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You Are the Reason

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Olivia had finally told Elliot about the nightmare she lived through in 2013. She had asked him over after they finished working on case together, telling him she had some things she needed to say—over wine, in the privacy of her own home, before they would be able to move out of their friends “for now” phase. She had asked Amanda to take Noah so that she and Elliot could have the time she knew it would take to muster up the courage to rehash her traumas and answer the questions she knew he’d have.

It had happened in her living room, on the couch, with a glass of wine each. She started slowly, but encouraged by his support, was able to get through it. Elliot had listened intently, trying valiantly—but not always successfully—to conceal his emotions to not further upset Liv. She had found strength in his presence and maintained physical contact with him throughout the retelling, thus grounding herself and keeping the PTSD at bay. He knew the signs to look for and let her lead, going at her own pace, saving his questions until he knew she was ready.

Following their tearful conversation, she had surprised Elliot by asking him to stay the night, needing his presence to comfort her. She allowed to hold her as she slept to fend off the nightmares she was sure would occur. Elliot, unsurprisingly, was too upset to sleep himself, but dedicated himself to making sure she felt as comfortable and safe as possible.

The next morning, they were both called in to separate cases, and left Liv’s apartment with a long embrace and the promise to talk later. Unfortunately, their perps had other plans, and it was three days before they each had a minute to spare.

Liv trudges down the hallway to her apartment, digging through her purse for her keys. She almost misses the folded note taped to her door with a familiar scrawl across the front.

“Liv,” it says, “Didn’t want to scare you — let myself in with the spare key you gave me. —El”

She sighs at his thoughtfulness. Of course, he knows now, that finding him in her apartment would likely send her into an unwanted spiral.

Olivia unlocks the door and kicks off her boots in the hallway. She looks down and smiles, seeing his shoes neatly next to a pair of Noah’s and makes a mental note to freak out about that later. She notices next that the lights in the apartment are low, and there’s a pleasant smell coming from the kitchen.

Elliot pops his head out from around the corner, at least having the wherewithal to look sheepish. “Hey, Liv. Hope you’re not mad that I used the spare key. Just needed to see you after this case and figured you might benefit from a home cooked meal.”

She sets her purse and keys on the console table and pads further into the apartment. “You’re lucky it smells good in here, Detective,” she smirks.

“Oh yeah? You hungry?”

“Starving. I can’t actually remember the last time I ate something.”

“Some things never change, Liv,” Elliot says, shaking his head. “Does no one in your squad know to feed you?”

Olivia chuckles. “Fin and Amanda do but they were leading the case, so I’m pretty sure they haven’t had time to eat themselves.”

Elliot sets a piping hot plate down at the kitchen island, next to two empty wine glasses. “Come sit then, Captain, you deserve it. Wine?”

“Yes, please.”

He pours both glasses and sets his plate down next to hers.

“What are we having?”

“The wine is a Sangiovese blend from Italy, and I whipped up a cacio e pepe with a burrata caprese salad on the side.”

Olivia stares at him, mouth agape.

“What? Why you lookin’ at me like that?”

“Elliot. Listen to yourself. Sangiovese? Burrata, cacio e pepe? Who the hell are you?”

He laughs. “Picked up a few things in Italy, thought I’d share ‘em with ya.”

“Guess your wardrobe isn’t the only thing that’s changed.”

“You been lookin’ at me, Benson?”

Olivia feels her face go red, blushing that she's implicated herself.

“Cause I have to admit, I’ve been enjoying lookin’ at you. I’m sorry if this is inappropriate or crass but you have to know, Liv, you look incredible. You’ve always been the most beautiful woman I’ve seen in real life but you’re even more so now.”

Her mouth is agape again—Elliot’s full of surprises this evening. She takes a bite of pasta and shrugs her shoulders. “Guess we’re both guilty.”

Sensing her potential discomfort, he changes the subject. ”So? How’s the food?”

“Delicious, Elliot, really. I’m impressed.”

