Ah, longest chapter yet I think. Also...it might be the last, but that's up to you. I'll be honest, I'm pretty bummed out with the lack of reviews and alerts from the last chapter. That was a difficult chapter to write, let along post so I'm pretty discouraged. Nevertheless, I had already written this so here it is. The good thing though is things have finally started to lighten up between the two. If there is another chapter after this, it will probably be Olivia's POV about the progress they've made and her analyzing whatever it is they have going on. It's coming to a close, but I've got another SVU story going right now so I feel like this isn't the end :p. Not for my EO writing anyway.


After what seemed like an eternity of silence, Olivia released her arms from around Elliot's midsection and tried to back up. Elliot, however, wasn't ready to let go. He only tightened his arms around her waist and when Olivia narrowed her eyes at him, he returned the gesture.

"Not letting you go yet."

Her eyes glazed over a shade a deep brown and he took that as permission to explore some. His left hand moved up her body and lightly traced the curve of her jaw as his eyes found her lips. He was waiting for a move from her but she still remained still. For the past hour they had fought and he had tried to explain...but he was getting nowhere with words. He just didn't know where to begin.

As his hand travelled up and across her cheek, he was surprised to find her eyes had closed. His right hand came up to finger through her thick hair, and she finally made a move. It was soft, simple, but he felt the tension leave her body as she leaned into him, their bodies now in full contact again.

"I missed you so much, Olivia." His voice broke as he felt her flinch against him. He wondered what was going through her mind right now…how she was feeling. And he was so confused. One minute she's angry, but the next minute she's kissing him. And then she's crying, screaming at him, telling him to leave. Next she's barging into his apartment, tearing apart everything in search of his guns. Then she's in his arms again, and she's no longer angry, but concerned, hurt, confused and…

He wanted to take it all away from her. He wanted to be angry for thinking he had left her to go take his life…when in all honesty he was leaving because she had asked him too. He was going to blow off some steam and figure it all out. Then he was going to go back and demand she listen to him.

He really had no right be angry with her for accusations. Especially when she had a point and proof. He's been in a bad place ever since the shooting, and not having Olivia with him wasn't helping at all. He knew from the times he had seen her that she was hurting. And he knew it was because of him…but instead of facing his demons he hid them away and chose to blame everybody else. He had convinced himself that he didn't mean anything to her, or to anyone.

He had convinced himself that his life wasn't worth living. He was tired of being angry all the time, tired of feeling guilty, tired of wishing he had her when he didn't. He was just tired of everything. And that day two weeks ago…he was so weak, so distraught, and so confused…he had actually put a loaded gun to his head.

For the first time in nine months, Elliot woke up feeling generally good about himself. About his life. He rolled out of bed and made his way across the room and into his still unfamiliar bathroom. He had been living in his apartment just over six months and he still hated it.

It just wasn't home for him.

It wasn't that he didn't mind living alone. He was glad to be out in his old place but the only place he really wanted to be was with her.

She was his home.

And Elliot was thinking that today...maybe today was the day he would finally go see her. For the first time, he finally felt that he was able to face his demons.

So for the first time in...he couldn't remember...he shaved his face. It hurt like hell, though. He hadn't grown out his facial hair in years. At one time he had regulations to hold. Now though, he had nothing. Because he was a monster.

But maybe...maybe he wasn't as bad a person as he thought.

While Elliot showered, he tried to work out just what he would say to Olivia when he finally saw her. After all, it had been nine months since the last time he saw her face to face.

Hell, she's probably forgotten about him. He would try to get through to her though because he needed her in his life. Especially right now.

He went over the scenarios in his head.

Hey Liv...I'm sorry I disappeared on you. I'm okay though. Sort of.

Hey Liv...sorry about my sudden absence. I've kind of gone off the deep end.

Hey Liv...I'm a monster. I killed a little girl. Will you forgive me?

Olivia...I'm completely in love with you. But can you love somebody whose killed two children to keep you safe?

Who the hell was he kidding? She's probably doing just fine without him in her life. I mean...did she even know he was divorced?

