A/N: Best friends tell each other everything, don't they?

DISCLAIMER: Dick Wolf owns SVU and its characters. TStabler© owns the narrative, dialogue and plot of this story

Elliot walked into the squadroom and looked at his partner's desk. It was empty, as it had been every morning for the past two weeks. He threw off his jacket, looked at Munch and yelled, "Where is she this time? Court? Another undercover op? Washing her hair?"

"She's right here," Olivia said, drinking her coffee and sitting down. She didn't look happy to be there. Not at all. "You're in a mood."

"You would be in a mood, too, if your partner had been avoiding you for two goddamn weeks," he snapped. He plopped into his seat and looked at her. "I was beginning to forget what you look like." That was a lie. He couldn't forget what she looked like, no matter how hard he tried. And he did try.

Olivia scoffed. "That wouldn't have been so bad," she said, attempting a joke, but she was half-serious. "I wasn't avoiding you. I had things to do that didn't concern you. My life, sorry to burst your ego-bubble, doesn't revolve around you." That, too, was a lie. It actually did. Which is why she'd been avoiding him. She was trying to get him out of her head.

"Wait, I'm the one in the mood?" Elliot asked, sarcastically. "Seriously, Liv, you took on two cases on your own, went undercover without me for two days, and spent a week prepping for court on a case you weren't involved in as a favor to Trevor Langan. You hate Trevor Langan!"

Olivia sighed and rolled her eyes. "He called me in as an expert, not a witness. Yes, I hate him, but when you're subpoenaed..."

Elliot interrupted her. "You volunteered! He asked Cragen for anyone in the unit, Liv, and you jumped at the chance! Just tell me what I did to make you so desperate to get away from me!"

Olivia blinked, staring at him. She had no idea he'd be so pissed off. She was speechless and he was waiting for an answer. Cragen called from his office, "Benson, Stabler! You got a vic, St. Vincent's!"

"Thank God," Olivia muttered, getting up quickly to get the pink slip from Cragen. She grabbed her jacket and glanced at Elliot. "You coming? Or are you gonna accuse me of trying to do this by myself, too?"

Elliot narrowed his eyes, shook his head, grabbed his jacket and followed her out.


"How long can this possibly take," Elliot mumbled, rolling his neck in his hands.

Olivia scoffed, for the fifth time that day, and said, "You know perfectly well that this could take hours. She's probably not cooperating, El. She yelled at me, she almost bit you, what makes you think she's playing nice with the doctor?"

"Okay," he replied, dejectedly, defeated. "Liv, please. What the hell did I do? I can't take you treating me like this. I hate when we fight, and I hate when you're mad at me. When I know what I've done I can at least make it up to you. But, this is killing me."

"You didn't do anything, El," she said, softly, almost warmly. "I'm sorry. I've been snappy and...and, maybe, I have been keeping myself busy, but not...not because I'm mad at you. I'm mad at...myself."

"So, you take your anger at yourself out on me?" he asked, furrowing his brow.

She smirked. "No. I take it out on the world in general. I haven't been very nice to anyone, but I've been a real bitch to you haven't I?"

"If I answer that honestly, are you gonna hit me?" he quipped.

Olivia shook her head. "No."

"Yes, you have." Olivia smacked him in the arm, playfully, and he feigned injury. "Ow, Liv! Hey, you said you wouldn't hit me!"

Olivia quirked her eyebrow at him. "I lied." She took a deep breath, the first in weeks. Months even, and she let it out on a long sigh. "Look, El. I'm just...going through something, and there isn't a whole lot anyone can do about it. I needed time, to myself, to think about things. I'm sorry if it made you think I was trying to get away from you," she said, running a hand through her hair.

"Well, tell me about it. I'm good with drama, I have teenagers," he said, smiling at her.

She went weak when she looked at that smile. The way the corners of his lips curled up and the outer edges of his gorgeous eyes wrinkled just a bit, the way his blue eyes got even bluer when he was happy made her heart beat rapidly and the fact that she couldn't help but fall in love with him a little more every time she saw him made it impossible to keep looking. She turned away before he could tell she'd been close to blushing and coughed. "No, it's...nothing," she mumbled, running a hand down her face and resting it over her mouth.

"Liv, come on. Best friends tell each other everything, don't they?" he asked, resting his hand on her knee. She didn't jump, but her heart did. She glanced down at his hand, just to make sure it was really there, and then her eyes shot to his. He was still smiling warmly at her, as if this type of intimacy was something they shared everyday.

"I can't tell you this," she said, her voice and her heart breaking at the look in his eyes.

He ran his hand further up her leg, then back down her to her knee, in an attempt to comfort her. It did anything but. "Liv, it's me. You can tell me anything. Please?"

She narrowed her eyes. He wanted to know? Fine. She'd tell him. Kind of. "How did you know you were in love with Kathy?" she asked.

He was taken aback. His eyes shifted and he sat up straighter, but his hand remained on her knee. In fact, he squeezed. "What? Why are you asking? I thought we were talking about your problem."

"This is my problem. How did you know she was the one, El?" Olivia looked at him, counted to five, and looked away.

