Disclaimer: Yeah, yeah, yeah, not mine – I know… it's almost as shocking as finding out I didn't write Harry Potter either. Or depressing… not sure which.

Rating: PG

Category: Post-ep, E/O friendship

Spoilers: Post-ep for the ep where Elliot and Olivia stage a "fight" to get the killer to confess… from the end of Season 5 – I'm horrible with ep titles, sorry.

Author: Traci

Summary: After a tough interrogation in which Elliot needed to lay in hard to Olivia to catch the killer, Cragen sends them out on a long lunch to work things out.

Too Real

Olivia discreetly wiped away her tears as the officers led Emma out of the interrogation room.

"You okay?"

She looked up from her seat to find her partner's blue eyes full of concern so she gave him a small smile. "I'm fine. We got her."

Cragen stood in the doorway. "Take a long lunch," was all he said before heading back to his office.

Elliot stepped back and let Olivia leave first. Their 'fight' had all been an act yet it had felt real. Judging by the tears in Olivia's eyes during the interrogation, he realized she had felt that too. "Where do you want to go?" he asked holding the building door open for her.

She shrugged. "It's a nice day out. Why not grab something and head to the park."


They walked about two blocks in silence, stopped at one of the street vendors then found a shaded spot in a nearby park.

"Liv, I… I'm sorry if I went overboard back there."

Her brown eyes searched his before looking away. "You didn't."

Elliot put down his food then took hers from her hands. "Then what has you so upset?"

"It's nothing," she stated. "Now, may I please eat my lunch?"

"Not until you talk to me."

"Elliot, I already told you, it's nothing. It was just a bit draining having to put on that act for her."

He hesitated for a moment before handing her lunch back to her. They ate in silence. Tense, unbearable silence.

After taking his last bite of Polish sausage, Elliot softly said, "It felt a little too real to me, too."

Olivia glanced at him and took a deep breath. "Sometimes it scares me how well you know me."

He smiled at her.

"It wasn't what we said to each other. It was… it just made me realize…" She sighed. "It made me realize how close we really are and if we ever did fight like that for real I… Elliot, I have no one else to turn to. You'd be the one I'd need to call and…" She smiled dryly. "I'm rambling."

Wrapping his arms around her, he pulled her close on the park bench. "You're not going to lose me."

"In this job don't make promises you can't keep," she whispered, hugging him a little tighter.

Elliot pulled back and found her eyes with his own. "You're family, Liv. How many times have we gotten on each other's nerves whether due to lack of sleep or stress or pride? We've had fights but we always work them out."

"You're right. I'm just being silly." She let go of him and sat back against the bench once more.

Suddenly it dawned on Elliot. "You're lying, Liv."


He sat forward a bit so as to see her better. "It was what I said." When she said nothing, he continued. "Talking down to you like that. Liv, I'm so sorry, I didn't even think…"

"Elliot, what are you talking about?"

"It reminded you of how your mother used to talk to you, didn't it?"

Her mouth opened but no sound emerged. Tears welled up in her eyes and she turned away from him. "I never told you my mother would put me down."

"No. But knowing what I do about her…" He reached out and touched her arm. "Why didn't you say something when we came up with the idea?"

Wiping away her tears, she looked at him. "We needed to get her. We needed to make her confess and that was the only scenario that had a chance of working."

"But it shouldn't be at the cost of your feelings."

"Sometimes it's the only way." She paused and looked at her watch. "We should probably get back."

As they stood up, Elliot once again hugged her. "You have got to be the strongest person I know." Letting her go, he held her face in his hands. "I'm proud to be able to not only call you my partner but also my friend."

She smiled and gently pulled away. "You keep that up and I'm going to expect compliments like that everyday," she laughed.

"I supposed that could get a little old after awhile," he teased as they walked back towards the precinct. "Besides, can't have you getting a big ego on me."

Cragen looked out his office door and smiled when he heard the two detectives laughing as they returned to their desks. It was rare to find two partners who worked so well together and he was darned if he was going to let a little 'play acting' interfere with that. His phone rang and within moments he was handing them yet another assignment. As Elliot tossed Olivia's coat at her, Cragen held back a smile.

"Hey, Liv, I think it's your turn to buy the coffee for stakeout," Elliot said as he followed her out the door.

"Nice try, Stabler. I got it yesterday for breakfast," she shot back.

John Munch walked over to Cragen. "Did you ever wonder what would have happened if they had met before Elliot was married?"

"All the time, John. All the time." Turning to the detective, he said, "You and Fin are due in court this afternoon, don't forget."

"Wouldn't dream of it," he muttered as he returned to the stack of files on his desk.

The End