AN: This is it folks. Thanks to all who followed, especially if you took the time to review. As a writer it's not just for ego stroking, it's how you improve your craft so I DO appreciate them.

Please note that the rating for this last chapter changes to "M". Keep that in mind and happy reading!

Elliot managed to talk the doctors at the hospital into releasing him early. After having the snot kicked out of him by Knight, he's well versed in how to take care of his injuries. Olivia just wishes it would stop happening.

She knocks on his door and he answers shoeless, shirtless and wearing gray NYPD issued sweatpants low on his waist. His torso is covered in ugly multicolored marks. He has bruising under his eyes from another reset broken nose and his lip has a slight cut.

"Hey," he says giving her a small smile as he moves to let her inside.

Once the door is closed Olivia steps closer to inspect his injuries. She touches his bruises gingerly with her fingers. Then she takes his face in both hands, leaning her forehead against his.

"Hi," she tells him, finally responding to his greeting.

She's so relieved he's okay that she takes a moment just to feel his breath on her face. When she reluctantly left him at the hospital earlier, she wasn't free to touch him the way she is now that they're alone.

Elliot puts his arms around her waist as hers gravitate around his neck when he pulls her to him. They take the time to simply hold and reassure one another. He can feel her tremble slightly against him. And as they pull apart he realizes she's crying.

"I'm okay Liv…we're okay," he rasps, wiping her tears away with his thumbs as he cradles her face.

"I know," she manages. "I just…

"What is it?"

"I never wanna' lose you," she tells him eying the floor.

Elliot lifts her chin to meet his eyes.

"That's not going to happen," he says adamantly. He leans in slowly capturing her lips in one sweet kiss.

"I need to talk to you about something," she tells him when they pull apart. He nods and leads her over to his worn black leather sofa.

They sit side by side with Elliot taking one of Olivia's hands in both of his.

"What's up?"

"Cragen knows about us," she informs him in a near whisper. "He's gonna split us up," she adds wiping away another tear.

"How do you know?" he asks, freeing a hand to put a stray hair behind her ear.

"Those two under covers that came to our rescue are SVU's newest detectives," she informs him as her tears subside. "They were at the station after I finished with Jacobson who by the way, confessed and is probably at Riker's by now," she adds giving him a small grin.

"I knew you'd get him," he tells her. "But what made him bring in two detectives if he's splitting us up? Why not just one?"

"He wants Munch to earn his sergeant's pay so he's gonna give him more responsibility leaving Fin with a new partner," she advises. "As for us-

"What about us?"

"He's noticed how different we are with one another and I didn't deny it. There was no point in trying to lie to him."

Elliot gets up from the sofa and walks into the kitchen. When he returns he has two bottles of cold beer and hands one to Olivia.

"I'll transfer."

"El, no-

"It has to be me Liv. We've already discussed this."

"I don't want to do this without you," she tells him, putting her beer down on the nearby coffee table and placing a hand on his thigh.

"You don't want to," he begins, covering her hand with his own. "But you can and you'll make those two SVU rookies almost as good as you are," he continues. "I can work somewhere else."

"El you're just as passionate about this unit as I am," she reasons. "Why should you be the one-

"I may be passionate Liv, even good at this job but I can walk away," he interrupts. "You can't. The way you can get a victim to talk, to stand up for themselves, to confront their attackers in court…it's second nature to you, innate even. You belong in SVU."

"Maybe we should just go back to being part-

Elliot cuts her off with a kiss. He threads his hands through her soft locks of honey brown streaked hair ignoring the pain in his lip to taste her fully. He ends the smooch with a small nibble on her lower lip before pulling away.

"You really wanna' do that?" he asks breathlessly just inches away from her face.

Olivia's breaths are coming just as rapidly as his. Her face is flush, her lips are kiss swollen and her eyes have darkened with want.

She responds by returning his affections and delving into his mouth to slide her tongue along his. She cradles his face in her hands seemingly trying to consume him until they both feel the need to come up for oxygen.

