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The truth is, Olivia and Elliot have spent plenty of time in hotel rooms together. 

Hotel rooms across the city and throughout all five boroughs. Four star penthouses with floor to ceiling windows and pay-by-the hour hostels with used condoms in the corners. They’ve kicked down doors with polished gold numbers and others with peeling paint. They’ve discovered cheating couples and cold bodies and blood spattered walls and a whole lotta nothing. Passed the hours taking turns taking naps on scratchy duvets. Sat shoulder-to-shoulder against dozens of headboards, jackets on and shoes laced. You could point to any hotel in Manhattan at random and, chances are, Olivia has been there with Elliot. 

She knows, of course, this isn’t what Amanda was implying.

Which is why the suggestion hadn’t occurred to her while planning this op. This one is pretty straightforward. Surveillance work at the The Greenwich Hotel — definitely fancier than anything the NYPD usually swings, but their suspect is a regular and always books the room right next door to their set-up. Even so, it's still work. And with all the logistics and meetings she hasn't had time to connect it to a seductive night away.

And really, if she’s honest, she was just excited to get to work with Elliot. To be his partner and walk by his side. It makes her feel brave and better and safe.

But then she was on her way to the hotel with Elliot. Amanda had called to fill her in on another case. The conversation was wrapping up when, unknowingly on speaker, her friend joked, “Y’know Liv, this wasn’t really what I meant when I said y’all should getta room — “

Olivia was quick to cut her off, steer the conversation away, while managing to subtly let her know Elliot was in the car.

(Not that she cared — the only thing resembling an apology she got in response was a single text containing a shrugging blonde emoji.)

By the time they get to the hotel it seems there’s been enough going on to distract from the comment. The two of them are the first of the team to arrive and scan the two bedroom suite for bugs as they wait for the rest of the crew, searching in steady rhythmic quiet. 

Still, Amanda's words have been on her mind. 

It turns out they’ve been on Elliot’s mind too.

“So," he starts, "You gonna tell me what that was about?” 

Olivia is still, somehow, caught off guard by the question. “What what was about?”

“What Rollins said. In the car.”

“Oh - was nothing.”

Clearly she is not convincing because Elliot just studies her, scratching his chin. “Liv.”

She lets out a sigh.

Telling him this is, quite possibly, her worst nightmare. She hadn’t even considered having to do so. It had been filed away as another instance of someone trying to define her relationship with Elliot, someone assuming they knew something she didn’t. Garland and Rafa and her own goddamn therapist. She hates the prying, hates being analyzed, but what she really hates is being told how she feels. Like she doesn't already fucking know. Like she needs help understanding that she loves Elliot. Like it hasn't informed so much of her life. 

But at this point, Amanda has done half the work and some part of her wants it out there. Wants the thought to wedge itself in his brain like it has in her own.

Shaking her head, she fiddles with her phone to avoid his eyes. “A few weeks ago Amanda said…something.”

His eyes squint as he waits for her to go on, "Something."

Olivia attempts to keep her voice casual. Breezy. Like it’s no big deal. “Told me how before she and Carisi got together, her mom made this...comment that — that they should get a hotel room and get it out of their systems.”

Though he raises his brows at Amanda’s mom’s nerve she can tell he has no idea where she’s going with this. That he thinks this has nothing to do with him which, technically, it doesn’t yet. Olivia spreads her arms out dramatically as if to point out where they are at that very moment — to show him what she is referring to and how this could relate to them — but it doesn’t compute. It leaves her a little stunned. For a moment she is in awe of how obtuse he can be, that he’s really gonna make her spell it out for him.

“And Amanda said we should get a hotel room and that we should just get it out of our systems.” 

The words come more annoyed than anything and land with a thick thud, a silence stretching between them in the glimmering suite. 

After a beat she peers up to get his reaction.

And he’s laughing.

The son of a bitch is laughing. 

It’s not embarrassed, nervous laughter. It’s not even incredulous — like he can’t get over the balls on her detective. It’s more along the lines of chuckling — mouth crooked and eyebrows high and head shaking — which is even worse. It's rejection. An angry grief zips up her spine and lodges in the back of her throat and she knows it will reach her face. Knows he'll know.

She retreats.

Marching out the bedroom into the sitting room, she acts busy plugging her phone in on the dresser with her back to the room. She can feel the humiliation flush across her skin and swallows it back. 

