Disclaimer: Guess what? I don't own any of it. Wow! Big surprise!
Some Warnings to the Morally Impaired: Spoilers for Season 6, episode 'Doubt'! If you haven't seen it and would really, really not like to get some Stabler goodies spoiled, you should leave.
E/O. E/K shippers, no offense, but your numbers are dwindling and your time has come. Even Herr Wolf has seen that, as reflected by the episode mentioned above. Prepare to meet thy Maker! ;p Just joking.
Smut included! If you dun like, dun read.
Notes: I thought long and hard about doing a sequel to Never Again and I'm glad I did because if I had written it earlier, than I wouldn't have had the benefit of seeing that latest episode, 'Doubt', and being able to set this fic after it. So, yes, this is a sequel. I would suggest you read the first before this one, but if you don't, this one'll still make sense.
From Benson's POV this time around and I do some tense switching.
I realize that Stabler taking time off to deal with his divorce is a little OOC because he's hardcore dedicated to his job, but give me a little leeway here, okay?
And now, let's take a one-way flight into E/O AU Land, shall we? Please fasten your seatbelts and be sure to keep your tray in an upright and secure position. Kleenex will be available throughout the ride and drinks will be served throughout the flight as well as shoulders to cry on afterwards for those of you in need of consolation. Thank you for choosing E/O Airlines and we hope you have a safe and enjoyable flight.
Never Say Never Again
This can never happen again.
Those words haunt me.
Sometimes I wake up in the morning to find my hand reaching out, clutching empty air as it searches for something lost. I wake up lonely, even when I wake up not alone. I can't help it; it's not a loneliness of the mind and body but one of the heart and soul.
Sometimes I dream and when I dream I remember the one time I found a place where that emptiness was filled. It's a hazy, half-remembered dream, full of sweat and heavy breathing, moments I now blush to recall. It was a perfect time though, that much is true.
I was drunk, that is also true. But drinking just loosens inhibitions, allows one to express what they truly feel without fear. Does that change how we felt? How I feel now? How I long sometimes to once more feel your rough touch, smooth as silk? And how I wonder if this is what your wife feels like when you're working a heavy case and don't come home for days on end?
And I also can't help but wonder sometimes: how do you feel about me? Do you think about what happened as often as I do? Have you confessed to your priest your sins? Or this treasured memory still our secret? If you have confessed, do you feel absolved of it? Or does your body still burn every time you look at me?
That night, I pushed you away so fast because I was afraid. Afraid of the consequences, afraid of what we had done, but most of all, I was afraid of you. I won't let men get close to me. It hurts too much. But what I've come to realize is that, whether or not I like it or not, you're already closer to me than any other man I've ever known. And I've come to terms with that fact.
Drunk I might have been, but what I might have said, or wanted to say but didn't, I meant. And I still do.
Except… I did lie once.
This can never happen again.
Those are the words I said to him after that night that we slept together. Such a lie.
Or would what we did be better termed 'made love'?
I don't know. Ever since that night, I've been so confused about our relationship. What transpired never affects our jobs since it's easy to forget while chasing down the perps or when faced with broken victims who have become so shattered by what has happened to them that their faces are blank because they have no emotions left to show. But after work it shows.
Whenever we go out for drinks with Munch and Fin, one of us always makes sure to have an excuse to leave first so we never have to leave together and risk a repeat of that night. Munch and Fin are suspicious, I can tell, but so far they haven't mentioned anything to me or, thank god, Cragen. After my little sleepover with Brian, the captain made a point of discreetly reminding me that messing around with guys in the unit was not acceptable, not to mention against policy. I can only imagine how he'd react if he found out about what Elliot and I had done. Elliot's both my partner and a married man. Well, at least one of those won't be applicable in a few more weeks. How could she leave him? What was she thinking? He can't survive without her or the kids. Elliot without a family is like an ocean without water. It simply can't exist that way. He'll either have a breakdown or he'll start a new family.
At this thought, I try to crush that insane little flame of hope burning in my chest. I'm not the family type and Elliot and I? We wouldn't last very long together, if long at all. I'm ashamed that I'm thinking about it at all.
