[ MANHATTAN || 5:35 PM ]
She placed the makeup brush back down into her bag on the edge of the sink as she reached for the lotion that sat in the corner, dispensing a little bit over her hands, rubbing it in. With a deep breath she surveyed her reflection in the mirror, brows furrowing slightly as she leaned forward, fingertips tracing a laugh line a little sadly. She has a lump in her throat as she leans back, turning to the side, pressing the towel she’s wearing around her body against her skin.
She’s older now.
But she’s nervous. So undeniably nervous.
Today alone, she’d managed to not only pull out her phone and almost cancel the plans that had been decided upon for two weeks now over a half-a-dozen times, but she’d also spilled her coffee on her pants, having to sidle off and change into the spare pair she kept in the bottom of her desk – she’d spilled her tea on her shirt, having to utilize the spare in the bottom drawer. (She now had to remember to take spares of everything and put them in the bottom drawer). She’d bounced her leg in the meetings at One PP, bounced her leg in her office (bumping her knee against the underside of the desk), bounced her leg nervously again in the SUV on the way to arrest a suspect with Fin.
Fin hadn’t made things any easier, he’d tried, bless him, to figure out what the hell was making her so nervous that after she’d spilled the tea on her blouse he’d sent her home at 4:15 pm. He’d asked her about a dozen times what the hell had her so nervous and she’d shaken her head, looking at him from the corner of her eyes, head tilted and a heavy sigh.
“It’s the time of year.” She’d said to him.
She doesn’t think he really bought that excuse, but seeing what an absolute nervous wreck she was, he’d still told her to go home, relax, chill the hell out. Told her he’d only call if the precinct was burning down, and even then, he’d try to put the damn fire out himself before bugging her.
On the way home, she’d been secretly relieved that her Sergeant was capable of running the place without her. As much as it pained her to think about, she knew she could leave it and he’d take care of it. Take care of things the way they ought to be taken care of.
So, here she stands, after a shower, staring at herself in the mirror. Her make-up all situated like she hasn’t done it for a couple of months and she had to do her hair now. She wanted to cry, but knew her mascara and eyeliner would run, so she bit her bottom lip and took a deep breath.
“You’re a big girl, you can do this, Olivia.” She whispered to herself in the mirror.
[ Meanwhile, across the bridge || 5:35 PM ]
“Elliot! What the hell could you possibly be doing in the bathroom? It’s not like you have any hair to brush anymore.” Bernadette Stabler was never one for beating around the bush.
He was standing there, his hands braced on the edge of the counter, on the verge of a panic attack. He knew this was bound to be an experience in itself and he’d had to pinch himself a couple hundred times since he’d asked two weeks ago if she’d be willing to go out on a date with him. He doesn’t know why he’d asked, every single time he’d asked in the recent months, she’d said no. She’d said she can’t. She’d said…how about we wait. She’d used the fact that he’d been undercover to put off a million different dates or times he’d asked to meet to catch up or just talk. Then, on accident he’d bumped into her and her son on Mother’s Day.
A week later, she’d accepted his invitation to go out. Just the two of them. He’d asked her to dinner. He’d stumbled over his words a billion times before the words actually came out of his mouth, but once they had, he’d clenched his eyes closed, afraid to see her brown eyes as she turned him down for the hundredth time, and in the back of his mind, he’d whispered to himself that he deserved to be turned down by her.
That if she chose to never speak to him again, it was nothing short of what he deserved after he’d abandoned her ten years ago. Despite that he’d thought he was doing her a favor. Allowing her to spread her wings. Allowing her the space she needed to soar, like he always knew she would.
It hurt, every single day, cutting her out.
He doesn’t know when he realized that that protectiveness had turned into love.
He doesn’t know when exactly he’d realized that he’d been so afraid to lose her that he’d lost her by trying to let her go. He couldn’t have done that to his kids, to his wife. He had made vows and a promise, and to go against that would’ve been - uncharacteristic of him. She would’ve never allowed it.
But, he’d finally pulled the metaphorical trigger and asked her, just her – and she’d said…yes.
All day long, he’d been nervous about it, because this date would determine a lot of things. It would determine how the hell they approached one another now, - now that there weren’t things like partnerships and job restrictions between them. They were just two people who worked in one Government Agency together in different fields. They were a single woman and a widowed man who had met, spoken, and agreed to go on a date together.
