, get you out of whatever it is?” he jokes, holding the door open for her.

She places a hand on his shoulder as she passes. “That’s a very sweet offer, but I think I can handle it. And anyway, for it to be believable, it would have to be you and Rollins,” she adds.

“Rollins? Hell nah. That lil blond scrappy as hell. I’d prolly lose an eye or something,” he jokes.

She laughs and doesn’t argue.

***

The day has been an absolute disaster, and all she can think is these are the times she hates being Captain. The politics, even though she’d dealt with some degree of it her entire career, make her feel sleazy. It’s a “deal with the devil” she’s agreed to so she can run SVU the way she wants - keep it victim-centered and staffed with empathetic, well-trained, and supported personnel.

But on days like this, she wishes she could retire, or at least pass that part of her job on to someone else.

The Commissioner informs her that the Times is writing an “expose” on domestic violence rates among law enforcement officers, particularly the underreporting of such cases, and that they have called the Chief’s office for comment. McGrath had then called the Commissioner, who, in her infinite wisdom, has decided the best person to be interviewed for the feature is the very decorated, very tenured, very female Captain of the Special Victims Unit. And that she would pay her a visit, because, as it turns out, she hadn’t met this “Captain Olivia Benson” yet.

“I am sure you understand the delicate nature of something like this,” the Commissioner had told her, and while Olivia was pleased that NYPD finally had its first Black woman in that position, she was always so frustrated when people with less experience talked to her like she was brand new.

The “short” visit lasted nearly three hours, with question after question, and by the time she was done, Olivia had lost her entire morning and had a pounding headache.

To make matters worse, or more embarrassing – or whatever because she didn’t even know if there was a word in the English language to describe the ridiculousness of it – she had been getting deliveries all day.

It started at 10:30 a.m. with three dozen salmon-colored roses for “Captain Olivia Benson.”

Amanda had kept them on her own desk while Olivia was in with the Commissioner. She’d thought about checking the card to see whom they were from, but just as she went to remove it from the cardette, she heard Fin cough and clear his throat. When she looked over, he mouthed “Don’t do it,” and made a slashing motion across his throat. She sighed and pushed back the vase, looking over at Fin, sticking out her tongue, and mouthing, “You’re no fun.”

An hour later or so later, there was a delivery for “Captain Benson and the SVU Squad.” It was a basket full of fresh fruit in assorted shapes, all on long plastic cocktail picks and dipped in white and dark chocolate.

Fin had walked over, plucked a chocolate-covered orange slice off the bouquet, and put the entire thing in his mouth. He’d stuck his tongue out at Amanda as he walked back to his desk.

They were children sometimes.

At exactly 12:30 p.m., a Seamless delivery for the “16th Precinct SVU Squad” had arrived. It was an assortment of small sandwiches, house made chips, a large salad, and unsweetened tea and lemonade.

“Someone is really trying to impress you, Cap,” Velasco had said, stuffing his mouth with a mini chicken salad croissant.

“Or, someone has a crush,” Amanda added, hoping Olivia would say something – anything – because today’s outfit and the deliveries had everyone curious.

Olivia ignored both questions. “Well, I’m glad none of you need to leave for lunch today. Maybe you’ll finally catch up on your paperwork,” she’d told them, instead, before going back into her office and shutting her door.

She was not comfortable with lying about anything these days, and her fucking head was pounding.

When yet another delivery person arrives at 2:45 p.m. carrying a very large bag from Magnolia Bakery, she’s done. She comes storming out of her office, tossing three ibuprofens into her mouth and swallowing them dry.

“Nope. No, absolutely not. Take it back,” she says to the very confused delivery person, who’s name tag she can’t read clearly without her glasses.

“Okay, but,” he says, obviously a little intimidated. “But what am I supposed to-“

“Ben?” she asks, rubbing her temples and closely inspecting the name tag on his shirt. “Is it Ben?“

“Uh, yeah – yes Ma’am,” he sputters, his eyes fixed on the gun and badge on her hip.

“Ben, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Captain Benson. And I literally do not care what you do with it,” she tells him. “Take it home. Give it to the first unhoused person you see on the street. Throw it in the trash. Whatever. Just get it out of here.”

She takes a very nervous Ben by his shoulders and spins him 180 degrees, pointing him in the direction of the exit. “Thank you,” she calls out as he walks away, but he doesn’t look back, just tosses a goodbye over his shoulder.

Shaking her head and rubbing her temples again, she takes a deep breath and does an about face. She’s met by three sets of eyes staring at her and she sighs again. She doesn’t say anything for a second, thinks about making up an excuse, and then decides its times like these when she does enjoy being Captain.

She doesn’t have to explain shit.

“Just – just get back to work,” she tells them, trudging back to her office and shutting the door again, but not before hearing Amanda say, “Aw, man. That was the best one. I really could’ve gone for some ‘nana pudding,” and Fin telling her to “Pipe down.”

She picks up her cell and dials his number.

***

He’s sitting in a booth opposite Ayanna and Jet when his cell rings.

Olivia.

He excuses himself and hurriedly makes his way out of the diner, leaving the two women snickering and Ayanna calling out, “Hmmm, I wonder if that’s a certain Captain” loudly enough for him to hear.

The people in my life sure are busy bodies, he thinks.

“Hello?” he answers as soon as he’s outside.

Silence.

He lowers his phone away from his ear and looks at the screen to make sure the call is still connected.

“Hello?” he says again.

“Have you lost your goddamn mind, Elliot?” she asks him.

Well, she doesn’t sound happy. Shit. So, the morning-after protocol for incredibly hot video sex is not to send a bunch of stuff to a woman’s place of work the next day.

Noted.

Quick, Stabler. Think.

“Elliot. I asked you if you have lost your goddamn mind.” She definitely sounds more pissed the second time she says it - andplusalso, it’s not a question this time.

He decides to play dumb. She’ll believe it. She’ll definitely believe that.

“Liv, what’s wrong?” he asks. “Are you okay?”

“What’s – what’s wrong?! How about ‘what’s wrong’ is you having half the stores in Manhattan deliver shit to my squad room every few hours? Jesus Christ, Elliot. I was okay with the flowers, not over the moon that you sent them here, but-“

“Did you notice the color?” he interrupts her, proud of himself for Googling what color roses were best for expressing desire. “I looked it up, and according to POPSUGAR, salmon roses are ‘a great choice for a new relationship.’”

“You looked it up, “ she repeats, and he thinks he can actually hear her blinking hard. “You looked it-,” She stops talking and just groans. “Elliot, why – what were you thinking?”  

“I just, just wanted to tell you – to thank you for-,” he starts, but she cuts him off before he can say it.

“Okay, okay,” she says, and he hears her groan again and then sigh, deeply.

“Liv,” he mumbles. “I’m sorry if I messed up. I – I wasn’t sure what to do and I wanted to do something. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you,” he says.

“That’s very sweet, Elliot, but I’ve had to dodge questions all day,” she tells him.

“I specifically didn’t put my name on any of the deliveries,” he points out.

“Right, because it’s not like I work with DETECTIVES, Elliot. Ugh. Sometimes you make it really hard for me, you know that?” she admits.

Hard for me. Hard for me. Hard for me.

“You’re right, Benson. I do make it hard for you,” he says, and he immediately wants to kick himself because sometimes he’s a pig.

“Goodbye, Elliot,” she says, and the line goes dead before he can say another word.

“Shit,” he says under his breath, gripping his phone tightly in his hand.

As he’s walking back into the diner, though, he hears a ding.

It’s a text from Olivia. An eggplant emoji. And a cat emoji. He knows what both those mean.

Well, would you look at that, he thinks. She’s texted him, and not in the app. It must have been the salmon-colored roses.

Yeah, it was definitely the roses.

This time, he’s the one that leaves her on Read.


She’s wants to take her squad out as a thank you for months of picking up extra shifts, working longer than normal for consecutive days in a row, and never complaining. She’s grateful, and while she can’t do much about the workload at the moment, the least she can do is buy them a few rounds of beers.

Velasco suggest bowling, and Amanda and Fin agree.

Olivia smirks. They don’t know because how would they, but she is an expert bowler.

Amanda looks at her and jokingly says “Don’t tell me you’re an amazing bowler, too. Because pool shark and champion bowler is too much.” Olivia points to herself and shakes her head “no,” as if she has no idea what Amanda is referring to. But, of course, she knows. That night at the pool hall. The night she got that voice iMessage from Elliot.  

Yeah, she knows.

She’s leaning against Amanda’s desk, so she stands and claps her hands together. “Alright then. Bowling. Where and when?”

They all agree on a time and place, and Olivia goes home to change into jeans and a sweater, spend a few hours with her son, and decide if tonight is the night. If she’s ready.

She and Elliot haven’t connected on the app since the night he was at the hotel. She’s seen him once for work, had “my friend, Olivia/my friend, Elliot” text conversations with him, and spoken with him the day of the never-ending deliveries, but they haven’t done anything on the app since then.

Frankly, she’s a little disappointed.

And moderately surprised.

And very impressed.

He’s playing it cool. He must really be studying like she advised and come across the myriad articles geared towards men about how seeming too desperate is a turn-off for women. She’d even googled a bunch of things she thinks Elliot would be trying to learn, and sure enough, it was article after article about what women find attractive, what women find sexy, how to keep a woman interested, etc etc.

“Make her come to you” or “wait her out,” and “sometimes the more available you are, the less attractive she’ll find you” seemed to be standard advice. Boy is it true that the internet is an endless hellhole of bad takes and oversimplifications. And more importantly, “waiting” and “unavailability” were things she and Elliot knew all too well.

Anyway, she’s certain that what he’s doing. Because if there’s one thing she knows like the back of her own hand, it’s that big, bald, dumb, sexy, strong, handsome man.

She also thinks maybe she sort of deserves him playing it coy because she’s been having a little too much fun.

You’re waiting on me, Elliot? Okay. I’m going to throw it at you. Can you catch it?

*** 

He wants to open Wickr and message her so bad, but he’s trying to be patient, follow the advice he’s read online, and trust the process. 

But god, he wants her. It’s been a whole week, and he’s so tired of his hand, and so bored of the bullshit porn he tries to watch to distract himself, although he does have to admit that the phone stand and AirPods have come in handy. It’s nice to have both his hands. 

He wants both of those hands to be on her body. 

He’s lost in thought, trying to conjure images of Olivia and that goddamn pillow, when he hears the unmistakable scratch of the record player needle and then a voice he knows his mother loves. 

These arms of mine. They are lonely. Lonely and feeling blue. These arms of mine. They are yearning. Yearning from wanting you. 

It makes him smile. 

