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she listens like spring and she talks like june

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One of these days, Olivia thinks grimly, she may just snap.

It’s late June and there’s a bead of sweat trickling down the back of her neck, slipping below the collar of her blouse. Her blazer is draped over the back of her chair, long discarded, and the claw clip she used to get her hair away from her shoulders is starting to slip. 

Olivia groans, pinching the bridge of her nose on an exhale. Of course the A/C at the precinct had to crap out during the middle of a heatwave.

It’s been sweltering for days now, temperatures in the nineties with no reprieve in sight, and yesterday, the station house’s old A/C unit finally popped and fizzled and promptly shut down. The whole precinct has been muggy since, even though they’ve opened every available window and maintenance has dragged in as many box fans as they could possibly find, and the air in her office has turned stale and cloying. 

At least it’s a little better here compared to interrogation and the cage, where none of the windows open and the air smells like sweat and cheap perfume and whatever kind of weed the perps from the last few days have been smoking. 

She wrinkles her nose at the thought, and reaches for her water bottle, thankful that there’s at least something she can use to cool off.

When she’d gotten home last night, sweaty and flushed and altogether grumpy, she’d just about collapsed onto her couch in relief when she walked into her air-conditioned apartment. Noah, sweet Noah, had immediately asked her why she looked mad. 

Not her finest parenting moment, in hindsight, but once she’d explained she was just hot and tired, her boy had insisted on loaning her the handheld, battery-operated Black Widow fan he’d gotten as a birthday party favour a few weeks ago.

“She’s a dancer, mom,” he’d gushed when he dug it out of his dresser drawer, “and the coolest.” Olivia had smiled, ruffled Noah’s hair and thanked him for being so thoughtful.

Now though, the fan is sitting unused at the bottom of her work bag, because she’s not entirely sure it would be particularly captainly to whip it out in the middle of her office. 

She’s getting closer and closer to caving, though; between the heat and her rising annoyance at everything and everyone (courtesy of Fin whining about how hot it is, like she hasn’t noticed it, too, and Amanda’s steady stream of anecdotes from “back when I lived in Atlanta”), she’s swiftly approaching the end of her proverbial rope. 

Summer always makes people stir-crazy, puts them on edge. People get violent, lash out. The squad’s case numbers rise, and so do the whole department’s, so the unis are stuck sending the overflow of petty criminals upstairs to SVU. 

All of it is exacerbating the stagnant heat in the precinct right now, and Olivia can feel the tension headache building, pressing on her forehead and making her groan. If she could just get some air, and some space, and a tiny little bit of reprieve, she might just—

“What?” she grumbles, when a knock at her office door interrupts her thoughts. She’s ready to send whoever it is — Fin, most likely — running for the hills without a second thought, but she stops short when she actually raises her head to look at who’s standing in her door frame.

It’s Elliot, carrying what looks like two iced teas and a bag of sandwiches, sporting a sheepish little smile. 

Olivia deflates at the sight of him, sighing as she leans back in her chair. “Sorry, sorry,” she mumbles when he steps into her office. “Thought you were gonna be Fin.”

Elliot chuckles as he sets down the cardboard drink holder and paper bag on her desk. 

“He warned me you might be in a bit of a mood on my way in.”

That earns Elliot a glare (and Fin a private vow to put him on the next available weekend shift) but he just grins, passing her one of the iced teas. Olivia takes a sip and lets out an appreciative groan. 

“Fuck, that’s nice,” she mutters, and he laughs.

“Still no luck with maintenance?” Elliot asks. He starts rolling up his shirtsleeves and then loosening his tie, and Olivia doesn’t even try to hide the way her gaze flicks from his arms to his chest and back again. If this view is the only good thing that’ll come from this heat, she’ll make sure to enjoy every second of it. 

“No,” she says, on a sigh. “Apparently, the thing that broke is actually three separate things, and one of the parts is on backorder, so it’s gonna be at least another few days before they can track one down. Or so the precinct captain downstairs tells me.”

“Jesus,” Elliot replies, and Olivia nods, squeezing her eyes shut. 

“It’s not like it’s a slow week, either, so the whole place is packed and I just—” She shakes her head. “I just want to have one summer in this city without there being some kind of crisis.”

She could start listing them out year-by-year: the summer the A/C in three of the squad cars was out, the summer Munch got heatstroke, the summer they chased a pattern rapist for weeks on end. Every year, like clockwork, the heat ratchets up and something happens, and it’s never, ever good. 

“Do you have twenty minutes?” Elliot asks, then, and Olivia opens her eyes to blink at him, owlish. “Can Fin hold down the fort?”

