Buttons

Jezyk

Disclaimer: Not mine, though with the awesome writing of Locum & Bullseye, I almost wish they were again!

Spoilers: Big huge ones for Bullseye and somehow Fault too. Don't ask how I manage these things.

Rated R for language

I swear every day gets longer than the one before. Maybe a few years back there were only twenty-four hours in the day. But now, now I'm absolutely convinced there have to be about six or seven extra weeks thrown in each day.

Because today, for instance, will not end. There's just no fucking end to this fucking day.

And I know because I've been watching the clock, dying for the first opportunity to get home, to get out, to get away from here.

My partner is staring at me, his concerned fatherly look in place, just waiting for the perfect chance to ask me if I'm ok. I'll say I'm fine and he'll ask if I'm sure and I'll glare at him and say yes and he'll forget anything ever happened and I'll go home and cry myself to sleep.

Because I was stupid enough to go against my instincts. Because I was stupid enough to fall for the shit. Because I let myself care about someone. Because I should know by now that caring about a man is just going to bite me on the ass. But fuck if I've ever managed to learn that lesson.

"Liv?"

Think of the devil. It's not right how that man can read my mind.

I look up from my computer and try, failing miserably but trying nonetheless, to hide some of the hostility in my eyes. "What?" My voice comes out as a bark and I wonder why I bother.

Rather than wince like anyone else would do, Elliot raises an eyebrow, a smirk curling the corner of his mouth. "What did that keyboard ever do to you?"

So my fingers hurt from how hard I've been slamming them into the keys. He's not nearly as oblivious as he would have me believe. He knew what was going on. He knew how badly it affected me. He knows exactly what the problem is.

I narrow my eyes, finding a better target for my anger than the keyboard, if only because the keyboard doesn't have any feelings. And while it does have buttons to push, they're not the sort of buttons that will satisfy me right now. "Fuck off."

He stares. I stare back. He opens his mouth. I wait for the question. The same question as always, the one I always answer with a lie, the one he's only asking because he thinks he has to, not because he actually gives two shits.

"You want to talk about it?"

He's changing it up. So I do too, actually telling him the truth.

"No." I look away, staring at the computer screen. He can win the staring contest. I don't fucking care at this moment.

I go back to watching the clock, which isn't fucking moving, no really, it's like time has stopped. As if my sixteen hour work days aren't long enough, fucking bastard prick tonight created a pile of paperwork to end all paperwork. Handing over evidence that incriminated every registered sex offender within half of Manhattan that we can't swear wasn't all his in the first place.

Erik fucking Weber.

Fuck, I wish I'd shot him. Elliot wouldn't have cared; he'd have covered for me. And I seriously doubt his sister would have objected. I wasn't honestly all that concerned when I thought she was going to kill him right in front of me.

I'm such an idiot. Flattered by a charming fucking pedophile who was using me to keep himself out of jail. Jesus. It's time to retire. I actually fell for his shtick, thought he liked me. How fucking desperate does that make me? First guy I'm interested in after some fucking sicko tried to rape me is a god damn pedophile.

The laugh that escapes my throat is completely involuntary and entirely without humor.

Elliot's attention is back on me, the worried look back too, though I'm not sure either ever waivered. "Liv?"

Grabbing my keys out of my drawer, I stand up and pull my jacket off the back of my chair. "I'm going home."

Elliot's eyes dart toward Cragen's office, checking to see if the bastard that ordered us to finish writing up this cluster fuck of an investigation before we dared leave is watching. "Uh, Liv-" Obviously Cragen's still here, staring at us, undoubtedly waiting for us, or me, to do something stupid, like damn near confiding in the perp we're trying to catch.

"I don't fucking care, Elliot." I stand there for a minute, expecting he'll argue and preferring to shut him down here rather than having him chase me through the halls and airing my dirty laundry to everyone we pass.

He stands up too and I want to smack him. I fucking hate men right now. I wish he'd get that. I wish he'd stop being nice when I'm feeling shitty. He's a complete ass when I'm in a good mood, so when I really need an excuse to deck someone to make myself feel better, it's really not fair that he's sweet as mom's fucking apple pie. As if I'd know what a fucking mother's fucking apple pie might be like.

He stares at me for a moment, probably waiting for the daggers in my eyes to subside. They don't. He looks down. "You want to get a drink?"

