A/N: My word was "storm" so I gave you one.

DISCLAIMER: Dick Wolf own SVU and the characters; TStabler© owns the story you're about to read.

The thunder rolls, shaking her apartment. The sky lights up with another bolt of electricity, and seconds later there's another thunderous roar.

She shifts on the window seat and sighs, and the tears are running down her cheeks just as the raindrops are running down the window pane.

She wants to wipe them away, but she doesn't have the energy to lift her hand to her cheek. She doesn't have the energy to breathe.

Her eyes glaze over with fresh tears and she hates that the rain reminds her of him. The storm, she believes, is just like him.




Eerily calming.


Everything he is, ever was, and always will be.

She finally drops her head to her knees, cradled up to her chest, and rubs the wetness away, soaking her blue flannel pants. She hates crying. She hates feeling broken and vulnerable, and alone. She hates that he isn't there to hold her, and she hates that she would actually let him if he was.

Another lightning flash, another thunder clap, and there's a knock on her door that echoes the thud in her heart at the moment. She looks at the door with narrow eyes and gives a short sniffle, but she doesn't move. She can't move.

A key turns, the knob jiggles, and the door creaks open. She holds the breath it hurt her to take and she holds her eyes open, though the tears have clouded her vision and she needs to blink.

"Oh, honey," he whispers, seeing the state she's in, and he runs to her side, enveloping her in his strong yet aching arms.

Her tears fall faster, her eyes close tightly, her arms find their way around his body and she squeezes as her silent cry becomes a harsh sob.

"Shh," he hushes, an attempt to calm her, made in vain as he knows it won't work. Nothing will work. "Baby, please...don't do this to yourself. I'm..."

His words are cut off as her lips, salty with fallen tears, crash into his. He backs away for a moment, and he looks at her with wide eyes, almost shocked. He tilts his head and watches as she bites her bottom lip. He sighs and notices a few more tears falling from her pain-filled eyes.

The moment his hand touches her cheek, she nuzzles into it, stifling her harsh sobs as her body shakes and more tears spill. She needs him now, more than ever.

He loops the hand near her cheek around her neck and gently pulls her toward him, pressing his lips gently to hers as his other hand finishes the job of wiping away tears. "Baby, none of this was your fault," he says quietly.

She says nothing, she can't speak, but she nods. It was her fault. She knows.

"No," he says, and his voice is firm. Dominant. The way she needs him to be right now, because she is falling apart at the seams and one of them needs to be strong. "You didn't know...he had a gun, you were doing your job, he was wearing a mask...it's all...please, don't do this to yourself."

She feels like crap now, because she has given him the same speech many times in their years together. She knows now that she must have sounded like a complete moron, and she understands why he argued with her on it. "I'm sorry," she whispers. She falls into him, into his arms, into his tight embrace. "I'm so sorry."

He shakes his head. "No one is blaming you for anything," he says in her ear as he cradles her limp body. "You were just doing your job."

"What if it was Dickie?" she whispers, her voice wavering and her body stiffening. "Would you still be here..."

"Yes," he says. No hesitation. No thought. Honest. Blunt. "Liv, if Dickie had a gun to that girl's head, you would have had no choice and..." he stops. He takes a breath. "It wasn't Dickie, okay?"

She whimpers and blinks. "You'd hate me if it was. You wouldn't be here now if..."

"Dammit, Liv, it wasn't, okay?" he almost yells. "It was just some punk kid who picked the wrong bank to rob. You didn't know he..." he pauses, he sees the pain her eyes. "Shit."

He sees in her eyes what had been in his own for months. He sees the desire to quit, just as he has done, and he sees the guilt and self-loathing swimming in her brown eyes, reflections of the emotions that had been swimming in his ever since he pulled the trigger and took a young life himself.

She nods at him, just once, telling him that whatever he's thinking, he's right. "I know now," she whispers. She reaches out for his hand, and when she grasps it, she squeezes.

"I know, too," he whispers. He knows what she felt like when she tried to calm him down. He knows what she was thinking when she tried to convince him that he only did what he had to do. He knows what was going through her mind when he kissed her, took from her the physical comfort he needed and woke up hating himself for it.

But then he smiles. He kisses her softly. He feels a swell of happiness fill his belly, and he's thankful for it all, because his mistake pulled them together and her mistake will only do the same. "I love you," he says, a small smile on his face.

She blinks, and she sniffles, and she takes a breath.

"I do," he says. "So much it hurts, but, baby, I'm not gonna let you do this to yourself. I'm not gonna watch you...do what I did. I can't take it. You didn't know how young he was under that mask, your concern was for that girl and they've already cleared you. You can pick up your gun and badge..."

"This never would have happened if you'd have been there," she says, interrupting him.

He feels like he's the one that's been shot. "What?"

"You kept me focused, you kept me from acting on impulse," she tells him. "I would have waited another minute or two if you were there, aiming with me. You weren't." She stops. "You're not. So now I just...shoot shit."
He has to chuckle. "Oh, honey, I...God, that night...we changed everything and I couldn't work with you if I wanted to...be with you." He narrows his eyes. "You know that, right? I chose you. I chose you over the job, I always have. I will always choose you."

She kisses him softly. "I choose you, too," she says, though she knows that the badge at her hip will never leave. She makes it a point to convince him to come back someday, but right now she wants him. She needs him in this moment. She needs to forget that she took the life of a child today, a child she had sworn to protect.

"Good," he says with another little smile. "That's the way it should be."

She nods and give him a slight grin, and she leans toward him. She kisses him again, and his hands snake up her back, sliding under her shirt. He rakes his nails down her flesh as she nips at his lips and they moan at the same time.

He holds on to her back and wraps his other arm around her and lifts, carrying her off of the window seat and into the bedroom, and when he lays her gently on the bed without ever pulling his lips away form hers, another moan escapes them both.

The thunder crashes again, louder than it has been, as he finally breaks their kiss. he unbuttons his shirt, keeping his eyes on hers, and tosses it away before leaning down to reclaim her lips.

Her hands move fast, yanking and pulling at his jeans. She feels him pawing at the flannel barrier that separates their bodies with one hand and tugging on her tank top with the other. She arches her back to help him get rid of both garments, and she chuckles slightly as his jeans fall from the foot of the bed to the floor.

In this moment, there is no pain. There is no death. There is no job. There are no questioning and disapproving glances, and there are no arguments or excuses. There is only the two of them, finding comfort in each other and making yet another promise that may or may not be kept.

More than likely, it will be, as he has not broken a promise made to her in years. She has never broken one made to him.

He pulls his head back a bit, watching her eyes as he slowly pushes into her, watching the way they widen slightly, the way her head falls back just a bit, the way her lip catches between her teeth. He hears her moan and sigh and he feels her nails dig into her back so deeply it hurts, but he loves it. He loves everything about this, and her.

"El," she whispers. "God, Elliot."
He grunts as his head bends, landing in the crook of her neck, which he kisses and nuzzles and nibbles.
She drops her head to the side, giving into his silent demands, and her eyes focus on the bedroom window. The rain has stopped, the sky has cleared, and the world, for the moment, is at peace.

She smiles. Because she knows that it's him. He is her calm, both before and after the storm, and with him, for him, she can get through the roughest of rains. "I love you," she whispers.

His body stops moving, his head rises from its spot on her shoulder. he nudges her chin with his nose and she looks at him. It seems that it's his turn to cry. He smiles at her and he gives a manly sniffle as he moves his hips again, gazing into her eyes. "I love you, too, Liv."

A/N: Cryptic, but I wrote as the words came to me. I will be updating ALL of my active stories this week. Back to the grind. Thank you.