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come home with me

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The call came at 10:47PM. 

Olivia was just about to have the perfect— rare— night to herself, full of soft fabrics, teeth-achingly sweet food, and the nicest wine she had on her at the moment. These nights were few and far in between, Captain duties and a bubbly eight-year-old did not really allow for the serenity of an entire night of self care. But after a day of dealing with McGrath’s wrath, and a forever observant Sergeant (and friend), Fin gave her the gift of peaceful quietness on this Thursday night. She whispered a thank you to her number two, who brushed it off, telling her if she really wanted to thank him she’ll approve that weekend off for him and Phoebe.

And so the festivities began as soon as her door was slammed, locked, and the bra unclasped. 

Step one, soft fabrics. Leggings, sweater— no, baggy t-shirt. She’s pretty sure it might be Cassidy’s, but it looks a little larger, a little longer, and perhaps is a leftover from the now expired, once-a-month visits from Edgar. Who cares whose it was, it’s on her right now and the rumble in her stomach reminds her that lunch was nonexistent today, instead trampled by a wonderful meeting with the boss who ended every meeting asking about his “tone.”

“Better?”

What am I your mother? is what she wanted to say. Instead, she settled for a tight, closed-mouth smile and a nod. 

She needed food in her now. Hungry and impatient, she shuffles through Noah’s essentials, when she remembers she’s a grown woman and the incredible advancements of the human race make food available from the touch of a few buttons on her phone and it can arrive at her door in under an hour. 

Screw meal prepping. Not tonight. She can cook tomorrow. Scrolling through the app, everything looks good (why wait until she was this hungry, it was impossible now), but she is reminded of what she really wants right now. 47 minute delivery. Perfect.

Treating herself to carbs, she places an order for a very expensive pasta dish from the very authentic Italian restaurant Elliot had recommended (well, more like asked her to) and readies the bottle of wine calling to her, taking a second to spoon the secret stash of pecan ice cream into her mouth, humming softly. 

“Mmm,” she moans. 

It’s not even that it tastes good— which it does, oh it does so much— but more so there is no child pleading for his own bite, only to end up claiming another thing of hers. Super secret ice cream is so much better. 

And it pairs just fine with the wine that she almost skipped the glass for, but manages to stop herself, grabbing the largest glass she can to bring it over to the living room and place it (along with the bottle) on the coffee table. Ice cream carton, wine bottle, wine glass (now very full), and a giant dish of pasta heading her way thanks to Jason and his five stars. She was all ready to go. 

It’s too cheesy for just music, although she has half a mind to strip down and drift off in her tub until her fingertips are painfully wrinkly. Let the warm water hug her like a blanket, the aromas of cucumber cleansers and eucalyptus something to soothe her forever aching body. But she settles for TV, absentmindedly scrolling through Netflix, then Hulu, then Disney Plus (Olivia, don’t you dare, not on your night), then back to Netflix where she settles on an Iliza Shlesinger comedy special she’s stopped and started about 11 times. 

When her eyes beg to close she forces them back open, not letting her give this night of self care up to the unconscious lull of sleep. The wine may be soothing, and the ice cream (that has been long put away) so sweet— it isn’t until the doorman calls to ask permission that she realizes the saving grace of tonight is about to be at her doorstep. 

Jason with five stars looks 23 max, but the food is still warm as she unravels it from the many bags it is placed in (c’mon New York, why so much plastic?) and she cannot get it open and in her mouth fast enough. 

And Elliot was right. It is to die for. 

She has half a mind to call or text him, let him know how right he is and thank him for the recommendation. But she hesitates at the keyboard, remembering he is out working and does not need to be bothered by her right now. She’ll put a pin in it, come back to it later, and thank him properly another time.

Locking her phone, she heads back to her throne of choice this evening, taking another large bite before washing it down with an equally heavy sip of wine.

But the night was going far too well and even though she was going to ride it as long as she could, she knew at any second it could be interrupted, forcing the sacred bliss to evaporate. That was her normal, and these long periods of silence always turned into panicked phone calls. These nights were so, so scarce. 

But inevitably it comes. And honestly, she’s surprised at how late it comes, how long she had to enjoy herself. 

And even more off-guard when it’s not someone from her squad on the other line.

Belly full, wine put away, she’s deep into her couch cushions when the buzzing of her phone startled her, the vibrations tight against her hip. She lets out the sigh she had been waiting to, sliding her phone unlocked, voice smooth from relaxation, but a faint twinge of bitterness mixed in at the night’s conclusion. “Benson.”

“Captain?”

Ayanna? She pulls the phone away from her ear to double check, and, sure enough, the Sergeant is on the other end. She sits up with urgency. “Sergeant Bell. Is everything okay?”

There’s a slight pause and it’s just enough time for Olivia’s subconscious to draw up countless fictional scenarios to make her heart race— and he is the lead in all of them. 

“I know it’s your night off and I’m very sorry, but a situation has come up and I was wondering if you would be willing to help. Again.”

And that “situation” has her redressed— bra back on— keys in her hand, and out the door in 4 minutes. 

Ayanna remains on the line through it all, listening as she’s hopping into her car, propping up her phone to focus on it and the road— driving out of her parking lot and towards the location Jet has sent her. She’s keeping calm, although her throat feels far too dry, and she wishes she chugged some water before leaving. “And you’re sure this is the right address?”

“Yes,” Jet reassures. “We lost contact with him before he entered.”

“We think they’re stepping up the precautions, making sure no more conversations are being recorded,” Ayanna sounds level-headed (as always), although she is all too aware of how dangerous tonight can get. 

Olivia huffs as she hits another red light and quickly glances over at the screen to recheck her estimated time of arrival, realizing that the window of opportunity grows tighter and tighter with every stop she has to make. No lights or siren though, not unless she absolutely needs to

“Captain?” Jet’s voice breaks through her trances, and she answers quickly, eyes still flickering back and forth between the road and the directions. “When you get close, park on Grant Street, it’s behind the bar so you’ll have to walk around it, but it’s out of view and will keep you hidden.”

“Copy.”

“We won’t have eyes or ears on you while you’re inside—"

“Sergeant, don’t worry. I will be fine.” 

She says it mostly for her and not the younger woman, as it’s been a little bit since she’s had to face the adrenaline of an undercover stunt, and especially when the character she’s playing happens to be herself. Recusing Elliot from a shady job? She’s done it plenty of times, but recusing Elliot from a gang of dirty officers while sporting a Captain’s title was daunting. But he’s trapped inside, probably drinking away, unaware about a looming hit on him (and their group), with the aim to take them out one by one. His team is working to try and stop it from happening at all, but Ayanna’s call was much more than a courtesy. She believed she could stop the hit, but if anything happened she could risk…

Elliot had to get out of there, out of the thin blue line brigade, and out of harm's way. 

