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Why Do I Love You?

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I stare at the ceiling, ignoring the all-too familiar stinging of my bruised knuckles. The combination radio-alarm clock blasts out music that I haven't the heart to turn off. The lyrics make memories flash through my mind so fast, yet I still have the time to remember every detail.

Every time we lie awake
After every hit we take
Every feeling that I get
But I haven't missed you yet

I lay on my bed, staring off into space. A sheet barely covers me, yet I am not cold. A cell starts to jingle, breaking me out of my musings. I reach over and read the message I have received. It's from Olivia. Downstairs... Liv she writes. I quickly dress in more suitable clothing and head out of my apartment. Figuring the elevator would take longer, I take the stairs a couple at a time. I open the door to see my partner sitting on the front steps of my apartment building. She hands me a cup as I sit down.

"Thanks," I say. I notice something floating in her drink. "Is that a flowing in your cup?" I ask confused. She smirks at me.

"It's tea," she replies, taking a sip.

"You're serious about that, aren't you?" I ask. She merely nods.

"Couldn't sleep," she says in a way of explaining what she is doing on the front step at three in the morning.

"Me neither." A neutral silence falls over us.

"So, are we okay?" she asks, still staring into her cup of tea. I sigh.

"I... I just... need space to disagree with you so that it doesn't feel like it's gonna cost anything," I tried to explain.

"You've never been gun shy before," she points out.

"Yeah, well, things change."

"Well, like you said, you're the longest relationship I've had with a man," she says referring to our earlier 'conversation'. "Who else would put up with me?" she quips and looks at me. "You hungry?"

"We can go for a bite," I say nonchalantly. "Who's buying?"

"Well, you are going through a divorce and you do have four children, so I guess you are."

"That's what I thought," I say dryly. I stand up, holding my hand to her up at the same time.

I want to follow but another memory catches.

Every roommate kept awake
By every silent scream we make
All the feelings that I get
But I still don't miss you yet
Only when I stop to think about it

I lay on the couch in my briefs, a sheet thrown over me, wondering how much longer I would have to be undercover for. I hear a knock at the door and go to investigate. A quick peep through the eye hole show it to be Olivia. I pull her inside as she knocks again, shutting the door behind me.

"Are you crazy?" I ask angrily. "They could have someone watching the place."

"We haven't had contact with you. I had to come," she defends. "Why aren't you answering the cell phone we gave you?"

"Because they took it along with my wallet. There was nothing I could do about it," I explain rapidly. She shouldn't have come and now I want nothing more than to get her away, safe. Instead, she bends down, pulling her cell out and handing it to me.

"Okay, so take mine, and hide it somewhere safe. That way I'll tell Cragen that you have it."

"Tell Kathy too," I say, knowing my wife would be annoyed that I didn't call her. I take a peek out of the closed blinds.

"I just saw her," Olivia says. I turn away from the winder to face my partner.

"She mad?"

"She's worse than mad and I can't say I blame her."

"Well, what the hell am I supposed to do? Tell the bad guys I gotta get home fro diaper duty?" I ask, getting angry again.

"You go undercover again and don't tell Kathy, you'll be safer here than at home," she threatens. "Call her." A knock interrupts before I can answer.

"Mike? Come on, Mike. Let us in," I hear Bushido call through the closed door and the handle rattles. It's too late for Olivia to leave.

"That's them," I whisper.

"Mike? I know you're in there, Mike," Bushido continues to call.

"Okay, go back. Here." I gesture to the bedroom and hand her the pack she brought in. I watch her leave, before opening the door.

"Hey," I greet the two men.

"Who were you just talking to?" Bushido asks as Tybor walks straight past.

"What?" I ask, feigning innocence.

"Who were you talking to?"

"Nobody."

"You wear ladies panties too?" Tybor asks, holding up the jacket Olivia left behind. The toilet flushes and I look up in alarm. Both men push me towards the bedroom area. One pushes me so I tumble onto the bed. The bathroom door opens and out walks Olivia minus her shirt. I stare at her in awe.

"Hmm, are you ready for me,daddy?" she asks in a heavy accent. She looks over to the other men as if she'd just noticed them. I knew she was sizing them up. "Oh, I didn't know we were having a party. That's gonna be $100 to watch, $250 to join..." She grins. "Each." I wrap my arms around her body, feeling the skin oh-so-soft underneath my hands. I feel the warmth of her breasts press against my chest, and would have been instantly turned on if not for the two men standing nearby, armed. I give a shit-eating grin.