He quietly opens his bedroom door and steps out. His mother is in the kitchen, an apron tied at her hips. She’s taken something out of the refrigerator and is reaching for a plate. He sees her swaying to the music, hears the swooshing of her feet against the kitchen floor. 

She’s singing along, and her voice is beautiful. It’s always been beautiful. 

Leaning his head against the doorframe of the hall’s entryway, he watches her, and he’s replete with the sadness and regret of wishing things had been different. He wonders if his father ever danced with his mother to Otis Redding, if he ever came up behind her, wrapped his arms around her waist, kissed her shoulder, and danced with her in the kitchen. He knows the answer is "No."

He should have been a better son, he thinks. He should have better at a lot of things: son, father, friend, and partner. A better man, the kind Olivia deserves. He has time, though. Life, in its mysterious, magical, and sometimes devastating ways, has given him a second chance to be all those things. 

He’s going to start by dancing with Olivia - for the rest of their days if she’ll let him. 

Also, there’s no time like to present to be a better son. 

He doesn’t want to startle his mother, so he goes back into his room and opens the door loudly so she can hear it. She’s turned around when he comes around the corner. 

“Oh, Elliot, honey,” she says. “I was just making you a plate to make sure you have something to eat.” 

He goes over to the record player to restart the song and then makes his way to her, holding out his hand. “Mama, may I have this dance?”

She looks at him and gently swats his hand away. “Oh, Elliot,” she laughs, but he can see the smile in her eyes.

“Mama?” he repeats, still holding out his hand. “Please?”

Finally, she wipes her hands on her apron and steps towards him. “Oh, okay.” 

And at 6:52 p.m., just as the New York sun is setting, he dances with his mother. There is so much time wasted, so many opportunities missed, because he was so afraid of who he would become rather than leaning into who he already was. It’s taken him way longer than it should have to understand this.

This is a new beginning, he thinks.

“You’ve always loved Otis Redding, haven’t you Mama?” he asks. She smiles, almost as if recalling a sweet memory. “Yes, I suppose I have. He’s so soulful. So romantic. His voice always reminds me that there are people out there living life on their own terms - some of them in love, some of them in dreams. Some who dance in their kitchens. Like this,” she answers, resting her head on his shoulder. 

“I’m sorry, mama. I’m so sorry,” Elliot tells her softly.

“For what, honey?” she asks.

“That no one danced with you. That you felt that you be couldn’t - you couldn’t be yourself. You deserved to have someone listen to your dreams” he tells her, and he’s a little choked up. “I’m happy you’re here with me now.”

“Oh, my boy,” she says, stepping back and cupping his face with her hands. “I’m so proud of you. I know it’s been hard. Sometimes I wish I could take away all the grief and pain you’re carrying. But you’re learning. You’re learning that you can be happy, Elliot. That’s all I’ve ever wanted for you.” 

“I know,” he says, looking down at the floor.

“You know,” she continues. “This is not my business. But that woman. That former partner of yours...” At the mention of “partner,” he lifts his head.

“That woman loves you, Elliot. Always has,” she says, and she’s taken his hand now. “I could see it the first time I met her. You know what she told me?”

He shakes his head. Hearing his mother speak of Olivia hits him in a way he hadn’t expected. 

“She told me you’re a good man. And that she knew enough to know you didn’t get it from your father. She didn’t know me, even of me, apparently. But she extended me that kindness,” she pauses, giving him a moment to digest what she is saying. “You have a new chance at happiness. I hope you take it, son.” 

There are tears in his eyes now. He whispers, more to himself than for her, “I love her. I think that maybe, maybe I’ve always loved her.” 

Bernie smiles. “Well, sounds like everything is going to work out, then. Maybe you should call her. Invite her over. You have that fancy new phone now, don’t you?”

He shakes his head and chuckles. “Mama, how do you know about my phone?” 

“Oh, Elliot,” she says, “I may be old, and sometimes forgetful, but I’m not dead. You don’t think everyone’s noticed all your fancy new things? Trust me when I say you don’t want to hear what your kids know.”

“Or what the think they know,” he corrects her.

“Honey, whatever the opposite of discreet is – that’s you. I think its all those muscles,” she tells him, and then he’s laughing through tears.


His phone buzzes at 9:45 p.m. 

atalanta: Hi, handsome. 

EStabler: Hi, beautiful. 

atalanta: Beautiful, huh?

EStabler: That’s not even the right word. You’re the most stunning woman in the world. 

atalanta: Hmmm. Getting soft on me? 

EStabler: Never. And I’m just being honest. 

atalanta: What are you up to? 

EStabler: Sitting in the dark. Having a drink and listening to Otis Redding. Thinking of you. 

atalanta: What am I wearing? 

EStabler: A dress. Something flowy. And you’re barefoot, in my arms because we are dancing. I can’t wait to dance with you, Olivia. 

atalanta: You want to sit alone all night fantasizing, or you want to meet me somewhere?

Oh fuck. He was not expecting that.  

EStabler: You mean like a date? 

atalanta: Kind of like a date.  

EStabler: So, we aren’t calling it a date?

atalanta: Elliot, not yet, okay? I’m working on it.

EStabler: What do you need, Olivia? 

atalanta: Just a little more time. Us but not “us,” if that makes sense.

EStabler: I’m not sure I’m following.

atalanta: We meet each other for the “first time.” We get to talking, We flirt. See where the night takes us.

atalanta: Of course, if you’d rather not.

EStabler: Are you kidding me? Of course I want to. Just tell me where and I’ll be there.

***

She’s at the bar speaking with a man seated to her right. He takes a moment to watch her profile because he could draw it from memory if he needed to. He knows it so well.

23 years later and she still leaves him breathless.

He pulls his shirt collar away from his neck and swallows. He has no idea how to navigate a meet-up with someone he “met online” and he’s feeling nervous.

The scenario she had described briefly on Wickr is that they matched on a dating app and are meeting in person for the first time. He’d only had enough time to shower and get dressed before heading out, so he is flying completely blind. He tries to remember what Kathleen had told him about online dating, how common it is, how she had a bunch of friends who married recently after first meeting on apps.

This generation, he just doesn’t get it. What ever happened to meeting someone in high school, getting them pregnant, and then having no choice but to get married?

Well, he thinks. Maybe this way isn’t that bad after all.

He’s still trying to remember the name of the dating app Katie had mentioned – the one she said has commercials on TV all the time – when he sees Olivia has turned and is looking at him. And holy shit, she looks ravishing. He can’t see her entire outfit, but it looks like she is wearing a black dress. The Y-neck cut highlights her ample cleavage and showcases her eternally tan skin. Her hair is pulled up into a casual French twist, which makes her neck look impossibly long, and something is shining in her ears, maybe diamond studs.

She gives him her sexiest smile and turns back to the man sitting next to her.

So that’s how they’re playing it?

He makes his way through the crowd, weaving through small groups of people, until he is standing to her right. He hears her say, “Matt,” which he deduces is the name of the jerk sitting next to her, the jerk that a 40-year-old Elliot Stabler would’ve already yanked off the stool and told to get lost.

He opens his mouth and starts to say “Ol-,” but then doesn’t know if they are using their real names.

Shit, he thinks. What do I say?

“Can I help you with something?” he hears Matt say, and the question is addressed to him. He sees Olivia turn her head to the side and glance over at him.

“Do you know this guy?” Matt asks Olivia.

“Well, I’m not sure. Do I know you?” she asks Elliot, who’s locked in a staring match with Matt.

“Um, I think so. I am supposed to be meeting you here, for a date,” he tells her, but his eyes are still trained on Matt.

“Ah, yes. I see. Randy, I suppose?” she answers, not in the least bit bothered by his discomfort.

He realizes then what she’s just said, and looks at her because Randy?

Oh, what the fuck, his name is Randy?

“Randy?” he mouths silently, but she ignores him, waiting on a response.

“Yes, I’m Randy. Randy Stabler,” he answers, holding out his hand and trying not to cringe at the sound of it coming out of his mouth

She looks at his hand and laughs but doesn’t take it. He’s not sure if she’s laughing at her own cleverness (because hahaha very funny, Benson, I’m Randy and also randy, as in sexually aroused or excited) or if it’s because you aren’t supposed to shake hands when you’re meeting someone from a dating app in person for the first time.

Damn, he wishes he’d had time to look all this stuff up.

He pulls back his hand and shoves it in his pocket.

“Good to finally meet you, Randy,” she tells him. Now she’s just being obnoxious, and he has no idea what he’s supposed to call her.

“You too, um…uh,” he says, eliciting a strange look from Matt and another laugh from Olivia.

“Vanessa,” she tells him.

“Yes, of course, Vanessa,” he answers.

She slides off her stool, reaching for the strap of her purse hanging from it. She’s wearing heels, so she is at eye level with him. “Why don’t we move to one of the high tops,” she tells him, and before he can answer, she’s slipped her hand into his and is leading them to an available two-seater, leaving Matt quite flummoxed. The cocktail server is asking for their drink orders as soon as they sit down.

“Scotch,” she tells the waitress. “Neat, please.”

“I’ll have a Michelob,” he says.

The waitress walks away, leaving them alone. Olivia's looking at him, taking him in, and all he wants to do is say her real name and not have to think about the rules of this stupid online dating thing. He’s agreed to play it her way, though, so he has no choice but to follow.

“So, Vanessa, you meet a lot of men on dating apps?” he asks.

She lifts an eyebrow at him and smirks.

“Ah, I mean, not a lot of men. What I meant is, have you done this before?” he corrects.

“Do you mean met up with men I’ve met online? Some,” she answers. “You?”

“Nope, you’re my first,” he tells her, because he remembers the primary maxim of undercover work is that the more truthful you are, the less likely you are to slip up.

“I see,” she tells him, just was the waitress sets down their coasters and drinks. “Well, what made you decide to meet me?”

He thinks about how to answer this. Should he play up the Randy/Vanessa scenario, complementing her on more surface things, or go all in? He wants to tell her he decided to meet her because she is the love of his life, and he can’t stop thinking about her all day every day. In the end, he decides to split the difference.

“I’m not sure, exactly, but I think maybe its because you remind me of a woman I was madly in love with, many moons ago,” he tells her, taking a swig of beer.

She’s got the rocks glass in her hand and is swishing the scotch around in circles. He can see she is processing his words, but she doesn’t skip a beat.

She’s good. She’s very good.  

“Hmm, that’s interesting,” she says softly, bringing the glass to her lips, sticking her tongue out to taste it first – no doubt for his benefit - and then taking a very small sip. “What happened to this woman you were ‘madly in love with, many moons ago?’”

