A/N: When one door closes, you have to find another one before you can open it, right? Elliot clearly had ulterior motives when he picked this particular door.
DISCLAIMER: Sadly, the characters are not mine. Dick Wolf owns SVU and its characters. TStabler©, me, owns the story: plot, narrative, idea, dialogue and the computer I wrote it on.
It began, as any normal Saturday morning, with Elliot walking into the bullpen an hour late, handing Olivia a cup of hot coffee from the cart outside. Different, though, was the way he winked at her when he let go of the cup. He took off his jacket and hung it up behind her, and she swiveled around in her chair.
"Did you just wink at me?" Olivia asked, befuddled.
"I did," Elliot said, smirking. "I'm in a good mood today, Liv. I finally finished moving my shit into the apartment, and I can officially move in tonight."
Olivia chuckled. "Good, you can get your ass off of my couch."
"Just my ass, though, right? Everything else can stay on your couch?" Elliot joked, sitting in his chair. "Seriously, Liv, I owe you. It was kinda fun, though, living with you for two weeks. You're easy to live with," he said, smiling at her.
"Only because I like you," Olivia spat. "I'm used to your shit and I've learned to ignore most of it, so you're pretty easy to live with, too." She gave him a wink and smile.
"Did you just wink at me?" Elliot asked, feigning surprise.
"Shut up, Stabler," Olivia laughed. "Where is this magnificent apartment of yours?"
Elliot chuckled to himself. "You'll see it. Tonight, I'll drive you home, go in to get my stuff, and I'll take you to see it."
"It's a date," Olivia said, then, realizing what she said, she cleared her throat. "Not a date, a, uh, thing."
"Right," Elliot said, smirking. "I know your rules. It's only a date if it involves dinner and kissing." He picked up a file and opened it, then added, "So we'll order Chinese."
Olivia tilted her head and narrowed her eyes. "I'm sorry," she said. "Did you just officially make this a date, or were you kidding?"
"Would you say 'yes' if I asked you on a date, Liv?" Elliot asked, suddenly looking very serious. "I mean, at that exact moment, I was joking, but for future reference..."
"We should not talk about this at work, El," Olivia interrupted, jerking her head toward Cragen, who was walking over to them. She was grateful to that man in the worst way. He had just saved her, really.
"You two," Cragen said, handing them a pink slip. "Vic. Saint Vincent's. Go." He turned and walked away.
Olivia took the paper and looked at Elliot. "He's talkative today," she said, smirking.
"He has a headache," Cragen shouted, walking back into his office.
"So do I," Olivia said. "Don't see me being a bitch about it, though, do you?"
Munch looked up at her from his desk. "If I answer you honestly, are you gonna hurt me?"
"Yes," Olivia said, then grabbed her jacket and headed out of the bullpen, knowing Elliot was right behind her.
The day was long, the night was longer, and by the time they were finished interrogating the perp and done with the paperwork, Olivia was dead on her feet. She flicked off her desk light and looked up at Elliot. "Dude, you sure you want to go to my place, grab your stuff, then go to your place only to have to take me back to mine? It's already close to one in the morning," she said, stifling the yawn in her mouth.
"Yes, Liv," Elliot said, turning off his own lamp and getting out of his seat. "I don't live too far from you. We'll go in, grab my stuff, and we can actually walk to my place."
"You bought an apartment within walking distance of mine?" Olivia asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Liv," Elliot said, leading her into the elevator, "I bought an apartment I could afford. The fact that it's close to you was the deciding factor, but it's spacious, nice, and I can afford it."
Olivia nodded, yawned, and stepped off the lift as the doors opened. "Sounds great," she said. She got into Elliot's car, passenger side, as she had been doing every night since he'd been staying with her. "I'm gonna miss this."
"What?" Elliot asked, pulling out of his parking space.
"This," Olivia said, waving a hand around the front seat. "Riding home with you. It's nice, ya know? talking to you on the way home, late night dinners together, knowing you're there, El. It made me fell...less alone."
"I can still drive you home, Liv. I'm close, remember?" Elliot said, smirking. "And as long as I'm around, you'll never be alone. I promise. You know that, don't you?"
Olivia chuckled. "I guess. Ya know, if you would have gotten your ass out of bed, off the couch, at a reasonable hour, we could have been driving to work together, too. You spend more time on your hair, what's left of it, than I do."
"Hey," Elliot snapped, pulling into a parking space outside of Olivia's building, "I have a full head of hair, thank you! Forgive me if I wanna look good. I'm single now, Liv."
"And who, exactly, are you trying to impress?" Olivia asked, sounding a bit jealous.
"Not impress, Liv," Elliot said, grinning as he got out of the car, "Just look good for."
Olivia furrowed her brow, getting out as well, and curled her lips into a smirk. "Okay, who are you trying to look good for?"
Elliot cleared his throat. "Let's just go get my shit, huh?" he asked, running through the doors.
"Why won't you tell me?" Olivia asked, running to catch up to him. "Is she pretty?"
"She's gorgeous, Liv. Most beautiful woman I've ever met," Elliot said, pushing the call button for the elevator.
"Wow," Olivia huffed. "Well, is she smart?" Olivia asked, folding her arms.