Shit...she didn't know anything.

He had to see her though. If anything, she deserved an explanation. Elliot had to try.

He needed to fight through himself for her.

But as Elliot rummaged through his clothes for something...anything...decent to wear, a picture fell out of his old pants pocket.

A picture of the girl he killed.

He remembered what had triggered the sudden anguish from within him. He had made an effort to avoid her at all costs…the case, her family, her name…he had run from it all and he wasn't planning on looking back. Not until he felt that he could handle it. He had chosen to drop everything in his life because somehow they were all connected to her. To Jenna.

His fingers were dancing across her eyelids now, as if he were memorizing every inch of her face. He was, though. He needed to feel everything in order to know that this was real...that this was actually happening. He wished somebody would pinch him.

"Liv..." He leaned down and let his lips graze the top of her forehead. "Is this real?"

She opened her eyes then. She looked into the blue orbs staring back at her, and to his surprise her hand was moving from his chest, up toward his own exhausted face. He couldn't conceal the shiver that rocked his entire body as he felt her delicate fingers trace the permanent lines of his jaw. He wished she wouldn't notice those things about him. The lines that deepened with every day he was without her, the wrinkles that revealed the pure exhaustion he had with life and anything about it. He had given up on it all.

But she had somehow found him, like always.

"I seriously hope so, El. If this isn't real then my dreams are starting to torture me. You've never felt so real before."

He couldn't even think about the fact that she just revealed that just like him, he haunted her dreams as well. For the last nine months his eyelids told him horror stories of how he had lost her, how he didn't pull his own trigger and so she pulled hers instead. About how she had to deal with the nightmares and the guilt of killing a child. On his bad nights he would dream that although he did pull the trigger, he was too late and that Jenna had already taken Olivia away from him. And the few good nights consisted of Olivia beneath him, dancing to the rhythm of their own heartbeats. They were together, and there was no looming guilt of a dead child.

Every morning though, he would wake up to his reality. He was in an empty bed, and he had killed a little girl.

Still though, he was glad to take on the responsibility. Because just as his dreams told him, he knew that if he had waited a second longer to pull the trigger, she would have. And he would never wish this sick level of pain on her.


He knew she was waiting for a move from him, but he wasn't yet finished soaking her in. And honestly he wasn't sure what she waiting for. If it were up to him, he would close the distance and showher just how sorry he was…but he was afraid of rejection right now. He wasn't sure what she wanted.

He also knew that right now was probably not the best time to take things to another level with her, but fuck him if the wait hadn't been long enough. He wanted to get better first, he wanted to be normal again...but he wanted so badly to be with her.

"Liv...I'm really messed up right now."

Right now, he could only be honest with her. Give her the opportunity to walk away, because God knows he's not going to be better any time soon. He doesn't sleep, and when he does, he has nightmares. He can't talk to anybody...hell, Olivia was the first person he's talked to in months.

The night of the shooting, he went home and for the first time ever, he tried to talk to Kathy about what had happened. He was in a completely different zone though, and as he described Jenna and what she had been through, he found himself referring to his wife as Olivia. He was so out of it he never noticed her get up from the table and leave. He did, however, come back to reality when she returned and slid papers across the table to him.

"Sign them."

He didn't even have to read it to know what he was signing. And he didn't think twice of it.

"You killed somebody tonight. Somebody our daughters age...and even though it was justifiable...maybe you should leave for a while and figure yourself out. The kids will be here when you get back."

The mention of his kids had set him off though. The last thing he needed was to lose his kids, and fuck her if she thought that him doing his job was reason enough to take them from him. After his string of curse words, and a pointless rant on how she could never make him leave. She tucked the signed papers away.

"You're broken, Elliot. You're lost. I may not know much about you anymore but I can tell that you are about to lose it. Take a break and find the help you need."

He wasn't ready to admit defeat again in one day though. So he tried a different angle with her. He tried to explain that he would get better with her, that they could work through it together. As a family.