“I couldn’t –“ he starts, ”I wasn’t able to ever tell her how I truly felt, and instead, I left. Ran is more like it. Biggest mistake of my life."

He detects a flash of sadness in her eyes but she doesn't break character.

“That’s regretful – and stupid,” she tells him, setting down her glass.

He lets out a single laugh in acknowledgement. “Yeah. It was stupid. But it was complicated.”

She opens her mouth as if to say something, but instead puckers her lips, threads her fingers together, and rests her chin on them.

“Well, enough about your former loves. What are you looking for now, Randy?” She emphasizes the name, and he can’t wait to go in on her later for it.

“Looking for?” he asks, because he’s not quite sure what she means.

Looking for, you know. In a woman. In a connection. That’s why people get on these apps, isn’t it? Some are looking for general companionship, some for a lasting relationship, and some just want a good time and a quick fuck,” she says, and at those last words, he stops mid-sip, the beer bottle hovering over his top lip.

He looks over and she’s drained her scotch.

“I guess I haven’t really thought about it. I’d have to say it depends on the person I meet,” he tells her, figuring it’s the safest bet. “What about you, Vanessa?”

“Me? Oh, well I’ve had all of those,” she tells him, and his eyes go wide. She notices it and continues anyway.

“Having someone to grow old with sounds nice. Travel, split the bills, enjoy the grandkids. You know, stuff like that. I think about it sometimes, when I consider retiring. With my job, it’s hard to find someone who… “ her voice trails off.

“Understands?” he offers, and she nods her head.

“Yes,” she continues. “It’s been a thing in the past. I just wasn’t ready yet. I’ve had companionship, too, and that can be a nice middle ground for a while. Someone who has their own thing going on, but who you can depend on – or you should be able to depend on – if you ever really need anything. And who just enjoys some of the same things you do and wants to go to the museum or see a concert with you.”

“I like to do those things,” he tells her. “And, companionship is less pressure.”

Again, she nods. “That never really works out, though. It can’t really last because most people generally aren’t comfortable with the undefined. It always reminds me of Dr. Seuss’s Oh The Places You’ll Go. You know that book?”

“Sure, read it to my kids a bunch of times,” he tells her.

“The Waiting Place…for people just waiting. Waiting for a train to go or for a bus to come, or a plane to go, or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring-“ she recites.

“Or the snow to snow or the waiting around for a Yes or a No or waiting for their hair to grow,” he continues.

“Everyone is just waiting,” she finishes. “And that just it. In the end, there is a reason it's just companionship and not a lasting relationship.”

He’s paying a lot of attention to what she’s saying - the subtext - and he knows his expression betrays his attempt to try and construct her romantic history in his head.

“Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having a good time and a quick fuck every now and again,” she tells him, smiling seductively and holding up her glass to the waitress passing by.

Elliot’s feels his mouth go dry. “So, um, which is – what are – what am I?” he asks.

“Which do you want to be?” she challenges.

“I want to be whatever you need,” he says, without hesitation.

It’s the right thing, he can tell.

“You’re very nice looking, Randy,” she tells him, reaching across the table and grabbing hold of his forearm. He flexes it for her, and he hears her soft laughter.

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re the perfect combination of sexy and beautiful, Ol – Vanessa?” he tells her.

She leans in close, so close, and he thinks they may kiss right there, but the waitress, bringing her another scotch, ruins the moment. Elliot uses the gold foot rail around the bottom of the pub table to push his chair back, but he pushes a little too hard. His chair goes flying, sending his beer bottle crashing to the floor along with him – but not before his elbow smacks the table, causing Olivia’s freshly refilled glass to tip over.

She's on her feet immediately, narrowly avoiding the amber liquid making its way over the side of the table.

“Oh my goodness, are you okay?” she asks him, looking down at where he sits in a puddle of beer.

“Yeah, great,” he tells her, an embarrassing smile on his face. She’s already walked around the table and is holding her hand out to him.

“Here, let me help you up,” she says. He gratefully takes it and she helps him get to his feet.

“Turn around,” she instructs him.

“What?” he asks.

“Turn around,” she tells him again, and when he does, he can hear her laughing.

“You have a big wet spot on your ass cheek,” she tells him.

“Great,” he mutters. “Uh, I’m going to go find a restroom. Do you mind if -”

She’s already waving him off. “Go, no problem.”

***

He comes out eight minutes later to find her leaning against the wall outside the restroom. She pushes off it and walks over to him.

“Vanessa, I-“ he starts, but before he can get apologize for taking so long, her mouth is on his. She’s pushed him up against the wall, her breasts smashed against his chest, and her tongue is in his mouth.

He can taste the scotch.

“Olivia,” he whispers her name because he can’t help it, but she tells him to “shhh,” and brings her lips to his again. She’s snaked one of her arms around his neck, and he’s holding her by the waist. He spins her so now her back is against the wall, and he rests his left hand flat above her head.

“Sometimes a quick fuck is good too,” she whispers in his ear, and it hits him right in his dick. He doesn’t think he’ll ever get tired of hearing her say that word to him.

He notices an exit sign at the end of the hallway where the bathrooms are and tilts her chin up so that she can see it too. She nods at him, and he takes his hand and walks her out of the bar.

***

He points his fab at his SUV and she hears two quick beeps. They’re at his car.

Are they really doing this?

He’s leaning against the trunk, and she can see he’s wondering what to do next. She lets him sweat it out for a minute, reaching down to adjust her heel, before walking over and kissing him again.

She notices his breath hitch as she opens the door and gets into the back seat. He climbs in beside her and shuts the door. She reaches over and puts her hand on the back of his neck, pulling him into her and into the deepest kiss they’ve had so far. Her hips rise to meet his, and he hisses at the contact of their bodies in such an unrestrained way. He tries to pull her even closer, his fingers now tangled in her hair pulling gently at the twist, and then adjusting to interlace his fingers with hers. She feels like he can’t decide where to put his hands, and it’s probably because he wants to touch her everywhere. She understands.

She’s sucking and kissing her way up his neck, paying special to a particular spot behind his ear which makes him twitch. Her eyes are closed, and she is completely focused on the way his hands feel on her body.

Finally. He’s finally touching her.

It feels so good to kiss him open-mouthed like this. Elliot whispers her name, her real name, and she uses her hands to cup his face and bring his eyes up to hers. She gives him a look that says, “Yes, I’m Olivia, and you’re Elliot.” She feels his hand brush against her thigh as it pushes the bottom of her dress a little higher. She’s squirming underneath him because she wants to feel his fingers inside her. She wants to feel him inside her.

His rough hands leave the soft skin of her inner thighs, grab her around the ass instead, and he effortlessly lifts her so she’s laying on top of him. He’s pushed her dress up further so that it’s only her underwear meeting his groin.

She worries that she’s so wet it may get on his pants.

“I hope you leave your mark there,” he growls into her ear, and the erotic disclosure makes her buck up harder into him. She runs her tongue along the outside of his lips, softly licking until she’s coaxed him into parting them. She takes his tongue into her mouth and expertly sucks it, giving him a preview of what’s to come.

“Soon,” she whispers, and she hears him moan. She pushes him off.

"Sit up” she instructs as her hands go to his belt and begin unbuckling it. “This is getting in my way.” When it’s off, she lets her hands wander over the bulge in his pants and strokes him there. She feels him shudder.

He has a better angle since she is straddling him now, and he brings his hand in between her legs. She feels his fingers tracing up her inner thighs and he says to her, “Tell me I can do this.” When she nods, he tells her he needs to hear her say it.

She takes one of his hands and pushes it up onto her center until he’s cupping her. She immediately massages into him. He reacts to the warmth he feels and to her words – put them inside me – with a raspy “I can’t believe this is real.”

But he makes quick work of hooking his finger onto the bottom elastic of her underwear and pushing them to the side. He slides his thumb up to connect with her clit and he rubs her there for a minute before snaking two fingers inside her. She sucks in a deep breath and drops her head, reaching for the pin holding up her French twist to let down her hair.

“Uhhh,” she moans, as she sinks down to take his fingers deeper.

“Fuck,” he groans, and she knows its because she’s so lubricated and tight. It’s been a while since she’s had a man’s hands on her and inside her. Her pussy has been involuntarily flexing since they got in the car.  

And, this is Elliot.

He bends his fingers, using a “come hither” motion, until she lets out a little yelp confirming he’s found her spot. He leans into her and sucks on her neck, pumping his fingers in and out while continuing to drag his thumb across her clit.

“You’re the hottest woman alive, Olivia,“ he tells her, and it’s arousing her even more. “I can’t wait to have you in my mouth – to taste you.”

She pushes herself up using his shoulders and dips down again onto his fingers. She is controlling the pace, and he is loving it.

“A third. Use a third,“ she manages to tell him. He rewards her with a third finger, which makes her cry out louder. She’s hovering now on slightly bent knees riding him, and he continues to tantalize her with his throaty encouragements:  

You’re a goddess when you’re riding me.

  You’re intoxicating and I want to drown in you.

  You look so good when you fuck my hand like this.

She doesn’t know if he’s looked these up and memorized them, but she doesn’t care because my god, they sound so sexy coming from his mouth.

“My fingers slid into you so easily. You’re dripping for me, and I can feel how tight you are,” he tells her, and she says “uh huh, tight and wet-“ but she doesn’t get out the rest, just bites her bottom lip and continues to fuck down onto his fingers.

“You’re so amazing, baby,” he continues, and she doesn’t stop moving but corrects him through her ragged breaths, “Don’t call me baby, El-“ and that’s all she gets out before her hips are bucking at an erratic pace.

He wants to laugh because even when she’s mere seconds from orgasming, she will call him on his bullshit.

“I’m about to come,” she tells him breathlessly, and he uses his left hand to hold her tightly by the waist.

“Look at me,” she tells him, and he does. “Kiss me harder,” she adds, and he does. Her mouth is pressed against his as she comes, and he feels the full weight of it as she rides every wave. She’s moving so violently that he’s considering the possibility she might fracture his fingers, but her pussy could have teeth that snapped them off and he wouldn’t care.

As she slows her pace and catches her breath, he brings his forehead to hers and says, “I never – wow. That was fucking glorious."  She doesn’t respond, just slides off him and sits to his left, unzipping and unbuckling his pants.

“I want you in my mouth, now,” she tells him instead, and she taps his thigh so he rises off his butt and pulls down his pants. His cock is standing at attention, and she takes the fingers that were just inside her and brings them to the head of his dick, rubbing them against it, then licking both.