He wanted to get this date right, because he wanted there to be many more dates. Hell, he wanted this date to go right because whether or not he’d wanted to admit it back then, he’d always been a little bit in love with Olivia Benson. He could just act upon that now.
He opened the bathroom door, his bright blue eyes meeting with those of his mother, who stood with her arms crossed in front of her, chuckling because the look of horror on his face spoke volumes as to the anxiety that was rolling through his veins.
“Elliot, relax, you already know one another.” Bernadette offered, shaking her head and patting her son on the arm. “Go finish getting dressed and go pick up her favorite flowers, assuming that you remember what those were.”
“Wouldn’t forget Mama, I couldn’t.” He mumbles, shuffling through the living room and to his bedroom where he closes the door quietly behind him.
“Hopeless.” Bernadette shakes her head.
[ Manhattan || 6:00 ]
Finally putting the finishing touches on her hair she walks to the bedroom, staring down at the dress she’d lain out on her bed. Is this insane? This wanting to go on a date with her former partner? What the hell was she thinking?
Is this right? There’s still so many conversations they haven’t had yet.
But maybe, in the grand scheme of things, those conversations didn’t have to all happen right away. Maybe this was the step that made the most sense. Maybe twenty-some-odd years of back and forth, of waiting with hope and then losing all that hope at the hands of a psychopath – maybe conversations weren’t really necessary. Maybe everything that had to be said could be said in time. It’s not like – well, they had less time than they would’ve had years and years ago, but they still had time.
She sits down on the bed next to the dress, looking down at it.
Her hands trail over the material as she bites down on her bottom lip, zoning out a little in the process. Her heart was racing in her chest and she can’t remember ever ever being this nervous about a potential date. Not even when they would go undercover as a couple had she ever been this nervous.
That’s because there was a badge and a wedding band on his finger that wasn’t yours.
She swallows, closing her eyes and thinking about the diamond ring that sat in the top drawer of her dresser even to this day. A ring that she’d never been able to get rid of. A ring that she’d saved from being gotten rid of when they’d been going through all the things the Precinct had purchased over the years. The ring, it was her ring. It was their ring. It fit her finger, and they’d have to pry it from her cold dead hand.
She opens her eyes staring over at the drawer and then back down to the dress.
This was ridiculous. She was being ridiculous. This was Elliot. She’d spent hours and hours with this man back when they were partners. They’d never had a problem talking, it was amazing that they were having problems talking now.
He left you, Olivia.
She swallows the thought down.
Who cares, he came back firstly for you, Olivia, and now he’s back and asking you out, he’s choosing to pursue you…
Her heart beats stronger in her chest as she thinks about the way he’d looked at her before Christmas when he’d asked her and Noah to his family party. The way his eyes had looked her over, the way he’d licked his lips and told her to just come.
She blinks a few times, reaching down to grab the red dress to slide on.
[ MANHATTAN || 6:45 PM ]
He sent her a text when he pulled up to the curb outside her apartment to let her know he was there and he’d be up in about five minutes. At 6:50 pm, he knocked on her front door and when she opened the door, she was greeted with a bouquet of flowers in his hands, his bright blue eyes shining as he took in the outfit she was wearing.
“Wow?” She looks at him, shaking her head and laughing as she points to the bouquet of flowers. “Those for me?”
“Oh, yeah…sorry, but looking at them compared to – just wow.” He smiles. She rolls her eyes, stepping forward to take her favorite blooms out of his hand and she walks back into the apartment, to the kitchen, filling up a vase and dropping them in so they don’t wilt while she and Elliot go out on…a date.
He offers her his arm, quietly, and together they walk out of the apartment.
The entire time, she can feel her entire body practically vibrating with some unknown form of anxiety she’s never felt before. Whatever she thought was going on earlier in the morning, throughout the day, it was nothing compared to the visceral reaction she was having just being next to him. Even taking deep, steady breaths in and out wasn’t helping at all.
He walks her to the elevator and they both stand there, side-by-side in the elevator she steels a look at him from the side of her eyes. He looks down at her, barely though, because she’s wearing a pair of high heels next to him and it brings her up a few inches. He’s still taller than her, but not by much. She leans into his side, and he smiles, without speaking a word. When the elevator stops on one of the lower levels and two women get in having a full conversation they smile politely at the two of them then go back to their conversation. She takes this moment to glance up at him and blink a few times.
