The Hardest Thing

Author's Note: Law & Order SVU and its characters are not mine.

Okay first and foremost, I would like to say this is not typical Joei Cassidy EO fic.

Having said that, this story wrote itself. I don't know why it came to me but it did. I won't say why it's not a typical story for me, that would be giving things away before you had a chance to read - but all I can say is that I was very emotional when I wrote this story and I hope that it will strike a chord as well with you all.

Again, I don't have a beta – so any errors, please point them out! Thank you for reading.

. . .

He had been waiting for her at the steps of her Upper West Side apartment. At first when she saw him, she thought she was hallucinating. She had just come from having a night cap with Amanda and Nick and had a couple and thus the thought that he was merely an illusion.

But he wasn't. He was there in the flesh. Nearly 2 years after leaving, he was suddenly there again. Her heart started to beat fast and leaped to her throat. She was overjoyed yet at the same time, she felt an overwhelming sadness engulf her.

Olivia had thought, after going through all the stages of grief – the only thing left for her to do when this day came was to run up to him, embrace him and be happy. Yes, she wanted to do that still. Now. But at the same time, she felt this rush of sadness. She couldn't understand it. And at that moment, she didn't want to.

Right then, all she wanted to do was to rush up him and do exactly as she had planned for so long.

Elliot looked at her. It was almost like a scene from a romantic comedy. Two almost lovers bump into each other. They stop – a distance away from each other and stare at one another. Neither making a move. Until someone cracks a smile first and the other one suddenly smiles too and they both run towards each other.

This wasn't a movie. But still it happened that way. Elliot was the one to smile first – a tentative one but nevertheless a smile. And all at once, Olivia pushed aside that sadness that came upon her and smiled back. The moment she did, Elliot started going down the steps and she started running towards him. They met in the middle of the street. Embracing, hugging, arms wrapped around each other - so tightly. It was like they were assuring themselves of the realness of each other and at the same time, making sure that if they were indeed real, they wouldn't get away.

A cab suddenly beeped its horn and the cabbie yelled as it sped away from them, "Hey lovebirds, take it inside!"

Elliot and Olivia snapped out of their reverie, stared at each other, both startled then started laughing. "I think we should do as he says." Elliot told Olivia when his laughter had died down.

"Yeah, probably. I don't really want to be run over." Olivia answered, also smiling.

Still chuckling, the two of them crossed the street and made their way back to Olivia's building stoop. There, Elliot stopped, hesitating. Olivia didn't even realize that he wasn't following her until she was right in front of her building's entrance door. "What are you doing down there?"

"Well…you haven't invited me up." Elliot told her. He looked into her eyes for a minute, before he averting his gaze to his feet.

Olivia had to bite her lower lip to keep from smiling. Seeing Elliot so uncomfortable was definitely an unusual sight. But she sobered and realized that though it felt like they had been just with each other yesterday, it had actually been nearly two years since she laid eyes on him. Still, it lifted her spirits up to see that they could still be Benson and Stabler – at least after a fashion. When she thought that – Benson and Stabler – suddenly a sadness enveloped her again.

She shook her head trying to get it out of her system. What was wrong with her? Why was she suddenly feeling this way? He was finally here. So why was she feeling sad?

She went back down the steps and spoke up, pushing the sadness back again. "El? You know you don't need an invitation?" She saw him direct his gaze at her, about to speak, but she cut him before he could say anything. "Yes, even after all the time that has passed."

A smile lit up Elliot's face and he chuckled. "And after all this time, you still know me that well."

Was it just her or did that smile not reach up to those beautiful blue eyes of his? Was there a hint of sadness there? Was she projecting what she was feeling on to him?

Oh God! Why was he here? Now?

It didn't matter. Not right now anyway. Right now, all she wanted was to spend time with him. And so instead of saying any of the things going through her head, she simply replied to him, "Yes, I do, El."

"I'm glad." He replied. His hands clasped at the his back.

"So….come up." Olivia said again, smiling once more.

Elliot paused a minute and then as Olivia started up again, he finally followed suit.

The two of them kept looking at each other as they rode up the elevator to Olivia's 4th floor apartment. It was really like they still couldn't believe they were there. Elliot couldn't believe that she had let him in so easily. And Olivia could not believe that he had returned – to her – at least that's the way she saw it – after so long.