As she takes hold of his base with one hand and slides her mouth over him, he considers the possibility that actually this might be the time she kills him. She starts with slow licks from the top to the bottom, then teases a little with her tongue on his head. Her mouth is so wet and warm, and her pace is slow at first. Every time he looks down, she’s making eye contact with him, and he has to close his because it’s too overwhelming. He feels the head of his dick against the inside of her cheek then near the back of her throat, and he doesn’t think he will be able to last five minutes like this.

“Fuck, Olivia,” he says, softly tugging on her hair and running his hand across her jawline. Her hands reach under his shirt and rub up and down his abdomen before reaching up and grazing his nipples, first the left than the right. When she pinches them, he grunts loudly because he is close, and that just makes her take him deeper in her throat.

“Fuck, bab-fuck, Liv,” he says. “I’m so close. I need you to st-I need you to-“ and she responds by lightly scraping her bottom teeth on the underside of his dick.

“Stop, Olivia, I’m gonna-“ and she nods that its okay, but he doesn’t notice or he doesn’t care because he’s pulling her hair back with one hand and pushing her away from his crotch with the other. Her mouth pops off involuntarily right before he jerks up and comes in rough spurts. She manages to move her head away mostly, but not before something hits her eye.

And it burns like a motherfucker.

“Ah,” she yelps, and her hand immediately goes to her face.

“Oww, fuck!” she says again.

He’s coming down from his orgasm and listening to her obviously in pain, but he’s having a hard making heads or tails of anything at the moment.

“Oh fuck. Oh, Olivia,” he chokes out before looking at her. “What’s-what’s wrong?”

She’s holding her eye with one hand and has her head lowered in between her legs.

“Shit, shit, shiiiit,” she says.

“Liv?” he asks, and that’s when she lifts her head and uncovers her eye, attempting to open it, but it’s burning too much. She’s rubbing it vigorously, and when she finally manages to get it open for a moment, its red and a little swollen, and she has to snap it shut again.

“Oh my god,” he says, realizing finally what’s happened. “Did I? Did I-“

“Come in my eye? Yes, Elliot,” she tells him, rubbing it on the hem of her dress. “God, this shit burns.”

She can see he’s absolutely horrified, and she’s not happy about it either but she can’t help but laugh at the situation.

Her reaction just deepens his shame. “Liv, I am so sorry. Oh my god, I am so sorry,” he’s saying over and over.

“I don’t understand, Elliot. What did you do? Why did you push me off you?” she asks him, looking - through one eye - genuinely puzzled.

“I, it happened faster than I anticipated, and I know I’m not supposed to come in your mouth, so I – I waited too long. I’m sorry,” he answers.

“Wait, what? You’re not supposed to come in my mouth?” she clarifies.

“Well, I mean, yeah, I…” he tries explaining.

“Oh my god, Elliot. Don’t you think if I didn’t want you to come in my mouth, I would have pulled away the first time you said ‘I’m close’ and used my hands?” she exclaims, still holding her palm against her burning eye.

He doesn’t know what to say to that.

“Listen, we can talk about this later, but right now, I really need to do something about this eye. It burns like hell,” she tells him.

“Yeah, yeah, of course,” he says, lifting his hips to pull up and fasten his pants. He slides out of the car and helps her out, opening the passenger door for her. Before she gets in, he pulls her in for an embrace and kisses the top of her head.

“Liv, thank you. And I’m sorry,” he tells her.

“It’s okay, you dummy,” she responds, laughing weakly as he closes her door.

This will make a great story that I hope she never tells anyone, he thinks, as he walks around the car to drive her – somewhere.

 

Chapter Text

“Nice work on the Santos case,” Fin says to Olivia, saddling up next to her at the coffee station.

“Yeah, thanks. I’m just glad we got to her in time. Doctor said another half hour and - ugh, I don’t even want to think about it,” Olivia answers.

“Well, I’m glad it all turned out okay. For her, anyway."

She knows he’s not finished. She knows what’s coming next.

“How was it working with Stabler like that again? Ayanna says it’s like you two didn’t miss a beat,” he continues.

And there it is.

“Like what?” she asks, trying to sound casual. 

“Side by side as partners,” he answers, as she finally turns to look at him. “Cap, what happened to your eye?” 

Olivia sets down her cup, ignoring his question. “This coffee is so shitty and today I’m not in the mood. Want to take a walk with me?”

She needs to talk to someone, and she doesn’t exactly have a lot of options. While Fin may be nosy, he also knows her relationship with Elliot better than anyone. He’s a quick study and intuitive as hell, which she hopes means she won’t have to spell out certain things. 

“You finally ‘bout to update me on what’s going on between you two?” he says, raising an eyebrow and giving her an I’ve been waiting look.

Olivia rolls her eyes. “Fin, you in or -“

“Yeah, you already know. Let’s go,” he answers quickly, and Olivia swears she sees - is there a pep in his step?

Her suspicions are confirmed when she notices he’s still grinning at her as they exit the precinct.

***

They’re sitting outside next to the Citizen Caravan Beverage cart, and it’s a beautiful day. Olivia’s playing with the lid on her Vietnamese Iced Coffee, which she’d finished a good ten minutes ago and is now nothing more quickly melting ice cubes, and Fin’s leaning back in his chair, hands cradling the back of his head like a makeshift hammock. She knows he’s waiting for her to initiate the conversation, but she doesn’t exactly know how . Another three minutes of silence pass, and he just can’t take it anymore. He starts laughing.

“What? What’s funny?” she asks, looking behind her in the direction Fin is facing.

“Man, Liv, it’s hard to get you to shut up sometimes,” he teases. 

She opens her mouth to say something but the only sound she makes is a squeaky sigh.

“Benson, I gotta tell you. I never see you trip up this bad over anything except for that man,” Fin tells her. “Y’all talked yet? About anything? Well, not anything , but you know what I mean.”

“Not exactly,” she says, rubbing at her eye and succeeding only to further irritate it.

“Yeah, you never answered my question about your eye, but,” he continues, “does he know about - you know?” He doesn’t dare say the name, and she loves him for it. “Or Tucker? Cassidy?”

She shakes her head.

“Jesus, Liv, he’s only been back, what, well over a year?” Fin points out, narrowing his eyes and inching closer to the table. “You know, your romantic life was one of the first things he asked me about. Man’s been gone 10 years, left without a word, prances back in and wants to know your body count since he bolted,” he says, a hint of admiration in his voice. “I gotta give it to Stabler. He’s nothing if not ballsy as hell.”

“What an enviable trait,” she says sarcastically. “You men are pretty typical when it comes to that. And yeah, he asked me the same thing the day Eli was arrested. I just told him about Ed.”

Fin seems shocked at the revelation. Well, as shocked as Fin is capable of looking. “Damn, how’d he react?” 

“Fine, I guess. I mean, I didn’t specify it was Ed Tucker , but-” 

“Ahhh,” Fin laughs. “That makes so much more sense.”

“He thinks he’s such a good detective - then he can figure it out,” she quips, sounding saltier than she intended.

“Liv,” Fin says gently. “You and Tucker - that’s probably so far outside the realm of anything he thinks possible. He won’t figure it out.”

Olivia’s face goes from generally annoyed to painfully sad in a matter of seconds.

“Look, I got you and Tucker,” he explains. “ I know how it all developed and I can make sense of it. But Elliot? He’s flying blind here. The only thing he probably remembers about Tucker is how he made your lives a living hell back in the day. The man cuffed you in the middle of the squad room, Olivia. In front of all of us. While you were sick. What I’m saying is - without any context, it won’t make sense to Stabler.”

Olivia considers this, and she knows Fin's right about that. She’s often wondered if Tucker was one of the last people Elliot spoke with before he put in his papers. She’d always wanted to ask Ed, but she could never find the right time - or the right way - to ask the question. And anyway, bringing up Elliot was always unpredictable.

“A part of me died when Elliot left, Fin. That pain, I - I didn’t think I’d ever get over it” she confesses, and he nods. He knows. He saw it all go down in real time, but he’s never heard her articulate it before.

“But,” she says, her voice strained, “he did the right thing.”

Now she sees real shock on Fin’s face - and it’s normal people shock, not Fin Tutuola ’s brand of shock.

“If he’d have stayed and we’d continued down that path, we probably would’ve both imploded - our careers, our lives, ourselves,” she says solemnly. “Whatever would've inevitably happened, it wouldn’t have been good for anyone.”

“And you wouldn’t have Noah,” Fin adds, hoping the mention of her son brings her some comfort.

Olivia shakes her head. “Probably not.” 

“That’s why you’ve been the way you have about Elliot since he's been back, isn’t it, Fin? Because, lets face it, you were never his biggest fan and-” she asks. “Will you please take those goddamn sunglasses off so I can see your eyes?”

“Hey, I’m just trying to protect my retinas,” he defends, but does as she asks. “I hated how much you suffered those first six months after Stabler left. It was entertaining watching you be such a bitch with ‘manda and Nick, I admit. But yeah, Liv, it was right for him to go because whatever was happening between you two couldn’t go on forever- and if it had destroyed you, then I woulda hated him.``

“And now he’s back - but so much has changed. What if - what if too much has changed?” Olivia asks, clearly unsure if she can trust him - trust herself. 

“Maybe the things that changed are the things that needed to change. But Liv, listen. If you ever want me to start hating him, you let me know because he’s a selfish sonofabitch sometimes,” he says in the ~serious yet somehow still amusing~ manner that’s his signature. 

“I know no one gets Stabler the way you do and whatever it is y’all got, I’ve never seen anything like it. And there’s a part of me that understands Stabler, even if I don’t always agree with the shit he does. And yup, sometimes I want to knock him on his ass. But I’m not great with words either and I just prefer to do rather than say , you feel me?”

Olivia nods, because she absolutely does. 

“But Liv, he’s the only man good enough for you.”

Olivia opens her mouth to say something - either to be self-deprecating about how difficult she is or to be obstinate about how she doesn’t need anyone - but he holds up his hand, and she shuts it instead. 

“Hold up. Let me finish. You don’t need a man. I know that. You don’t need anyone to take care of you. No one knows that better than me. But you deserve it. Your whole life has been about taking care of other people. I’ve never seen anyone as fiercely protective over another human being as Elliot is with you. That man would jump in front of a moving train to save you."

“I never thought I’d ever hear from him again, let alone have him back in New York - and in my life,” she admits.

Fin shifts uncomfortably in his seat, and Olivia notices right away. She’s nothing if not a detective through and through. 

He can see the exact moment she connects the dots.

“Wait. He - he kept in touch with you?” she asks him, shaking her head in disbelief.

“No. I kept in touch with him ,” he answers.

“What does that mean?” she asks. “Don’t play semantics with me, Fin Tutuola.”