He gives her a smug grin. “Glad you like it. Feel good, happy? Wanted to take care of you after this case, I know it’s been a tough few days.”

She swallows past the unexpected lump forming in her throat. “Yes, it’s exactly what I needed. Thank you.”

“No thanks necessary, Olivia. I want to be here, want to be the person you turn to when you need support, need comfort.”

She looks at him with soft eyes. “You always have been, El.”

El. It makes his heart squeeze every time he hears the endearment. It always flows from her lips like second nature, like she doesn’t know she’s doing it. He takes their plates and washes them off, putting them in the dishwasher as she refills the wine. He offers her his hand, she takes it, and he leads her to the living room. It’s then that she notices a couple of her candles are lit.

Wow, he really went all out tonight, she thinks to herself.

Elliot sits her on the couch and reaches for the remote to her TV. She sees that he’s already queued something up, curiosity piqued. Soft piano begins to play out of the speakers. He puts the remote down and comes to kneel in front of her.

“Olivia, you know more than I do that communication has never been my strong suit. I racked my brain to try to put my emotions into words, especially after what you selflessly and bravely shared with me the other night, and nothing seemed right. I’m going to try to let this song do the talking for me.”

He takes her hand and puts it on his chest, his own resting on top of hers warmly, and his eyes meeting hers in a soft gaze.

There goes my heart beating
'Cause you are the reason
I'm losing my sleep
Please come back now

And there goes my mind racing
And you are the reason
That I'm still breathing
I'm hopeless now

She sees the unshed tears in his eyes and feels the racing of his heart as his emotions get the better of him. Another lump forms in her throat as she tries to swallow, not wanting to break eye contact.

I'd climb every mountain
And swim every ocean
Just to be with you
And fix what I've broken
Oh, 'cause I need you to see
That you are the reason

He's looking at her with such depth of feeling—adoration, devotion, sorrow, guilt, hope, and, yes, love— that she imagines she’s seeing through to his soul in a way he’s bared it to no one before. She knows hers reflected the same way the other night, for him only.

Just like Brian said, she thinks.

His voice comes out rough, gravelly; his hand squeezes hers. “This part, Liv.”

There goes my hands shaking
And you are the reason
My heart keeps bleeding
I need you now

And if I could turn back the clock
I'd make sure the light defeated the dark
I'd spend every hour, of every day
Keeping you safe

The tears in her eyes spill over as she moves off the couch, clutching his shoulders and falling into his lap. His catches her in his strong arms and his hands move delicately, reverently, over her torso where he knows the puckered skin will be.

And I'd climb every mountain
And swim every ocean
Just to be with you
And fix what I've broken
Oh, 'cause I need you to see
That you are the reason

“‘Livia,” he whispers, nose in her hair.

I don't wanna fight no more
I don't wanna hide no more
I don't wanna cry no more
Come back I need you to hold me (you are the reason)
Be a little closer now
Just a little closer now
Come a little closer
I need you to hold me tonight

I'd climb every mountain
And swim every ocean
Just to be with you
And fix what I've broken
'Cause I need you to see
That you are the reason

At this point she has her face buried in his neck and is no longer trying to hold back her tears. His shirt is soaked but he doesn’t seem to care, instead his fingers run through the ends of her long wavy hair in a way he hopes is comforting.

“'Livia,” he tries again, still failing to form full words around the choked feeling in his throat. “I’m so fucking sorry. I’m sorry, you’re amazing and I’m sorry and I love you. I’ve been in love with you for 24 years and I’m gonna be in love with you for the rest of my life. There’s no way out of that; it’s just a physical law of the universe. You own me. You, Olivia, are my reason.”

As he finishes rambling, Olivia finds she has no words and acts on pure instinct, reaching up and pressing her lips to his in a sweet, succinct kiss. “Elliot,” she breathes. “I love you, too. Always have, and always will. Soulmates, remember?”

He smiles down at her, recalling their long ago conversation. “Soulmates, partner. For life.” Their lips meet again as their arms stay wrapped around each other, never to again let go.