Okay this is an early in the series kind of story! Not giving a particular timeline because...I just don't know lol. In this story, Kathy left when the twins were just a few months old. Olivia and Elliot are still partners at work, very close and she is always there to help with the kids even when Elliot has a hard time asking for help. This may either be a long story...or there could be sequels. Haven't figured it all out. It may be a slow burn in the beginning...but I promise that E/O is ALWAYS end game for me.

I was sad about Kathy in the new episodes. I really was! I don't have anything against her. I just...love me some BENSLER!

So right now we're going to say that Maureen is 9, Katheen is 6 and the twins are 3. I know that doesn't really go with the normal timeline...but remember this is fanfiction! Just go with it...or don't read lol! Either way is fine! Read on if you wish :)

Olivia walked into the precinct on Monday morning feeling tired. She had gone to visit some college friends in Philadelphia for the weekend and was feeling the affects of all the drinking. She groaned when she heard the usual chaos in the squad room, it definitely wasn't going to help her hangover. But...she wasn't one to let anyone see her sweat and she hated using sick days despite the fact that she had a million lined up.

Walking into the main room, she looked around and saw John and Fin already working at their desks. What she was surprised to see was that Elliot's desk was empty. He was usually here by now once he dropped Kathleen and Maureen off at work and the twins at daycare. But his desk was empty and there was no sign that he had come in yet. She ignored the familiar ache in her chest, reminding herself that they were friends. Nothing more. And once again, she was grateful that she had had the sense to not drunk text him, something she had been worried about doing all weekend long. Especially when her friends peppered her with questions about her 'hunk of a partner'.

Plopping down at her desk, she looked over at Fin, "Morning."

Fin smirked at her, "Looking a little tired Benson...long weekend?"

She rolled her eyes at him, "I'm not answering that."

He chuckled, "Just teasing baby girl. You deserve to have some fun."

She gave him a small smile and turned to her desk, trying hard to concentrate on the day ahead. But her eyes kept darting up to the door, anticipating Elliot to walk in at any moment. Fifteen minutes had gone by and there was still no sign of him, she was about to reach for her cell phone and shoot him a text when Cragen's door opened and he hollered to them.

"Munch you're going to be late for court. Fin and Olivia, you're up. Head down to Mercy. 23 year old victim, raped and beaten. Cabot will meet you down there." He said quickly.

Munch got up, grabbed his coat and started to walk towards the door. Fin got up and walked towards her, "Ready?"

Olivia looked at him and then back to her boss, she couldn't stop the words coming from her mouth, "Where's Stabler?"

Fin huffed, "Geez, you hate me that much?"

She sighed and stood up, "No. Fin that's not...I was just…"

Cragen sighed and shrugged, "Twins are sick. He couldn't bring them to daycare and his Mom is out of town. He'll probably be out for a day or two. Until then, you're with Fin. Got it?"

"Yes Cap. Of course." She said, giving him a smile as she reached for her coat again, she looked at Fin, "Ready?"

Fin walked up behind her and smirked, "Missing your partner?"

She stiffened as they got to the elevator and she threw him a dirty look, "Shut up Fin. I was just asking where he was. He's never out."

Fin nodded slowly, "True. But you two are inseparable. Even when you're not at work. When you left early on Friday, he was grouchier than usual."

She rolled her eyes again, "He was tired. Richie's been having night terrors."

Fin leaned against the wall as they rode the elevator down, "I gotta say...Stabler is quite lucky to have you in his life. Always helping out with the kids."

She turned to look at him with a death glare, "Are you trying to insinuate something?"

Fin shook his head, "No...I'm just saying that I can't imagine being a single parent of four. Plus trying to juggle the type of job we have. He's lucky to have a partner like you."

She knew her cheeks were flushing but she turned to look at the door, "It's not that big of a thing. I just help when I can. Not like I have any other-" She paused and sighed, "Can we just go now? We have a job to do you know."

"I can tell you're going to be fun today." He teased, "Clearly hungover and no Stabler."

She reached out and ripped the keys from his hand, "I'm driving and don't talk. Otherwise...I'll shoot you."

Fin chuckled and shook his head as he followed Olivia to the car. He was teasing and he knew it bothered her. Since he joined SVU he had seen the relationship between Olivia and Elliot growing. And he knew it was only a matter of time before things really began to change…

At Elliot's house, he was lying on the couch surrounded by dirty clothes, toys and medicine. His head was leaning against the headrest as he held the baby monitor to his chest. The twin's fevers were beginning to subside but they were both miserable. Lizzie had cried for hours, Richie as quiet which was unlike him. He hated when any of his kids were sick. He always had.