And Olivia wasn’t too sure how she was going to do it herself, either. Again that whole Captain thing is really screwing her over with this one. Walking into that bar could be a death trap for herself if she wasn’t careful, and Ayanna had gently reminded her of that. 

But it was different, her and Elliot, they were a dream team. 

Were. The decade-long separation could have trampled that bond, that rhythm. Maybe they weren’t as in-sync as they used to be. 

She has no time to question that, not when she parks exactly where Jet says to, saying her final goodbyes to the team, leaving her phone behind as she steps out into the night. It’s past 11 now, and yet the bar is lit up, patrons inside. She needs a gameplan. And she’s got about 30 feets to finalize it. 

One she reaches the door, she figures it out. The clock begins. 

He doesn’t see her walk in. Doesn’t see her bite her lip and head towards the bar, eyes on the bottles behind it, fluffing her hair to create some movement. Grab his attention. She feels eyes, but not his yet. 

“Oh boy.”

“What?”

“Trouble— 10 o’clock.”

Then it comes. She feels his gaze now. It’s intense against her skin and she knows he is questioning why she is here right now. 

“Captain Benson? Why is she here?”

“Hey, Stabler, wasn’t she your—"

“Partner, yeah.”

The conversation is far too muffled for her to hear it, but she sees mouths moving, patiently waiting for a sign to move onto the next step. 18 minutes. Elliot, your move. 

“Didn’t she rip you a new one at 1PP a while ago?”

Laughter ensues. 

“Yeah, yeah,” Elliot shuts it down. His mind is wandering, knows no one can reach him. And if she’s here…

“We had to work with SVU for a case,” Stanwood chimes in. “That bitch is wound too tight.”

Elliot’s hand curls into a hidden fist under the table, glancing at his old-partner-now-friend once more, and takes a swig of beer. 

She looks over again. Not yet, Olivia. 

“Yeah, well,” he exhales a heavy sigh and lifts his arms, locking his hands together behind his head. “I’ve…been working her,” It comes out too easily and he feels gross saying it. Doesn’t like that he has to do this right now. Doesn’t like that the woman he lov— likes, very much likes— is now an object of their conversation. It feels slimy. Why is she here?

“Oh, yeah? Working her how?”

He shrugs smugly, and smirks before guiding the bottle back to his lips. “I want my suspension lifted, and she’s…well, she’s a Captain. One hand washes the other, right?”

A hand is slapped on his back and the guys roar with a disgusting display of brotherhood. 

Now, Liv. 

He gives his cue, nodding up at the brown-eyed beauty who shuffles over to their table, drink nowhere to be found, despite her long time waiting at the bar.

“Captain. To what do I owe the pleasure?” He’s got that cocky look that she usually shuts down with an eye roll, but this Olivia Benson can’t do that tonight. No, this one is biting her lip, a light blush creeping up. This Olivia eyes up the crowded table quickly, waiting for that Elliot who slides his chair back slightly, legs spread like he owned the room. 

“I…”

Frank cuts in, “Don’t be shy, Captain. We’re all friends here.” His wink makes her almost shiver, knowing now what this man has dragged her Elliot through. She would give anything to tear him apart right now, put herself between him and Elliot, let him know what the badge they don is really for. But she can’t. Right now she just needs Elliot out of here, so she smiles shyly once more.

Elliot takes the hint, diving deeper into the role. He slams his bottle down with a slight thud, standing up slowly—possessively, eyeing her up like she was his. She can’t tell if she’s just really, really good at acting or if his brash display of masculinity is actually causing her to react this way. 

13 minutes, Olivia. Focus. 

Shaking out the buzz of adrenaline, she steps forward almost into him, one hand reaching out to palm his lower abs before grabbing the soft fabric of his henley, fisting it in her grip. She can see him swallow, but pushes onward with the act. “Frank, so sorry,” she turns her head to smile at the older man again. “Do you mind if I borrow him?”

He chuckles at the same time that Elliot’s hand wraps around her, landing just above her ass— so he does understand the assignment. “Not at all.” 

And with that permission, she tugs her friend forward, forcing his grasp on her to drop as she heads back towards the front of the bar– still plainly in view, but tucked away deep enough for none of them to hear. She maneuvers him so that his back hits the wall of the bar, and a soft grunt is exhaled by him from the impact. 

11 minutes. 

“Liv?”

She pushes into him now, face coming closer and closer, breath hot against his skin. Leaning up, her mouth moves to land next to his ear, and Elliot inhales sharply. Her voice is almost inaudible, but he hears every breathy word that escapes her lips. “Hit in 10 minutes, couldn’t contact you.” And then her feet are back on the ground, hands both rubbing at his chest, face donning a flirty expression. But he can read her eyes. 

He lifts a hand up, entangling one of hers in his and drags it to his mouth to give it a gentle peck. Eyes glued to her, he whispers back, “I can’t just leave.”

Her free hand glides up to his jaw, anchoring her fingers against his throat, freeing her thumb to sweep across his cheek. “I know.” It’s heavy and tense, but he looks at her, then down to where their bodies connect and she realizes she really doesn’t want to lose him. Not that she ever has— always has panicked at him in danger, all his injuries, from the smallest cut to the more serious wounds— she was there, panicking alongside his wife. But that wife was no longer here. There was no more guilt to feel over her worrying, and by the looks he has been giving her (also the countless verbal invitations for dinner, lunch, or even just a drive home) let her know that he is ready for her whenever she is. 

“Do you trust me?” She asks it as her expression shifts again, and those dark brown eyes pull his blue in so deeply. 

“Always.”

And that’s all she needs to hear. 

Fisting his shirt once more, she slams her mouth aggressively into his, letting her hands roam everywhere, encouraging him to do the same. Thankfully, he doesn’t need any more cues, immediately wrapping his arms back around her waist and running his hands up and down her back. It becomes borderline pornographic, the way their tongues start to converge— it’s wet and hot and Olivia is getting a little too distracted. Tiny whimpers and soft moans combine with the sound of them— well, making out. It would be such a great kiss (it still is) but he turns them and slams her against the wall he was previously glued to. She grunts into his mouth when she feels the brick on her back and he pulls away with a wet smack, moving his hand (from very close to her breast) up to wipe away some of the wetness from her bottom lip with his thumb. 

He smirks that damn smirk again and leans back in, using the other hand to tilt her head just enough to expose more of her neck for him. “How long?” he mumbles into the skin between open-mouthed kisses. 

