Fandom: Law & Order: SVU
Word Count: 2, 600~
Summary: It’s a simple thing, only of course it’s not.
A/N: I’ve always loved this pairing, but I’ve really never taken a shot at it, mostly because people like sloanesomething and annakovsky write it like they were born to it. Anyway, I know I’m coming very late to the party…
Elliot is Olivia’s emergency contact, her next-of-kin on her Personnel file.
It was her mother from the day she entered the Academy, but after her mother died she’d forgotten about it, only remembered when she’d seen Fin updating his information.
Olivia has been to enough emergency rooms to know how important it is to have a next-of-kin on file, so she’d nominated Elliot after a small moment of hesitation. Not because she didn’t want Elliot to be her next-of-kin, but because she wasn’t sure what it meant that he was the first and only person she wanted to nominate.
Olivia tells him, one morning, on their way out to Kew Gardens to interview a witness. Elliot doesn’t respond, stays silent for a few blocks, then curses out a cab driver with his usual creativity. He picked up some interesting phrases in the Marines.
They conduct the interview, don’t get anywhere in particular and head back to the stationhouse for an exciting afternoon of background checks.
But Elliot drives past the stationhouse instead of turning into the garage and says, “Let’s get some lunch.”
They go to an Italian place Elliot knows Olivia likes, although he thinks it’s overpriced and the serves aren’t nearly big enough.
They talk work for most of the meal, until Olivia is finishing the last of her matriciana and Elliot says, “Why me?”
Olivia just looks at him. She cannot say aloud that he is all she has. Not only would it break one of their unspoken rules, it would damage something fierce and proud in her.
“El,” is all she manages.
He gets up to pay the tab, insists on shouting her lunch. They get some solid work done in the afternoon and finish up at a reasonable hour. On their way out the door, halfway down the stairs, Elliot says suddenly and decisively, “I’d never let it happen.”
“Something so bad I’d have to be notified. I’d never let it happen.”
It’s that quiet intensity in his voice that always undoes her, a tone that suggests that Olivia is all he has too, although that is not true.
Olivia got tired of Elliot bitching about the cold the first winter they worked together, so she bought him a black knit-cap. He bought her a red scarf and after that, every winter – usually in the first week of December – he buys her a new scarf.
They don’t really talk about it – the scarves just appear on her desk and Olivia starts wearing them.
It’s a simple thing, only of course it’s not.
January one year, they are shivering on a sidewalk while Warner does her preliminary on a young girl, Olivia recovering from the ’flu, and Elliot steps in close to her, wraps the grey scarf he’d bought her that year around and around her neck.
She lets him, amused by the gesture.
“You’ll catch pneumonia,” he says, smiling softly. “It’s a good thing I take care of you, Liv.”
The winter sun backlights his eyes, bounces off the snow, makes it hard to look at him, makes it hard to look away.
She feels sure they’ve had sex.
They must have.
It cannot be all this time, with so much between them, with all that spark and fire and goddamn lust between them, that they have not had sex.
Olivia is convinced they have.
Elliot must have had her against a wall somewhere, at some time, her body pinned by his, his cock thick and burning as he thrust into her, his fingers circling and teasing her clit, muttering dirty, filthy, loving things in her ear, Olivia sobbing, crying out, undone and defenceless, orgasms wrenching out of them seconds apart, scattering them, binding them.
She seems to think her body has known his touch, that she can remember the taste of him on her lips, that they have kissed once, a hundred times.
But Olivia has no memory of them ever being slow and careful with each other, she has no memory of them in a bed, and so it must all be imaginary, because she thinks more than anything, that Elliot would be gentle with her if she asked.
Olivia knows things about Elliot’s children by osmosis: their birthdates and middle names, their allergies and illnesses, Maureen’s classes, Kathleen’s string of boyfriends, all of whom Elliot calls “Mike” because he can never remember their names.
She has seen more of Maureen than the others, simply because she’s the eldest and visits Elliot at the stationhouse sometimes, but she likes Liz the best. Liz has Elliot’s eyes and his curiosity and she’s mouthy and smart and she lights up when she sees Olivia.
The older girls know something, or suspect something about Olivia and they look like Kathy, too.
Olivia remembers standing to leave the church, turning from the front pew, tears burning the back of her eyelids, and seeing Elliot, two rows behind her in his dark funeral suit.