“He set up a voicemail here in New York. Once a year, on your birthday, I’d call and leave him a message. Your age that year, like ‘45 this year,’ and that was it. I never heard back from him, not until he reached out to thank me for the messages and let me know he would be in New York."

“And that’s when you told him about the awards ceremony?” she clarifies.

He nods.

“Fin, why didn’t you tell me?” she asks, softly.

“You never asked, Liv,” he responds. “Every time anyone mentioned Stabler, you either got pissed or bolted, so I thought it better to leave well enough alone.”

She lowers her head and nods. “Did you ever tell him about -“

“I never gave him details about anything . A few months after he left, you got a letter, right?” She nods. “So did I. It was actually just a brief note asking me to look out for you and that if I'd leave him a voicemail at a specific number letting him know you’d made it to your next birthday, it would mean everything to him.”

“And you did,” she whispers.

“You would have wanted me to,” he answers, shrugging his shoulders.

Olivia reaches across the table and takes hold of his hand. “You’ve always been such a great friend to me, Fin. I know I had a brother, but you’re the brother I’ve always wanted. Thank you.”

“Alright,” he answers, pulling his hand away but smiling. “Enough with all these emotions and shit. You know I always got you. But I want to hear what’s up. Let’s start with the eye,” he says, and her hand immediately goes up to it. Her cheeks have darkened two shades.

“Ahhh,” she says, clearing her throat. “Let’s just say Elliot is responsible and the man has problems.”

Fin looks at her confused for just a split second, then his eyes go wide and his expression reads as incredulity and discomfort. 

“Oh shit. What the - you know what, don’t tell me. I don’t even want to know,” he corrects himself, and then she starts laughing. 

“It’s been a wild ride, Fin,” she tells him.

“Damn, looks like. So does this mean the two of you are-?”” 

“I don’t know what we are , exactly. But I need to talk about it, and you’re the only one who will understand. I just have to trust you won’t say anything, Fin. Not to anyone. Elliot would kill me,” she says.

“He ain’t doing shit to you on my watch, but I won’t say nothing,” he assures her.

“Fin, I’m serious. You have to promise me.”

“C’mon, Liv. Yeah, I like to be in the know, but I’d never do or say anything if you ask me not to,” he tells her.

She takes a deep breath. “Okay, well fasten your seatbelt.”

***

He’s jumped out of his chair and run around in circles various times during her story, and she keeps telling him to calm down because they’re attracting attention. He’s currently taking another lap after hearing about the dating app date-not-date .

Of course, she’s left out various intimate details, using lots of “well, you know” and “and then yada yada” but she’s painted a pretty accurate picture of that past month or so.

Fin’s got tears streaming down his cheeks when he finally sits down again, and Olivia has never - in their two and a half decades of knowing each other - seen him laugh this hard or be this animated. 

“You’re an asshole,” she tells him, and he holds out his hand for her to give him a minute, coughs, and then breathes in deeply to get his wits about him.

“And people think all you do is work,” he says, shaking his head.

“Fin, I’m serious. I’m glad you’ve found this so entertaining, but I need advice,” she tells him.

“Well, first of all, thank you for sharing the best story of all time with me. Secondly, good for you for making him suffer and sweat it out.” 

“I wasn’t trying to make him suffer. I was trying to figure this out - to buy myself some time,” Olivia explains. 

“Yeah, yeah, I hear you, but that man has definitely suffered,” he tells her. “Lastly, I can totally believe that Stabler, with all his macho tough guy swagger, don’t know shit about technology.”

Even Olivia has to laugh about this. “Fin, at first it was so pathetic. But then I sort of found it endearing.” 

“Y’all gotta cut this bullshit, Liv,” he says, his tone suddenly serious.

And she knows this.

“Head first, Liv. Just do the damn thing already.”

“He told me he loves me, you know?” she says, filling him in on the intervention and subsequent letter saga, reciting the words forever immortalized in her memory: “In a parallel universe, it’s always been you and I.”

“What the hell,” Fin says.

“I know. Wanted to talk to me about it the night he showed up high as hell when he was OC with the Albanians.”

“Well, let’s not talk about Kathy because neither of us really want to, but I’d forget about it,” he says, and Olivia’s surprised at this.

“You’d - forget about it?” she repeats.

“Yeah. You two didn’t know what the hell you were to each other anyway. He wrote it to make his wife happy, made sure to tell you his truth before he sealed it, and then gave it to you when he was so completely fucked up that he wasn’t thinking straight. Elliot is motivated by Catholic guilt, Liv. That shit plants roots deep,” he adds.

“So-“ she asks.

“Burn it,” he tells her. “Or give it back to him, and tell him you’re giving him a do over.”

A do-over

She smiles at Fin. This man never fails her.


He’s gotten a message in the GC that there’s a family dinner-slash-meeting on Friday night, and everyone is required to attend.

The message is from Kathleen. Because of course it’s Kathleen.

This makes him a little nervous because the last time he was called to a family meeting, it didn’t go well. His dumb ass had decided that it was the perfect time to tell Olivia he loved her. In front of his children, no less.

The memory still makes him cringe.

Kathleen’s text unsettles him even more when he gets a message from Olivia, whose contact name he has proudly changed from “Olivia Benson” to “Liv” last week, all by himself without needing to look anything up.

Liv: I’ve been invited to your house for a family dinner/ meeting on Friday. By Kathleen. Any idea what this is about?

Elliot: Kathleen just let me know about this in our family group chat, so no. I don’t.

Liv: How are you managing a group chat? <smiley face emoji>

Elliot: Haha, Benson. Just fine, thank you.

Liv: Well, before I say yes, I’d like for you to do some digging. And the invitation was extended to me only, so I am figuring it’s something serious. I’ll reach out to the sitter for Noah.

Elliot: Will do. How’s your eye? <sorry face emoji>

Liv: Still a little red. Apparently I have very sensitive eyes. It’s been fun dodging questions about it.

Elliot: I don’t think I’ll ever not be embarrassed about this.

Liv: Well, you could use a little humbling.

Elliot: Hey, I am humble. I am the picture of humility.

Liv: <side eye emoji>

Elliot: I miss you, Olivia Benson.

Liv: I miss you too, El.


“It’s nothing to worry about, Dad. It’s just a family dinner. A chance to catch up. It’s been a hard stretch for us all, and the last time we were together, you seemed so distracted,” Kathleen tells him.

He holds the phone tighter against his ear because he’s having a hard time hearing her amidst all the ambient noise.

“I seemed what ?” he asks.

“Distracted, dad, like you do now,” she clarifies.

“I’m not distracted, Kathleen, I just can’t hear you well."

“Seriously, don’t stress over it. We just want everyone together,” she assures him.

“Olivia seems to think the invitation isn’t extended to Noah."

“Well, I…” she starts, but her voice trails off.

“Kathleen,” he warns, taking a deep breath and scratching his forehead. 

“Dad, of course Noah is always welcome, but it’s more of an adult thing. Maureen isn’t bringing the boys either. Did Olivia seem upset about it?” 

“No, she didn’t. But she did ask me to find out what this is all about. And I don’t want her ever to think her son isn’t welcome in our family,” he stresses.

“Dad, we love Olivia. And that extends to her son. You don’t ever need to worry about that, okay?” 

Elliot knows his daughter well, and there’s something she’s leaving out. But he doesn’t feel like pressing anymore because, honestly, he doesn’t have the strength. And he trusts Kathleen. He loves all his children equally, but he recognizes Kathleen is the one who gets him the most. Maybe it's because she reminds him so much of his mother. Maybe it’s her natural maternal instincts.

Or maybe it’s the fact that she is the closest to Olivia and leans on her for anything involving him.

“Okay, Kathleen,” he agrees.

“Dad, I have to go. I love you and I’ll see you Friday.”

“I love you, too,” he says.

He’s hangs up and thinks of what to text Olivia about Friday, but instead of opening his iMessages, he opens up the Wickr app. He’s not even sure why.

Right away, he sees he has zero contacts. That can’t be right.

He closes the app and opens it again. Maybe it’s a glitch. But nope, still zero contacts.

He goes to his iMessages and sends Olivia a text.

Elliot: Hey.

Liv: Hi.

Elliot: Talked to Kathleen.

Liv: What did she say?

Elliot: She said they’re trying to “Parent Trap” us? No idea what that means.

Liv: WHAT?!

Elliot: I’m kidding.

Liv: Elliot, I swear to god, that’s not funny.

Elliot: I kind of thought it was.

He sees the typing indicator appear then disappear. This happens three more times.

Elliot: Liv, I was kidding. Seriously. It’s just dinner. She said they would like you there for us all to catch up. It’s been a while since we’ve been together.

Liv: Yeah, I know.

Elliot: Sorry about the “parent trap” thing. Bad joke. 

Liv: <side eye emoji>

Elliot: <sad eye puppy emoji>

Liv: You’re really going to be a menace now that you know how to work your iPhone.

Elliot responds with a gif of a man nodding his head with the words YUP in all caps.

Liv: Alright, Stabler. <side eye emoji>

Elliot: Liv, can I ask you something?

Liv: Depends. Is it PG?

Elliot: I think so?

Liv: Go for it.

Elliot: Why isn’t your name under my Wickr contacts anymore?

Liv: What? It’s not?

Elliot reads her response and momentarily panics, thinking once again he’s been bested by this newfangled technology.

Elliot: No, and I swear I didn’t do anything.

Liv: <laughing emoji> I know. Relax. I deleted my account.

Elliot: You did? Why?

Liv: Because we don’t need it anymore, Elliot.

He’s not exactly sure what that means, but he decides it’s good news. 


She’s showered, fixed her hair, and applied enough makeup to look like she put in effort but not like she tried too hard. She’s also changed four times. First a floral print silk dress that stops right below her knee. Then an off-white maxi dress with a cropped jean jacket. She'd decided dresses were a no-go and put on a pair of khaki slouchy trousers and a white scoop neck tee. Despite telling herself that this was the outfit, she’d looked at herself in the full-length mirror over and over until she’d convinced herself that that scoop neck brought too much attention to her cleavage.

Finally, she put on light washed high waisted jeans, a v-neck satin effect flowy shirt with a lapel collar in a muted blue, and beige braided wedges. She added simple gold hoop earrings, a gold collarbone-length herringbone necklace, and one gold ring on her left index finger.

She’s not sure if this is what one wears to a “family dinner/meeting” but it’s been 45 minutes of wardrobe shenanigans and she’s going to be late if she changes again.

Olivia has never felt nervous around Elliot’s family. Ever. She’d let herself into his apartment and felt free to search his place, even with his mother in sight, but somehow this feels different.

This feels new .