Fuck yes. But not with him, not now.

"No." There's nothing strong enough to make me feel better anyway. Except maybe heroin, not that I would know.

He swallows hard, so hard I can hear it, and his shoulders sag. He feels bad. He really does. Sometimes he says some shit as an apology for something he's not a bit sorry for and I accept it because there's nothing else I can do, so I guess it fits that when he's actually sorry, I'm not in the mood to forgive. Of course, the fact that I'm pissed as hell and not about to act like it's fine, even if I say it is, could have something to do with why he's sorry. Fucker.

He nods over at my desk. "Give me your files. I'll finish it up."

Well, fuck, if that's not a first. Usually, if he's in a really good fucking mood, he'll volunteer to cover for me. My surprise must show on my face because I see him smile, even as he's looking away to hide it. I can't blame him for getting a kick out of it. After all these years, it's really rare that we can surprise one another.

I drop my keys long enough to sort through the stack of shit on my desk, almost feeling guilty about the amount of work I'm dumping on my partner. But fuck, he's my partner. He's supposed to do this sort of shit for me more often, I mean, at least as many times as I've done it for him.

The thought of how many times I've helped him out of a jam over the years and the pathetically unequal number of reciprocal events pisses me off. I toss the papers at him, not feeling at all bad about the startled way he grabs at them as they cause an avalanche of shit to tumble off his desk. Son of a bitch could have helped me more.

Asshole didn't have to encourage me either.

He looks up at me in confusion as he gathers the fallen papers together. I'm sure my answering snarl only adds to the mystification, but I couldn't care less.

I leave him there, squatting on the floor, picking up the mess I made.

###

I make it about two blocks before I decide a drink is called for after all.

If the fact that the only men I attract are rapists and pedophiles isn't a reason to drink, I don't know what is.

I duck into the first bar I spot, plop my ass on a rickety bar stool and order whiskey, demanding a double before the bartender can even turn away. The place is nearly empty and so my drink is almost instantly before me. I swirl it around in the glass, lifting it to my nose, feeling my stomach roll in protest at the stench alone.

Catching my reflection in the mirror behind the bar, I quirk my lips into a smile and raise my glass at myself. "This one's for you Erik Weber. Fuck you." I down the whole drink as fast as I can, feeling it burn a hole down my throat and into my belly.

I know almost before it's there that this was a mistake. I'm so fucking good at making mistakes that I realize them faster than other people. I know even when I'm doing something that it's a mistake, although it never stops me from doing it. I knew from the start Erik Weber was a mistake. But it didn't stop me from flirting with him. It didn't stop me from smiling at him. It didn't stop me from jumping at the first excuse I could come up with to seek him out.

Even after he'd made a colossal fucking mess out of our investigation.

Like that wasn't a big enough clue. I mean, shit, how many ridiculously stupid fucking things can an innocent man do? Certainly fewer than that shithole.

The barkeep is a quick study, apparently judging from my face and how quickly the first whiskey disappeared that he should keep them coming.

Unfortunately, this is one mistake I don't think I'm going to finish making. I really want to get shitfaced until I can't see straight and let someone I won't remember to tip pour me into a cab and send me home.

Except I'm a sex crimes detective and I fucking know better. I know better than to get drunk when I'm not with someone I trust. There's only one person I'd honestly trust enough to get that drunk around and if I'm being fucking honest, I absolutely don't trust myself enough to get that drunk around him. Oh, fuck no. I snicker, thinking of the absurdity. Yeah, a couple shots with Elliot next to me and I'd fucking tell him I've been in love with him for years. Even though he's an asshole. And I know the shock and smugness and concern on his face as he gently reminded me of his wife would be so devastating that I'd remember it despite forgetting everything else.

Oh no, there's no getting drunk in front of the man. I've got my pride. Fool me twice, fuck no. I let myself really start to think there was a possibility there when he was getting divorced. And just when I thought there was a real chance, he reveals he's been fucking his wife the whole time I thought we were getting closer. Yeah, that's real fucking close for you.

I scrub my hands over my face, probably smearing what's left of my eyeliner all over my face, but what the fuck do I care. It's not like I'm trying to pick someone up.

When I look back at the mirror, I see him, standing by the door, watching me. I want to laugh. I want to chug the second double that's in front of me. I want to believe it's concern in his eyes.