He sighed and his eyes closed in submission, before opening them again to answer. "I didn't, Liv. It was high school. I thought I would have a lot of 'the ones,' ya know? I mean, Kathy, she was beautiful and sweet, and, I thought she was innocent. I asked her out to the movies. We had fun. I didn't feel any giant spark or anything, but I asked to see her again. We ended up dating for two weeks before she decided it would be a good idea to rip my clothes off during a late night cram session. The sex...kind of sucked, actually...and I failed the chemistry test the next day," he paused to roll his eyes and laugh. "A month later, I take her out to a nice dinner, planning to break up with her as gently as possible, and she hits me with the 'surprise, I'm pregnant' line, and I did the only thing I could do, Liv. I asked her to marry me. I was graduating, going into the Marines, getting married and becoming a father at the age of eighteen. I didn't have time to fall in love with her."

Olivia was stunned. She was sure that he and Kathy were this fairytale, high-school-sweetheart couple, but then again, she never had the balls to ask about their early relationship. "Wow. I didn't...you never told me that. So, uh, do you...love her now?"

"She's the mother of my children. She's my wife." Elliot looked at her as if she just asked him what color his eyes were. The answer should have been obvious.

Olivia shook her head, and spoke. "I know. That wasn't the question, though. I asked you if you love her, El." Olivia turned in her chair and forced herself to look at him. "Are you in love with her? Do your palms sweat when she looks at you? Do they sweat even if you're not looking at her, but just from knowing she's looking at you? Do you think you're having a heart attack every time your eyes meet for more then five seconds, because you can feel the damn thing beating faster and faster and you're sure you're about to die? Do you know everything there is to know about her, and it still isn't enough? Do you go to bed every night craving one more glance, one more touch, one more word from her lips, just so you can be sure she really exists? Do you stop breathing when she walks into the room? Does your vision blur when you think something may have happened to her? Does she invade every thought and every dream? Does she make you less of yourself simply because she's taken part of you that you can't take back? Are you in love with her?"

Elliot blinked. He didn't answer her. He simply asked, "Who is he?"

"We aren't talking about that, Stabler, I asked you a question." She looked into his eyes, and made it all the way to six before she had to look away. "Answer it."

"Is that your definition of love?" he asked, growing angry and irritated, "Because if we're using that, then no, I'm not in love with her. Thanks for pointing that out to me, that I'm not in love with my wife. You, however, seem to be in love with someone if you could rattle off those symptoms. You're speaking from experience. Now, answer my question. Who is he, Olivia?"

She looked at him, startled. "Olivia? Are you kidding me right now? You're annoyed at me? For what, El?"

"How did I not know about this? Is it Porter, again? Liv, I warned you about that guy..."

"It's not Porter! I'm not desperate!" Olivia yelled with a slight laugh. Was Elliot actually jealous?

Elliot's eyes widened. "Oh, God, Liv, you're finally caving and going out with Langan, aren't you?"

"Those are new shoes, right? You want me to throw up on them? Keep talking about Langan, El. I'll aim for your pretty blue shirt, too," she said, narrowing her eyes. "Langan? Blech."

Elliot had to laugh at that one. "Okay, I give up. Who is he, Liv? I...I need you to tell me. Do I know him? Have I met him?"

"You know him. You know him very well," she said, sighing and allowing her eyes to close momentarily. "But, I'm not dating him, El. I'm just..."

"You're in love with him," he said. "All those things you said...you're feeling for this guy."

She nodded, a tear fell and rolled down her cheek. "Yeah," she whispered shakily. "Admitting it is the first step to recovery, right?" she said with a small, singular, chuckle.

"Liv, why are you crying? Why do you need to 'recover' from this? It's not Cragen or Munch, is it?" he asked, chuckling, trying to cheer her up.

"God, no. I might as well be, though. It's still just as big of a problem. He's, um, way out of my league, he doesn't want me, and he's kind of with someone else," she explained. "There's just no way in hell..."

Elliot interrupted her. He sighed, jealous, but not wanting her to be hurting anymore. "All you have to do is tell him, Liv. If he has any common sense at all, he'll leave her. She's probably nothing compared to you. You're everything a guy could want. This guy, who's lucky enough to have you in his life, to have you loving him the way you obviously do, he hasn't done anything? Shit, Liv, if he hasn't made a fucking move on you yet, he's a fucking idiot."

Olivia smiled sadly, knowing that if he knew who she was talking about, he wouldn't have said any of those things. She turned away from him as the triage nurse waved them both over. She got up out of her seat, Elliot did the same, and she turned to him, taking another deep breath. If she said it, maybe she could finally get over it. "Well, I doubt he's gonna leave his wife, El. Not for me. And I did tell him. I just told him. He's an idiot." She turned from him and walked over to the counter to collect the evidence from the rape kit as Elliot stared at her, dumbfounded.

He stood silent for a moment, furrowing his brow, then widened his eyes in slow realization. "Yeah, I am," he muttered to himself as the true meaning of her words finally sunk in, and as he walked, a foot behind Olivia, out to the car, he mumbled a quick and silent, "Or, at least, I was."

A/N: If I continue, which I will if you review and want me to, you will get his reaction, a conversation with Kathy, and some angsty/love chapters. =)