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Swollen Regret

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He looks over her sleeping form, taking in the way her hand rests protectively on the swell of her belly. He desperately want to touch her, but instead pulls the light cotton sheet further over her body. Carefully, he slips from the bed, pausing to watch her shift unconsciously towards his spot.

Satisfied she is still sleeping, he pads softly from the room, heading down the hallway and out on to the balcony. He can feel the sticky heat of the night wrap around him like an unwanted blanket, making him slightly irritable. He wishes the heatwave would end but knew his suffering was nothing compared to hers. He didn't have to carry around a few extra pounds of growing baby.

Always the cop, he leaves the sliding door ajar, keeping an ear out for any noise. He leans upon the railing, staring out into the darkness, his mind tumbling with thoughts. It's still early enough that the city is pulsing but most are winding down, coming to the sad realization that the morning dawns the start of a new work day. He watches a taxi swerve across the street, letting out an obviously drunk couple. The taxi speeds off again, heading towards it's next job for the night.

He watches the couple stumble up the stairs, almost falling through the door, and wonders what it's like to let loose like that. It's been so long since he's been a happy drunk. He's seen too much to really let loose, the images from the job permanently burned into his mind. A few years ago, when his life was a mess, he used to drink, hoping to drown out his emotions until he couldn't feel anything anymore. But she made him see someone and now he'll only drink one or two beers when they go out with the guys.


She stirs and stretches, hands reaching for something that isn't there. She frowns, running her hand over his bare spot. The warmth is fading, as if he had only been gone a short while. The incessant need to pee is what originally woke her but now she wonders where her husband had gone. She knew he wasn't on call, not that that meant anything, and a quick glance at the bedside table showed his watch and keys still present. Pressure on her bladder reminds her of why she first woke.

"Okay, okay," she murmurs, rolling from the bed.

She quickly relieves herself, adjusting the light cotton camisole that had ridden up in the night. She savors the cool water running over her hands, wishing she could run her whole body under the coolness. Knowing it would only serve to make her sticky in the heat, she dries her hands thoroughly and heads out of the bathroom.

A silver silhouette framed against the darkness catches her eye. He's leaning against the balcony railing, evidently lost in thought. Seeing the door slightly open, she knows old habit die hard.

"Penny for you thoughts," she says, stepping through the doorway. He jumps slightly, flashing her a soft grin.

"Hey you. I hope I didn't wake you."

"Nah," she says nonchalantly with a flap of her hand. "This one did. I needed to pee." He chuckles, pressing a hand against her belly. He is rewarded with a swift kick that leaves her wincing. He rubs the spot, hoping to calm their child. It seems to work, because within a few moments, she comments, "He's sleeping."

"And you should be too. We gotta get up in a couple of hours."

"Can't." He frowns. "You weren't there," she explains. He nods and pulls her into a one-armed embrace.

"So?" she asks again, after a couple of minutes had passed.

"You know that reproductive rapist we had a couple of years back? Yeah, well something a perp said today got me thinking of him."

"Oh-kaaay..." She is confused.

"It's nothing bad. Just a conversation I had with the perp popped into my mind." She stays silently, knowing he'd continue on in a moment. He's gotten better at that, explaining things to her, rather than keep it all in. Not that she couldn't read him before, but now she trusts him to let know when things get bad.

FLASHBACK

They're in the interrogation room. He's sitting with his back to the two-way mirror, appearing calm but always on guard. The perp had started off sitting but began circling the room after a few moments.

"What about you, detective? You got kids?" Ken Turner asks, sitting on the desk beside Elliot.

"Yeah, with my wife." He remembers to say wife, and not-ex, hoping to prove something to the perp.

"How many?"

He grins. "Not as many as you."

"How many, detective?" Elliot leans back, not wanting to tell the perp about his kids. He exhales loudly and tries to appear nonchalant.

"Five."

"Five children," Turner repeats. "That's interesting. You know, the national average is one point eight three." He stands, starting to pace around the room. "See, I- I think you understand the urge, but you're limited by fear, weakness, lack of means, lack of mojo." Elliot chuckles. This guy had no idea. "See, at heart, I think you really want to be me."