“I’m too old for this,” she mutters to herself, and she starts to have second thoughts. Maybe she could back out. She’s considering acceptable excuses other than “I got called into work” when she hears her phone vibrate against her bathroom counter.

It’s a text from Elliot: I’m looking forward to seeing you.

Olivia bites her bottom lip to keep from smiling but fails. She’s still smiling when she emerges from the bathroom to find Lucy and Noah enthusiastically engaged in a Mario Kart battle. They pause the game when they see her.

“You look lovely, Olivia,” Lucy says.

“Yeah, mom. You look really pretty!” Noah adds.

“Thank you both,” she says, making her way over to Noah and kissing his curls. “I love you, Noah. Tomorrow I’ll make you chocolate chip pancakes and we can decide what to do for the day, okay?”

“Yup,” Noah says, his smile highlighting the dimples that make her melt with affection.

“Thanks, Lucy,” she says, as she grabs her keys and shoulder bag.

“Of course. Have a good time. We won’t wait up,” Lucy tells her.


“I want you to meet him too, Joe. It’s just going to take time. I’m hoping Liv can take that one for me.”

Elliot overhears his middle daughter on the phone. She’s trying to hold her voice down, but his hearing is still sharp as hell. Her tone is unfamiliar to him.

And did she just mention Olivia?

He comes into her view as soon as he hears, “I miss you, too. I’ll call you later.”

"Oh. Hi, dad. How - how are you?” Kathleen says, palming her phone and shoving it into her coat pocket.

His daughter is terrible at hiding anything and he almost wants to laugh.

“I’m the same way I was when you asked me fifteen minutes ago, Katie. Who were you talking to?”

“What, you mean just now?” 

“Kathleen,” he warns, making it clear he wants her to cut the bullshit.

“Okay, dad. I promise I will talk to you about it soon. Just - not now. It’s not the time,” she negotiates.

He considers this for a moment. Elliot is not one for waiting on information, especially when it involves any of his children, but his daughter’s gentle, reassuring hand on his shoulder convinces him now is probably not the time to get into whatever that was. Elliot thinks maybe this ~not needing to know everything all the time~ thing he’s trying out may be good for everyone. Especially for him.

Kathleen kissing him on the cheek seals the deal. Elliot shakes his head. “I’m going to let this go for now, but don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing,” he tells her, but his voice is light and so she laughs.

“What, I can’t just kiss my dad because I love him?” she asks innocently, before winking at him and making her way back inside.

***

The Stabler house is active.

Elliot takes stock of the current chaos: Elizabeth is in the kitchen navigating between the veggies she’s chopping and the water she’s boiling. She nicks her finger and while she’s trying to wrap a makeshift paper towel bandage around it, the pasta water boils over, spilling all over the stovetop and immediately forming a crust that makes the kitchen smell like the house is on fire. Kathleen is chiding Eli for his outfit, telling him he can’t sit down for dinner dressed like a “street urchin” while attempting - and failing miserably - to grab the phone out of his hand. “What the hell is a street urchin?” he asks, to which Elliot warns him to watch his mouth and to which Kathleen rolls her eyes and tells him if he spent more time studying and less time on his phone, he would know. Maureen rushes into the kitchen with a band-aid for Elizabeth’s finger, knocking over a serving platter, which shatters into tiny porcelain pieces all over the kitchen floor, in the process. Richard is trying to teach his grandmother how to use Alexa to play her music. He’s getting frustrated because she keeps saying “Lester” or forgetting altogether to say "Alexa" or saying it after she says the name of the song she’s wants to hear.

“Grandma,” Richard says, trying to be as patient as possible. “You have to say ‘Alexa’ first, then the name of the song or album, then the artist. Like this. 'Alexa, play ‘Fly me to the Moon,’ by Frank Sinatra.' But before Alexa can confirm the request, Bernie is shouting, “No, Lester, don’t play that rat’s music. Play Tony Bennet!”

Richard sighs in defeat, and Elliot can’t help but laugh when Alexa says, “Hmm, That Rat’s Music. I don’t know that one. Would you like to play something else?” Bernie, however, is not amused. She mutters something incoherent under her breath and stomps over to the turntable. 

It’s not long before Elliot hears “It’s not for me to say, you love me,” by Johnny Mathis. Another one of his mom’s favorites. And one of his, too.

He crosses over to his eldest daughter, taking her by the hand. “Dance with your old man?” Maureen smiles at him, nods, and steps into his arms.

“You seem happy, daddy. It’s a good look for you, you know?” she tells him, as Mathis croons perhaps the glow of love will grow with each passing day.

“Oh yeah?” he responds, feigning surprise and pulling her closer.

“Yeah. Let’s keep it that way, okay?” she responds, but he doesn’t answer, just places a kiss on the top of her head, closes his eyes, and takes in the beautiful simplicity of dancing with his daughter in his living room. When he finally opens his eyes, he sees Olivia standing there, a sweet smile on her face. Eli is next to her, still in his unacceptable ensemble, and when Elliot looks at him pointedly, he shrugs and says “Clearly no one heard the door,” then shouts “Everyone, Liv’s here,” before throwing himself back on the couch.

Elliot releases Maureen and walks over to Olivia, but the rest of his family has already beat him to her. There’s a cacophony of “Hey Liv,” and “So glad you could make it,” and “It’s so nice to see you dear,” before Elliot cuts in.

“Hey, let’s give Olivia some space.” When he manages to pull her aside, he stands back so he can get a good look at her. He wonders how in the a c t u a l fuck this woman looks sexier every time he sees her.

“Sorry about that. They’re a lot sometimes,” he apologizes. 

But Olivia shakes her head. “They’re never too much. They’re perfect.”

“You’re perfect,” he says instinctively, and he can see her cheeks turn every imaginable shade of pink.

“Well, yes. But we weren’t talking about me, Elliot,” she retorts.

He laughs at that and they hold each other’s gaze until they hear Maureen.

“Olivia, what can we get you to drink? We have wine - a red blend, Rose, and Friulano, which is like a Sauvignon Blanc, beer - a Pale Ale and sour, I think - hard cider, iced tea, and lemonade,” she offers.

“And don’t forget dad’s shitty Michelob,” Kathleen calls from the kitchen. Olivia immediately laughs because she knows about Elliot and his shitty beer.

“Joke’s on you, Kathleen. I drank the last Michelob an hour ago,” he answers. Kathleen lets out a loud sigh and turns back to the pasta.

“A glass of red would be lovely, Maureen. Thank you,” Olivia says, and two minutes later, she finds herself out on the patio with Elliot. She’s surveying the area and taking an occasional sip of her wine. Elliot can’t keep his eyes off her.

“This is such a nice space, El. So much possibility,” she says, her back to him. He doesn’t respond and when she turns to face him, she can see why.

“Elliot, you can’t - you can’t look at me like that in front of your family. Please. Play it cool,” she tells him. “This is already - already a little overwhelming for me. I almost didn’t come, you know,” she says, and it’s not meant as a warning but rather a disclosure. 

It makes him sad. Sad that she would even feel the slightest discomfort around his family.

“Are you kidding? Don’t you see how happy those kids are to see you? Well, most of them anyway. Nothing really excites Eli. He could meet Jesus himself and you’d ask him how it was and he’d say, ‘It was cool, I guess.’” 

Olivia laughs because he’s really nailed the impression of his teenage son. “Cut him some slack, El. Being a teenager is hard, and he’s been through a lot” she says, and Elliot thinks that out of all the things he loves most about Olivia Benson, her capacity for empathy is his favorite.

“Yeah, well, he’s a shithead sometimes,” he says.

“Elliot,” she chides.

“What? He is. Why don’t you take him for, say, six years or so?”

She laughs at that. “Oh, hell no. I’m barely surviving pre-adolescence as it is.”

“Seriously, we can trade. You take Eli, I’ll take Noah. It’s a great plan,” he jokes, but he notices a sudden change in Olivia’s demeanor.

“You don’t even know Noah. You’ve seen him once,” she says in a hushed tone. He can see it hurts her, and he can’t stand it. He closes some of the space between them, but when he gets too close, she takes a step back.

“And I hate that. I hate that I don’t know your son better. I’m hoping you can let me fix that,” he tells her. She doesn’t answer him, but he can see she’s no longer stiff.

He’ll take it.

They both hear the sliding door open, and Eli pops his head out. “I have been ordered to summon you both for dinner,” he says, before putting his headphones back on his ears. As Elliot passes him at the threshold, he grabs them. “Put these away. Don’t make me regret getting them for you,” he tells his youngest.

“You were in your weirdo phase then, dad. Actually, come to think of it, you’re always in your weirdo phase, but that day it was so ext-“

Before he can get out the rest of his sentence, Elliot warns him: “Keep running your mouth and I will sell those things on EBay, Eli.”

“Ebay? No shade, dad, but you wouldn’t know how to sell anything on EBay. Also, no one uses EBay anymore,” Eli counters. Elliot looks at Olivia with a “see what I deal with,” look, but she just shrugs and mouths “he’s not wrong” at him.

Yeah , he thinks. She fits into the Stabler family like a glove .

***

The dinner plates have been cleared and coffee is being passed around. Everyone has gathered in the living room, and they’re in the midst of a pretty animated debate about streaming services.

“It’s just ridiculous at this point,” Richard is saying. “You have to subscribe to like five services to watch the things you want,” to which Elizabeth replies “That’s why you need to get out more, Richard. Or read more.”

Getting out more is expensive, Elizabeth. And I read enough, thank you.”

“When did you start sounding like Dad, Richard? You’re like an elderly person,” Eli interjects. The girls, and even Olivia and Bernie, all laugh at that, and Elliot interrupts with an “Excuse me, I’m not that-,” before Richard responds with a “When I started paying bills, Eli. And don’t you all realize we are getting ready to go into a recession?”

They all respond with a collective groan.

“You’re really a buzzkill sometimes, Richard,” Kathleen says.

“Hey, I’m just a realist. Right, grandma? Tell them. You lived through the Depression,” he says, looking to his grandmother for support.

“I most certainly did not. How old do you think I am?” Bernie replies. 

“Good going, Dickie. You hurt grandma’s feelings,” Eli chides, and Richard just glares at him.

Elliot looks at Olivia, who seems beyond amused with the situation at hand and very relaxed. But when he looks at his watch, he sees it’s nearly 11 pm and he knows she’ll be saying her goodbyes soon. 

As if on cue, he hears her voice.

“Well, Stablers,” Oliva says, rising to stand. “I think it’s time for me to get going. This has been -“

“Wait, Liv. Already?” Kathleen says, getting up from the floor where she has been sitting criss-cross and glancing around nervously at her siblings.