She thinks through her calendar, their open cases, and decides that yes, miraculously, she could slip away for a little. 

“I can give you thirty,” she says, “but that’s not enough time to drive to—”

“Who says we’re driving anywhere?”


“C’mon,” Elliot says with an easy grin, picking up his iced tea and the bag from the deli. “Trust me on this.”


Fin doesn’t even try to hide his shit-eating grin when Olivia tells him she’ll be stepping out for half an hour, and she fights an eye roll. She loves Fin like a brother, truly, but sometimes he’s too nosy for his own damn good. 

Even Amanda is sporting a little smirk at the sight of Elliot following Olivia out of her office, when Olivia knows full well that her detective is still not his biggest fan.

She wants to glare at both of them, wants to tell them she and Elliot are just gonna go have lunch, nothing untoward about it. But that would take energy she currently doesn’t possess, so she just pointedly ignores them both instead and takes another sip of her iced tea as she heads toward the elevator, phone and sunglasses in hand.

Olivia doesn’t want to stoke the proverbial fire — especially not in this heat — and besides, she’s used to getting sidelong glances whenever Elliot’s around.

When they step into the elevator and the doors click shut, Elliot laughs while Olivia just rolls her eyes.


The thing is, Fin thinks he knows something. 

Admittedly, Fin always thinks he knows something, so that’s not really a surprise.

What Fin doesn’t know — and for this Olivia is eternally grateful — is that he’s right. 

(She’d never hear the end of it if he did.)

It’s true that today, Olivia and Elliot are just taking a friendly lunch break, that he was just being a good friend and partner by bringing her her favourite sandwich from the deli down the street and an unsweetened iced tea.

But it’s also true that for the past few weeks, Olivia and Elliot have been seeing each other for altogether less friendly reasons. Ever since one particular night that they spent on Elliot’s patio, wine glasses in hand, talking under the string lights, they’ve been… 


Elliot would probably call it dating. 

Olivia still bristles at the mere whisper of the word.

Regardless, whatever this thing between them is, it involves a lot of kissing and late-night talking and other activities that don’t require any talking at all. And Olivia’s surprised every day by how easy it feels, how natural, to move into this new dynamic with Elliot. How right.

She probably shouldn’t be as surprised about it as she is; after all, they’ve always been achingly in sync. But she still feels like pinching herself sometimes, when he dips down to kiss her hello, or pulls her close under the covers in the middle of the night, or shatters inside her while rasping out her name.

It’s surreal in the best way. 

Elliot’s kids and Bernie know about the change in their relationship (Kathleen caught on in about five seconds and it snowballed from there), and they recently sat Noah down to tell him, too. Everyone’s been supportive and excited, and it floors Olivia how easily the Stablers have accepted Noah as one of their own. 

But beyond that, they’re staying quiet, content to keep their bubble intact just a little bit longer, to savour this new beginning for themselves. 


Olivia looks at Elliot quizzically when he leads them down to the garage next to the precinct, where all the visitor parking is located and people who work in the building can keep their private vehicles. 

He usually takes advantage of the free street parking when he’s in his department-issued SUV, so she’s surprised he’s leading them into the bowels of the parking structure instead. 

“I thought you said we weren’t driving anywhere,” she says, and Elliot nods, pressing the button on his key fob to unlock his car.

“We’re not,” he tells her. “But we are gonna sit in this parking garage in my car, and I’m gonna crank the A/C high. How’s that sound?”

“God, I could kiss you right now.” 

The words leave Olivia’s mouth before she truly registers them, and Elliot's ensuing laugh echoes off the concrete pillars.

She doesn’t even have it in her to blush when he replies, “Well, it’s a good thing I have tinted windows, then,” with a cheshire cat grin stretched wide across his face. 

When Olivia feels the first icy-cold blast of the car’s A/C hit her skin, she damn-near lets out a moan. She leans back in the passenger seat of Elliot’s SUV and closes her eyes, content to just sit there and allow the cool air to wash over her, providing her with the relief she’s been so desperately craving all day now.

Noah’s handheld fan has been relegated to an afterthought in the back of her mind; it could never compete with the frigid A/C and the pure bliss of sitting in Elliot’s car in the half-dark of the parking garage after almost two whole days in the boiling precinct. 

“You good over there?” Elliot asks eventually, a teasing lilt to his tone, and Olivia can’t find it in her to say anything other than a satisfied mm-hmm.

It feels so good, and she’s getting drowsy just sitting here, being lulled to sleep by the steady noise of the fan and the comforting darkness.

