He has this way of looking at her with this subtle kind of tension. It’s something that perhaps the average person wouldn’t notice, or would walk past without questioning even once. But he’s curated it for her; Twenty three years in the making and still, he looks at her like she hung the moon and stars. And she has, in many ways, hung them just for him.
She’s made sure of it over the years, to dazzle him in her own display of affection. Yes, sometimes it was brutal. Sometimes it was the softest thing he’s ever known. But most of the time, it was bright, and radiated with permanence that he’s yet to ever want to try and remove or burn away. The luminance he thought would’ve been gone after ten years apart, eventually returned as a twinkle. A glint of what once was between them, until it returned fully as what it always was. Permanence, just covered by pain and love lost.
And now, here she stands in front of him, after they’ve laid almost everything out on the line. Almost.
“ Well.” Olivia asks in that same flirtatious tone that she’s used with him many times now. Their banter, amongst other things, have changed over the years, or maybe it’s always been there and has just now come to the surface through allowance. He would give a little bit at first, then she, then he, until they were practically promising each other the rest of their lives and that nothing else would stand in their way. Without saying it, of course.
“Well.” Elliot smirks, arms crossed in the front as his fingers wrap around his wrist to hold them into place.
“That was … a nice second date, Mr. Stabler.” Olivia tilts her head and peers up at him. The very corner of her eyebrow twitches up and she puckers her lips to fight off a silly smile.
“ Hm. It was. Are you going to invite me in this time?” Elliot asks.
“I’ve thought about it.”
“Okay.” Elliot answers immediately, a soft smile on his face. The skin there creases and wrinkles, along with that around his eyes.
“You’re becoming much more agreeable in your old age, have I told you that yet?” Olivia asks, taking a step closer to him so that they could reach out and touch one another if they chose to. Neither do.
“Should I ask you why I can’t come in? Is that something I would ask twenty years ago?” Elliot asks, tilting his head.
“Mm. No. You’re a gentleman.” Olivia smiles. Her creases come – the soft lines around her eyes and the little scrunch of her nose comes off as more prominent than ever. His eyes fall down to her hands, which are playing with the silk tie around her hips; Royal blue, which matches the color of the dress she’s wearing. He’ll admit, there’s something about her getting dressed up for him that he could get used to. They’ve been out together twice now and he hasn’t been able to get over the fact that he actually got to sit across from her and listen to her talk, laugh, playfully mock him – dressed like that. Undercover, they’ve been dressed up together, sure. But going out on an actual date with one another? No barriers on how long they can gaze? No more pretending to pretend? That was something else, and new territory.
He’ll admit, the first time she reached across the table for his hand tonight, it caught him off guard. Elliot was almost a little embarrassed by how quickly his own hand came from his lap to take hers. The moment the side of her thumb began to graze across his knuckle, he was a goner, and weak for her, if possible, even more in that instant. Maybe he had surprised her just as much when he turned his hand to lace his fingers in with hers, so that their palms were fitted firmly against one another. He couldn’t remember holding her hand like that but only one time and it was years ago, when he called her wife under false pretenses.
“On second thought.” Olivia chimes in, interrupting his train of thought. “If you wanted to, you could come in and I could make us some tea. Or some hot chocolate.” She suggests.
Elliot is quiet, a grin still very much in place on his lips.
“I don’t like tea much, and hot chocolate is for Christmas.” Elliot teases, blue eyes lit up as they lie on her.
“Well, a girl can try.” Olivia shrugs, brown eyes cast down. “But maybe tonight you could pretend. Think you can do that, Detective?” She asks, tilting her head to the other side.
“Undercover as a tea drinker?” Elliot asks with a soft chuckle. He feigns deep thought and furrows his eyebrows, with slightly puckered lips. “I could do that.”