If I believed all of this though, then why did my heart do back flips when I opened my door and found Elliot standing on my doorstep, his clothes disheveled and more than a day's worth of stubble covering his chin?
"You look like hell," were the first words to come out of my mouth but it was the truth. He looked like he hadn't slept in days and my guess would be that he hadn't. He had taken a couple of days off, to deal with the divorce, and it looked like he wasn't dealing with it well.
"Can I come in?" he asked and I quickly stepped aside and let him past.
"You want to freshen up, El?" I asked kindly.
He looked at me, as though only just then comprehending the fact that he could, at the moment, be described as 'less than presentable.' "Yeah, that'd be nice," he replied and walked over to the bathroom, shutting himself in. I hurried into the kitchen and started brewing a quick pot of coffee. God knew he looked like he really needed a cup.
He came out of the bathroom some ten minutes later, the stubble gone from his face and his appearance somewhat improved. I surmised that he had located one of my spare razors and used it. "Better?" he asked, one of his small smiles on his face.
I smiled back, glad to see that he at least still had his sense of humor intact to some degree. "Definitely. Coffee?" I offered the cup to him and he gratefully accepted it, cradling it between his fingers as though to draw out the warmth from it into his soul.
Watching him through the steam rising from my own cup, I reflected to myself on how messed up my relationships have been. That fling with Brian, dating the reporter who wanted to play-act a rapist, Jeff York who was secretly gay, and, of course, my relationship with Elliot Stabler, a married man and my partner. All of them were, or in Elliot's case are, nothing close to the stereotypical relationships between men and women. It's all like some insane cosmic joke that's got everyone laughing but me.
I realized that how we were standing in comradely silence in my kitchen, our untouched coffee cups warming our hands, could go on for the night. I finally brought myself to break the silence, asking in a quiet tone, "What's the matter?"
He was silent for a moment. He merely stood, staring down into his cup of black coffee. Then he replied, in a tone as equally quiet as my own, "Kathy left." He stated it although I already knew it. It was a statement of despair, a plea for understanding. The whole divorce thing still had him really shook up. He started talking again and I could hear the raw emotion that he was choking back, the tears that were hidden behind his eyes. "I couldn't stand to be at home. There's pictures everyone of her and the kids. And you know? I didn't realize it before, but a lot of those pictures are missing me. And not because I was the one taking them."
"Elliot, it's not your fault-" I started, but he cut me off.
"Liv, it is my fault though. I was never there for her or the kids. I was always gone, chasing down the bad guys, trying in my way to keep them safe. It didn't work though… all of this time I was protecting them from strangers when I should have been protecting them from me. I was the one who hurt them."
"El, it isn't your fault. Plenty of other detectives and cops have wives who can handle their job, handle their hours. Kathy couldn't. Nothing is wrong with you. You love her." It cost me to say the last part, to acknowledge to myself as well as to him that he had feelings for her. It was silly since she was his wife, but I suppose I had somehow along the line forgotten the love part of their marriage.
"But it's not enough for her," he whispered, the steam from the coffee curling and creeping its way up his face.
"If love isn't enough for her, then she doesn't deserve you." I don't know where the words came from, they just bubbled up and were out and hanging before I had any chance to consider their implications.
He looked up from the coffee and looked deep into my eyes. "Liv…" His hands drifted down to the table as he set the cup down and with one trembling hand, he reached out and traced the line of my jaw with his fingers. I couldn't help but let my eyes flutter close and savor the feeling of his skin against my own. My own coffee cup was lowered to the table and my hands, seemingly of their own accord, flickered up to grasp his and hold it to my cheek. "Olivia…" he whispered and my name on his lips was like a prayer.
I felt my control beginning to slip and I desperately clawed for purchase on the slippery slope of reason that I found myself sliding down. "Elliot…" I choked out his name, opening my chocolate eyes to gaze into his mesmerizing clear blue ones. "We can't." My face was flushing from the tactile contact of his hand as I felt my body begin its inevitable betrayal.