Ok, fuck that, I want to believe his eyes are dark and dangerous. But I imagine it's just that he's standing in the shadows.

Fucking lying bastard. Finishing my paperwork. Right. Should have known that he was lying. Of course he wasn't going to actually be helpful. He's just going to hover until I get pissed off and say something mean that I'll have to apologize for even though he's the one hell-bent on being a dick.

Once he realizes that I've spotted him, he gives up trying to hide. He saunters over and perches on the stool next to me. I stare at the whiskey and try to decide if I want it more than I want to save face. I honestly don't know.

"I thought you didn't want a drink." He's pissed. Of course he is. Why, I haven't a clue, but he's always pissed so I wouldn't have expected tonight to be any different.

I roll my eyes at him. "I thought you were doing my paperwork." I really want that drink.

"It's in the car. Don't worry about it. I'll do it."

"I'm not worried." Which is true because I don't fucking care about paperwork or orders or my fucking job right now. My fucking job that keeps making me feel like my insides are in a fucking blender. No, if I get fired in the morning I might care, but right now, it'd be a blessing.

He nods at my whiskey. "Go ahead. I'll take you home when you're ready."

I laugh again, like I did at the precinct. No fucking way he's going to be my knight in shining fucking armor, carting my drunk ass home in the middle of the night, listening to me slur my way through a profession of love for him. Yeah, that's not going to happen.

His eyes are burning through mine, melting my defenses, challenging me. I'd swear that's really what he wants, to have me drunk enough to break, even just a little, to admit that I want him. The whiskey I already drank is warming me from the inside and giving me the courage I need to stare back.

We're closer than usual, especially since he's leaning against his stool rather than sitting on it, and I'm staring into his eyes trying to figure out what he's waiting for. I feel warmth seeping through my pants and I realize he's even closer than I thought, he's actually touching me, his hip is against mine.

You'd think that with all the time I've spent wanting him I'd have noticed that he's coming on to me.

Maybe.

A double really shouldn't throw me this much, except I didn't have time to eat today and I'm hardly in a state of mind to fight for sobriety.

I don't know how long we stare, but it seems like forever. I can't remember if he asked me a question or if I'm waiting for an answer or what the hell is going on. I'm just staring at the man, drowning in him rather than in the whiskey that had a chance of offering me a reprieve from the pain. The whiskey would dull it, numb me a bit maybe. But Elliot? No way. He'll just intensify it, convince me without saying a word that he wants me as much as I want him. And then he'll speak, like he always does, mentioning his wife and family exactly when I think he's about to say something else.

Fucking tease.

I'm not drunk. I'm not stupid. And no matter how much or how long I've wanted him, I'm not desperate either.

I fish a twenty out of my pocket and throw it on the counter. I really want that drink, but not as much as I want to be able to hold my head up in the morning. And I know that whiskey will convince me it's lust in his eyes.

And it is, but it's not his lust. It's mine. His face is emotionless, his clear eyes simply reflecting back what I'm projecting at him.

So I need to turn this around and confuse the fuck out of him once again to keep him off balance. Anything to prevent him from ever getting a lock on my feelings.

His pity would be unbearable.

I stand up quickly, not letting myself think too much about the sudden chill on my hip from where he'd been pressed against me. "I'm going home."

He nods at the drink. "You already paid for that, you're not going to drink it?"

I shake my head. "I changed my mind."

He picks it up, holding it out to me. "I know you want it. Have it."

I snicker, my words falling out before I can think to censor them. "You don't know shit about what I want."

He smirks. "I can smell it on your breath, Liv. Don't pretend you haven't already had one."

"I'm not pretending anything." Fuck, I'm such a liar. My entire fucking life is about pretending. Mostly pretending the whole fucking house of cards isn't about to fall in on me and that I wouldn't care if it did.

"You sure?" He licks his bottom lip after he speaks and I can't help it. My eyes are drawn to it, imagining what it would feel like to kiss him, to feel him kiss me, to have his tongue sliding along my lip.

I shudder even while the rush of heat rolls through me. Jesus, I've never been this close to losing my grip around him. I squeeze my eyes closed, swallowing back the thoughts, reminding myself that he is easily scared of intense emotion and that revealing how I feel would scare him to fucking death.