“Wise answer.” Olivia reaches into her purse and brings out the key to her apartment. She turns around, and yet, Elliot doesn’t step away from her. They’re still as close as they were when she stepped into his space first. The front door is pushed open and she takes the first step in, reaching along the inside wall for the light switch. He notices she doesn’t move fully into the apartment until the lights are on, and even when they are, she looks around as if she’s inspecting the space.
There’s a sinking feeling in his stomach because he wonders if she does this because of him. Someone who she’s already spoke about, in great detail, to Elliot. Someone who took so much from her that maybe, even to this day, she still has a hard time reclaiming certain things. Like the feeling of safety when she walks into her home with the lights off. The hesitancy to go blindly, even with him present, is still there. Elliot wants to reach out and place his hand comfortingly on the back of her neck, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t move until she turns around and offers a small smile. One that says come in, what are you waiting for?
Elliot pushes the door shut behind him and locks it, and he can tell, even from the little glance she shoots his way, that she appreciates it.
“I don’t like to let Noah see.” Olivia says, bringing her purse down from her shoulder and laying it on the couch.
“See what?” Elliot asks.
“Things that I haven’t worked past.” Olivia replies, and reaches to toss hair that has fallen frontwards over her shoulders, to behind them. She turns without another word and makes her way into the kitchen. But since it’s an open concept, Elliot stands there watching her, but reflects on her words to him. Things I haven’t worked past. Elliot repeats in his mind, and it’s then that he realizes she’s talking about Lewis, and responses to things that she hasn’t let go out over the years. Like walking into dark apartments without the lights being on first. He wonders if she does the same at night, when she goes to her room. If she walks blindly into the dark or if she sleeps with a light on. Elliot wants to ask her, but he doesn’t.
“Do you think he’s noticed?” Elliot asks, realizing all too late that those particular word choices may not have been the most ideal. But he goes with them anyway, bringing his hands behind his back as he watches her begin the process of their tea.
“He asked me a couple of years ago if I was afraid of the dark.” Olivia fills the kettle and sits it on the sink for the time being. She looks up at him and leans forward, with her hands resting on the edges of the counter.
“What did you say?” Elliot asks. He knows at this point, this has led into somewhat more of a serious conversation, so he’s just riding the wave and allowing her to take the lead. He doesn’t want to push, but remain lucid enough so that she knows she doesn’t have to answer if she doesn’t want to. But then again, she is Olivia Benson and she’s never done something she didn’t really want to do. She’s a headstrong woman and it’s always been something he’s not only admired about her, but loved. She matched his will, though sometimes they would cross and come apart. Be disagreeable, or unwilling to bend to meet the other. But most of the time they met, with a common interest in mind at the end of the day.
“I told him no.” A soft sigh leaves Olivia, following her words. Elliot takes a couple steps forward, just so that he’s standing behind the couch and closer to her. Her bar, and two stools on Elliot’s side, separate them. Elliot raises an eyebrow as if to ask and?
“He brought me his half moon night light that evening.” Olivia replies, picking the tea kettle up. She moves it to the stove, but doesn’t turn it on.
“He’s a smart kid. I could tell that about him right off the bat.” Elliot smiles radiantly back at her, blue eyes sparkling. “And he loves you. I could tell that too.”
“All of that in five minutes, huh?” Olivia teases, staring straight ahead at him.
“Well, I may have filled in the blanks but. He’s got a great mom. I always knew you would be a great mother.” Elliot’s cheeks, creased, remain full from his expression towards her. Tears fill Olivia’s eyes at his words, which seem overly kind initially, but she knows that they’re warranted. She’s not the best mother in the world. She knows that. But she gives Noah her best, and that’s just as good. But to hear Elliot Stabler tell her that he thought she was a good mother meant something to her that words couldn’t express, but somehow have manifested in the droplets formed in the corners of her dark eyes.
