A/N: This is a cute little fluffy bunny that followed me home one day after I heard Miley Cyrus' Goodbye play randomly on my iPod. I didn't use the lyrics, it isn't a Songfic, but you can DEFINATELY tell that the fic is based on it, and it has a happy ending, I think.
E/O, because what else is there, really?
DISCLAIMER: Characters belong to Dick Wolf, Wolf Films and NBC. I own the rest of the "intellectual property" and the lovely dance I made the characters do, because Mr. Wolf won't.
AU-ish Thimgs: El and Kathy are divorced. I've taken some liberty with the character's ages (you'll see that in later chapters), and Liv and El have been partners for TEN years, even though we know it's TWELVE, but it's MY WORLD. They're just living in it.
The clock-radio roared to life at exactly 5:02 AM, like it did every morning. This time, though, she groaned at the melody that blasted through its speaker. The song pained her. It was their song. She rolled over, trying not to cry, and raised her hand to hit the snooze button. Instead, she did something that shocked even herself.
She turned it up, climbed out of the bed, padded out of the room grabbing her robe off of the back of the door on the way and headed into the bathroom.
She took a shower, just this side of scalding, as she sang along to the song, hoping her tears would wash away, down the drain with the sweat and the grime that a night in Manhattan had left on her skin. As the last bit of the chorus escaped her mouth, she brought her hand to her plump, cherry lips, and remembered.
She could still feel the heat from his lips on hers, the way their tongues had briefly but passionately wrestled for control and dominance. How she had to be the one to pull away first, and he had responded by pulling her back, kissing her twice as forcefully as he had before. Her eyes fluttered shut, and her head rested against the cool tiles as she relived the memory of him gripping her tightly in his arms, moaning against her mouth, swaying them gently, back and forth, as if they were dancing, even though there was no music playing.
None that anyone else could hear anyway. There was certainly music in her mind at the time; she was hearing several angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus.
The song ended, as did her vivid memory, and she was brought out of her reverie when the water ran cold. She turned the dials, stepped out of the shower and wrapped herself in her fluffy robe and quietly dressed for work, trying desperately to forget how that night had ended.
The part she hated to deal with, the part she wanted to forget with all of her heart and soul. The part where he hadn't even opened his eyes, but whispered "I love you. Goodbye," as he ran out of the room, leaving her alone, in the middle of his daughter. Maureen's engagement party, in shocked silence.
He hadn't mentioned it. She had been telling herself that he didn't remember any of it, that he'd been drunk off his rocker. It was, after all, a party. He was going through a divorce. Again. And he was entitled to a drink or two. Or nine. She was his escape. And then he escaped his escape. And then he never mentioned it again.
She was just grabbing her jacket and keys when her cell phone rang. She looked down at the screen and sighed. She hesitated. She answered it anyway. She had to.
"Hey, Liv. I'm outside. Do you need a ride to work?"
What the hell? Was she still dreaming? He hadn't made an effort to talk to her outside of work since that night two weeks ago. When they did talk at work, they usually ended up fighting, bickering, slapping each other around, or making lewd and crass jokes about each others asses. Your typical partnership.
"Um, I was going to walk."
"You are not walking. It's freezing out here. I have coffee," he said in a very tempting voice. She could practically see him waving the coffee cup at the phone and making a puppy-dog face.
"Sure. Thanks. I'll be down in a minute."
"Wait," he said.
Her heartbeat sped up and her breath hitched.
"What?" she asked, fearing what he might say.
"I remember. I know you don't think I do, but I do. I've just...been trying to figure out what to do about it, so I guess I just...um, we'll talk about it later." He hung up the phone with a grunt and a snap.
Now she had to put makeup on and wear that body spray that he loved so much. She gave herself the quick 5-Minute Glam-Up, a skill with which all women are born, and ran out the door. She took a deep breath as she pushed open the front door to her building and headed toward his car. She opened the passenger side door and slid in, gratefully accepting the coffee from his gloved hand.
"Thanks," she said quietly. "So, uh, what exactly do you remember?"
He put the car into drive and stepped on the gas with a little more force than necessary, heading toward the 1-6. They would both be early for a change, since he was speeding.
"El?" she prodded.
"I remember when we kissed. God, Liv, every night before I go to sleep, it's like I can still feel you kissing me. When I open my eyes and you're not really there," he stopped, made a painful noise and ran a hand down his face, trying desperately not to look at her.
She looked at him. She understood exactly what he was talking about. "Oh," she said, sipping the coffee. It was perfect. Just the way she liked it. She still couldn't believe he knew her so well.
Elliot laughed a little. "That isn't the half of it. I remember dancing with you, Liv. There wasn't any fucking music, and I tried to dance with you. I heard music." He stopped at a red light and said, almost under his breath, "I always hear music when you're around."
