Olivia returned back to work with the replay of her and Kathy's conversation going over and over in her head. Elliot kept calling her to check and see if everything was ok but she sent the calls to voicemail. He started to send text messages instead.
Yes everything's fine, just really busy. Will call you later.
She could've answered the phone but she needed time to process. The conversation went better than she thought. She expected Kathy to be much more angry than she was but sitting across from her she saw a woman with just as many insecurities as she had. For years she was so jealous of Kathy for being the woman married to Elliot and having his kids and had no idea that Kathy was just as jealous of her for having an emotional connection to her husband that she would never have. The thought made Olivia laugh to herself but also feel that twinge of guilt again. She knew that her partnership with Elliot bothered Kathy but never would've wanted Kathy to feel less than a woman or inferior to her in any way. Now her romantic relationship with Elliot was all of Kathy's insecurities personified.
Casey was right. Her first instinct was always to run. To run from the situation because it seemed so complicated and it would hurt so many people. But then she thought about Don's words to her when he left SVU and told her to "take care of yourself." She loved Don and he was like a father to her but she saw how lonely he was and how he sacrificed a personal life for the sake of the job. She didn't want to keep making excuses to run from complicated issues in her personal life when she seemed to thrive on complications in her cases and professional life. The contrast between how she handled them both was thought-provoking. She always put everything and everyone in front of her personal happiness and it was time to change that.
Can we have dinner tonight? Elliot's text broke her from her thoughts. She paused before answering and another text came in right after.
Don't run from me please.
She laughed to herself. He knew her so well. He always did. Sometimes it bothered her but other times when she couldn't articulate how she was feeling, he always knew what to do and what to say. That's what she was missing from her life the past four years.
Yes, we can have dinner. I'm not running.
Olivia walked up the stairs to her apartment around 5:30 and was surprised to see Elliot waiting by her door.
"Oh there you are," he said leaning over to give her a kiss on the forehead. She could tell he was nervous and looked like he had been pacing back and forth in front of her door for awhile.
"What are you doing here?" she asked while eyeing him suspiciously.
"I was just in the neighborhood," he lied.
"Oh really. Come on El you have to do better than that."
"Can we go in?"
"Yeah Lucy and Noah are inside, why didn't you go in before I got here?"
"Lucy doesn't really know me that well yet. I didn't want to make it awkward. I also didn't know if you would be upset if you came home and I was already in there."
"So I would be any less upset coming home and finding you pacing outside of my door?"
She raised an eyebrow at him and flashed him a small smile to let him know she was joking.
"Give me a break Liv please," he whispered. He closed his eyes and braced himself to keep talking. "I'm scared. I'm scared that she said something and now you are rethinking us. I can't lose you. I couldn't take it."
Olivia was floored. He looked just as vulnerable as he was the night he first told her about everything that happened to him since they had been apart.
She moved forward and placed her forehead on his. "You are not going to lose me. Ok?" She rubbed his arm back and forth to calm him. "I should have answered when you called me but I just needed time to process."
He nodded his head in acknowledgment.
"Now let's go inside. There's no telling what my neighbors are thinking," she joked to lighten the mood.
They relieved Lucy for the night and Elliot offered to make dinner while Olivia tended to Noah. They made small talk until Noah was settled and the food was done but Elliot was buying time until he could discuss her and his ex-wife's conversation. He wanted to have her undivided attention when they talked about it.
"He's finally down. I hope the food isn't cold," she said emerging from Noah's room.
"No it's not. Want more wine?"
"I'm good thanks."
They ate a few bites in comfortable silence before Elliot couldn't take it anymore.
"What happened Liv? With Kathy?" he finally asked.
"You already know. We talked. El please tell me you aren't going to harp on this all night," she answered irritated. "If it were something to be worried about you would know by now."
"I know she's been a bit taken aback about you and me together. I tried to talk to her about it."
"Is that when you told her that we hadn't taken the next step yet?" Olivia couldn't help but ask. She immediately regretted it because she didn't want him to know anything about the conversation but she had to know.
"She told you that?"
"Yeah she did."
He was speechless.
"El I appreciate the fact that you and your ex are close but I don't know that I'm comfortable with you sharing intimate details of our relationship with her."
"I'm sorry about that. It slipped out when she was talking about that she knew…" Elliot caught himself before he finished. He didn't want to make the conversation take a wrong turn.
"Nothing. It's nothing. Are you done? I'll put these in the sink," he moved to get up and go to the kitchen hoping she would drop it.
"Elliot. What did she say she knew?"
They were standing in the kitchen and Elliot was leaning against the counter trying to figure out how to word the exchange without making matters worse.
"El?" she encouraged him.
"She said she always knew you were in love with me and she could tell from some exchanges that you and her had over the years."