“You still making tea?” Elliot asks, breaking the silence that isn’t exactly awkward, but lingers around more so as a bunch of unspoken words dancing around in thin air. Olivia hangs her head, and curls fall forward. She doesn’t remain in that position long before she’s looking back up at him with pursed lips and squinted eyes. And even in the dimly lit area, he can still see the glass film that covers them.
“I won’t force you to drink my tea.” Olivia laughs with a lightness.
“So you lured me in here for?” Elliot teases, and she immediately throws her head back in laughter. But her laughter subsides, fading off into the thin air with all of those unspoken words. She takes a deep breath, visible enough so that he sees her shoulders rise and fall.
“It’s a big deal, you know? To invite you in here. To be alone with you. Truly alone. I …” Olivia walks from the kitchen and into the living room. It’s there, in between the kitchen and living room, that she stops long enough to push her beige heels off, leaving them in a neat pile that almost lean against the corner wall. The height difference is more apparent by the time she comes closer to closing the gap between them than she did at the door, just minutes ago. “When was the last time we were alone like this?” She asks, looking up at him.
Elliot’s eyes flicker over her face until he’s satisfied with the emotion he draws from it. She’s opening a door for him. It may be premature to theorize what that door is, but he wants to step inside.
“A long time. But like this? Never.” Elliot answers. It’s truthful. She knows this. Because really, they’ve only ever been alone when they couldn’t be together. When they couldn’t just reach out and touch each other. Or kiss each other. Or do the things that people do when they feel so deeply for another human.
Feelings are a complicated topic when it comes to them. They’ve discussed the past. The one that existed without being in each other’s lives, anyways. That past, in many ways, was easier to speak about than the past where they were in each other’s lives. Were they even ready for that conversation? The acknowledgement of what was. What was seemed like an untouchable subject because it spoke of how they became. How they became … well. That was a confetti filled conundrum, not made of one color, but many, sprinkled out over time.
Olivia reaches for the tie around her waist again, and begins fumbling it between her fingers. It’s then that he realizes that she’s doing so out of nervousness. When Olivia notices that Elliot is watching her play with the silk material, she drops both hands to her sides. Elliot’s attention comes back to her face, to meet eyes that are still lingering on him, though less glassy than before.
“Should we sit?” Olivia asks, her tone dropping significantly enough so that it’s almost whispery. “Or we could …” She doesn’t finish. Instead, she falls silent, and her eyes begin wandering around the room.
“We can do whatever you want to do.” Elliot, with ease, brings his hands from behind his back. He slowly reaches for her right hand, which was seconds ago resting at her side. “We can sit and talk. Or if you regret inviting me in, I could go.” Elliot rubs his thumb against the side of her hand, but he keeps his attention on her face. Olivia looks back and forth from their hands, to his face.
“I don’t regret inviting you in.” She says, and clearing that up, perhaps is a bigger step forward in the moment than either of them realize. Because at first, maybe she wasn’t so certain now was a good time to invite Elliot Stabler into her apartment. To be alone with him. Truly alone. But what she says next, catches him off guard. He isn’t expecting it, so when the words tumble, in what seems like an effortless little mantra, his blue eyes widen in surprise.
“And I don’t wanna … talk.” Olivia tucks her bottom lip into her mouth.
Elliot raises both brows so high so that they appear to rest in the center of his forehead. Subtly, he releases them so that they dwindle down to soft twitches of confusion. For an instant, he thinks she may laugh at the expression on his face because he knows he might look a little goofy at her … suggestion. If he’s even reading that as a suggestion, that is.
Elliot’s focus directs to her lips, which are full and lined like they usually are. He watches as she untucks her bottom lip and releases it with a soft plop, and he knows she must see the rise and fall of his chest in reaction to such a small gesture of hers. He kissed her lips at the end of their first date last week. There wasn’t anything animalistic about it. Hell, they hadn’t even opened their mouths for one another, which could be found to be a little funny considering both of them had years of experience when it came to locking lips.
As he stands there looking down at them now, however, he reflects on that moment yet again.
