A/N: I wrote this part a while ago. I've gone back to it several times and I think I'll leave it, as is. It's a little short, but I think it's fitting. Thanks for the great reviews!

Everything changes if I could
turn back the years if you could
learn to forgive me then I could
learn how to feel

Elliot propped his feet up on the coffee table and put his hands behind his neck. The whole thing seemed like a nightmare, to him, and he wished someone would wake him up. Instead, he was left with the images of when he had found her. The look in her eyes had reflected the shame and humiliation of the compromising position she had been in. The small trickle of blood that ran down her chin had told of the battle she'd waged in trying not to cry. Most of all he remembered where that monster's hands had been when he'd found them. He wasn't supposed to see her that way. She was Olivia. That part of her was off limits to him. To anyone but with whomever she shared her personal life. He hated that at some point it had been that filthy excuse of a human being. After he'd gotten her out from under the guy, all he could do was grant her the little scrap of dignity she had left by shielding her. It was the least he could do, at the time. It was what he should have done, because he was her partner.

It had been an accident scene. The scene he'd pass on the freeway that he couldn't not look at. He'd go by it and make every effort to look away but a part of him still glanced over even if for a second. He'd look into his rearview mirror, feeling guilty that he'd even looked at all. When he'd gotten there and he'd seen the broken glass his senses had been put on the highest level of alert he knew. He'd seen her first. She was who he was looking for and the moment he saw what was going on he froze. The bastard had gotten a few more in by the time Elliot had gotten past Cragen. He'd looked away just for a moment to see if the older man was okay. A millisecond later, he thought, he looked back to see that it was about to happen. His strides became longer and he reached out and grabbed the man with the tips of his fingers. It would have made any first baseman proud. It wasn't a game, though, it was life.

He pulled his feet of the table and stood up. The pent up anger and frustration he'd been feeling was behind the powerful kick that sent the table careening into the wall. He heard the leg snap and stalked over to it to inflict further damage. He stood there panting, wishing what he'd just done had somehow made something better. He'd settle for anything. He felt so out of control at that moment. He hadn't even gone to visit her. Cragen had, though, admirably.

It had been twenty four hours. He knew that because he kept flipping through the calls on his phone and each time he came to hers his heart stopped beating. His hands started shaking and by the sixth time the phone had met its demise. The date stamp stuck in his mind, though. It burned into his memory and he couldn't shake it. It was the time he'd let her get raped. The time his world stopped. No matter how fast he'd driven he hadn't gotten there in time. He sank to his knees and bent over with his face nearly touching the floor. He heard the sound of a wounded animal and realized it was coming from him. He breathed heavily. Saliva dripped onto the hardwood floor and mixed with his tears. He was a mess in every sense of the word. He heard the door over the sound of his raspy breathing and looked over slowly. He braced his hands on the floor and stood. As he approached the door, he pulled his t-shirt up and wiped his face before letting it fall once more. He peered out peep hole and there she was. Methodically, he turned the deadbolt, twisted the knob and pulled the door open.

She and Elliot had been given a week off. A week to think about what had happened. A week to feel guilty about handing over their case. She could barely sit, let alone walk. Thankfully, the elevator had been fixed. She'd given him the time she felt he needed. She didn't blame him for not coming to the hospital again. She didn't want to be there either. She'd called up Cragen and took him up on his offer to take her over. She promised to get back home safely. She heard the locks disengage. When the door opened, she stepped past him and took in her surroundings. It was the reason she'd come over. The living room looked to be on the verge of being torn apart. She knew Elliot had taken it hard. She stood in front of him as he fought to reclaim his errant emotions. Her breath stilled as she saw his bloodshot eyes. She reached out and touched the side of his face with her cast. With her thumb, she brushed aside the tears that hadn't been absorbed by his shirt. She pressed her forehead against his and felt his hand snake up and around the back of her neck.

He ran a hand through her hair and pulled her gently until her chest was touching his. A sharp intake of breath reminded him of the bruises that peppered the skin underneath her shirt. He could still see those hands and the pain they were inflicting upon her. He whispered an apology for having hurt her. Again.

Shaking her head, she pushed away slowly and put a hand on his chest. With her fingertips, she forced his jaw upward until he was looking her in the eyes. She searched her soul for all the right words to make his never-ending guilt go away. She said the three words that he needed to hear the most.

He was forgiven. God almighty, he was forgiven and his strength was renewed and not a moment too soon. In that instant, the moment he'd taken control, she lost hers. He watched her lip begin to tremble. The closing of her eyes signaled the release of emotion. Bracing himself, he inched closer and wrapped his arms around her as tightly as could without hurting her. He felt her slowly start to sink to the floor and took her into his arms. He carried her to his bedroom and bent down to lay her on be bed. He could feel the hold she had around his neck, the grip that would not release. He slid his hands behind her back and rolled onto his side, taking her with him.

The dam had broken and she was left to cling to him; to save her from the raging waters. It was as if her life depended upon her holding onto him. She kept repeating the mantra of 'oh, god' repeatedly. She needed him there at the hospital and as much as she understood why he wasn't, she needed him. She was the strong one while he needed her. Then and there in a fleeting moment, she felt her strength ebb and fought but to no avail. She felt herself falling and just when she expected to reach the ground, he caught her.

They spoke in hushed tones. Each time she spoke, he matched her with his words of comfort. He told her that he had her and wouldn't let her go. He promised her it would be okay, although he didn't know how or when. With soothing tones, he told her that it was okay to cry. And she did.

She cried for the innocence she lost. She cried for pain she felt each time she pulled him a little closer just so that she would feel his presence. She cried for the many times they'd disagreed but somehow found the right thing to say or do to make it all better. And she cried for the little kids that were out there being victimized while she was struggling to pull herself together.

Elliot felt the hold on him grow slack and pulled back a little. He watched her face grow less tense. He let out a breath he'd been holding since it happened. He saw her relax under his gaze. He held her into the night, keeping her demons at bay. He made a silent vow to treat her better. He couldn't go another day fighting and arguing. They needed each other and no matter how many times they went round-and-round, they always ended up back at each other. He lay his head down beside hers and stared at her as she slept. Millions of things ran through his mind, but one settled in the foreground. He was madly in love with her. Love was not a game, though. It was life. It was their partnership on a whole new level, and he was determined not to screw it up the way he had in the past. He closed his eyes and let sleep take over him. The rest of the world fell away as they slept.