It’s an overwhelming sensation on her extremely sensitive skin and her physiological reactions really aren’t helping her stay on track. “We gotta go,” it’s let out in a breathy whisper and she grabs his face in both her hands to give him a final kiss. Except this one is much softer and too real. “Now.”

He pulls away, nodding and licking his lips. “I’ll grab my coat. You stay here.” It stern, his voice low, and she gives him a nod of assurance, heart pounding from the limited time they had left. And perhaps a little from their graphic display of affection. 

Elliot walks with purpose— internally to avoid a potential massacre, but externally it just looks like he’s on a mission. And that mission happens to be at the front door. 

“You dog,” Parnell says. 

“She’s an easy target, what can I say?” He's back in character (forgive me, Olivia), snagging his coat from the back of the chair and gesturing towards this Elliot’s partner in crime. “You mind if I—"

“Go seal the deal,” Frank laughs. “We want details.”

Elliot fakes another laugh, waving goodbye before he’s practically running back towards Olivia and out the door. “Where’d you park?”

“Over here, c’mon,” she grabs his hand tightly and they walk briskly away from the bar, heads down, hands both clammy as they get closer and closer to her car. He hops in, but takes his time, making sure she’s inside safely first. It’s mere moments before the engine is on and they are speeding away, but Elliot stays on alert, glances all around, craning his body to check around the street. If she gets hit, he doesn’t know what he would do.

Olivia's heartbeat begins to level, relieved they are out. He’s here. Reaching her hand out to squeeze his, she can almost see the panic still freshly coursing through him. “We’re okay, Elliot,” she hopes it’s the truth, but says it with all the confidence she can right now. And he holds her there for a moment, not wanting to let go. 

She realizes this was the hand that had his lips on it tonight.

“Thank you, Liv. But—”

“Ayanna called. Which reminds me…” she quickly taps the Sergeant’s number on her phone, letting her know that she had him and they were at a safe distance. She doesn’t ask for details on how it was done, but Olivia is sure people at 1PP will spread whispers of their little show they had. Tonight, she is letting it go. He’s here, alive. That’s all that matters.

“Elliot, Eli and Bernie are at Maureen’s. Figured we be as precautious as possible.”

“Thank you, Ayanna,” he says, and the rest of the call is a slight debriefing, ending with a ‘see you tomorrow’ and ‘great work, Detective.” 

When the phone is hung up, there is a slight silence and Olivia breaks it. “Eli doesn’t know, Ayanna —”

“That was our first kiss.” 

She jerks her head to look at him, his eyes glancing outside the window. “What?

He turns, and he’s holding back a smile— they just potentially escaped death and he’s sitting here enjoying every minute of it. His tongue glides over his bottom lip, cocking his head slightly (smug bastard), “That was the first time we’ve ever kissed.”

She can’t look at him, not when he does that face anymore. It’s first appearance in December made her fumble over her words like a middle schooler being asked to homecoming, and she had to focus on the road now. “Elliot—”

He concedes, always acutely aware of her slight rejections from the tone of her voice and a simple exhale of his name. But he’s still Elliot, so he lets out a little chuckle, lightly laced with a dash of cockieness as he pretends to be interested in something outside again. “Sorry, just…wasn’t expecting that.”

She huffs, “I had to get you out of there.”

“Hmm, felt like it was maybe more than that.”

“Elliot, I’m not doing this with you right now.”

“I’m just saying, do friends kiss like that?” he prods. 

“I was trying to make sure you didn’t die tonight. My apologies.”

“No, no, it’s fine. Totally fine. We are still just friends,” he sighs. Then pesters, “Just friends who’ve kissed now.”

“Please shut up.”

“Copy that, Cap.”

And then it’s silent in the car that she is driving, but not quite sure where to. It’s quite funny how two grown adults do not say a word, but are both reminiscing on the same thing. Their minds transported back to where the other’s hands explored their bodies as the kisses got hungrier and hungrier. She’s thinking about his tongue on her pulse point, while he’s holding back a toothy grin remembering her hand tracing over his abs. Makes the gym worth it. 

He can’t help it, Olivia Benson kissed him tonight, and for the first time in the 20 plus years of knowing her, he finally knows what her lips taste like. “You know, people are going to talk now—”

“Oh my god, I’m not doing this,” she sighs, knuckles almost white with how hard she’s gripping the wheel. Maybe there were other ways to get Elliot out of there, to get him back to safety without dismantling the sanctity of their precious (slow placing) friendship. I mean, she knew he was ready to move forward— the never-ending asks to take her (and sometimes Noah– actually mostly Noah. He wants to meet her kid and she is still keeping him away. Afraid he’s going to abandon you both this time?) out for lunch or dinner. Or just to be able to drop by the precinct. She is insistent on saying no to that one, and is semi-grateful (maybe disappointed) his new undercover assignment wouldn’t allow him too. 

“Where are we going?” He breaks her out of her looping thoughts, voice much more relaxed, losing its slight frat-boy quality. 

She realizes that she’s driving back to Manhattan, subconsciously on her way back to her own apartment. Only this time with a friend. A friend she has just made out with in front of fellow officers. “Well, Noah’s at a sleepover.” 

His mouth opens slightly– oh, she likes making him nervous. 

“And you can’t go back home.”

He nods slowly, swallowing, the gears in his head turning and creaking. Elliot Stabler is nervous. What a rare sight. “Gotcha,” is all he can muster up, and his eyes don’t dare probe her for more, mouth tightly shut. 

And the car is silent once more.

 


 

“I don’t think he likes me.”

“Who?” she asks absentmindedly, fiddling with her keys to unlock her apartment door. Olivia has opened this house with a baby on her hip and several grocery bags on her other arm, why was this such a challenge now?

Elliot eyes her up, “The doorman.”

The key finally slides in, the door pushed open, and she chuckles, “I doubt it.”

“I feel like I owe him something, but Hallmark doesn’t really make a ‘sorry I was drugged’ card, do they?”

Olivia should hate how easily he is entering her home, should hate that he immediately takes off his shoes and jacket, respecting her unspoken routine. It’s like he never left. Always was here, learning her normal. He grabs her coat, he hangs them both up and she realizes she’s staring. They both stare often, usually stopping once they were caught by the other, but right now she is locked on him. And it. It is staring her back. A blushy-nudish-pinkish blotch, remnants of her lipstick, right on his jaw and it has all of her attention right now. 

She really kissed him. And now he’s in her home. 

