She'd thought about this moment more times than her consciousness should have allowed. But she never thought she would be here. In a bar. Their bar. 7 years later. Tucked into the crevice of a booth, palming her glass of bourbon, her fingertips trailing across liquid frost, her chest panging with uncertainty, nerves, apprehension as to whether she should have even responded, let alone come.

It had been a text message from him with one simple sentence.

"Can we meet?"

Her phone had lit up beside her beside two nights prior at 1:24am, Noah was asleep in the next room as she sat up, clasping the device in her hand, her foggy eyes scanning the request – the question, the suggestion, her mind confused as she reached for her glasses, no part of her able reconcile the name that hovered above.

Elliot Stabler.

It was as if all the air had expelled from her body.

She hadn't deleted his number.

After all these years it was still housed between departed colleagues and romantic disappointments. Ed, Elliot, Ellis.. She had nearly hit his name by accident when scrolling through her phone in a rush once. And she had thought about it one night – deleting it entirely. It wasn't long after Lewis that her shaking hand hovered above the red button, long-term, irreversible relief right there at her fingertips. Her watery eyes desperate for finality, for closure because if he didn't come for her then, he never would.

But she didn't, she left him there.

Like a past life memory, preserving his eerie presence like a tattered, faded scrapbook page collecting dust in her mothers attic. She knew there would be repercussions for holding onto him like this and it seemed now was one of them.

She had clicked out of the message screen, dismissing his ill-placed request, tossing the phone back on her bedside table and closing her tired eyes. Maybe if slept through the night she could wake up and it would be a new dawn, a new day.

The next morning around the 4pm mark he'd sent another.

"Please Liv.. it's important."

Her eyes had narrowed in on that one, her fingers curling over her device as Rollins hovered at her office door. The tone of his message, a familiar ache in her throat, one she had thought she had long since extinguished, one that bared no place in her life anymore.

"So we letting him go?" Rollin's questioned, her silence referring the perp they had in interrogation, having not enough to withhold him.

Olivia looked up from her phone, placing it softly on the desk before she cleared her throat.

"Yeah Rollins.. we're letting him go," she whispered through a tired breath.

Rollin's lingered momentarily, aware something was off but knowing better than to ask. The parallels of her statement had not escaped Olivia. She knew it, like a sign from the heavens that this would be the catalyst to her removing him completely. That final nail in the coffin of their past, to close a chapter she should have long shelved years ago.

But when she got home that night after a long day, Noah sleeping soundly, her eyes traced the remnants of bourbon coated ice while her fingers teased the home button of the phone.

No matter how hard she tried she couldn't deny that part of her - of them, that chord that never truly severed even though she had thought it had. Nostalgia, curiosity and an unrelenting dormant ache was the tipping point. Every fiber of her being screaming at her not to do it as she opened up his message and sent her reply.