A/N: Realize love when it's right in front of you.
DISCLAIMER: Dick Wolf owns SVU and all related characters. TStabler owns the following story.
Barreling through the hallway, she ignores Elliot's calls behind her. She's faster than him, more confused and slightly pissed off. "What the hell?" she snaps, making her way into the squad room.
A few people stop, look up, stare. Fin has a file in his hands and a scared look in his eyes. "If you're lookin' for Greg he's..."
"No, where the hell is Cragen?" she asks, her eyes flashing something between fear and anger.
"He's right here," Cragen's voice interferes, sounding annoyed.
Olivia turns, then, her eyes now wide. "You're still...you're not...Elliot said he was..."
An out of breath Elliot interrupts. "I tried to explain it to her," he said, waving a hand in her direction. "She took off like a bat out of hell and wouldn't listen to me," he shrugs and plops into what was once his chair, earning an offended look from the blonde detective who uses it now.
Cragen folds his arms and shakes his head. "He's not replacing me, Olivia. He's replacing Tucker."
Olivia's heart drops down to her chest from her throat, and she can feel it slowing to a normal pace. "Really?" she asks, turning around, giving Elliot a sheepish, apologetic look.
Elliot shrugs. "Seemed like a good idea at the time, but seeing how you reacted when I thought I was gonna be your Captain, I..."
"El," she butts in, taking a step toward him. She perches on the corner of the desk he's using and the blonde behind her rolls her eyes again. She doesn't notice, and carries on. "When I thought you were taking over as Captain...I didn't know how...this would work." She wags a finger between them and bites her bottom lip. "I panicked because I thought they fired Cragen because of us, and if you were taking his job..."
He grabs her hand and shakes his head, leaning closer to her. "Listen to me," he says, staring into her eyes. "I'm only saying this once, because I shouldn't have to say it at all." He blinks and clears his throat. "Nothing is gonna stop me from loving you, being with you. If anyone or anything came at me, made me choose, I will always choose you." He brushes the side of her hand with his thumb and a small smile creeps over his lips. "No job in the world, no amount of money in the universe, would be enough for me to walk away from you. Ever."
She's silent, staring at him, and something clicks in the back of her mind. "Holy shit," she says softly, light bulbs turning on brightly behind her eyes. She feels like she's heard this all before, and a crack in her heart that has been there for years begins to fuse. "You tried to tell me..."
"A hundred times," he whispers, looking away from her and dropping her hand. "I just...couldn't. I was married, we were partners, that's...you know that was a big part of why I left and the only reason I came back." His eyes meet hers again and they've never looked bluer than they do right now. "To be with you."
A silence falls over the bit of it that's exposed to the intimate conversation. The staring contest between Olivia and Elliot would carry on forever if it could, Fin is trying hard not to laugh, Munch is trying hard not to cry.
Nick Amaro is the one to break the tension, as he comes out of the interrogation room with a notepad in his hands. "Full confession," he says, giving the yellow book a shake.
"Oh, uh," Olivia snaps out of her trance, "Good." She nods at him. "That's good."
"He's all yours," Amaro tells Elliot. "I think you might make him cry, can we tape it? I'd love to..."
"I'm not interrogating him," Elliot says, running both hands down his face. "I'm not with Homicide anymore."
Amaro drops the notebook on his desk. "They fired you already? Is it because you and Benson..."
"I'm with IAB now," Elliot says quickly, narrowing his eyes. He smirks slightly as he sees the frightened look in Amaro's eyes. "Watch your step, kid," he warns, half-serious.
"If you're all done with your little pow-wow," a low female voice breaks in, "I'd like to work on your statements for trial."
Olivia turns, her gaze landing on Casey Novak. "Which one?"
Casey steps toward them, her heels clicking on the tiles as she moves. She hands Olivia one file, then hands Elliot a thicker one. "The People versus Alexandra Cabot."
Olivia swallows the lump that instantly built in her throat as she opens her file. "How did she get mixed up in this," she asks herself, rereading her friend's copied written statement.
"Well," Casey sighs, "As much as it kills me to admit, most of what she did was to protect herself, her friends, her...family." She pushes her hair behind her ears. "There really wasn't much she did, or didn't do, that didn't have a philanthropic motive, and that's why the charges are less severe than I would like."
"What do you have against her, Novak?" Elliot asks, tilting his head.
"The same thing I have against Henshall, Langan, and the two of you," Casey says, pointing first at him and then at Elliot. "Anyone who puts personal interests and motives in the way of upholding the law and protecting the innocent doesn't land on my good side."
Elliot rises, fuming. "Are you telling me that you've been giving me shit for what I did last year?"
