A/N: A special request. Here goes nothing.
DISCLAIMER: Dick Wolf owns the characters. Taylor Swift owns the song "Back to December." That's pretty much it. Everything else written before you is pure TStabler©
Her hands were shaking, her knees were bouncing, and her breath was coming in short bursts as she gazed around the office, looking at the walls and the floor, the ceiling, anywhere but at the man behind the desk. She was sitting right in front of him, and still running from him.
She'd been gone for a year, so she was nervous about talking to him. Nervous about his reaction to what she was going to say. Nervous that maybe she wouldn't be able to say it. She'd e-mailed, explaining why she left.
She could deal with their affair, the sex, the secrets, the lies. Those were all okay with her, but when he told her what she wasn't ready to hear, she couldn't handle it. She didn't want to be the reason his life fell apart, so she had taken the first opportunity to get out of his life.
She thought about the last year, how he'd told her he was leaving his wife, and the next day she'd taken off and gone undercover without telling him, not that she could have. She thought about how the e-mailed communication between them had been quick and cold.
She remembered hearing how he couldn't work with anyone else, and he'd fixed it so he wouldn't need a partner at all anymore, but as she took another long look around the pristine Captain's office she knew this wasn't what she expected.
Now, sitting here, seeing him, attempting to talk to him, it was too much, and she wanted nothing more than to run away. Again.
Too much had changed, and she wasn't sure if he would take her back in any capacity. In any sense of the word. Friend. Partner. Lover. Anything.
Her eyes finally met his, and she sighed. "I'm so glad you made time to see me."
He answered with a nod and soft grunt. He was expecting more than that.
"How's life?" she asked. "Tell me. How's your family? I haven't seen them in a while."
"Kids are good," he said, biting his lip. "Haven't heard from Kathy since...well, since you took off, actually. She was gone before I even told you..." he changed his mind and shook his head.
She looked out the window, avoiding him now. "You've been good," she said, "Busier than ever."
"Comes with the job," he said. He leaned back in his chair and shook his head. "Yeah, it's snowing. You still like to stare at the snow?"
She scoffed, shaking her head. "Small talk," she mumbled. "Work and the weather? Your guard is up, and I know why."
"Enlighten me," he said, reaching for a pen. He began clicking it.
"Because the last time you saw me is still burned in the back of your mind," she said, turning to look at him. A tear rolled down her cheek. She wasn't watching the snow, she just didn't want him to see her cry. She sniffled and said, "You gave me roses, and I left them there to die."
"Liv," he whispered, dropping the pen, "Come on. Don't cry."
"These days, I haven't been sleeping,"she said, her gazed now fixed on a corner of his desk. "I've been staying up playing back myself leaving."
He closed his eyes briefly. He didn't want to have this conversation. "Liv, don't..."
"And when your birthday passed, and I didn't call," she said, shaking her head as she tried to wipe her eyes with her long sleeve.
"I know you couldn't," he said with a shrug. "You could have gotten in trouble if they knew you were contacting me at all. Those e-mails could have gotten you killed."
She shook her head harder, sniffled again. "And then I think about summer, all those beautiful times I watched you laughing from the passenger side."
He chuckled. "That was a great vacation. Just you and me, the open road, and some of the best mountains and beaches in the country," he said, remembering. "I got one hell of a tan," he laughed.
She tried to smile. She looked into his eyes and said, softly,"I realized I loved you in the fall."
He sat up straighter then. Tilted his head. Confused. He struggled over the many questions dancing in his mind. "I know, we...I mean, when we got back you cried about...so you just couldn't say it? But you did love...so then why would you..."
"And then the cold came, the dark days when fear crept into my mind," she said, her eyes glazing over as she blinked, and more tears slid down her ashen cheeks. "You gave me all your love, and all I gave you was..." she choked on the word as she held back a sob."Goodbye."She stood.
Their eyes locked. No one moved. He didn't want to let her go again, but he didn't want to force her to stay if it wasn't what she wanted. He waited for her to speak, holding her in her place with little more than a prayer and a hard gaze.
