A/N: Nobody wants to be lonely. Everyone wants to be loved.

DISCLAIMER: SVU and characters? Dick Wolf. This story? TStabler

She's been watching him for the past hour, standing in the corner of the room, staring out the window. She's been trying to make her way over to him for just as long, but people keep stopping her to chat and dance, and because she is who she is, she accepts and she obliges, and she's no closer to him than she was an hour ago.

Finally, after downing a third glass of champagne at the request of a friend, she sidles up beside him, mimics his stance, and tilts her head. "Okay," she mumbles, "I don't get what's so interesting out there. Enlighten me?"

He sips his whiskey sour, then looks at her. "I'd rather look out there at nothing than have to watch you dance with every guy in the room but me."

She folds her arms and raises an eyebrow. "You haven't asked me to..."

"I wasn't aware I needed to ask," he interrupts. He gives her a decidedly unhappy look, shoots down the rest of his drink, and shrugs. "Sorry. Guess I'm just in a bad mood, tonight." He turns his focus back toward the skyline out the window. "An empty house will do that to ya. Kids are gone, you probably weren't coming over after this thing tonight, it just..."

"El," she breathes, feeling badly, "Don't do this to yourself. Not tonight, please?"

"I thought if I came here..." he stops to laugh spitefully, "I would at least have you with me for a while. You're like fucking Miss America tonight, though, and I'm more alone here than I would have been if I stayed home."

Her eyes twitch, her nostrils flare, but she knows he's been drinking and she knows he's not himself right now. She rips the empty glass out of his hands and finds a spot on a nearby bench for it. She grabs his hand and pulls him through the doors to the balcony. "You wanna talk to me, El, you do it out..."

"Jesus," he spits, cutting her off. "It's freezing out here! Are you out of your mind bringing me out here? Dressed like that?" He pulls off his suit jacket and wraps it around her shoulders, then pulls her closer to him.

She shivers harder now that he's running his hands over her body than before, and his scent is invading her every breath. His jacket is bathed in the strong, sweet smell she loves, and she inhales deeply for a moment, closing her eyes. "It's not that cold," she whispers.

He rests his chin on top of her head, then, and he says, "I'm sorry. I know I'm being grumpy, and...I should have just asked you to dance in there. I didn't...I didn't think I could compete with those other guys, though."

"There is no competition," she says, moving her head a bit to the left, and his head drops to her shoulder. She shivers again as his hot breath hits the sensitive skin of her neck. "All you have to do, El, is ask. Anything. For you, the answer's always gonna be yes. I thought I proved that to you a long time ago. When Kathy left...with the kids...whatever you..."

He nods, his nose brushing along the curve of her shoulder as he moves. "I know, Liv," he tells her. "I just...I still think that...I'm so afraid you're gonna...it's a risk, and I didn't know if..."

She pushes him away from her to look into his eyes. "You've had a thousand opportunities to talk to me about this at home, why are you doing it now? Here?" She narrows her eyes and tries to see through his hazy, drunken gaze. "What's going on?"

"You're my best friend," he says, definitively. He spies a waiter walking by them, he grabs two glasses off of the tray he's carrying, and then hands one to Olivia. "My partner," he bites, raising the glass to her. He gulps it down half-way, without even knowing what it is.

Olivia coughs as she takes a sip of hers, her eyes wide in shock. "That's strong, El, you should really slow..."

He laughs, then, stopping her words. "Ya know what?"

"What?" she questions, slowly swallowing down the alcohol she feels she needs tonight.

He makes a face and shrugs his shoulders. "I'm done worrying about it. I know damn well how I feel, and it's not worth making myself miserable because I'm a little nervous. Because...I already know..." he moves his head. His face is inches from hers. "I know."

"You know what?" she asks, her heart hammering in her chest. Her fingers have gone numb and she can't feel her legs, but it's not from the cold. It's from the way he's looking at her, and from the fact that his lips are getting closer and closer to hers.

"I know you love me, too," he whispers. "That's why you do what you do, and that's why you've been there through all of this for me. You love me," he confirms, and his tongue pokes out and glides along the seam of her lips.

Because of her nerves and her sense of humor, she can't stop the laughter that bursts out of her mouth. She is worried about hurting him, that he would take it as insulting, but then she notices he's laughing with her. "Did you just...you just..."

"Licked you," he nods, chuckling. "It was sexier in my mind," he laughs. "Come here," he says, then, his voice low and the laughter suddenly gone. He pulls her hard, pressing himself into her firmly, chest-to-chest as he grips her hands. "You do, though."

She takes a final breath to end her fit of giggles, and knowing what he's asking, she looks into his eyes, more serious than she's ever seen them, and she nods.

He moves fast, not giving her time to back away and not giving himself time to change his mind. He kisses her, softly pressing his lips to hers, and through the open doors behind him he hears the roomful of people counting down from ten. "Liv," he whispers, the tip of his nose delicately rubbing against hers. "I can go home right, I can forget this ever happened, if that's what you want. But tonight, I'm asking you..."

"Yes," she whispers, pulling her hands out of his to wrap them around his neck. "Anything you ask, remember?"

He smirks at her, the grin he knows drives her crazy, and he says, "In five seconds, you'll be mine. You know that, don't you? You won't be able to go back in there and dance with Trevor, or Fin, or Ryan..."

"I have been waiting all night to dance with you, El," she tells him. She hears the loud chanting and raises her voice. "But I've been waiting a lot longer to kiss you."

With a shaky breath, he whispers, "Happy New Year," and crashes his mouth into hers. His tongue moves, slower this time, and with more purpose, across her lips, and as he feels her mouth open for him, he hears the fireworks bursting over the Hudson.

It's as if she can see the flashing lights behind her closed eyes, she's lost in him and truly feels the fireworks are caused by his kiss. Her hands slip up and down his neck, she feels his fingers running through her hair, and she can't remember ever feeling so emotional because of a kiss before.

He hears the footsteps, he know people are filing out onto the balcony to watch the fireworks, but he doesn't care. He is where he needs to be, and he made the resolution long ago that if all went well tonight, once she was in his arms, he'd hold on for dear life.

Though she doesn't want to pull away from him, the burning in her lungs is making her body ache, and she has so much she wants to do with that body tonight. "El," she pants, prying her lips away from his, "Just tell me you're not..."

"I'm not drunk enough to not realize what I'm doing," he tells her, pecking small, soft kisses along her jaw line. "I'm a little scared, but I'm not drunk. Trust me." He smoothes his hands down to cup her face, and he smiles at her as he kisses her again.

She's scared, too, she thinks, smiling against his lips, but she couldn't be more willing to head into a new year with him.