Disclaimer: This is set right before the end of Wildlife. Nothing that is known to be someone else's is mine. I was inspired while watching the epi. This is a different ending that leads into a continuation of the story. Please enjoy, and R&R! Oh, and brownie points to whomever guesses which show I borrowed the title of this from. It was the title of an ep.

Elliot Can See Her Face

by Julia

Elliot fell to the ground, feeling blood seeping from the gunshot wounds. He couldn't believe that this had happened. He could only lay there. He heard people trying to talk to him, and heard none of what they were actually saying. Until he heard Olivia asking if he could hear her. He wished that he could acknowledge he'd heard her. Hers was the only voice he wanted to hear.

Then they were wheeling him down what must have been the hospital hall, and into a room, where they began to poke and prod him. He heard nothing but Olivia's voice telling someone that she was his partner.

When he awoke again, Olivia was entering the room, smiling at him. She looked tired, and worried. ''You were supposed to duck.'' She teased, and Elliot could hear the relief in her voice.

Elliot smiled back at her, glad she was there. He'd have been more than a little disappointed if Kathy had shown up. ''You were supposed to leave.'' He said, although secretly glad that she hadn't.

Olivia cracked another smile as she handed him the paper. ''When my partner hangs out with scumbags, I like to stay close. See what happens.'' She settled on the bed with him, and for the first time, he really saw her. He saw how worried she had been, and knew that she didn't want him to know.

They shared a look, and Elliot had the strongest urge to kiss her. He covered it up by asking her if she was alright. He didn't know what he was hoping to accomplish, but he hoped it would bring them closer.

Olivia looked at him in surprise. ''Why are you asking me if I'm OK? You're the one who's in the hospital with a gunshot wound.'' She was actually doing a lot better now that she knew that he was going to be alright. Her heart had nearly stopped when she had found him on that sidewalk, bleeding out.

Elliot's hand inched a little closer to the one she had resting on her leg. ''Well, I'm just sure that it was hard for you to see me like that. You must have been worried.'' He didn't glance at the paper yet, he wanted to hear what she had to say.

Olivia was amazed. He usually wasn't this sensitive. She was actually touched. ''Well, I'm not going to lie, it was no picnic.'' She said, albeit a little cautiously. They were getting into dangerous territory. She didn't want to admit how badly it had affected her.

Elliot's expression grew serious. ''Liv, I know that you were really worried. I'm sorry that you were put through that. I almost regret going undercover. I don't like worrying you like that.'' He tried to keep tears from falling from his face. That wouldn't do at all. He didn't want to cry in front of her.

Olivia had to keep from crying. She hadn't been expecting him to say anything like that. She had to wait a moment before she said, ''El, it's OK. You were doing your job, and I would have gone undercover, too. But I appreciate that you didn't like making me worry.'' She didn't want to ruin the moment and tell him that he should have been saying all this to Kathy.

A moment passed, in which Elliot knew he should have told her how he felt, but Olivia had turned his attention to the paper. ''Cragen gave them the story that a customs officer was killed taking a walk by his house. We're planning on going to get the gibbon.''

Elliot nodded. 'I want to be there. I want Buchito to pay.'' He thought back to the events right before he'd been shot. He'd had a half-naked Olivia in his arms. He wished that it hadn't been for undercover work. He wanted it to be because they'd wanted it.

After they'd caught Buchito and Tibor, (who turned out to be an undercover cop) and Elliot had heard what Tibor had said about losing his family, Elliot knew what he had to do. He had to let Kathy go, and he needed to tell Livvy how he felt. She could handle it. Kathy couldn't. And that was alright. Liv got him. She understood him like Kathy never had. It was like an epiphany.

He surprised Olivia when he showed up at her apartment. ''Liv, I have to tell you something.'' He hadn't gone home yet. He'd called Kathy and told her what he was going to do, and she'd left. Said she'd almost done it until his "little girlfriend" had talked her out of it. He'd tried to tell her nothing physical had happened, but she didn't seem to care.

Olivia was in her sweats; she'd been lying on the couch, watching television. She'd been contemplating going to bed. ''What do you want, Elliot? Do you know how late it is?'' It was just midnight.