She took a shaky breath. "So this is me swallowing my pride, standing in front of you saying I'm sorry for that night." She shrugged and let out a small chuckle."Turns out, freedom ain't nothing but missing you, wishing I realized what I had when you were mine. I'd go back to December, turn around and make it all right, change my mind." She shrugged again.
He blinked. Was he hearing her correctly. He watched, almost in slow-motion, as she walked from her chair to the side of his desk. "Liv?" he questioned, a whisper.
"I miss your tan skin, your sweet smile," she said, running the pad of her thumb along his lips."So good to me," she whispered. "So right. And how you held me in your arms that September night, the first time you ever saw me cry."
He blinked and felt the tears fall down his own cheeks. "Yeah. You freaked out on me, Liv. I don't know what I did to...now I know you were terrified. You realized you were really in love with me and it scared the shit out of you." He closed his eyes and tried to breathe, and when he opened them he saw her walking back toward the door. His eyes begged her to stop moving.
She stopped and looked back at him, dropping her palms to his desk."Maybe this is wishful thinking,"she said, biting her lip."Probably mindless dreaming, but if we loved again, I swear I'd love you right." She ran a hand through her hair and sniffled one last time, stopping her tears as she prepared to go out into the squad room."I'd go back in time and change it, but I can't."
He watched in horror as she moved back toward the door and rested her hand on the knob. He moved quickly.
Without looking back at him, she said,"So if the chain is on your door, I understand."
His hand cupped hers, stopping her from turning the knob. She turned, looking over her shoulder at him. "I have been waiting for to come back for a year," he whispered. "If you think I'm just gonna let you walk out of my life again, Olivia Benson, you're crazy."
She let out a laugh, mixed with a harsh sob, and she wrapped her arms around him. "I'm so sorry," she whispered, over and over.
"Shh," he hushed, running his hands up and down her back. "You got scared, Liv. You run. I get it. I just...I always hoped you wouldn't run from me."
She met his tear-filled eyes as her still-shaking hands cupped his face. "You're the only man I've ever come back to, El."
He pulled her into his arms, hoisting her around his hips, and he crashed his lips to hers. The kiss was heated, filled with passion and love, longing and regret, an apology and a punishment rolled into one searing, scorching, melding of mouths.
He moved again, slamming her into the office wall, the blinds shook and the end-table and lamp rattled a bit.
They didn't notice.
"Say it," he whispered, pulling at her shirt.
She ripped his shirt out of his pants and said, "I love you."
He dropped his head to her neck, kissing and nipping as he demanded, "Say it again."
"I love you," she said, her head dropping back against the wall, her hands fumbling for his belt buckle.
He got he pants off just enough, pushing slowly into her, feeling like their first time together all over again. It had been so long, this felt so perfect, blissful and painful at once. "Say it again," he said through gritted teeth.
She moaned as he pushed his way into her for the first time in a year, sheathing himself inside of her, holding and gripping her possessively, as if he'd never let her go. "I love you," she whispered, right into his ear.
He stilled once he was completely surrounded by her, he backed his head up and kissed her, deep and sound. He pulled away and fresh tears in his eyes threatened to fall as he whispered, "Forget about last December, baby." He began to move, holding onto her and looking deeply into her eyes.
She nodded. "This December, El, I promise. No more running. You've got me."
He kissed her again and his tears rolled onto her cheeks, sliding between their skin as they rubbed and caressed, proving that forgiveness was always possible when love was strong enough. "I've got you," he repeated. "I'm never letting you go again."
"Please," she moaned. "God, don't."
He moved them, in one great stride, to his leather couch. He grunted and sighed and moaned. Then he whispered, "Thank God you came back."
She moaned again, rolling her hips up to meet his. "I left something behind, El. I had to come back for it."
He thrust slowly, looking into her brown eyes. "What?" he asked, kissing her nose, her eyelids, her forehead, anywhere he could.
"My heart," she panted, her nails digging into his back. She looked up into his eyes and kissed him, thanking God he hadn't found someone else in her absence.
Things had definitely changed since she'd left, and they were changing now that she'd returned, but as long as she had him, and she would make sure she would always have him, the changes would only be great. She had her life back. She had her December back. She had Elliot back.
And all it took was a little running, only backward.
A/N: To my two loves who suggested this wonderful song be written into a fic, I hope I have made you proud.