Laden by saulalovin
A Law & Order: Special Victims Unit fan fiction

Pairing: Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson
Summary: Elliot's at his breaking point. Who is there to notice and help him through it?
Spoilers: Some very mild spoilers for 'Rage', because of the strength of Elliot's emotions in this episode.
Disclaimer: I wish I had a TV show that made me rich. Just one. I don't need to be like Dick Wolf, with four shows.
Author's Note: Reviews make me very happy. Almost as happy as I would be with a TV show that makes me rich. Heehee.


I paused in the doorway once I spotted him.

Sweat was beaded across his forehead and grunts escaped his mouth as he lifted the barbells. He seemed oblivious to my presence, and I knew he must have been concentrating hard, because under normal circumstances, he would've noticed me by now.

He was doing this to forget. Both he and I knew that he wouldn't just forget about it, though. Block it out temporarily, maybe – like he's doing right now. But he couldn't just forget about it. In our line of work, the people we see stay with us forever. They remain vividly in our minds, a constant reminder of who we swore to protect.

Inwardly I debated on whether or not I should approach him. He was off in his own world, and I couldn't bring myself to yank him back into reality. He seemed to be enjoying the solitude – he needed to enjoy the solitude every once in a while. On the other hand, I was worried about him. Lately he had been slipping away, and whether he knew it or not, he needed to grab onto someone before he was too far gone.

"Liv."

Startled, I jerked my head up and saw him looking at me, chest heaving as he breathed in oxygen.

A small smile crept over my face. "Hey."

He looked at me expectantly, his eyes asking what I was doing here.

"I-I was worried about you," I said honestly, crossing the room and sitting on a metal chair near him.

He had grabbed a towel and had patted it all over his face, mopping up the perspiration. At my words he stopped and looked at me. "You didn't have to," he said curtly.

I sighed quietly. He was putting up his walls again, pushing me away. Granted, we had never been totally open with each other, but we told each other things we didn't tell others. He was more than my partner – he was also my best friend.

It hadn't seemed that way lately, though.

"Why do you keep pushing me away, Elliot?" I asked suddenly, the harshness in my tone masking the hurt I felt. But I knew he sensed it, and it was evident in the way his face softened.

"I don't mean to," he whispered. "I just…"

"Tell me what's going on," I urged. "You don't have to go through all of this alone, you know. You're not supposed to. Look what it's doing to you."

"I haven't been much fun these past few weeks, have I?" A smirk flitted across his face.

"No," I agreed, "you haven't."

There was a pause as he got up and took a seat on another chair next to me.

"I'm sorry," he said, looking at me quickly before averting his eyes to his water bottle. He picked at its label. "Kathy and I… It's been rough for both of us. For the kids, too. This job…" He exhaled heavily. "No one really understands how hard it is. Kathy tries, and so do the children. But it isn't the same as actually experiencing it firsthand." He snuck a quick peek at me again. "That's why I'm glad I have you to talk to. You understand. Sometimes we don't even have to say anything… We just know, because we've done it, and… I guess I shut Kathy out of it by not talking to her about it. The things we see everyday, they aren't exactly things that we'd like to share with others. I guess to some extent I was protecting her and the kids from the horrors we see. But in doing so I…shut her out and pushed her away."

I stayed silent but took his hand in mine and squeezed it gently, reassuringly.

He continued. "I hadn't really noticed it until she left me, taking the kids with her. It was like a slap in the face – a wake-up call. I finally saw how much I had ignoring my family, sacrificing them for this job. But by then it was too late." He looked up at me with hooded eyes. "She's filing for divorce, Olivia."

I could practically see his walls crumbling down slowly. He had been trying so hard not to lose control that it had only ended up with things spiraling more out of control than ever. Wordlessly I wrapped my arms around his neck and instinctively his face lowered and buried itself in the crook of my neck.

He began to shake slowly, and I felt warm tears seep through my blazer and into my blouse. I held him tighter still, rocking him slowly and making soft reassuring noises.

"I've lost them, Liv," he said, his voice muffled both by my clothing and his tears. "I failed."

"No, you haven't lost them," I told him firmly. "You never will, Elliot. They love you so much. Kathy will always love you, and the kids… You're their father. They adore you. You're an amazing father. Our job isn't easy on us, and it isn't on our families, either. But you still have them, Elliot. You always will."

He didn't say anything, just clutched me tightly. I rubbed his back soothingly and just held him.

I don't know how long we stayed in there like that. Finally he pulled away and looked at me, his eyes red-rimmed. He smiled slightly and brushed a strand of my hair out of my eyes, tucking it behind my ear. He caressed my cheek gently, and a shiver involuntarily ran up my spine.

"Thank you, Liv. I… You're amazing, you know that?"

I couldn't speak. I was paralyzed by how close our faces were, and his eyes flickered in understanding. Slowly, ignoring the alarm bells that I was sure were ringing like mad in both of our heads, our faces inched forward, and I felt his lips on mine.

The kiss was unlike anything I had ever felt before. I could feel the depths of his love and care for me, and I could sense his pain and wanted nothing more than to take it away.

I pulled away abruptly. "Elliot, we…"

"…Can't," he finished breathlessly. "Shit, Olivia, I'm sorry."

I smiled, my heart pounding wildly. "Not yet."

"I know."

I stood up shakily. "I, uh, better go." I headed to the door quickly and twisted the doorknob.

"Liv."

I turned.

He placed his hand over his heart, and I smiled as I did the same.

Not now, but when the time was right.

THE END