When they finally got inside her apartment, it was like going back in time. Suddenly it was 2011 again. And they were still partners. And tonight was just like any night that he went up to her apartment to see her in and have one beer with her.

Except tonight it wasn't 2011. Time had moved forward almost two years. He had aged. She had aged. And he was sure that she had changed. Maybe not in general. But in little ways. Like for example, as she put her phone on her table, he saw that she now had an iPhone, when she had a BlackBerry before. She gained a little weight, but that was okay. It looked good on her. It made her more sexy in his eyes – the added curves. Yes he was sure she had changed in little ways, but it made him feel a lot better to know that underneath it all, she was still the same Olivia.

Olivia was eyeing him too. She could tell that this Elliot was different. He had lost a bit of weight and he seemed a lot more fit as well. But he had aged too. He had more lines around his eyes now. Evident especially when he smiled. His hair had receded a little bit more. But then again, he had always kept it short, military style almost, so it didn't matter. But more than the physical difference, it was really his general aura that changed. He seemed calmer now. In fact, there was a touch of resignation there. Her heart began to beat faster once more. Why was she feeling this way?

For the nth time it seemed then, she pushed any negative feelings aside, told Elliot to sit down and grabbed two beers from her fridge. She opened them, gave one to Elliot and then sat down next to him on her couch.

She faced him. For a couple of minutes, they were silent, once more just looking at each other, finally maybe daring to believe that this was real. When she pictured this in her head so many times, in the past two years, Olivia always thought that she would be demanding answers. And she knew later, she probably will. But in her head, she was always the one to start the conversation. But in reality, it was Elliot who did.

"Liv." He said, his voice gentle. He was smiling but again that tinge of sadness.

Was she going crazy? Why did she seem to feel sadness and see sadness all around suddenly?

Olivia smiled back. "It's good to hear you be the one to say that nickname again, El."

"Yeah, it's good to say it. And It's really really good to hear you call me El again. I really thought you'd be mad."

"I was." Olivia admitted, looking at him while taking a sip of her beer.

Elliot hung his head then directed his gaze back at her. There was definitely a sadness there this time. She couldn't deny it. But she still didn't want to ask about it. "I'm sorry." Elliot apologized. "I really am, Liv…I wanted so badly to go to you after but it was just…too hard…I…I fell apart after. I didn't want you to see me like that."

"El, I'm sorry too. I'm sorry about what happened. I'm sorry that you didn't say goodbye. I'm sorry that it is no longer you who sits across from me. I'm sorry for a lot of things. But…" Her voice trailed off and a slight blush spread across her face.

"But?" Elliot prodded softly, his eyes on her.

"I'll never be sorry for those 12 years, El. I realized that while it could have ended a lot better, we had 12 years together as partners. And for me to throw away those 12 years because of one lousy ending, well that would be definitely something I would regret. "

"Thank you." Elliot sighed with relief. He reached out, touched her face briefly before pulling it back.

He took another sip of beer and Olivia followed his lead. "So how have you been?" Olivia asked, after she had gulped down her beer.

"Liv. Aren't you gonna ask me what I'm doing here?" Elliot abruptly asked, putting his beer down. Suddenly he was serious.

Olivia could only stare at first. It was almost like she was waiting for the punch line. But it never came. The look that Elliot bestowed upon her, told her that there was no punch line forthcoming. And he wasn't smiling. So finally, Olivia finally sobered and just did as he asked. "So, what brings you here, El?"

It was almost like he had prepared speech. Because he immediately answered, "Liv, I turned 47 a few days ago.."

"That's right! Oh my God, I'm sorry, I forgot." Olivia apologized. "Happy Birthday, El."

"Thanks, but I didn't come here to celebrate my birthday. Not in the traditional fashion anyway."

"Okay." Olivia's tone was wary now.

"Liv, I came here – to tell you – that – oh God, this is so much harder than I thought." Elliot looked distraught and…angry…but not at her… himself?

Olivia's pulse was racing and for some reason the sadness came flooding back but this time, anger with it. She didn't know where these emotions were coming from but they were there. She couldn't push them away anymore. They were surging to the surface. "Just spit it out, Elliot." Olivia then spoke like she was in between anger and tears and yet she still had to understand why.