I hear the glass connect with the bar and my eyes fly open. The glass is empty now and my eyes dart back to his mouth, seeing the moisture there, watching his tongue dart out to clean it.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. I'm in trouble.

In an attempt to hold onto my dignity, and my sanity, I reach for my phone.

He grabs my wrist. "Who are you calling?" His voice is low and husky and I want to scream for how much I need to hear it again.

"A cab." My chin is trembling and I don't know why.

"Why?"

He must know. He must feel me shaking. His hand is still closed around my wrist. There's no fucking way he doesn't feel it. I glance down and see that I'm shaking so hard his arm is shaking too. Shit.

"I need to go home." My words are a plea and I know he hears it. Please, please, please let me go home and pull myself together.

"I'll take you home."

Oh, fuck, if only he would.

I yank my arm away before it can melt from his touch. "Stop it! Just fucking stop it!"

He's confused again, backing up a step and raising his hands as though he's expecting me to brandish my gun and threaten him.

"Stop what?"

I bite my lip and try to decide if there was a real chance he meant what I heard. I'm really leaning towards I can't hold my liquor rather than my partner of thirteen years just decided to hit on me all of a sudden. I sigh, realizing that I am desperate, but not desperate enough to let him know.

Shaking my head, I shrug. "I want to be alone, Elliot. Just go away." I hold his stare, trying to remember to look angry, ignoring the flash of hurt I see.

"I can't do that, Liv. I'm worried about you."

He's not going to budge, not when I'm acting so fucking weird. So I scrounge around in my brain for some kind of explanation. "If I weren't upset right now, you'd have every right to be worried about me."

"And why is that?" He moves closer again, but mercifully keeps his hands to himself.

"Because the only men who are interested in me are rapists and pedophiles. If I was ok with that, that would be cause to worry. But I'm not. So you can go home and rest assured, I'm fine."

He grins as he shakes his head. "Oh, come on, that's not true, Liv, and you know it."

"What?" I can't imagine what he finds so amusing.

He seems to think the tension has been diffused as he slides his arm around my back, ushering me toward the door while his palm burns a hole in the small of my back. "I scare off all the normal guys."

"I'm not around you all the time, Elliot."

He snickers, holding the door open with the hand that isn't still on me. "If you're going to lie and tell me you have a busy social calendar I know nothing about, I'll remind you that we're working ninety percent of the time and the rest of that time you're usually asleep." He glances at me as we walk, but I keep my eyes trained on the sidewalk. "Nobody is getting to you without going through me and the normal ones don't bother trying."

Fuck, here he is crushing me while he's trying to make me feel better. "Well, god knows I'm certainly not worth trying for."

"Aw, Liv, come on." His hand slips from my back to my hip and pulls me into his side. "You haven't figured out by now that I'm not about to let you go?"

I stop dead in my tracks, staring across the vast distance of ten feet to his car. I can't possibly get in there with him and let him drive me to my place with his words rolling around in my head. Fuck. Why does he have to fuck with me like this?

But then again, he's never fucked with me like this. I don't understand why he's starting now.

I turn to face him, searching his eyes for an answer I can't find. "What the fuck are you saying?"

He smiles, his eyes full of pride. "You meet a nice guy, you fall in love, you have a baby, there's no way you'll stay in Special Victims."

"Go to hell! Special Victims is in my blood, remember? I couldn't escape it if I wanted to." As though in my forties I'm just working until I meet my husband and settle down.

"He won't want you to stay and if you love him, you'll do what he asks."

"Bullshit!" I reach out, my hands striking his shoulders, shoving him backwards. "I wouldn't quit my job because some asshole wanted me to. I wouldn't love someone like that."

His eyes are on mine, holding me as tightly as his hands could. "You quit when you thought I asked you to."

My eyes go wide. I can't fucking believe it. I can't fucking believe that he'd bring that up. I can't fucking believe that he even knew why I'd left and never said anything. I feel like such an idiot, thinking I've been hiding my feelings for all this time when he's known all along.

But I can't admit it, I can't let him have the point. "You didn't ask me to leave. You wanted me to stay."

"Bullshit. I was terrified of you staying and you knew it. That's why you left." It might be the most honest thing the man has ever said to me, but I'm not really listening.

