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Coming Out, Staying In
By Katherine Quinn

Chapter 21: Elliot

I feel you blow by me and you mumble something about being right back and I can hear the tension in your voice. I can hear tears, and pain, and I can feel in the way you nearly run out of the room that you're breaking up inside. I swear to God, I should have grabbed you and stopped you. Instead, I'm a step behind. Before I even register the scene you're weaving your way through the room.

I look around to find Alex. She's the only one in this room who has the power to make you cry. And then I see her, some guy's arm around her shoulder, smiling and laughing with a group of attorney's I barely recognize. I see her turn her head as you run from the room.

She saw you run.

"Do the right thing, Alex. Do the right thing." I chant to myself. I see her frown, but only for a moment as she moves into him, letting his arm reach down her back. Before the group catches on, she has a numb smile on her face and she was back to her world.

That's the end of this fucking nonsense.

Maybe I'll regret this later. Maybe you'll kill me. I don't even care.

Before I can stop myself, I'm pushing myself through the crowded room and over to Alex. I pick the guys hand up off of her shoulder and spin her around.

"I need to talk to you." She looks at me like I'm wearing your underwear on my head and speaking in tongues.

She's always the social princess, and she tries to introduce me to the group. I couldn't give a shit about the group though, and before her features process recognition, I growl, "Now." I grab her arm and start to pull her with me, and she actually starts to come, until tall dark and horny puts his hand on my chest. Oh, now your guy friend thinks he's going to stop me. "Who the hell are you?"

Alex looks at me and the fire in my eyes and grabs my arm, which is about five seconds from punching this cocksucker in the face. She pulls me off to a corner, far enough that no one could hear us.

Now I'm really pissed. "Alex, you have no idea how lucky you are, and it's going to be over my dead body that you hurt her tonight."

"Look, Elliot, this is really none of your business."

"It is my business Alex. You're breaking her heart. You sat me down and you told me you loved her. And you know what? I believed you, and if you don't go out there right now and find her and tell her what she means to you, I'll know you're a liar."

"I'm not.." Alex sighs.

"Alex. She loves you more than anything. In the last year, she's been happier than I've ever seen her. She'd give her life for you. And you're going to stand here and ignore her so a bunch of uptight assholes don't think badly of you?"

"Elliot, it's not that simple."

"It is that simple."

"Elliot, it's." I think she can see my anger. I think she can see my jealousy. I think she can see how I would give anything in the world to switch places with her right now.

"Which way did she go?"

Chapter 22: Olivia

I see you walk out looking almost as dejected as I feel. I stare at you only for a moment; waiting for a second shadow to be following you. I know in my heart that I'll be disappointed; I know there isn't one. I know it will be just you. I know you will be alone. I already know what's going to happen. I knew it when I walked by you, when I saw her standing with that guy. The way she ignored my eyes as I blew by her.

"Hey El," I mumble, sitting on the stairs, my body pushed into my thighs, my arms holding them tight to my chest. I look up at you, and try to smile, hoping that the tears that are threatening the corners of my eyes won't spill out and embarrass both of us. It's easier for this to be no big deal.

It's just a small matter of my heart breaking. But this is all about me, now. It's about me not being able to handle it anymore. About me not being able to sit back and watch you pretend you don't know me. About me refusing to pretend that we don't share our lives.

We only share what doesn't embarrass you. What doesn't make you feel judged. I don't know why I crave to hold your hands in public. I don't know why I want to stand next to you, introduced not as some cop you work with, and instead, as your partner. I don't know why it's not enough anymore to settle for you only in our private moments.

And now here he is, the man with the bad news. I feel bad knowing you probably feel like you're stuck in the middle of some epic battle between her and I. I wonder if she even saw me leave. I knew you would find me, but I thought you might bring her.

I see you walk slowly up behind me, "Hey," you say back. I see you look at me, from above. You look sad and concerned as you watch me.

I take a deep breath and look back out to the street, "She's not coming out here, is she?"

"I don't think she is, Liv." I don't realize it at first, but my arms are shaking from the cold. At least I tell myself that's why they're shaking. Not because of the pain in my chest. Not because of the tears in my eyes.

I smile to myself as you sit next to me, slipping off your jacket and sliding it around my shoulders.

"I don't understand." You say. "I thought.."

"It's not easy for me either," I mumble.

"But," you start, "I don't get what the big deal is. I mean, come on, happiness is more important, isn't it? Than what people think."

I shrug. I don't know. How do you get it when she can't?

I wish this was enough.

Part 23

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