"Guy's gotta eat, huh?" I laugh.

"You got good taste, I'll give you that," Tybor complements. Bushido is still hostile.

"Get her out of here," he says.

"Why so tense?" Olivia asks me, still wrapped around my body.

"Umm, not tonight."

"Well, guess what? You still gotta pay," she says, stalling. Tybor walks over, gun held up. "Okay," she whispers walking away from me. "Okay."

"Come on, get going." Tybor's still holding the gun up.

"Well, can I at least get dressed?" she asks, trying to put on her shirt. He ignores her and pushes her out the door. I am hoping no harm comes to my partner when she leaves. The door closes and the men turn back to me. Yet I am alone.

I hate everything about you
Why do I love you?
I hate everything about you
Why do I love you?

I sat on the porch, watching my partner walk towards me, peeved.

"I didn't tell you about the detail because I knew you'd refuse,'" I saw in a way of explanation.

"Only the rat-squad puts cops on other cops, Elliot, without telling them," she shoots back. "I deserve better than that. Especially from you." I pause and sigh.

"You've been under a lot of stress lately..."

"I've always backed your play," she says angrily.

"And I did what I had to do. The guy's murdered four people, what's to stop him from coming after you, Olivia?" I ask.

"If you can't trust your partner, Elliot, it's time to get a new one," she states, walking away.

Every time we lie awake
After every hit we take
Every feeling that I get
But I haven't missed you yet
Only when I stop to think about it

"Are you protecting her?" I ask.

"You think that I am covering for Hilary?" she asks, incredulous.

"Where did you drop her off?"

"At her mother's."

"They're estranged, remember?" I am desperately hoping she had nothing to do with the murder.

"Hilary wanted to talk to her," she explains.

"When did you leave her there?" I need to know.

"A couple of hours ago and I don't need you interrogating me." I ignore her.

"Why didn't you come back to the squad?"

"Because I had a hunch," she explains with a annoyed expression. "I checked out five hotels and this one was number six."

"Without back," I point out. "What the hell is the matter with you?"

"Elliot, don't start with me," she warns. Too late, I am on a role.

"You're out of control."

"I never had control of this one, remember? I lost my judgment."

"Everyone makes mistakes. Get over it." She throws me such a nasty look, I instantly want to take back everything I have just said.

I hate everything about you
Why do I love you?
I hate everything about you
Why do I love you?

I grunt at my partner, and continue on my way.

"You got something you want to say to me?" she asks, following me. "Because if you do, let's hear it." I turn to face her. I can see the butterfly stitches covering the wound on her neck.

"Why didn't you shoot Gitano?" I ask.

"He was using the child as a shield," she explains.

"How could you let him get so close to you?"

"There were innocent civilians around. I couldn't get a shot."

"Well, you got close and Ryan's dead," I shot, trying to control the anger in my voice.

"So, this is my fault?" she asks disbelievingly.

"No, I can't do this anymore," I begin to yell, walking away again. "I can't be looking over my shoulder, making sure you're okay."

"You son of a bitch, you know that's not true," she calls angrily.

"I need to know you can do your job and not wait for me to come to your rescue," I yell even louder. She simply stares at me, the hurt in her eyes saying more than words ever will.

Only when I stop to think about you
I know
Only when you stop to think about me
Do you know

I walk though a door I have never voluntarily walked through until now. If Huang is surprised to see me, he hides it well. I attempt to explain the guilt that's eating me up inside.

"In situations like this, there is no good choice. Every choice becomes a sacrifice," he explains.

"Not true," I say.

"You had to choose between saving the little boy or saving Olivia," he points out.

"Yeah, but she didn't need me," I say bitterly.

"But you didn't know that." I pause for a long time, thinking.

"I wish I didn't..." I begin.

"Didn't what? Didn't care so much? Elliot, that's what makes you a good partner," he tries to reason.

"She made me turn away," I point out.

"How? How did she make you do anything?" I realize the truth behind what the doc was saying.

"She didn't. It was my choice; nobody else was responsible for it, but me," I say resignedly. I about-turn and walk out of the office, the emotions running through no less clear than before.

I hate everything about you
Why do I love you?
You hate everything about me
Why do you love me?

I think back to most recent case we had.

My hands are tied behind my back and a piece of duct tape covers my mouth. I can see O'Hallaran's lifeless body out the corner of eye but I am focus on the two people in front of me.