I'm waiting for the chance to cut him off at the knees. I narrow my eyes, preparing to top off two lies with the third clincher. "And besides, I don't-"

But my voice stops just like my feet had. I can't say it. I can look in his eyes and lie up and down about everything else, but I cannot look him in the eye and say I don't love him.

He fucking knows it. He's gloating like there's no fucking tomorrow.

And there won't be, not for us, not for our partnership, not after this conversation.

I knew telling him I loved him would break my heart and it is. I never expected it would go like this, but I always knew it would go badly. Mistakes are my thing. My whole life is a fucking mistake. Just ask my mother.

My head is shaking, denying everything, denying the whole situation, and my feet start backing away. I can't think about it, I just have to get away. I have to run away before I fully grasp that this is the last time I will ever lay eyes on this man or I will die right here.

Of course, it's not like I can live without him, so I'm pretty much up shit creek anyway.

It's only when he reaches to wipe them away that I even realize I'm crying. But I shake my head harder and back up another step. I want to say something. But I can't make any noise except a sniffle. Actually, no, I don't want to say something. I want to throw myself into his arms and beg him for whatever he has to give me. But I won't. I won't put him in that position. I'd rather die than hurt him like that.

He's not deterred, though, and he steps forward, halving the distance I've been steadily putting between us in two steps. He reaches out again, curling his fingers around my arm, holding me tight enough to keep me from getting away. "Don't, Liv."

Fuck. I didn't want to tell him. I didn't mean to tell him. I didn't even have the balls to come out and say it. I just didn't deny it. Shit, I must look like the biggest ass of all time, crying hysterically over something that I brought up, that I couldn't even voice.

He brings his other hand to my face, cupping my cheek and it's all I can do not to press against it. I want the comfort. But I can't have it and I know it.

He pulls at me though, forcing me to look in his direction and then my eyes are drawn to his like magnets. They always have been.

"It's ok, Liv."

I shake my head again, his hand moving back and forth with me. "No, it's not."

"Yes, it is." He steps closer, even closer than he'd been in the bar, his face looming so large in my vision that it's all I can see. Like I've ever been able to see anything else.

"How? How is it ok?" Because, frankly, if he's got an answer, I'd like to hear it.

His hand moves the slightest bit, his thumb brushing across my lips. The contact shocks me, and my mouth drops open to pull in a breath. He stares, watching my reaction to his touch up close.

"It's ok because I've known for a long time."

My eyes close and I wonder if I can make myself disappear. Just vanish. Abracadabra. Poof. Gone. That he has known my secret for a long time hardly makes it better. No, it fucking makes it worse, knowing that I've been patting myself on the back for hiding my true feelings for so long while he's been well aware of them all along. I'm a fucking idiot.

"Why didn't you say something?" I have to know why he let me mortify myself on a daily basis when he could have put both of us out of our misery by telling me how fucking transparent I was.

The grip on my arm releases as his hand moves to thread through my hair.

I don't understand why he's doing this, why he's toying with me, why he's suddenly so cruel that he's going to torture me before he kills me with his tender rejection.

"I didn't want to tell you anymore than you wanted to tell me."

I wait for his words to make sense, watching his eyes for some clue as to what he means.

He leans in, his lips softly brushing my forehead. "Besides," he whispers while his lips trail down to my ear, "I wasn't completely sure until now." He pushes my hair away from my neck, clearing a path for his mouth. "I thought it might have been wishful thinking."

My whole body sags into his the moment his lips graze my throat. I groan as his mouth leaves a wet trail in its wake of kisses. Nothing I've experienced in my entire fucking life has ever felt this good. Nothing in the world could ever compare to the sensation of his mouth against my skin.

I'm shaking again, clinging to his suit jacket as hard as I can, knowing I'll fall right on my ass if he lets me go. But one of his strong arms is wrapped around my back, holding me tight, assuring me he's not going to let me fall.

Fuck. Like I'm not already falling. Like I haven't already fallen so far so fast that I'll never see daylight again.

He's pressing me against the car, letting it help hold me up and I swear to fucking god I don't know how we got over here. I don't remember moving. I don't remember my arms wrapping around his neck. I don't remember him grasping my head in both hands until I'm staring up at the night sky.

All I know is that his mouth is still connected to my skin and that I'll die if he ever stops touching me.