"No," she manages. "I don't."

"That's what I thought," he says, smiling knowingly. "We've worked without each other before. We can do it again."

"That was different. I knew I was coming back," she reasons. "I knew I could come back," she clarifies. "You won't be able to."

"I talked to Cassandra," he tells her, changing the subject.

"That's good," she says without asking any questions.

"So there's nothing else to stop us from being together Liv. If we won't be seeing one another at work anymore it's okay. You'll come here or I'll come to your apartment."

Olivia gets up beginning to pace.

"You know the job El. You know the crazy hours, the schedule," she tells him. "When the hell are we gonna see one another?"

"Liv."

"You know what happens when a big case comes along. We sleep in the cribs. Sometimes we don't come home at all," she says, continuing to pace.

"Liv."

"Look at what this job did to your marriage Elliot and let's not even talk about my string of failed relationships. It'll be impossible."

"Liv, stop!"

His shouting manages to snap her out of her tangent. He scrubs an exasperating hand over his face and gets up from his position on the sofa. Elliot walks calmly over to Olivia and takes her by the hand leading her back to the couch.

"First of all, there have been plenty of days where we've had down time," he begins. "Every case is not complicated and crazy enough to keep us away from home or each other. Secondly, this job didn't tank my marriage, Kathy and I did," he reasons. "So are you scared that this won't work or scared that it will?"

Olivia looks at him stunned. She's surprised to find that maybe that is the problem and she hadn't even thought about it. She reaches for the forgotten beer on the coffee table and takes a drink. It's been a ridiculously long, trying day for them both and this conversation isn't improving things.

After a long pull she puts the beer down again and settles herself into a corner of the sofa. She toes her shoes off to show him she's not going anywhere before folding one leg beneath her. Olivia folds her hands in her lap and looks over at Elliot. He's patiently waiting for her to respond.

"I think you're right," she begins. "And bringing up all the things that'll get in our way probably will tank us before we even get started. I'm not exactly good with longevity when it comes to my personal relationships. I have baggage. I have insecurities."

"Liv I'm a divorced father of five with anger management issues," he tells her. "I can be petty, overprotective, jealous and a straight up asshole," he adds garnering a smile. "You could definitely do better."

"I know," she says, smirking.

"But I'm hoping the fact that I'm madly in love with you and would do anything for you will make you want to keep me around."

"There is that."

"We already know each other Liv. That scary "get to know one another" phase where we find out something that makes us wanna run screaming in the other direction has already happened for us. And despite the flaws we both have, we fell in love any way. You may think you're no good at longevity but twelve years as your partner says otherwise."

"That's when partners was all we were to each other."

"You're right. Now that we're more than that I don't have to stop myself from tracking you down if you run away from this."

"You'll be happy to know I no longer have the energy to leave," she tells him, softening.

"That's good because I'm looking forward to fighting with you now."

She tilts her head at him knitting her eyebrows together.

"Do I wanna know why that is?"

"Because I'm gonna do much better than a coffee and your favorite muffin as an apology," he says waggling his eyebrows.

She genuinely laughs then and it feels good to move out of such a heady discussion.

"Yeah besides the amazing make-up sex, I get to write you horrible poetry as well."

"Oh this I gotta hear."

"Okay, but remember you asked."

Elliot clears his throat dramatically before beginning.

"I call it 'Ode to your cell phone'."

Olivia pierces her lips together trying to keep the laughter inside from the ridiculous title as she listens.

"Olivia's cell phone so stylish and sleek, you have every bell and whistle you vibrate and beep. You keep her in contact with VIPs, you wake her in the morning with the greatest of ease. You email and tweet and call to faraway places. You have a variety of ringtones and interchangeable cases-

Olivia can't help herself any more. She has tears coming out of her eyes trying to let him finish.