He had met her mother a handful of times, had charmed and delighted her in that way that he can, but Olivia had not expected him to come to Serena’s funeral and when she walked down the aisle she paused to touch his elbow, gratitude and grief swelling in her throat.
She did not cry then, not properly, not for days or weeks, until one afternoon on their way to the Morgue she suddenly couldn’t stop.
Elliot kept circling the block while she tried to pull herself together and in the end, he double-parked the car, rummaged through his pockets for a mostly clean tissue and waited quietly until she was done.
Olivia has no idea how he knew not to touch her or offer useless words of comfort, but just to sit silently with her.
They’re known for their arguments.
Olivia is no fool, she knows they’re fodder for the stationhouse gossips, and she knows their arguments are legendary. She’s never thought much of them until she has dinner with an old college roommate.
Emma is a serial monogamist, thrice-married, but she spends most of the meal swearing black and blue that this new guy is the one.
Olivia suspects his bank balance would make him the one in anybody’s eyes, but it’s a cruel thought, and Emma has been a good friend to Olivia over the years, so who cares that Emma’s love life is generally a mess?
They’re eating dessert when Emma says, “And we never fight, so it must be perfect.”
“Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? We have nothing to argue about. We agree about everything – we have the same beliefs, the same values. Two peas and a pod and all that.”
“Isn’t that…” Olivia manages to catch the word before it stumbles off her tongue, “…sweet?”
“It’s true love,” Emma declares.
Olivia makes the right noises, says the appropriate things, promises she’ll fly up to Boston for the wedding, and doesn’t protest too loudly when Emma offers to pay for the meal.
On her way home, she idly wonders whether she can recycle the blue dress she’d worn to Emma’s last wedding without anybody noticing.
Three days later, Elliot and Olivia have an argument loud enough to rouse Cragen from his office. Elliot storms out of the bullpen after getting the last word in, and Olivia goes back to her paperwork satisfied that she’s made her point.
When Elliot returns ten minutes later he proffers a cup of coffee and a bagel and Olivia smiles at him. He sits next to her and takes half the stack of paperwork and they work that way for the rest of the day, their shoulders bumping, their communication mostly silent.
Olivia knows Elliot will always take the hits and keep on coming. He doesn’t back down. He doesn’t pull his punches with her. He isn’t afraid of her. At the end of every argument, they can still look each other in the eye.
It’s never boring.
Olivia wants to say to people that it’s not nearly as messed up as it looks, but it probably is.
It happened slowly, or so it seemed to her, their first few months together. It took Olivia a long time to trust Elliot, a long time for her to realise that she was reading him right, that he was not faking that care and compassion with victims, that what he did mattered as much to him as it did to her. That he carried all that hurt and misery with him afterwards, just like she did.
It was months before she told him about her mother’s rape. She asked him to dinner, and as she talked about it, Elliot listened to her as carefully as he would to any of their victims.
Olivia knows things were different – stronger, deeper – between them after that.
Sometime after that Elliot started to call her Liv. It bothered her at first – she’d always resisted the shortening of her name, but she didn’t say anything and eventually it grew on her, the way it would fall from his lips so casual and strangely intimate.
It kept happening, all those ties and connections of time and experience, all that solid casework behind them, the symbiotic rhythms they developed, their connection something she’d never had with another partner. With anybody.
So Olivia cannot explain why it goes bad between them so quickly. She turns away from an argument with Elliot one day, and realises that all there is between them now is hurt and hate and burning resentment.
Olivia doesn’t know why she feels that way about him, until weeks later she realises it’s because Elliot won’t look her in the eye anymore, because he knows she knows he loves her but he will not say it, and her Elliot, her partner, is not supposed to be a coward.
Her Elliot is supposed to be the bravest man she knows. The best man she knows.
Olivia goes home, drinks too much wine, and wonders whether you can feel like you’ve been divorced if you’ve never been married.
Self-pity doesn’t suit her, and she shakes it by being angry, hard, instead.
Elliot always knows when she’s dating somebody.
He usually doesn’t keep his mouth shut about it, either. It was an endearing at first – his concern for her, the way he looked out for her – but then it became cloying, claustrophobic.