“Yes, honey. It’s almost 11 and I should make my way home. But dinner was delicious and you all are great company,” she offers.

“Oh, um, okay. Well,” she continues, looking straight at her father. “Do you think you could stay for just a few minutes longer? We were hoping to talk about something.”

Uh oh , Elliot thinks, and when he looks at Olivia, he can see she’s having the same thought. A nearly imperceptible momentary panic flashes across her face, and she swallows hard before looking in his direction, telepathically sending him an SOS DANGER message.  

“Yeah, sure,” she tells Kathleen, because what can she say? She gingerly lowers herself back onto the sofa and looks again in Elliot’s direction. He sees her question: What the hell is going on?

He answers with his own look: I have no idea.

Fuck.

Kathleen chuckles, but not in a haha funny way. “Phew. This is more awkward than I thought it would be,” she admits.

“Way to make it even weirder, Katie,” Eli retorts, and Kathleen shoots him a look of death. Eli crouches behind his grandmother.

“We wanted to have a family dinner and we asked you to join us, Olivia, because you have been there for us through some of the hardest times in our lives, and we consider you part of our family. We wanted to tell you that and to thank you,” she starts.

Olivia smiles. Okay, this doesn’t seem bad, she thinks.

“And -“ Kathleen continues.

Oh shit. Not “ and."

“And, we wanted you both - you and dad - to know that we are all okay with…happy even…if your relationship evolves into something more,” Kathleen says. She’s looking around again at her siblings, wondering if they plan on chiming in at any point.

Olivia is completely frozen. Elliot is staring at Olivia, willing her not to bolt.

“We don’t mean to be presumptuous, or stick our noses in your personal business, but we wanted to make sure you both knew that it was fine with us. Right, guys?” Maureen continues.

All the Stablers shake their heads in agreement. Even Bernie. Especially Bernie, who looks the most pleased out of everyone. She meets Elliot’s gaze and immediately defends herself. “I had absolutely nothing to do with this. Your children came to me. But I thought it’s a great plan,” she adds, crossing her arms defiantly.

Everyone turns now to look at Olivia, who is still frozen and hasn’t said a word or even made a sound. In fact, she looks like she hasn’t even blinked.

“Liv?” Kathleen says.

“What? Oh sorry. I’m - where did this come from? I mean, what gave you the idea that your father and I were-,” she asks.

The siblings all look at each other. None of them wants to say it, least of all Elizabeth, who shakes her head and sinks further into the sofa when she hears her twin say “Lizzie-“

“Oh for crying out loud, Elizabeth saw you two,” Bernie blurts out.

“Grandma,” Elizabeth scolds, but Bernie is undeterred. “You all are acting like children,” she says, to which Eli raises his hand and says, “Um, technically I am a child,” before he‘s swatted across the head by Maureen.

Olivia still hasn’t moved an inch. She is beyond mortified, and she looks it. 

Elliot, however, rises to his feet, wanting more clarity.

“Hold on. Elizabeth. You saw us? Where? When?” Elliot questions.

“Umm, dad. It’s, it’s really not important,” Elizabeth says, offering him a way out.

But now it’s Olivia who is undeterred. “Please answer your father, Elizabeth,” she commands. Her tone leaves no room for negotiation.

“I was out for drinks with some people from work, and - well, I saw you and dad,” she offers. “I had excused myself to - to go to the bathroom, and when I rounded the corner, you were leaning against the wall, Olivia. I was going to go up and - and say hello, but then I saw dad come out of the men’s room -“ Elizabeth’s voice trails off.

“Oh my god,” Olivia says, lowering her face into her hands.

“Okay, Elizabeth. That’s enough. We know what you’re talking about,” Elliot says.

Kathleen cuts in. “But it’s no big deal! That’s what we want to tell you. Dad had been acting weird, and I thought maybe he had met someone because he was spending a lot of time on his phone, and then Eli told us-“

“Eli-“ Elliot says and he looks at Olivia, but her face is still buried in her hands.

“Elliot, you are a detective. I’m not sure what you expected from your kids,” Bernie offers, her “I told you so” tone apparent, but snaps her mouth shut when Elliot gives her a stern warning. 

“Mama.”

“I’m just saying,” Bernie mumbles, but she doesn’t say anything else.

Olivia finally looks up and scrapes her hands against her jeans. “So, did you just see us in the restaurant or did you follow us?” Because she has to know.

“No, I waited for you two to leave through the back exit then went into the bathroom,” she assures them.

Olivia feels herself trembling and she knows she’s got to get out of there before she has a full-blown panic attack. She stands, a little wobbly on her feet.

“I’m sorry. I can’t - I can’t do this. I don’t know how to - I need you all to know I loved your mother and respected your parents’ marriage so much and…I’m sorry. I just. I have to go,” Olivia says, in a shaky voice that’s barely above a whisper, as she makes her way to the front door.

Elliot follows after her, “Liv, wait.” He takes her by the arm, but she yanks it out of his grasp. “Elliot,” she says, desperately. “Please. Don’t. Let me go. I need to go, please.”

“Don’t leave, Olivia,” he pleads, but she’s already at the door. It closes with a soft thud.

Elliot stands staring at the door for a second before turning back to his family, a pained look on his face. 

“Good going, guys,” Elliot tells his family. “I’m - I know you were trying to do the right thing, I just - I have to go after her.”

“Wait. Dad,” Kathleen says. “Let me. Please,” she tells him, but he’s shaking his head “no.”

“Daddy,” Maureen says softly, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Let Katie go. Let her. This part isn’t about you,” she tells him. And she’s still soothing him as Kathleen runs out the door.

***

“Olivia!” she hears Kathleen call, and she can’t get her key ring out of her bag fast enough because her hands are trembling so goddamn bad. She’s crying and she’s a mess and she just needs to get home.

“Liv, please. Wait. Please. Give me a minute,” she begs when she catches up to Olivia. She reaches for her, and Olivia turns around. Her cheeks are wet and flushed and she’s holding one of her shoes in her hand.

“Oh no,” Kathleen says. “Your wedge broke? Those are such nice shoes.”

“I don’t care about the shoes, Kathleen. I just-“ Olivia’s voice trails off.

“Liv,” Kathleen says softly. “I’m so sorry that we made you feel so uncomfortable. That wasn’t my intention. It wasn’t our intention. Quite the opposite, actually.”.

Olivia wipes her cheek on her shirt sleeve. “I know, honey. It’s not your fault. It’s…it’s complicated,” she says between sniffles.

“You know what’s one of my most favorite things in the world?” Kathleen asks, and Olivia shakes her head no.

“The way my dad loves you. And the way you love him. I know it's ‘complicated,’ and I know some of the reasons why and the rest is none of my business. But god Olivia, it would kill me if - it would tear me apart if we were the reason the two of you didn’t give this a real chance.”

“Kathleen, I will always always be here for you and your brothers and sisters but this - I don’t know how -  I don’t know how to do this,” she admits.

“Why, Liv? Can you help me understand why?” 

“Because, Kathleen. I’ve known you all since you were practically babies. I was always your dad’s partner. His work partner. Your father was married, he had a family. It wasn’t my place-“ Olivia’s voice breaks.

“My dad is not married anymore. You don’t think we know how many times you made sure our parents stayed married? I gotta tell you, Liv, I never understood it, but I was grateful for you and I respect the hell out of you for it. Olivia, you’re the closest thing to a hero I’ve got. And you are family. You always have been,” Kathleen tells her.

“I wasn’t though,” Olivia says, her voice deep and low. “I wasn’t family. Your parents and you all, you were a family.”

“Are you kidding me, Olivia? You saved my life! You saved my mother’s life. My little brother is here because of you. My dad is still with us, alive, because of you. Eli is probably not currently in jail for murder because of you! You are MORE than family, Olivia. I don’t even know if there is a word for what you are to us,” Kathleen says, practically hysterical, because she has to make Olivia understand.

Kathleen's tear-streaked face and look of desperation are too much for Olivia, and her instinct is to wrap her in a hug to comfort her. As she makes a move to do just that, Kathleen backs away

“No. See, Olivia, this is what I mean. You’re so upset and overwhelmed, and you’re more worried about me. You are always looking out for other people, no matter what. It’s your turn,” Kathleen says.

“I don’t -” Olivia starts, but Kathleen won’t let her finish. She needs to get it all out. 

“You know, my mom, she…she was a good woman,” she continues. “ A wonderful mother. She never said anything negative about you in front of any of us. In fact, she told us how grateful she was that there was someone who loved dad so much making sure he came home to us every night. I’m sure - I mean, I imagine it was hard for her at times, but…she loved dad. And dad loved you, so she loved you in the way she could.”

The emotional control Olivia had regained has once again gone, and she’s really crying now, the sobs wracking her body, but Kathleen doesn’t stop because she knows she needs to say these things and Olivia needs to hear them.

“Maur and I overhead mom and dad only one time discussing you. It wasn’t a fight. It was a negotiation , I guess you could say? It was after he got the call from IAB, the day he decided he wasn’t going back. Mom was actually angry with him that he wasn’t planning on saying goodbye to you. He kept saying, ‘I can’t Kathy. Please understand. I can’t do that.’ Mom said you deserved better, and dad agreed. He said you deserved a shot at a life that would give you all the things you deserved.”

“Kathleen, please. I can’t - I’m not sure I can take anymore,” Olivia pleads.

But Kathleen goes on. “My family, we - we carry the guilt of leaving you to believe that you didn’t matter to us when the truth was, none of us knew the right thing to do. But I hope you believe me when I say we love you, Olivia. We always have and we always will, no matter what does or doesn’t happen with dad. And we don’t want to be the reason you make a decision about that, one way or the other. Are you hearing me?” 

The only thing Olivia can muster is a slight nod in agreement.

“When I saw you at the hospital after all that time, do you remember what I said to you?” Kathleen asks.

Olivia shakes her head no. She takes a deep breath to settle herself and says, “There was a lot going on. I think we were all in a bit of shock. And suddenly your dad was there, after 10 years, and at first I thought he was a ghost.”

Kathleen shakes her head in acknowledgement. “Mom was adamant about going to your ceremony. I think she felt guilty, which is weird, I know, but that’s mom. Deep down, she didn’t blame you.”

“And when I saw you, I said ‘Olivia, you’re here.’ Because of course you were but also, we didn’t deserve it. That doesn’t matter to you, though, does it? You just love - no matter what. And it’s when I saw you that I thought mom actually had a chance of making it,” Kathleen says through her own tears.

“I’m so sorry, Kathleen,” Olivia whispers, and it’s then that Kathleen allows Olivia to pull her into an embrace.