“You should eat something, Liv,” Elliot coaxes after another minute, and she opens her eyes to glare at him, because how dare he interrupt her right now. But he’s holding up half a turkey club from her favourite deli, and she knows there’s a packet of crinkle cut potato chips inside the paper bag resting on the centre console, and damn it, he’s got no right being this thoughtful and considerate, not when she’s been feeling bitchy all day. 

“Thank you,” she says, mustering a smile (she really does mean it, even if she’s being crabby) as she takes the proffered sandwich. “Seriously. Thank you for rescuing me from my squadroom, and bringing me food.”

“‘Course,” Elliot replies, like it’s the most natural thing in the world for him to pick up lunch for her and surprise her with a way to cool down. It still floors her sometimes, how much he’s still attuned to her, how much he cares. It’s been so long (a decade and change, in case anyone’s counting) since she’s felt taken care of like this. It makes her feel weepy, some days, and she tries to hate that, but she can’t bring herself to, not really. 

It’s comforting, and it makes her feel special, feel seen.

So she sits here with Elliot, in his frigid SUV, eating a turkey club with ridged potato chips, and smiles for the first time all day.


Fifteen minutes later, the sandwich wrappers and napkins lie crumpled up in the bag they came in, and Olivia is listening intently to Elliot as he tells her about Eli’s soccer game from this weekend. His youngest had scored the winning penalty shot, and the look of pride on Elliot’s face makes something in Olivia’s chest clench.

Her heart beats even faster when Elliot asks after Noah, and remembers the solo recital performance he’s been practising for this past week — with a big jump combination he’s been nervous about landing. 

It’s the little things — the sandwich and the A/C and the questions about her boy’s jetés — that make her feel fluttery in her belly, that warm her heart and her cheeks and remind her just how damn lucky she is, that she gets all of Elliot now.

There must be a stupid grin spread across her face, because next to her, Elliot lets out a little chuckle, and Olivia raises a brow. “What?” she asks.

The “Nothin’” she gets in reply is just a bit too casual, so she arches her brow even further and Elliot laughs, eyes crinkling. “Just like lookin’ at you, is all,” he says, and goddamn this man. Goddamn the fact that over the past few months, he’s apparently learned exactly how to sweet talk her.

“Mmm,” she replies. “You’re not too bad to look at either.”

That earns her a belly laugh, and Olivia shakes her head, smiling. 

“Now, I seem to remember you said something about kissing me,” Elliot says, then, and Olivia rolls her eyes, even though she’s still grinning. 

“Did I? Coulda sworn that was just the heat talking.”

“Don’t think the weather’s fried my brain just yet, Liv,” he deadpans, and she laughs. 

“Hmmm, sometimes I wonder—”

“Anyone ever tell ya you’ve got a mouth on you?”

Olivia scoffs. “Bold statement coming from the guy who’s insisting he should get to kiss me.”

“C’mere,” Elliot drawls, reaching across the centre console to cup Olivia’s jaw with one hand and pull her closer. She sighs when his lips meet her own, a contented little thing in the back of her throat, and her eyes slip shut as he deepens the kiss. 

Olivia has one hand braced on Elliot’s shoulder and the other resting next to the gearshift, and it’s great, for a while, as she sinks into the feeling of his tongue slipping into her mouth, his thumb stroking gently over her cheekbone and the warmth pooling low in her belly, until—

“Ahhh,” she mutters, breaking away from the kiss so she can rub at her hipbone. 

Elliot’s face is a picture — confused and concerned and a little bit dazed — but Olivia just shakes her head and indicates at the gearshift. 

“God, this used to be easier,” she says and groans.

The stick and the corner of the console had started digging into her hip, and she’d had to lean over the armrest to reach Elliot properly, and somehow, all the ways movies make making out in a car look sexy don’t quite translate to reality.

“Used to?” Elliot teases. “Who’ve you been makin’ out with in cars lately, Benson?”

He gets a shove in the shoulder for that, and Olivia rolls her eyes. 

“Well, considering how well this isn’t going, pretty soon it’s going to be no one, Stabler,” she retorts, eyes narrow. 

Elliot nods, and then lets his eyes flick toward the back seat of the car, and oh, God… he can’t—

“How ‘bout a change of scenery?”