And then he does, with his mouth at least, staring down into my face, his breath coming in quick pants as he just looks at me. I'm just staring up at him, begging him silently not to start thinking now, not to take away the most pleasure I've ever had, not to fucking kill me where I stand.

I don't notice him moving. I simply feel his mouth finally touching mine, his lips already parted, his tongue tasting my mouth exactly the way I'd wanted.

Holy fucking hell.

I hadn't realized I had any strength left at all, except that I'm kissing him so hard it hurts and I won't be surprised if we both have bruises in the morning. Fuck. Morning. Oh, fucking god, this is going to hurt in the morning.

But I don't fucking care, not now, maybe not then. Not when his tongue finally delves into my mouth. Not when my body arches into him, needing more contact than is physically possible.

He's kissing me senseless, quite literally, making me lightheaded from not breathing. I can feel him grinding against me and I'm not entirely sure I'll care if we get arrested for having sex in a parking lot. No, actually, I'm sure I won't care. The only thing that I'll be upset about is if we don't have sex right now.

His mouth shifts from mine, trailing a wet path back to my ear, his nose nuzzling into my hair. I honestly never expected such sweetness from him and it just makes me want to cry. Maybe he's soft like that with his family, but not with me, never with me. He's opening himself up to me, letting me know he's not going to close his walls back up on me, promising me that this has changed us for the better.

I feel the rumbling of his voice, husky and rough, like I wanted so badly.

"I need to take you home."

Shaking my head, I turn my face into his neck, breathing in the scent of him, loving the heat that's radiating from him. It's amazing he's sharing it with me. "No, it's ok."

He shakes his head back, his fingers moving my hair for him to kiss my neck again. "Not here, Liv, please."

But I'm scared. I'm fucking terrified. A little bit of space and the primal part of his brain might give up control and I can't fucking stand the idea of not having him. In my panic, I reach for his face, pulling his lips back to mine, kissing him for all I'm worth, trying to breath out a few words between kisses.

"Please, El, don't." I don't even know what I'm trying to say, and I don't fucking care, not when he's letting me put my tongue in his mouth.

"Liv-" He sounds as frightened as I do and it makes me want to cry. He's fighting for control of himself as desperately as I'm fighting to make him lose it.

"Don't think about it, El, please, just don't."

And somehow I'm sobbing again, realizing belatedly that I've just revealed precisely how pathetic and desperate I am and I'm so pathetic and desperate that I don't fucking care if I have to beg him. I want him that much. I need him that much. He can laugh his ass off about me tomorrow, but I fucking need him tonight.

He presses a kiss against my mouth, pulling back even as I try to get closer. "Shhh, Liv, don't." He hugs me tight, tucking his face over my shoulder, locking his arms so tightly around me that I can't move at all. "I'm not going to change my mind, baby. We're just not going to do this here, ok?"

It's all I can do to nod in agreement. I don't have any other choice. As clear as it is that he wants me with his erection pressing against me, he's not about to give in. I can only trust him, his words, his body. But I've always trusted him, from the start, when I didn't know him, when I didn't know he was worthy, when I didn't know he would be the closest friend I've ever had, when I had no idea he was the only man I would ever love.

He pulls back once I nod, looking into my eyes as his hands stroke down my cheeks. "Ok."

I nod again, feeling the tension, the pressure in my chest giving as I realize that I do trust him that much, that I absolutely believe him. "Ok."

He smiles as he opens the door of the car, leaning in to kiss me again as though he can't bear the thought of waiting until we get there. I grab his tie, pulling him in for another, reassuring him that I'm ok with either choice.

He growls as he pushes me into the seat. "I'm trying to take you home here."

I grin up at him, my confidence returning after my breakdown. "I'm trying to distract you here."

Carefully unwrapping my fingers from his tie, he shakes his head at me. "If we get busted having sex in a parking lot imagine how long it will be before we get home."

Odds are the arresting officers aren't going to wait for us to finish. "Good point." I obediently pull my feet into the car and allow him to shut the door.

He's around the car and in his seat in a second, peeling out of the lot so fast he leaves tire marks halfway up the block. I look at him, seeing him shrug in response. I love that he's letting me see how much he wants this. I love that a few minutes with him makes me forget that anything has ever been wrong in my life.

He reaches over, taking my hand as he drives, tangling our fingers together.

Erik fucking who?