A/N: A new fic. There is a death, and the first...five or so...chapters will be angsty. This fic has a long life ahead of it, if you say so. It was inspired by actual events in my life. Hope the story lives up to the inspiration.

DISCLAIMER: Dick Wolf owns SVU and characters. TStabler© owns this story.

Olivia sat in his chair, behind his desk, taking on the daunting task of cleaning out his drawers. He was never an emotional man, never a serious guy by any means, but housed between case files and work logs, hidden like so many aspects of his life, she found photos. Some of her, some of Fin, some of the rest of the squad. Partners he had before she met him, people who had come in and out of his life, and on the back of each one he had written a quote.

She flipped a photo of the two of them over and read, out loud to whoever was listening, "In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."

"Albert Schweitzer said that," Fin said, sniffling as he organized the files Olivia had been handing him.

"He wrote it on the back of a photo of the two of us," Olivia said, flipping the picture over and holding up for Fin to see.

Fin smiled. "You musta rekindled his spirit, Baby-Girl," he said, forcing a smile.

Olivia looked at the photo again and said, "I'm gonna keep this."

"You should," Fin told her. "Damn," he said then, shaking his head and rubbing his eyes. "This happened so fuckin' fast," he whispered.

Olivia took a deep, shaky breath. "One minute he was here, the next he was gone. I...I don't get it," she said, controlling the desperate urge to cry.

"No one gets it," Cragen said, stepping through the squadroom with a small wooden box. "He didn't tell anyone he was sick. So to us it was sudden, to him it was endless waiting." He handed Fin the box and said, "Take this."

Fin opened it, and his friend's silver badge was shining back at him. "Fuck," he said, letting a tear fall.

Olivia blinked, unaware a tear had escaped and began rolling down her cheek. "I didn't know anything about him, other than that he had a penchant for political conspiracy, four ex-wives, and the most perverted sense of humor of anyone I know." She put her elbows on her knees, looking at a spot on the tiled floor of the squadroom, and said, "I didn't know if he liked to fish, or if he hated brussle sprouts, I never asked him why he left Baltimore or why he never left New York."

"Don't do that," Elliot said, speaking for the first time. He walked over to her and knelt down in front of her, hesitantly sweeping his thumb under her eye, brushing away the tears.

Olivia flinched, jerking back. "Stop," she said softly.

"You stop," Elliot said, looking at her with great concern in his eyes. "None of us made any effort to really get to know him because he wasn't exactly a warm and friendly guy. He didn't open up like the rest of us did, and you can't blame yourself because you didn't try to force yourself into his life. You found the photos, you know we were all important to him. He liked to keep to himself," he explained. "We're all gonna miss him, Liv, but we can't let what we did or didn't do tear us up. Life's too short to do that."

"Exactly," Olivia said. "That's the whole point. Anything could happen...I could get shot in the fucking head tonight, and I can't..." she shook her said as her voice broke, not letting her finish the sentence.

Elliot gripped her shoulders. "That is not gonna happen, Liv," he said.

"How do you know?" Olivia asked as she backed away from him a bit, narrowing her eyes slightly. "How do any of us know?" she asked with a shrug. "This has made me realize that I can't live in constant fear of other people's reactions or the consequences of what I say or do anymore. I don't want to die, never having really lived." She brushed his hands off of her shoulders. "I have to be here, now, live in the moment, because I don't know how many moments I've got left."

Elliot tilted his head. "Liv, you're not..."

"I'm thinking perfectly clearly," Olivia interrupted, finishing his thought. "Clearer than I have in a very long time. And the funny thing is I owe it all to Munch." She looked around the squadroom, trailed her fingers along the edge of Munch's desk, and closed her eyes, deciding something. "I have something I have to do," she said, opening her eyes, then turned on her heels and walked out.

"Don't," Cragen commanded, stopping Elliot as he moved to follow her. "Let her go."

Elliot, knowing better, said, "But Cap, she..."

"She's grieving, Elliot," Cragen said. "We all are. If she wanted to be around any of us, she would have stayed. Clearly, she wants to do whatever she's gonna go do by herself and...yeah, ya know what, go with her."

Elliot's eyes widened and he nodded, saying, "Thank you!" He ran out of the bullpen, into the hall, taking the stairs, and flying out the door, but he didn't see her. He chewed on his lip, then picked a direction and a destination, hoping he was right.


Olivia didn't have to turn around as she heard the crunching of leaves behind her. "You shouldn't be here," she said.