"A sad little man with an inferiority complex trying so desperately to make up for it," Elliot quips.

"Inferiority complex?" Turner seems surprised. "I'm a Montezuma man. Aztec leader with four thousand concubines. Who knows how many children."

"And practiced human sacrifice," Elliot replies, swiveling around to lean against the desk and face Turner. "You know how I know that?" Turner pretends to think.

"Because you passed seventh grade?" He smirks.

"I helped my children with their homework every night. I give them love. I give them attention every day. How much time do you spend with your kids because it seems to me you spend all of it trying to make more." He chuckles. "See, being a father is about support." He nods then shakes his head. "Not spawn."

"Every man dreams of bedding lots of women." Turner leans closer. "Come on, admit it, detective. You know you want to bang your partner; watch her grown swollen with your child. And why not? She'd give you a beautiful baby." Elliot is both shocked and outraged. To have Liv talked about in that way made him angry, but he couldn't deny that that was one scenario that often plagued his dreams last night.

"You are a sick son of a bitch," he growls,Turner simply laughs and stands, walking away from Elliot.

END FLASHBACK

"Oh," she says finally.

She was there this morning when Rollins and Amaro had brought in their latest perp, a guy with an affinity for pregnant ladies and babies. He'd been spotted trawling around the park, trying to chat up the women, perving on the babies in their prams. One woman actually spotted him jerking off to a baby blanket in the bush. Her screams had brought the attention of two beat cops making their way around the park, who had then called SVU in.

She was the only one in the bullpen, when they'd arrived back, with Fin in court and Elliot in with Cragen. They'd tried to surreptitiously march him past her but she'd pushed herself away from the desk, ready to join her husband, unknowingly put herself in the sights of the perp.

"Hey sexy," the perp had called across the bullpen. "Check this." He'd then proceeded to thrust his hips at her, the pitching of his pants showing just how turned on he was by her. She had shuddered, frozen in her chair.

Rollins' shout had bought Cragen and Elliot both running from Cragen's office. Elliot had bee-lined for her, stepping into the perp's view, effectively hiding her from sight. Cragen had started barking orders, forcing the beat cops into action.

"Call me for a good fuck, de-tech-tive," the perp had shouted whist being manhandled from the bullpen into holding.

"You okay?" Elliot had half growled, worried.

"I'm fine," she'd replied. "He's just a creep. No worse than usual." He'd nodded, relaxing only slightly as she stared meaningfully at him. And she was. There was no harm to her or the baby, and it wasn't the first time she was propositioned by a creep, nor would it be her last time, not whilst she still an SVU detective.

Cragen had forbidden both her and Elliot from interrogating the perp, which was fine by her. The less she had to do with him, the better, but Elliot had insisted on watching from the two-way. He'd then been quiet the rest of the day, although he'd tried to hide it. She'd wanted to ask him what was plaguing him so deeply but knew he'd probably snap if she did. He wouldn't mean to, but it was still baby steps getting him to open up.

He stays silent beside her, one arm caressing her belly, staring off into the night. She glances up at him, taking in the blankness of his face, but the turmoil in his eyes. She lifts one hand to touch his face, bringing his attention back to her.

"Do you regret this?" she asks, eyes wide, searching his face. She reads the shock in his eyes, sees the flash of hurt, but at the same time, realization of why she was asking.

"Never," he says fiercely. "Not in a million years." He kisses her deeply, feeling her melt beneath his touch, her body melding to his, even with their child between them.

"I love you," he says when they've broken apart. "I love you and this little one, and the life you've given me."

"I love you too," she replies back, stifling a yawn. He chuckles.

"Bed?" he suggest. She nods, not willing to leave his embrace. He leads her back inside, flicking the lock on the door behind him, down the hallway and back into the bedroom. She climbs into bed, not bothering with the sheet, knowing he'd pull it up over both of them. He slips in behind her, twining his legs with hers, spooning himself up against her back.

"Love you," he whispers again, closing his eyes, this time slipping into a dreamless sleep.