"Ahh. She told me the same thing today," she said moving closer to him in the kitchen and taking his hands in hers. "Her and I talked through that. And that Mr. Stabler is the extent of what you will hear about me and Kathy's conversation." She wrapped her hands around his neck and moved in close to kiss him.
The kiss started off innocent but Olivia quickly moved to deepen it. Elliot kept his hands on the counter, which didn't go unnoticed. She moved in even closer to him putting her body firm against his and slipped her tongue in his mouth. He kissed her back but didn't move his arms and she sensed he was holding back.
"What's wrong?" she asked breathless from the kiss.
"Nothing, what do you mean?" he asked not making eye contact with her.
"You aren't even touching me. Are you really mad at me because I won't tell you what me and Kathy talked about?" She tried to move back but he held on to her hands and kept her close.
"No not at all. Liv…" he struggled to regain his composure. "It's just…I don't want to rush you. I know you want to take things slow and I respect that. When you kiss me it's just hard for me to stop myself. I want you so much Liv."
"El..I—," she started before cutting herself off. She reached in to kiss him on the forehead. "It's ok. I get it. I want you too Elliot. So much. I just want to make sure we are doing the right thing. Once we cross that line there's no going back."
"I understand but honestly we couldn't go back now if we wanted to," he countered.
"I guess you're right."
"Either way Liv. Like I said. Whatever you want. Whenever you want."
Olivia was quiet and just looked down as he talked. Now she was the one holding back and he wanted to know why.
"What is it? Liv tell me."
"Man you Stablers are persistent. It's nothing, it's stupid," she waved her hand dismissing the thought.
"Tell me," he whispered to her while rubbing her back to coax her along.
"What if..what if you know? You don't..We're not…compatible."
Elliot laughed out loud and she started to pull away.
"Wait no don't leave. I'm just shocked that's all."
"I told you it was stupid, I never should've said anything."
"Are you really worried that it won't be good for me or we won't be good together?" he asked shocked at her insecurity.
"It's a big step Elliot. Since everything went down with Lewis I was just never the same you know…sexually. I've had sex since then but its been hard for me to really connect. I think that's part of why Cassidy and I didn't make it and after I just haven't bothered to try and date anyone."
He took in her words and realized this was much more than insecurity about her performance in the bedroom but about the trauma she suffered.
He pulled her in and held her close as a few tears fell from her eyes.
"I didn't mean to make this sad. I'm sorry," she apologized.
"Don't ever apologize to me for that. Thank you for telling me. I was starting to think that maybe it was me."
"You? God Elliot no. Not at all. I'm so attracted to you. I have been for a long time and I want you too. So much. Too much so maybe that's why I'm overthinking it and worried that because of that situation it will screw everything up. I don't want to lose you either."
"Listen to me. You and I have always been so connected. If anything it's part of the reason why Cragen always wanted to split us up and why Kathy was always bothered by our relationship. We connect mentally and emotionally on a level that I can't even put in to words. I have no doubt that our physical connection will be just as strong," he said while rubbing her face and kissed her softly on the lips.
When he moved to pull back she reached in and began to kiss him passionately until Noah started crying.
"My son has excellent timing," she laughed.
"He definitely does. He may be the reason I don't ever get any."
"Stop that!" she joked while playfully slapping him on the chest. "Let me go get him."
"No..let me. I'm going to miss him this weekend so I want to get some time in while I can," he professed before slipping into Noah's nursery.
In all the madness, she totally forgot that Elliot was set to start his rotations back in Virginia. She was going to miss him being around but she was determined to make time for them during the week since they wouldn't have the weekends to count on anymore. She walked over to the room to see Noah in Elliot's arms and he was once again rocking him back and forth and whispering in his ear. She thought as long as she lived she would never get tired of seeing them together.
"He was just having a nightmare. He's ok now," he said while placing Noah back in his crib. "I'm going to see you next week little guy. You take care of your mom for me until I get back." He kissed his fingers and placed them on the baby's cheek.
"Next week? I was just about to invite you over tomorrow to see us again." She reached up to wrap her arms around his neck.
"I have to fly out tomorrow. Since it's the first day of the new training class I have to get there a day early to get everything set up and meet with some of the other trainers. I just had to see you before I left."
"Oh," she said trying to mask her disappointment.
"My flight's early afternoon. I'm going to stop by and say goodbye to Eli before I go. I better get going, but thank you for dinner," he said placing a soft chaste kiss on her lips.
"You're thanking me? You did all the work."
"Well thank you for letting me spend time with you and see you before I left." They stood by the door and Elliot hesitated before opening it. He turned around and quickly pulled her into his arms. He knew it was only for a couple of days but it was the first time he had to leave her since they reconnected.
"I'm going to miss you so much Liv. Ill be back Monday. Can I see you then?" he asked while still holding her close.
"Of course. Just call me when you get back but also call me when you land tomorrow."
"Ok. Good night Liv," he said as he reached out to kiss her again.