Her thoughts are running rampant. She wishes they would all slow down and shut up.
Is this really happening? What if it goes wrong? What if – what if they’ve both built this up to something and they find out they can’t function like that? Oh God, what if she’s been in love with him for all these years and it isn’t – her eyes widen. Fuck. She’s so stupid. She clenches her eyes tight as the doors open to the ground floor and he’s guiding her out, his hand on her lower back as she clutches her bag under her arm more tightly.
“You look beautiful, by the way. I know I kind of messed it all up upstairs, but – you look breathtaking.” He whispers, leaning down near her ear. She relaxes a little bit.
Okay, so she’s still worried about it all going sideways, but – he’s starting out on the right foot, complimenting her – especially after she’d spent all that time getting ready. He opens the door for her, helping her into the SUV and smiling as she slides into the seat, crossing her ankles in front of her, turning her face and smiling gently. His heart feels like it’s going to beat out of his chest.
What the hell is he thinking, he’s really not worthy of her attention. In all the years he’d known her and they’d been partners, he’d been a jealous asshole of every man who’d ever taken her out – looking as beautiful as she had every single time…and he’d wondered if in a parallel universe, he could be that lucky bastard. Now, here he was, walking around the front of the truck and opening the driver’s side door, sliding into the seat to go out to eat at an Italian Restaurant with the woman he thought he’d never get a chance to take out on a date.
It shouldn’t be hard, right? They both are thinking.
It’s ridiculous that they’re both this nervous, each of them can’t help but think about all the times they’ve gotten food together back then,- but that was different, they weren’t dressed up, didn’t take extra time getting ready, and they – they had no expectations. Maybe that’s what was scaring them both shitless. The fact that neither of them knew what to expect from this date.
He drives a couple of blocks before turning to look at her in the seat, he sees her foot moving back and forth and realizes that she’s just as nervous as he is.
[ Manhattan | SAPORI D’ITALIA | 7:10 PM ]
Elliot smiles at her as she thanks the server for the glass of red wine that Camryn had just poured her.
“They are so nice.” She whispers, taking a sip. “This is a nice restaurant, Elliot.” She glances at him over the rim of her glass, he thanks their server too, then follows suit the same as Olivia.
“Thanks for uh, agreeing to go out with me this evening.”
“I figured…it was time to say the hell with it. Take a leap.” She smiles at him, their eyes shining as they lock with one another. It’s always left the both of them breathless, the silent conversations that they have between themselves.
‘We’re out of our depth here, Liv. I don’t know what the hell I’m doin’.’
‘God, please don’t hurt me, Elliot. I only agreed to this because I’m tired of denying whatever this is between us. Twenty-four years of deny, deny, deny – it gets tiring.’
“Take a leap.” He agrees, smiling at her over his hands which are clasped in a fist as he takes note of the way she’s done her make-up. It’s soft, feminine. She doesn’t look a thing like the woman he’d worked next to all those years ago. “That’s uh…” He frowns.
Shit. She thinks, looking at him, her hands folded in her lap as they wait on their appetizer, Camryn had put the bowl of breadsticks in the middle of the table and the candle burning next to the bowl was slowly flickering. Olivia’s eyes traveled over to the flame, licking at the air and she fought the urge to run away. What the hell are they doing? How many times is she going to ask herself this this evening?
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that, El.” She whispers, reaching forward, placing her hand on his arm, right over where she knows his Marine tattoo sits embedded in his skin. He chuckles, a nervous chuckle, she notes.
God, we’re a hot mess. She thinks.
“I know – I just…” he looks around, nervously. She does the same thing. “Can I tell you something without you thinking that I’m totally crazy?”
“I think we’re a little bit beyond my thinking you’re crazy, Elliot. Let’s be frank here.” She deadpans. He looks down at her hand resting on his arm and places his other hand over hers, lacing their fingers together as he removes her hand from his arm. She looks into his blue eyes, as Camryn is making their way back over to the table.
“You guys ready to order yet?” they ask. Elliot smiles up at them. Olivia just stares at him.