"No," Casey negates. "I'm giving you shit because you let a little boy die, you risked the safety and welfare of a rape victim, you let someone's attacker get away, all because you couldn't bear the thought of anyone hurting your precious partner!" Her nostrils flare and she almost sneers. "She took the job knowing one day it might cost her life, you honestly..."
"I get it," Elliot says, an evil grin on his face. "You're jealous? Novak, whatever you thought...or felt...you're wrong. I thought of you as a friend, that's it. Now I...I don't even really think of you as that, so...back off Liv, huh?"
Casey swallows hard, her face flushes and she rolls her neck. "Just make sure you tell the fucking truth in the courtroom, Stabler. Don't play the hero. Alex screwed up, she needs to pay for it."
Elliot nods. "I'd never lie under oath," he says.
Casey scoffs. "Unless it was for Olivia, right?"
"Well, we're never gonna know, are we?" he asks, his voice a bit more gravelly than he intends.
"Never say never," Casey spits back. "Tomorrow. Seven AM, Benson," she gives Olivia a small scowl, "Wear a damn suit tomorrow, would you? That dress would cost us the case."
The unit looks on in shock as Casey leaves, then they look at each other trying to make sense of what happened. "Never a dull moment in this place," Amaro quips, folding his arms.
Rollins moves forward and looks at Elliot. "Can I have my desk back now?"
Elliot squints at her, but he rises. "I should go take a look around my new office anyway," he says as he backs away from the desk. He looks at Olivia. "Come with me?"
Olivia smiles at him, then looks toward Cragen.
The aging captain checks his watch, then looks back to her. "Consider it an early lunch." He ignores the giddy grin on Olivia and Elliot's faces as they leave hand-in-hand, then he folds his arms. "The rest of you have work to do," he says. "One case closes another opens."
"And so it goes," Munch says, answering his ringing phone. He takes the name of his caller as he looks out into the hallway, smiling as he watches Elliot kiss Olivia just before they walk out of view.
"It's weird, isn't it?" Olivia asks, lifting a snow globe into her hand from off of the desk. "Not having Tucker breathing down out necks now?"
"Maybe for you," Elliot shrugs. "I'm used to not having him around." He tosses a few files into a box on the floor. "But part of me is really gonna miss butting heads with him."
Olivia narrows her eyes and picks up a picture frame, turns it around and asks, "He kept this?"
"Guess so," Elliot shrugs, taking the photo of himself, Olivia, and Tucker out of her hands. "Maybe it was the only time he really felt that we liked him, or that he liked us, or maybe he just kept it because you look fucking amazing in this dress."
She rips the frame back from him as he laughs and she puts it back down on the desk. "Just don't let this job go to your head like it did his, okay?"
"Baby," he says, pulling her into him suddenly, "It's just a job. I'm gonna do my job, and then I'm gonna go home, get naked, and crawl into bed with my gorgeous, sexy girl."
"You'd better be talking about me," she teases, her hands pulling at his tie.
He grins and nips at her lips, then drags his teeth down and across her neck. "On second thought," he breathes against her skin, "Why wait until we get home?"
She moans, her eyes fall closed, and as much as she wants to tell him it's a bad idea, she can't. She's become absolute putty in his hands. She feels him pushing his hands up her dress, like he had in the alley hours ago, and she suddenly remembers the lace that used to be her underwear is still on the ground behind the bar.
He moans as his fingers brush over the hot, wettening skin, and he sinks his teeth into her neck as two fingers push inside of her.
Her right leg rises, hooking over his hip. She feels his free hand grab it, hold it there, as he works deeper into her with his other set of fingers. "Jesus," she mutters. "What happened to doing your job?" she snips.
"Guess I still break a few rules here and there," he jokes. "A tiger can't change it's stripes."
"I thought that was a zebra," she says, moaning with each word as she's pushed against the wall.
He pulls his hand away from her, groaning when she whimpers, and he turns her around and tosses her onto what is now his desk. "Do I look like a fucking zebra to you?"
She moans in anticipation as he sweeps everything behind her off the desk and to the floor. She licks her lips as she watches him unbuckle his belt and work down his pants. "Definitely a tiger," she says, her smile lustful and her eyes hazy.
He laughs as he crawls over her, his hands slipping up her body, taking the dress with it. "I love you," he whispers, a breath away from her lips, looking into her eyes.
She stops breathing, something she's done far too often today. "I love you, too, El," she says, her fingertips playing at the nape of his neck. And as he guides himself slowly into her, she loses track of where they are, of what time it is, of what's waiting for her downstairs, and she truly believes that everything she has ever wanted is in her arms, it always has been.
She just needed to realize it.
A/N: The end.