"I wanted to tell you Olivia Benson –" He looked straight into her brown eyes that were now clouded and dark, took a deep breath and then plunged. "Liv, I love you. I have always loved you. I should have told you that before I left. But I didn't . And now, turning 47, realizing I was near the half century mark, I realized I needed to face some things. And that was biggest thing I needed to face. My feelings for you."

He saw that Olivia's eyes had started to shine with unshed tears. And it broke his heart.

Olivia could not say anything. She just stared at him. He finally had told her what she had wanted to hear for so long…so why in the hell was she feeling like her world just fell apart. There was something not right here. Something off. In all of her dreams, when Elliot finally admitted to her that he loved her, she wasn't about to cry – she was laughing and kissing him. This wasn't how it was supposed to be.

"El," Olivia finally spoke up, swallowing hard, her voice hoarse, "I, I love –

"I know." Elliot cut in, not allowing her to finish.

"I have lo-"

"I know." Elliot cut her off again.

Olivia stared at him but tried to continue. "…you for a long time and…"

"Olivia, I know." Elliot interrupted her again.

"Elliot, what's wrong? Why won't you let me say it back?" The distress on Olivia's face matched Elliot's as she searched his face for answers. But Elliot did not respond.

Then she didn't know what made her do it, but her eyes travelled to his hand and saw it. The wedding band. The band of gold. It was still there. It was glinting at her almost mockingly, victoriously.

Elliot saw that she saw and that she steeled herself right then. "Liv?"

"You're still married?" There was shock there. And heartbreak.


"Then, why in hell did you just confess to loving me Elliot? Why? Did you want to just torture me?"

"No, no I didn't."

"Then why?"

"Because you deserve to know the truth. " Elliot told her, sadness all over his face.

"The TRUTH? If that's the fucking truth Elliot then why haven't you been around in the last 2 years? WHY AREN'T YOU WITH ME?" Olivia's voice was raised angrily and her eyes were blazing with fury. Tears, ones borne out of rage were stinging her eyes. She put down her beer on the table, half afraid she might throw it at him if she didn't.

"Because…oh God, Liv…I can't…"

"You CAN'T?" Olivia was incredulous and her tone became mocking, imitative of the one Elliot just used on her. "YOU DESERVE TO KNOW THE TRUTH. Well fuck you Elliot. After disappearing like that, you come reappear and this is what you tell me? WHAT THE FUCK? FUCK YOU."

"Liv, this is exactly what I didn't want to happen!" Elliot cried out, frustrated and sad and angry at himself.

"Well what did you expect? What did you want to happen? You wouldn't even let me say it back! I love –"

"Liv! Stop it!"

"I love –"

"Liv, fuck you."

"Is that what you want? Is that why you came here?" Olivia asked, half angry and half hoping.

"No." His answer was simple. Firm.

"Is that your ploy, tell me you love me, don't let me say it back so I'd get angry and have make up sex with you?" Olivia knew that she was being irrational but she was angry. She didn't know why he wouldn't let her say it back. Forget that he was married. After 14 fucking years, she wanted to tell him.

"No!" It was almost a yell. "No it's not like that!"

"Then what is it like, Elliot? Please tell me. After all you've already turned my life inside out yet again already, so feel free please to turn it upside down too. Just fucking tell me why?" Olivia folded her arms across her chest, a defiant look on her face.

"Why what LIv?" Elliot asked, his blue eyes now rimmed with red. She suddenly realized he was fighting tears too.

Seeing that made her calm down somehow. The anger all but left her and her voice was now low. "Tell me why you won't let me say it. Tell me if you love me like you say, then why aren't you with me? Elliot please. You owe me that. After 14 years of loving you –I need to hear it….there I said. I love you, too."

Elliot was sitting rigidly now. It was all he could do to stop himself from trembling. "Oh God, Liv. Do you know how long I've waited to hear you say that?"

"If that's the truth, then why are we fighting? Why do you seem sad? Why? We should be happy. But we're not. Why?"

"Because Liv, I CAN'T BE WITH YOU…"

He finally said the words. And the moment she heard them, Olivia's world crashed down on her and her heart broke in two. "Damn you, Elliot. Why did you come back? I was better off not knowing."

"I couldn't bear the thought of you thinking that I never cared." Elliot confessed.

"Fuck you, Elliot." Olivia cursed him again. "How can you even think that? Didn't you know me all this time? How the hell can I not know?"