“Actually, Camryn. Can we just – have a few more minutes?” He inquires. Camryn takes a deep breath, running their hand through their short hair, nodding quietly. “Thank you.” Elliot smiles. Olivia wants to laugh, because if there’s something Elliot is good at, it’s communicating with the younger generations. She’s seen the way he deals with Jet, witnessed how he talks to his kids. He’s good with most younger kids. They seem to love him, which is why she was scared to allow Noah around him until she was sure that he was going to be around for a while. “Do you think we’re making a mistake?”
When he asks this, she feels her heart plummet into her feet. If they were on the second floor, she would think it plummeted down through the subway. She swallows and looks out the window, mouth opening and closing a few times. No. No! We’re not. I don’t think we are.
“What do you mean, Elliot?” She asks, hoping he’ll clarify.
“I meant, dressing up, coming to a fancy Italian restaurant. That’s – I mean, do you feel comfortable?” He looks at her with those bright blue eyes and those bushy eyebrows she wants to attack with a tweezer, and his smile is kind, gentle, and he looks worried. Like he’s afraid she is going to say it’s a mistake trying to go on a date with him. It’s not a mistake, dating Elliot. She knows it’s not. “Liv?”
She smiles at him, taking another sip of her wine as she looks down at their fingers. It feels right, their hands clasped like this for the hundredth time in so many months.
She’d gone on a few dates with people she thought she had chemistry with – and the dates had been nice, but – at the end of the night, she’d elected to go to bed by herself. When they’d kissed her, she wondered what was missing from it. She’d not sat around waiting on Elliot, hell, she’d had two long-term relationships and one that had looked promising until – it failed due to job conflicts and her hesitancy to disclose.
She looks around the restaurant at all the other couples, and then she turns back to his face. He’s staring, expecting an answer. Does she want this to be them? Maybe. But is it really them?
“No.” She answers, her brown eyes shining in the dim candlelight. “I mean, do I love Italian food? Yeah. But – I feel like…”
“We’re out of our depths here, right?” He finishes her sentence and she leans back, smiling at him. The few loose tendrils of her hair falling down next to her face.
“Yeah. It’s just – it doesn’t feel like us, Elliot.” She exhales. His smile doesn’t slide off of his face, and the fact that he’s still looking at her with a grin on his face – it makes her feel better about everything. Does she want their dates to be romantic? Maybe eventually. But this date? Is it them? Are they being ridiculous?
“What do you want, Olivia?”
“I want something that feels more our speed, El. I mean-“
“I think I know what you mean.” He smiles, motioning for Camryn. “We’ll actually take the check for our drinks and I’ll leave you a nice tip – but uh – we’re going to go.” He smiles at their server who just smirks, bringing up their bill and pointing to the tablet where Elliot signs after Camryn swipes the card. “Let’s get out of here – “ he holds his hand out and Olivia takes it, smiling at their server mouthing ‘Thank you’ as she follows behind Elliot.
He leads her to the truck, helping her slide on in as she laughs, because now, he seems so much more relaxed. When he gets in his side of the vehicle and turns it on, he looks over at her. “Close your eyes, ‘Livia.” He mumbles and she shakes her head no.
“If you don’t close your eyes, I’m going to have to take my tie off and tie it around your head so you can’t see where we’re going.” He warns, and she momentarily panics internally because he doesn’t know that she doesn’t like to not know where she’s going in vehicles. That she hates having her eyes covered like that. It’s a conversation she doesn’t feel like having with him tonight, so she does, placing her hands over her eyes. “That’s right. I knew you’d listen to me.” He’s pretty pleased with himself and she can hear it in his voice.
“You like how ridiculous I am.” He counters and she pouts a little, shrugging, because he’s not wrong. She does love how ridiculous he is sometimes. She likes how he can find humor in the smallest things, how he can make her laugh with the stupidest things he does and says. The way he reminds her of the person she used to be, before he left.
“Elliot, can I ask you something?” She voices, unable to see him, - maybe this is what she needs.
“You can ask me anything you want to, Olivia.” He informs her. She nods quietly, eyes still covered.