“I love you, Olivia. We all do. More than you’ll ever know,” Kathleen says. “I love my mother and I miss her so much. But my time with her here is - it’s ended. And so has dad’s.”

“Thank you, Kathleen,” Olivia says, pressing her lips into her temple. “Thank you for telling me all of this and for being the person you are.”

“You needed to know. We owed you that,” Kathleen says. “You’re an angel to us all.”

At that moment, Kathleen’s cell vibrates, and she pulls out her phone. “I bet it’s dad. Maureen is probably holding him hostage right now,” she says, and Olivia laughs at the image. Kathleen is so happy to see her smile.

But then it happens.

Kathleen’s holding her phone in Olivia’s full view when the contact’s name flashes on the screen.

Joe Velasco.

Olivia looks down at the phone and then up at Kathleen and then down again - and suddenly it registers. Velasco on his phone too much. Rollins and Fin teasing him about “dating apps.” Overhearing him mention a “beautiful, smart, sassy blond” that he’s “head over heels” about.

“Oh my god,” Olivia gasps, and Kathleen brings her hand up to her mouth.

“I- Liv, I swear I was going to tell you."

“Kathleen Stabler, why is Joe Velasco texting you?” Olivia asks sternly, the previous subject effectively ended, as she wipes the last of the tears from her face.

“Um, because. Well, because we are dating?” Kathleen says sheepishly.

“Oh my god,” Olivia repeats, squeezing her eyes shut and using the index and thumb of her left hand to put pressure on them. She thinks she’s about to get a migraine.

“I promise, Olivia, we were planning on telling you and dad,” Kathleen explains.

“How long?” 

“How long, what?” Kathleen asks.

“How long have you been seeing each other?” 

“Not that long, I promise. We met on Hinge and at first, I only knew he was in law enforcement. It wasn’t until we started meeting in person that I found out he worked for NYPD. Then I found out he worked in Special Victims, specifically the 16th precinct, and that his boss was none other than Captain Olivia Benson.”

Olivia can’t help but burst out laugh because WHAT THE FUCK.

“What the. How did this happen? What the FUCK,” Olivia says, but it’s more to herself. She starts laughing at the absurdity of the situation and then she has Kathleen laughing and they’re both in stitches.

“Jesus Christ, it can’t ever just be easy, can it?” Olivia asks, before adding “your father is going to have an aneurism when he finds out you’re dating a cop. A ‘sex cop,’ no less.”

Kathleen grins and says, “Yeah, well I happen to know ‘sex cops’ are the best of the best,” and decides now’s the time to ask Olivia for a big favor.

“If it comes from me, yeah, he may stroke out. But if it comes from you -“ Kathleen proposes.

“Oh no. Hell no. No WAY, Kathleen. This is your mess,” Olivia says.

“Please Olivia. Please . Think about how much you love me. If you do me this favor, I promise I will never ask you for anything again."

“Ha! That’s real cute. And a lie,” Olivia responds.

“Okay, maybe it is. But tell me you’ll think about it at least,” Kathleen says as Olivia unlocks her car and gets in.

“I’ll think about it, but I highly suggest you have a game plan,” she says, shutting her door and unrolling her window.

“Liv. What are you going to say to Joe? He was completely freaking out when he found out who I was. Well, when he found out who my dad is,” she says.

“Yeah, I bet he was,” she says, shaking her head in disbelief.

“I guess he asked Detective Rollins, is that her name? Asked her about how close you were to the Stabler kids, and she said something along the lines of ‘she’d take a bullet for them’ and ‘god help anyone who decides to harm those kids in any way.’ He says he went into the bathroom and threw up.”

“Well…” Olivia says, thinking on one hand it’s good her new detective has a healthy amount of fear and respect and on the other wondering if she’s a monster.

“Liv?” Kathleen says, her voice serious now. “I really like him. Like like him like him could see this being a long-term thing like him.”

Olivia sighs. “I’ll think about it. Okay?” she offers, and Kathleen grins because she knows what that means.

“Anything else you’d like to tell me or ask me before I go?” Olivia says, and she’s joking but Kathleen goes for it anyway.

“Lizzie could probably use your help talking to dad about deciding to move in with her girlfriend.”

“Does your father even know Elizabeth has a girlfriend?” Olivia asks.

“Dad doesn’t know Elizabeth has ever had a girlfriend."

Olivia shakes her head. “Goodbye, Kathleen. I’m leaving now to save myself.”

“Bye, Liv. I love you so much,” she says.

“Yeah, yeah,” Olivia says as she drives off. She looks in her rear view mirror and sees Kathleen waving. For the first time ever, Olivia allows herself to imagine an actual future with Elliot Stabler.

Thank you, Katie , she says silently, the words ghosting her lips, before they turn up into a smile.


There is a soft knock at her door. She uses Face ID to unlock her phone and texts him that the door is unlocked. 

She knew he would be coming over. 

He quietly enters her apartment, kicking off his shoes, and gently closes and locks the door. Courtesy of the soft yellow glow coming from a floor lamp, he can see her laying on the sofa. She’s changed into sleep shorts and a T-shirt, and Noah is nestled comfortably in her arms. 

“Hi,” he mouths to her. 

“Hi,” she says, giving him a sleepy smile. 

“Look at those curls,” Elliot whispers, and Olivia gently runs her fingers through them. “I know, right? I love them.” 

“Are you okay?” he asks, and she shakes her head yes. “When I got home, he and Lucy were passed out. They must have fallen asleep watching a movie. I let them be and changed, then woke up Lucy so she could go home. Noah woke up and begged to ‘sit with me a while.’” She shakes her head. “And, here I still am.”  

“Liv, can I - will you let me carry him into his room?” Elliot asks, worrying he may be overstepping but wanting so badly to hold the boy - her son - in his arms. 

“He’s heavy, Elliot. I can wake him-“ she starts. 

“Liv, don’t wake him. Please, let me,” he beseeches, and she grants him permission. He walks over to the sofa and scans the scene for a moment to determine how best to lift the sleeping boy without waking him up. He leans over and slips one arm underneath Noah’s torso and he uses the other to scoop up his legs. Before he stands completely upright, he leans in to place a kiss on Olivia’s lips. 

It’s such a perfect moment - and it’s not lost on either of them. 

She stands up and crosses in front of him to lead the way to Noah’s room. She stops to switch on the nightlight in the hallway and peeks her head through the door to make sure Noah’s sheets are pulled back. 

“It’s ready,” she mouths, and Elliot moves as gingerly as possible. Olivia thinks Elliot looks like he is carrying a piece of Styrofoam rather than a 90-lb child, and she still marvels at how he’s in fitter form now than he was in his 30s and 40s. 

She watches as Elliot places Noah on his bed, cradling the back of his head and lowering it onto the pillow before lifting the top sheet and comforter over his body. He takes a moment to push the boy’s curls off his face and run his thumb over his eyebrow. “Sweet dreams, Noah,” she hears him say.

Olivia remembers what Elliot had said to her earlier about wanting to get to know Noah better, and suddenly she feels struck with a feeling of urgency about it. 

“El,” she says, as he follows her into the kitchen. “I was thinking that maybe we could have you over for dinner on Sunday. Would that - would that be okay?” 

He takes a few steps towards her and gently nudges her backwards so her lower back is flush with the kitchen counter. He reaches out and tucks an errand strand of hair behind her ear, and then his mouth is on hers. 

“There’s nothing I would like more,” he whispers.

Olivia can’t help but marvel at the place they are in. She almost wants to cry at the magnitude of it all, but she’s done enough crying that evening to last her a lifetime, and she’s sure her puffy eyes give that away.

“I’m sure I look so sexy at the moment,” she tells him, gesturing to her face, but he just kisses both her eyelids.

“You look as beautiful as ever, Olivia."

“Elliot, I’m - I’m sorry I left the way I did. I just - “ She starts trying to explain herself, but he cuts her off. 

“Hey, Liv. You have nothing to apologize for. Nothing, you understand? If it isn’t already clear, my family adores you. But I don’t want them putting pressure on you, either. We do this our way, at our pace. Whatever you’re comfortable with. There’s no rush,” he tells her. 

Olivia can’t help but laugh because Elliot Stabler is currently standing in her kitchen after having tucked her son into bed and is telling her he’s letting her take the lead on their relationship. 

Relationship. She and Elliot are in a relationship.  

She’s the one lunging at him now, kissing him passionately and promising him not to go “too slow” because “that ship has sailed,”

“So you think we are ready to take this to the next level, then?” he asks.

“What do you mean, ‘next level?’” She eyes him suspiciously, crossing her arms and reminding him that she can be as petulant as she is sexy. 

He loves this about her. 

“I mean, it’s a big step so I just want to make sure you’re ready,” he teases. 

“Elliot,” she warns, shaking her head. “Didn’t you just say there's no need to rush this?”

“Yes, but then you said that ship has sailed,” he reminds her. 

“I was talking about sex , Elliot,” she clarifies.

“Well, technically we haven’t had sex yet, Benson,” he corrects her. 

“Don’t Bill Clinton me, Stabler,” she chides, and he huffs out a laugh before pulling out his phone. 

“Where’s your phone?” he asks. 

“On the coffee table, I think. Why?” She’s still not sure where this is going, but she follows him into the living room anyway. He picks up her phone and asks, “Password?” 

“Ha,” she answers, swiping the phone from his hand and unlocking her phone but not handing it back to him. “You wish.”

Suddenly her phone buzzes and she looks down. It’s a notification. 

Elliot started sharing his location with you. Would you like to share your location? 

“Figured this is easier than having Jet track your phone,” he jokes. 

“Elliot,” she warns, “I swear to god I will break your fingers if you try that shit.” 

He quickly backs away, miming a “surrender” motion, and puts down his phone. “Okay, okay. We can talk about it another time."

“Unbelievable,” she mutters. A few months ago, you couldn’t even use emojis and now you’re airdropping me your location.”

“Told you I’m a quick learner, I just have to have a reason. And besides, aren’t you glad I was such a dumbass when it comes to all this A.I. stuff?” he asks, lowering himself onto her sofa and reaching for her waist to pull her onto him. 

“A.I.? Elliot this isn’t …” she starts. “You know what? Never mind. Yes, I’m glad you accidentally sent me a voice recording of you fantasizing about me while watching shitty porn, which despite not knowing your way around technology, you somehow managed to find.”

“Like I said, I just have to have a reason,” he says, grinning.

“Elliot,” she says, leaning down to kiss him. “Shut up and take me to bed.” 

He quickly stands, lifting them both, and carries her to her room - both their phones left on the coffee table. 

Maybe once he convinces Olivia to marry him, he can go back to a flip phone. 

~finis~