DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Katherine Quinn

Positively nothing you say right now is going to appease me. I'm going to be entirely irritated with you no matter what. I almost feel bad, since it's not your fault. You can't help it right now. No matter what you do, you're wrong and I'm fully cognizant that being entirely irrational. I'm also aware that I'm not going to stop. I can't stop. I'm a train wreck, and I want a fight, and this time, baby, it's going to be with you.

It's been one of those days. The kind of day where no matter what you do or what you say, someone is going to pick out the things you've done wrong and break them over your skull. I worked hours, no, days, no, lifetimes creating the briefs that were thrown out in all of a heartbeat. Not only thrown out, but my personal competence made a joke by the Judge. Nothing like being on the edge of contempt actually thinking about whether the gratification of calling the man a pompous ass and paying the $500 fine was worth the blemish on your record. I'm buried in paperwork, my briefcase weighs more than me tonight, and I'll be working on this nonsense until it's time to go back to work in the morning.

My head is pounding and for some ungodly reason you choose today to smack the gum you apparently couldn't resist. On days like this, all of the things that I usually love you for are driving me slowly insane. I can see you watching me out of the corner of my eye. You're slumped over in the passenger seat and I can see you holding onto your door. You're not just holding it either. Your knuckles are turning white; you're grasping it for dear life, like I'll drive on the sidewalks and take corners at ninety miles an hour. And even if I did, if you're dumb enough to think that you holding onto that stupid handle is going to make you safer, then you're insane. And you're staring at me. Again. You give me this look, like staring at me is going to make you be able to see into my soul. I don't want you in me right now. Right now, what's in me is ugly.

"What?" I snap at you, catching your eyes on me again.

God, that look. That hurt puppy dog look. Normally, it's enough to ruin any resolve that I have, but tonight? Tonight's different. "Sorry," you mumble, and look out your window. You look out your window and snap the gum.

"Jesus Christ, Liv."

"What?" You ask, unaware.

"Can you stop that please?"

"What?" You ask again.

"The gum, Liv. Spit out the god damn gum."

"Oh." You say, quickly rifling through your pocket. You pull out a tissue, and dejectedly spit the gum into it, crumpling it up, and pushing it back into your jacket. The jacket I got you, which is more irritating because you'll leave it in the pocket until we wash it and it sticks all over everything. Then, you'll expect me to somehow miraciously fix it, and when I can't, you'll be annoyed at me.

"Not in your pocket." I demand. You remove it slowly, pushing the crumpled wrapper into the ashtray.

You're eyes are on me again. God, I almost feel bad for you. I feel dangerous today.

"Ummm...did something happen today?" You ask. You care about me. I know you care, but I don't want to talk.

"No." I respond to her curtly. Succinctly. I want you to take a hint. But you're always the detective, always probing, looking for the truth under the lie.

"Are you okay?"

"I'm fine." I lie. I'm decidedly not fine. I'm, I don't know. I'm so tired. I'm so angry. I feel so out of control.

"Did I do something to tick you off?"

"No." I'm just about to say "it's not you it's me," when she springs it on me. It jumps out of her mouth and slaps me across the face.

"Then why are you being such a bitch?"

"Excuse me?" Did she just say that to me? I almost drive off the road. I've been called a bitch more than once in my life, certainly, but never by you. I glare at you, and see your eyes, which are just starting to show fire.

"You heard me."

Yes, I certainly can not deny that I heard her. There's challenge in her voice. She wants it as much as I do, she's ready for her fight.

I hate it when you're in a bad mood. I hate seeing your frown, plastered on your face. The way you roll your eyes at me like you're fourteen and I'm some child that you're being forced to watch instead of being able to go to the mall with your friends. I could tell when I slipped into your office tonight that you were in this kind of a mood. Seeing you sitting at your desk I know to expect the worst: your back is ramrod straight in the chair, your feet are planted on the floor, your shoes are still on, and there's no smile on your face. I know you're tired and angry; that's a bad combo.