In a logical sense, when two people makeout in a bar then go home together, it has a very different connotation to the predicament that she and Elliot are in tonight. They were friends, very good friends who have still yet to properly cross that threshold. Go on a date. Catch up and just enjoy each other’s presence. He was under again. She was a Captain and mom. They needed time. 

His eyes are back on her and he flicks his gaze down to her lips (which he’s been doing far too often and really needs to stop it), tilting his head just so. “Hmm?” he hums. 

Olivia shakes her head, brushing him off, clearing her throat— god, her poker face is really out the window right now. “Nothing, just—" she wets her thumb with her tongue, and instinctively sweeps it across the small smudge on his jaw. He tenses under her and she does everything in her power to stop the smile from forming. “Lipstick,” she smirks, displaying her thumb out to him.

And they’re still only at her front door.

He smiles, “Thank you.” 

Their eyes meet again and honestly time could really have slowed down right now, the way she feels bonded to him. Can friends make out? It’s been a bit since she’s been kissed like that. Trevor treated her well. He kissed great but he was much more tentative with her, much more gentle. Almost like he was scared of her. She took charge for the rest of the night, nudging him to just put his hands on her, but he kept trailing them to back the safe-for-work zones. 

Elliot on the other hand— Liv, cool it

She trudges forward through her dreamy fantasies of his lips back on her, escaping the front area and heading into the living room. Space. She needed space. The blanket is still sprawled across the couch, TV surprisingly still brightly lit, and an empty wine glass for one still on the coffee table. 

Elliot follows, taking inventory of the room that once looked like Wonderland, now more of a showroom in Ikea. It’s cute. How neat everything is. Very different from the woman he left before and her lack of design skills. Noticing the lipstick stained glass, pointing it out, “What were you drinking?”

Swiping the empty glass away, she gestures for him to take a seat on the couch as she heads in the kitchen. “Some old red I found. Do you want anything? I have water, about one-third of the wine left, and Caprisun.” 

“Fancy,” he turns to face her, seated on her very comfortable couch, body arched to watch her as she moves about.

She raises her brows slightly, smirking once more, “I know.” And she’s getting him a glass of water, along with one for herself, which she sips as she makes her way back towards him. Handing the glass over, Elliot can’t help but smile when she takes a seat a little closer than usual— her legs curled under her, elbow on the back of the couch, head resting on her hand. 

He’s gripping the water but hasn’t taken a sip.

“What?” she probes. 

And now he’s the one shaking it off, clearing his throat before taking a swig of water to wash down the fumbling declaration that so desperately wants to escape his throat. He manages to keep it down, instead replying, “Nothing.”

She nods, sipping at her own glass, letting the silence overpower the room. 

“How’s Noah—"

“How’s Eli—"

They interrupt each other and both start laughing softly. 

Olivia nudges his knee with her own, “Noah is good.”

“Just good?”

“He’s eight, Elliot. There’s really not much going on.”

He’s smiling still, “You said he dances. How’s that going?”

“Good.” He tosses her a look. “Really good,” she clarifies and he rolls his eyes. She could keep up the charade, keep brushing him off. But he’s here for the night. At her home. The taste of his mouth still fresh on her lips. “He’s got auditions next week, which means pizza for dinner. Either to celebrate or comfort him. I’m hoping it’s not the latter.” 

Finishing off her glass, she reaches forward to place it on the table in front of her, then scooches back on the couch, just slightly closer to him. He notices the distance shorten  between them, placing his own glass neatly next to hers, before slinging his arm across the back of the couch, not touching her, but so, so close. She swallows, repeating, “How’s Eli?”

And he sighs, it’s a sore spot for him. The teenager he promised to be home was rushed to his sister’s again because Elliot is undercover again. Olivia can tell it’s a sensitive subject by the way his eyes glance down, his hand rubbing at his jaw with the hand farthest from her. She lifts her head just enough to let her hand fall down and grasp his forearm, sweeping her thumb across the thin fabric of his henley. 

It gets him to talk. “He’s pissed. And has a right to be.”

Her sweeps don’t stop and his eyes bounce from her comforting hand on him, back to the brown eyes that rip right through his chest. “I’ve been messing up a lot lately,” he confesses, voice soft, sad. 

“I wouldn’t say that. He’s just…he’s a teenager. And he misses you.”

He hates (loves) how her voice is a fix-all for him at this moment— at any moment. He wishes nothing more than to be able to pull her tight to him right now, kiss her with the same ferocity that she did earlier and paint his lips across her olive skin until he’s covered it all. 

“I’ll be home soon. We’re close.”

Olivia tilts her head, “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“And then what?”

Elliot grins, pausing just long enough to do his usual dance, let his eyes drift down to her lips, then back up to her eyes. “Then I get to take you and Noah to lunch,” it’s bold. But he has to try. 

She fights the eye roll that creeps up, hand still on his, instead whispering, “Okay.”

It catches him off-guard, his grin widening into a full beam as he adjusts on the couch to face her more directly. “Really?” 

Nodding, she gives him a small smile, “Just don’t die before we get there.”

“I won’t.” 

And suddenly she’s much more aware of his arm in her grasp, how tight his muscles feel. How tense. She could help him. Could start massaging the skin with her fingers, rubbing the knots and tracing the veins. So she does. Slowly at first, firmly kneading, letting her nails scratch lightly across the skin before she continues. 

“Liv…” he whispers. 

But she refocuses on her task at hand, tucking her fingers under the fabric, letting it bunch up past his elbow. “You’re tense.” Olivia scoots closer, sliding her hand up to his bicep, digging in with a graceful firmness. Her thumb pushes in deeper, feeling him slightly flex as she continues. 

“Friends give massages?”

“Mhmm,” it comes out quickly, too quickly, but she really doesn’t want him to stop her. Doesn’t want the conversation to pull them out of this— she’ll quickly remember real life, the responsibilities, the job. Her son. Maybe she can stay in character, be the Olivia Benson that could kiss that Elliot Stabler, let her hands travel further. Hold him. Be held by him.

He halts her movements, snagging her hand off his arm, entangling their fingers. “Can we talk?”

She bites her lip, glancing down, “About?”

“Us,” he takes a note from her earlier, brushing his thumb across the soft skin on the back of her hand. “Are we good?”

It’s right to ask—it makes sense. She crossed a line. Maybe two of them. But the adrenaline of tonight, the risk of losing him right when they were so close to…moving forward? Keeping the friendship? Either way, Olivia doesn’t know where they’re headed, what they’re doing, but she needs him. Wants him. As a friend, as a friend who she can kiss

So, she doesn’t stop herself from tugging him forward, grabbing his shirt once more tonight, and kissing him again. Except this time, it’s much softer, slower, passionate. She’s telling him yes. Telling him they’re good— more than good— and that she’s ready. Finally ready. 

