Disclaimer: I do own Law & Order SVU and gladly leave them to the people that really do own them, the people with lawyers.

Author's Note: My first SVU vignette. Post "Control". I must say I had less difficulty writing this than I expected. I hope to continue writing for this fandom if the response is good, so all comments are appreciated. This story is inspired in part by the following verse.

Well I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door

-- Dido, "White Flag"

The White Flag
By Goldberry

She was tired. Bone weary really. Every muscle ached as if she had become some human punching bag. Maybe she had. Her eyes hurt as well, colors shifting in her vision if she blinked too often. It felt like the end of everything, the curtain call. Good night, sweet prince, see ya tomorrow. The End of Olivia. It wasn't, as her partner had so delicately reminded her, but it sure as hell felt like it.

Tired. She was so tired of making choices that decided other people's lives. She couldn't do it anymore. What right did she have to judge anyone anyway? What made her so special? A Shield? The word Detective in front of her name? A 9mm in her hip holster?

Whatever it was, she didn't want it anymore. Didn't want the burden. It was heavy, too heavy sometimes.

And it would happen again.

Once more she would be responsible for ruining someone's life, for taking something away, just like her birth had destroyed her mother.

Olivia was tired. Bone weary really. As she stood vacantly on the street, staring up at the semi-clear sky trying desperately to see a star, she felt very hollow. Drained. She had made a mistake but, as Elliot had put it, she should get over it. Only she couldn't. She thought he would have known by now that every time she screwed up it hurt just a little bit more, made the pain just a little bit sharper. She wasn't perfect, far from it, but she wanted to be. It would be so much easier if she was.

No one would get hurt.

Damn it, she really was too sensitive for this job. What she been thinking, joining the SVU? She had wanted to make things right, for herself and those just like her, but she had only subjected more and more people to the very things she had been trying to protect them from. Did she even have a clue what she was doing anymore?

Yes, you do.

It was Elliot's voice that drifted through her head and she had to stop herself from looking around to see if he had finally found her. Once she realized it was only her conscience, she laughed harshly. Even when she was away from him, he was still with her. Inescapable and all too perceptive for his own good. She couldn't even have a self-pity moment without feeling him nearby.

Rubbing at her eyes, she decided the hell with it, having a conversation with yourself wasn't all that crazy. Munch did it all the time.

What am I doing then?

Helping people.

She frowned. No, I'm not.

Olivia, please. You know better. One mistake means nothing against the hundreds of other women you have saved. Don't make yourself into a martyr. It doesn't suit you.

There was a pause.

You've been through enough. Let it go.

"You've punished yourself enough."

She jumped at the very real sound of her Elliot's voice, turning quickly to regard her partner who stood not five feet away watching the sky as she had been. Feeling her gaze, he looked away from the misty moon to consider her, his face devoid of accusation or anger. He looked only…tired.

Bone weary really.

To her immense horror and embarrassment, she felt the prickling of tears and had to turn away slightly to regain herself. Elliot really shouldn't be so gentle with her. She liked it better when he yelled at her, then she could yell back. But when he looked at her like that, with concern and worry, she suddenly felt very vulnerable, as if he were seeing in her things she wasn't ready to show him. As if he wanted to comfort her.

Footsteps heralded his approach. "Liv, come on." His voice was soft and low as he placed a hand protectively on her back. "Let's go home. We could all use some sleep."

He was taking the white flag from her again, his words unraveling her conviction in her lack of self worth. He knew exactly what he was doing too, as he walked with her down the street, the darkness keeping them close. He never let her surrender, and though this sometimes made her angry, mostly she was just grateful that no matter how bad it got, Elliot wouldn't let her give up and walk away. Times could be tough and would be again, but she wasn't alone. Not alone.

Just tired.

She yawned. "Better set your alarm, Elliot. I'll see you bright and early."

Elliot smiled.