“Do you – do you know anything about my life in the last ten years?” She finally asks, voice quiet. She thinks she can hear him thinking, just like they used to do. Back when they knew one another so well that they could anticipate what the other was going to do. It had been so cold, to her side the last ten years – without him there. She’d just gotten over the idea that she would never see him again, except for a small little flicker of - maybe one day we’ll pass on the street and be completely ignorant to the fact that we passed one another – type of hope.
“I don’t, but I figured you’d tell me in time. It’s not that I don’t wanna ask, Liv – I just – I figured that rehashing the past isn’t gonna do any of us any good. You know? I just wanna know you now. I wanna get to know you, the person you are because of those ten years.” He answers, quietly. She wishes she could remove her hand from her face to look over at him, to see his expression and see the regret in his eyes. See the hesitancy she hears in his voice.
She just hums, quietly.
‘I am so screwing this up’ he thinks to himself. He steals a glance over at her, with her hands in front of her face, a sad smile on her lips. He wonders if what he’s just said has pushed her away for good.
He pulls up next to the curb and silently celebrates that he was able to get a parking space here. “Keep your eyes closed, I’m gonna come around and help you out.” He tells her, and she nods, quietly. She hears the door close on his side and then she feels the rush of air when he opens her door and then feels his hands on either side of her arms, and he’s helping her down, out of the truck.
She wants to tell him to keep his hands there, on her arms where she can feel the weight and warmth through the fabric of her dress. She hears a subway moving overhead and then he’s leaning close to her ear. “Keep your eyes closed, but move your hands away, I’m going to replace them with mine.” He tells her, and she nods.
Once she feels his palms in front of her face, smells his cologne so closely to her, she inhales. This feels more like home. More like him.
“Okay, on the count of three, I’m going to remove my hands and then you’re going to open your eyes.” He tells her, and she nods, laughing nervously. “One.” she feels the solid wall of him behind her, “Two.” His hands move from in front of her face and land on her upper arms, “Three.” She opens her eyes finally and has to blink a few times, because she’s kept them closed this entire time.
[ MANHATTAN – LUCKY’S 24-HOUR DINER | 7:30 pm ]
She laughs and when she turns her face towards him, he’s smiling a million-dollar smile at her, his blue eyes shining. “Is this more our speed?” He asks. She turns to look back at the diner. He’s brought her to their diner. The place they’d spent thirteen years sharing plates of food, drinks, and making their waitress’ life a living hell. “Have you been here recently?” He asks, and she shakes her head.
“No, I – I actually haven’t been here in ten years.”
I stopped coming when you left. It was full of too many memories.
The smile almost leaves his face completely, but he seems to read what she’s just said to him without speaking. His eyes say it all back to her.
I’m sorry that I took this away from you. I promise we’ll make new memories.
“After you, Olivia.”
We’re both ridiculous.
“Holy shit.” The waitress is chewing on a piece of bubblegum as she looks up from the pie she’d just slid in front of two paramedics. “I thought you’d both gotten killed in the line of duty, disappearin’ like that ten years ago – then – I saw this one on the news more often than not and wondered if you’d gotten killed.” She shakes her head, motioning to a booth against the window. “It’s open, you know the way.”
Olivia turns to look at Elliot, her brown eyes wide. The waitress was going to give it all away in one shot, obviously. She hoped Elliot would just catalog it in the back of his mind as things that we’d talk about later or things that an NYPD Captain has to do – appear on the news.
As they slide into the booth, they don’t sit across from one another anymore, they slide in next to each other, on the same side. She’s on the inside and he’s blocking her exit. She likes having him next to her, in this booth, squished against the window and smelling the stale grease, the pies in the window, and two familiar faces behind the counter.
“How the hell are the both of ya?” The waitress, Brenda, asks. She’s ten years older, but still the same loud-mouth she was the last time they’d came into the diner for lunch – that afternoon – before he’d shot Jenna and disappeared. The thought almost is overwhelming, but her leg presses into his as they sit next to each other. “You want your usual?”
“You remember our usual?” Elliot asks, brows raised as Olivia turns to look at him, smacking his arm.
“Sure do, sweetie. You guys like the big plate of fries and the turkey club sandwiches with two extra pickles on the side and two waters with ice, and one Pepsi.” Olivia has to cover her mouth with the palm of her hand and turn away, because Brenda sure as hell did remember their order.