She couldn't breathe. Why was he saying all of this now, when they had a hard, horrifying case to work on? She didn't need the distraction. Or, maybe she did. Still, why now? Why not sometime within the last two weeks?
"Worst of all," he continued, "I remember saying...something...and then running away. I don't just run away."
"No, I do that. Right?" she asked.
"I didn't say that," he said dejectedly. He didn't want to fight with her. Not when he was trying to tell her something this important.
"No, you didn't. But you have said it in the past, El, and you're right. I'm the one who's always running away." She listed and counted on her fingers. "Fourth grade after my mother broke my arm, Oregon, after Gitano, I'm the one who's always leaving when things get too hard or uncomfortable. But, you know something? I wasn't going to run that night."
"No." She smiled. A small one, though. "El, for the first time in a really long time I was actually," she paused. She looked at him and noticed that he was anxious, nervous even. She wasn't going to tell him. "Just forget it."
"No, what? You were actually what, Liv?"
She took a huge gulp of her coffee because suddenly, her throat was incredibly dry and she forgot how to speak. She cleared her throat, willing herself to say something and only one word clawed it's way through: "Happy."
The car pulled into a spot at the precinct, seemingly of its own volition because Elliot had stopped paying attention to the road the minute she said he'd made her happy.
"You don't regret it?" he asked, shocked, finally taking a breath and taking the chance and looking at her. His pulse raced when he saw how incredibly beautiful she looked.
She shook her head. "The only thing I regret is not running after you."
"Interesting, because the only thing I regret is saying..."
She closed her eyes and turned her head. "Wow. So, you didn't mean it. Is that why you wanted to drive me to work? To tell me that it was all a big mistake?"
His brow furrowed. "What are you talking about? Liv?"
She panicked. Bad-Ass-Benson fucking panicked. "You regret saying it? El, you ran out of there so fast, I didn't get a chance to tell you, I would have said it back, but if you regret it, I'm certainly not going to say it now."
She opened the car door and exited the vehicle quickly, trying to catch her breath.
He, however, was very confused. Why would he have wanted her to say goodbye? His eyes widened slowly as he finally understood what she thought he meant. The realization, fear, and more of that regret hit him hard and fast.
"Oh, fuck me," he muttered under his breath as he burst out of his car and ran.
She was almost to the door of the building when he caught up to her.
"Shit, Liv," he said as he grabbed her shoulder, spun her around and kissed her. He pulled away, slowly, and looked her right in the wide, shocked, chocolate-brown eyes looking back at him.
"I regret saying goodbye! I regret running out like that! But I do not, for one single second, regret telling you that I love you."
She wasn't breathing. She wasn't blinking. She wasn't thinking. She was pretty certain she had just died, because there were those goddamned angels again, and she wasn't that religious.
"Say something, Liv."
"Hallelujah," she whispered.
He laughed and a very confused expression took over his face. "What?" he asked with a chuckle.
She shook her head, silently telling the angels that they should go fly somewhere else so she could think straight.
"I love you, too, El. I think, no, I know, I always have."
A wave of relief washed over him as he leaned in to kiss her again, but she backed away.
"What are you..."
"We should not kiss or hug or do anything that might give anyone any inclination that we are a couple within a fifty foot radius of the precinct, El," she warned. "I'm not about to lose you as a partner just so I can gain you as a boyfriend."
He raised an eyebrow at her and gave her his characteristic cocky-Stabler-grin. "You really think they'll split us up over this?"
Now that she was relaxed, she slid back into her comfortable babbling self. "Not unless you go in there and tell Fin and Munch you love them, too."
He suppressed a gag, but couldn't hide the look of disgust and harsh laugh that came out of his mouth. "Um, I'll pass. So, we'll keep it a secret. At least until we can't anymore."
"Why wouldn't we be able to keep it a secret anymore?" she asked as she pulled the door open.
He held the door closed and looked around, making sure they were alone. He kissed her gently and whispered, seductively, "Because I have waited ten years for you. I don't want to wait too much longer before walking you down an aisle and giving you that baby you've always wanted. We could elope, of course, which I gotta admit would suck, but you can't, no matter how hard you try, hide a Stabler baby."
Her eyes widened, narrowed, and then she smirked. "You waited ten years for me? You were married up until a year ago."
He laughed, sounding happier than he had been in a while. "I basically just proposed and said I wanted to knock you up and all you heard is that I was in love with you while I was married. You have selective hearing, Benson."
She pulled open the door and they walked into the building to face her day, which would be a little brighter, a little better, and a lot easier to handle. She had a renewed vigor and a skip in her step that hadn't been there for a long while. She, of course, would tell him that she'd waited ten years for him, too, and that she'd love to marry him one day, but for now, she was happy knowing his biggest regret was saying goodbye, and that he was man enough to do something about it. Her man.
The pair of eyes that angrily watched them enter the 1-6, that had seen them kiss three times and heard their sweet declaration of love, however, was about to make life very hard for Olivia Benson.