"You…knew…?" Elliot stammered out, his tone questioning.

"Of course I did!" Olivia was practically shouting. "You mortgaged your house for me! You took care of me when I was sick. You told me that despite my genes, I turned out great. Do I have to go on? You don't do those things or say those kind of words to someone you never cared for!"

"You're right…but I guess I thought you deserved to finally actually hear it." Elliot replied painfully and sadly.

"Why can't we be together El?" Olivia hated the desperation she heard that was coming from her. But she didn't know how else to put it. "Why? You love me, I love you and we're no longer partners on the job. What's stopping us now?"

Olivia leaned forward, going closer to him, wanting him so much to reach for her and just take her in his arms. But he didn't. And the fact that he didn't mad her ache all over. This was almost worst than not having him around.

"That's all true Liv," Elliot admitted softly...regretfully.


"Liv…I can't leave my family. They...they...need me...more than you need me. I love them."

"You love them more…"

"No, it's not that, Liv…"

Tears falling freely down her face now, Olivia nodded and sighed, "I understand Elliot."

"You…you do?" Elliot froze and his heart started to break slowly. After all the shit he had just laid on her, she still understood.

"Fuck it. Yes, I do. It's why I never told you all these years. Even though I realized it was you holding me back from having any sort of normal relationship with a man, I could never tell you. Because I knew. I knew deep down, I'd lose if you had to make that choice.""

"Liv, it's just that…I…just fucking wish things were different. " Elliot's voice cracked.

They stared helplessly at each other and for the first time, Elliot reached for Olivia and held her hands. He intertwined his fingers with hers as they kept their gazes on each other. Olivia's tears were falling. Elliot's eyes were burning from unshed tears as well.

"I know, El. Me too."

"I wish I could give us a happy ending, Liv."

"Maybe in another universe, we're husband and wife and Kathy is the one who isn't with you."

"I wish it was in this universe." Elliot told her, his voice hoarse.

"Maybe in a different lifetime El."

"Fuck, Liv. I love you so much. But…"

"I know, El…we can't. "

"No...we can't."

There was a pause.

Then Olivia asked it. "Does she know you're here?"

"I think so." Elliot confessed.

"Does she know why you went here?"

"Probably." He was honest.

"And?" She knew she was pushing him but she didn't care.

"When I told her I need to do something, I could tell she knew something was up. But she didn't ask. All she told me was when I did come back, she wanted me to come back whole again."

"And are you going to be able to do that?" Olivia kept her eyes on him. They were still holding each other's hands.

"I don't think so." Elliot whispered.


"Because I think when I leave here, a part of me will stay here, with you Liv."

"I almost wish you hadn't come." Olivia declared softly.


"Yes, just almost."

"Why just almost?"

"Because," Olivia said painfully, "You were right. I needed to hear you say it."

"I do love you."

"And I love you."

"This is the hardest thing I've ever done, Liv. I almost can't bear it. I almost can't breathe." Elliot choked out. Olivia could feel him gripping her hands so tightly, it almost hurt. But she'd rather have the physical hurt than the hurt she knew she was going to feel when he walked out of here.

"Will I see you again after this?" Olivia was biting her lip trying to keep the tears at bay. They had stopped but they were just there ready to spill again.

"Liv, I…I don't think that's a good idea. Not for a while anyways." Elliot replied.

"Does she expect you back tonight?" Olivia suddenly asked.

"I….we never discussed it, but I suppose she won't be surprised if I stayed the night in the city."

Olivia's gazed locked in his again and she almost hated herself for what she was about to do, but she couldn't help it. She needed it. If she was going to have to accept the fact that she and Elliot will never be, then she wanted this one night with him. Fuck his Catholic guilt. Fuck his being married. Nothing mattered except being with him for tonight. That is if he'd agree .

"El, if she doesn't expect you back, will you…will you stay the night with me?"

That was all it took. The next thing they both knew, they were kissing – hotly, urgently. And then clothes were being shed. By the time they made it to Olivia's bedroom, they were completely naked, their clothes littered the floor, leaving a trail.

Elliot laid Olivia gently on her bed, got in with her and began to make love to her. Tears stung Olivia's eyes as she felt Elliot's lips stray from her lips to make their way down to her neck then to her breasts and then finally to her soaking pussy.

