Quick Summary: This fic does a lot of jumping around chronologically. It is set at present time, but then goes back two years and will stay there for a while. Sorry if it gets confusing, but I tried to make the transitions clear!

A/N: Hello again everyone! This is a different storyline than my other two fics, and thus not a sequel (though one could be in the making ;) The episode "Quarry" got me going on this one, the ending with Liv and El was adorable!! Yes it is a slight alternate universe.

I got the title of this from the song Breathe (2 am). The following passage I thought was endlessly appropriate for the basis of this story…

Disclaimer: I still don't own them… and I don't own the song either.

Ya we walk through the doors so accusing their eyes

Like they have any right at all to criticize

Hypocrites you're all here for the very same reason.

Cause you can't jump the track

We're like cars on a cable and life's like an hourglass glued to the table…

It was a dark summer night. The moon was almost completely obscured by dark clouds that promised rain and the balmy air was beginning to become cool. Olivia Benson rounded the corner of the street, followed closely by her partner, Elliot Stabler. She paused while he jogged to close to distance between them. Elliot protectively stepped in front of her as they looked at the filthy windows of the old warehouse.

"Well, we can't do much until our backup gets here." said Elliot, leaning up against a streetlamp while keeping a sharp eye on the building. Olivia nodded, though she seemed to be in deep thought. Elliot's face instantly became concerned. "What's wrong Liv? You haven't acted right all day."

"It's nothing Elliot." Olivia answered quickly, waving her hand dismissively. She ran a hand through her short auburn hair and sighed.

"No it's not." Elliot responded, stubbornly folding his arms.

Olivia stepped a little closer to him, taking comfort in his close proximity. "You know that meeting I had this morning?"

"Yes, what about it?" questioned Elliot, watching her closely.

When she looked up, her eyes were unusually bright, and Elliot knew she was close to tears. "It was with the disciplinary committee. They are going to take my badge."

"What?" exclaimed Elliot, taking his young partner by the arms.

"They found out. It was Kerrington, I know it. He has hated me since he taught me at the academy." Olivia said, looking up into her partners blue eyes.

Elliot looked stunned for a brief moment then slowly said, "I can't believe this." Olivia dropped her head again, unable to continue looking him in the eyes. Elliot put his hand underneath her jaw, gently lifting it. "Look at me Liv. We are going to get through this."

Olivia smiled at her partner. "I know."

He smiled back and then said slowly, "You would tell me… if you were hurting."

"Of course. But really, I am feeling fine now." Olivia replied.

Elliot nodded, and then looked down at her stomach. Instinctively he reached out and placed his hand on it. "But you didn't before."

"Elliot, what happened was a freak accident. It was not your fault."

"Right. I pulled you off desk duty because I had no one else to go with. I couldn't wait another day for Munch or Fin to be available. But it wasn't my fault." Elliot answered bitterly.

Olivia looked up at him and said sternly, "No, it wasn't. You didn't throw me down the stairs, Elliot."

"Well no. But I wasn't fast enough to stop him."

Olivia was about to respond when a loud scream pierced the still air. She whipped back around to face the building. She and Elliot looked at one another with wide eyes. "He's got another victim." They didn't have to say another word as they both took off in the direction of the door, all thought of back up forgotten.

Elliot kicked it open, scanning the room briefly. Olivia stepped inside first, her gun raised. The warehouse was now deathly quiet. They made their way carefully over the heaps of junk and metal lying all over the floor. The air was damp and chilly inside, condensation dripping from pipes and ringing loudly. Olivia made her way around a particularly large pile and then screamed, "Elliot!"

Olivia knelt over the victim, removing her jacket and laying it gently over top of her. "Sweetheart, we are going to get you help, alright?" The girl nodded, tears streaking down her face. Olivia lay a hand on the girl's sweaty brow as she glanced down. Her lower half was soaked with blood, several stab wounds on her thighs, abdomen, and some, Olivia knew, in an area she couldn't see. Suddenly the girl seized her wrist. "What's wrong?" Olivia questioned, noticing the wild fear in her eyes. The girl screamed. Olivia turned around and saw Elliot standing only a few feet from her. But he didn't see the man coming up behind him. "Elliot!"

