(Disclaimer: Not mine. It all belongs to the good folks at NBC.)

(Note: Before someone asks me - I am not trying to spam ff net It might seem like I am - but I just have a backlog of fics that were never posted to this account. And I did abandon the happy side of things, for a little bit. It's not extremely sad - but I wanted to write the flip side of things, for once.)

If things only worked out like they do in movies, we'd be fine, she and I. But our problems weren't directed or scripted; they were real. And there was no director calling the shots, to put it back together when the time was right. In time for the happy ending.

If only happy endings really existed. But they only seem to exist in film, not in life beyond the silver screen.

We weren't the most likely pair. But she was willing to try, work for it, chase me when I needed chasing.

I liked to forget I wasn't the only one who'd been hurt. So she'd never been married - it didn't mean she hadn't been thrown aside by someone who supposedly cared for her. Like me. I shut her out, denied what she was saying.

If only I hadn't been such an idiot, I wouldn't be seeing her hurt, now. Seeing her go on meaningless dates yet again - trying to fill the void.

If only.

She brushes by my desk on her way out, everything about her from the way she's dressed to the perfume that filled my nose for a second saying she's heading out. And not to go home to her couch and Letterman.

"Going out?" I ask the obvious yet polite question.

Her face stiffens for a second before she rearranges it into the polite, barely-there smile she's been giving me since this mess began. "Yeah."

She looks uptight - as if she's not looking forward to going out. "Something up with the guy, Liv?" The last thing I want to do is come across as the clingy ex to her. I'm just a nosy coworker. Nothing more.

She blinks. She's surprised to hear me ask. "You could say that. He's in Vice - wants me to quit. Says I don't belong here - that I'd be more of use in Homicide."

So she's been seeing the guy a few months, he sees she's sharp - and, of course, he doesn't want to be involved with an SVU cop. A large chunk of the Department still looks at us like we're strange and sick for what we voluntarily deal with. Some of them don't think we're real cops. Either way, we still get scorn. The Vice cop she's seeing tried to flatter her into quitting her job for him. How typical. How many times did I hear this story from her?

Son of a bitch can't know her well, at all. She's not going to walk away from this job for him - she won't do it for anyone. He can accept it or take a walk - even I know that.

I turn back to my paperwork and hear her leave, her heels clicking on the old precinct floors.

Within a few moments, I hear another set of heels on the same floors. Casey? Not likely - not at this hour. Attorneys seldom keep the same hours we do. And if this shift's female officers wear heels on duty, I've never noticed.

The squad room door opens and there's Olivia again. I open my mouth, to pose the question and she gives me a look that nearly screams don't ask. So I keep my silence as she drops her purse on her desk and sits down to remove her shoes. Women and heels. They complain they hurt, yet they still wear them. Where the hell is the logic in that?

"Overdressed, aren't we?" I quip, earning a small chuckle from her.

"You're right." Olivia glances down at her attire and shakes her head. "Why I even bothered - he ended it in the car."

"Liv?" I blurt, suddenly, not knowing where this idea came from. "You want to go grab a drink?"

She glances up at me, suspicious. She's wondering what my plan is. Am I really just a friendly coworker or am I trying to "fix" things between us?

"I'll pass on the drink," she answers, "but I'm starving."

"Late dinner?"

She sighs, quietly. "You're not going to leave me alone until I agree to something, are you, John?"

"Can you blame me, with you dressed like that? It wouldn't be right, for you to sit here."

She rolls her eyes, balls up a sheet of paper and hurls it at me. It bounces harmlessly off my desk, hitting the floor.

"Was that a yes?"

She gets up and steps back into her shoes. "I guess so."

We make an odd pair in the Chinese restaurant a few blocks away from my place. She's dressed up and I'm in work clothes. We're also an interesting contrast to the teenagers occupying a few tables.

She's picking through her food, obviously distracted by something when she suddenly looks up at me. "John?"


She sighs. "I-" She falters, as if she's regretting speaking at all.

"Say it, Liv," I push, carefully. I want to know what's on her mind but the last thing I want to do is piss her off. No one sane would want that.

"I don't know what happened to us. Do you?"

"You left," I point out, sourly, despite my best attempts to not come across as bitter.

Olivia shakes her head. "I shouldn't have. It was stupid - but you didn't seem to even want to trust me."

"I was wasting your time. I think I still am."

She laughs, at that half-assed attempt at a joke. "Do you really think so?"

"Old man who doesn't trust anything that moves, with more alimony payments than he likes to think about... yeah. I'm wasting your time, Liv."

She raises one eyebrow. "Oh, really? I don't think so."