“Elliot—” she hisses, because, really? In an NYPD parking structure? In broad daylight, where anyone could catch them? With her rank? (And, quite frankly, their reputation?) “We can’t—”

He lifts his hands, placating. “Hey, I’m not saying we should strip down naked in the backseat…” He takes a second, pauses and gives her a once-over, and they’ve been doing whatever this is for long enough that Olivia knows he’s absolutely mentally taking her top off right now. “Although…”

“I am not getting naked in a department-issued vehicle, detective,” she admonishes, and then immediately curses herself for that, because another thing she’s discovered about Elliot in the last few months — in addition to his pancake making skills and the way he likes to nuzzle his nose into the crook of her neck at any given opportunity — is that her rank, and its seniority over his, is a thing for him. Which, judging by the way his eyes go dark and his pupils widen, is not helping her “let’s not get a rip for public indecency while on department property” mission in the slightest.

“You’re the one who keeps saying ‘naked,’ captain,” he drawls, and oh, fuck him. (Well, not literally. Not right now, at least.) “I just think we’ve got ten minutes to kill, a perfectly good backseat and tinted windows. And that I like kissing you even more than I like lookin’ at you.”

Well, she thinks, she’s gotta give him that.


It turns out that looking longingly at what appears to be a spacious backseat will make you ignore most of the logistics involved in getting two grown adults in their fifties with joints that don’t quite bend like that anymore situated comfortably enough to, well — make out like a pair of teenagers, for lack of a better term. 

Olivia huffs a breath through her nose as she swings her leg over Elliot’s so that she can manoeuvre her way into his lap, wondering for the millionth time what the hell has possessed her to climb into this backseat with him. They’d thought ahead and pushed the passenger seat forward to give Elliot some legroom and Olivia more space to get situated, but all the heat and anticipation she’d been feeling when she said fuck it and agreed to this whole mess is fading rapidly as she finds herself contorting into what approximates a human pretzel.

“Watch out for—”

“—I gotcha—”

“—I said your left, El, not mine—”

“—ah fuck, there you are.” 

It takes them a minute, but then Olivia lowers herself down onto Elliot’s thighs and wraps her arms around his shoulders, holding on tight. 

“Hi,” she murmurs, half out of breath but smiling wryly.

He leans forward and captures her lips in a sweet peck. “Hi yourself.”

“If you ever needed proof we’re not thirty anymore…” She trails off, shaking her head. She’s sweaty and flushed all over again, and this time it has nothing to do with the weather or the lack of air conditioning — which is still frosty and perfect inside the SUV — and everything to do with the situation they’ve found themselves in. 

Elliot lets out a chuckle and reaches up to push an errant strand of hair behind her ear, smiling softly. “Mmm, we’re like good wine,” he muses, running the pad of his thumb over her cheekbone, “we get better with age.”

That earns him a laugh, and Olivia lets her forehead drop against his, groaning a little at the terrible joke. But Elliot’s reflexes are sharp as ever, and he tips up her chin so he can kiss her again, slow and dirty, just like she likes it. 

He threads a hand carefully into her hair — he knows not to mess it up too much so that she doesn’t walk into the precinct with what Kathleen has so artfully deemed “sex hair” — and lets the other settle on her ass, pulling her closer so she’s almost fully in his lap. Her own hands settle on the broad expanse of his chest and the back of his neck, scratching lightly in that way she knows makes him shiver.

“Ahhhh, right there,” she murmurs when Elliot starts kissing his way to her neck and laving wet smooches in that spot right above her pulse point. The heat is rushing back into Olivia’s belly — the good kind, now, the kind she craves whenever she’s around him — and she closes her eyes and lets herself sink into the feeling. 

She groans appreciatively when Elliot’s hand finds her breast and squeezes, massaging through the thin fabric of her sleeveless blouse. “That good?” he rumbles into the crook of her neck, and Olivia lets out a little whine in response, which makes him chuckle. 

It’s kind of absurd, she can’t help but think, that she’s not only making out with Elliot in a parking garage, but that it’s this good. That they weren’t imagining things for all those years where they skirted a line they knew they could never cross. 

And now, a whole decade and so much life later, they’re finally right on time. 

“No marks,” she murmurs when she realizes Eliot has been spending a lot of time next to her clavicle, and she taps on his chest with one hand to make sure he gets the message. He pulls back, breath heavy, and she shakes her head, leaning forward again to kiss him deeply.

When they pull apart for air, she looks at Elliot, at his flushed face and wide eyes, and thinks suddenly of the bomb pops she used to eat every summer as a kid when it was sweltering out, of the stickiness when they dripped on her fingers and the girls who would purposefully lick a stripe up the side as slow as they could when the boys were watching. 

She thinks of bomb pops and the feeling of Elliot’s dick beneath her, and for one endless second, her eyes flick down to the zipper on his slacks.