Then his footsteps are behind her, his laughing mercifully gone quiet. She is determined to ignore him, focusing on checking her phone and skimming through text messages. But he goes on, tentative and deliberate, like he’s approaching a wild animal. 

“Liv.”

“That’s pretty funny to you, huh?” She spits out, eyes squeezed shut, and she hates how it sounds. Hurt and feminine and bitter and it gives her away. But she can’t help but feel stung by the notion that being with her — holding her, fucking her, spending the night with her — is cause for humor. Hands braced on the dresser for support, she lets out a breath. 

His steps close in slow and she can picture it behind her eyelids. His care, his hands hanging behind his sides, his head tilted in thought. 

“Yeah.”

But before the response can strike its full blow he is pressed against her back, breath on her neck and nose in her hair.

“Yeah it is.”

Olivia is frozen by the contradiction. By his proximity. By his voice and his silence and his smell. She looks up and sees him in the mirror, watching her face intently. Eyes roving over her reflection. His arms lift, next to hers on the dresser, caging her in both gentle and powerful. 

When he speaks again its a determined whisper, “The idea that I could get you out of my system…that it would take one night...that it’s at all possible ever…” He splays his palms over hers, “Yeah. Yeah that is funny.”

She swallows, “Elliot — “

“I was with you…every day for all hours for thirteen years and it wasn’t enough. I ran halfway across the world and deprived myself of you for a decade and it wasn’t enough.”

His fingers tangle with hers and she lets herself rest back on him. He takes it as acceptance, as want, and he’s right to. When tucks his face into her nape one of them hums. 

Lips against her neck, his words are impossibly low as they vibrate through her skin. “You’re in my blood.”

Olivia’s head dips as the admission, the two of them wrapped up in one another. She murmurs his name and one hand lifts to hold her belly, fitting her flush against his frame, and she rocks back into him. With a grunt his tongue traces the seam of her shoulder, lazy and seeking, and her jaw drops on a gasp. It ripples through to her bones. His palm slides lower, pausing in question, and she nods against him in permission.  

And then there’s a key in the door. 

Someone on the other side is fumbling with the swipe card, giving them just enough time to jump away like they’ve been electrocuted. She spins and finds his neck as red hot as she feels all over and they back away from each other. Slow, eyes locked. 

She hurries to the living room as Elliot gathers himself. The suite is soon filled with cops. 

The operation takes about 13 hours.

The two of them bulldoze through it — through all their unspoken shit. They’re good at that. They find a way to work in tandem from opposite sides of the room. Careful not to get too close, conscious of what could happen if they make contact now that they’ve crossed that line.

Or a line. 

The sun is setting when CSU packs up, filling up briefcases with tangled wires and heavy equipment. The two of the act busy from other ends of the room as the team filters out. Bell is the first to go, rushing home to put Jack to bed. Valasco gets a call and gives her a silent wave as he ducks out. Olivia pretends not to notice when Jet shoots Elliot a look as she swings the door shut. 

Until, finally, it’s only them.

From opposite ends of the suite they both take long strides to meet in the middle, grabbing at each other to tangle back up, and she sighs with relief. It feels so normal to have his hands on her in what is essentially a hug. When one of his thumbs slips beneath her t-shirt she burrows her head into his chest.

After a few minutes she looks up, chin on his chest.

“Hey,” he murmurs. 

She snorts. “Hi.”

They both smile, dazed and dumb with joy.

“So…NYPD has the room for the night…what’dya say?”

Olivia pauses. Her mind takes her to the last time she spent the night in a hotel with a man — how it felt like a dream, how she thought she’d found something lost and precious, how wrong she was in the end. Her eyes scan the suite. It’s like so many she’s seen. So many they’ve seen. It’s beautiful and clean. It’s devoid of photographs and stacks of mail and refrigerator magnets. They will leave tomorrow and it will be like none of this never happened. 

She thinks about what she wants from Elliot. 

With Elliot. 

“No.”

He recoils a bit, taking it as rejection, before opening his mouth. She knows where this is going. He thinks he was being presumptuous, that it's too soon, that he needs to apologize. But she doesn’t want to hear it and covers his mouth with her hand.

His blue eyes widen. 

Palm slipping down his neck, she pulls him closer to rest her forehead against his. Elliot’s hands splay against her shoulders to keep her in place, like he’s still worried she may turn and bolt. But Olivia wants to be done with all that — with misunderstandings and crossed wires  — and wants to be clear. She wants to stay. 

So she ghosts her lips across his in a near kiss to whisper into his mouth,

"Take me home, Elliot.”