Spoilers: Through season 8
Disclaimer: Not mine, entertainment only, yadda yadda yadda…
EO consider yourself warned.

Part One

He could feel her. Her hands moving across his bare chest. Her weight settling across his hips as she straddled him. Her breasts in his hands as he reached up to cup them. Her body shifting over his as she leaned down to kiss him. Her teeth nipping gently at his bottom lip as she silently pleaded for entrance. Her tongue gliding over his own. Her hair under his fingers as his hand guided her head closer to his.

With an angry, frustrated sigh, Elliot rolled over to face the wall. He cursed his fate. His wife lay sleeping beside him, completely ignorant of his plight. He knew he could roll in the other direction, nudge her awake and resolve the most primal of urges in his body without a single question from her. But it felt wrong, dirty, dishonest. Because it wasn't Kathy in his fantasy.

So he clenched his jaw and demanded that his body not respond to the images that he couldn't keep out of his mind.

Ten minutes later he was in the kitchen, splashing cold water on his face since the shower would wake everyone in the house. He turned around to lean his weight against the counter and stared around the kitchen. His kitchen. He could still remember the way the house looked through his young eyes, when Maureen and Kathleen were still tiny enough for Kathy to hold both of them at once. He remembered the gleam in his wife's eyes as they looked around the house, the joy in her voice when she fantasized about getting a bigger couch and a new dining room set. He remembered the pride he felt when he was able to tell her their loan had been approved, that the house they wanted was going to be theirs. But mostly he remembered in vivid detail how desperately he'd wanted back in when Kathy had asked him to leave the house behind him.

He didn't like to lose. At least, that was what Olivia had announced one night. They'd gathered at Fin's place, playing a few rounds of poker and drinking beer and relaxing. But Olivia could bluff like a pro and had cleaned everyone out. He'd declared she was a cheater and she'd declared he didn't like to lose. He knew she was right. He didn't like to lose. So he'd managed to win the bigger hand - he'd gotten his family back.

But he didn't feel like he'd won anything.

There were marks on the doorway indicating the various ages and heights of the four children who'd long ago refused to stand for the age-old tradition. There were scores in the floor from some of those same four children insisting on wearing skates and cleats and various sporting equipment when they tramped in from the garage. The baby latches were still on the cabinets - the ones he never removed in his pathetic attempt to keep the kids from growing up. His hand reached out of its own accord and rubbed the rounded edge of the counter, the spot he'd sanded from a sharp corner in a fit of rage after his son had hit his head while wearing those same skates he wasn't supposed to wear in the house.

Papers from various schools littered the front of the refrigerator, mostly waiting for his wife's neat signature. Not his own, never his own. They weren't used to him being back. He still caught the startled looks on their faces on those nights he made it home before everyone was in bed. He couldn't say he didn't have the same startled look on his face when he opened the door and realized he didn't live alone anymore.

His eyes fell on the calendar tacked to the cork board. Details of games and lessons and dances filled up the days - more evidence of the life that existed outside the SVU that he rarely witnessed. He noticed the marking for Tuesday, his wife's handwriting reminding everyone who cared that she had a hair appointment.

He groaned, the simple idea sending his mind back to where he didn't want it. He forced himself to think about Kathy, to try to muster up some of the tenderness that he used to feel when he thought of her. All he could think of was how her hair reminded him of straw - dry and course and yellow. Whenever they'd argued about money, he'd always brought up the amount she spent at the hair salon. She'd always taken the opportunity to try to end the fight by reminding him that he liked blondes. He'd never argued because he'd really never thought about it. Kathy had been his first crush, his first girlfriend, his first love, his first everything. So if his wife was blonde, he obviously had a thing for blondes, he guessed.

He'd never complained about the feel of her hair. He honestly hadn't known any better. The only hair he'd ever run his fingers through was his own and that of his family. He assumed that all children had soft hair and somehow through aging, it turned course like Kathy's. It wasn't that he'd really ever put that much thought into the subject. He'd loved his wife, regardless of the texture of her hair.

When that had changed, he really didn't know.

When he'd realized it, however, that was an entirely different matter.

And sadly, it all came back to the hair.