But in the last few years when he was on his own, it was worse than ever. Especially when he was trying to balance work and being a single father. His relationship with Kathy had always been tumultuous. She had gotten pregnant unexpectedly and he had made a choice. He would never regret it for the fact that he got four incredible kids out of it.

When Kahty got pregnant with the twins, things were at a breaking point. They barely spoke most days. After an argument, they both had too much to drink and had unprotected sex. When she found out she was pregnant, Kathy was furious. She didn't want more kids. Though their relationship was difficult, he had been excited about the new baby.

When Kathy mentioned abortion their relationshp reached the point of no return. He didn't believe in abortion. But she couldn't fathom the idea of having another baby. She told him she was miserable but he begged her to keep it. Said they would find a way to fix it. And then...she found it was twins. Kathy pulled away completely, she was very cold, resentful. His main focus was the kids, the two he currently had and the two that were coming into the world.

When Richie and Lizzie were born, he was over the moon. He told himself they'd make it work. But three months later...he came home and found his Mother taking care of the kids. He was confused because when he left...Kathy was there. Bernie told him that Katy called and said she had an appointment. She had come over, taken the girls and the twins to the park. And when she got back...Kathy was gone.

All of her things had been packed and moved out of their bedroom. No note. No nothing. But it didn't take a rocket scientist to know she wasn't coming back. Four months later, the divorce papers showed up at the door. She didn't want anything from him, just her freedom. His lawyer told him he could fight for alimony and child support but Elliot was so angry he wanted her gone for good.

He knew he didn't love her. He hadn't loved her in a long time. Maybe not ever. At least not in the way a husband and wife should love each other. But he was angry that she would abandon her children this way. No matter what happened between them as husband wife, their kids deserved better.

The first year had been the hardest. Cragen thankfully cut him a lot of slack and his Mother had been there through it all. He had a great nanny and the older girls were in full time school.

And of course...he had Olivia.

Their partnership had still been in its early stages when Kathy left. They'd been together for about a year and a half. But the moment he needed her, she had been there. Nights, weekends, good days, bad days...she was there for all of it. And his children adored her. They begged for her on days when she wasn't around.

Sometimes he felt like he relied on her too much, and lately he'd been trying to pull back a bit. Not wanting her to feel like she was being used. Not wanting her to feel that she owed him and his kids anything. She had her own life…

He couldn't pretend that lately his feelings had become a little confusing. She was a beautiful woman...that he had known since day one. And it had been so easy once they met. They understood each other. They worked well together. He felt comfortable with her. He knew she had his back, and he had hers. They were always in sync in and out of the squad room. And when she was there with his kids...sometimes it felt so natural he wondered if…

Sighing, he sat up and ran a tired over his face. Glancing at his watch, he realized it was around the time that Olivia would have gotten to work. He hadn't seen her since she left the squad room on Friday to catch her train. It was selfish of him, but he was feeling a little lonely. Most weekends that she had off, she was with him and the kids at least a little bit. When she told him that she was going to Philadelphia he hadn't reacted as well as he should have and he had felt guilty ever since.

Two weeks before her trip…

Elliot and Olivia were working a late night as usual. His Mom was with the kids. He sighed and rolled his neck, back and forth. Glancing up, he saw Olivia on her phone laughing at something on her phone. His heart jumped in his chest and not for the first time in the last few years, he wondered if she had a boyfriend in her life…

"What's so funny?" He asked, not able to help himself.

Olivia glanced up, then down at her phone again and smiled, "Oh just some of my friends being ridiculous."

"Which friend?" He asked curiously, she gave him a strange look and he shrugged giving her a little smirk, "Anyone I know?"

She rolled her eyes playfully at him, "Shockingly Stabler...you don't know all my friends. So no."

Her words stung a bit and he leaned back, "Hm…"

She looked up and could tell he was hurt and she felt guilty, "They're just my college roommates...we haven't seen each other in a bit. Decided to plan a little weekend to catch up."

He nodded slowly, "Oh." They were quiet again, "When?"

She shrugged, "In two weeks. We're going to meet in Philadelphia. That's where my friend Anna lives. It will be good to get out of New York."

He pushed his chair back and stood up, "Okay."

She watched him walk over to the board and start to clear pictures. She could tell that something had changed in the last few minutes. He was stiff, tense. She could see his muscles constricting under his shirt. She watched him carefully, trying to understand the sudden shift.

Elliot continued to move around the room and she called out to him, "Is something wrong?"

Elliot looked at her quickly and shook his head, "Nope."

She narrowed her eyes at him and pushed on, "You seem pissed about something."

"I'm not pissed about anything." He said looking at her briefly before turning away, he knew he couldn't hide his true feelings if he looked right at her. "I'm just tired. I should go home and let my Mom go."