But he isn’t reciprocating, just letting her do the work and her heart sinks when she pulls back. 

Her cheeks are flushed, head tucked down. She can’t look at him. Can’t see his eyes rejecting her, telling her that she was reading into all of this so wrong. 

But he doesn’t say that. Instead, he takes a hand to tilt her chin up so he can see her watery eyes, see her swallow down the lump of regret. Swiping across the heated skin of her cheeks, his voice is deep, sultry, “Do you want this?”

Oh. He thinks she’s doing it for him. 

“What? I— yes.”

And it’s all he needs to hear. His arms reach around her waist, locking behind and pulling her fully onto his lap. She gasps at the suddenness, at the shock. But he pauses. Leans in close, giving her a second to feel his mouth hovering, right there. He then does his signature move, eyes on hers, then lips, then back. Asking her once more, telling her there’s no turning back if they meet. 

She makes the connection. 

Although when they meet again, she’s letting him do all the work at first, and he’s giving her hungry, deep kisses, hands keeping her close— as if she was going to run. His tongue parts her mouth, sliding in seamlessly, chasing her own. 

God they were like randy teenagers doing this for the first time. 

It’s all heated between them, literally. They’re both warm and flush, their hands holding each other as if in peril danger. Lips smacking, tongues dancing— tasting. For once in their lives, there’s no thoughts between them. No tension to fight. They both handed in their badges, their history, their unknown, just to stay right here. Kissing. Touching. Embracing. 

And when his kisses start to feel like more, more than a need to be fulfilled, more than I thought you were going to die tonight kisses and make her feel desired. Make her feel that Elliot has thought about this. About her. Olivia lets out little moans that he chases— he likes that, needs more of them — and he glides his hand up her spine, so teasingly slow that it releases a whine from her. His fingers end up locked in her hair, sprawling out and in against her scalp, pulling her as close as she can possibly be to him. 

He’s exactly as gentle, exactly as passionate as she would dream him to be. Not pulling, not shoving, just needing so desperately to hold her—to care for her. He’s giving her relief, letting his hands say thank you while his mouth says you’re mine. 

And that thought ignites a fire in her. Elliot wants her, wants this. All those glances, all the friend drops and invites have led them here. He wants her. And he can have her. She’s in it now, matching his energy, his intensity for her. Hands skate across his chest, over his shoulders. They wrap around his neck, scratching the skin there delicately as his lips part hers and travel down. 

He’s peppering kisses at her jawline, marking her— claiming her. Possessive bastard. 

She loves it. Leans her head back, exposes more of her neck for him, inviting him to just please— right here. He takes the bait, tongue first, licking up the column of her throat, closing in on her pulse point, sucking softly. Then a kiss. Kiss, suck, lick, bite, kiss. She’s going to lose it. 

He’s marking her, leaving traces of himself on her skin, wanting her and everyone else to know that he was here. His teeth, his lips, tongue. And with every tease, her breathing shallows, hands locking him to her. Don’t run, she prays.

“Not going anywhere,” he says through kisses, sweetening his lips, making his way back to hers. The hand in her hair maneuvers her to look at him, see his promise. Feel his vow. Seal it with a kiss.

And with the reassurance, Olivia wants the control. Wants the claim. Wants there to be no more Kathys or Angelas or Fluturas. Only her. His neck was hers, his chest, his abs — those were especially hers. Her kisses are sultry, slow. Increased pressure for a moment, a swirl of her tongue on his collar bone, then hands. Scratch, glide, pet, rub, claw. He’s a dead man. Completely melted into her touch. 

Claimed

Contented sighs, soft growls escape his mouth and the silence around them becomes far too apparent. It feels exhilarating, like they’re breaking rules, hiding out. But the thrill of knowing there’s nothing stopping them—only themselves— has her rolling her hips, chasing a release. A two decade long one.

“Liv,” he breathes, the hot air right on her ear. His hands are anchored on her sides, holding her in place, fighting her grind against his lap. 

She lets out a breathy laugh on his shoulder, smiling against the wet skln. He joins in, hand back to its rightful home, wrapped in her long locks. “Sorry,” she mumbles. She isn’t. 

“Hey, I didn’t mind,” he chuckles, drawing his free fingers up her back, then down, circling, tracing.  

They don’t say anything more, just hold the other to themselves, both scared for the other to leave, to walk away from the moment. Feeling regret, shame. But his doodles on her spine tell her that he’s standing right here and her face— now turned into his neck, nose nuzzled into him, exhales of airy sighs— tell him she’s home. He would hold her like this forever, have the heat of their embrace blanket his body on the way to the grave. There wasn’t a single part of her he was willing to let go of. 

And if she could, she would crawl inside him, entrapped in his armor, the vintage protector he once was, now renewed. There were times when all she wanted was this. Hands on her, the comfort of knowing there was someone who would die for her. Someone who wouldn’t let anything happen to her. And when that wave came up, she would have to stifle it down and out. Focus on the hands that were there. Brian, Ed. The ones who were there. The ones who held her at night, eyes closed, mind envisioning Elliot. 

She didn’t want to wake from this dream. This dream of lazy kisses in her hair, his arms cocooning her to him. 

“You okay?” He breathes into her waves before a soft smooch is placed where the words landed, warming her. 

Olivia nods, muffles a mhmm into him. More than she wants to say, but it stays on the tip of her tongue, trapped. One day the words she’s tucking away, the collection of confessions, of requests, desires, pleas, will be released. Will be heard by him. Swallowed down, filling him with her. But not tonight. Tonight this was enough. 

Self care be damned. His lips relaxed her more than any glass of wine, more than soft fabrics and sweet desserts. More than—

“Romeo and Juliet’s?” 

“Hmm?” she’s still in a dreamy daze, unfocused on the conversation he’s beginning. 

His chest vibrates under her, a playful laugh as he continues, “You liked the pasta?”

Oh. The pamphlet menu. Olivia lifts her head, eyes glancing behind at the table, then locking to his. He’s got that cocky grin plastered once more and she’s back, ready again, hands smoothing their way up to cup his face. She gently kisses his lips, voice flirty, girly— the Olivia from earlier coming back to play.

“Yes.” 

Kiss. 

“I was going to text you but—”

Kiss.  

“I wanted to properly thank you.” 

Kiss.

He groans, smiling against her lips that keep going, “Yeah, this is much better.” 

They both want to continue, no road map or destination in mind, both still dripping with hunger for the other’s lips, skin still damp— wet — from where their tongues landed, where pecks turned into suctioned pulls, where they planted their flags of passion, owning the other. 