"You think that you're the only one who's life is hell because of this prick?" I realize she is talking about me and a sliver of hurt runs through my body but is quickly masked by the hard slap she delivers to my face. "Liv, do this." Slap. "Liv, do that." Slap. "I'm sick of it." She takes the duct tape off my mouth and I breathing in deeply.

"No, don't," Stuckey protests. "Don't."

"I'm sick of it," she repeats. "I want to hear him scream."

"Don't you touch me," I warn.

"Who said you can talk?" she asks.

"Both of you, SHUT UP!" Stuckey yells, then turns his attention back to Olivia. "Hit him again." My partner and I share a look, and I understand where she is going with all this. I'm sorry, her eyes say.

"Don't do it, bitch," I order. "Stop hitting me."

"No more orders out of you, pal."

"I don't believe you. I don't believe you," Stuckey chants. I slimmer of doubt runs through me, but Olivia saves the day. She points at me.

"If you knew half of what this prick has done... Someone needs to take him out." She starts to whisper suggestively.

"Stuckey, don't listen to her. She'll turn on you just the way she turned on me," I counter.

"SHUT UP!" Stuckey shouts angrily. Without warning, my gun whacks me across the face, leaving my head ringing. I watch as he turns the gun on Olivia.

"When this son of a bitch is out of the picture, I'm gonna need a new partner."

"What about Cragen?" Stuckey asks stupidly. She laughs and scoffs at the same time.

"I got Cragen wrapped around my little finger. The same goes with Munch and Fin. Dale, if I say the word, you're it. Think about it, Dale," she says persuasively.

"I like it."

"You like it because we get each other. We're connected," she whispers. The gun is lowered and Olivia repeats herself. "We're connected."

"We are connected," he repeats.

"Yep." She holds out her hand and I watch Stuckey take it. The slime ball shouldn't even be talking to my partner, let alone holding her hand.

"Let's take care of the rest," he suggests.

"Just wait a second. I want him to watch." I wonder what she is planning.

"Watch what?" Stuckey is just as confused as I am. Olivia leans in, pushing her lips against his, forcing him to place his back towards me. I fight the urge to vomit and instead, kick the back of his knees. In one smooth move, my gun is in my partner's hand and Stuckey is laying on the floor next to O'Hallaran. She grabs the knife and helps me out of my bonds.

"You okay?" she asks worriedly.

"I'm fine," I answer but she's obviously not listening.

"You okay? You all right?"

"How'd you know?" I ask.

"Stuckey said you wanted to get sushi. You and raw fish?" She raises an eyebrow at me. I realize she knows me better than I do myself. I chuckle weakly, the cuts across my chest pulling when I do.

"What a way to end," I say with a straight face. She rolls her eyes at me and I feel myself rolling along to the next memory.

I hate
You hate
I hate
You love me

For all that I have put her through, she still loves me...

Olivia turns to Dean Porter who has a firm hand on Simon's upper arm. Her brother is helped into a vehicle nearby but she stops Porter before he follows.

"Thanks you," she says. He nods and glances at me. I glare at him, and he hops into the vehicle. She turns to me. "You too."

"For what?" I ask in surprise. Did I do something different? I wonder.

"For trusting me," she answers for me, look up at me with huge chocolate brown eyes. I grin at her. I have always trusted her, but sometimes we just need a little realization.

I hate everything about you
Why do I love you?

For all that I have put her through, I still love her...

"Love's a bitch," my partner comments as we walk towards the elevator. We've just walked away from a patient in the hospital.

"Tell me about it," I agree.

"You know, we've been partner's all these years." Eight and a half years, I think wryly. "I don't even know your blood type."

"A-positive," I answer.

"How 'bout that. Me too." The doors open and we enter the elevator, deep in thought.

"I'd give you a kidney," I say looking at her.

"Not if I give you mine first," she shoots back. The elevator doors close and I grin.

That particular memory stays with me long after the music finishes. I realize tears are falling but make no move to stop them. They are everything tears- happy, sad, full of pain and anger. I let them fall. I think of all the times we have spent together and the times we have spent apart, and everything that has influenced all our choices. Richard White, Kathy, Gitano, Computer Crimes, Oregon, Dani Beck, Simon, Sealview, Bushido and Stuckey. I wouldn't trade all our years together for anything in the world. She has become my life. Olivia Benson, my rock.

As much as I hate her, I love her.

I love Olivia Benson.