With that he was gone.
While in bed her mind was racing thinking over their conversation. She was glad that she told Elliot about her intimacy concerns because she had no idea that he felt that maybe she wasn't attracted to him or just didn't want to cross that line. She couldn't help but feel silly now. Elliot was right. They were connected in almost every way. Even if there were issues with them intimately they would work through it like they did everything else.
Although it was late she reached over and decided to make a call and was surprised to hear him answer on the second ring.
"Olivia? Everything ok?" the voice asked.
"Yeah everything's fine. Sorry to call you so late. I need a favor."
Elliot's got in his final goodbyes with Eli before heading off to the airport. He had been exchanging text messages with Olivia all morning and couldn't wait for his weekend to be over so he could come back. While on the plane he sat back and thought over his conversation with Olivia the night before. Her concern about being intimate with him both relieved and angered him. He was relieved that it wasn't due to any reservations she had about him or their relationship but was angry that William Lewis had taken something else from her. He worked to get Lewis out of his mind quickly because it was a big trigger for his anger so he focused his thoughts on her. With thoughts of Olivia flooding his mind, his flight was over fairly quick.
"Well well well look who's back," a voice called behind Elliot.
"Heyyy Agent Johnson. Glad to be back," he responded as he walked the halls of the FBI Headquarters.
"You sure? You don't look like it."
"Nahh man I'm good. Which conference room are we in?"
"We are in 2B. I'm heading there myself," Johnson responded as they turned the corner to the room. "So how was your time off?"
Elliot simply smiled giving away everything.
"Well I guess that tells me everything I need to know. So you talked to her?"
"Don't bullshit me Stabler. Your ex-partner. Olivia. You talked to her?"
"Yeah we talked. We're doing good. Made coming back here bittersweet you know?"
They sat in the room as talked since they were the first ones to arrive. Eric Johnson had become one of Elliot's closest friends in the bureau and one of the few people he confided in about Olivia and some of his other personal issues.
"Yeah well it may become a bit more bittersweet," Johnson said cautiously.
"What do you mean?"
"We have to go back undercover."
Elliot paced back and forth in his apartment later that evening thinking about the undercover assignment. He had no idea they would have to disappear off the grid so soon. After meetings with his boss and a case agent, he found out he would only be teaching one class that weekend and then he would have to go undercover anywhere from two to six weeks depending on how the operation went. He had to try and infiltrate a drug ring in Waco, Texas and would leave in the middle of next week. He already called Kathy and told her as well as the kids who didn't take it well but was still supportive nonetheless. He picked up the phone to call Olivia and tell her but just couldn't bring himself to do it.
While pacing Elliot heard a knock on his door.
"Hey I was hoping I would catch you here," Johnson said as he walked in.
"Well you know me. Where else would I be?" Elliot responded. His tone was deflated and Johnson picked up on his sadness.
"Look man I'm sorry. I know the timing of this whole thing couldn't be worse but hey at least you not going under alone. It will be me, you and Simmons. With the three of us together we should be able to take down Morales and his squad in no time."
"Yeah I certainly hope so."
"Speaking of Simmons, him and a few of the other guys are at the bar a few blocks away. What do you say we go and grab a few?" he asked trying to lift Elliot's spirits.
"Yeah why not."
Elliot was on his fourth beer and managed to be more relaxed. He exchanged a few text messages with Olivia checking to see how her day went and checking on Noah but didn't mention the undercover operation yet. He wanted to have that conversation face to face.
"Stabler who you over there texting man? You haven't put that phone down since you've been here," Simmons said earning laughs from the guys at the table.
"None of your business," he responded while taking a swig of his beer. He reached down and sent another text to Olivia.
I miss you so much. I can't wait to get home to you.
I miss you too baby. What do you have in mind for me when you get home?
Elliot smirked. He thought the text was a bit more flirty than usual but he played it safely in case he was just reading more into the message than what she meant.
I can't wait to hold you and kiss you.
Is that it?
Elliot sputtered on his beer and began to choke a little. He couldn't believe what she wrote. It was confirmed that she definitely was taking the texts to the next level. He composed himself to respond and there was another text waiting for him.
Did I get you all choked up? How many beers do you plan on drinking tonight?
His face shot up. "She's here," he said under his breath and began to look around.
"Stabler what you talking about over there?" Simmons asked.
Elliot didn't respond he just kept looking around trying to find where she was. It was a Friday night so the place was packed.
He finally spotted her at the bar and when they made eye contact she got up to come toward him. Their eyes remained locked on each other as she approached him in a sexy black dress. It wasn't too short or too long and hugged her curves in all the right places. Her hair was in waves and she had on high heels which made her legs look even longer.
The guys at the table looked in the direction they saw Elliot staring in and watched as Olivia approached.
"Hello there Agent Stabler. Surprise."