And then—

Buzz, buzz. 

Olivia is startled, the sensation hitting her—well, not quite there, but on the bottom of her thigh. Close enough to ignite that desire. 

Elliot wishes he could capture the gasp she exhaled. Wants to say to hell to whoever is on the other end, but she instinctively lifts her hips, giving him access, to crawl off of him and immediately head down the hall. 

The phone keeps buzzing, his eyes follow her, legs desperate to make sure she isn’t running away, but he digs deep into pocket, sliding the phone open quickly.

“What’s up?”

“Dad?”

Eli. Oh, god. “Hey, Eli, I’m sorry—”

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, bud, I’m all good. Nothing happened. I promise.”

“Okay. Okay.”  There’s a brief pause, and Elliot feels his chest ache thinking about his youngest worrying away while he was here making out with her. He should be there for his kids, his mom, not doing this

“Are you home?”

“No, no, they’ll clear the house for us sometime tomorrow. I’m…I’m staying at a friend’s.” It’s the truth, just maybe not all of it. And that friend happens to come back into view, cheeks still rosy from their rendezvous, but hair neatly brushed to fix the tussled mess he had made of it. She hovers, swiping the empty glasses from the counter, smiling at his little omission, and heads to the kitchen. 

“Are you okay? You good at Mo’s?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m good. Grandma is too. We didn’t know what was happening.”

“It was just a scare, but we were being precautious. Try to get some sleep, okay? We’ll get lunch tomorrow. Wherever you want.”

“Okay…I love you, dad.”

Ouch. God, he feels like an ass. “Love you too, Eli. Goodnight.”

He clicks the phone shut, leaning back against the couch, head up to the ceiling, hands wiping down his face. Eli deserved more than lunch. These little apologies here and there. He can almost hear Kathy’s disappointment. 

“Everything okay?” But it isn’t Kathy’s voice though, it’s lower, richer, palpable. Olivia has taken her place on the couch again, this time giving them both room to breathe, but she keeps her body angled towards him. 

He shakes his head, mind racing. Could he go back to before? When the only thoughts were of her. Cataloging the taste of her, her sweet scent, her soft skin. The way her breath felt on his skin, heating it up, before she cooled it down with her tongue, then lips to soothe. There was no worry, no hesitation, just her.  

“Yeah, just—” It’s Olivia, so deflection doesn’t work. He would tell her everything, wants to. “Eli was worried.” She nods, listening intently, her brows furrowed. He wants to kiss her again. Her lips are puffy, and the way she tucks the free strands of hair behind her ear have him desperate to stop talking, use his mouth for something else. But he shouldn’t

“I’m failing him.”

No, you’re not.”

“I told him no more UC. And then, bam. Right back. He lost his mom and I’m supposed to be his father. Be there for him.”

“El,” she whispers, leaning in to rest her hand on his. Like magnets, they can’t stay away. The simple touch grounds him back down, her words trying to soothe him, as always. “It hasn’t been easy for you either. You lost your wife, and didn’t get much closure. It’s okay to not be okay.”

He shakes his head, attempting to rid his brain from its desire for her, to focus on this conversation. But he’s staring at their converged hands, and he realizes he’s doing it right now. “It’s not that it’s—” The words are jammed, struggling to form, desperate to stay inside

They don’t. 

“I didn’t even think about him tonight. Didn’t make him a priority. I wanted to be here. Don’t you think that's selfish?”

“I think you have never been good at taking care of yourself, Elliot. And you’re a provider, but if you don’t have any gas in the tank, you can’t go very far,” she’s looking back at their hands, thumb running across his scuffed knuckles. “You have to make yourself a priority too, you know. Have a solid foundation first, then be the superdad you want to be.”

She smiles, he exhales a breathy laugh. 

“You just want to keep kissing me,” he jokes. But she’s right. He hasn’t had a person to lean on, lost that forty year old pillar, the stability of his wife. And his balance was already weakened when he ran from New York. From her. Now, he’s free-falling. No more wife for consistency, too afraid to put all this pressure on the woman he fled. Other women held it for a bit, but they weren’t her. Never could come close.

“I want you to be happy. And if me kissing you makes you feel at all better, then I guess…” Elliot didn’t expect that left turn to work. But she’s back next to him, leaning forward to kiss him gently. It’s different from all of the other kisses tonight, one that’s mission was to heal him, to make the circling thoughts evaporate. 

It almost works. 

Leaning back, her eyes stay closed for a second, basking in him. When they open, she’s glowing, and Elliot is far too weak for this. “Better?”

His voice is low, “Yes.” 

“Good.”

“Could be better though,” he grumbles, tugging their hands so she’s leaning against his chest, head tilted up, his down. He kisses her this time, a domestic kiss. A simple kiss that begs her for forever, asks her to let him in. It’s a preview of their future together he’s designing in his mind, one where he doesn’t have to choose her or his family. Those worlds will combine spectacularly, her and Noah, seated with his children, everyone cheery, happy. And when they are alone, these kisses will become their normal, their way of communicating, of healing the other, taking care of each other. He can picture it all right there. Her all over his home, waking up to her, with her— it twinges his heart to think of morning coffee on the patio, her sleepy eyes fluttering open and shut as she cradles the coffee he poured her in her palms, wearing his oversized sweatshirt as the morning sun rises around them. 

He hopes this job is over soon. Wants to start at step one. Wants to get lunch with Olivia, officially meet the son he’s so desperate to love. She has every right to hold him back, even after this night of passionate kisses and warm bodies. Because tomorrow he’ll be called by whoever is still alive (if the hit still happened tonight), and she’ll be beckoned off on her own way, putting a pin in this until he can just be present again. 

She adjusts in his arms, tucking herself into his chest, sprawling out her legs to the side. He’s wrapping his arm around her, letting it hang loosely over her waist as she settles into the embrace. They’re just cuddling now, and it brings a peace to the both of them they didn’t even know was achievable. The never ending headache of the job and life numbed them to the throbbing, the ringing in their ears from restlessness. But it’s gone. It’s almost too good to be true. How could such a simple thing repair all of the damage that cascaded, destroying their serenity? 

Olivia thinks of coming home to this. A hard day being erased merely a hug. No longer leaving work to face the stress of being a single mother, the son with so much love to give and not enough of her left to take it all. He would be on the couch, in between them both, dramatically retelling stories from his school day, hopping up to show them both the new routine he learned. She thinks of Elliot carrying him to bed when he falls asleep mid-movie, her right behind, sliding in to give him goodnight kisses before taking Elliot’s hand to the bed of their own. It’s foolish. How just being held takes her mind there, how it’s him— it’s been him— and they’re still miles away from that. 

