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Neglected Spaces

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“I always thought that if I tried anything it would mess it all up. That everything I thought I felt was just – one-sided? And I thought that I’d rather die keeping that feeling inside of my chest than sharing it? It wasn’t mine to have. I would’ve rather just gone to my death with my feelings for you unrequited than risk the rejection that would’ve inevitably been thrust my way.” She shifts from one foot to the other, attempting to put as much space between them as possible.

“You were wrong.” He pauses, “It was never unrequited.” He rubs the back of his neck, looking up to the sky, “It was an inopportune moment – and sometimes I wonder how my life would’ve been different if I’d – if we’d met –“ he blows the air out of his mouth, shaking his head, “It was never unrequited. I fell in love with you bit by bit, Liv. Over time. Until one day I woke up and stared down the barrel of a gun and realized I couldn’t – it wasn’t my place…and I couldn’t do that to you. To us. I couldn't ruin us."

She laughs, “A therapist could make millions off of us.”

“Well…it’s not unrequited…and we’re both single – so…”

She smirks. “We are." She takes a breath, "Both single...that’s – I guess I just got so used to – “

“Answering everything with ‘he’s married’?” His brows rise as he smiles and they both dissolve into a fit of laughter for a moment. The seriousness and sheer magnitude of this situation weighing on both of them. 

“That was never for me. You know.” It's a confession she's not proud of.

“Says you.” He holds his hand out. “Whatever you wanna be, Liv…as long as you’re next to me? I want that too.”

“I love you, too. You know.” She squeezes his hand in her own, eyes brightly lit up and the sun shining off of her wavy brown hair. 

“I know.” he smiles, kissing the side of her head as they begin to walk down the path, her body tucked against his own. "I always knew."

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“You trust me, right?” He asks her, the beads of sweat on his brow somehow more pronounced as he lowers his head to look her in the eyes. Even their line of sight out.

She finds herself incapable of looking away, “I’m gettin’ there, El,” she breathes out, "but yeah, I’d trust you with my life."

He glances around, taking in their position and the fragility of the moment. They have one of two options here, they can take the steps forward and she can trust him, or they can try to find another way. Either way, it's a risky choice. With a deep breath, he somehow finds it within himself to make a clear decision. She's a mother now, he's got to get her home to her son. 

“Then look into my eyes and don’t break eye contact.” His hand reaches for hers, wrapping tightly around her wrist as she wraps her fingers around his, nodding. 

What she doesn't say is that she'd follow him through the gates of hell if he lead her there. 

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She practically barrels into him as she leaves her office. For some reason, her door seems to be attracting a lot of attention lately. Her brows furrow in confusion as she holds the folder closer to her chest while she levels her gaze at her Sergeant. Before she can ask him what the hell he's doing, he speaks. 

“You said you love each other – “

“You listenin’ at the door now? You know what happens to eavesdroppers? You know the old saying, ‘Curiosity killed the cat’? Does it mean anything to you, Sergeant?” She looks over at the newest Detective standing there, curiosity written on her face as well, "Detective?"

“I’m a detective, it’s what I do…detect.” Muncy shrugs, flashing a grin before she heads towards the break room. Olivia's eyes quickly glance back over at Fin. 

"Don't look at me, I always knew it. I'm just glad you're vocalizing that shit now."

Damn eavesdroppers. 

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The sound of silence was louder than hell. Silence allowed for her mind to wander. Silence brought out all the nightmares. Silence made breathing louder than usual. Silence made her listen to the sound of her heart beating in her chest.

 

It was the sound of silence that broke her in the wake of everything that had happened to her. The sound of no one there to hear her sob into the night.

 

The sound of no one breathing behind her. The sound of no extra sets of breaths.

 

That’s why when she found herself faced with the sound of silence again after the shooting on Christmas, she vowed never again. And she did something about it. She picked up the phone and called him. She told him she wanted that two-way street to start at this intersection.

 

And he answered her call.

 

He showed up.

 

He eliminated the sound of silence.

 

In ways that only he could do – by just being there, on the couch, next to her.

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The sun was lowering along the horizon as she drove through the streets, over a bridge and to the street she knew he now lived on. She wasn’t sure why she’d steered herself here.

 

She wasn’t sure why this night of all nights had drawn her here.

 

Somewhere deep down she felt like she knew that this wasn’t the night to show up, but something had been nagging at her all day.

 

Something had been drawing her to him. She’d picked up and put down her phone at least twenty-five times during various meetings. It was after McGrath had angrily called her out on this that she’d quirked her brow and replied with extreme snark that she’s in the middle of a case and she’s getting updates and if he’d like she can just choose not to work this case because in his purview it wasn’t a “real rape” case.

 

Said with air quotations.

 

The gasps that were inhaled in the room shocked her and she realized that she hadn’t just thought that – she’d actually said it out loud. It was worth it though, to see his face turn fifty-five shades of crimson.

 

 Yep, she’d officially lost it.

 

So, here she was, parking her truck next to the curb just as the sun was setting.

 

As she killed the ignition, she sent Lucy a text, asking her if she could stay the night – told her that she’d caught a case. If she needed anything, just call her phone. Lucy had texted back (‘It’s no problem, Liv. I don’t mind – be safe!’) Sometimes she wondered if Lucy had a life outside of working for her and the other family she worked for. (She wondered how Lucy had time to work for the other family at all – wanted to have a talk to her about this, whether she needed less hours or wanted to lighten her load – but she’d been a fixture in Olivia’s life for so long now, that it bothered her. She didn’t want Lucy to not experience life because she was busy and always needed her…) With that situation under control, she stared at her steering wheel for just a moment.

 

Before she could think any further though, she was startled by a knock on her window when she turned her head, her eyes locked with a pair of bright blue ones, head tilted, and the ridiculous smile on his face. When she didn’t roll the window down (she’d killed the ignition, after all), he opened her door.

 

“Hey there, my friend, Olivia.”

 

The joy in his voice was too much…she’d had a shitty day, after all.

 

“Howdy.” She answers back, a flicker of a smile appearing for just a split second.

 

“What brings you to my neck of the woods?”

 

She looks around, at their surroundings. “Your concrete and brick woods? I had a bad day. Was actually debating whether or not I should start my truck and leave or not.” She sighs, “Wouldn’t want to burden you.”

 

“You’re not a burden. Wanna come inside? Mama is with Katie tonight, something about Wine & Painting…and Eli is over at his friend Josh’s – they have a tournament tomorrow. We could order some take-out or I could cook for you.”

 

You? Cook?” She’s surprised. “Last time you made me anything it was Kraft Mac N Cheese after we had gone undercover at that Swinger’s bar. Unless you’re going to make me Kraft Mac N Cheese, again?”

 

“Look who has all the jokes.” He holds his hand out, and she takes it, sliding out of the truck, tucking her arm through his own and locking the doors. “Do you have to go home?”

 

“Presumptuous, aren’t you?”

 

“No, just want to know if you can have something to drink, you look like you need one. And if you had to get back home – I would only allow you one glass of wine, and you’d have to stay a while until I was absolutely certain you could get home alright.” He smiles at her, and she flinches slightly. He’s just completely disarmed her with this admission.

 

“For your information, I asked my nanny if she could stay the night. So, no. I don’t have to get back home.” She answers, anxiety suddenly creeping in. She realizes, as he opens the back door and slides the jacket off of her shoulders that they’re alone. Completely alone in his apartment, and she’s just admitted that she doesn’t have to go home. And he wants to cook for her, or order take-out.

 

“So would you like to get comfortable? I could give you a pair of sweats and a t-shirt if you want to relax a little.” His blue eyes are looking at her and for the first time, she sees something there that dismantles her armor. He’s hopeful. Hopeful that she’ll accept his sweats and t-shirt and she’ll wear his clothes. He wants to know that she’s wrapped in things that are his. Almost like he’s claiming her. She likes this, in the pit of her stomach. She likes this possessive streak for the first time in a long time.

 

On any other man, this would be unattractive and a red flag, but this is Elliot.

 

“That would be nice.” She answers, eyes watching him as he takes her hand and leads her to his room. As he opens the drawers and gets the sweats and the t-shirt out he turns to her and places them on the edge of his bed. They’re standing close, chest-to-chest as her breathing suddenly hitches.

 

“You know, Captain, you look good standing here in my room.” he smiles down at her and jesus. He shakes his head. Almost like he’s dismissing the millions of thoughts she can see racing behind those crystalline eyes. She’s always been able to read him like a book.

 

“Elliot?” Her voice comes out shaky, unsure even. “If we were to – “

 

“To what?”

 

“Move beyond this – friends – phase.” She slowly enunciates every word. “What would that be like?”

 

His eyes widen just like his pupils that have dilated in this split second. She pays attention to the way his breathing halts for a second and she can’t help but wonder if he’s having the very same emotions and thoughts that she is.

 

“What do you mean?” He runs his hand over his bald (shaved, she assumes) head, resting his palms against the base of his neck. “Move beyond this friends phase?”

 

“If we were to – kiss. Just to see – what it’s like…” she closes her eyes, breaking contact with him. “Just – to see whether this tension between us would ease.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text


“I don’t believe in fairy tales.” She takes a bite of her sesame chicken, “The commercialized versions of fairy tales,” she specifies, reaching for the water bottle on the table in front of them, the one he’d placed there between them a moment before. “I mean, when you think about it, the commercialized versions all depict the princesses as hapless romantics who need a man to come save them. It’s sexist. Absolutely misogynistic.” She tilts her head to the side, placing her jaw against the palm of her hand.

 

“No, I agree.” He nods, smiling as he watches her, “It’s completely sexist.”

 

“Oh?”

 

“Yeah, if you ask me, I want to see a princess slay her own dragons and then proudly proclaim that she saved herself. That she doesn’t need a man to save her.”

 

“Wow,” she raises her brows, “I’m impressed.”

 

“Look, I just want my girls to know that they can do anything they set their minds to, that they don’t need someone to come save them.” He reaches for his fork, “That’s all I’m saying.”

 

“That’s beautiful. You’re a good dad.” She pokes her sesame chicken once more, “I mean that.”

 

He smiles, chewing thoughtfully, “You’d be a good mom… someday.”

 

“Yeah…” her brows raise as she tilts her head to the side, swallowing another bite, “right.”

 

“No, mark my words, you would be,” he swallows, “trust me.”

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She can’t face anyone. Not right now. Not while she still has dried blood between her fingers and under her nails. Not while Sonya is on the cold slab down in Melinda’s morgue.

 

Her eye twitches as she looks out over the city. She brings her hand over her face and shakes her head.

 

“Knew I’d find you.” He mutters, standing close to her. He was always close. Too close. Too close for a married man. Too close for just a partner.

 

He was only a partner.

 

She turns her head and cocks it up slightly eyes meeting his in a quiet desperation. “You’re the only one who knows where to find me.” She whispers, turning away once more. She shivers in the night chill on this ninth of February. He notices she’s not wearing a jacket.

 

“Hey, here, take this.” He shrugs out of his coat and drapes it over her shoulders, running his hands over the sleeves, pulling her back into him. “Relax.”

“What the hell are you doing, Elliot?” She whispers.

 

“You’re shaking.” His observation skills are fantastic. What a detective.

“Yeah, well…” she begins but bites down on her bottom lip, there’s no point in telling him why because he knows. He knows the history between her and Sonya. Knows how this affected her.  “Thanks for coming back.”

 

“You seemed kind of like you needed me to.” He began but quickly steered the direction somewhere else entirely. “Not that you need anyone, but you seemed…bothered by this.”

 

“Who wouldn’t be, Elliot? You know what they say – where there’s smoke- “

 

“There’s fire. Yeah. I know.” He nods, wrapping his arms tighter around her. She wants to sink into his embrace, but she’s rigid against him. She shouldn’t be allowing this. She shouldn’t be held by her partner. She shouldn’t allow herself to seek this comfort he’s willingly giving her.

 

There’s always been smoke between the two of them, she knows this, she’s pretty sure everyone can see it. That’s why they have to constantly defend what they have why they have to tell people that they’re just partners. That he’s married.