“Do it up then.” Elliot responds, leaning back into the booth and crossing his arms, looking over at his partner. “Can you believe that crap?” he whispers. Olivia turns to look at him, eyes locked on his face, taking in all the lines, wrinkles, slight freckles on his face. When she reaches his eyes, she notes the way there’s more than one shade of blue there – it’s an entire fucking ocean and she wants to dive into it.
She wants to drown. It’s this realization that steals her breath away.
“El, I – weirder things have happened.” She tells him, looking down at the paper tablemat. “I mean, for the first three months you were gone, I stopped at our coffee cart and ordered two coffees without even thinking about it.” She tells him, shaking her head. “So the fact that Brenda remembers our order to this day? I’m not surprised. We were creatures of habit.” She tells him.
He nods, quietly.
“I used to do the same thing, you know.” He tells her, voice somewhat quieter. “The first month that I was at home in Queens, I’d go to the diner to get a cup of coffee in the morning and I’d order two. The waitress there – she uh – would always look at me funny – ask if I was planning on having someone join me. I told her, - I just liked ordering two.”
It’s funny, looking back now, at the things that they’d both done out of habit.
“It was like losing an appendage.” She whispers. “When I lost you.”
“Yeah. Listen, I know – I know this hasn’t turned out how we both had hoped, - maybe we’re just…”
“Stop.” She whispers, turning her eyes to really take him in. She feels her breath freeze for a moment, wondering if she can get out what is on the tip of her tongue, or if now isn’t the right time to tell him. She doesn’t want to screw this all up – hell, it might be the only shot they take at this this between the two of them. “Elliot, let’s be honest with one another here for a minute.” She places her hand on his leg, and he looks down at it. His breath catches in his throat as he locks eyes with her.
I want to be here with you.
Good, I wanna be here too.
“Okay.” He whispers.
“Maybe we’re not fancy restaurant type people. I mean, maybe we could be, - but I feel like we were putting too much pressure on something that comes so naturally to us without forcing it.” She tells him, her head tilting to the side. His eyes take in the way she’s prepared herself for their date. How she’s wearing a red dress that shows ample amounts of cleavage.
Thank you, God, for blessing the both of us in this moment. He can’t help but think – Thank you, Olivia, for wearing this dress.
She’s taken the time to do her makeup – just enough to make her look softer. But honestly, he’d like if she took a wet wipe and wiped it all off – he’s seen her barefaced since he got back. He knows about her freckles, the laugh lines, the smile lines around her eyes, the wrinkle near her nose where when she laughs a real laugh, her nose crinkles up and brightens her entire face. The way she lights up a room with a smile. He thinks she’s even more beautiful without all the crap on her face. He’ll tell her this one day, if he gets the chance to be that candid with her.
“Yeah. Maybe. Maybe we’re the type that walks around Central Park with nothing to do, and can have conversations in cars that would make other people cringe. Maybe, - maybe we’re the type that like the 24-hour diner foods and greasy fries and sharing plates and even though you make more money than me, - you still allow me to pick up the bill and sometimes you actually pick up the bill just cause you’re feeling generous that day.” He agrees.
“Yeah. Maybe we’re the type that can drink shitty coffee for ten minutes before you bitch about it and then tell me you have better coffee at home and invite me back for a better cup.” She grins lopsidedly at him and he chuckles.
“I do have better coffee at home.” He smirks leaning on his fist as she turns in the booth, bringing her leg up slightly as she reaches across her body, grabbing his elbow and turning him toward her just as Brenda walks over and plops the plate of fries down between them, their turkey club cut into triangles and the two pickles on her side of the plate.
“Enjoy, you two. Though, it looks like you were elsewhere this evening.” Brenda remarks. “Can’t believe it took the two of ya ten years to come back here. Did we offend you?”
“No, but you are now, Brenda. Where’s Lorraine?” Elliot asks, without breaking eye contact with Olivia.
The things I wanna do to you, Olivia Benson.
The things I’d like to do to you, Elliot Stabler.
“Lorraine? She’s on vacation this week, wait til’ I tell her I saw you two back in here.” Brenda shakes her head, walking away. “Enjoy – Detectives.” She calls from near the counter.