Elliot bit his bottom lip. "Brilliant," he mumbled. "She's a fucking genius, but she's really, uh, missing something quite obvious right now, so she's got a dim side."
"Who doesn't?" Olivia scoffed. "How did you meet her? Where the fuck was I when you met her, El?"
"Liv, really, could we drop this?" Elliot asked, getting off on Olivia's floor. "I just wanna grab my bags and take you home with me." His eyes widened and he tried to cover up what he'd just said. "I mean, I wanna show you my apartment."
"Fine," Olivia said. "But, so you know, I already hate whoever this woman is, and when I meet her, and you know I have to meet her, I'm not gonna be very nice."
Elliot smirked as he watched Olivia open the door to her apartment. "Why, Benson?" he asked. "Jealous?"
"No, Stabler," Olivia lied. "Just watching out for you. I'm a good partner. I'm supposed to approve of the girl before you ask her out."
"I haven't asked her out, yet," Elliot said. "I tried to, but I kinda got interrupted. Besides, I'm not too sure she'd say yes. We'd both be risking a lot if we went out on a real date. But, the way I see it, we'd be risking a lot more if we didn't."
Olivia turned to look at him, watching him pick up his already-packed-bags. "You really like her, don't you?"
"Yes," Elliot said, stepping closer to Olivia. "I really do, Liv."
"Oh, well...that's...good for her....you," Olivia stuttered softly, her heart breaking.
Elliot gave her a small smile. "Can you take this for me?" he asked, handing her one of his bags. Olivia took it, swallowing the lump in her throat. "Thanks. I needed my hand," he said, still looking into her eyes. He lifted his free hand, ran it through Olivia's hair, and caressed her cheek. "I was talking about you," he whispered. Olivia's eyes widened and Elliot chuckled. "Come on, Liv. It's late, and I really want you to see the place. We have to walk there, then we have to walk all the way back here."
"Uh," Olivia mumbled, blinking, still trying to grasp that Elliot had just told her he had a thing for her, "Okay." She brushed her hand over his, which was still resting on her cheek. "You spend all that time on your hair, and getting dressed in the morning, for me?" she asked, tilting her head.
"Yes," Elliot said, nodding. "Now come on," he laughed. He grabbed her hand and pulled her out of her apartment. He let go of her hand, watched her lock the door, and took her hand again.
"El," Olivia said, taking a deep breath, "You don't have to do that, ya know. I'm already in...you don't have to try to impress me." She almost slipped and told him she loved him. Good thing she caught it.
"I know," Elliot said, smiling, tugging her along. "Button up your jacket. It's a long walk, Liv."
Olivia narrowed her eyes. "I thought you said it was clo..."
"Oh, look at that! We're here!" Elliot cried, interrupting.
Olivia looked at the door, then turned and looked up at Elliot with a raised eyebrow. "You moved right next door to me?" she asked, stunned, her jaw dropped and her eyes gazing into his.
"I told you I got used to living with you," Elliot said, opening the door. He switched on the light and stepped inside. "This is the next best thing. I figured we could either knock down this wall and make it one really big, fucking apartment, or put in a door or an archway so we could just come and go whenever we want." He turned and pointed down the hall. "I was thrilled when I found out it was a three bedroom place, because when the kids come I'll have plenty of room for them. Oh, and if we do decide to join the spaces somehow, then when Maureen comes home from school, I'll just stay in your room with you."
"Slow down," Olivia said, trying to catch her breath. "When did this happen? How did I not know you were moving next door, and why the hell didn't you tell me?"
Elliot chuckled, stepping closer. "I signed the lease Monday, you didn't know because I had movers do it so I wouldn't have to, and if I had told you, it would have ruined the surprise." He grabbed her hand again and pulled her into the kitchen. "Would have ruined this one, too," he said, gesturing to the table. It was set with candles and a bag of Chinese food in the middle. "I had Fin do me a favor," he laughed, seeing the confused expression on her face. He walked over and lit the candles and pulled out a chair. "So, uh, this is dinner. Is it a date now?"
Olivia, shaking her head and smirking, sat in the chair. "I can't really say 'no' and run away, El. You know where I live, and where I work."
"You can say 'no'," Elliot said shrugging. "This doesn't have to be a date, Liv. It could just be our usual late dinner. But, uh, I really want this to be date."
"Really? Why?" Olivia asked, unable to stop smiling.
Elliot sat next to her and grabbed her hand, looking into her eyes, and said, "Because if it's a date, then I won't feel awkward or nervous about giving you a goodnight kiss, the way I've wanted to, every night, for the past six years."
Olivia's breath hitched as his words hit her ears. She'd been waiting for so long to hear him say what he was saying. "Yeah, El," she whispered, smiling. "It's a date."
They began to enjoy their dinner, while on the other side of town, an attractive redhead was packing up her last box. "That's it," she said to herself. "Tomorrow, I move next door to the one person I can't stop thinking about, and I make my move." The woman picked up her box, putting it down on the pile near the door. "Tomorrow, I get one step closer to Olivia Benson."
A/N: Who's the redhead? How does living next to Elliot change their relationship, and are they really on a date? Only if they kiss. Do they? Wanna know?