The way she leaned in first, and he closed the gap between them. Elliot had kissed the corner of her lips so softly that he thought, maybe, he heard a gentle sigh escape her. Then, their lips met thoughtfully. There was no clawing at each other, or teeth scraping and gasps of breath. It was sweet, and to be honest, he didn’t think their first kiss would be anything like that. Maybe his age had made him a more patient man, but he was glad for it. Because he knew she needed patience from him. She deserved patience from him.
“You can, you know.” Olivia states, and moves her hand so that their palms are flat against one another, midair. Elliot spreads his fingers open a little and she must take that as an immediate invitation for her to thread her smaller fingers in with his.
“What’s that?” Elliot asks. He already knows, because another small smile is curling on his lips.
“Kiss me again.” She’s whispering now, filling the empty space in the apartment with her breathy tone. “Like, really kiss me.” She adds, looking up at him with utter adoration. And he must admit, in that moment, he’s never felt like he has her more.
“Really kiss you?” He asks, a hint of tease weaved in his question. “Was last weekend a fake kiss?” His Elliot Stabler cockiness comes out, of course, as it does. Their hands are still midair, flat against one another, and fingers grasping.
“Don’t you want to kiss me again?” She frowns a little. Her expression could be feigned, he can’t tell. But either way, Yes of course he wants to kiss her again. What kind of question is that?
Elliot moves in, further closing the space between them, and she only cocks her head back enough to let him know that the sudden invasion of space was a surprise. Her feet, pressed into the carpet, don’t move though. They remain firm in place, just like their hands. Olivia looks down to see that the tops of her toes are close to touching the rounds of his loafers.
“I always want to kiss you.” He replies. It’s honest, but comes out in such a rush that she, again, seems surprised by it. Maybe that is their dynamic now. Surprising one another with what they already, in some ways, know.
“What are you waiting for then?” Olivia tilts her head to the side and licks her lips in preparation. Elliot goes quiet, eyes drifting up and down her face, only to land on her lips each time. She realizes that he wants her to tell him she wants to be kissed. She realizes he needs that little push, no matter how miniscule it is. “ Kiss me, Elliot.” Olivia says, her voice low – raspy from her throat being dry. Maybe she should’ve made that tea anyway. But right now, there’s nothing further from her mind than the cup of tea that never got made. It’s just him. Elliot Stabler, resting there and begging to take up thought, which she obliges without hesitation to.
Elliot clears his throat and steps into her space one final time and with that, there is nothing left between them. The fabric of his vest tickles against the fabric of her royal blue dress, and if any other movement is made, they’ll be pressed against each other. There’s a subtle look of excitement that sweeps across her expression as she watches him lean into her. So she leans in, until their faces are just mere inches from each other. Neither have really realized at that point that their hands have fallen beside their bodies, but are still intertwined with one another. He’s still caressing the skin over her knuckles. She’s still squeezing onto him, as if to let him know don’t pull away from me.
Reaching with his free hand, the one that isn’t holding onto hers with dear life, he moves his thumb and index finger to her chin. Their eyes are locked on each other but he can feel her lips twitch into a soft grin from underneath the touch of his thumb. “ Hm …” Leaves her in faintness. “I like that.” Olivia whispers.
“You like what?” Elliot asks, feeling the tickle of her breath against his lips. Their noses are close to touching, bulb to bulb. Elliot moves his thumb so that it begins grazing her bottom lip.
“ That.” Olivia says with urgency and briefly, she almost feels embarrassed for how abrupt it poured out. His thumb, grazing against the smoothness of her bottom lip, begins to make its way into the inside of her lip. She opens her mouth for him, releasing another breathless, incoherent sound. It will always amaze her how quickly tension builds between them, though she’s never experienced this particular moment with him. Her telling him what she liked being what set it off. Was it too soon to begin telling him how to touch her? How to kiss her?