Olivia stood up quickly as he went to reach for his keys, "Elliot, what just happened?"

"Nothing." He said, shaking his head, "Seriously, I'm just tired."

She rolled her eyes, "The minute you found out that I was going away for a few days you got...cold. I want to know why."

Elliot slipped on his coat and shrugged, "I was just surprised. That's all."

"Why?" She said with a frustrated shrug, "I'm not allowed to have a life outside of SVU?"

He laughed and shook his head, "I didn't say that. You're welcome to do whatever you want with your freetime. I just haven't heard about these friends before."

"Believe it or not...I don't tell you everything." She spit back at him suddenly feeling angry.

Elliot stepped back, he wanted to tell himself her words didn't hurt. But they did and it was irrational. She didn't owe him anything. "Okay then. Noted."

He started to walk towards the door and she followed him, "What the hell is your problem?"

He turned to her and sighed again, "I already said nothing." She glared back at him and he shrugged, "Liv I need to-"

"You know...I've always been supportive of you." She said suddenly unable to hold back, "I've been there for you. For the kids. Since the day I started here. No questions asked. But I also have my own life and I'm allowed to go have a little fun if I want too."

Elliot was quiet for a moment then whispered, "I told you that you don't have to help me with the kids Liv. You're not their Mother."

The tone of his voice and his words made her heart ache, she stepped back and whispered, "No. I'm not. But I care about them. And I care-" She paused and looked away feeling the familiar burning in her eyes, "Forget it. Just go Elliot."

He watched her turn and walk back towards the squad room, "Liv I didn't mean-"

He watched her grab her own keys and coat. She brushed past him and walked towards the elevator away from him. He stood there unsure of what to say or do and feeling utterly confused.

The Friday of her trip…

Since their argument, they had both pretended that nothing had happened. He had tried to bring up the subject a few times but she quickly moved the conversation elsewhere. Now, they were sitting in the squad room and Elliot kept glancing at the clock. He knew she was leaving at 1. It was 12:43.

He needed to say something before she left; he just didn't know if he had the courage…

Olivia looked at the clock and smiled, then she started to gather up her stuff, "So are these friends of yours single?" Fin asked from her left.

Olivia looked over and laughed, "Two of them yes. One is married. The other is engaged."

"So is this a looking for guys kind of weekend?" John asked, wiggling his eyebrows a ther.

She rolled her eyes, "It's just five friends meeting up, catching up...and seeing what happens."

"She didn't say no to guys…" John said, giving her a look as he pointed at Fin.

Fin stood up and walked over to her, "Looks like we need to have a little chat."

"Oh God...please no." She said, putting her head in her hands, "I'm not listening to this."

"Okay." John said standing up to stand beside Fin, "Never go anywhere alone."

"Right. Always have a buddy. Or travel in a pack." Fin said with a stern look, "And never leave a drink unattended."

"Don't trust a guy who looks more put together than you." John said, "But also not one that looks like he just rolled out of an alley…find a middle man."

Olivia groaned, "Please make it stop…"

"Are you bringing your gun with you?" Fin asked softly, "Could be a good idea."

"No. I'm not going out with my friends armed. For two nights I'd like to pretend I'm not a cop. I'm a normal person." She said shaking her head, "And I don't need a lecture from Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb. I know how to take care of myself. I've been doing it my whole life."

"We pry because we care Olivia." John said, putting a hand over his heart, "We need to protect our girl."

Olivia smiled but rolled her eyes, "Your girl?"

"Yep. Our girl." Fin said with a nod, "You may think you're alone Benson...but you're not. You got us."

She stood up and sighed, "Well...as much as I appreciate the sentiment. I'll be just fine. I promise. I'll be back on Monday and everything can go back to normal. Okay?" They all shrugged and she smiled, "Okay. I'm going to get my stuff in my locker."

She turned and started to walk away and Elliot watched her go. Fin and John gave him a look and he tried to look away. Then he grumbled, pushed himself away from the desk and started to walk in the same direction Olivia had gone. He carefully walked into the locker room, and rattled against some of the lockers to make sure she knew he was there.

"You going to give me a lecture now too?" He heard her say.

Elliot stepped around the row of lockers and plopped down on the bench behind her, "Just uh...wanted to check in before you head out."

She took a deep breath and stuffed a few things in her bag, "I'm going to be fine El. Like I said...I've been taking care of myself my whole life. I can handle it."

He couldn't deny the little ache he felt in his heart when he thought of how long she had been on her own, "Yeah...I know you can." He saw her turn and give him a questioning look as if she didn't believe him, "Olivia...you prove everyday you can take care of yourself. I've never doubted that. You're the best partner I've ever had."