 

If he wasn’t? They’re partners.

 

They had their shot a few years ago, before Eli. But neither of them had made a move for some reason. She begins to wonder if the smoke is really there or if it’s an illusion. The worst part of it all is, standing here, on the rooftop out of the view of everyone and forgetting for a moment who they are – she feels the flames lick her heart. When the lump settles in her throat she moves and he drops his arms. She turns to face him, brown eyes meeting blue as she shrugs off his coat and hands it to him, a small grateful smile on her face. “Thanks.”

 

As she walks away he watches her, brows furrowed. For a moment, he felt warm on the rooftop in the middle of February. For a moment, he felt the flames caressing his skin.

 

But as she walks away?

 

All he sees is smoke as she disappears – ash blowing in the wind.

Chapter Text

“If you don’t want this – just say no.”

 

“No.”

 

“No?” His face fell.

 

“No, I’m not saying no. Not anymore. I do want this. Us.” She straightens her spine as she looks defiantly into his face and smiles. “So…no.”

 

“I never thought you’d –“ She rolls her eyes, pushing him back against the wall. Their lips meet finally and all of a sudden, everything feels right.

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“Why they hell are we here of all places again?” She asks, her eyes wild as she looks around the empty room, her voice echoing off the walls. He furrows his brows and that’s when he realizes where they are.

 

“That sonofabitch.” He hissed. “He actually did his homework.”

 

“El – who are you talking about?”

 

Wheatley.” He spits out, the name like a curse on the tip of his tongue.

 

“Thank you for joining me in my warehouse. I bought it because it evokes a bit of nostalgia for me.”

Chapter Text



Sometimes she thinks people need to slap her. Bring her back to reality. She’s walking along the water’s edge and her son’s tiny hand is in hers and holding the other side is Ed Tucker.

 

If someone would have told her ten years ago that she’d be holding hands with her son and Ed Tucker she would’ve had them committed.

 

If someone would’ve told her that she’d date Ed Tucker… she would’ve laughed at them. But here she is. Here they are… and at the moment, she’s happy.

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"Everybody will leave you, Olivia.

She's been dead for years and yet her words echo like a vinyl record with the needle skipping over a scratch in the deepest recesses of Olivia's mind. She's tried to yell at the whispy words uttered by her bitter and broken mother. She tried, with every passing year that Elliot walked next to her that she was wrong. She was dead wrong. 

Her mother was dead. 

Olivia was wrong. 

Elliot left. 

She wraps her cardigan around herself even tighter as she leans against the wall next to the window of her apartment, eyes trained on the street below. 

She was hoping to catch sight of his car. Catch sight of him standing on the sidewalk looking up at her. If he asked her to let him in, she would. She'd open the door so damn quick that it would make his head spin. She'd pull him into her space, she'd slam him back against the door and she'd wrap her arms around him. She would collapse against his warm body, fall into his embrace. 

She'd ask him to hold her and never let her go. 

Everybody leaves, Olivia.

She thought he would be the exception. He was her best friend. He was her partner. 

He was married. 

She was alone. 

 

Chapter Text


"Babe, what time is it?" She had to roll her eyes every single time he asks her a question starting with babe as though she's no longer Olivia - but she's... babe. Not that she'd ever call herself a babe. No, it was something akin to being called a 'chick'

She rolls over onto her side, reaching blindly for her phone. She'd just crawled into bed at 3 am after going all over hell's half-acre searching for three missing kids. She squints in the dim light of the bedroom, holding the phone up and almost dropping it on her face. 

"It's 4:13, Bri." She drops the phone back down onto the nightstand, she rolls over on her back, staring up at the ceiling. Brian snores loudly in the dark bedroom. Her brows furrow as she reaches for the phone again, checking the date. 

Huh. 

She's late. Could it be... no. 

Or could it?

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"You want me to grab you a water?" Elliot moves past her, brushing his shoulder against her own as she stands in front of a rack of candy, finger trailing in the air as she browses along the shelves. She glances up, eyes meeting his from behind her sunglasses. She stands on her toes for a moment, craning her neck to see the drink selection in the cooler. 

"Please? You want me to grab you a candy bar or chips or something?" She grabs two candy bars from the boxes. 

Her eyes travel to the front of the convenience store where the guy sits behind the counter, flipping through a magazine. She walks around the next aisle, cookies.

"One of those days, huh?" Elliot's voice startles her. She didn't even hear his footsteps come up behind her as she drops the candy bar on the floor he reaches for the large package of Oreos. "I'll get these for you. You want me to go grab you a chocolate milk too?" 

"Am I that transparent?"

He smirks. 

"I have daughters, Olivia." He steers her to the front of the store as her shoulders fall in defeat, "You have ibuprofen or advil in the car?"

This is going to be a long drive.

Chapter Text


She hands him his cup of coffee and the warmth instantly seeps into his skin. The steam rising from it billowing in front of his face. 

"Thank God." He mumbles as she climbs into the passenger seat, "you are a saint, Benson."

She smiles, her cheeks slightly pink from the cold New York winter as she ducks her head down, wrapping her fingers tighter around the cup of tea she plays with the little string on the end, sticking out of the top, "It's cold." 

"Yeah. Yeah, it is." A silence sits between them in the car as she shifts slightly, taking a deep breath. It's the kind of cold that seeps into the skin through layers and layers of clothes. She brings her hand up to her mouth, huffing as much hot air as possible into her palm. She reaches in her pocket, searching for her gloves that she thought she'd remembered. 

"Damnit," she curses silently.

"What's up?" 

"Forgot my gloves in the desk." She mumbles, sticking her hand in her pocket, the other wrapped around the cup of tea. Elliot studies her for a moment, presses his lips together and then reaches down and pulls his one glove off, handing it over to her. She furrows her brows for a moment, staring at it as though asking 'what the hell you want me to do with this, Stabler?'

"Take this one glove. We'll hang onto our drinks to keep our hand warm in the glove with one hand and the other can stay in our pockets."

She glances down at his bare hand, rather than taking the glove, she grabs his hand, interlacing her fingers with his as she lowers it on the middle console. 

"Body heat is better, El." 

He smiles, eyes falling on the glove in the middle console, his heart racing a little quicker at the contact. 

Chapter Text


“You hungry, Liv?” Fin glances up from his desk, listening as Nick asks Olivia if she’s hungry. He’d seen her bring back a soup and salad from Panera while Nick had gone to interview a witness with Rollins but he was curious what her response was going to be. It was getting closer to dinnertime.

“Where you getting food from?” John asks, looking up from the open folder in front of him. They’d skipped lunch because they’d been in court until 2:15 pm; Liv had gotten back with her lunch at 2:45 pm. It was now about 3:30 pm, and he knew better than most that Liv usually ate around 5 and if she wasn’t planning on going anywhere for dinner, she ordered it in and had it sitting in the fridge.

“Sal’s.” Nick answered, “I like that sandwich, the BS special. The name cracks me up.”

Fin watches as her face goes temporarily pale. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath, looking away from Nick. Fin watches as her pen bounces off the paperwork in front of her and then when she looks back at him, she shakes her head, pushing her chair back abruptly she grabs her jacket off the back.

“I’m gonna go grab some fresh air.” She looks directly at Fin, and he knows where she’s going. She’s going to go to the roof. Nick watches her walk away, the apparent confusion written clearly on his face.

“What was that about?” Rollins points over her shoulder. John slams the folder shut he was working on, standing up and grabbing his own jacket off the back of his chair he nods to Fin, nudging him on the arm as he walked by. Fin turns to look at Nick and Amanda, reaching for his own jacket.

“That sandwich? It was their sandwich.” Fin tells Nick as he walks past Amanda towards the stairs.

“What?”

Fin stops in the doorway, shaking his head, he turns to look at Amaro and Rollins.

“BS? Benson-Stabler Sandwich. Half one kind of sandwich, half the other kind of sandwich. Sal loves Liv, and he got tired of charging them full price for two sandwiches… so he made it a special and it’s a 2-for-1 price… it was for them.” Fin smirks, “He also said they were both full of bullshit half the time. So… maybe keep it outta her line of sight.”

“Great, now I can’t even have certain food around my partner. This is – who the hell was this guy?”

“It’s not about the food.” Amanda mumbles, “Maybe it’s about the memories with the food.”

“Maybe.”

Chapter Text


She walks along the fountain, lifting her son up by both hands in the Jardin du Palais Royal. Her features somehow softer while they’re here. They’re not in the streets of New York City, they’re not in Central Park. They’re half-a-world away and without her gun strapped to her side, she’s just a woman. A mother. A lover.

Ed walks next to her smiling at the way her son laughs when she laughs and the way the light hits her caramel colored locks. The sunlight makes her skin take on an incandescent glow. As she turns her dark eyes to meet his bright blue ones he feels the shift somewhere deep in his chest. He feels his heart skip a beat and he realizes that he wishes everything had a different beginning. That he could’ve been different with her from the beginning. Had they wasted all this time?

He’d grown to admire this beautiful woman over the years. First annoyed that she seemed to exist to make his job harder, but as time went on, as he was proven wrong time and time and time again, he found himself respecting her.

Her lips press together as her brows furrow. She’s seen the shift inside of him and he wonders how she manages to do it. How she somehow finds and hones in on pieces of people that change in such a small manner. As her head tilts to the side, he watches her eyes. She’s asking silent questions and he doesn’t know how to begin to answer them all.

“Ed?”

“You’re beautiful.” He whispers, his voice somewhat gruff, “Y’know that, right?”

“Stop.” She shakes her head, “You’re caught up in the moment.” She looks down at Noah, a smile on her face as she crouches down, wiping his cheek with her thumb, watching as the little boy rubs his eyes with the back of his fist. He’s getting tired. It’s his nap time, and they’ve been out all morning long sightseeing. He watches her, as her eyes study her son’s bright blue eyes, she’s looking for something inside of him too, Ed realizes.

He takes a photo, tucking his phone away in his pocket.

Maybe that’s the key to Olivia, that she searches people’s souls. She connects hers with theirs and their needs become her wants. He wonders if she’s ever wanted anything for herself. If she’d give that piece of herself over to anyone. He knows he doesn’t have that with her, he knows no one has.

She freezes for a moment, squinting in the sunlight. Ed follows her line of sight as she stands up and lifts her son on her hip, his head resting in the space between her chin and shoulder with her hand splayed across her son’s back. She tilts her head to the side, blowing a loose strand out of her face.

“What’cha lookin’ at, Liv?”

She sighs, turning her face to look at him – her freckles somehow more pronounced on the edge of her nose, she shrugs as he slides his arm behind her shoulders, hand resting on her back.

“Nothing… thought I saw… it doesn’t matter.” She smiles. “Europe is full of ghosts… ancient history.”

Ed nods. If only she knew how accurate that statement was. They walk away, Ed smiling at her son’s sleeping face. He looks like a little cherub. Curly hair, bright blue eyes that are currently closed, his soggy fingers closed in a fist clenching onto her shirt. She was meant to be a mother, Ed thinks.

Chapter Text


John Munch is a somewhat hapless and hopeless romantic.

He watches people, curious about everyone. Was the man sitting down at the café on the corner across from the attractive woman with a chignon braid her boss, her lover, her husband, or an old boyfriend? Were they old friends catching up after ten years apart? People and their motivations intrigued him.

Closed doors, especially in the 16th Precinct intrigued him. People’s lives were not open books, not open doors, and the things that made him curious, the things he liked to discover, investigate – they rarely happened in rooms with open doors. No, closed doors posed a much more interesting scenario.

That’s why every single time he sees Benson and Stabler disappear, he wonders where they go. Especially when they disappear behind a closed door.

He knows nothing has happened between them. He’s good at reading people’s body language. However, he’s not a complete idiot and he knows they both want something to, but they’re both too afraid. Fear of something greater than oneself and greater than someone’s faith is – beyond terrifying.

