A/N: One Word- One Shot at the request of a dear friend.
DISCLAIMER: Dick Wolf own SVU and the characters; TStabler© owns the story you're about to read.
"My child," the aging man behind the screen begins, "It was not a hard question."
She, though, is silent. Easy question or not, it doesn't have an answer. "Um," she stutters. How long has it been since her last confession? Only about thirty-eight years. She couldn't tell that to a priest. "Probably, oh, uh...well..."
"Is this your first confession?" the man asks, sounding amused and horrified in a single moment.
She huffs on her side of the screen. "This was a bad idea. I'm sorry I wasted your..."
"Why are you here?" the man asks, stopping her degrading remark. "You're obviously not Catholic. Not practicing, anyway."
She turns to face the screen, as if she would somehow feel less silly if she could see the man's eyes. "I don't know."
"Yes, you do," the man says, he even nods.
She waits for a moment, she gives him her "oh, really" look, though she knows he can't see it. "Someone told me...someone said that I didn't have any faith. It...it bothered me." She bites her lip and sits back against the oak wall of the small confessional. "He was so...mad...and he just looked so...disappointed. I can't stand to see him look at me like that."
"Your father?" the priest asks. A guess. A bad one.
She scoffs. If he only knew the story about her father, she muses. "No, not my father. Just...someone at work."
"Just someone at work," the priest says. "No one who is 'just someone at work' could make one feel so inadequate so easily."
She smiles. This man behind the screen doesn't even know her name and he knows what she feels. "Okay," she mumbles. "Maybe he's more than that."
"Is there a reason he said it? What brought up the topic of faith?" the priest asks, intrigued at this. This is the most interesting confession he's taken all day, and she hasn't even confessed anything at all.
She sighs again and says, "I'm a cop. We had a case...my partner and I...and the victim...it was this...this little girl."
"Oh, sweet child," the priest gasps.
She can hear him muttering a quick prayer. She rolls her eyes, forgetting that it his life's work to pray, and she says, "It was horrible. I looked down at the face of this innocent little kid, and I guess I said something..." she pauses. She's in a confessional. With a priest. "Oh, what the Hell," she spits out without thinking. "I know what I said. I said to him, he's a devout Catholic by the way, I said 'If God really does exist, then how could He let this happen."
She waits for some kind of aghast insult from the priest. When she doesn't get one, she continues. "He looked at me like I killed his puppy. He told me I didn't mean that, and when I said...I told him that if he was so sure there's a God then he needed to prove it to me because the situation we were in proved the opposite. He called me faithless and stormed off. I didn't mean to hurt him. I didn't even think he'd care what I thought, ya know?"
The priest breathes heavily. He has heard these doubts a million times. "As God exists, so does someone equally as powerful but working for the opposite force. What you must understand, as we all must, is there is but one God. He cannot save every one of His children at the same time."
"He coulda tried a little harder with this one, don't ya think?" she snaps, angry at him. Angry at God. Angry at Elliot. Angry at the world.
"Calm down, my child," the priest soothes. He narrows his grey eyes and says, "You do have faith, it's just not in God. Am I right?"
"What?" she asks, taken aback. "What do you..."
"You are here because of something this man said to you," the priest interrupts. "You're here because his opinion of you, his image of you matters a great deal to you."
Shit. The priest had her figured out. "Maybe," she whispers.
"Most people who come here feel that way about God," the priest says. "But you. You're here, in a building that you believe has no meaning, talking to a man you don't think has any real power, all because the man you love thinks you lack faith."
She blinked once. Love. The word she could never say, but that she felt wholeheartedly. "Something like that," she says, a bit softer than a whisper.
The priest shifts closer to the screen. He smiles and he says, "Your faith lies in him, and you are afraid to tell him that."
"Are you a priest or a therapist?" she asks, shaking her head.
"Both," the man returns, a lightness in his voice. "Now, I can tell you to go home and say fifteen Hail Marys and twelve Our Fathers to absolve you of your sins, but since you don't have any faith in God or those prayers, you will still feel guilty and no good will come of it. My advice, then, is simply to talk to him. Tell him how you feel. The guilt will go away."
She shakes her head. "Thank you, Father, but it's not that simple," she says, and it isn't until she is halfway out of the confessional that she realizes she's crying. She wipes her eyes just before her hands press into the large, carved wooden doors of the church.
Filling her lungs with the hot summer night city air, she takes a few shaky steps down the street, heading in the direction of not her apartment, but his. With each step her feet grow more steady. Her stride widens. She can do this. Maybe it is simple. Tell him the truth, tell him that she loves him, tell him that he is her religion.
Once she reaches his front steps, she realizes that she is an idiot, and she turns to leave.
His voice is like ice. It freezes her where she stands and sends chills down her back. She turns, feeling her bones crack as they fight against it. "Yeah," she says, "Hi."
"Hi," he returns. He descends the four brick steps in his bare feet and flannel pants, and he folds his arms as he makes a few more moves toward her. "What are you doing here? What's wrong?"
"Why does something need to be wrong?" she asks, offended. "I can't just come over? I have a fucking key for crying out loud."
He raises both eyebrows. "It's after midnight. You would normally call first. Unless you were planning on surprising me in bed or some..."
