A/N: A one-word-one-shot unknowingly suggested by a friend. Kind of a songfic, kind of not.

DISCLAIMER: SVU and characters belong to Dick Wolf. This story belongs to TStabler.

He poured himself a glass of whiskey, the ice clinked in the glass as the warm, amber liquid settled over it and pooled at the bottom. He needed a drink, desperately. He took a breath and let himself feel the guilt over what he'd said, the stupidity of what he'd told her before she left. He had no right to tell her he didn't care, he didn't mean it. Not one bit.

It was just one more mistake, one more fuck up, another kink in the chain that bound them helplessly to each other. He tried to make the entire thing his problem, make it all about him, and she walked away, leaving without him and heading into a potentially deadly situation alone. He lifted the glass to his lips, remembering, and laughing bitterly as he did so. Once the wet, fiery liquor crossed his lips, he lost himself in it. His eyes closed and his thoughts drifted to where they always did this time of night.

To her.

To the way her eyes lit up when she smiled, the way the corners of them crinkled when she laughed. He thought about the way her hands moved as she spoke, thought about how he was the only one who understood her gestures. He swallowed, feeling his throat sting, as he thought about the way she smelled, the way she felt in his arms, in his hands, under him, on top of him. How she got to him, inside of him, under his skin. How she made him want to be inside her, need her with every breath he took.

He slammed the glass down and squeezed his eyes shut. "Fuck," he spat as he shook his head and turned away from the sidebar. He had to fix it, he thought. He couldn't stand by and let her take a hit for him. Not again.

He looked around for a moment, biting his lip, making the decision. The emptiness of his house scared him more than his less than saintly thoughts about his partner. He took a deep breath, walked as fast as he could toward the door, grabbed his keys off of the hook, and left. He slammed the door, knowing no one on the other side would be startled by the noise.

He wasn't wearing a coat, but wasn't aware of the cold either. Not until he got into the car, started it, and felt the heat kick in on full blast. He switched it off immediately, preferring the numbness that came with the low temperature to the blare of hot hair rushing at him as he drove. He stepped on the gas once he was out of the driveway, revving the engine. He shifted into gear and heard his tires screech as he sped off. He knew the damage it had done to his tires, but it didn't matter. Not to him. Not now.

He checked the clock, the green numbers yelling at him as they changed, telling him he didn't have enough time and he wasn't going to make it. He saw it as a challenge, though, and he simply punched the gas again.

He weaved in out of empty lanes, somewhere in his mind he was a racer on his final lap. He swerved hard and sped up once he hit the expressway, and the turn-off to the safe-house was sharply caught and made before he missed it altogether.

As he slowed the car down and turned off his headlights, trying to go unnoticed, one hand fell from the steering wheel and landed on his chest, and he remembered. Not the pain of getting shot, no, but the way she risked her own life to save his. The way she thought on her feet all those years ago, and stripped in the bathroom, coming out and playing a role to cover her own ass as well as his.

He smirked as he recalled the way she looked, half naked, and the way she felt pressed against his bare chest. He felt his heart pound now the way it did that night, and he remembered what he said as soon as his wounds healed and he went back to work.

"What would you have done," he heard himself ask, "If they agreed to pay you?" And he laughed under his breath, remembering her answer, as he parked the car a few houses down from the one in which she was hiding.

He got out of the car, clicking the alarm, and he walked slowly but with intention toward the wrought iron gate a few feet in front of him. He swung it open, looking both ways before walking through it, and he locked it behind him. He turned, facing the white, wooden door, and he cleared his throat as he climbed the four steps up to it.

He held his breath as he lifted his hand to knock, but the door opened before he could hit it. He watched her sad eyes move slowly up to meet his, and he tried to smile. "Hey," he whispered.

"What took you so long?" she asked, it was a serious question, no trace of a smile on her face. She moved, opened the door a bit wider, and let him slip into the house before she closed and latched the six locks on it. "You have no idea how I tried," she began, turning to face him, "To be what you wanted me to be, tonight."

He narrowed his eyes. "You were always...already...you are everything I want you to be. What I said in the squad room..."

"I've got flaws," she interrupted, moving toward him, "I've got faults."

He cupped her face, and he smiled. "I know," he said to her. "I'm the one who pointed them out tonight, remember?" He took a hard breath. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I was angry, upset..."

"You were scared," she broke in, her hands falling into place over his, holding them as he held her face. "You didn't wanna do this again. After you almost...after you could have..." and she stopped, choking on her words.

He held his breath as she dropped one of her hands from his, and trailed it down his body, flicking open the buttons of his shirt effortlessly. He scraped his teeth over his bottom lip when he felt the air on his bare skin, her fingertips trickling over his chest. And, with a soft gasp, his eyes closed as she traced the outline of his scar.

"We all have our scars," she whispered, moving her head out of his hands and dropping it. She pressed a soft kiss on the middle of his mark, then licked the edges of it, knowingly making him shiver. "That night scarred us both, El. For life."

His hands swept through her hair, his head dropped back, and he let her invade his every pore again, the way he always did. "Liv," he whispered, finding the strength to move his right hand to her neck. He traced her own scar, reminding him of how he'd almost lost her once, too, and it was clear what they were doing. "Not again," he said, making a vow. A promise to himself.

She lifted her head. "What? I thought you...you don't want..."