"That night… you said, 'this can never happen again.'" Elliot reminded me and his eyes seeming almost mocking. "Admit it, Liv." His cold icy eyes burned through my mind and I became lost in their depths. "You lied."
To hear my own thoughts echoed by his voice broke me. Staring into his eyes, I finally recognized his need for human warmth and the living consolation of another body. I was reminded of how I had felt that night weeks ago and how he had given himself to me in an effort to ease my pain and consol me. Who was I to deny the same to him? Did I really need such a reason to give myself to him? He already possessed my every thought. Allowing him to possess my body was only one more tiny step forward.
Choking back a sob, I gave in and collapsed against him, murmuring his name as we frantically kissed in an effort to stave off our emotional wounds. His mouth tasted slightly sour, like he had been drinking, but I ignored it. He wasn't one to drink and it was probably just a beer he had had earlier in the day. Besides, I learned a long time ago that life wasn't like some cheap romance novel where your lover's mouth always tasted of honey and exotic spices.
I pressed my body close to his as we kissed, feeling the hard muscles of his abdomen crushed against my firm breasts and his hardening length against my leg. We stumbled backwards, our hands roaming over each other's bodies and our mouths refusing to untangle although our lungs were burning in desperation. My head felt light and airy and I barely noticed when the back of his legs bumped against my couch and he went tumbling back hard. Stretched out the length of the couch, the sight of him was irresistible and I crashed down on top of him, draping my body over his as I worked to unbutton his shirt while he sucked lightly at my neck. "You better not give me any hickies, El," I warned him in a low tone. Speaking to break the passionate silence that had existed seemed almost like a crime but I continued, needing to put into words what was happening lest it slip away somehow, "I wouldn't want to explain how I got those at work." I felt him laugh into my neck as his smile was pressed against my skin. It was nice to know that he could still laugh. Nicer yet to know that I was the one who had brought that laughter to his voice.
Together, we managed to free him of his shirt and then his chest was mine to explore with my hands and mouth. My fingers rippled over his impressive muscles while I kissed and sucked at the buffet of exposed flesh that lay before me. As my fingers were racing over his skin, so my mind was racing through my thoughts where the small rational portion screamed in protest. What was I doing? Was I insane? He was still a married man, technically, and this, this was Elliot Stabler! My partner and friend!
You've done this with him once before, Olivia, I mentally chided myself. Nothing new. Get a grip on it.
Determined to do just that, I sat up, straddling his thighs, and began to work at undoing his belt while his thick fingers slipped up under my shirt and caressed the skin hidden underneath. Electric tingles ran all over my body and I felt grounded to earth only by those two hands on my bare skin. Giving up on the belt, I allowed him to lift my shirt off and over my head and then he quickly undid my bra, flinging that to floor along with our other discarded articles of clothing. He reached out and allowed his fingers to dance over my exposed flesh and I melted into the sensations assaulting my body. I could have stayed that way forever and been content.
"C'mon, Liv," he murmured, sitting up and cradling me to his chest. Seemingly without effort, he picked me up and carried me into the bedroom, where he gently placed me down on my bed. He lay down beside me, facing me, his clear blue eyes reflecting the storm of emotions that were raging through his mind. I reached out and hooked my hand around the back of his head, drawing him close for a burning, mind bending kiss. I felt all logic fly out of my mind at that moment, every protest that might have been voiced was gone and I knew there was no turning back. Not that I wanted to.
He leaned over me, placing feather-light kisses over my collarbone and breasts while he slowly worked to remove my pants and underwear. Every movement he made was gentle and caring and I loved it. Looking at his handsome face, I thought about how crazy Kathy was for leaving him.
And then, he touched me and I forgot about her as everything melted away. Our jobs, his marriage, the horrors we saw every day, the policy stating there were to be no relationships between members of the unit; everything just slipped away and disappeared. Nothing else mattered. Nothing else existed. Nothing else was real or important except for Elliot's hands on my skin.