Her heart flip flopped in her chest when she listened to his words, she pushed the locker closed and leaned against the cold metal, "Well...thanks Elliot. That...that means a lot."

They sat in comfortable silence for a minute before he whispered, "Look Liv-"

"Let's not…" She said, shaking her head, "Let's not do this, okay? We had an argument. Wasn't the first tone. Won't be the last. It's fine. We were both tired...it didn't mean anything."

He sighed and looked up at her, "I was being a jerk…"

She laughed and shrugged, "I'm used to it by now Stabler. It's fine."

"It's not fine." He said pushing himself off the bench, "I just...I said things that were stupid. And not true. And I...feel bad. I had no right-"

"Seriously...we're good." She said with a shrug desperately wanting him to stop talking, "Water under the bridge. Okay?"

"But-" She gave him a stern look and he knew that there was no pushing this issue so he sighed and leaned against the locker beside her, "Fine."

She nodded once and looked down at her watch, "I should get going."

Elliot licked his lips and watched her start to gather up the rest of her stuff, "Listen…" She gave him a look again and he pushed on, "I know you can take care of yourself. But there are a lot of creeps out there. So just-"

"I took notes during John and Fin's speech. I've got it." She said with a smirk, "I promise. I'll be fine. Need me to call and check in too? Do I have a curfew?"

He rolled his eyes, "I'm just saying…" He paused again and shrugged, "But if you do need something...you know you can call. Anytime."

"I know." She reached out tentatively and touched his arm, he felt his body burn under her hand, "I'll be back Monday. Okay?"

He nodded slowly, "Yeah...okay."

She smiled and grabbed her bag out of the locker, "Plans with the kids this weekend?"

Elliot shook her head, "Nothing big. Maureen and Kathleen have soccer. I'll be trying to wrangle the twins when they get bored during the games."

She smiled softly, "Sorry I can't be there to help. At least you wouldn't be outnumbered. We could tag team them."

He smiled, wishing that she would be beside him, "I'm sure they would prefer it if you were there too...they like you better."

She rolled her eyes and looked back at him, "El...you're those kids hero. They adore you. More than anyone. They like me, sure. But they love you."

Elliot smiled softly at her, "Liv...my kids love you. How could they not?"

She felt something in the air between them and suddenly she wished she wasn't going to Philadelphia, "El…"

He smiled and cocked his head towards the door, "You should go so you don't miss your train."

Taking a deep breath, she nodded and reached a hand out to squeeze his arm again, "Okay. Have a good weekend. Tell the girls I said good luck in their game."

Elliot smiled and gave her a little wave as she stepped around him and out the door. He glanced down at his watch and started to make a mental countdown to when he would see her again…

Elliot was stirred from his thoughts when he heard Lizzie crying on the baby monitor. Pushing thoughts of Olivia out of his mind, he stood up and started to walk up the stairs towards their bedroom. Lizzie was sitting up in bed, holding her stomach as she cried.

"Hey…" Elliot said kneeling down in front of her bed, "What's up baby?"

She whimpered, "My tummy hurts…"

Elliot lifted his hand and touched her forehead, she was still warm, "Do you think you're going to be sick?"

Before she could respond, she leaned forward and puked all over the floor. She immediately started crying again and Elliot sighed. She looked up at him, her blue eyes glassy and her lip trembled, "I'm sorry Daddy…"

He shook his head and smoothed back her hair, "It's okay. Let's uh...let's get you cleaned up." He lifted her up and stepped around the vomit on the floor as he walked towards the bathroom.

"I want Livvie…" Lizzie said as she leaned into his embrace, "Can you call her?"

Elliot sighed and rubbed her back as he turned to turn on the water, "Not today Lizzie. But it's okay...I got you."

Later that night at work, Olivia was going through paperwork at her desk with a scowl on her face. Fin smirked over at her and smiled, "Still in a terrible mood I see."

She glared at him, "Still be a pain my ass I see."

"Why don't you just call and check on the kids?" Fin said with a shrug.

"If Elliot needed help...he'd call." She said closing a folder, "He's their Dad. I'm not their…"

Fin stood up and sighed, "I'm going to order Pizza. You in?"

"Yeah. Sure." She said with a frown as she glanced down at her phone again. "I'm going to grab twenty in the cribs. Okay?"

Fin nodded and grabbed a takeout menu, "Okay. I'll let you know when the pizza's here."

Pushing herself away from her desk, she slipped her phone in her pocket and walked up to the cribs. It was quiet. Very quiet. She was used to the quiet. She had spent the majority of her life in quiet. Except the nights when he Mother was drinking and raging. Then she wished for quiet.