“I want to be done,” he confesses and she knows his mind wandered to the same universe as her, only to be dragged back to their reality. 

Her cheek is against his chest, ear over his heartbeat, the heavy thumps flooding her ears. She doesn’t know how to respond, only pushes herself closer (as if it was possible to) and hums against him. “Soon.”

He’ll be out soon, and she’ll be ready soon. Maybe not the perfect mirror image of their desires, but a step forward. A lunch here, a kiss there. Phone calls, texts, secret conversations away from colleagues to make the day a little brighter, a little less dreary. He’ll meet Noah, who will want him to never leave, knowing her son far too well. She’ll get to see the kids herself, meet the two responsible for his granddad status, listen to their 5 year old rambles as they fight for her attention. She can take Katie out to the brunch she promised her, help take things off Maureen’s plate, offering to watch the twins, to let her sleep. Noah will get to meet Lizzie, be enthralled by her collection of pointe shoes and demand she take him to her studio to see her move. Dickie will probably stay back at first, but he’ll come around. And Eli…Eli will need time. But on the days where Elliot can’t be there for the boy, she can. Can keep him fed, keep him safe, and love him like her own. 

They just need time. Need to let tonight be a reminder of where they want to be, where they can be if he doesn’t break his promise. That vow they sealed with a kiss. 

His breathing steadies itself, and she realizes just how late it really is. He’s tired, she’s tired, and they both have to go in tomorrow. Although granted she does get to start later than her typical morning shift. And his job is…probably not beckoning an early arrival. They could stay out here a little longer. His gentle caresses across her skin, lulling her, keeping her to him. 

“We should sleep,” she mumbles, eyes now closed, the beating of his heart still loud in her ear. 

“M‘yeah,” he responds, but neither of them budge. They’re both begging for five more minutes to stay wrapped up on this couch, cuddling. But he eventually tilts his head down, places a kiss in her hair (he really likes doing that) and whispers, “You can’t sleep out here, you need your bed.” 

“I like it here.”

He smiles, “I know, but your body won’t in the morning.” 

He’s right. Damn him. 

“Yours won't either,” she nudges, nuzzling into him deeper, planting lazy kisses where her mouth lands. “Stay with me.”

“If you insist,” he laughs sweetly, hands moving down and down, maneuvering her body— look, she’s tired, so yes, she lets him move her floppy limbs around— to straddle him again (careful of her ankle), pulling her arms around his neck. “Hold on.”

“What?” she murmurs, eyes still closed. 

When he stands, she realizes what he meant, and now she’s awake, holding on tight “Elliot!” She gasps, which makes him smile (god, that smile and he’s carrying her to bed…did he really need to just be a friend? Could she hurry this along?) He’s smug, acting like it’s nothing— which, looking at his physique, it probably wasn’t. 

“Right or left?” he asks when they get to the hall.

“Left,” and he keeps going, landing at the door. She reaches back to open it, twisting the handle, and then he’s pushing inside, keeping her in his arms until they hit her bed. And with all the gusto he lifted her with, he could not be more gentle when he lays her down. She’s smart though, keeping her arms locked around his neck— after that move, she wants him on top of her, now. 

“Liv, you can let go.” His eyes don’t dare roam down her body, don’t dare look at her in her bed, attempting to pull him in for more. 

But she doesn’t let go, instead, she pleads, “Kiss me.” 

He groans. It’s too much. He can’t say no to her, can’t deny that he wants to, wants to cross this threshold. It’s too early for anything beyond heated kisses, so he dips his head down, keeping him anchored to the ground as he presses a tentative kiss to her lips. He can feel her relax a little, hands loosening, and he gives her a second, deeper one. 

She’s pulling him along, wanting him to pick up the momentum, dive into her bed and have those lips travel further and further. Pulling back, she tries to keep their lips together, but he breaks them apart with a smack. 

Her eyes are sleepy when his open, hands on his shoulders now, his still by her hips. She smiles up at him, “Thank you.” 

“Don’t,” he whispers, kissing her quickly again. 

Again, she doesn’t want them to part, but she glances down at the two of them. “We can’t sleep in jeans,” she states and he chuckles. 

“Yeah, you’re right.”

“But I appreciated the ride.”

“Oh?” he cocks a brow. 

She grins, “Mhmm.” Kiss. “Now move, I gotta brush my teeth.” He smiles and obliges, drawing his hands up, tucking them behind her back to pull her up. “I got it from here, El,” she laughs and he flops down on the now abandoned mattress. She glances back to see him on her bed and she can’t believe he’s in her bedroom, unbuckling his belt, right there and she’s not the one doing it. 

“Stop staring, Benson.” 

Rolling her eyes, she brushes him off, keeping the bathroom door open and she pulls her hair up into a loose ponytail to begin her routine. 

She can’t stare, but he can. He likes the show he now has a front row seat to, likes to see the woman who used to have an empty fridge, wash her face with water and a wipe, now navigate through neatly organized products, uncapping and unclasping them as she goes along. They are stored back in their perfect place, her face free of makeup he didn’t even realize she was wearing, and the hair tie is tugged free, letting her hair fall back down over her shoulders. It’s a breathtaking sight, her glowing in the bright lights of the bathroom, and he knows she can feel his eyes on her, because she’s shaking her head with a cheesy grin. 

“Eyes shut,” she teases, shutting off the bathroom light and heading back into the bedroom, towards her dresser. He tucks his head down, sneaking a few peaks as she removes the gray t-shirt she shoved on earlier, unclasping the bra she had to regretfully put back on, sighing at its release. Her back is to him, so he’s not getting much of a view, but she knows Elliot is looking. It’s Elliot.

Digging through her drawers, she reaches in the far back, finding an abandoned pair of men’s pajama pants (well, not really abandoned, more like borrowed and never returned) and tosses them at him, free arm covering her breasts. “Here,” she laughs. 

He clears his throat, “I wasn’t looking.”

“Mhmm, sure,” she snags the t-shirt from earlier, thinking it’ll suffice for now, until Elliot can leave her one of his own. Unbuttoning her jeans, she tosses her discarded clothes in the basket in the corner. It’s a no pants kind of night. Besides, the shirt hangs just below her ass, giving him enough of a preview without showing off. Her high waisted underwear were simple and black, nothing like the expensive sets of lace one drawer up. She’ll save them for a proper date, when she can hide them under her dress, letting him unwrap her like a present on Christmas morning, eager and pulling, anxious to get to the reveal. 

But the old t-shirt and her long legs were enough for the man who sat shirtless in the same spot he’s been sitting in, jeans replaced with black pajama pants that sit low on his hips. 