"Oh Olivia's phone you are such a lucky device, you're with her morning, noon and night and it must be so nice. She keeps you warm in her back pocket and I'm sure you understand that my fondest wish in the world is to replace that spot with my hand."

When she's sure he's done she bursts out laughing. Her face has reddened, tears are streaming down her face and she's holding her stomach. She's absolutely beautiful he thinks to himself.

Her glee at the silly, on the spot poem is so contagious Elliot joins in. His sore ribs slightly ache from the exertion but he doesn't care. After all they've been through with their last cases together they deserve a good laugh.

For nearly an hour every time they look at each other they crack up all over again. If he continues making her laugh the way they are, cooking the way he did when they played house and kissing her the way he does, she's thinking they're going to be just fine.

"As fun as this has been," she begins, wiping the tears from her face. "It's been a long day, so I'm gonna go now."

"Why don't you stay?"

"El I just wanna eat whatever hasn't turned brown in my fridge, take a shower and crash until Groundhog Day," she tells him, bending to put on her shoes.

"I have an extra toothbrush and something for you to sleep in," he says, taking the shoes out of her hands to place them near his at the front door. "And my fingers aren't broken so I think I can dial a phone for some takeout," he jokes rejoining her on the sofa.

"You worried about me not coming back?"

"No, but I know how independent you are and maybe you think I want to change that."

"You don't?"

"Not even a little. I love your independence. I just want you to get used to having someone there for you, someone to eat with, to sleep with, to take care of and have them take care of you even though you can do it yourself."

"I'll try but a lifetime habit of doing everything for myself won't be easy to break."

"Luckily for you I'm such a patient and willing teacher."

Elliot pulls her to her feet and leads her down his hallway. He stops at the linen closet for towels handing them to her. Then he takes her hand and pulls her into his bedroom. She looks around the surprisingly clean and masculine decorated space as he pulls a large t- shirt and a pair of boxers from his chest of drawers.

"Go," he says pointing at the bathroom. "When you're done there will be food from that Korean place you like waiting for you."

Without another word Elliot turns and leaves her to her own devices. She's half tempted to just crash in the inviting king sized bed he has but she doesn't. As she showers in the hot water, she washes off Jacobson's touch and clears her mind of the brutish pictures of the couples he victimized.

Olivia takes her time kneading her tired muscles, shampooing and conditioning her long hair. When she gets out she's surprised to find he actually has a hairdryer beneath his sink. A man that has as little hair as he does should just let it air dry. But he does have daughters that no doubt visit. Perhaps they're the ones to thank for the Milk & Honey body wash he supplied her with. She knows Cassandra wasn't around long enough to have gotten so comfortable.

Or at least she hopes not. Olivia's discovering a jealous streak where he's concerned that was previously nonexistent or at the very least, better suppressed.

She folds her clothes up in a neat little pile, placing them on his dresser as she leaves the bedroom to check on him. True to his word she finds him transferring food from the takeout boxes onto two plates. He smiles when he looks up to find her watching him.

"Feel better?"

"Much," she says, approaching him. "This smells wonderful," she tells him before kissing him on the cheek.

As they eat, he regales her with stories from his Marine Corps days and lets her in on little quirks he has to make her laugh. After she yawns for the third time he knows it's time for bed.

Elliot puts the food away in the refrigerator and loads the dishwasher all while insisting she do nothing from the view of her kitchen stool.

"Hey El?"

"Yeah," he says pausing in his cleaning.

"We haven't exactly discussed sleeping arrangements."

He starts the machine before joining her on her side of the counter, taking both of her hands in his.

"You can sleep in the spare bedroom if you're uncomfortable."

"I trust you," she says, giving his hands a slight squeeze.

With that Elliot turns and Olivia follows closely behind. When they get to his bedroom he goes to the other side of the bed, peels the covers back, slides in and waits on her to join him after turning out his bedside lamp.