He’s seen them sitting on the side of the street in their squad car talking for up to twenty minutes. He’s watched them make their normal trek to the top of the building and he’s followed, curious. It’s why he purchased his sonic ear. Closed doors are not an obstacle that deters him. Not one bit.

He finds himself here early this morning. She’s been different since returning from Oregon. They’ve been different. He stands outside the closed door of the cribs and listens as their voices barely make it through the door, but he’s got his sonic ear there, headphones on and he’s listening.

“I just thought that maybe you were – I don’t know running.”

“From what?”

“Feelings. I know you’re scared.”

“I’m not scared, Elliot. I figured a lot out in Oregon.”

“What’d you figure out?”

It goes quiet for a moment, and John wonders what the hell they’re saying because he can barely hear anything.

“That’s… something.” Elliot finally mumbles. John wonders what it was she told him. He’s not going to find out though, because Fin taps his shoulder, shaking his head as he motions to follow him. Rolling his eyes and pulling his earphone out of his ear, he follows his partner, glancing back at the closed door.

The world may never know.

Chapter Text


“That’s not where that piece goes.” Olivia’s voice comes from the couch across the balcony from where John and Fin are putting together the puzzle at the little card table. She wasn’t even looking at the table or the puzzle, she had a folder open on her lap, an apple in her hand and was scanning the financials to a wall-street broker who had been accused of sexual assault by several of the women who worked for his firm.

“How d’you know, Liv? You aren’t even looking at this puzzle.”

“I just know,” her finger lifts one of the stapled pages, flipping it over as she takes a bite of her apple. Elliot walks up the steps, two cups of coffee in his hands as he leans down, placing hers on the small table next to the threadbare couch, “Thanks.”

“Doesn’t go there either.” She mumbles, taking her last bite of the apple, tossing it over to the open wastebasket.

“Nice shot.” Elliot mutters, reaching for the file folder on her lap, handing her a napkin at the same time.

“Thanks, been practicing.” They can both hear the teasing tone in her voice as she picks up the mug. Without even glancing over, she makes another commentary about the puzzle. “That’s the wrong piece too.”

“If you’re such a damn savant about this puzzle, come put the pieces where they go.” Fin points to the 500 pieces strewn on the edge of the table, several of the officers in the precinct having already put together the outer frame. Olivia chuckles as she shakes her head, taking a sip of her coffee. Munch watches as Elliot flips the page, brows furrowing as he notices something in the financial records.

“Show ‘em, Liv.” Elliot mumbles, pulling a highlighter out of his pants pocket and drawing four lines on the sheet then flipping back to the pages Liv had previously looked at. She sighs, standing up with her mug as she walks over to the card table, picking up the first piece and placing it in the middle then reaching for seven pieces, plucking them off the edge and collecting them in her fist, she places them down one at a time around the middle piece. Fin watches in awe as John stands up, chair raking against the ground.

“That’s it. I quit. You can do all the puzzles from now on.” He marches down the steps, towards their desks.

“Damn girl. Get a hobby.” Fin mumbles, Elliot laughs from the couch.

“What do you think her hobby is?

Chapter Text


“Your tea,” the girl with blue tipped hair places the saucer in front of Olivia and then places the tiny saucer in front of Elliot with a smirk on her face, “your coffee. Can I get you anything else? A scone? Croissant?”

Olivia shakes her head, tapping away on her phone.

“No thank you, Amelia.” Elliot smiles at the young woman, reading her name tag. Olivia freezes and looks up from her phone for the first time. He’d ordered their drinks at the counter while she’d been engrossed in communicating with her boss or just following up on e-mails. This is how their meetings usually went, she would work and he would order the food and drinks.

Elliot watches as her lips part and she stands abruptly, eyes wide.

Amelia just stands there, lips pressed together as she and Olivia study one another. He watches as Olivia’s eyes mist over and she places her hand over her heart, sucking in a breath and shaking her head, blinking a few times. Elliot watches as Amelia’s jaw clenches slightly and Olivia reaches forward, pulling her into a hug.

“You look good, Olivia.” Amelia mumbles, her black painted fingernails splayed on the back of Olivia’s jacket.

“You look good too.”

Elliot wonders how these two know one another. Olivia’s eyes look into his and a silent promise passes between the two of them. ‘I’ll tell you,’ they say, ‘just not over coffee and tea’.

Chapter Text


“You see, Captain Benson, Elliot here –“ he turns to look at Stabler, his predatory grin growing on his face, “Sorry, Detective Stabler… he moved all the way to Italy to avoid betraying his faith, to avoid walking away from his family. Those… oh-so-precious wedding vows that he made when he was just… a... child… himself.” Olivia closes her eyes, she knows how old Elliot was when he got married. She knows that he was just doing what the world, what his faith had expected of him.

She knows that he committed a sin by having premarital sex with Kathy when they were only 17. That Elliot’s story mirrored that of hundreds of teenagers in the United States. His first time and then there were two pink lines weeks later. He’d told her the story in the squad car their first year as partners, when they were still getting to know one another. Still learning about who they were trusting to protect their life, watch their six.

“But there’s a catch.” Richard Wheatley leaned forward, his eyes shining as though he was going to reveal something potentially earth-shattering. Elliot closed his eyes as he struggled against the duct tape, shaking his head. Olivia glances across the table at Elliot, her fingers clutching the chain of the cuffs on the chair. If she could just… pull it. She could break free. Her eyes dart to the gun sitting at the head of the table then to the other end of the table where Angela Wheatley sits, her legs crossed, her chin leaning against the pads of her fingers.

“What you don’t know, Captain Olivia Benson… is that this faithful man, this… god-fearing man… was already divorced.” Richard leans back, strutting towards the end of the table, picking up the manila envelope resting next to the gun. “It’s amazing what you can find when you have money. Records, sealed records, redacted records. If you flash enough cash… you can dig as deep as you want and there’s no amount of barriers standing in your way.” His chuckle irks her.

“Why am I here?” She asks quietly, “What is the purpose of this… insanity.”

“That’s rude. You’re my guest…Captain. My problem isn’t with you… no, my problem is with Elliot here.”

“You’re going to destroy everything you built, Richard. That’s the definition of insanity…for what? A grudge?”

“You’d know all about grudges, wouldn’t you, Captain?” Richard takes a seat, sliding the envelope toward her, “What was it that was in that beautifully penned letter that Elliot handed you?”

“How do you know anything about the letter?”

“Oh, I don’t. I just know there was an envelope exchanged and I’m assuming that because he was gone for a decade your son isn’t his so there’s no reason for him to hand you a check in an envelope, now is there?”

She stares. Stoic.

“Angela admires your tenacity and strength and the fact that you’re a single-mother, don’t you honey?” His head tilts up to Angela who has reached for her glass of wine now, eyes still studying Olivia intently, “Yes, we find your survival instincts admirable. The way you emerged from that beach house eight years ago…” Richard’s eyes travel over to Elliot who has stopped struggling and is now staring at her with furrowed brows, concern etched there in the wrinkle between his eyes, “One can’t help but wonder what he did to you… and whether or not you actually did put the bullet in his brain.”

“Oh no, he did that all himself.” She answers, “Wanted me to remember him.”

“I imagine it’s hard to forget him… right?” Richard asks, running his finger along his bottom lip, “According to the transcripts I was able to obtain…” Richard holds up the folder and moves to slide it over to Elliot’s side of the table. Olivia takes a deep breath.

“Is there a point to all this, Richard?”

“You both don’t know a lot about one another. It’s almost comical that you’re both madly in love with one another and refused to acknowledge the truth. Tell me, how does it feel to know that Elliot was divorced all that time you sent him back home all those years? And tell me, Elliot, how does it feel to know that the love of your life was held captive with a raging serial psychopathic rapist for a total of six days when all was said and done?”

Elliot’s eyes widen. Olivia clenches her jaw.

“Yeah, I’m done,” She mumbles, “you can let me go.”

“Just a little longer, Captain.” Richard smiles. Olivia levels her gaze at him, holds her chin up and then turns her face to Elliot.

“What you don’t know, Wheatley… is that I let him go when I walked out of the tower with William Lewis’ brain matter and blood on my face.” She takes a breath, “Now, if you don’t mind… I’d like to get home to my son… the single most important person in my life.”

She turns her attention to Angela, “I wish you all the luck in your revenge seeking…but I can assure you of one thing. Whatever it is you think Elliot is responsible for, you’re wrong. He runs away when he kills children. It’s why he left me.” She turns towards Richard, “Mr. Wheatley, the cuffs, please?” She holds her wrist up. “Elliot… “ the cuff falls from her wrist as she massages it, thumb rubbing against the raw flesh, “Come find me when you’re ready to tell me the truth.” She stands up, pushing her chair back, her attention turns back towards Richard, “Next time, maybe try an actual invitation.” She walks around the table to Elliot where she leans down, her fingers closing around his, passing him the spare key to her cuffs, “So long, El.”

She tilts her head to the man before she spins around, heading for the exit. She hears a cacophony of noise from behind her but she doesn’t look back, she just walks to the SUV and slides into the driver’s seat, fingers gripping the steering wheel. She flexes them and then, Elliot walks out, rubbing his own wrists and climbs in the passenger seat.

“I’m incredibly pissed with you, Elliot.”

“I have a lot of explaining to do.”

“Yeah, you do.”

Chapter Text

“Seriously? You’re going to just walk away?” He asks her, eyes wide as she gathers her shirt in her hand, pulling it hastily over her head, “After everything that just happened, you’re going to run?”

“I have to get back, Elliot. This was a mistake.”

“That’s great. I’m so glad you think it was a mistake.” His tone is thick with disbelief, he pulls the sheet around his lap a little tighter, watching as she’s like a damn tornado in his room.

Shit, where is my phone?”

“Olivia… could you just…” he attempts to reach out and grab her wrist as she moves past him but she manages to avoid his grasp. “Stop for a minute?”

“I have to find my phone,” she drops down to her knees, lifting up the edge of the sheet that’s still hanging off the bed, she reaches underneath, fingertips brushing against the small flip-phone, “C’mon, come to mama.”  she whispers quietly.

Elliot stands up, pulling the sheet off the bed with him he stands there, right behind her, waiting on her to stand up. She braces her palms on his mattress as she pushes herself up. “I can’t let you leave right now, Olivia.”

“You can… and you will, Elliot. This was a mistake. We are partners. What just happened… we cannot be taking chances like this.” She adjusts her belt, making sure it’s in the right hole as she tucks the end of it beneath one of her loops, “This was stupid.”

“Damnit, Olivia, what’s stupid is the way you’re running.”

“Elliot, you’ve got a family… I’m – I’m never going to compete with that.”

“So what, you thought, ‘Let me fuck my partner’ and run?”

“I wasn’t thinking at all.”

“Jesus, Olivia.”

“I’m sorry Elliot. I’m sorry.” She mumbles, shaking her head. "I just... this was stupid. We're being stupid. Taking chances...gambling with our partnership. Our friendship... we just ruined it all."

"Nothing is in ruins, Liv. We're still good."

"You don't know what right now. What if... what if in seven weeks I feel like shit and I take a test and I'm knocked up?" She asks, looking into his blue eyes. He smiles at her, which only serves to piss her off even more. Make her panic more. 

"It's a chance we took. I asked."

"Just... I'll see you tomorrow." she mumbles, picking up her jacket off the floor. He watches, unable to stop her. 

It's a chance he was willing to take. It's one she agreed to take. 

Why was everything so damn complicated?

Chapter Text


She sits there, on the bottom bunk of the rack in the cribs, her legs stretched out in front of her, arms crossed in front of her chest as she watches Elliot trying to find the right words. His body language mirrors hers. She expected him to be… different this morning, given what she’d… well, she thought he’d be different.

“Let’s talk,” He begins, wringing his fingers together as he looks the most nervous she’s ever seen him. More nervous than he’d been the night they crossed the line for that first time. He’s always been careful with what they have, that’s why when he’d tapped on her shoulder downstairs and motioned to come up to the cribs she was worried…naturally.

“Okay.” It comes out slower than she intended, but she’s nothing if not cautious. Cautious and tired. She’s also hungry, but that’s normal for this time in the day.