Elliot nodded. ''Yes, I do. I just had to tell you something. Can I come in?'' He asked, his blue eyes twinkling. He was itching to tell her how he felt about her.

Olivia was wondering what he was so happy about, but she let him in. ''So what's so important that it can't wait until the morning?'' She asked, suddenly very aware that she didn't have a bra on.

Elliot smiled at her. ''I just wanted to tell you that Kathy and I are seperated. I ended it tonight.'' He paused to see her reaction to that.

She was surprised. ''What the hell did you do that for? I just talked her into staying. She was all set to leave today!'' She wondered what all this was about, and started to get a little freaked out. He couldn't have done this to be with her. He just couldn't have. Life didn't work that way. Not for her.

Elliot sat them both back on the couch, taking one of Olivia's hands in his own. ''Because I realized that I want to be with you. Kathy can't handle the job, but you can. It was like an epiphany. I realized that the only girl I want to be with is you.''

Olivia's eyes filled with tears. She had been waiting for eleven years to hear those words. She could hardly believe that he'd actually said them. ''Oh my God, Elliot. Do you really mean that?'' She asked, hardly daring to hope. She was waiting on tenterhooks for his answer.

Elliot's own eyes had filled a little. He could hardly believe that he was saying them himself. Aloud, he said, ''Of course I do. I love you. I've loved you for eleven long years. You are it. It was inevitable.''

Olivia was wiping tears of joy off her face. ''I love you, too. More than I have ever loved anyone in my life.'' She smiled through her tears as their lips met in a salty kiss. It was the best kiss of her life.

She pulled him with her to the couch, hardly knowing what she was doing. She ran her hands up his back, as he tangled his fingers in her hair. The kiss deepened, until Olivia was gasping for breath. ''Wow.'' She said, and Elliot nodded in total agreement.

They stopped kissing for a moment, Olivia settling back in El's arms and laughing at the lipstick marks on his cheek. He smiled sheepishly and grabbed a tissue. She said, ''Sorry. I hadn't gotten up the energy to wash off my makeup yet.'' She ran her fingers along his chest. He was wearing the black polo she loved so much. ''So where did this come from? Not that I'm not happy.'' She said.

Elliot held her closer. ''I was talking to Tibor after you walked away. I was asking him if he wanted me to call his family for him. He told me that his family left a long time ago. They couldn't handle it. That's when I realized that you were the one I needed to be with. You're the one who really and truly knows me. You're the one who has all along.''

Olivia couldn't help but well up when he told her that. She could hardly believe that he loved her that much. She laid her head on his shoulder, smelling his neck. ''I don't know what to say to that.'' She said.

Elliot just kissed her on the forehead. ''You don't have to say anything.'' He told her, holding her as close as he could.

After a few minutes, they got up to go to bed. Olivia went to wash her face, and got out a pair of shorts for Elliot to sleep in. They cuddled up in bed, Olivia laid her head on Elliot's chest, and sighed. She knew tonight wouldn't be a sleepless one.

The next morning, Elliot's phone woke him up. He groaned, and picked it up. ''Stabler.'' He said, expecting Cragen or someone else from SVU.

Instead, he got an official sounding military person. ''Is this Elliot Stabler?'' A clipped woman's voice asked, and his heart started pounding faster.

Elliot instantly sounded more alert. ''Yes, who's this?'' He carefully tried to roll out from under Olivia and fell to the floor. He snapped up quickly. Liv was still sleeping. Good.

''This is Captain Anna Silva. I'm with the Marine Corps. You're being put on active duty. The President of these United States has ordered that he wants more troops in Iraq.''

Elliot tried not to get loud. ''WHAT? Excuse me? I'm being put on active duty? You've got to be kidding me! Do you people know that I've GOT a job?'' He could never remember being so angry in his life.

Captain Silva replied, ''Yes. We've already called your captain Don Cragen to let him know. You are to be at the JFK airport in six days. Noncompliance will result in displinary action.''

She didn't wait for Elliot's reply. She hung up. He stared at the phone for a minute, hardly believing that this had just happened. He pulled the phone out again and called Cragen, to see if anything could be done.

He answered on the first ring. ''No, nothing can be done, Elliot. I tried.'' He sounded resigned. Elliot's shoulders sagged.