It’s one of Elliot’s ways of claiming her without standing tall enough to say that’s what he’s doing.
Once, when Olivia is searching for something through what Elliot calls an in-tray and what she calls a disaster zone, she sees the print-out of a background check on a lawyer she’s been dating for a few months.
She thinks about leaving it, prevaricates for half a second, then checks to make sure it’s clean.
It’s not. He’s got a third degree rape charge.
When she finds what she’s looking for, Olivia reorganises the pile so that the background check rests prominently on the top. When Elliot gets back from his VICAP meeting he sees the background check, but doesn’t say anything about it until Olivia starts packing up for the evening.
“Drink?” he asks.
Olivia straightens her collar. “No, thanks.” She musters a smile, doesn’t mean it. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Good night, Elliot.”
She makes it halfway to the elevator before he catches her.
Elliot hustles her into a corner, steps in close to her, plants his hand against the wall so that his forearm burns warm against her ribcage. If the people around them think it’s unusual it doesn’t show on their faces.
“I’m sorry.” He’s looking down at her, forcing her to hold his gaze. “I was going to tell you.”
“What were you doing checking up on him in the first place?”
“I worry about you. I…” Elliot pauses, begins again cautiously. “I know you can look after yourself.”
Olivia half-laughs. At least he’s learnt to say the right thing – she’s taught him that much.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I figured there are two sides to every story. I called the detective who collared him – the girl was two months off seventeen, her parents forced the ADA to press charges. He was twenty-three.”
“It doesn’t…you should have told me.”
He tilts his head, somehow manages to make the distance between them smaller. “That’s what you’re angry about?”
Olivia concentrates on Elliot’s nose, his jaw, anything but his eyes. “Yes. No. I just wish…”
She has never been so close to saying it, so close to unravelling all the ties that keep them so carefully in their places, so close to saying what they both know to be true.
Olivia uses an old training technique, leans forward so that Elliot is forced to lean back, then she slides past him. “Nothing. I’ll see you in the morning.”
He sends her a text message later that night, near midnight: Are we okay?
Sure, she texts back, not sure of anything.
Olivia knows her job is taking over her life when they’re working a kidnapping case and she doesn’t realise it’s her birthday until Elliot brings her a cupcake with a candle, at ten minutes past midnight.
“Happy birthday, dear Olivia,” he sings in a soft, half-speaking voice. “Happy birthday to you.”
She stares blankly up at him. “It’s my birthday?”
“I didn’t.” Elliot places the cupcake in front of her. “C’mon – make a wish.”
“Where did you get a cupcake at midnight?”
“I have my ways.” He leans over her shoulder. “Blow it out.”
Olivia huffs in the direction of the candle. It flickers for a moment, then dies. “Thanks.”
“When we put this one to bed I’ll take you out properly. Buy you something pretty,” Elliot says, half-jesting.
Olivia laughs. “You kidding me? When we put this one to bed, we’ll both be going to bed ourselves.”
Elliot grabs an old case file off her teetering stack dominating her desk. He pulls Fin’s chair across the bullpen and sits next to her. “Yeah.”
It takes them another sixteen hours, but they find the girl, relatively unharmed. Their guy is an artist, bipolar, convinced the little girl was his Muse. Munch and Fin, a little fresher, a little more objective, take care of booking the guy and taking his garbled statement.
Olivia’s prediction comes true – she and Elliot part ways in the middle of the afternoon and sleep until the following morning. At least she does, and she assumes Elliot does too.
But he obviously beats her to work, because there’s a small black velvet box on her desk when she gets to the stationhouse.
Most years, Elliot does take her out for a meal, although it took her three years to convince him that it only counted if he took her somewhere with tables and chairs and actual menus. He usually buys her gift vouchers, sometimes a gag gift, every now and then something a little more inspired.
This year, he gives her a silver necklace with a lotus flower pendant.
Olivia wakes one morning in the crib, three hours of sleep not nearly enough to erase her exhaustion, and in the grey filmy light she sees Elliot in the next bunk, eyes wide open, looking at her.
They stare at each other across that small space that is not full of atoms but all the words unspoken between them.
Munch comes in to rouse them, too tired to notice that they are already awake.
tied-up and twisted,
the way I like to be
for you for me
—Crash Into Me, Dave Matthews Band