“I think we should end this,” he motions between the two of them and suddenly she feels as though the floor has disappeared beneath her feet. She gathers a breath and blows it out slowly, mumbling something about ‘oh boy’, beneath her breath as she lay down on the top of the cot, her fingers resting over her stomach, “I think we should end this, Liv, did you hear me?”

“Uh… yeah, I heard you. Don’t add insult to injury.” She mumbles, “I thought you wanted to talk about the pregnancy test that I left on the counter in the bathroom this morning. But if you want to end this, that’s… that’s fucking fantastic too, El.” She reaches down, fingertips searching for the water bottle she’d brought upstairs and sat on the floor, she closes her eyes. Because, of course that’s how it would happen. She’d find out she was pregnant and he would… he’s being a little too quiet. She turns her head to look at him. He’s just staring.

“Wait… what?” Elliot’s brows furrow. Olivia begins laughing, hand smacking the top of the lumpy mattress, “Did you just say – you’re… we’re? I’m….”

“Words are usually good to use, El.” She’s trying to avoid breaking into tears, he wants to end this, his mouth is just opening and closing as though he’s a fish, “you still with me?” It’s quiet. She’s being quiet.

“Now I think we need to have a completely separate conversation about how I’m a complete dumbass...and need to be more observant in the morning.”

“Obviously,” She takes a sip of the water, “were you seriously going to insult me by breaking up with me?”

“No. I was going to suggest that we end this professional relationship because I kinda wanna ask you to marry me and I’m tired of sneaking around and… pretending you’re not mine. I wanna make you mine.”

Olivia considers what he wants for a moment before she speaks again.

“You really didn’t see the test?” If he’s going to propose, she doesn’t want it to be just because she’s knocked up. That he knocked her up.

“No. I didn’t.”

“I think… maybe… given our – situation… we should definitely end this then.” She turns onto her side, “This professional relationship.” She gives him a small smile, rubbing her stomach with her hand.

Chapter Text


She sits along the edge of the water with her hands tucked between her knees watching the gentle lulling pattern the water makes in the current of the river. She takes a deep breath, brows furrowing deeply as someone sits down next to her, crossing their ankle over their knee they’re quiet. She turns her head slowly and almost cries when she sees who it is.

“How’d you find me?” she asks quietly, turning her face back out to the water.

He shrugs, “Lucky guess.”

Hm.”

“Where’s your son?”

“Friends-giving at one of the girls’ houses in his dance class. She lives on the Upper West Side.” Olivia turns her face to look at Elliot fully now, shrugging, “He’s got more of a social calendar than I do.”

Elliot smiles at her, blue eyes watching as she turns back away, pushing herself off the bench and approaching the railing. A minute later he stands next to her, resting his arms over the railing mirroring her position. She’s quiet as the wind gently moves her hair in front of her face and she squints watching the lights beginning to reflect off the surface of the murky water.

“What are you doing here?” He’s asking questions and she guesses she can’t be too angry at him for that.

She pulls the corner of her lip between her teeth as she scratches her brow with the back of her thumb, “Me? I’m… taking a trip down memory lane.” She turns her face to meet his. That’s when he notices the tears lining her bottom lid, the way her nostrils are flaring slightly.

“Sorry for intruding I’ll… I’ll just leave you to it then…” he tucks his hands in his pockets and begins to turn away when she speaks and he freezes.

“I was thinking about Ed,” her shoulders fall, and he turns on his heel, standing five feet away from her but listening all the same, “I always come here when… when I’ve had a bad day or when I’m feeling alone. I feel like… like maybe he sits there, on that bench next to me. We used to meet here during the day for a cup of coffee from the cart at the corner over there.” She points to the small coffee cart he’d walked by on his way over to her, “and it didn’t matter how busy our day was, we’d always make three or four minutes for one another.”

Elliot studies her, and he realizes that she too has been grieving. Grieving for Ed, grieving for lost opportunities, grieving for… whatever it was she had had at one time.

“You would have thought I was out of my damn mind, if you’d seen that relationship play out.” His confusion increases as he tilts his head, taking a step closer to her. She tilts her head back, her warm breath mingling with the chilly November late afternoon air, “it was… the most unexpected thing and sometimes I can’t make sense of it. But other times, I look back on it and I’m grateful that I knew what it was like to be loved… and to not have to explain anything to him. To not have to make excuses when I had to cancel dates… when I’d ask to make love with the lights out… he wouldn’t ask me why. When I tried to push him away, he just… he was there.” She sniffles, shaking her head as she leans back against the railing, “He and I broke up before he died, Elliot… and he got married in that two years between the end of our relationship and his death… but – he was mature. It was good. He was a good man, after everything… and yet when I think about it I feel guilty. I feel guilty because he wanted to retire with me. He wanted to build a family with me and I wasn’t ready. But I don’t think it was that I wasn’t ready I just… I think it was that he wasn’t…”

“Wasn’t what?”

“He wasn’t you.

“I’m sorry you lost Ed.”

“You wouldn’t be if…” she shakes her head, “you won’t be.”

Elliot’s eyes soften as he moves closer to her, nudging her with his elbow. “No man was ever good enough and that’s on me. I prevented you from finding someone good like you said this Ed was.”

She laughs, the irony too much for her.

“The funny thing is, you would’ve lost your badge if you had been around. You woulda hauled off and slugged him and he would’ve had your badge.” She turns to look at him and realization blooms on his face. She presses her lips together as she nods, quiet. Noting the way Elliot’s fist clenches and unclenches. “There it is.”

His jaw clenches.

She reaches for him, placing her hand on his chest, she pats it twice, “Call me when you’re ready to talk to me about the last ten years without getting pissed when you have no right to be.”

She takes three steps before he calls out to her.

“He loved you?” She turns, nodding. “You loved him?” She nods again, chewing on her bottom lip. “Were you in love with him?” She shrugs. “Did he treat you and Noah well?”

“Yeah. Yeah, he did.”

“Do you wish you had more time?” He asks, quietly, closing the distance between them as the air catches her hair again, “I don’t wanna wish for more time with whatever it is we’re doing here, Liv. I don’t wanna regret not exploring this. Can we… can we try?”

“What if we try and I can’t have you at all?” She allows a tear to spill out of the middle of her left eye, before she can raise her hand and wipe it away he lifts his hand and rests his palm against her cheek, brushing it away with his thumb.

“What do you mean?”

“What if we try and it doesn’t work out. I can’t… won’t – I can’t lose…” She swallows the lump in her throat, “I’ve built this thing in my head to mean everything and if we try and it fails and I’m left with nothing but the crippling reminder that we failed?”

“What if it all works out?”

Chapter Text


“You tell me where those two are right now, Detective Tutuola.” Donald Cragen had levels of being pissed. Everyone in the 1-6 knew it. Everyone. But when he used the phrase ‘those two’ it was always Benson and Stabler.

“Haven’t seen them, Cap.” Fin shrugs, reaching for the receiver of the phone to return the call to one of his many message notes on his desk, anything to avoid looking at the Captain.

“Munch?” Don turns to his other Detective, “You seen the trouble twins?”

Fin looks up and meets John’s eyes and they both agree that they haven’t seen anything at all. John glances over at their desks, “I didn’t even know they left. Maybe they’re following up on a lead?”

Cragen’s face turns red, “Call them! Tell them to get their asses back here, I have the Chief of D’s on the phone with me asking why no one is working this case with his niece involved. Wants my best detectives on it, so I need my best detectives on it.”

“You wound me, Captain.” John places his hand over his heart, “You have two Detectives sitting here who are clearly available.”

“Fair, but… he wants Benson and Stabler.”

Don disappears from view as John turns to Fin, “They up on the roof?”

“I don’t know. I don’t babysit them, not after the last time I accidentally walked in on –“

“Shhh, we don’t want anyone to spread any rumors and they like to deny.” John shakes his head, “Plausible deniability.”

“Fine. I’ll check the staircase…but, I’m knockin’ first.”

“Wise decision, my friend.” John reaches for the phone, “I’ll page them.”

Chapter Text


“Liv!” Elliot calls out as he follows her through the parking garage, “Can you wait a damn minute?” His hand reaches out, grabbing her by the forearm she spins around, cheeks flushed, “You wanna get in the car and tell me what the hell it is I just saw?”

“Not particularly.” She pulls her arm away form Elliot and continues to the car, waiting as he unlocks the door and she finally slides into the front seat.

“We gonna talk about this?” He asks, starting the car up. Olivia sighs, her head falling back against the seat, “I thought you were dating this guy named Monty?”

Olivia turns her face away from Elliot. Away from his judgement. She blows out a breath as she reaches forward, adjusting the vents in the car, silent. Her thumb rubs against her temple as she shakes her head, letting her hands finally fall to rest in her lap. Elliot’s eyes travel down to her hands, his breathing picking up and becoming erratic with what he witnessed just moments prior burned into the back of his lids.

“Just drop it, El.”

“Drop it? Drop – are you serious right now?”

Elliot.”

“Who the hell was that?” She rolls her eyes, turning up the radio. He reaches over and turns it down, “Look, I’m not judging you.”

“You’re not?” Her tone is laced with disbelief. “Because I think you are.”

“I’m not like that, Liv. You know that.”

“Do I?” She asks, turning in her seat, hand tightly gripping the seatbelt in her palm, “Elliot, just drop what you saw… bleach it out of your brain… something. I need you to stop focusing on that and just… be my partner.”

Elliot drives for four minutes, his eyes glancing over to look at his partner he’s been with for the last two years. The same woman who has a boyfriend… someone she calls Monty on the phone sometimes to cancel dates and asks them if she can pick up a bottle of wine or take-out on the way home. He’s yet to meet this person she’s absolutely head over heels for but she seems to be happy… that’s why he’s confused as hell as to why he just walked in on Olivia with her hands shoved down the front of some Doctor’s scrubs while the Doctor had her hand shoved down the front of Olivia’s jeans.

“I just need to know what I saw.”

“You know what you saw. I don’t think I have to explain the mechanics of what you just saw to you because it’s your job to know the mechanics.” She runs her long fingers through her short hair.

“What about Monty? Won’t Monty care?” Olivia covers her mouth, dissolving into laughter. “NOW what’s funny, Olivia?”

“Elliot…that was Monty.” She turns to look at him, brown eyes shining playfully now. He really thought… “Monty is short for Montgomery. It’s her last name.”

“What’s her first name?”

“Why do you want to know?”

“I’d like to know who my partner is in love with.” Elliot shrugs, “I mean… you know. So, you’re what… a lesbian or just…”

“She’s the first serious relationship I’ve ever had with a woman, El. I’m bisexual. She’s a doctor, I’m a cop… the world is still… judgmental. We protect what we have. She calls me Benny and I call her Monty.”

“So you’re bisexual.”

“I am.”

Chapter Text


Elliot sat down across from his wife, it was their anniversary and some days he was in awe that they were still together. Especially when he thought about the moments when they’d almost split up years ago. They loved this little Italian restaurant, it had always been their favorite place to go when they wanted dinner with just the two of them, and the food wasn’t half bad either.

“How was work today?” Kathy asks, swirling her pasta around her fork using her spoon to guide it. He thinks his wife is pretty. Not drop dead gorgeous, but pretty – hell, they have three beautiful girls as a testament to how pretty their mother is combined with his genes and his girls are beautiful. Then again, he’s partial to his daughters because they’re his.

“You know, IAB is breathin’ down our necks at the moment needing help with this one case.” Elliot tells her. When it’s nothing related to the more heinous crimes, he doesn’t mind sharing with his wife. But when it’s a case with children involved, he errs on the side of caution. He’s too interested in his Chicken Parmigiana to see the individuals who have walked in the door.

“They still have Brian Cassidy undercover?” She asks, recalling what he’d said the other day. Elliot nods, reaching for his beer.

“Yeah, they still do.” He tilts the bottle back, setting it back down on the table as he cuts at the cutlet on his plate again, “We’ll get them, don’t worry.”

She smiles politely.