"Oh, honey," he chuckled, "This...can and will happen again, and again, every night for the rest of our lives, if you're up for it." He winked with a smirk. "I meant...we won't come that close to losing each other. Not again." He stroked her cheek softly and tilted his head. "We do have a lot of scars, most of them came from defending each other," he whispered. "But scars heal, and we move on, and each mark just proves...how strong we are."

"True," she said, her face buried in his neck now, her nose grazing his skin as she nuzzled him.

He pushed her up, away from his chest, and kissed her gently. "That's what you were trying to tell me. That's why you were pushing for us to come out here together. Prove we could get through it, because we're stronger now than we were then."

She nodded, pulling him over to the faded, green couch. She sat, tugged him down beside her, and said, "This is our job, El. I thought if I was the one who rushed into the case, you would..."

"Run after you," he finished. "Baby, I just...I wanted to be the one that finds the fucker who tried to kill you. I didn't know why Cragen refused to let me take the reins with this one until you looked at me and...God, I know you want me to be your detail. And I know why."

"You always have my back, El," she said, staring at him. "No one else would. Not like you. When you refused to come out here with me, I thought..."

"I'm impulsive, and I'm stubborn," he told her. "It's not like you don't know what you got yourself into with me," he laughs. "I just...I get mad and upset and scared, I blow up, cool off, and...you knew I'd come out here." He kissed her cheek, then her lips. "You knew I'd come do this with you." He squinted then. "Isn't Fin supposed to be watching you?"

She smiled at him, wrapped her arms around his neck, and said, "He's getting a phone dump from Morales. He won't be back for an hour or so."

"An hour, huh?" he chuckled, looming closer to her. He smirked mischievously at him and said, "Guess we have to make this fast."

She laughed, then sucked in a breath when he attached himself to her neck. She moaned, feeling him kiss, suck, and lick. The small patch of raised skin where a knife had sliced her years ago was sensitive, she knew that's where he was playing. "El," she whispered, the playful tone fleeing allowing a more serious mood to set in.

He shucked off the open button-down he wore, and he held her gaze as he lifted her sweater over her head. His eyes followed the path of his hands, drifting down and over every visible scar she had, remembering the exact moment each one was made. His fingertips grazed over faded marks, healed breaks, and slight discolorations and he wished that he had known, wished that he had been there to prevent them.

"You okay?" she asked, her hands running through his short hair. The intimacy of the moment was not lost on her, and she was struggling to maintain control of her own emotions as she looked down at him. "El?"

"We all have our scars," he whispered, tossing her own words back at her. He kissed her neck one more time, then raised his head and looked at her, the tears building as he verbalized the promise for her this time. "I swear, I will never again be the reason..."

She silenced him, her lips against his muffled his final words, and she leaned back on the sofa. She stayed firmly against him, moaning as he draped himself over her.

He returned her low hum, and he snaked his right hand even lower to undo the zip of her jeans. The clothes fell away as the silently touched and kissed each other's faded injuries, as if erasing the memorized pain, until he finally had her, naked and waiting, beneath him on the couch.

She gripped his left hand in her right, linking their fingers, and she squeezed as he pushed forward. Her eyes, open and glaring into his, watered with sting and emotion.

He kissed her as he took her other hand, driving it up over head, pressing it into the arm of the couch. He kept his mouth moving with hers, letting his tongue trace over her teeth slowly, as he found a rhythm.

Her body met his in each eager thrust, her moans matched his in pitch and tempo, her heartbeat was perfectly timed to his, and their eyes were aligned. Words failed her, they always did, but she hoped he knew, hoped he could see what she wanted to say.

He smiled down at her, then kissed her hard, speeding up. Both voices grew louder, their bodies slammed together harder. He pried his lips from hers to grunt and curse for a moment, then crashed his lips into hers again.

She felt her wrist, pinned over her head, bruising as he held her down, his grip tight. She returned the favor by curling the fingers of her other hand, digging her nails into his skin. She slid one leg up his body and hooked it around his waist, heard him groan in appreciation, and felt him work himself deeper into her.

"Liv," he moaned softly, pecking at her lips between heavy breaths, "I..."

She arched her back before he could finish, her head flew backward, her mouth fell open, and she let his name loose into the air of the safe house living room. She writhed and rolled into him, then willed her neck to lift her head, and by the grace of God it happened. She kissed him hard as she rode out the final moments of her orgasm, silently begging him not to stop moving.

He caved, then, feeling her tighten like a velvet vice around him for a second time. He grunted into their kiss, moaned her name against her lips, and fired into her, feeling a burn run through his body not unlike the burn of the whiskey he shot before rushing to be with her.

In the dark, in the silence, they calmed together. Their labored breathing slowed to its usual synchronized rhythm, and they kissed softly, fingers running over aching limbs. The tenderness between them was painfully beautiful. She opened her eyes, finally, and smiled at him. "What were you gonna say?" she whispered. "Before..."

"Nothing," he interrupted, kissing her again. "Nothing you don't already know." He brushed his nose against hers, then froze. He tilted his head, narrowed his eyes, and said, "You do know, right?"

She blinked and shook her head. "No, what?"

He smiled, nipped at her lip, and chuckled as he growled out a rumbled, "I love you." He ran his lips down her chin and over her neck. "And all of your scars."

A/N: Thanks for the inspiration, Ayshen!