They both look at each other, a look of what’s next, and he interrupts their gaze, “Where do you want these?”

She reaches out, snagging the folded denim, henley, and belt from him and places them on top of the counter. And then she’s back to him, nudging his legs open to slide in between, hands landing his shoulders, then running down his back. 

He looks up at her, his own hands around her bare legs, keeping her close. “You’re beautiful,” he declares, words he’s been waiting to say, waiting for her to hear. 

Her smile is weak, almost like she can’t handle the compliment from him. From him? It’s almost impossible to believe, impossible to register that Elliot Stabler is here, in her room, calling her beautiful. She can’t respond, only able to lean down and give him another kiss. They can’t even count how many have been exchanged tonight— now that they have permission to, they aren’t sure they would be willing to stop. 

“C’mon, it’s late,” she whispers and he sets her free, so they can crawl under the blankets, cozy up and finally rest. A bit of nerves creeps up as they settle in, as she realizes she’s in bed with him, and once they sleep, the perfect night is over. 

They’re both comically on their backs, staring at the ceiling with the same understanding, the same recognition of where they’re at, what they have done. He hears a shaky breath from next to him and he reaches for her hand beneath the sheets. Not saying a word, he just entangles their hands, squeezing hers lightly. She swallows down the bubbling feeling inching up, getting stuck in her throat. Deep breath, then another. 

“Come here,” he urges, lifting the covers just enough for her to turn, flop onto his chest, pillowing her head on his bicep and hand on his chest, one leg hooked over his. He keeps her close, placing a lazy kiss on the crown of her head, breathing in her shampoo. “You okay?”

She sighs into him, “Please be done soon.”

“I will.” 

“I mean it.”

“So do I.” 

Olivia has to take his word for it, has to trust him, trust that tonight will not be forgotten, that it will stay at the forefront, be there when he walks back into that bar, be there when risks his life, keeps him focused on the life she and him both want. Together. Tonight is just the first of many nights full of warm embraces, sloppy kisses. This would be their every day, kisses of welcome home and let me help leading to roaming hands and passionate releases. Nights would end wrapped in each other’s arms, end with steady breaths and skin on skin. 

She had to believe him. Had to believe this was everything to him too. Had to or else she wouldn’t know what to do. 

“Goodnight, Olivia.”

She smiles at his sleepy voice, slightly weakened with exhaustion, and shakes out the worried thoughts, focusing back on the rhythm of his heartbeat— a reminder that she got him out tonight, brought him here. And he wanted to be here, waited for her to set the pace, and once she did, he was promising her the world with his kisses. 

They were okay, they would be more than okay. Soon.

“Goodnight, El,” she whispers back and drifts off into his embrace. 

 


 

She doesn’t wake up to any alarms or phone calls. It’s rare (and slightly concerning that she might have missed several important calls and will have another day of hellish meetings with her chief about her “behavior”) but she feels well-rested. Feels satiated from a night in the arms of a man— the man she specifically wanted, has wanted. A man whose heat is no longer on her though. He must have rolled back, the temperature from her skin too much for him. When she barely opens her eyes, she can’t even tell what time it is, just briefly sees the soft glow of the morning beyond the closed curtains. Scrunching her eyes back shut, she reaches out for him, a hand searching without sight, but finds an endless amount of empty mattress instead.

She stops. 

He’s gone

It’s an immediate reaction. Heart sinking, eyes fully open to confirm her greatest fear. She’s alone. 

Elliot ran from her, ran from their night the minute it ended, left her once before (twice if we count the Albanian mob rendezvous) and now again. So easily. After she begged him not to. She sits up— his clothes aren’t there either. 

How stupid of her. 

Her mouth opens slightly at the sight, her throat suddenly so dry, and the shakiness returns. He promised. And she’s stuck between wanting to yell or cry, but she won’t let herself do either. She’d been through this before, been strong enough to pull her head up and move on. Olivia got through his first goodbye. This was nothing. 

Although, she thought this time would’ve been different. Thought her lips were enough, were exactly what he’d been waiting for. Those flickered glances, the teasing…it wasn’t real. 

Stupid.

Coffee. She just needs coffee. Coffee will bring her back to Earth. Coffee will tether her back to the reality in front of her. Coffee will get her to search through her phone later, call up Edgar and… check in on him. And coffee will shove Elliot so deep back into the abyss, she will unlearn his name on her tongue. 

Yes, coffee was a constant, so she shakes off the sadness that dared to linger, pretending she doesn’t care, didn’t wish he was there when she first opened her eyes. The real Olivia was back today, a busy day ahead, and a son to pick up from a sleepover. 

She shuffles along, baggy t-shirt and panties only, desperate for the caffeine to jumpstart the day. Men be damned.

But, turning the corner, she’s suddenly startled by his shirtless body in the kitchen, and that ugly tattoo stares her dead in the face. 

He’s here. In her kitchen, muscles out, cooking breakfast. There’s two empty plates and a full cup of coffee on the counter, the matching cup next to him with slightly less.

He must have sensed her presence, and the anxiety she bottled up, tucked away, tried to throw away, is now causing her to laugh— really laugh— when she sees him sucking on a Caprisun. 

“Oh, shit— did I wake you?” 

Every part of her is still trying to wrap her head around the rollercoaster of emotions she just went through, eyes wide and on him, head shaking as the laughter quiets down into relief. 

“Sorry, just went to get dressed because I didn’t know when Noah would be back and then I got distracted because you were still asleep, so I thought I would get breakfast ready but the coffee was too hot and this was the next best thing—”

“Elliot?”

“Yeah?”

“Shut up,” she says, pushing him against the counter.

He smiles, “On it.”

And she kisses him so intensely, tasting the juice he had recently finished off on his lips, on his tongue. He leans as far back as he can, parting their mouths, “As much as I really want to continue this, I don’t want to start the morning with a fire.” He gestures to the burner that is still very much on and she draws away from him, rolling her eyes, but she’s all smiles. Cute, happy, relieved smiles. 

“Have a seat, it’ll be ready soon,” and he refocuses on the pan, back to her once more. She will listen in a minute, sit down and let her pantless self and a shirtless him enjoy the morning together, but she sees it again.

That mark

A mark to say where he belonged, that he was theirs, but they were so, so wrong. She tiptoes behind him, arms shoving their way between his, hands curled up on his shoulders and she kisses the ink. Reclaiming him as hers. 

He sighs into it, knowing exactly what she’s doing. “Soon,” he promises again.

“Soon,” she echoes, holding him here, in her kitchen.

So, so, soon.