“I spoke to Maureen earlier today, she and Carl are discussing wedding dates.” Kathy trails off, her eyes landing on the table across the restaurant where she’s caught sight of Elliot’s partner, her hand underneath a man’s hand, “How is Olivia doing… since everything?”

Elliot freezes for a moment. Guilt washes over him because he hadn’t been around when she was taken. He’d gotten suspicious when she didn’t answer her  phone the next day when he called her from Langley where he was going through some training courses at the time. He’d called Cragen but it had been too late, Lewis had moved her. Elliot berated himself for quite a while about the fact he wasn’t there… that she’d been taken. That she’d been hurt… and he’d been there for her afterwards, as a friend. But he realized not for the first time that he was madly in love with her and wanted to kill the bastard with his bare hands.

She’d pulled away for a few weeks afterwards, but he’d been persistent. Kathleen had been the one who had been able to get closest to her during that time and all his daughter would tell him was that ‘Liv is gonna be okay, dad. Just give her space. Be her friend.’ She’d said it a little pointedly as though she’d seen through him. Kathleen had always seen right through his feelings. Kathy had just felt sorry for her. He kind of resented her for it for a while.

“She’s good. She’s gonna be fine. She’s… she’s going to be good.”

“She dating anyone?”

“I don’t know, Kath. Why do you want to know?” he follows her line of sight. Oh. That’s why. “Maybe it’s just dinner related to the case.”

“She’s a little dressed up for case-related dinner, Elliot. Who is that?”

“Ed Tucker. IAB. The guy that made me go through all those hoops to keep my badge after the shooting a few years ago. He’s the one that has us working this case.” Elliot takes a drink of his beer. “You done eating?”

Kathy looks down at her plate. Suddenly realizing the clipped manner in which her husband has answered her questions, she takes a deep breath, “I’m feeling a little full, maybe we can get our meals wrapped up. Dessert to go.”

They bring in Officers Ryan Quinn and Officer West after a stressful stand-off where Brian almost got shot – if they hadn’t of shown up when they did. Elliot stands there, on the other side of the glass, still plagued by the stress of the last week working side-by-side with his partner while she would answer text messages and hang up abruptly or fade into a conversation that made no sense when he would walk into the room. Elliot had his suspicions, but he’d been unable to prove who she was speaking to. He’d been paying more attention to the looks Tucker was giving her and the ones she was giving him.

It made his blood boil. He and Kathy had been more snippy with one another since the Italian Restaurant and she told him he was being a royal ass.

He stands there, listening to Olivia talking to Officer Quinn and he feels his heart lodged somewhere in the middle of his windpipe.

Well, five years, you know, riding around in a car together… you get close.” Olivia is good at what she does. Elliot watches her as she studies Officer Quinn’s expression. The woman shifts slightly in her seat, “You guys were involved?”

Don stands next to him with his arms crossed and tilts his head to the side, watching Elliot’s reaction as Olivia poses this question to the patrol officer. Tucker, the rat, is in the other interrogation room with Officer West. Elliot wishes he had a quarter for every time someone assumed the very same thing about he and Olivia.

It wasn’t like that.” Officer Quinn answers, defensively, “He’s married, has a kid.”

Olivia scoffs, rolling her eyes and Elliot closes his eyes. This all sounds hauntingly familiar to some of the things he’s heard her say… the only difference was he thought she actually meant them. There’s been so many opportunities for them to cross that line, and yet… they never have. He’s curious as to what she’s going to say here, what her response is going to be. Either way, they’ve already gotten her for her crimes, Olivia is just playing with her now. Trying to turn her against her partner. The bonds that are unbreakable in their line of work.

So you banged him a few times, and now you’re trying to prove that you’re cool with him doing other chicks.” Olivia suggests. Quinn looks offended. Hell, Elliot would be offended if anyone spoke to Olivia like that.

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Olivia laughs but it quickly dies away a moment later as she leans forward, her voice going to that soft tone that lulls everyone into a false sense of security when they’re guilty.

“Okay. Let me ask you a question.” Don sucks in a breath next to Elliot and he turns to find Tucker standing there now, tapping the folder against his palm as he watches Olivia with a glint in his eye that Elliot knows all too well, “When’s the last time you had a boyfriend? Or even went on a date? What, you gotta be 40, right? Maybe a little more?” Jesus, Olivia. What are you doing here?, “Probably wondering if you’ll ever have a family, or… or if riding around with him for the next ten years will be enough for you.”

Elliot closes his eyes, squeezing his bicep beneath his palm as he pulls his arms in closer to his chest. In his head, he’s doing the math. It’s been almost eight years since he’d almost divorced his wife, eight years since she’d looked over at him with those big brown eyes of hers with something he knows now was hope behind them. It’s been eight years since he told her that Kathy was pregnant and he was going back home and he’d seen the hope extinguish behind her eyes.

Shit. He was a damn fool. His eyes glance over to Ed who is smirking, watching Olivia. This bastard is smitten with her. Ed fucking Tucker is smitten with Olivia and Elliot lost his fucking chance.

“He looked out for me.” Quinn insists, Olivia’s interest is suddenly piqued.

“How? Off the record?”

Quinn leans forward slightly, dropping the tone of her voice, “My first year on, I was using. Little coke. I got hit with a random.”

And what, he got you urine? Never said another word about it? And you think that means he loves you? Ryan, he was holding that against you. He knew that you felt that way about him.” Olivia glances back to the glass and Elliot feels the world shift beneath his feet as though he’s standing on the shoreline at his mother’s beach house and the tide is pulling the grains away in one fell swoop.

Does she know how he feels about her? She’s got to, right? He’d uttered it while she had been in the hospital following her rescue – the minute he’d been able to get to her side, he’d held her hand in the dark of the room and told her he loved her, he’s always loved her and he’s glad she’s asleep right now because otherwise he’d hate himself. Sometimes, he thinks she was feigning sleep when she gives him a look. Shit, had she heard him? His heart is racing.

Olivia presses forward, “He was using that too. I mean, what did you think? That… that he was gonna leave his wife and his kid for you? A coke-head?”

Quinn shifts in her seat. Elliot feels like Olivia just slapped him in the face. He was gonna leave his wife and kid for you? The daughter of a drunk and rapist?

Tucker is watching him so he moves, placing his hand on the wall, watching with his head tilted to the side. Don moves closer to the glass, mumbling something about ‘nab her, Liv.’ Elliot knows she’s going to do it now, she’s going to go in for the kill.

“You spent the last five years sitting in that car, hoping that one day, that he’d look over at you and suddenly realize you were the woman he couldn’t live without. What was it he told Cassidy? ‘Girls like Quinny, you throw them a couple crumbs… they’re so grateful, they’ll do anything.” Olivia pauses, “I know what that’s like, Ryan. I do…” Shit.

No, he didn’t say that.” Officer Quinn is obviously in denial, so in love with her partner.

Olivia throws the glass a look, sadness evident behind her eyes as she leans forward again, reaching for Ryan’s hand. “Yeah, he did. And worse. It’s over. It’s not gonna happen. It was never gonna happen… Ryan, I’m sorry.

It was never gonna happen.

Tucker knocks on the glass. Sonofabitch.

Tucker has to complete the booking, Elliot offers to drive Olivia home. While they’re half-way there, she keeps looking down at the screen, smiling and typing out quick responses. He’s dropping her off at her new place, a building with much better security and a little closer to the precinct. Elliot spies the name on the top of the message. ‘Eddie’. He feels his blood beginning to boil. That sonofabitch.

It was never gonna happen. You were the woman he couldn’t live without. It was never gonna happen. He wasn’t going to leave his wife and kid. I know, Ryan. I know.

“Liv, can we talk about what you told Office Quinn?”

“Why? I was just trying to get her to confess, turn on Officer West… why does it matter what I said to her?”

“Because to me it sounded a little suspicious and you said all that with Tucker standing on the other side of the glass. Liv, what if they split us up?” She freezes in the middle of typing and darkens her screen, turning her face to look at him.

“Why would they split us up? Not like anything ever happened between us.”

It was never going to happen.

“Yeah. How long have you and Tucker been fucking, Olivia?”

He watches her dark eyes go wide as they pull up to the curb, but she makes no attempt to get out of the car, “What the hell did you just say to me?”

“I asked you how long you and Eddie have been fucking, Olivia.”

“Why the hell does it matter?”

“Were you in love with me, Olivia?”

“I can’t fucking do this anymore, Elliot. I can’t… I can’t sit around and wait for you to get your head out of your ass or your marriage to fail. Stop being so damn jealous about everything. I said what I said to Ryan because she needs to realize something I realized a few years ago, it was never going to happen… you’re all the same.”

That hurts.

“You know that’s not true and you know you don’t believe that, Olivia.”

“The hell I don’t.”

“She loved him, Olivia.” Elliot whispers, shaking his head. “Why should she settle?”

“It’s not about settling, Elliot. She needs to realize that she’s worth more than that. As a woman, she needs to accept that she’s never going to be his number one and find someone who will put her first.”

“I’m assuming you think this because Ed puts you first?”

“I’ve been fucking him for a few months, Elliot. If you want to be my friend, you’re going to have to accept it.”

Why.

“Love takes time, if I’m happy and comfortable and he makes me feel safe, why does it fucking matter who I’m with? You’re married, I’m not… Ed isn’t… so what is this really about?”

He doesn’t know how to tell her he loves her. Not while she’s awake. He doesn’t know how to explain his jealousy to her without making her run away again. “I just don’t want you to settle.”

“I’m happy.”

“I know. I just… “

“I can’t wait forever, Elliot. I can’t do this anymore. I – I want a family.”


 

Chapter Text


As a child, she would sit on the couch in her mother’s office with her little legs kicking against the bottom of the worn leather, a book open on her lap. Occasionally, one of her mother’s literature students would make their way into the space and sit down with her, talking to her and laughing with her. Her mother’s office had a rug in it that was cerulean colored with raised chenille patterns. On days when she knew her mother’s classes ran late, she would lay on her stomach, running her palm over the soft fabric, her fingers scraping against the flattened sections between the raised material.

The rug changed four or five times during those early years. Always a new color, but the cerulean one – that was her favorite.

The last rug her mother had in the office had a beautiful Turkish design on it. It was the rug she had in her office when she died tragically that fateful night the 10th of December back in 2000.

But Olivia would never forget the chenille rug and sometimes, she found herself doodling the pattern on the corner of a post-it note.

Chapter Text


She strokes her finger over the smooth skin on the cheek of the tiny infant resting against her chest pink lips wrapped around her breast as she stares down in awe of the little girl. She moves her finger to brush over the small dip of the bridge of her nose. As her hand moves to brush over the dark hair on the top of her head, she opens her eyes to look up at her mother. Olivia finds herself smiling down at her, tears coming to her eyes.

She knows, realistically that the infant can barely make out what she’s looking at, that she’s basically a blur at this point, according to all the books she’s read, but the way her daughter is staring up at her, she almost swears that she’s studying her. There’s a sort of wisdom in the little girl’s eyes. Somehow, she manages to find her voice.

“Hey there my little Valentine.” Her daughter quits suckling for just a moment, tiny, uncoordinated fingers attempting to grip hold of something, she gives her a finger to grasp hold of. Satisfied that she’s hanging onto something, she begins drinking again, “you’re a miracle, you know.” She whispers, lowering her face to brush against her feeding infant’s face.

She gives a kiss to the little girl’s forehead, inhaling the scent of her child.

She loves this tiny human being more than she ever thought she would.

She loves the gentle slope of her nose. The dark blue eyes that she hopes will brighten up in the coming months. She loves her pink lips with the most adorable cupid’s bow and she loves her ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes. She loves how full her heart feels hanging onto her and as the infant releases her breast, she makes a move to cover herself over and lift her to pat her back gently.

“He’ll never spend a day missing you because he doesn’t know you exist.” She whispers, moving the infant on her shoulder as she burps her and then keeps her there, her cheeks pressed against Olivia’s bare shoulder, “Me on the other hand, I’ll spend every single day missing him… and missing that he’s missing you grow up. My sweet little Valentine.”