College had been loud. Parties. Looking for a place to escape. This weekend she felt like she was back there...the clubs...the drinking...the escape.

Only it wasn't as easy to fall into that pattern now. Her friends seemed to slip right back into those roles. Even her friends with kids. But she felt out of place. She wondered if it was the cop in her. Not able to let loose.

Or maybe it was the fact that the whole time she was there she was thinking about Elliot...and his children. She wondered if the girls had won their games. She wondered if they had gone out for victory pizza afterwards. She wondered if Elliot was able to keep the twins entertained. She wondered if he was lonely...like her.

And then she remembered when her friends pestered her about her partner.

Saturday at dinner…

Olivia sat with her friends, laughing at some ridiculous memory. Anna, Sarah, Rachel, and Isabel were just as she remembered. Fun. Carefree. She had always been a bit of the Mom of the group. She was more laidback back then. But now...she was tense. They could see it. They teased her about letting down her cop guard...but she couldn't.

Rachel, ever the pushy one of the group smiled, "Well now that we've gone down memory lane. I believe the only person we haven't gotten any personal updates on is...Detective Olivia Benson."

Olivia's face flushed and she shrugged, "Nothing much to tell. I live and breathe work."

"How do you do it?" Sarah said with a shudder, "Dealing with rape...murder. Kidnapped kids. It's all too much."

Olivia frowned, "I wouldn't say you get used to it. But...eventually you become numb to it."

"So why do you do it?" Anna asked, "Why not...try something else."

Olivia was used to this question, most people didn't understand the pull to the job, "Because someone has to find justice for the victims."

Isabel leaned forward and squeezed her hand, "You've always been brave. And I know your Mom must be proud…"

Olivia scrunched up her nose, "She uh...doesn't love that I do. But she's accepted it."

Rachel smiled, "I bet I know why she stays…"

Immediately Olivia knew where this was headed and Sarah pushed her, "Why?"

"Because her partner is sexy as all hell." Rachel said, reaching for her drink.

Olivia groaned and looked down, "Rachel…"

"Oh...spill!" Anna said with an excited tone, "Tell us EVERYTHING!"

Rachel looked at Olivia and knew she wouldn't talk, "I had business in the city a few months back. So I decided to surprise Olivia...showed up at her work. Saw her in action. And saw that fine specimen that is Detective Elliot Stabler…"

"How cute are we talking?" Isabel said with a gleam in her eyes.

"Let's just say...I'd let him frisk me anyday. No questions asked." Rachel said with a holler.

"Jesus Rachel!" Olivia said with a sigh, "Seriously?"

"Tall. Dark. Blue eyes...a body made of pure muscle. A smile that would make any girl weak in the knees. And that ass...damn!" She teased.

The girls squealed and Olivia put her head down on the table, "Please just kill me."

Anna looked at Olivia, "So...what's the deal with you two then?"

"There is no deal." Olivia said as she sat up and rolled her eyes, "He's my partner." They gave her a look and she frowned, "My work partner. That's it."

"Is he single?" Sarah questioned curiously.

Olivia nodded, "He's...divorced."

The girls squealed again, "So a free man. Unless...the ex is a crazy bitch?"

"A bitch yes...crazy? I don't know" She said with a sigh. "I didn't know her long enough to stay really. She left when the twins were just a few months old…"

"Twins?" Anna asked, "He has kids?"

"Four." She said with a little smile, "Three girls and a boy."

"Four kids…" Isabel whistled, "That's a lot of baggage…"

"They're great kids." She said with a shrug, "Really great kids."

"She says like she spends a lot of time with them…" Anna said with a smirk, "How much time?"

"It's…" She bit her lip and shook her head, "I just...help out when I can. He's on his own. We work crazy hours. The kids need...someone stable."

"They need a new Mom…" Sarah said with a smile, "That could be you…"

"Elliot and I are friends. Partners. That's never going to happen. There are rules." She said, shaking her head, "So let's...just drop it."

"But if there weren't rules. If you weren't partners…" Rachel said with a smile, "Would you be interested?" Olivia didn't respond and Rachel took the bait, "I take that as a yes."

Olivia sighed, stood up and started to walk towards the bar, "I'm getting another drink…"

She heard the girls whispering behind her and she suddenly wished she could hop a train and go back home. She wasn't surprised when she felt a hand on her back and she turned to see Sarah walking beside her, "You know how Rachel gets...now that she's married she wants to live vicariously through us single gals."

Olivia smiled softly, "Yep. I know."

They sidled up to the bar and Sarah looked around, "It's none of our business...but I think we all just want to see you happy. And if you care about him-"

"Sarah…" She sadi with a frown, "IT's...it's not like that."