"I would be lying if I told you I were happy right now, and so would you. We both know this wasn't working. It hasn't been for years. Now is the time. Go get better, and think about what's important in your life...I'll be here, as your friend, when you come back."

And so he left that night, but not before he kissed every one of his kids as they slept, peaceful and without a clue. He packed a bag of clothes and asked Kathy to explain what had happened, and to let them know he would be back soon.

Elliot drove to Don's house and pounded on his door, ignoring the fact that it was well after four in the morning. He handed him his papers and without explaining himself, asked that he look out for Olivia.

He left town, left his family, left her, and drove to a place where he could break down without anybody noticing him.

"Elliot," Olivia said his name across his left cheek, and he was brought back to reality, "I know you're hurting. Let me help you."

"How?" he asked softly. "How can you help me? Why would you want to? I killed-"

"You had to."

His hands fell to her shoulders as he tensed, an emotionless laugh falling off of his lips. "I didn't, I could have-"

"She practically emptied the clip on us before you got to your gun! You didn't have a choice, El. She was going to shoot him and you had your gun…there was no other option."

"She was a kid! Jenna was fifteen!"

"You didn't have a-" she pulled his face back toward hers, forcing him to look at her. "If I had my gun on me, I would have taken the shot long before she even noticed he was there. Before she had killed all of those innocent people."

"How can you..." his voice trailed off as a fresh tear started its way down Olivia's cheek. His left hand reached up to rid of it, and travelled behind her ear, into her thick hair. "How can you say that?"

"It's part of the job. Sometimes we have to make decisions we don't like. Although it may seem wrong, killing a fifteen year old girl for a man behind bars…you had to. He had no way of defending himself. It's the job."

His eyes fell closed as he sighed and let his lower back relax into his counter. He felt Olivia step closer, pushing her body farther into him and he had to will himself to stay calm. She has never once been this close before and he couldn't help but wonder if she was reacting the same way he was.

"You're not going to blame yourself anymore, El. I'm going to get you better. We'll work through this." Elliot opened his mouth to speak but a finger silenced his lips. "I haven't figured out how yet," she spoke for him.

His right hand lifted off of his shoulder and his fingers traced the outlines of her delicate lips. "Okay," he said softly against her finger and she lowered it. "I..." but he didn't have anything else to say. He honestly wasn't sure if anybody or anything could help him at this point but he would be lying if he didn't admit that just having Olivia here with him had him feeling a whole lot better than before.

He was the stupidest guy on earth. He shouldn't have shut her out. Of all people, she would have understood.

"El..." Olivia interrupted his apologetic thoughts. "I know you're trying to be modest here, but I really don't think it's fair…" she trailed off as her eyes travelled up to the lips that were only inches from hers. "I pushed you away because I didn't know what was going on with you," she explained, "I-"

But he didn't need to hear anymore. He immediately let his lips graze across hers before pressing them firmly down. He nearly choked as he breathed in the scent he had missed so much and he pulled her flush against him. With one hand still entangled in her hair, his other trailed across her cheek before making its way down and around her neck.

"Therapy," she broke contact for a moment but Elliot pushed forward.

He wasn't done yet.

He didn't want to talk anymore. He figured he was better off speaking to her this way, anyhow. His tongue swept across her lower lip and Olivia immediately opened up to him, a faint moan falling from her lips as the hand on his chest clutched to his shirt. He could feel the warmth of her other hand laying softly against his cheek, motionless.

"Two-" He groaned at the absence of her lips and tried pulling her back to him but she resisted. "Therapy at least twice a week," she spoke, slightly breathless.

He was focused on her flushed cheeks and the way her lips were slightly parted but he nodded. "Okay, fine."

"I'm serious-"

"I am too." He wasn't wasting another second though. His lips fell on hers again and this time he didn't hold back.

He was sure that this was a new beginning for him…for her…for them, and he couldn't be happier about it. And he knew it wasn't going to be easy, hell they would have to break him apart completely before he could start to rebuild himself, but he couldn't help but think that this -having Olivia here with him- was a step in the right direction.