This story is my first SVU. I'm just trying to get into the heads of the characters before I take on anything deeper. I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: They're Dick's. Not mine. I swear.

Take The Long Road
Written by Shay

Looking back now, there was always something there. Something a little more than partners; a little more than friends. Something intangible, something unattainable. Yet something all the same.

I can't tell you when it started, how or why. I don't know how it came to be that glancing at her over our desks began to send electric currents through me, or why I became more aware of each little touch. I don't know when I fell out of love with my wife and in love with her.

I still remember the first time I saw her. It was unseasonably warm, even for late spring, and I was coming in after another late night trying to track down a serial rapist. She was standing with him on the precinct steps, her hair blowing wildly in the wind. She laughed at something Cragen said, her gaze lifting to meet mine. She smiled at me then, an intoxicating mesh of merriment and fierce determination shining in her dark eyes. All I can remember thinking is why would such a beautiful woman want to work here?

It was a gut reaction I guess. The things I see everyday are difficult for the men in our unit to handle, and I made the hasty assumption that for a woman, it would be too much. She, of course, quickly proved otherwise and has everyday for the past eight years.

There's no point in denying the attraction, it was there from the beginning and I am only human. who could ignore someone so tragically beautiful, both inside and out?

Maybe it's a cliché, for a man and a woman who work together, especially in the close and emotionally demanding quarters we do, to find something more lurking just beneath the surface. Even more so if one of them is married.

She said something once, about soul mates coming in so many different forms. I didn't quite understand it then, and I still don't think I do completely, but I know when I look into her eyes, I'm staring mine in the face. Unfortunately for me, my wife realized it before I had a clue.

We've never slept together - I need to make that perfectly clear. Even when things were at their worst in my marriage, while things were at their best between my partner and I, nothing happened. My family is everything to me, and I would've died before being unfaithful to my wife. That's not to say the thought hasn't crossed my mind; that my dreams never betrayed. If I said otherwise, I'd be lying.

The divorce wasn't easy, the worst part being that I'm so far away from my kids. The night after it was finalized, we sat down together and for the first time in nearly a decade, we were brutally honest with each other. It was then she confronted me about my feelings, unleashing a flood of emotions, truths, that I had run from for so long. Her words that night made me rethink and reevaluate everything in my life. The impact was sudden, and I was unprepared for it as it slapped me across the face.

After that I can't say that I'm proud of my actions. I didn't know how to act around her, now that I'd acknowledged the truth. It's ridiculous; I'm a grown man with twenty years of marriage and four kids under my belt, but it's true. I wasn't sure how to pretend anymore, so instead I acted like an ass and pushed her away.

I hurt her, and I hate myself for that. I hate that for the longest time it was me that put that dash of betrayal in her eyes; I was the one that erased her smile. And though she has long since forgiven me, I don't think I ever will.

The road to recovery for our friendship has been long and bumpy. Some days we take one step forward and two steps back, but we're getting there and I take refuge in the time we spend together. Her smile is my solace, her laughter my healer. This is true even now, as I sit here on the floor just outside her apartment, my chest tight with trepidation. Lost in my thoughts, I don't hear her footsteps approach until a velvety chuckle tickles my senses. I look up to find her there, grocery bag in hand, and one eyebrow arched my way in amusement.

"Stalking me now, Stabler?"

I grin as I climb to my feet, my gaze locking on hers. "Always, Liv. Always."

She laughs again, that deep, throaty laugh that sets my soul ablaze, and tilts her head, ushering me through the now open door. I follow her into the kitchen, where she deposits the bag and turns to face me.

"Wanna tell me what you're doing camped outside my door at eleven o'clock at night?"

My mouth opens, every intent of being honest about my reasons on my lips, but instead another unthought-of jumble of words fall out and I want to kick myself.

"What were you doing out so late? Hot date?"

Her eyes roll, her arms cross in defiance as she levels me with her stare. "What are you doing here, Elliot?"

I almost retort with another sarcastic barb, but I bite my tongue, a sigh filling the small space between us. Swallowing my pride, I move forward and reach for her hand. Her eyes widen in surprise as my fingers close over hers, though she makes no move to step back. This fact gives me the courage I need to plunge onward.

"I need to talk to you about something. It couldn't wait."

Confusion lights up her features and questions form on her lips, but the slight shake of my head silences them before they're spoken. Her dark eyes stare up at me in contemplation, and I almost lose myself in their depths.

With my heart in my throat, I open my mouth but the soft motion of her tongue darting out to wet her lips distracts me. My gaze drops to her mouth, the action not lost on her. I glance back up at her, at the darkening of her eyes and feel as though I've been punched in the stomach.

It's all there, in two shimmering amber orbs, everything we've been running from. It's new, it's old. It's something I've never seen before and everything I carry in my heart. The revelation tilts my world off its axis and then sets it right again. And I find that words are no longer necessary.

Thoughts flee my mind as I take the final step towards her and throw caution to the wind. Our lips meet with fervor; with the frenzy of new hope and the indescribable feeling of coming home.

I don't know when I fell in love with her, but God help me, I have. And now there's no turning back.

End.