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The soft wind blows her hair around her face, making her feel weightless, almost as if it's taking her burdens away. A good hour ago, Olivia Benson had turned off her phone, walked out of her office, and gone up to the precinct's rooftop.

"I need a minute." She had softly told her Sergeant, Fin Tutuola, leaving without much explanation but still unable to escape Rollins' watchful eye. Their gazes had connected for a brief second before Olivia had quickly made her exit.

She's standing close to the ledge now, up on the deserted roof; breathing the city in, letting it clear her head, her mind, if only for a minute. The late afternoon sun warms her face, but it isn't enough.

So cold.

It is not long after when she hears it: the telltale cringe of the rooftop door as it opens somewhere behind her; the crunch of footsteps on the gravel, approaching her. She's surprised it took Amanda this long to come up to look for her. Of course, it's Amanda, nothing escapes the eager detective who, in recent years, has become a close friend. But even so, Olivia isn't ready to talk, not to her anyway.

"Amanda, please, It's fine." She says without turning around. She's sure her face would betray her emotions. "I'll be down in a little while. Unless it's urgent, you can run anything by Fin." She finishes with a sigh.

Olivia expects a rebuttal, her detective is nothing but determined, but she doesn't get any. It's a long moment before she hears anything at all.

"I don't want to disappoint you, or startle you." A gruff voice states behind her. "I thought you might sense my presence, maybe just my walk... maybe it's been too long." Olivia turns around instantly, a mix of shock and joy on her face. "Or maybe I have lost my swag." He ends, with a smile.

She can't help it, his grin is contagious and she finds herself smiling back. "I'd recognize your voice anywhere, El."

"What about my swag?" He deadpans.

"Shut up." Olivia laughs, rolling her eyes at him. It's that simple, that quick. The mood is already lighter.

"Amanda, you said?" He continues, that silly grin still on his face, and turns as if to leave. "I can get her for you if you'd prefer. She's the blonde, isn't she?"

"Stop talking." Olivia chuckles, walking with determination towards him, and when she reaches him, their arms envelop each other tightly with no hesitation. "I'm so glad you're here." She whispers against the skin of his neck, his unique scent comforting her as it always has.

Oh, how much she had missed it.

Him.

They haven't seen each other for a couple of weeks.

"I wish you'd have called me." Elliot laments.

"I'm okay." She lies. "What are you doing here?"

He pulls back from the embrace, still keeping his left arm around her while his right-hand brushes her hair behind her ear. "Aahh... I was in the neighborhood." He stammers.

Olivia doesn't buy it for a second. "In the neighborhood?"

"I was..." He replies, matter of factly.

"Doing...?" She digs deeper.

"Hm, just wanted to check on those files Bell forwarded to you guys." He's such a shitty liar. The twinkle in his eyes betrays him fast.

"Try again." She smirks.

"You interrogating me, Captain?" He teases, attempting to deflect the subject.

"Detective..." 

Elliot leans down, his lips barely grazing hers before she pulls away. He can't help to try to follow her mouth but Olivia shakes her head, somewhat amused, and looks up at him expectantly.

He sighs, defeated. "I was with Donnelly, here in the city. Tried your cell a few times after he dropped me off not far from here." He explains. "Kept going straight to voice mail."

"I left it in my office. Turned it off. How did you know I was up here?" She asks, already knowing the answer.

He pauses. He truly is a shitty liar, but still he tries. "This little birdie told me what was going on and wanted to see you."

"A little birdie with a big mouth," Olivia grumbles. "Fin?" Because who else could it be?

"Fin." He affirms, laughing.

"Wait..." She says urgently, processing his words. "Did Donnelly see you come here? Elliot-"

"He didn't. It's okay." He rests his forehead against hers, reassuring her.

"I wish you were done with that." Olivia wraps her arms around his neck again, allowing herself to be honest about her feelings. "I wanted to see you too."

"What's wrong? Did something happen?" He's concerned, has been since she didn't answer her phone and he had to call Fin. A phone call wouldn't be enough after the Sergeant filled him in.

"Where do you want me to start?" She sighs, leaving the safety of his arms and walking towards the ledge again. She stops against it, her hands on the rough surface grounding her. She feels his presence now, coming closer and closer until he wraps himself around her from behind. The wind might have been a small respite but his arms are a haven.

"Wherever you need to. I'm here, Liv."

God, what she would have given to hear those words back then. Back in the darkest era of her life.

"I wish... I wish I didn't... need you this much." She murmurs, thinking for a second that she hasn't truly confessed that out loud.

"Is that what's bothering you?" She opens her eyes at that. Feels his body stiffen, possibly wondering if he's the one true cause of her pain.

"No. No, Elliot." She reassures him, ending his short agony. "You are the exception.  You are the one person I allow myself to need." His lips find her cheek and he presses a kiss there. A reassurance, an acknowledgment.

"It's just, I woke up today with a heavy heart, but also numb. It's hard to explain, too long." Her hands leave the ledge and find his as they sit on her waist. Their fingers interlock and they both hold on.

"I'm not going anywhere. You don't have to shut off with me." His arms rock her slowly back and forth as he speaks. "I said I want to know. Whatever is going on in your life now, whatever happened in the past. Whatever you want to tell me. I want to know." His breath is warm on her ear, and despite the numbness, she feels a tingling in her belly.

She had been wrong. This is what grounds her. Him. His body behind her, holding her up; his voice, expressing his support, his love, showing it without so many words.

"There's been so much... loss and reckonings, I guess." She begins. "Things I... Things I've just realized now. Things I grew up believing to be true and weren't. People I trusted... My mother... Victims..." She sighs. "Somedays it's a lot to carry."

He doesn't comment. She doesn't need him to, and he knows that. It's something that still lingers between them, the unspoken communication. Knowing when the other needs support, a point of view, and knowing when they just need to be there. Nothing more, nothing less.

Olivia turns in his arms and cups his cheeks with both hands, bringing his mouth down to hers. It is a soft, tender kiss. He doesn't push for more, aware of this, too. Aware of where they are, both physically and emotionally. But she surprises the hell out of him when her teeth grasp his bottom lip and pull on it, quickly soothing him with her tongue before devouring it again.

It's escalating quickly.

He hates it, it takes everything in him, but he stops her. "Let me get you out of here." He sides-steps, moving away, his hands taking hold of hers. "We can grab some coffee or an early dinner. Let me take you out, change the scene."

She eyes him quizzically. "You chickening out, Stabler?"

"Not at all, I just don't think that is exactly what you need right now, Liv." He replies, making her understand that this thing between them means so much more than whatever was about to happen. Not like this, he thinks. Not amid pain, not as a quick reprieve on a bleak day. Not when she's not ready.

She had lost the usual restraint she usually shows around him these days and now feels somewhat embarrassed. "Yes, let's get out of here." She finally says, clasping his hand in hers and leading him towards the door.

"You think they noticed? You coming up here?" She explains at his questioning look.

"Don't think so. I took the service stairs." He smirks.

"Sneaky." Olivia grins, approving. Elliot holds open the door for her, but she makes no move to cross the threshold.

"You're wrong, you know?" She says before he has a chance to ask. "I am ready." She simply states, smiling at him and going back inside.

Maybe she can truly read his mind, he muses, she does always keeps him guessing.