"Liv," he whispered and our lips crashed together once again. He stroked my body and I found myself moaning into his mouth, unable to contain myself from the assailment of feelings that washed over me. He stopped and the absence of his hand left me warm but aching for something to fill the emptiness. His eyes stared into mine and I saw how much he cared for me as the affection and (dare I hope?) love exposed themselves to me. He moved then, penetrating deeply into me until I felt… whole. Soon he started moving in me, beginning the rhythmic pace that I had been craving since that night months ago.
Our bodies entwined. Our hearts raced erratically. The moisture from our breath mingled with the sweat starting to form on our faces. His lips near my ear, whispered things that I couldn't make out, was too afraid to make out. It was perfect and when we lay spent on my bed beside each other, as our bodies fought to recover and return to their normal, I began to dread that our minds would demand we do the same. After this night, I didn't want to let him go again. He was too important to me to let go.
He sat up and I saw the expression on his face. He was going to leave. I took a breath. Last time, we had laughed off what happened after it was done. Now though, things had to change.
I touched his shoulder. "El." He looked at me without speaking, a funny expression on his face. It was half confused and half worried, worried about what I would say. "El," I repeated, scooting closer to him on the bed and leaning my head on his shoulder. I stared at the mirror on the opposite wall, watching his expression as I said, "Don't go."
A mixture of joy and surprise dominated his features for a moment but it was quickly suppressed. His eyes followed mine and soon his gaze was locked on mine through our reflections. He had to clear his throat before speaking. "Liv. Are you sure?"
"Yeah. Definitely." I smiled. It was a small, hesitant smile. "Stay with me."
His arm came up and hugged me close as a small smile of his own formed. "Okay" was all he could say but I could feel so much more behind that word. I pulled him back down to the bed and we wiggled our way under the covers and comfortably fitted ourselves together.
However, before I fell asleep, I couldn't help but murmur quietly, "Stay with me forever, El."
I don't know if he heard me or not because he didn't answer but I felt his lips press against my hair as he kissed my head tenderly and that was all the answer I needed.
I woke up and the sun was shining outside and with a glance at my clock, I realized that I had to leave for work in an hour. With a yawn, I reached out to shake Elliot awake but he wasn't in bed. I got up and pulled on a large t-shirt to cover my nakedness. That was when my mind suddenly registered the absence of noises in my apartment. I listened for the sound of the shower running or someone cooking in my little kitchen but I was totally alone. In fact, after I finished searching my apartment, I discovered that there was no sign of him anywhere. I felt rejected, used, abandoned. He had left me. I had asked him to stay and he left.
I walked dejectedly into the bathroom and took a shower, although I was loath to wash the smell and feel of him from my skin. Once that was gone, I started doubting that it had even happened. There were no signs of him in the apartment that I had seen. What if it had just been some messed up, very vivid dream? God knows I had had one or two others like it…
By the time I walked into my kitchen to make my breakfast, I nearly had myself convinced that it was a dream, although this was mostly to temporarily avoid the emotional damage the facts would do.
That was when I saw the two coffee cups, still full, sitting on the counter with a piece of paper pinned between them. How could I have missed it? My breath caught in my throat and I felt a small tear fall down my cheek as I reached for the paper holding his words.
I'm so sorry. I had to go. I wanted to stay. I told you I'd stay and I should have, but I promised Cragen that I would come in early today and I thought it would look suspicious if I arrived late and with you. I wanted to wake you and tell you myself I was going but you looked so happy… I couldn't bring myself to wake you up. I'll make it up to you though, I promise. And I won't ever leave you again.
Now I'm standing here in my kitchen, the piece of paper clutched in my trembling hands as tear by tear falls oh so ungracefully down my face. The word 'love' shines at me from the paper with the radiance of a thousand suns, burning its name on my heart.How could I have doubted him? He wouldn't have discarded me like I thought. He would never leave me if I asked him to stay.
Through the blurred vision caused by the tears in my eyes, everything crystallizes before me and I am returned to the moments of clarity that I had experienced the night before. I didn't care about anything but him. I only wanted to be with him. Screw policy, screw Cragen, and screw anyone who will have a problem with us.
I don't care. Elliot's mine.