Elliot licked her wet folds, moaning at her taste and at the sight of her arousal. Olivia whimpered above him and urged him on. "Oh God, El. Please. Please I want you inside me now."

He was powerless to disobey and all at once, his thick and long cock that was hard as a rock was buried to the hilt inside her. Olivia gasped at his intrusion. He felt so good inside her. So big and so hard! She groaned loudly and before Elliot could even move, she did by arching her pelvis up.

Elliot gave a loud whimper when he saw Olivia's eagerness. And as much as he wanted release and as much as he wanted to feel her clench around his cock, he took his time and started to thrust in and out of her slowly, deliberately, making her feel his every stroke and every inch of him. It was almost like he was trying to make sure that she would remember every second and every motion of their lovemaking.

Olivia was melting in his arms. Her hands were on his ass. She opened her legs as wide as she could so that he could go deeper into her. He couldn't get deep enough for her. "El, El, El…" She was chanting his name in pleasure. "Oh God, El, you feel so good."

"Oh Liv, honey, you're so tight. God you feel amazing. So wet, so tight. Baby, I'm close."

"Me too." Olivia admitted. Then, all at once a warning clench squeezed Elliot's cock and he gave a little cry.

"Fuck, Liv, do that again - it feels so good baby." He sounded drunk from the pleasure he was feeling, that Olivia was giving him.

And before he could even finish that thought, Olivia's pussy clenched around him again. Elliot groaned and suddenly, he was thrusting in and out of her frantically. Olivia grasped his ass harder and she knew he was going to have bruises from her grip but she didn't care. She needed him deeper, harder, faster.

They barely noticed that tears were now falling down both their faces and they were both emitting loud cries coming from deep inside them. All they could see and hear was their bodies going at it – hitting against each other. Olivia dared looked down and damn it that wasn't the most erotic thing she had ever seen – Elliot's big, thick, hard and long cock going in and out of her.

Elliot felt the same. Seeing his cock going in and out of that pussy. Feeling that wetness, that warm wetness while inside her tight pussy. It was almost choking his dick, it was that tight but he loved it. It felt so good. She was going to make him come over and over again tonight and each time he knew, he was going to come long and hard.

There was another warning clench from Olivia and once more Elliot gave a little cry. Then suddenly unable to take it any longer, needing release, needing to come and have Olivia come and hear her screams, Elliot reached in between them and found her clit. He found the distended little bundle of nerves and began to rub it.

The moment his hand touched her clit, Olivia cried out. He didn't slow down his relentless pace either. A couple of more strokes, and suddenly Olivia's pussy was clenching again and again, her orgasm overwhelming her. He started to hear her cries of pleasure but then it was drowned all at once when his own orgasm came barreling down his length. Together, Olivia and Elliot shouted each other's names as their orgasms crashed over them until they were finally finished.

After that, they collapsed in each other's arms. When their breathing was finally back to normal, Elliot pulled out from Olivia and just held her in his arms. "That was…." He began.

But this time it was Olivia that cut him off, "I know El."

Elliot looked at her and replied, "Yeah I know you do."


Elliot had not turned away from her and he brushed the hair out of her eyes, gently. "Yes, Liv?"

"I want us to make love all night."

For the first since getting to the apartment earlier, Elliot chuckled. "You do, huh?"

"Yeah." Olivia smiled back.

"Okay, Liv." He fell quiet then, just staring at her face tenderly before he said it again. "I love you."

"I love you, too." Her expression was equally tender and her declaration just as sincere.

They didn't utter a sound for a few minutes once more. Each was lost in their own thoughts yet they were literally wrapped in each other, their arms around each other tightly.

Then suddenly, Olivia moved and the next thing Elliot knew, she was on top of him, straddling him. About to make love to him again. But before she did that, she spoke once more. And this time, there was pain in her expression and in her voice. "El, can you make sure that you leave after I fall asleep and before I wake up?"

Even though it was hard to concentrate on her words while she was sitting on his growing erection, Elliot suddenly snapped to attention. "You…you don't want to see me leave and say goodbye?"

Olivia shook her head, her eyes on Elliot. "El, if I see you before you leave, I don't think I'll have the strength to let you go. And even if I somehow did, I don't think I could bear that image. So please, leave when I'm asleep."

"Okay." Elliot agreed. "Damn it Liv, I wish things were different." That anguished look was back on his face.