She doesn't hesitate to get in right next to him. He lies on his back with his hands lying on top of his stomach. She turns over on her side resting her head on her hand with a bent elbow looking down at him. Olivia knows he's letting her set the pace, giving her the control so that she's more comfortable in his bed.

He smiles as she leans over to kiss him.

Darkness has long since fallen over the city. The bedroom window is slightly open and cool air breezes through the room. It brings with it the beginning scents of autumn as a gentle but steady rain begins to fall.

He threads one hand through her hair as she moves her lips smoothly over his before stealing into his mouth. His other warm, rough hand finds its way beneath the t-shirt she wears exploring the contours of her lower back. Elliot enjoys the contrast of her soft skin against his course hands. It reminds him of their partnership and how they've always complemented one another.

As his hand travels upward he is rewarded with the discovery that his partner chose to stay braless after her shower. He's also relieved that his daughter's body wash has mixed uniquely with Olivia's natural scent. She smells divine as she kisses along his jaw line to his neck and he can feel the familiar excitement building as she begins to nibble on his earlobe.

"I thought you were tired."

"Second wind," she whispers before pulling back to rest on her elbow again. "But if you are it's okay."

Elliot raises the covers gesturing with his eyes at a clear indication of his energy levels.

"Does it look like I'm thinking of sleep?"

Olivia chuckles a bit at the way he's answered her.

"No. It definitely does not," she answers before straddling her partner. She places a hand on the mattress above his shoulders, leaning down to kiss him again and resting her chest against his. The other hand moves his face into hers to deepen the kiss.

"Am I hurting you?"

She wants this with him but not to the detriment of his bruised ribs.

Elliot responds by sitting up and raising her with him. Olivia thinks to herself that he's just as strong as he looks. He gets that mischievous expression on his face placing his hands beneath her t-shirt again. They're on either side of her waist rubbing his thumbs against her lower abdomen.

"We don't have to do this tonight," he says, holding her eyes.

Olivia removes her arms from around Elliot's neck, crossing them at her waist before slowly pulling the shirt up her abdomen and over head tossing it behind her.

"You're so beautiful," he tells her before capturing her lips in another passionate kiss. Her arms are around his shoulders as his mouth moves to tenderly cover the slight bruise that Jacobson's hand left on her cheek.

"I'm sorry he hurt you," he whispers in her ear before continuing to place kisses along her cheek, moving towards her neck. She nods in response and tilts her head giving him better access.

He surprises her with a bite to the skin beneath her left ear before soothing it with a warm sucking of her flesh. It rides the line between pain and pleasure and their clothes are only half off. The anticipation is nearly unbearable.

He runs his hands languidly up her abdomen until he fills them with the weight of her breasts. She closes her eyes to simply feel as his mouth closes around a raised bud. He grazes it with his teeth before teasing it with his tongue and closing his mouth around it all together. Olivia moves her hands to the back of his head, holding him in place as he lavishes her breasts with adept attention.

When she leans back to encourage his ministrations, she can't stop herself from grinding her hips against him. Elliot licks his way up her chest and back to her lips. She pushes him backwards again until his back meets the mattress, surprising him this time. There's an urgency she can't name the source of as they go on exploring one another.

Olivia continues down his neck placing a gentle kiss over the matching scar Knight gave him. She moves towards his chest before trailing her mouth tenderly over the bruises covering his ribs. She kisses her way down his stomach and lower. He feels her tugging at his sweatpants and lifts up to slide them off.

When she's about to go lower Elliot stops her, pulling her back towards him.

"No," he tells her. "Not this time."

With the condition they're both in, her mentally and him physically, he knows that neither of them will last.

"Are you sure about this?"

She answers by shimmying out of the boxers he's loaned her and casting them aside. Olivia is just as ready as she was at the penthouse before Don's phone call stopped them. She wants him, needs him and is impatient to show him just how much. Her mouth is on his again, slowly but passionately kissing him. He reaches below to tease her when she stops him in much the same way he did to her. She's had enough foreplay.