Elliot was pissed. He got up and went inot the kitchen, so he would be less likely to wake Olivia if he got loud. ''You've got to be kidding me. I don't want to go back in the damn Marines. I don't want to leave my kids. I don't want to leave the job.'' His voice started to break, and then he said, ''I don't want to leave Olivia.''

Cragen noted the panic in El's voice. ''I really seriously did try, Elliot. There isn't anything we can do. The president is the one who ordered the new troops. There's no way of getting out of it right now.''

Elliot groaned. ''I have to leave in six days, Don. That's not enough time for anything.'' He was trying not to cry. He didn't want to think about the possibility of having to leave Olivia for an extended length of time.

They talked a bit more, Cragen apologizing for failing him. El figured there was no time like the present for telling Olivia that he was going to have to leave her soon. She was awake when he got back into the room. She stopped smiling at the look on his face. ''What's wrong, baby?'' She asked.

Elliot let the word she'd called him wash over him as he sat back down on the bed and took her hands. ''I've got horrible news. They're putting me back on active duty. I'm being sent to Iraq. I leave in six days.'' He managed to say it without tears filling his eyes.

Olivia's eyes filled with tears, though. ''What the hell? How can they do that? I won't let them! What can we do to get you out of this? Can Cragen do anything?''

Elliot loved her even more for her reaction. ''I wish. Cragen said there's no way out. I don't want ot leave you and the kids. I don't, Livvy.'' He had just found Olivia, he didn't want to leave her.

Olivia could suddenly feel the weight of Elliot's hands in hers. It was knowing that she only had a few more days with him. ''How long are you going to be gone? Did they tell you?'' Tears were starting to fall down her face.

Elliot shook his head. ''No, she didn't tell me. She just told me that I was going back. The President has ordered it. There's no getting around it. I wish I could. I've already fought this fight.'' He said, wiping some tears off his face. He had, too, he'd been in the Desert Storm war.

Olivia gripped his hand tighter as he pulled her closer. She cried on his shoulder and he hugged her as tight as he could, angry that this might be one of the last times he'd ever get to do this.

A couple of hours later, they had gone to Kathy's to tell her and the kids. She hadn't looked happy about Olivia's being there, but seemed to know that there was nothing she could do. Elliot and Olivia sat together on the couch. Elliot wanted to put his arm around her, but out of respect for Kathy, he only took her hand.

The kids were piled on the armchairs and the floor, and Kathy stood against the door jam. She stared at Elliot and Olivia for a moment, watching them look at each other, before finally asking, ''What the hell is this about, Elliot? Why'd you bring her here?''

Elliot's grip on Olivia's hand got tighter. ''Becaues I need her here for moral support. I'm sorry, Kathy, but this is going to be difficult for me.'' There were tears filling his eyes already. Having Olivia's hand in his was keeping him from completely losing it. ''I've been called back into the Marines. I have to be at the airport in six days.''

The kids all gasped, and Kathy looked shocked. Olivia, who'd turned white, was trying not to cry. That wasn't going to help anything. Kathy asked, ''How is this possible?''

Elliot felt Olivia squeeze his hand, and said, ''The President ordered more troops. You know Bush, great guy.'' He managed a slight smile, but it faded quickly.

Kathleen brushed tears out of her eyes. ''Are you serious? Daddy, you can't go. Is there anything we can do? Anything at all?''

Elliot said, ''Of course not, Kathleen. Your uncle Don tried his best. There's nothing that can be done. You think I'd be telling you if there was something that could be done?'' He knew he shouldn't snap, but that was just making him more upset.

Maureen said, ''Daddy, I know you're upset, but there's no point in getting upset at Kathleen isn't going to help matters. I wish that there was something we could do.'' After a pause, she continued, ''You'll miss getting to see your first grandchild.'' She said, tears filling her eyes.

Elliot and Olivia shared a look, and then he looked at Kathy. After holding her gaze for a moment, he turned to look at Maureen again. ''You were going to tell us when?'' He asked.

Maureen brushed tears out of her eyes. ''I don't know. Now, I guess?'' She asked hopelessly. She felt totally out of control.

Elliot looked at Olivia, and began to cry. She put her arms around him, and they cried together. He didn't care if it upset Kathy or not. She could deal.