"You know the moment I saw you earlier, I knew something was wrong." Olivia admitted.


"There was this sadness that just came over me. I didn't know why. I mean I see you for the first time in so long and I'm sad? So now I guess I know why."

Tears were again falling down Olivia's eyes. Elliot forgot for a moment that she was straddling his already hardened dick and he reached up to brush away her tears. "I hate seeing you cry."

"El, one more thing. Can you do me a favor?"

"What is it? Anything within my power, Liv. Always you know that."

"When you're over this. When we've had enough time apart to get over this, promise me, PLEASE promise me you'll find me again. I don't think I could take it if you were really out of my life permanently. Promise when we're over this, we can try for a friendship again. "

Elliot replied without hesitation, "I promise Liv. But I can't promise you how long that's gonna take."

"I know. But I just need you to really promise me that once you're ready, you'll come back to me as a friend."

Elliot paused for a second but then with open eyes he replied with sincerity and tenderness, "I promise, Liv."

"Good. I love you, Elliot."

And at that, she suddenly sat up, grabbed his hardened length, aligned it with her pussy and then impaled herself on it. The moment he was inside her all the way in, Elliot breathed and replied, "I love you too, Liv."

That was all Olivia needed and she started moving on top of him, riding him hard and good until she made both of them climax once more.

They made love 4 more times that night before they fell asleep in each other's arms. Olivia tried to keep her eyes open, not wanting to sleep because she knew the next time she opened them, Elliot would be gone.

Just before they had gone to sleep she made him promise again to leave before she woke up. And he promised.

They fell asleep at about 4 am.

At about 8 am, Elliot awoke to sunlight streaming inside Olivia's room. He blinked. As he saw and felt Olivia beside him, everything that happened the night before came flooding back. And suddenly it was he could do not to cry.

He knew Olivia would be up soon. And he promised her that he'd be gone by the time she was awake. Hard as it was, he knew he needed to do it. Because truth be told, he didn't think he could bear to say goodbye to her too. If she found him there when she was awake, he knew he'd never could leave just as she could never let him go.

But he had to. He had his family. He already belonged to someone else. And that someone trusted him and loved him. And he was going to make sure he honored all that.

"I'm sorry, Liv." He whispered, looking at her naked sleeping form.

Finally, he got up, grabbed his clothes and dressed hastily. Once done, he sat down on her bed again and kissed her softly on the lips. "I love you, Liv. And I promise you once I'm ready, I'll come to you again. I promise, my love. Pray for us, okay? I love you so much. This is NOT goodbye. So I won't say goodbye. Even if you can't hear me right now. It's until next time. It's see you later. Okay? I love you. And now I have to go because if I stay one minute more, I won't leave. See you, Liv."

And with that, he stood up and made the hardest walk of his life – the walk out her door and for the moment, out of her life.

An hour later, Olivia awoke. Her heart pounded when she saw that there was no one next to her. She jumped up hoping to find Elliot in her apartment. But he wasn't. He was gone. He had done as she asked. When she realized this, Olivia walked back to her bedroom. She was about to get into her bed and cry herself back to sleep when suddenly, she saw something in the corner of her eye.

On the table, she saw a picture of her and Elliot on the table. It was a shot taken towards the end of their first year together as partners. The picture wasn't hers. It was Elliot's. God they were so young then. It was a picture of them being goofy towards each other. Elliot had stuck out his tongue at her and she returned the favor. They were like two little kids that day, sticking their tongues out at each other. A rare light moment in SVU.

She stared at the picture a while longer, the tears starting already. She was about to put it away, when suddenly something made her flip it. At the back, Elliot had written a short note. Her heart leaped to her throat as she read it and the tears came down in earnest then.

The note read:


Not sure if you remember this day, but I do. This is the day I realized I was in love with you. I wish things were different. I love you, Benson. I promise one day when we're ready we will see each other again. So until that day, Liv….


And as the tears came down harder and faster, she had one thought in her head, "Until that day, El… I love you too." Still crying, she got into bed, the picture clutched to her chest, near her heart and went back to sleep.

. . .



What do you think? My plan for this is really a one shot, but I could write a new story where we jump off from this one? Let me know your thoughts, dear readers.

Please review here or on Twitter: Jo_Bautista. And thank you for reading.