A/N: Angel, the word suggested by my lovely IceGem13, was incredibly difficult to fictionalize in an original way. I hope I've done it justice.

DISCLAIMER: SVU and related characters belong only to Dick Wolf. This story belongs to TStabler©

Olivia mumbled under her breath. This was not happening. This couldn't be happening. He was taking her back, going back to her, whatever. She couldn't hear them, but she could see them, and they didn't look angry or upset. They were smiling, nodding, laughing, and hugging. Even now, although it was expected, it hurt. She thought they were heading somewhere, she thought they were getting closer. Maybe she had just made him see that he wanted his wife, and his life, back.

It wasn't physical, not yet, not at all. What she felt for him was purely emotional. A deep connection, her soul almost bonded entirely with his, her heart was already given to him completely. As she stood in the doorway of the locked interrogation room, watching them through the mirror, she felt the ripping and tearing, those ties being severed.

She shook her head and walked away, back out into the harsh, cold squad room, knowing that reality had to hit her eventually. She dropped her coffee on her desk and her eyes landed on the photo. Framed. One she looked at every morning, and before she left each night. Her and him, happy, smiling. People who didn't know would say, just by looking, they were in love. She scoffed, picking the frame up and tossing it into an open drawer.

She slammed the drawer shut, making her metal desk shiver and shake, and she bit her lip. "I'll be back," she called to the two detectives behind her. She grabbed her jacket and keys, then left, not looking back. Not once.

She made it across town in record time, and she flew up the stairs to her apartment, almost kicking the door open in frustration and pain. "Damn it," she seethed, realizing that even now, as she was letting herself feel, she was just like him. He had rubbed off on her. Changed her.

She shook her head in bitter jest, thinking back to all of the times he'd saved her. Not physically, but those, too, were numbered occasions in her memory file, pulled out each night, scanned, remembered, and put back.

The times he saved her from self-destruction. She remembered the times when he wouldn't let her dissolve into dust and destroy herself because she felt guilty for things that were not her fault. When her mother died, he followed her around for days, waiting, and when she finally snapped, finally broke, he caught her, let her cry, and told her she was not weak, but human.

The times he saved her from bad dates, being the "emergency phone call" she just had to take, giving her an excuse to leave, which always ended with them at a bar, or a diner, or just the car. Talking. Being. Together. She thought about how he had saved her from unworthy men and horrible relationships, running background checks and getting in the way when he didn't like her choice of date. He knocked Dean Porter out with one punch when she caught him cheating, and he threatened to kill Kurt Moss if he even read Olivia's name in a newspaper again.

He was her rock. Her stability. Her lifejacket. Her angel.

She was losing the only good thing she had in the world, and she didn't understand why, or where she'd gone wrong. What did she say, or do, that made him go back to her? What pushed him away?

"Liv?" his voice called from her doorway.

She turned, surprised to see him. "Yeah," she said. A silly answer, she knew, but she had lost all sense for the moment.

"You left," he said, stepping into the apartment. "You left before I could tell you…"

"You don't have to tell me," she said, shaking her head. "I know. And, uh, I'm happy for you. It's…it's about time, El." She was a whiz at hiding her feelings. Even from him. She could fake happiness for him. She'd been doing it for herself for years.

Elliot smiled. "I know," he said. "We still have some things to work out, ya know, the house, the kids. I thought she would scream or hit me, but she took it really well."

Olivia raised an eyebrow at him. She took off her jacket and blazer, leaving her in a white tank, and walked toward her refrigerator. "Of course she did," she said, grabbing a beer and pushing the door shut with her hip. "Why wouldn't she?" she asked.

"This is Kathy we're talking about," Elliot said, shaking his head. "She's a bit of a firework. You never know when she's gonna explode, and it could either be very beautiful, or set your whole world on fire." He ran a hand through her hair and said, "I was pretty sure telling her I signed the papers was gonna lead to the second one."

The bottle in her hand suddenly got colder. No. She realized that was just her blood freezing. What did he just say?

"What did you just say?" she asked, looking over her shoulder at him.

Elliot's eyes narrowed then. "What's that?" he asked, pointing to her.

"I asked you first," Olivia said, turning quickly as she realized what he meant. She forgot how thin and mobile the straps on her top were. How much had he seen?

Elliot took two steps toward her. "On your shoulder," he said, his hands moving to her arms. He turned her around and held her tight, looking intently at the blade of her right shoulder. "Is that…a wing?" he asked.

Olivia rolled her eyes. "Very good, Detective," she quipped.

Elliot, his curiosity not satisfied, slid one hand up her arm, unknowingly sending chills and small bursts of heat through her body. "A wing," he began, "Of what?" his fingers slipped under the strap of her tank, and she tried to pull away.

"Elliot, stop," she said, jerking away from him, unsuccessfully though.

"I wanna see this," he told her firmly. "Stay still. I cannot believe I didn't know you had a tattoo," he said softly, sliding the cotton down. He gently nudged the fabric out of the way, and he gasped.

Olivia closed her eyes. She was sorry for even getting it now, and his seeing it only humiliated her. "Happy?" she hissed.

"An angel," Elliot whispered. His fingers traced the blacks and grays of his wings. They glided over the perfect portrait of his face, the smooth curves of the angel, who was apparently very strong, his muscular body etched into her skin. They brushed over the broken woman lying draped over his arms, noticing the placement of the angel's hand over the girl's heart.