Elliot saw Olivia start to come to her feet. He whipped around, but not fast enough. The man slammed him against the wall as he felt a searing pain in his side. Elliot slipped to the floor, gripping his side with both hands. Hot blood seeped out through his fingers from the knife wound and he could already feel his body beginning to shut down. Darkness threatened to take over his sight as his breath came in heavily and erratically. He saw the man jump forward towards Olivia. She caught his hand with the knife inches before it made contact with her skin. Elliot felt his heart contract in fear. The man twisted his hand away, nearly throwing Olivia off her feet. He then grabbed her neck with one hand, tightening his grip. Olivia struggled briefly, attempting to somehow wedge her gun around so that she could shoot him. But her lungs were screaming for oxygen and she slowly gave up. The perp grinned and threw her against a nearby pile of scrap metal. She hit her head hard and blacked out.

Elliot watched as she lay quite still on her back, bleeding from the gash to her head. The perp was standing over her, looking down at her with a sick interest. He slipped out his knife. Elliot's hands shook as he struggled to pull his gun free. His own blood was making it slippery to grasp and his body was fighting him every step of the way. But he would be damned if his partner didn't live to see her thirtieth birthday. He had seen his, and so it was up to him to save her. Everything that had been falling apart over the past two years had now reached its climax. The final thread was about to unravel.

The perp laughed and swung his knife down.

two years previously

Elliot slid out of the passenger seat of his partner's pick up truck. His partner, Detective White, walked over next to him. Jason White was a seasoned SVU veteran in his late sixties, having worked as a detective on the unit for twenty years. He had been Elliot's mentor and good friend for the five years they had been partnered, and was going to be selecting Elliot's new partner when he retired next month. "Alright kid, let's see what we have here." He said, heading towards the steps of the apartment. Elliot followed after, but they both came to a stop as a cop came walking out of the building. White smiled broadly. "Officer Benson!" The woman paused and looked over at him, a grin coming across her face. Elliot found himself staring as she trotted down the steps and walked over to Jason. She was drop dead gorgeous. Her dark hair was cut just above her shoulders and her beautiful complexion contrasted perfectly with her brilliant chocolate brown eyes.

"Well, Detective, I was sent over to be your back up. But it doesn't look like you will need it. The guy you are looking for isn't here. Looks like he skipped town in a hurry." Benson told White.

"Great. Well how have you been my dear?" White asked her, looking at her with a very paternal gaze.

"Pretty good." She answered, glancing for the first time over at Elliot. Elliot felt his heart do a summersault as she smiled at him. His head screamed at him to get a grip. "You must be Detective Stabler. I have heard a lot about you. I'm Olivia Benson."

"Nice to meet you." Elliot managed to say, holding his hand out. Olivia took it, and Elliot could feel the softness of her hand and the warmth radiating from it. He was hesitant to let go.

White had to smile slightly as he watched his partner greet the beautiful twenty-seven year old. She had a quite endearing quality about her and her whole precinct was completely enamored with her- well at least the males. But White liked her for other reasons. She was smart, tough, witty, and quite a kind lady. If there was anyone who could make his partner feel better, it was her. "Hey Olivia, tonight Elliot and I were going to go for a drink, you want to come?"

"Sure! Just call me." Olivia replied, looking over at White. White nodded his farewell and walked back to his truck. "See you later."

Elliot hadn't budged, and so Olivia turned and started to walk to her car. "I'll pick you up." Elliot suddenly called, surprising himself. Olivia turned back to him, her stunning smile back on her face.

"It's a date then."

As Elliot climbed back into the truck White glanced over at him. "So you like her?" Elliot looked at him. "Not that way, relax. I mean cop to cop."

"Yes."

"Good. Well, she's a nice girl." White said as they moved out into traffic.

"Seems like it." Elliot answered, still not quite sure why he felt this way. He was married, after all.

"She is. Saved my life once too. I was working a case and she was just two months out of the academy, a uniform on scene." White said, but didn't elaborate.

"You never told me that!" Elliot exclaimed, looking over at his partner. Jason shrugged, obviously not keen to discuss it.

"Tell you what, ask her about it tonight." Jason told him, "You sure your wife won't mind?"

"Oh she probably will." Elliot sighed.

"Are things getting better?" Jason asked, genuinely concerned.

"Not really. We are seeing the stupid counselor twice a week, but it's not helping." Elliot said, rubbing his shoulder absently.

Jason suddenly got a rather serious expression on his face. "Do you love her?"

For the first time since he had married Kathy, Elliot didn't know how to answer that question.

A/N #2: Sorry for the kind of slow start, I just have to set up the basis for the story! Lots of big questions, I know. Be patient, all will be revealed soon! Now, REVIEW!!!!!!!! (please)