Someone knocks on the door and as it cracks open, she presses her lips into a thin smile, her dark eyes meeting those of her Captain. He walked in, holding a vase of pink flowers with a balloon attached to it, a pink balloon floating in the air proclaiming, ‘it’s a girl!’. He places the vase on the windowsill as he pads softly to crouch down, placing his hands on his knees he looks into the little girl’s face.

“She looks like her Mama.” Donald Cragen was a complete goner for that little girl the moment he laid eyes on her. Olivia smiles, her hand cupping the back of her head gently, “Hello little one. Happy Valentine’s Day.” His eyes meet his Detective’s eyes, “What’d you name her?”

Olivia kisses the back of her daughter’s head.

“Amelia Nadette Benson.” Don’s brows furrow for a moment and Olivia watches him trying to figure out where the hell she came up with that name, almost too quiet, she tells him, “Her middle name is a variation of her paternal grandmother’s name.”

Detective work.

Don reaches his finger out, lightly brushing it against the little girl’s forehead and when her eyes open and her face scrunches his eyes shoot up to look at Olivia’s.

He knows.

Chapter Text


Alexandra Cabot walked down the streets of her beloved New York City, her hands tucked snugly in the pockets of her peacoat. Her hair recently trimmed to lie just below her shoulders, she sucks in a deep breath, breathing out and watching her breath in the air. Winter had come again, and this time it felt a lot colder than it had the last time.

She sees what she’s looking for, standing up ahead staring at the courthouse. Sometimes, she misses it – fighting in the court of law. However, something she’d discovered in fighting to put the bad guys away was that the bad guys weren’t always bad guys. Sometimes, they were women who had faced the worst possible betrayal of trust there could be. The people they loved and trusted not to hurt them, had hurt them and the court of law, it let them down. Justice was blind.

“Liv?”

The woman turns on her heel, her smile brighter than Alex has seen it in a while. She’d hidden someone for Liv earlier this year, a minor. Of course, the whole experience had made her realize that maybe Olivia was reaching the breaking point. The point where she’d looked into Alex’s eyes and said ‘I could never do what you do.’ Yet, Alex found Olivia doing just that a lot lately.

It had started with a phone call in the middle of the night to her burner phone. Olivia begging her to take this girl and hide her away because they were going to force her to testify. She asked if Alex could get her out of the city for a few days and Alex, with a grin on her face, understood and met Olivia the next morning. Hiding away the girl that the State of New York wanted to testify but was a victim.

Olivia walks in her direction now, her boots making noise against the sidewalk and when she pulls her into an embrace, it’s one that Alex finds herself melting into, “Oh, Alex.”

“Liv.” It’s fond, their exchange of names, and it takes her back to a time when Olivia was more slight with chopped off hair. When she still believed in the power of the law. When Olivia would spend time with her outside of the halls of the 16th Precinct and far away from the halls of the institution that now stands resolute in the background, “How are you?”

“It’s only be a few months. C’mon, walk with me.” She motions, as they lace their arms together and Alex reaches for Oliva’s hand, intertwining their fingers, “I have something to tell you.”

Olivia seems giddy. Bright. She wonders what’s brought about this change, because Alex hasn’t seen her this happy since… “He’s back, isn’t he? I saw him on the news.”

Alex watches as Olivia pulls her bottom lip between her teeth, dark eyes shining as she nods, “Yup.”

“He was back a few months ago when you needed my help, so what –“

“We’re… exploring this, Alex.”

There it is. Olivia seems more like Olivia all of a sudden and Alex understands it all. She’s been hiding out in the place where it used to be, the love, the admiration, the trust, the comfort of her partner – and when he left, he stripped it all away but by some miracle, she looks at the woman next to her right now, and she sees it. Olivia Benson is back.

She’s back because Elliot is back. She’s back because Elliot can be hers. So why did she –

“I’m so happy for you.” Alex raises her hand and presses it against Olivia’s cold cheek. A lifetime ago, she would’ve leaned in and captured Olivia’s lip between her own. She would’ve wrapped her arms around Olivia’s shoulders and they would’ve ducked their heads close together, walked back to Olivia’s apartment and curled up next to one another on the couch, bodies facing one another while Olivia’s hand would trail down Alex’s arm and she’d pull her in at the waist, urging Alex’s leg over her thigh while her own leg went between Alex’s. A lifetime ago, they would’ve found comfort in one another after a hard case and they would end up in bed together, and in the afterglow, Olivia would play with Alex’s hair, twirling it around her finger.

The way Olivia just said that they’re exploring this – it makes Alex’s heart warm up a little.

Elliot always held the key to Olivia’s heart, and now? She could see it was back where it should be and he’d turned the key and unlocked it all. This Olivia Benson deserved so much damn happiness it made Alex’s heart beat a little faster in her chest. Could she have seen herself loving Olivia for the rest of their lives? Yes.

“You wanna go get a drink with us?” Liv asks, and Alex swears she sounds like she’s 34 again. Full of hope, of life, of limitless possibilities.

Normally, she would’ve agreed.

A lifetime ago, if they had gotten a drink together, if he had been separated and it was during the time she and Olivia had a connection, a love, a respect for one another – she would’ve seen them all together and happy and full of love. But now? Well… “Nah, I have to get back, lots to do. Laws to break. Women to save.” Alex stops, leaning in and giving Olivia a kiss on the cheek, her eyes shining with happy tears for her friend she takes a deep breath, “I hope you are both deliriously happy and remember to send me an invite.” She squeezes Olivia’s fingers in her own and then pulls her body close.

Yes, Olivia Benson’s heart had found a home, and it was in the place it used to be.

Chapter Text


“I think my son hid a secret message in this birthday card –“ Olivia hands the paper to Fin, her glasses on the edge of her nose, “But for the life of me I can’t figure out what the hell that means.”

Muncy looks up from her paperwork, “It’s your birthday? I think you’re agin’ in reverse.”

Fin shakes his head, mumbling something about the ‘damn kids, makin’ me sound like I’m John Munch’ and Olivia just stares at her for a moment, lips pressed together while her eye twitches slightly.

“It was last weekend, yeah.”

“Well, Happy Belated, Captain.” Grace offers, lifting up a bag of Cheez-It puffs and tossing one in her mouth. Joe watches her, brows arched high as he reaches for the bag and takes it out of her hands.

“Muncy, this is not that healthy.

“Who are you, Velasco, my mom?” Grace takes the bag out of his hands and sticks her hand back in, cursing when the cheese gets on her blazer sleeve. Olivia sighs heavily as she turns back to Fin.

“Well? Do you see anything?”

Fin starts laughing, nodding as he clicks his pen and scribbles something on a notecard, handing it over to Olivia who reads it and then furrows her brows, glancing between the two cards, “Oh. My. God.”

“What is it, Cap?” Velasco asks, walking closer, Olivia quickly closes the card and tucks both things closer to her chest.

“Liv’s son told her to ‘Just say yes’ to a date.” Fin laughs, dodging the card as she swipes it down towards the back of his head.

 

Chapter Text


“You love her.” Fin’s voice breaks the silence of the car as he and Elliot sit on the side of the street, watching for Camille D’Agnosio to arrive at her Condo. She’s guilty of extorting men out of money by posing as an escort. Normally, something like this would fall in the purview of Vice, but… Camille also had been accused of assaulting one of her clients recently.

“Who?” Elliot turns, confused.

“Liv.” Fin states it like it’s a fact in a case, shrugging, “I get it man.”

“Nothing’s ever happened, Fin.”

“Don’t mean you don’t want it to.”

Elliot sighs, looking out the driver’s window, “I’m married.”

“Man, you two are the worst at comin’ up with excuses. She says the same shit. It’s never ‘he’s not my type’ or ‘nah, not interested’; the both of your asses like sayin’ shit about your marriage.”

“What made you bring this up, Fin? Where is this coming from?”

“I just don’t want you jerking her around. She deserves better than that shit. She deserves to be happy to have someone to love her she deserves to allow herself to love someone so you gotta let her go so she can be happy, El.” Fin shakes his head, “I want her to be happy like you do. Woman’s meant to be a damn mom.”

“I’m not stopping her.”

“She loves you too, dumbass.” Fin rolls his eyes. “Both ya’ intuition sucks.”

Chapter Text


“I can’t believe this,” she whispers, her face inches away from his, “I can’t believe we really did that.”

Elliot’s smile grows as his thumb traces the freckles on her cheek, his leg wrapped around hers, their bodies close together beneath the sheet, “Don’t freak out on me, Benson.”

Her smile is breezy, light, and as her own hand cups his cheek she moves their lips closer together, pausing just before and waiting for him to close the distance when she pulls back, she nibbles slightly on his bottom lip and starts to laugh softly, “Stabler.”

“Yes?” He asks, eyes still closed, fingertips dancing up her bare side beneath the sheet.

“No, you called me Benson,” she whispers, “It’s Stabler.”

His eyes shoot open as he grips her ass in his hands, pulling her body against his own, “I promise to call you Stabler… if you promise to be Benson at work.” He brushes his nose against hers, “I don’t wanna lose you as my partner, Liv.”

“Did we make a mistake?” She whispers quietly, eyes glancing down at his lips as her hand plays with the fine hairs on his chest, “Sneaking off and getting married?”

“Do you think it was a mistake?” His hand rubs small circles on the smooth skin of her lower back and then over the curve of her ass, “You regret marrying me, Liv?”

She blinks, rubbing their noses together once then twice, she closes the gap between their lips as she reaches down between them her mouth opening slightly as she guided him into her for the third time that night. He kisses down her jaw and she cups the back of his head, mouth falling open as he moves.

“No. I don’t. I promise… it’s Benson at work.”

“But in the sheets?” He asks, running his hand up the middle of her back, “What are you here?”

“Your wife.”

Chapter Text


“Why the hell are you two so close?” Addison points to the front door, where Elliot had just disappeared through. He’d come over to check on her, to make sure she was doing well after what they’d seen this evening. Olivia knew Addison would understand, if she just talked to her. But she didn’t want those images in her head, and she realized how damn stupid it was.

Addison was a doctor. A neonatal surgeon. She specialized in maternal-fetal medicine and fetal surgery. She’d seen things.

“He’s my partner, Addy.” Olivia moved closer to her girlfriend. She wishes marriage were legal, she’d put a ring on Addison’s finger in a heartbeat, “You understand what it’s like working closely with people for long shifts.” Her hand comes out and lands on Addison’s arm, she squeezes, her dark eyes meeting the bright blue ones across from her, “He’s married and I’m in love with you. Relax, Addy. Please?”

“Relax? Do you realize what it looked like when I walked in? It looked like he was going to kiss you and the worst part is it looked like you wanted him to.” Her eyes are large as she yanks away. Olivia’s nostrils flare as she follows Addison into their bedroom, watching as she yanks off her pink scrub top, revealing her red lacy bra beneath. She closes the distance between them, wrapping her hand around Addison’s side, she slides it up her back, fingertips digging into Addison’s shoulder.

Relax, baby, let me take care of you.

“You swear… nothing is happening between the two of you?” Addison asks as Olivia kisses her neck, Addison’s fingers gripping the edge of Olivia’s t-shirt as she lifts it up.

“Nothing, Kitten.” Olivia whispers in Addison’s ear, resulting in a quiet purr from her lover, “tu es le seul dont je veux être proche.”

Addison laughs, her anger instantly dissolving away, “Emmène moi au lit mon amour.”

Chapter Text


He's perfect, she thinks as she sits in the chair of the Hotel room, having changed his diaper, wrapped him up tightly in the blanket he had been laying on top of. Rollins had been staring at her for the last twenty-two minutes and she didn't mind. 

Instead, she sat there, cradling this little body to her bulletproof vest and she felt the familiar ache in her chest. The want was back there, like it had been for a few years now. The belief that she was made for more than just being a cop. She wanted to be a mom. She'd been denied the opportunity so many times, she doubted she'd ever see it happen.