He followed the detailing of the soft lines to the woman's arms, one around her savior's neck, the other outstretched, her own palm splayed over his chest, where his heart would be.

He was, then, drawn to their faces, the way they were looking at each other, the penetrating eye contact, and for a moment he forgot that he was staring at his partner's shoulder blade. He forgot that it was merely a tattoo, and he believed it was some priceless work of art. "Liv," he whispered.

"What?" she barked. Her voice was vicious even though her body was reacting to his touch, it made her want to turn around and kiss him, promise him the world, she'd do anything he asked.

"Why?" he asked, letting her go, watching as she turned to face him.

Olivia held his gaze for a moment, as strongly as she could, not wanting him to see her resolve fading. "Because that's what you are," she said, never looking away but giving him an honest answer in spite of the desire to lie. She could have simply said she didn't know.

Elliot tilted his head and looked at her, confused.

"You are my angel," she continued, gesturing to him with her forgotten beer bottle. "You saved me, Elliot. A long time ago," she told him. "And then…you just…kept doing it. That's what a guardian angel does, right?"

Elliot nodded. He held her gaze and said, "That's the second most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my entire life."

Olivia, remembering her beer, took a sip and shook her head. He was not letting the tattoo of him, depicted as an angel, carrying her with their hands on each other's hearts, come second to his wife. Not if she could help it. "I bet you any amount of money getting this thing hurt a hell of a lot more than her having your kids," she said before she could think. She turned and cringed. Did she really just say that?

"I'm not…not Kathy," Elliot said, ignoring the fact that she had just verbally, and rather childishly, tried to one-up his wife. "I meant you."

She died. She felt her heart stop. She had to cough a bit to get it to start again, and then she looked at him. "Me?" she asked. "Annual eye exams are coming up. Do yourself a favor. Go."

Elliot shook his head. "Don't…don't do that," he said, giving her a puzzled expression. "You are," he whispered, stepping closer to her. "Tell me something," he demanded then, taking her beer-free hand. "Tell me, so I'm sure I did the right thing this morning, why we're looking at each other like that. Why we're holding each other's hearts. What does that mean, Liv?"

Olivia, trying to stop it, trying to breathe through it, felt the tears building. "Because…you're saving me."

Elliot bit his lip. "How?" he asked, searching her eyes, willing the tears to fall so they'd get out of the way and stop hiding what he wanted so desperately to see.

She blinked and two tears dripped down, rolling down her cheeks. She felt them, but she didn't care anymore. He knew now, she might as well say it. She sniffled as she put the beer down, looked at him, and with a defeated shrug she said, "By loving me, Elliot."

Before she could move, or blink, or breathe, or even process what was happening, his arms, stronger than she had imagined, had wrapped around her and he pulled her close, crashing his lips into hers. He moved his hand, still holding hers, up to his chest and placed her palm over his rapidly thumping heart.

Olivia moaned a bit, understanding what he was doing. She felt him run his tongue over her bottom lip, slowly, cautiously, and she gasped. He moved in, deepening the kiss as his hand pressed into her chest, over her heart, feeling her rhythm rivaling his.

Common sense, pride, and the memory of time and her job all flooded back to her. She pushed him away, but his forehead was firmly settled against hers and his grip on her was tight. "What are you doing?" she asked, breathless in her query as she tried to feel her lips and tongue.

Elliot, equally bothered and panting, said, "Saving you," and pressed his lips to hers again.

Olivia, not one to cave so quickly, pushed him back again and shook her head. "Don't…Kathy…we…you just…" she was babbling, but her point was made.

"Didn't you hear me?" he asked, looking at her in shock. "I signed the papers. Kathy and I…it's over, Liv. I told her that I met someone, someone who, whether she knew it or not, saved my life. Many times. I told her I was in love with someone else, that the separation gave me the time and space I needed to figure that out, and I couldn't let her go now." He brushed Olivia's hair back and kissed her softly, just once, and said, "She couldn't be mad at me when I told her I was in love with my angel."

Olivia's eyes widened a bit. "I thought you were...going back," she said, hesitating, unsure of how she could have been wrong.

"You really thought that, after everything we've been through, everything that's happened, I'd make a choice like that without telling you?" he asked. "I knew what was happening here," he said with a shrug. "I've wanted to kiss you, more than just kiss you, so many times, but I couldn't do that to you. I couldn't…"

Olivia cut him off, knowing. "You were saving me from…"

"Yeah," Elliot interrupted. "I was," he said, nodding, pulling her close again. "I was saving both of us, angel," he said, brushing his lips over hers, waiting for her to make the decision.

Olivia looked into his eyes, slid one hand up his shirt, sprawling over his heart, and looped her other arm around his neck.

Elliot, his deep, haunting, stare hitting her brown eyes, lifted her into his arms. He bent his head to kiss her as he walked her toward her bedroom, saying a silent prayer. Two fallen angels lifting each other back up was, to him, a miracle, and he thanked God for his second chance and the heavenly creature in his arms. As he placed her on the bed, laying over her, it hit him. He pulled away from their kiss, looked into her eyes, and said, "You don't believe in angels."

Olivia looked up at him, blinking her brightened eyes. "Yes," she said, running her hands over his back, where she believed he would one day have wings, "I do."

A/N: A one-word-one-shot, suggested by my lovely IceGem13. Not what I expected to write, doll! Hope you enjoyed!