"I'm more than ready," she says, reaching over to extinguish the lamp on her side, throwing the room into semi-darkness. But their eyes quickly adjust.

The rain is steadier now, loudly beating against the window pane as a flash of lightening temporarily illuminates their shadowed silhouettes. Olivia runs her hands down his chest and over his stomach feeling the mane of faint hair as she gets lower. She strokes him in the darkness before lining them up like the perfect constellation of stars.

When she sinks down onto him they adjust themselves, one to the other. Her movements are slow and languid as a new rider gets used to the temperament and rhythm of it's steed.

"God, Liv," he manages, tightening his grasp on her hips. "This is…"

"I know," she says.

Elliot grasps her thighs, pulling her down as he pulses upwards. If his ribs are going to take a beating he thinks, he'll gladly choose this over any other activity. He suspects her chosen position is because she doesn't want him to strain his injuries but he's not complaining.

Next to the rainstorm the whisperings of their first time together compliment the periodic sounds of thunder.

"There?"

"Yes."

"More?"

"Please."

"Is that-

"So good El."

He sits up to touch his chest to hers, feeling his skin can't come in contact with hers enough. His hands comb through her dampening hair is they move together. He smiles watching her bite her bottom lip while making an expression he's never been privy to.

Olivia moans as she continues to move over him, sweat coating both their bodies despite the breeze from the window. Her movements become faster and more frenzied as she completely gives herself over to the pleasure of their love making.

Elliot covers her mouth with his, delving inside as he feels her begin to shudder against him. He watches her eyes squeeze closed, head thrown back in climax as his hits just as powerfully.

After the tremors of her orgasm subsides Olivia wraps her arms around his neck as his encircles her back. She leans forward, resting her forehead on his shoulder as their breathing returns to normal. Elliot is running a soothing hand up and down her spine. She'll never look at thunder storms in quite the same way again.

"What are you thinking?" he asks in a whisper next to her ear.

"Isn't that my line?" she rasps, raising her eyes to meet his.

She feels him still inside her, with his bare chest against hers thinking it awkward to be having a conversation with him this way. Yet she doesn't move.

"Liv," he says and it sounds like a plea.

She lays a hand against his face, caressing the stubble beginning to grow on his chin.

"I'm thinking I'd really like to do that again at some point and that your ribs are not as bad as I thought they were."

"Hey, you wanted to have your way with me. And what kind of idiot would I be if I didn't just let you?"

She smiles to herself hearing and feeling his deep chuckle.

"What are you thinking?" she asks in kind.

"That now when I picture you naked, I'll have an awesome frame of reference," he answers laughing again and earning a playful punch in the arm.

"Elliot."

"Okay, okay. I'm thinking that as awful as it was when Knight had us-hearing that you were in love with me was worth it," he tells her, stroking his fingers up and down her arm. "Was worth having this with you."

"Elliot?"

"Yeah Liv."

"I was scared to tell you what I was really thinking a minute ago."

"You don't have to be," he tells her, reaching down to caress her thigh. "Ever."

"I was thinking-how much I'm gonna enjoy coming home to you, not fighting you when you try to take care of me and just being here with you…like this."

"I love you," he whispers against her lips before kissing her again.

"I love you too," she tells him after they part.

As Elliot leans back against the pillows, Olivia climbs off of him. She rolls into his side laying her head on his chest and her hand against his lower abdomen. He threads his right hand through her hair before leaning down to kiss the top of her head.

She exhales contentedly against his chest.

"I'm gonna miss that penthouse," she says, garnering a chuckle from him.

"And why is that?"

"You saw the size of that tub."

"I did. You don't know how close I was to interrupting your bubble bath, or knocking on your door after you kissed me for making dinner or hell, just taking you on the kitchen counter."

"Damn," she says, laughing. "You got it bad Stabler. But you know what I'll miss the most?"

"What's that?"

"Being your partner."

"But we'll always be partners Liv. For better or worse."