You look annoyed when you see me, like I've come too soon and ruined your train of though. Either that or I'm too late, and you've been waiting for me, but I know that I'm here on time, just like we agreed. It's a bad sign. I try to smile at you, but you don't even look at me. Bad sign number two. Instead, you stand immediately and start shoving things into your brief case. Do I need to keep counting here? It's going to be a long night.

I follow you, a few steps behind like your Hindu wife. I know better than to try to touch you or ask you how your day went. You'd probably break my arm off. Hell, you might try to do that anyway. You turn and look at me. "Keys?" you ask, in that damn power suit voice. I pull them out of my pocket and hand them over. This is bad. Driving with you is hell. You learned early that being beautiful tends to get you an exception as far as speed limits are concerned. And hell, if your shameless flirting doesn't work, you whip out that ADA badge and you're on our way.

Driving with you angry is like handing my life over to Satan. I'll be surprised if we make it home without you being charged with vehicular homicide. I'm used to driving aggressively. I've been in high speed pursuits. I've been chased, and hunted, my heart beating a mile a minute in my chest. But driving with you when you're in this mood? I'd rather be poking my own eyes out with a red hot skewer than placing these keys into your hand.

The only way to make this better is to annoy you enough that you yell at me. After you scream, you get quiet. I think that's what I hate the most. I can handle being screamed at. I get screamed at every day. Perps, druggies, hell, even other cops seem to have habit of making me their verbal punching bag. We all have those days. I understand. I have enough of them.

I know I should just let you lash out at me. You always apologize afterwards and feel far worse than I probably do as you rage. But this is a bad precedent. To quietly let you manipulate me; to just let you yell at me. Tonight's different.

You're snapping at me and treating me like a little kid and I can't stop myself. I'm supposed to be your lover, your equal, your partner. You're not my damn mom. It's slipping out of my mouth; I'm calling you a bitch and I remind myself that there's supposed to be an inside voice and an outside voice and one should not confuse the two.

I want to scream at you, but I make myself stop. I can hear your words bounding around in my head. You're being a bitch. I'm so used to hearing it from other people; I'm so used to hearing it behind my back, but never from you. And it hits me:

I am wrong. I am so wrong.

The flames in your eyes are getting brighter as I don't speak. I don't have an answer for you. I did hear you and I hear my brain screeching to a halt. I can't yell at you now. It won't feel good; I know that I've hurt you already. I can feel your defenses going up like a force field around me.

I feel out of control, I can't handle you, or the job, or my life. I'm in the mood to be mean, and I've carried that over to you and that's not fair. I can feel my eyes starting to sting as the tears start to form. I'm still driving like a bat out of hell, and as the tears slowly start falling in rivers down my cheeks it's getting hard to see where the yellow line is on the ground. You tell me to pull over, and I'm stubborn and I don't want to admit that I'm crying hard enough to not be able to see. I'm wiping my eyes on my sleeves like a little girl. I feel your fingers on the side of my face and I feel your concern like a warm blanket wrapping around my shoulders.

I drive on for a second more and acquiesce. Pulling over to side of the road, I finally look at you and that makes me cry harder. You pull me into you and my body shakes against you as I let the frustration flow. Your strong arms are around me and they're holding me together as I fall apart in front of you.

I sniff out an apology and you tell me it's okay. And I know that it's not and that I've taken you for granted. I'm not good enough for you, and I'm telling you so, sniffing and sobbing, and you're patting the back of my head and rubbing my back. I pull back and see the tears forming in the corners of your eyes too.

I dry them with my already soaked sleeve and you smile at me, with that lopsided grin. You're telling me it's okay, that we all have bad days. I promise to not do this to you; to make you cry ever again. I promise never to be mean. You smile again and tell me that we'll make each other cry, and laugh, but that's what important is that we do it together. You're cheesy as hell, but I love you more than anything. Even chocolate.

You make me switch places with you and promise to take care of me when we get home. I don't deserve you and I'm still sniffling, but you're telling me that you love me and that it's okay and that you only want for me to feel better. I want to believe you; I want to believe everything. And very slowly, I'm beginning to.

The End

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