Elliot doesn’t think so. In fact, something builds and flutters in him the moment she tells him that. He’s wondered for years what she likes. Not just in the bedroom. But how she likes to be kissed. How she likes her hand to be held, which he already knows he has that down, judging by how she keeps squeezing his hand anytime he relaxes his.
Elliot’s fingertips, all four of them, move to graze the side of her face and her eyes flutter shut, and only reopen by the time his fingers make their way into her hair. He slides the length of his hand into her locks, until his thick fingers are woven in enough so that she feels the warmth from his hand radiate onto the shell of her ear.
“I feel like you’re stalling.” Olivia teases.
“I’m savouring.” Elliot grins, earning him a breathy laugh that passes from her mouth and into his.
“ Hm.” Olivia nuzzles her face into the side of his hand, and only then does she release his sweaty palm from her own, to wrap both arms around his neck and stand up on her tiptoes just enough to press her mouth to his.
She doesn’t like to stall.
Elliot’s hand, the one that isn’t laced in her hair, falls to her waist, where he snakes his arm completely around her and pulls her into him. He doesn’t open his mouth until he feels her open hers. What starts off as soft pecks, soon erupt into open mouthed kisses. He takes her bottom lip into his mouth, giving it a gentle nibble, and that’s enough to spark her next move. She begins grazing her tongue across his upper lip, perhaps testing the waters to see if he’ll meet hers with his own. And he does. The moment their tongues meet, and slide across one another, velvet on velvet, a moan escapes them both; Passing into each other in the vibrational key of want that neither have heard or expressed to each other.
Elliot pulls her closer to him, if possible. Another sound leaves him as he revels in the reality that he’s now tasting her in one of the many ways that he’s always wanted to. Olivia moves her hands to the back of his neck, but one slowly slides down to rest on his chest and it’s then he thinks she may give him a slight push away, ending their heated exchange, but she doesn’t. She grabs onto the vest of his suit, and pulls him closer.
They begin a teetering motion, back and forth with one another. She lets out a slight yelp and breaks away, however, when Elliot nibbles a little too hard on her bottom lip. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” Elliot presses his forehead against hers. He’s getting carried away, and he wonders if that’ll be the end of this. If she’ll smile and pull away. Tell him it’s okay. But instead, she comes back for more. Her lips meet his once again, and she presses her entire form against him. Elliot takes his hand from her hair, and brings it to the small of her back. She moves her hands behind her, and places them over Elliot’s, where she shifts their position down, down, down until they’re resting on her ass.
Maybe he had read her suggestion as it was intended after all.
Elliot hums against her lips, squeezing against the fabric of her dress to incite a slight thrust forward against him. They’re both getting carried away, and at this point? Is it so insane that they do? Is it anything but right to get lost in each other and let passion have its way, finally, after all these years?
“I didn’t really …” Kiss. “... invite you in …” Kiss. “... for tea …” Olivia gasps in between kisses.
“I had a hunch.” Elliot laughs, coming up for air only to say that. Their lips collide yet again, not once losing momentum.
“If we could just, take things slow …” Olivia breathes out feverishly against his lips. Her arms are still wrapped around his neck, refusing to let go. “Easy.” She whispers.
“ Nice and easy .” Elliot nods along, leaning in to nuzzle his face against hers.
Olivia steps one foot back, bringing Elliot right along with her. He feels himself move without much conscious effort. His loafers glide across the fabric of her carpet, creating a soft scooting sound as she begins leading him somewhere. To where? He realizes, when he opens his eyes, that they’re headed down the hallway. Towards her bedroom, where the door is cracked open. He can tell it’s dark in there, but sees a soft blue hue illuminated from the corner of the room.
Years ago, maybe he would interrupt their dance to her bedroom by simply picking her up and carrying her the rest of the way. But he realizes now that he would much rather let her take the lead.
To implore him to come with her, into a room where a tiny crescent moon night light glows, because the woman he loves is afraid of the dark.