“Captain.” Elliot corrects, smiling at Olivia as he reaches for his glass of ice cold water. “Olivia is a Captain.” She smiles at him, eyes bright – because damn, he really is proud of that title. Especially for her. “I am, you know.” He whispers, only for her, “Damn proud of you.” His hand reaches for a french fry as he holds it up to her and she bites it.
She feels butterflies in her stomach as she takes the fry from between his fingers. Who the hell would find eating French Fries seductive? She watches as his pupils dilate, the black hiding the blue of his irises. She feels herself growing warmer as he lifts another to her lips. They’ve been here a total of twenty minutes already and she wants – to get him alone somewhere. This is their first date and it feels like their millionth time out. No one else has ever made her feel the gamut of feelings she’s felt tonight. The anxiety is all but gone, but now that she’s looking at his dilated eyes, she cannot fathom what he could’ve originally had planned for their evening.
“El.” She croaks out, swallowing the piece of the warm fry he’s just fed her. She watches as he takes one and pops it in his mouth, chewing and swallowing – grinning at her.
“Nothing.” She tells him, shaking her head. Feeling her heart beating erratically in her chest.
Somehow, they manage to finish off the turkey club sandwich, most of their fries and she looks at him and he just seems to know. He calls Brenda over, asking if they can have another order of fries to go. She shakes her head, laughing as she brings them the cardboard container (they’d done away with Styrofoam).
[ MANHATTAN | 8:20 PM ]
Their hands are together on the middle console as they drive through the streets of Manhattan. Quiet, but comfortable.
“What do you wanna do now?” He finally asks, as they turn down one of the less busy side streets.
“I don’t wanna go home.” She answers, thinking about the way his eyes had changed when he fed her the fry. She can smell the fries in the container on the backseat of the SUV. She squeezes her thighs together and it doesn’t take a Detective to notice that she’s slightly squirming in the seat.
Interesting. He can’t help but think, a smirk on his face.
Shit. She thinks. This is ridiculous.
“El, pull over to the curb.” She tells him, a smile on her face. She has an idea.
“Okay.” He nods, smiling at her as he puts the car in park. She climbs out and walks over to the Driver’s side – opening the door. “What are you doing?”
“Get out. I’m driving.” She tells him and he laughs. “I’m serious, get out.”
[ MANHATTAN | 8:30 PM ]
“Where are we going?” He asks, his hands over his face. She laughs this time. “Olivia. I don’t like not having a clue what’s going on.”
“I’m driving, Elliot. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.” She smirks, pulling into the parking spaces outside the 16th Precinct. “Okay, do you trust me?” She asks, her hand resting on his thigh. He swallows and she watches as the flush spreads from his neck up over his head and disappears beneath his collar.
“With my life, Olivia. I trust you with my life.” He answers. She nods. Reaching in the back and grabbing the bag with the fries. “Where’re you going?”
“Keep your eyes covered, El. We’re going to go somewhere special.” She laughs. “If you can’t keep them covered, I’ll tie your tie over your eyes.”
[ MANHATTAN – 16th PRECINCT – ROOF ]
“And – last step.” She tells him, laughing. Her back hits the door as it opens and she glances down to make sure her keys are in her jacket still. As they walk through the door she moves her hands down over his upper arm, digging her nails into his jacket. “Okay – open your eyes.” She whispers. When he moves his hands and opens his eyes he looks around and a grin spreads on his face.
“I think – this – is much more us.” She tells him, spinning on her heel and walking over to a small table and two chairs that Fin had put up there for the two of them – knowing that this was a special place for Olivia. Any time she wanted to get fresh air, Fin knew where to find her. Knew that she’d always come up to the roof, look out at the skyline, take deep breaths. Watch the people below moving about through their lives. He knew it’d always been hers and Elliot’s special place, and – he made sure no one else utilized it.
She kicks off her heels, crossing her legs in front of her against the ledge. Elliot’s eyes widen as he looks down at her.
“You’re an enigma, Olivia Benson.” He tells her quietly, as she opens the take-out container and takes one fry between her fingers, bringing it up to her lip.
He’s never been more jealous of food in all his life.
He wants to walk over, pull her up into his arms, kiss the salt off of her lips.
“You okay? You have a funny look on your face, Detective.” She smirks up at him, chewing on the fry. He shakes his head slightly.
“Do you know how sexy you make eating a fry? Olivia?” He asks, and she laughs lightly.
