Author's Note: Thanks so much to everybody who took the time to read and review my first fic, "Tampons and Cantaloupe." It really meant so much to me that you liked it, and it's always great to hear nice things about your writing. It made me feel comfortable enough with my writing to write more. :) Hope everyone likes this fic too. I know that everyone and their brother have been doing Post-Fault stories, and now I am too. This idea just popped into my head and wouldn't go away, so I had to get it out of my system. Thanks to Lindsay, my beta/svu fraternal name twin. You are my muse. Happy Birthday!
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Dick Wolf. That lucky bastard.
Coffee. An insomniac's best friend, she's come to learn. She can't sleep. Hasn't slept in days. She's tired. Exhausted. Her body is shutting down, completely drained of all energy.
More than anything she wants to sleep. To find comfort in the soft embrace of the blankets and sheets of her bed, but she can't. Her mind is as awake as her body is fatigued. She can't stop thinking about him. About what happened.
She wonders how it's possible that the events of a single day could make her this miserable. Her hand goes unconsciously to the healing wound on her neck, tracing the marred edges. It doesn't hurt. It never did. Her adrenaline had been running so high that day, that she hadn't felt the cold steel pierce the sensitive skin of her neck. What she did feel, was the force of the strike, and the hard, unforgiving tile of the station floor as her body landed with a chilling echo. She felt the sticky warmth of her blood, seeping through the crevices of her fingers and down her neck. She felt fear. For a fleeting moment, she thought that was it. She wasn't going to make it. Another cop, dead on the job. Another statistic.
Suddenly Elliot was above her, calling her name, reaching for her. Panic and concern swimming in his voice, his eyes. She didn't even think she could speak until she heard herself tell him "I'm fine." I'm fine. I am fine. She reassured herself. She was okay. After this realization, she had told Elliot to go, to get Gitano, to save the kids. She would be fine.
She was fine.
Now she knows that was a lie. She's not fine. She can't be sure if she'll ever be fine again. She had left him. Gone and requested a new partner. Now she wishes she hadn't. It's been eating her from the inside out ever since. He had to have known she was going to do it. After what he said at the hospital. How could he not have known? Yet the look on his face after Cragen told him what she'd done, suggested otherwise. Disappointment, anger, sadness, but most of all, hurt. She had hurt him, and knowing that broke her. She thinks it isn't fair that she should feel so guilty about hurting him, because he hurt too. She wipes futilely at the angry tears staining her cheeks and goes to her door.
Even through her pain, she can hear him coming. Quick, shuffling footsteps on the hall carpet announce his presence. She knows it him. She can sense it. It's this feeling she gets whenever he's nearby. It's unexplainable. She watches through her peephole as he comes to a stop in front of her door, he puts his fist out, as if to knock, but hesitates.
He sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. He's exhausted too. Dark circles bring out his cloudy blue eyes and coarse stubble seems to emphasize his set jaw.
"Open the door Olivia." His voice is gruff with emotion and fatigue.
She's startled when he speaks, but unlocks her door and slowly pulls it open, preparing herself to come face to face with him for the first time since he found out. She stares down at her perfect red pedicure, unwilling to make eye contact. Afraid of what she'll see this time.
Stepping aside, she gestures for him to come in. Without a word said, he brushes past her, his worn jeans touching her bare leg. She closes the door and secures the lock in its place. She can't do this. She needs a minute more to compose herself. To breathe. She moves for the kitchen, "I'll get you a cup of cof--"
"No," he interrupts her, catching her hand, stilling her movement.
It takes all the strength she has, but she finally wills herself to look at him. This time he is the one avoiding eye contact, as he stares at their entwined hands. Wordlessly, they move to the couch, ready to say what needs to be said. It's now or never. They both know it. Hands still tangled, they sit down.
He rubs his thumb softly over her knuckles, before taking a deep breath, "It hurts Liv. It hurts so much."
She can hear the crack in his voice and swallows hard. "I know." She doesn't trust herself to say anything more, the lump in her throat threatening to overcome her. She squeezes his hand, and he looks up. She can see the tears threatening to spill from his tired blue eyes, see how vulnerable he is, and if she looks hard enough, she can see herself. Salty tears stream down her cheeks and she shuts her eyes, willing them to stop. She hates this.
"I miss you."
"Me too El, but we can't--"
"We can," he says, his voice suddenly strong. She wonders how he can be so sure.
"Elliot…" she trails off.
"I can't do the job with you Olivia. But, God help me, I can't do it without you either."
A strangled sob escapes her lips and she reaches for him, needing him. Her arms wrap tightly around his neck and she buries her head in his shoulder, breathing him in. His arms wrap around her back, holding her securely against him. His head rests atop her own and he breathes in the scent of her shampoo, kissing her hair. For the first time since it happened, she feels safe. This is all she has wanted. To hold him. To be held by him.
Calmed in his embrace she whispers, "I was so scared."
He rubs slow circles over her back. "I know."
He pulls away from her hold and looks her in the eyes. His eyes, once lost and dull, are clear and vivid. Looking into them, she can still see herself, but this time she sees something else: hope.
"We can fix this Liv. We can fix us."
She nods, her lips curving up into the slightest of smiles. Without thinking, she reaches for his cheek, running her thumb over his unshaven jaw. His eyes are smiling as she leans in and touches the corner of his lips with her own.
"We can," she repeats, pulling away.
"We can," he affirms, He tilts her chin upward, and slants his lips over her own. Her lips move slowly under his. A warm, comforting kiss.
An unspoken promise: everything will be fine.
And it will be.