"Oh, yeah, that's it," she scoffs. "I walked all the way over here to barge in on you for sex. In fact, I planned this whole little strip-tease for you."
He smirks, dropping his arms as he raises an eyebrow. "Come on up, then," he jokes. When he sees her relax a bit and laugh, he goes for it. "Seriously, what's up?"
"You said..." She stops. She is only now just realizing the depth of pain his off-the-cuff comment had caused. "I went to Church tonight."
"What?" he asks. He looks at her as if she had just told him Elvis was her father.
"I listened to the priest give his sermon," she tells him. "It was about Noah and the Ark, and how he was only one man trying to save two of every animal on Earth, and he felt guilty because he knew that some would die because even though he asked for help..."
"I know the story," he says, folding his arms.
She nods. "I was just proving that I stayed to hear the whole thing," she says.
He chuckles and takes another step toward her, "I can't believe you went..."
"And I went to confession," she interrupts.
"Whoa," he says. "Did you give the priest a heart-attack? Are you...did you come here to get me to help you hide the body?"
"I'm not joking," she says, not happy at his dismissiveness. "Elliot, I...I didn't actually confess anything, but I got into the booth and..."
"Why?" he interjects.
She looks up at him. "I'm getting to that. The priest...he knew exactly why I was there. He figured it out before I did."
"You were crying," he says, noticing. He runs his thumbs under her eyes softly. "Why were you crying?"
"You," she whispers. "I went to Church for you, and I was crying for you, everything...everything is you."
He takes her hand and he pulls her toward the steps. He makes her sit and then he drops beside her. One arm loops around her and he looks so deep into her eyes he thinks he'll look right through her. "What?"
She takes a deep breath and explains, "You hurt me today, El. You snapped at me, then you just walked away, and we didn't talk after that...and I realized that...if this is really gonna work, you and me, I need to..."
"You went to Church because you think I need you to believe in God?" he asks her, both touched and sad. "Oh, honey, I didn't mean to make you...no, I...I snapped because...because every day we're at work, and we see kids like that little girl, I feel just like you. I doubt, and I worry that I'm losing my faith. I agreed with you today. I wasn't calling you faithless, Liv, I was..."
"You were talking to yourself?" she asks, bewildered.
He nods and he pulls her closer. "Every night, before I go to sleep, I pray. For the last couple of years, those prayers have been more like just talking out loud to no one. I don't really talk to Him anymore, I just kind of send my hopes and wishes out into the universe. Lately, though, I have been talking to someone specific. It's not God," he tells her. He's looking at her in a way he never has before and he hopes she understands.
She backs up a bit. "You don't...you talk to..."
"You," he says, nodding. "I talk to you. I tell you what I want, what I need, what I'm feeling and thinking. The last thing I do...I tell you that I love you, and I gotta tell ya, I have the most amazing dreams and I wake up deliriously happy. Well, until I realize you weren't really there. Then my day just seems to suck." He smiles at her. "That is, until I see you."
"The priest told me I had faith," she says, ignoring the look he is now giving her. "He told me I had faith, but it was in you, not God. He said that was okay."
Understanding why she said it, he sighs and it sounds relieved. "God, I needed to hear that," he laughs. "So you've got faith in me, huh?"
"Apparently, you have faith in me, too," she shrugs. "Hell, you pray to me at night."
He laughs and says, "So, uh, do you have enough faith in me to actually spend the night with me? Don't leave in the middle of the night, don't get out of bed and get dressed and leave. Fall asleep with me. Wake up with me. Stay with me."
She leans in a bit closer to him. "Will you talk to me? The way you..."
"I'll tell you everything," he promises, "Just have a little faith in me, Liv. I'm not gonna hurt you. You're safe with me. Heart, body, and soul. I swear."
"I know," she whispers. "I just...I didn't know if you wanted...I didn't know how to tell you that this is more than just..."
He stops her with a soft kiss. "You don't have to tell me. You don't have to prove it to me. That's what faith is, Liv."
She smiles at him. She really does have faith in him. A lot of it. And for the first time in her life, she has someone who has put faith in her. Who loves and needs her. Someone who is worth finally taking the biggest step she could imagine and letting her walls fall down. "Okay," she says, looking down and noticing their clasped hands. "I'll stay tonight."
He lifts her hand to his lips and he kisses her knuckles. He stands, pulling her to her feet. "You sure?"
She nods. She smiles. And as he pulls her through his front door, she realizes this is truly a leap of faith, one she knows she won't regret taking. She pulls back, then, and he stops.
He looks at her, confused. "Are you changing your mind?"
"No," she says. "I just figured out a way to make sure you're really gonna be there when I wake up in the morning."
He smiles and kisses her softly. "It's my apartment, Liv."
She sends him a wicked grin. "I know," she nods, "So you won't mind if I cuff you to the bed?"
He watches her walk into his bedroom, the smile creeping over his lips slowly. He looks up, toward his ceiling, and he whispers a soft "Thank you" to a God he is only half-sure he still believes in. He closes the bedroom door behind him as he takes her in his arms. He knew he would be able to get her, and keep her.
He just had to have faith.
A/N: Requested word/scenarios will be taken/written. :)