Sarah raised an eyebrow in surprise, "Are you sure about that? You and I were roommates first. Freshman year. We know everything about each other. I can read you like a book...even after all these years. I can tell by your body language...you feel something for this man."

"Even if I did-" She looked back at her friend and frowned, "He's off limits."

"You said he's divorced." Sarah said with a shrug, "Unless he has a girlfriend-"

"Like I said...there are strict rules. It could never happen." She said with a shake of her head.

Sarah smiled at her, "No one said you had to be an SVU Detective forever Olivia…"

Something in her words irritated her and she snapped, "I know you guys don't get it...but I love my job."

Sarah nodded slowly, "I understand that. But...sometimes other types of love are more important. Even for those people who don't believe they deserve it."

Olivia cursed under her breath and sighed, "Sarah…" She paused for a moment and then frowned, "Do you know how hard it is to be a woman in a man's world like this? I've worked so hard to prove that I'm good at what I do. That I deserve to have this position. Even if I…" She shook her head, "Crossing that line would put everything I've worked for at risk. And besides...he doesn't-"

"He doesn't what?" Sarah asked softly, "Care about you?"

Licking her lips, Olivia tapped the bar and whispered, "Vodka tonic please."

Sarah sighed and reached for her arm, "Okay...I can take the hint. But...do me one favor?" Olivia looked at her friend and raised an eyebrow in question, "Don't close that door completely…just in case."

Olivia glanced at her out of the corner of her eye and frowned. Her phone felt heavy in her pocket and she thought about how easy it would be to call Elliot. Send him a text...but she wanted to prove she didn't need him as much as deep down she knew she did.

And so...she'd just suffer again…

Lying down on the bottom bunk, Olivia sighed and reached for her phone. She scrolled through some photos she had taken over the weekend. She smiled at the five of them. Despite their pestering...she had missed them. And it felt good to get away for a few days. Away from perps, victims, blood, trials…

But she sure as hell missed Elliot…

She sighed and pressed a button on her phone, knowing she wasn't going to be able to finish her day without checking in. It rang a few times, but then he answered and she heard his voice. "Hey."

She paused for a moment before responding, "Hey." She heard a faint crying in the background, "Oh no...Lizzie or Richie?"

Elliot looked down at the bed where Lizzie was starting to drift off again, "Lizzie...she's falling asleep though."

Olivia sighed, "How bad is it?"

"They'll be fine in a day or two. Fevers are starting to go down...I'm just hoping Kathleen and Maureen don't get it next. Not sure how much time I can take off. My Mom's gone until Wednesday." He said softly.

"Well you know that I can take a shift if needed. I don't mind." She said honestly.

On the other side of the phone his heart jumped in his chest, "Liv...I appreciate it but-"

"But nothing." She said quickly, "I mean it El. I'm here…"

"Dad?" Richie called from the other side of the room.

She heard Elliot sigh, "Listen Liv I need to-"

"Yeah...yeah I get it. But um...call me. If you need me. Okay?" He didn't respond and she frowned, "El?"

"Okay. I'll...talk to you later Liv. Night. Thank you for checking in." He whispered.

"Anytime." She whispered back, "Night El."

Shutting the phone, she rested it on her chest and sighed. She could hear it in his voice. He was exhausted. She often wondered how he did it all. Most days when she went home, she was so tired she felt like she could sleep for days. But he went home and played Super Dad while Kathy was off living her own life.

She never called. Never wrote. Never even tried to check in.

Her own Mother wasn't the best parent...but she couldn't imagine abandoning her kids. Especially kids as amazing as Maureen, Kathleen, Lizzie and Richie. Pulling herself up off the bed she went downstairs to see if the Pizza had come yet...and try to get herself to think of anything other than the five Stabler's in Queens…

Olivia left work a little after eight. She had started to take a cab towards home, and then at the last minute knew it was no use. As soon as she got home, she'd be worrying again. So she leaned over the seat and gave the cab driver a few addresses so she could make some stops.

Forty-five minutes later, the cab pulled up in front of Elliot's house. She paid the cab driver, grabbed the bags in the backseat and made her way up the front steps. She looked up and saw all the lights in the kids rooms were off. She didn't want to wake them, so she knocked quietly and waited.

A minute later, the door opened and there he stood. Elliot. Looking as handsome as ever...but damn tired. She saw his shoulders relax when she saw her and she tried to smile, "Hi."

He smiled at her and leaned against the doorframe, "Hi…"

He looked down at the bags at her feet, "Liv...what did you do?"

She shrugged and lifted the bags, "I brought a little pick me up."
He stepped back and smiled, "Come in."

Stepping into the foyer she looked around and saw the chaos that ripped through the house. Clothes were strewn everywhere. Toys. The girls' school stuff. Dishes on the table.

