Hi, everyone! This is my first ever fan fiction. I like to write, but I don't have much time on the computer, so I won't be updating as frequently as I would like. If you're someone who can't stand waiting for an update (like me) this may not be the story for you. This chapter is short, I know, but I would really appreciate reviews if you have time, because I want to know how I can improve my writing. Even if it's just a grammar mistake (those annoy me too, don't worry) feel free to tell me so I can fix it. Okay, since I never read these author's notes myself, I might as well shut up now. Enjoy!

Why did he let her go?

This was his fault; of that he was convinced. He didn't even argue.

He let her go.

He didn't go with her. He could have gone. In fact, it probably would have been smarter to follow Olivia into the dark, eerie room where the victim was being held. There had been no reason for him to stay and keep watch, waiting the excruciatingly long ten minutes he had promised her, before he burst in to find her...gone.

He let her go.

He had one job: protect Olivia. Never mind catching the bad guys. She was always his priority, whether he liked it or not.

He thought back to when he had let that monster slit the throat of a little boy because he was checking on the safety of his partner. He had put her safety first then. Why hadn't he this time?

Liv had done her job. She had protected him. And she had gone to help the victim. Why was she being punished? Why not him? Why?

You let her go.

"No. Not Liv."

But it's true. It's your fault she's missing. If you had been paying attention, she would be here right now. And so would the victim, and the perp...

"No. No, no, no, no..."

She would smile at you with those big, brown eyes sparkling, and she would say, "Nice job, El. We got 'em." And then you would tell her what you wanted so desperately to say before you let her go.

"No! Liv!" He shouted falling to his knees as the guilt burned a hole in his stomach. He felt like he could be sick. Heck, he felt like he could die. He stayed there on his knees, his face in his hands, until he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Come on, El. We're gonna find her," Fin said, helping the distraught detective to his feet. Elliot was still shaking his head, staring blankly at the ground.

Why did he let her go?

Fifteen minutes earlier

"Okay, Liv. Ready?"

Elliot took a deep breath, trying not to let his partner see the fear behind his overly-confident exterior. But she'd always been able to see right through him, more than anyone else.

"I don't know, El. I've got a bad feeling about this..."

"I know what you mean. This place gives me the creeps." He tried for a smile. "I'll bet it's an ideal vacation spot for the guys we're looking for."

Olivia smiled at his weak attempt to lighten the mood. She took a deep, calming breath and placed her hand on her gun. Elliot did the same, and they looked at each other, silent communication passing between them.

"I'll go," Elliot said, finally breaking the silence.

"No way, Stabler," she replied. Elliot secretly admired her courage as she moved closer to the door. "You've got a mother, a wife-"

"Ex-wife," he corrected automatically.

"-and five children who love you and want you to come home," she continued, as if he hadn't interrupted. Then she smiled sadly. "Nobody will miss me."

She made for the door, but Elliot grabbed her arm. There were so many things he could have said. The Captain will miss you. Fin and Munch will miss you. Alex and Casey will miss you. Huang and Warner will miss you. But did he say that? No. What he did say was:

"I'll miss you."

She stopped and turned to look at him, intense emotion in her deep, dark eyes as she struggled with the words that were sitting readily on her lips. So many things she wanted to say to him. So many things she couldn't say to him. Most of them started with, "if something happens to me, I want you to know..."

But just as she opened her mouth to speak, a scream from inside brought her back to reality. She pried his fingers from her arm and opened the door, which groaned in protest from rusted hinges.

"Stay here in case they try to escape," she ordered, "and call for backup if I'm not back in ten minutes."

She left before he could protest.

And just like that, she was gone, leaving Elliot staring after her, whispering,

"Be safe."

Why did he let her go?