But then she remembers they’re in a parking garage, at her precinct, no less, and she’s got to get a fucking grip.

“You still here?” Elliot teases, and Olivia snaps her head up. 

“I—” she stammers, shakes her head.

“Heat gettin’ to ya, Benson?” he questions, looking far too pleased with himself as he takes in her flushed face and heaving chest, the way her eyes have surely gone onyx. 

“Fuck you,” she mutters under her breath, and Elliot barks out a laugh.

“Thought you were the one opposed to public indecency charges.”

“Shut up.”

“Mmm, happy to,” he says, leaning forward to capture her lips in another kiss, when—

“That’s my phone.” Olivia groans at the sound, letting her head drop forward onto Elliot’s shoulder. He rubs his hand up and down her back in a slow, soothing motion, and she takes a second to enjoy it before leaning back to twist toward the centre console and grab her phone out of the space behind the cupholder.

“Damn heatwave,” she grouses, tapping the screen to reveal a missed call and a text from Fin. Great.

“Fin?” Elliot asks, like he’s reading her mind, and she huffs.

“I’m gonna be later than thirty, and he’s gonna call me on it.”

Elliot squeezes her shoulder. “Would that be so bad? If he did?”

Olivia pinches the bridge of her nose and sighs. “It’s Fin, El. If Fin knows, then Amanda knows, then Carisi knows, and then God knows who…”

“…and then the brass’ll get wind and we’ll have to disclose. I know, I know.”

“It’s not that I don’t want people to know,” she says, apologetic, because she’s really not trying to hide this, to hide them. “It’s just, my job, and our history, and…”

“Hey, hey, I get it,” Elliot reassures. “‘S complicated.”

“Yeah. I really wish it weren’t.”

“We’ll figure it out,” he promises. “We always have.”

And he’s right. Things have been rocky for them more than once — during their partnership, when he left, when he was drowning in his own grief — but they made it out the other side each time, together. 

She has to kiss him again for that, soft and slow and full of promises, a silent thank you for being at her side, unwavering. 

“I gotta…” she says, and Elliot nods.

“Go do Captain stuff and kick some ass,” he tells her, giving her ass one last squeeze. She laughs, shaking her head as she opens the car door and starts the process of untangling herself from Elliot’s lap.

“You good in here?” she asks teasingly when she looks back down at what she’s leaving behind — the state they’d worked themselves up into. 

Elliot shrugs. “I’ll drive around the block a few times,” he says, grinning. “And we can continue this tonight…”

“Don’t get over-excited there,” she warns. “I think I’ll be stuck here for another few hours.”

“You’re worth waiting for.”

Olivia snorts as she snags her keys and glasses from the front seat. “I think the heat’s getting to you, El. You’re getting sappy in your old age.”

He laughs. 

“Nah, just tellin’ the truth.”

“Well, if you’re trying to butter me up, it might just be working,” she jokes, shutting the door. Elliot’s gotten out of the backseat by now, and he grins at her as he dips down to kiss her goodbye.

“Hold that thought,” he tells her, “and remember it tonight.”

She snorts. “You’re impossible.”

“Some would say irresistible.”

“Others would say pushing it.”

“Fair enough,” he says, laughing.

“I really gotta—” She gestures at the exit and shrugs a shoulder, apologetic.

“Go, go. Find a big fan. I’ll text ya.”

“Thank you for lunch,” she says again, and tacks on a “See you tonight” as she heads toward the elevators.


Sure enough, Fin doesn’t even try to hide his shit-eating grin when Olivia walks into the bullpen a full fifteen minutes later than she said she’d be, and she just waves him off. The gust of heat that hits her is enough to dampen her mood, and she doesn’t even want to deal with whatever texts he’s about to send Munch, who she’s pretty sure is sitting in a breezy villa somewhere in the south of France, spending all the money he accumulated living like a monk in New York.

She misses John dearly, but right now, she’s just glad she doesn’t have to deal with the full force of both of them, together, trying to get to the bottom of her love life. 

“What have we got?” she asks instead, and Velasco pipes up from his desk with an update on the case.

Olivia lets herself get swept back up into the swing of things, into the sticky monotony of the precinct in a heatwave, and it’s not until two hours later that she finally finds a second to gulp down some water and check her phone.

There are three new texts from Elliot—

Come to my place tn, i can grab Noah from dance

I’ll get popsicles and that mint ice cream you like & chill some wine

there’s a cold shower with your name on it (and maybe mine) ;)

—and despite the heat, Olivia can’t help but let her lips turn up into a smile.