Elliot cleared his throat and frowned, "I'm sorry for the mess…"

Olivia turned to him and shook her head, "El...you know it's okay. You've seen my apartment at its worst. And I don't have the excuse of four kids."

Elliot Smiled and watched as she walked into the kitchen with her bags, "I just...haven't had time to clean up. Richie got a second wind and was running wild. Lizzie is still down and out and the girls were-"

She shook her head and pulled a box out of one of the bags, "Sit. Eat." He gave her a look and she smiled, "I know you didn't eat. You never do when you're playing Superdad."

His face flushed, "Liv…"

She pointed to the box, "Eat. I'll clean up."

Elliot collapsed on one of the stools, feeling the exhaustion wash over him, "What the hell would I do without you Benson?"

She smiled and reached for the dirty dishes near him, "You'd survive. But you don't need to. I told you to call…"

He reached for his fork and took a scoop of the pad thai, "I just...didn't want to bug you."

She smiled at him, "You wouldn't be bugging me Elliot. How many times do we have to go over this?"

"You were busy this weekend." He said with a shrug, "I'm sure you're tired."

"I live my life tired." She said laughing as she started to load the dishwasher, "We both do. It's called being a cop."

Elliot took another bite and sighed, "True but-"

"But nothing." She said shaking her head, "You can't do it all Elliot. So stop being so stubborn and ask for help…"

Elliot licked his lips and looked down, "Seems like you always know even if I don't tell you…"

Her back was still to him but she couldn't help but smile, "You're my partner El. I know you."

Her words hung in the air between them for a few moments. He wanted to say something back...something that was meaningful. But he couldn't think of what to say. He wanted to explain how much she meant to him. How grateful he was. How much he wanted her here...how he had wanted to call and ask her to come over. But the words were stuck somewhere in his throat.

He swallowed hard and frowned, "So uh...how was your weekend anyway? Have fun?"

She put the last dish in the dishwasher and shut the door before turning back to him, "It was...fun. Yeah. Good to see my friends. It's been forever since we all have seen each other."

Elliot nodded and scooped up another bite, "That's good. What did you guys do?"

Drying her hands she smiled, "Went out to dinner...caught a show. Hung out at Anna's apartment and just...chatted. Nothing crazy."

Elliot smiled and reached for a bottle of water to his left, "Must have been nice to get away for a few days."

"It was." She said with a smile, "Not having to worry about work. Victims, perps, crime scenes…"

"It gets...exhausting. That's for sure." He said with a sigh and a shake of his head.

Olivia bit her lip and looked over at him, she tried to study his face, "Hey El?"

He took another swig of water and nodded, "Yeah?"

Suddenly she wasn't able to look him in the eye, so she looked down, "Do you...do you ever think about leaving SVU?"

His fork stopped in midair and he froze, "Leaving?"

Her face flushed and she tugged at the towel in her hands, "Yeah...I mean no one stays long in SVU. At least that's what everyone tells me."

Suddenly he wasn't so hungry, he pushed the box away from him and sighed, "No...most people don't. But...I haven't considered it. Not really. I mean yeah the cases are tough to deal with at times. I feel settled there though. And Cragen knows my...situation. He's flexible like today. I feel like if I went somewhere else...it would be hard to start over." He looked at her for a moment, "Hard to break in a new partner…"

She smiled and pushed herself away from the sink, then leaned against the counter, "True...who else would put up with your ass?"

He smirked and shrugged, "Not many people...that's for sure." She smiled and looked down at the gray countertop under her hands and he tried to study her movements, "Liv?" It took her a moment but she looked up at him, "Are you trying to tell me you want to leave?"

Her brown eyes searched his blue ones for a moment and she tried to read him. Tried to figure out if he was upset at the thought. Disappointed. Or maybe...hopeful? If they weren't work partners...could they be more? Was that something he wanted? But the thought of leaving SVU was so foregin to her. As much as it dragged her down some days...it also gave her a sense of purpose. She was good at what she did and she was proud to tell people what she did for work even if they didn't always understand it.

"Liv?" He asked again, her silence was deafening and she could swear she saw a look of fear in his eyes.

She smiled, reached across the counter and squeezed his arm, "No El. I'm not leaving. You're stuck with me…"

Elliot blushed and looked at her hand on his arm, "I can think of worse places to be…"

She felt a familiar flutter in her belly that rose to her chest and she knew she should take her hand away. But something stopped her. It always did. And it seemed to be getting harder by the day. They sat there in the silence again, enjoying the closeness, not needing to say anything else.

