A/N: Trust me :)

"If you can't trust your partner, Elliot, it's time to get a new one."

Her own words from years ago echoed in her brain as Olivia swallowed her tears and stormed out of the precinct with Elliot hot on her heels.

He always followed.

She had barely made it down the steps when he grabbed her arm, halting her quick stride. He was breathing hard and his eyes flashed with anger and hurt. Olivia looked away, not wanting to back down, knowing the moment she made eye contact she would soften.

"Fuck, Olivia, you can't keep doing this! You can't threaten to end our partnership every time I piss you off."

"Let go of me, Elliot. I can't do this anymore." She wrenched her arm from his grip and continued down the precinct steps and onto the crowded city streets, never looking back.

Elliot shook his head as he watched her retreating form. Maybe it was time to give up and just let her go. He was tired of fighting and tired of the emotional rollercoaster that was their relationship. Just when things seemed content and peaceful between them, one of them had to go and fuck it all up again.

This time it was him. It usually was.

He sighed as he lowered himself onto the cold concrete step. Elliot wasn't sure how to fix this particular screw up, but he knew he would suffer until he figured it out. He could never feel completely at ease when Olivia was this upset with him.

{EO}

Captain Cragen sat at his desk feeling somewhat shell shocked. He had been used to his best team going at it over the years, but lately things had been quiet. Maybe too quiet? He thought that perhaps something was brewing and waiting to bubble over. That day was before him.

He had sent them out on a case involving a professor who was raped walking to her car on the Columbia University campus the previous night. The similarities to Olivia's mother's case were startling and Cragen knew she would struggle internally. As hard as she tried, Olivia had never truly made peace with her past, how she came to enter this world. He'd expected her to have a difficult time. He'd even expected Elliot to be overprotective. What he hadn't expected was what had just take place in his office.

{EO}

The cold wind whipped against Olivia as she made her way to the downtown 1 train. She usually didn't take the subway home, but in her haste, she had left the precinct without her purse and only had a few dollars in her pocket. As she descended the steps and purchased her ticket, she thought that the atmosphere suited her mood just fine anyway. The smell of stale urine and body odor permeated the air around her as she slid her card in the slot and passed through the turn style to wait for her train. The image of her mother, lying dead on the cold and filthy ground briefly flashed in her mind's eye. Shaking her head as if to erase the vision, her thoughts turned back to her argument with Elliot.

After thirteen years, he still didn't think she was strong enough to keep her emotions in check. He still didn't trust her completely. He still didn't think she could handle the job.

It hurt…badly.

The first sign of melancholy she expressed during their investigation of the crime scene, he had gone straight to Cragen, insisting she be taken off the case because she was too closely involved. Too invested to work with a clear head.

Well fuck him.

Olivia was sick of Elliot deciding things for her and it was time for him to realize that she could survive in and out of the field without his help. She had immediately requested a transfer to Brooklyn SVU much to Elliot and Cragen's horror.

It was time for her to prove to herself that she did not need Elliot Stabler.

{EO}

It had been three days with no response from Olivia. Elliot had tried calling her a few times each day and even showed up at her apartment twice. He knew that if he could just get her to listen to him, she would understand that he was only trying to shield her from pain. That was all he ever wanted to do for her.

Olivia had always seen his actions as a lack of faith in her abilities as a detective…as an act of control.

In reality, he was only acting out of love and fear.

Seated slumped over on the stained carpet outside of her apartment door, Elliot realized how crazy he would look whenever Olivia decided to come home. He had been waiting for over an hour with a box of pizza as a peace offering. At the moment though, he didn't care how it looked to her, he just wanted to get through to her and do what he could to convince her not to leave Manhattan SVU…not to leave him.

His body stiffened as he heard heeled footsteps clicking against the steps in the stairwell and he held his breath as she flung open the door to her floor and started down the hall in his direction.

Olivia tilted her head and furrowed her brow at him as she stood over his rumpled form. "What are you doing here, Elliot?"

Her stance was wide, strong. One hand on her hip and the other rifling through her coat pocket for her keys.

Elliot pushed himself up and stood so that they were practically nose to nose. "I need to talk to you, Olivia," he rumbled, his lips close enough to hers for him to feel her quickened breaths.

Her heart raced and she looked away, stepping back and unlocking the door. "Just go home, El. There's nothing left to talk about. I start with Brooklyn SVU on Monday and that's all there is to it." She stepped into her apartment but was stopped in her tracks, feeling the heat from Elliot's rough hand on the nape of her neck.

"Liv, stop. Just talk to me…don't do this."

"I have to," she whispered.

He swallowed hard and removed his hand. "Just tell me how to fix this. We always fix it."

Olivia turned to look him in the eyes, her own moist with unshed tears. "Not this time." She took a deep breath before continuing. "I don't need you, Elliot…and it's time you learned that."

Elliot narrowed his eyes at her and took a step back. "So that's what this is about? You're punishing me? Trying to teach me a fucking lesson like I'm a child?"

"I have to do this for myself, to prove –"

"I don't want to hear it!" He stepped into her and gently fisted his hand in her hair at the back of her head. "You do need me, Olivia," he growled against her ear. "And you'll be back…you always come back." With that he released her and walked out of the apartment leaving her wide eyed and breathing hard.

"Screw you, Elliot!" She shouted down the hallway.

He stopped in his tracks and tossed over his shoulder sardonically, "No chance of that happening now."

She was going to punch him. It took all of the restraint she had to reenter her apartment and slam the door closed and not go after him to claw his eyes out.

Fuck, she hated him.

But she didn't.

{EO}

He couldn't believe the words actually left his lips.

He just, more or less, told Olivia Benson that she had no chance of ever screwing him.

God, he could really be stupid. He had gone over to talk things through and convince her to stay, but damn if the woman didn't bring out the fury in him sometimes.

He loved it -most of the time, but now the game was over. She was really going to leave…and possibly never come back. Especially after the things he said.

Shit.

Elliot knew Olivia would take his words as a challenge and that she was just stubborn enough to cut him out of her life completely. He also knew, unfortunately, he was equally as stubborn.

Reality slapped him in the face along with the cold air as he walked out of her apartment building.

This really could be it. She was dead serious this time. She was fucking leaving him again.

All he could do at this point was let her go and hope for the best.