Their eyes meet in the dark space on the roof as she holds a fry up and he wraps his lips around it. There it is again, that fuzzy – strange feeling in the pit of her stomach. For all the anxiety she’d felt that afternoon, she felt none of that now.
“You know how nervous I was today, Elliot?” She asks, her elbows on the small table, reaching for another french fry. He laughs, shaking his head, reaching for one himself.
“No. How nervous?”
“I spilled a cup of coffee on my pants first thing this morning, then my tea at lunchtime, and – Fin – he thought I was going to break the suspension in the SUV today on the way to arrest a suspect because my leg was just bouncing away. He sent me home early – “ she laughs.. “I have to remember to bring extra clothes here to put in my bottom drawer now.”
He laughs as she throws a fry at his face.
“It’s not that funny, Elliot Stabler.”
“Why were you so nervous, Liv?”
“I don’t know. It’s just – it felt monumental, you know – going out with you. Like, - what if it didn’t turn out okay – what if we get to the end of the night and we’re both horrible kissers. What if – we’re not – “
“Wait. You wanna kiss me at the end of the night, Olivia Benson?”
“God, I’ve wanted to kiss you all night.” She corrects him. “But we don’t really know one another all that well anymore. But – look at you.” she laughs. “You’re a total chick magnet now – and yet you’ve asked me out three hundred times and I kept saying no.”
“Because you don’t want to screw up whatever this is we’re rebuilding.” He answers, understanding why she’s been hesitant.
“I don’t care about rebuilding anymore – Elliot. I just wanna know what this is. What it’s got the possibility to be. No more – talking about parallel universes. I just – I think I wanna dive in and get to know you now. I want you to know me now- like you said.” She takes another french fry and pops it in her mouth. “I just – I don’t wanna get hurt, Elliot. I mean, years ago – it didn’t really matter what happened, y’know? Cause – it was just me.”
He watches her with his blue eyes trying to figure out what to do in this case. He’s leaning against the wall, looking down at her. Her brown eyes studying him steadily. Mouth drawn in a tight line as she chews, happily at the greasy fry. “Olivia, it always mattered what happened back then. Even though it was just you – I never meant to…” He pauses, shaking his head and she watches him, quietly with tears threatening her eyes. She can’t cry – it’ll mess up her make-up. “Stand up.” He whispers. She stops chewing for a moment, wiping her hands off on the napkin inside the bag next to the container.
She slips her heels back on and stands, as he reaches for her hand, pulling her closer to him. She can smell his breath and it makes her smile, because this is the Elliot Stabler she’s used to. Their eyes haven’t waivered since she looked up at him from her chair. He brings her hand up in front of his lips and plants a soft kiss on the back of her knuckles as her mouth parts slightly.
“I wanna kiss you, is that okay?” He asks.
‘It’s more than okay, Elliot, it’s what I’ve always wanted.’
As their heads move closer together, his fingers curl around the back of her neck, the way she’s wearing her hair tonight is pulled back just slightly with her bangs framing her face. As his hand moves up, goosebumps trail on her flesh and he glances down, seeing them break out across the freckled skin of her chest, over the shapely mounds of her cleavage that her dress has left on display. He’d like to be between them, run his tongue in between the valley of her breasts, wrap his hand around them, watch her spill around him, wrap his lips around her nipples, kiss his way up her neck, along her jaw, slide his tongue into her mouth, catch her moans with his mouth, breathe together.
He feels her breathing stutter as their noses brush against one another, as his fingers thread through her hair and then, they both take a breath in at the same time as their lips connect softly, probing, searching. Then, her tongue slides along his bottom lip and he opens up, hand tightening on the back of her head as he pulls her further into him. As their tongues slide together, warm, wet, velvety. Tasting of greasy french fries, hours old wine, bacon grease and pickle juice.
When they pull apart, her cheeks are flushed and she’s breathing harder, but her forehead rests against his lips as they both laugh.
“Still worried?” He chuckles, arms wrapped around her, holding her upright. She shakes her head against his chin, “What do you need?” He asks her swallowing as he notices how dark her eyes look in the lights of the city. She’s looking at his eyes, how there’s barely a ring of blue.
“You.” She answers, breasts rising and falling with every intake of breath. “I just need you.”