"Liv, you can't get attached." Amanda whispers, placing her hand on Olivia's arm. She chokes back the tears threatening to spill forth, collecting herself. She hadn't told Amanda about the negative pregnancy test in her trash can at home, or the way Brian had said he was relieved. But sitting here, looking down into these bright blue eyes staring up at her, she chokes on the possibilities lost to her; she feels the razor-sharp sting in her soul. 

"I know.

She sees a parallel universe, holding the infant closer to her as he grips hold of her finger where this might've been her child, the blue eyes almost identical to those that she'd wanted nothing more than to look into just months ago. 

Fuck. She's attached. 

Chapter Text


He sits, with his pen poised against the lined notebook page in front of him. This will be one of his final acts, and it’s one he hopes she won’t be too pissed about if she ever finds out about it. He hopes he has the strength to carry it out. Ed figures that even if the bastard never reads this letter, he can depart the Earth knowing that he said what he wanted to say…knowing what he knows about her now.

He’ll die knowing that he was able to confront the man who has always held her heart in the palm of his hand unwittingly and trampled on it when he left her. He’ll die knowing that he could say what he wanted to say to the bastard on the off chance that he ever encountered the man on the street – even if it’s just on paper. This isn’t about him though, no… this is all about her.

Maybe if he hadn’t spent earlier years being such a dick, as she’d whispered one night in the post-coital glow, he would’ve had more time with her. Things would’ve turned out differently. He might’ve held her heart in his hands – and he thinks maybe he did for a spell… it just wasn’t her whole heart.

He could sit here all night, stewing over the what-ifs… but he doesn’t have that sort of time. His thoughts are so erratic lately, he doubts he’ll even remember his name in a few weeks. That’s why it has to be tonight.

As he begins to write the man’s name at the top of the page, looping the capital E in his impeccable script that Sister Mary Thomas would’ve been proud of, his thoughts drift to her.

Even if he had spoken to her, back then, he doubts she would’ve given him the time of day. If he tried to charm her back when she was young and he was young and there could’ve been a grand courtship, a long engagement, maybe a baby or two.

He thanks God for the two-and-a-half years he had been the luckiest sonofabitch on the planet. He won the lottery and sometimes, he doesn’t even know how it really started. Short of moving in together they’d been pretty damn serious. He thinks their relationship was the only one she disclosed with One PP (Granted, she did so under duress thanks to Rafael Barba) and she could have cut and run at that point, facing the possibility of the end of her career, she hadn’t flinched. She had placed her hand on his arm and looked him in the eye and told him she wanted this, them. Even when she’d been moved to Community Affairs, a gross waste of her skills, she was adamant they had been what she wanted. Even though she lived, breathed and bled Special Victims. She was made for it.

He knows the irony of that.

He chuckles, because the lifetime in SVU is normally two years, and it seemed like Olivia’s lifetime in SVU was beyond the two years and all her relationships were only that length of time.

He’d made the mistake of mentioning the ‘R’ word to her, even though he didn’t  mean he was thinking of retiring that year, because it took two whole years from that conversation to his actual retirement… but she’d not been ready. There was still work to do, she’d told him, and she had to focus on Noah.

It was the classiest way they could’ve parted ways… and even though he’d left with a broken heart he knew the real reason behind her words. She couldn’t leave SVU because it was still… it was their place, hers and her partner’s place. It was her home. The only stable one she’d ever known and without that there to fall back into – she would be lost. He’s not upset, and he’ll love her to his last breath, and part of him thinks she’ll love him til’ hers too… but their relationship always had a shelf life because they got such a late start.

He loves his wife, she’s good, but she’ll never be Olivia Benson. No one will ever be Olivia Benson.

He understands what Brian had been bitching about while working in IAB with him now. How she’s already given her heart away to someone and whoever she’s with will never have all of her. He’d thought Brian was just bitching because he lost her, but the longer they dated, the more pillow talk they shared and the nights he’d wake up to her nightmares (the bad nights, few and far between); he understood.

As he folds up the letter into thirds, he sticks it in an envelope and checks the post-it note with the address he’d hastily scribbled down when he’d called up Tara Black earlier at IAB and asked the address. He’d trained Tara, and she’d uttered a quiet, ‘Ed, what the hell you doin’?’ into the receiver when he told her this was just one of those things he had to do. An amend he had to make.

He walks down the block, the letter tucked into his pocket as he pauses at the Mailbox and with a deep breath, he reads the address one final time.

Elliot Stabler
Via dei Banchi Nuovi 30
Piazza Navona,
Roma, Italia

Chapter Text


Brian knew better. He has a particular skill for sticking his foot into his mouth often – and the minute she had called to tell him that she was taking a pregnancy test he’d temporarily freaked out. To think that she didn’t want kids, that was a stupid assumption. He knew it could still technically happen for them… but he wasn’t meant to be a father. He was too fucked up for that sort of responsibility.

He wasn’t meant to pass on his genes. She wanted a baby.

He couldn’t be the man she needed him to be if she were pregnant. Two minutes felt like the two days he knew she was missing. Two minutes and then she said it was negative… and he’d said he was relieved. That things weren’t in a stable place for them right now and maybe it was for the best… he’d mentioned the risks and she’d immediately shut down and he knew, in that moment that their clock was ticking.

He knew he couldn’t hold her forever.

He had to release her, set her heart free. He never had it anyway… but she deserved to be a mother and he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t risk it – fucking up a kid worse than he was.

Chapter Text


 “This came to you today from New York, the return address says it’s from Ed Tucker.” Kathy held the envelope out to him, her lips pressed tightly together, he takes it out of her hand, furrowing his brows together as he walks through the apartment, pouring himself a glass of Whiskey. Whatever Ed-fucking-Tucker has to say to him in a letter seemed to call for alcohol.

He’d not heard from Ed Tucker since he’d reached out to offer the Liaison job in Italy. Two years ago.

He situates himself on the balcony, turning the glass in his fingers as the late afternoon sunlight warms his skin, an envelope sitting on the table in front of him his eyes staring at the piece of paper in front of him. The sounds drift up from the piazza below, laughter, music, people murmuring. The restaurants lining the piazza giving off aromatic smells and as his eyes drift over to the fountain he watches vendors selling their trinkets and takes a deep breath. He brings his fingers up and moves the envelope around a few times.

“You going to read it or not?” Kathy inquires, leaning against the doors. Elliot takes another deep breath and brings the old fashioned glass to his lips, tipping it back and allowing the smooth taste to wash down the back of his throat, “Might be important.”

Elliot takes a deep breath, clicking his tongue off the roof of his mouth.

“I don’t know if I wanna know what he wrote to me. We weren’t exactly friendly and this is a personal envelope.”

“Maybe think on it. You want me to put it in your drawer? Maybe revisit it later?” He turns to look at her, the way the sun hits her skin just right and the gentle blue of her eyes. He holds it up, and watches as she carries it to the bedroom. He’ll read it later.

+++

2022

“Dad, this is the last of the boxes from Rome.” Kathleen carries the brown box into the living room. She places it on the table in front of him and he tilts the box up, reaching up and scratching the stubble on his chin he thanks his second-oldest child and watches as she nods, walking away and heading into the kitchen to help her grandmother prepare dinner.

New York is always home. Sometimes, he misses the sights and smells of Rome, but this is his city. It feels nice to be around his children again, in the place he grew up, in the place where Olivia is… even if they haven’t really spoken all that much lately. She seems guarded, and he supposes he can’t hold that against her. As he begins to sift through the box, he sees it… sitting there in the corner was the envelope he never opened.

Tapping the piece of paper against his palm, he digs through the rest of the box, separating the items into two piles. Keep and trash.

Once completed, he stands up, walking into the kitchen, giving his Mama and daughter a kiss on their temples, he pours himself a glass of Whiskey and carries the letter and the alcohol out to the patio. It was a huge selling point of getting this place, the large windows allowing the light in, the enclosed courtyard, the storage locker through the passageway. It was private, despite the fact the apartments surrounding the courtyard looked over it.

He reaches in his pocket, pulling out his keys and sliding the edge of the key along the seam of the envelope, he reaches in, the pages folded in his fingers.

 

Elliot Stabler–

I know you’re probably looking at this letter and thinking, ‘what the hell could this asshole have to say to me that he’s writing me while half-a-world away’? To be honest, I don’t know what the hell I’m thinking much anymore… I’m dying.

He pauses, he knew he hadn’t seen Ed Tucker around since returning to New York… he just assumed that the bastard had retired and faded into obscurity. He chuckles a little at the thought of Ed Tucker sitting somewhere on a boardwalk with a fishing pole. Did the prick like to fish? He’d never know.

Brain cancer. Probably not going to remember my own damn name in a few weeks, but that’s not why I’m writing to you. Nah, I’m writing to you because here, in the impending days or weeks leading up to the truth of my own mortality, I find myself examining the past and considering the people who I might’ve unknowingly wronged, the people I loved, the people I’ll always love, and the people I need to apologize to because I know I’ve wronged.

I know, you’re probably pissed off at me still for the whole anger management thing – knowing now what I know about you and about your former partner I realize that it was misguided. My job, as it were, was to ensure that crooked cops were weeded out and that justice was appropriately carried out. I know that things aren’t always black and white.

We were both raised in an Irish Catholic household where our duties and responsibilities were always bigger than our wants and needs. It was considered selfish to want things. Despite that, we still want things. We want the people we love to be well when we are no longer around. We want people we shouldn’t want, and then we confess that we want them and get forgiven for it. We put our faith in a power we cannot see but we have the power to believe in that faith because we are free.

I apologize if this doesn’t make sense to you.

Olivia Benson made me believe in a lot of things, in the recent years. She made me believe in the power of forgiveness, second chances, grace. She made me compromise some of my own beliefs because her convictions – her beliefs in what is right and what is wrong makes a whole hell of a lot more sense than anything I’ve ever been taught. I know you know what I’m talking about, because the thirteen years you two were partners you were the bane of my existence.

I tried to make things work with her, when she gave me the time of day.

Elliot pauses, the letter in his hands as he stares at the Whiskey on the table.

Ed died.”

He feels his throat closing, but forces himself to continue reading.

 

And for a time she was happy, I think. She’s a hell of a woman and I know she would never have allowed you to love her how she wishes you could love her – but she gets these faraway looks in her eyes sometimes. She could be standing in Central Park and her eyes will fall on a park bench in the distance and she’ll falter for just a second. It took her a half a year to tell me finally why she does that.

“We’re all haunted by what-ifs and could’a beens, Ed. You know what I’ve figured out? Maybe those moments aren’t meant to be ours ever.”

That’s what she told me.

She dated Brian Cassidy for a while and she wanted to have kids. She has a son, and he’s amazing. The kid is bright, beautiful, all the best parts of her even though he doesn’t share an ounce of her DNA. She’s meant to be a mother. She’s meant to have someone love her and walk next to her that understands her. But the thing about that is she’d only be settling. I know, deep down that the reason you walked away was because you love her. You always loved her, it’s why you’d defend her, go to bat for her, step in front of a bullet and take it for her. Why you’d always choose her above everyone. Hell, I’d do the exact same.

You left her because you didn’t want to sully your memory of her and you didn’t want to blow up your marriage because your faith, much like my own, drives your decisions. She wouldn’t let you do that anyway…Your guilt, much like mine, lurks in the darkest shadows.

Which is why I know you probably feel like shit for not talking to her. I’m asking you to reach out to her, don’t give up on her and let her decide what she wants. I’m not saying cheat on your wife, but what I am telling you, Stabler, is that it’s always meant to be you. She can only give all of herself to the person who always had all of her. She’s a pain in the ass, she has a lot of bad habits – but she loves you still. Even now. Despite the fact you two never learned one another like I learned her. If she ever finds out I told you any of this and I’m still alive, she’ll probably shoot me. But, chances are by the time you get this letter, I’ll be dead. You see, I’m dying, Stabler.

What I’m asking you to do is reach out to her. Talk to her. And on the off chance that you get the opportunity to love her back, please PLEASE do it. She deserves that once-in-a-lifetime kind of love.

