Sometimes it hurt for her to breathe. It was nights like that when she allowed the darkness that permeated her apartment to seep into her soul. As she raised the glass of red wine to her lips, Olivia stared into the abyss that was her life. She sat alone on her ratty old couch in silence; to be present with her thoughts. She knew it would get her nowhere, but sometimes, after an especially difficult and painful case, she would go through this ritual of sitting in the dark, sipping a rich merlot, and decompressing from the stress of the day.

She and Elliot had worked a case that day involving a middle aged, single woman who was found raped and murdered in her tiny studio apartment eight days after her estimated time of death.

Eight days later. Fuck, that got to her.

After investigating further, they had discovered that the woman had no family and very few friends to speak of. Nobody called her daily to check in on how she was doing. No "special someone" in her life. Nobody in her building noticed whether or not she came or went.

A member of the NYPD had busted down her door after her boss called to report her missing from work. No call no show and so unlike her, he had said. When the officer noticed the trickle of dried blood on her inner thigh and no panties, he radioed for an SVU detective.

That could be me, Olivia had thought as she took in the scene before her. The victim was sprawled out on a full sized bed. There were no family photos, no signs of life other than hers – at least eight days ago- as everything was neatly organized and in its designated place. If Olivia didn't have a job requiring her to practically live in her partner's pocket, who would have known if she was lying lifeless on her bed? Who would have really cared? Elliot had eyed her nervously, concern etched on his face, as if he knew what she was thinking.

Yes, it was nights like this that the darkness consumed her.

She took another sip of wine as her thoughts drifted to some of the choices she made in her life which brought her to this point. As much as she knew she was born for the job, she often wondered what life would be like if she hadn't joined the NYPD, especially the SVU.

She could have been an elementary school teacher, perhaps. Or a counselor. She could have made a difference with a job like that and not have had to give her up her entire life. She could have met a good man, made a good wife, and had good children. It could have been…well, good.

There wouldn't be these lonely nights that filled her with self-loathing and a sense of grieving. Grieving for the life she could have had if her mother hadn't resented her.

Her mother.

Didn't it always lead back to her? She didn't blame everything on her mother though. No, Olivia was intelligent enough and spent enough time around Huang to know not all problems could be blamed on the mother. She took responsibility for her own choices, yet she had many regrets.

For all her strength and independence, she never had the courage to go for what she really wanted in life.

A family.

The truth was the thought of having a family actually scared the shit out of her as much as she wanted one. Olivia knew nothing of how to be a wife and mother. She had no traditions to pass on and no words of wisdom to offer.

But she craved it.

It was a profound, all-encompassing desire in her gut that made her want to surround herself by loved ones - to belong. She always gave herself to others, never accepted or expected anything in return. That was different though. That was work. Although work was in fact her life, at this point her in her life she finally had realized all of the things she had wanted outside of her career have passed her by.

Olivia took another swallow of the crimson liquid as she fingered the delicate gold necklace she wore.


It was bullshit. She was a coward when it came to the things that mattered.

She laid her head back against the couch cushion, staring up at the white, popcorn ceiling. She had so many fears, mainly the one that involved her growing old alone.


He was another fear of hers. They had just started seeing each other officially about a week ago, and she was already speculating about the various ways she would fuck things up. Deep down she knew she'd end up on her own. Her mother had known it too. The thing is, she loved him so damn much he was worth the risk of it all falling apart in the end like she knew it would.

As she made her way into her small, dimly lit kitchen to refill her glass, she felt the liquid warmth coursing through her body. As she inhaled the bouquet within the glass before her, she again pushed aside thoughts of her mother.

Not tonight.

She thought back to a time when she wasn't so jaded. She was fresh and new and thought she was going to save the world, one victim at a time. She would solve her mother's rape case and find her father, bringing him to justice. She had all of the energy in the world and believed she could fall in love, keep her career and have it all.

She doesn't even recognize that young woman anymore.

Now when she looks in the mirror, she sees a tired, cynical, middle aged woman who let her life pass her by. She lifted the glass to her lips again and savored the sweet liquid as it trickled down her throat.

Making her way back to her couch, she sighed to herself. She couldn't let herself end up like the woman in her case. She had to try. Had to find something more to live for than her work. As down as she could allow herself to get, Olivia could never give up completely. She had to be stronger than that.

The sharp knock on the door startled her. She placed her glass on a coaster on the side table and numbly made her way over, looking out of the peephole before she opened the door to her silver lining on the dark storm cloud of her thoughts. Her sliver of light in the darkness. Elliot stepped in and surrounded her in his arms, holding her close. Closing her eyes tightly and resting her head against his shoulder, she breathed him in deeply, and suddenly it didn't hurt as badly anymore.

A/N: Please review and let me know what you think! Thanks for reading and a big thanks to Bensler for the Beta! :)