After a moment, a cry echoed from the baby monitor and the spell was broken. Elliot jumped up off the stool to go upstairs but she rounded the counter quicker than him. "Sit. Eat. I've got it…"

He watched her walk away and he called out, "Lizzie asked for you earlier you know…" She paused at the base of the stairs and looked at him, he saw the shock in her eyes and he smiled, "Like I said...they love you. How could they not?"

She felt her cheeks blushing again and she smiled, then tiptoed up the stairs. Her heart was hammering away in her chest as she walked towards the twins room. Looking in, she saw Richie was still fast asleep. She smiled at the young boy then made her way towards Lizzie's bed and saw that she was sitting up, clutching her favorite blanket.

"Hey Lizzie lou…" She said sitting on the bed beside her, "You okay?"

Lizzie sniffled and looked up at Olivia, "Livvie?"

Olivia smiled and opened her arms to her, "Yeah…"

Lizzie smiled sleepily and fell into her embrace, "I knew you'd come…"

Olivia's heart jumped again as she felt the weight of the young girl settle into her chest. She lifted a hand and ran it through her soft blonde curls and felt Lizzie settle further into her embrace. Her breathing started to even out again and she once again thought about how any Mother could abandon their child. She hadn't given much thought to be being a mother...never thought she'd be good at it. But sitting here with Lizzie in her arms...she knew she wanted it. She wanted it more than she could begin to explain.

Tears prickled in her eyes and she wondered if she could have it. Could she balance a job like being a Detective and being a Mom? She'd of course have to find a partner first...not that there was much time for dating. And then her thoughts traveled back to her partner...her work partner. And in that moment she sensed him. Looking up, she saw him leaning against the doorframe, the hall light illuminating his silhouette and she forgot how to breathe. He was smiling at her, in a way that she had never seen before. And she wondered...what it all meant.

Could they be more than friends? More than Partners? Could they be a family? Would he want that? Kathy had not only abandoned her children...but Elliot too. He didn't talk about her much only to utter the occasional frustrated remark about the impact on the kids. But she wondered if he even wanted to get married again someday. And if he did...would he want more kids?

She took a deep breath as Lizzie snuggled further into her and whispered, "I love you Livvie…"

Her eyes never left Elliot's and she saw him look down, that small smile still plastered on his lips. She hadn't said those words to many people in her life...her Mother a handful of times. Maybe to her college friends. And once...to a boy thought she'd marry when she was 17. But she hadn't meant it. And she always vowed that if and when she did say it to a man...she'd mean it.

"I love you too Lizzie...go to sleep." She whispered rubbing her back affectionately, "I'm not going anywhere."

She saw Elliot lift his head again and watched the way he swallowed hard when he looked at her. She felt a shiver run through her body and she wanted to say something to him. But now wasn't the time. His eyes darted towards Richie to check that he was still sleeping, then he looked at Olivia, mouthed the words, "Thank you." Then turned and walked out of the room again.

She smiled to herself and began to hum softly to Lizzie thinking...if she could get out of her own head for a day...this wouldn't be such a bad life after all…

So...is there interest? I think I decided that this will be a story on it's own...and there will be a sequel too. This one is based on the song "1000 Times" by Sarah Barreiles. I'm including the lyrics below. If you want me to continue...let me know :)

Back of the room

Looking at you

Counting the steps

Between us

A hundred and five

Little blades in a line

From your skin to mine

And I feel it

Eyes on the ground

But I can't look up now

Don't wanna give it away

My secret

In another life, my teeth and tongue

Would speak aloud what until now I've only sung

'Cause I would die to make you mine

Bleed me dry each and every time

I don't mind, no I don't mind it

I would come back a thousand times

You can make me wait forever

Push me away and tell me never

I don't mind, no I don't mind it

I would come back a thousand times

Kiss me goodnight

Like a good friend might

I'll do the same

But won't mean it

'Cause love is a cage

These words on a page

Carry the pain

They don't free it

In another life I wouldn't need to

Console myself as I resign to, release you

'Cause I would die to make you mine

Bleed me dry each and every time

I don't mind, no I don't mind it

I would come back a thousand times

You can make me wait forever

Push me away and tell me never

I don't mind, no I don't mind it

I would come back a thousand times

Again again I let it go, let it go

Cover my mouth don't let a single word slip

Out wouldn't wanna tell you, no tell you, no

Nothing could be worse than the risk of

Losing what I don't have now

And we could buy the minute, though is it so bad

If I wanna cry out

That I would die to make you mine

Bleed me dry almost every time

But I don't mind, no I don't mind it

I would come back a thousand times

Make me wait forever

Push me away and tell me never

But I don't mind, no I don't mind it

I would come back a thousand times

I would come back a thousand times

I would come back a thousand times