The kind of love she held for you even in her darkest hours. She doesn’t need parallel universes (my step-sons love the Avengers, and the idea is intriguing, but I think whatever it is you two had was something star-crossed), she needs this universe.

 She doesn’t need anyone to save her, but she needs someone who sees her and will let her crash into them. Someone who puts her on a pedestal and knows when to push all her buttons.

It’s completely unfair to her that she would fall for you when you were unavailable to her and I got to love her but she’d given her heart to someone else.

I wish I could’ve been you, because you’re the luckiest sonofabitch on the planet, even if you never knew it until just now.

Reach out to her. Mend the bridges. Give her as much of yourself as you can because she’s already given you all she has to offer without compromising her beliefs. Just ask any of us poor schmucks that got her in the aftermath.

- Ed

Elliot pulls out his phone, his finger hovering over her name, he lets his thumb hit the call button.

 

Chapter Text


“Come with me, Liv.” Nick holds his hand down, as Olivia stares at it, her eyes traveling from the tips of his fingers up to his eyes, his boyish grin full of mischief, “trust me.”

“My mom said not to trust men when they say ‘trust me’, and I think I see why.”

“C’mon, I promise I’m not going to get you in trouble.” Nick tilts his head towards the entrance of the squad room. Olivia glances around, it’s late at night and there’s practically no one else around. She tilts her head back as she blows out a breath, pushing back from her desk she reaches for his hand.

“Where are we going?” She asks as they pass by a few people with Party hats on. It’s New Year’s Eve and she’s got nowhere better to be, “Nick?”

“C’mon, there’s this great place we can go up on the roof.”

“I’ve been to the roof, it’s not that exciting.” Lies. She used to come here with Elliot all the time. They climb the steps and when he pushes the door open, the gust of cold air hits her face, “Wow, it got chilly.” She wraps her arms around herself as they step to the edge. Nick glances down at his watch, hitting the small button on the side to illuminate the face.

“Now, listen. It’s two minutes til’ midnight, Benson. You know as well as I do that on New Year’s people set off fireworks and there’s the sounds that drift all over the city from Times Square. You’ve had a pretty shitty year and I think you should… shout, from the roof top, when a firework explodes the most obscene thing you wanna get rid of.” Nick smiles at her, looking down at his clock again, she furrows her brows.

He glances around, smiling as he shows her the wrist watch. “Here we go, Benson. 5… 4… 3… 2… 1.”

Just as a firework explodes, she releases a yell and Nick watches her, smiling as she finishes as the crackle of the firework fades and another explodes. After two minutes, she turns to look at her new partner, and for the first time in months, she feels a little bit more free.

“Thanks.” She takes a breath, Nick nods.

“Sometimes, it helps to curse from the roof top where no one can hear you.” He shrugs.

Chapter Text


“Here’s one, mom.” Noah sits at the bar between the kitchen and living room, looking for quotes for his Art assignment. They had to find fourteen quotes about love that they wanted to write in calligraphy for Valentine’s Day. When he’d told her this assignment, initially, Olivia had bristled uncomfortably. Then, the more she thought about it, the more she realized that it wasn’t that bad, and it might be interesting to see how well he does (or doesn’t do).

“What’s that one?” She asks, turning and throwing her arm over the back of the couch, wiggling her toes against the edge of the coffee table while trying not to drop any of the papers out of the folder open in her lap. She usually tries not to do too much work at night while her son is awake, but this case is complicated, and she needs to re-read all the statements a couple of times just to verify she has all the facts memorized.

Usually, she reads a book while he’s doing his homework if she manages to make it home early enough.

“If you love something, set it free. If it comes back it’s yours, if it doesn’t then it was never meant to be.” Noah reads, his blue eyes meeting her dark ones in the small space between. Olivia swallows nervously, her heart racing. Her eyes are wide as she nods, quietly, “Mom? You okay? You look a little sick.”

“Thanks for that.” She mumbles, “No, I’m good, Noah.” She smiles politely at her son, “It’s a good quote.” She nods, biting her bottom lip. “Love coming back and all that…”

Noah’s brows furrow in a hysterical mimicry of her own and she takes a deep breath.

“Have you ever had love come back?”

Olivia blinks, eyes frozen on her son.

“I – “

Yes. It just did. She thinks.

The thing is, she’s scared shitless and she doesn’t know if that’s what this is.

Chapter Text


“El, have you seen the remote control that was in the video room?” Olivia stands in the doorway, her hand braced against the wall as she glances over her shoulder towards the door, making sure no one goes into the den of hell.

“Uh, you had it last, Liv.” Elliot looks up from his paperwork and meets her eyes, nothing the way her brows have risen further up her forehead as her eyes glance back at the door.

“Could you, I don’t know… maybe come look for it?” She asks, exasperated. No one ever wanted to watch the shit they had to watch in this unit, in fact, it was always a ‘who’s going to draw the short straw’ task amongst everyone in the unit. Today, Olivia had drawn the short straw.

Sighing heavily, Elliot pushes away from the desk and makes his way over to the doorway where Olivia is standing, brushing his shoulder against hers as he walks by.

Olivia rolls her eyes, throwing her hands in the air and then dropping them to her side, following after him and earning a laugh from the other people dwelling in the squad room.

The moment the door shuts to the video room, she finds herself caged in-between his body and the wall. Her eyes studying him carefully as her breath catches in a sharp and achingly sudden way, she can feel the warm puffs of his breath against her cheek and when his hand comes up to cup the side of her face, she has to fight against the urge to close her eyes. She can’t look away from this, not when he’s this close.

His lips curl into a smile as he holds something up between the two of them… the damn remote control.

Chapter Text


“We really going to do this?” She looks over at him, eyes wide with wonder as he smiles gently at her, easing her anxiety almost immediately, “Are we really gonna walk in there and… do this.

He laughs now, and part of her wants to be offended that he’s laughing but the other part of her knows that he’s only laughing because she’s being ridiculous. Just as quickly as he starts laughing, he schools his expression and stops, abruptly. “We’ve already done this – we just have to walk in there and… own up to it… before someone else tells them.”

Right. Someone else.

Ten weeks ago, after a particularly bad case they’d gone out for a few shots and that turned into a few more than it should have. She’d suggested he crash on her couch because there was no way he could make it back to Queens in his inebriated state. He’d accepted, told Kathy he was going to stay in the city and then practically passed out on the couch. Around 3 am, he’d gotten up to get a glass of water and that’s where a gross misstep happened. They’d both gotten up at the same time and collided into one another in the middle of the kitchen.

At first, they’d been startled, finding themselves sprawled out on the kitchen floor and tangled in one another. They’d begun laughing, before she’d made an attempt to get up and had fallen back down, this time their faces inches from one another. The proximity was too much and suddenly the whole room went silent as they just looked at one another – then, he’d reached up and run his thumb over her bottom lip. She’d parted them, at the pressure on the tender skin and then… it happened… they crossed all the lines in a split-second. Teeth, lips, tongues, skin… hands everywhere…it was amazing, it was transcendental… it happened on the damn kitchen floor – and when it was over, they agreed that it never happened.

He was married. She was his partner. They didn’t want to lose it. So, she’d sent him home and they’d worked together and everything was good until… two weeks ago when she woke up feeling like she’d been hit by a Semi. Fatigue, acid reflux, the inability to hold anything down – she thought, since it was flu season that she’d gotten her yearly bout of it. No big deal. No harm, no foul.

One week ago, she still wasn’t better – she took frequent naps, threw up all day long, and was existing on saltines and ginger ale. When she could manage to eat them.

“Jesus, Liv. You’ve never been this sick a week after the flu.” Elliot had remarked, tossing a sleeve of saltines on the top of her desk, “You sure that’s what it is? Have you gone to the doctor? Maybe you have something else.”

With her head resting on her desk, she’d looked up at him through her thick lashes and groaned, “I don’t wanna go to the doctor. What are they going to tell me?”

“To get rest.” Elliot shook his head, “C’mon, I’m taking you to Urgent Care.”

“I don’t wanna go to Urgent Care.” She mumbles, pressing her forehead into her forearm.

“Liv, I’m taking you to the Hospital then.”

She groans, pushing herself away from her chair, shooting a glare at John and Fin who seem to find this whole thing hysterical. She was never one of the best patients on earth, that’s a fact she couldn’t refute.

“Fine.” She mumbles, “God, they’re just going to steal all my blood and then I’ll pass out anyway because I’m barely standing now.”

Elliot pauses as he slides her jacket over her shoulders and she pushes her hair out of the way. She hears the way his breath hitches and turns to look at him, her lips pale and skin feeling clammy. When her eyes meet his, she sees how wide they look as his gaze quickly travels to her stomach and then back to her face. Her breath hitches this time and she shakes her head slightly.

Liv.”

“Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.” She hisses. “Let’s… go.” She motions to the door and together, they make their way out of the squad room. Once outside, he grabs her by the arm and steers her to their car, opening the door and getting her in the passenger seat, closing the door behind her. Once he slides into the driver’s seat, he turns to face her. She meets his eyes and swallows the bile rising in her throat, “I know what you’re thinking.”

“We weren’t exactly careful, Olivia.”

“We were caught in the moment.” She mumbles, turning away from him.

“Yeah, well…”

“Elliot, if I am – “

“We’ll take it a step at a time.”

“There is no we, you’re still married. God, I’m a walking fucking cliché.”

“Stop freaking out, Olivia. You don’t know –“

“All the signs point to a big fucking ad over Broadway that says ‘Hell yes you are’, Elliot, how the fuck am I supposed to face your wife… your kids? I’m not going to be responsible for the collapse of your marriage. God, I really fucked up.”

He clenches his hands around the wheel, “This isn’t only on you, Olivia. It’s on me. I should take responsibility for my actions too… if you are, we’ll talk about what your options are. Okay?”

“God, if I am, Elliot… everyone is going to know. They’re going to assume that we’ve been… for years. Leave it to you to knock someone up in one go.” He smiles at her for this, “Seriously? Asshole.”

“For what it’s worth… I don’t regret it.”

“That makes me feel so much fucking better.” She rests her head against the glass, “We got caught in the moment, we fucked on my kitchen floor and now there’s a chance we have a bastard child from our lapsed moment of judgement.”

 

Chapter Text


It sits on the counter, unassuming enough… just a scrap of paper with black ink scribbled across the top. Words, hastily written by the dim light above the stove. She would never have the nerve to send it, or drop it off to him, so it’d probably go into the shredder in the morning.

Words written in anger and grief. Disposable words that would cease to exist in just a while but she had to get out of her heart and off her mind so she could actually get a decent night’s sleep. Covering her face with her hands, she turns away from it. The truth, finally out. Her eyes burning into the paper, etching the truth into her mind’s eye.

Dear Elliot,

Fuck your parallel universes. Some of us only get this one. And in this one? I loved you, once upon a time, and you left me… just like everyone else.

- Olivia

Despite that fact, I love you still.

Yeah, she’ll shred it in the morning.

Chapter Text


If anyone with the NYPD were to walk into the apartment right now, they’d think they had walked into a crime scene. The dining room table covered in plates with food half-eaten from dinner. Two glasses of wine, barely touched; forks and knives askew atop the plates with food on them. Two salad bowls with wilted lettuce and Italian dressing sitting in the bottom, both dining chairs on their sides.

If a detective were to talk into the apartment now, they’d find a trail of destruction, leading out of the front room, clothing discarded down the hall, picture frames in all states of disarray, some on the floor. Broken glass and wooden frames – a potted plant in the hall on its side. But then, they’d walk into the bedroom and find that while the front of the apartment had things unfinished, unkempt and completely wrecked, that wasn’t the case here.

No, the thing they’d find in the bedroom would soften anyone who laid eyes on it. Two bodies, tucked beneath the covers, a naked leg wrapped around a pair of strong, masculine legs, a halo of brown hair spread all over the pillow and a hand resting on a chest, feeling the steady beating of a heart beneath the palm of her hand.

The scene in the bedroom was one that signified things that new beginnings were just the finished product of things that had been once unfinished.