"You couldn't be more wrong," Elliot said, folding his arms. "It's you who shouldn't be here. Where the hell have you been?" he asked, folding his arms.

"I had to go home, do something, make a few decisions," Olivia said. "You shouldn't be here with me," she scoffed. "You have a family to be with. Your wife and your kids, El. I know what I learned from this, but if Munch's death is gonna teach you anything, it should be to go home and fix the mess you made you made of your marriage before it's too late."

"What are you doing here?" Elliot asked, ignoring her suggestion.

"He asked me to marry him," Olivia said, still not looking at him, leaning over the railing.

Elliot stepped toward her, his heart shattering. Silence, but for the cracking and popping of sticks and leaves and an exhaled breath as he claimed a spot next to her. "Wow," he breathed.

"He asked me to marry him, and I said no," Olivia said, looking out at the river, still avoiding his eyes. "Do you know why I said no?" she asked, scraping her teeth over her lower lip.

Olivia nodded slowly. "I wouldn't marry Dean. I gave up what is probably going to be my one and only chance to have a husband who worships me, the only chance I'll probably ever get to have the kids that I want more than anything. I let the only guy, besides you, who's been able to handle me and my fucked up life for more than five minutes just walk out of my world for a stupid reason."

"You don't love him," Elliot said again. "That's not a stupid reason. You can't be with someone you don't love just because you're afraid to be alone."

"I don't love him because I'm in love with someone else," Olivia said, gripping the metal banister. She twisted her palms around it and said, "Someone who, up until now, I was terrified of telling. Scared that he would find out, hate me for it, leave me like everyone else I've ever loved has." She bit her lip again, still refusing to look at him, and let out a bitter laugh. "The beauty of death, Elliot, is that in all it's tragedy it breathes new life into the people who survive. Munch's death has given me the push I need to tell him I love him, before it's too late."

Elliot ran a hand down his face, trying to remember how to breathe, trying to feel his feet on the ground and his blood pumping, to make sure he was still conscious. "That...that's good," he said, unconvincingly.

Olivia scoffed. "No it's not," she said. "It's horrible. See, I don't want to die...I don't want him to die...and both are very real possibilities...without him knowing how I feel. And it doesn't matter how he reacts, or what he says, or what he does, because I'm ready. I'm prepared for him to walk away." She finally looked at him as a soft breeze kicked up. The wind blew through her hair and a chill went down her spine as she said, "You're gonna walk away."

"Why would I walk..." Elliot stood up straight as it hit him. "What?" he asked.

Olivia turned to him, letting go of the railing, and taking a step closer to him. "Live in the moment," she whispered to herself, closing her eyes. She took a deep breath, opened her eyes, and looked right into his as she said, "I don't know when, I don't know how, I didn't want to, I couldn't stop it, but I'm in love with you. I am in love with you, my very married partner. My very married, father-of-four, gorgeous, strong, brave, arrogant, amazing partner."

She took his hand and took a chance, not even looking up to see his reaction. She pulled lightly, drawing him closer. "I'm only gonna do this once, because I may never get the chance again, so please, I don't care if you hate me right now, if you want to scream, hit me, run away, do it all after I'm done. I don't care, just...let me do this."

Elliot did nothing but nod once, not even sure what she was going to do.

Olivia brought one hand up and caressed the side of his face, looking into his eyes. She moved in slowly, knowing the risk, but deciding that she needed to take it. She pressed his lips to his, her heart stopping when she made contact, and for a full five seconds, their lips remained locked, still.

Olivia felt like dying, she didn't know why she was doing this. However, she started breathing again, very easily, when she felt Elliot wrap his arms around her.

Elliot ran his tongue over her bottom lip and moaned so softly when she willingly opened up to him, letting him make the kiss deeper, more passionate, pulling her closer and lifting her slightly off the ground.

Olivia's mind was spinning. She was prepared for him to walk away, she was prepared for one moment of living for herself to lead to the destruction of the only relationship she had that mattered. She had signed transfer forms on her coffee table and her apartment was half-packed. She was prepared to tell him and kiss him goodbye so she could move on with her life with no regrets. She was not at all prepared for him to kiss her back. She was not prepared for him to make her heart burst and her mind go blank with one kiss. She was not prepared to feel how much he loved her, too. Her world was crashing down around her, but in Elliot's arms, kissing him, it didn't seem to bother her. At least, not for the moment. A moment, it seemed, in which they'd be stuck for quite some time.

A/N: Do I continue? Is this a one-shot? Review here, or on Twitter: TMG212