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Wishing and Hoping

by Riley Cannon

Written in part for Ana Paula, who wanted to know how Elliot & Toby first met.

~Wishing and Hoping~

Washington, D.C; spring 2004

"Nice view."

Oh yes, you could say that all right, Toby was thinking as he lounged in the doorway and watched Elliot, over on the garden bench that Toby'd dragged out on his apartment terrace, soaking up the late afternoon sunlight. Feeling guilty for standing there and ogling the poor guy, Toby cleared his throat and said, "Yeah, although I don't get to enjoy it too much. Here," he sat beside him on the bench and handed over a cold bottle of beer.

"Thanks." Elliot took it from him, giving no indication of being aware Toby arranged for their fingers to brush against each other during the exchange, nor that he prolonged that slight but thoroughly delicious contact considerably longer than was absolutely necessary. Elliot only sent him a dubious smile over the little tug-of-war, and asked, "You're not having one?" as he tipped the bottle back and took a drink.

Toby shook his head. "Booze and I don't mix too well." Enjoying it as a spectator sport was turning out to have its merits, however, he decided as he watched Elliot enjoy the beer.

With his tie and collar loosened, he was afforded an excellent view of Elliot's throat as he swallowed the liquid, the flex of strong muscles so mesmerizing. So easy to lean closer, to press his mouth against that warm skin and taste it.... You know, if he had a really powerful craving for a solid punch to his jaw. But no, Elliot wouldn't hit him, wouldn't scream and run away. He'd react with shocked confusion. He'd stumble to his feet and back into the apartment, innocent as to what he'd done to provoke such a thing, and the last Toby would ever see of Elliot Stabler would be his back as he rapidly got as far away as possible.

So, yes, really bad idea, but -- damn, the guy could help out some by being a blatant asshole or physically repulsive. Some body odor or bad breath, dirt caked under his fingernails and a couple of teeth missing when he smiled; yes, that would surely dim one's ardor. But no, he had to sit there looking like a million bucks, freshly scrubbed and smelling good, absolutely beyond reproach.

Well... That chiseled jaw did sport a trace of stubble, but that wasn't working as any kind of deterrent either. All it did was tempt Toby to wonder how the stubble would feel against his skin. Good, he'd bet; scratchy, but soft too as he drew his lips along that jaw and found Elliot's mouth. He'd slip a hand around to cup the back of Elliot's neck, and the short dark hair would slip like silk between his fingers as their lips finally met. At first Elliot wouldn't know how to respond. He'd be absolutely still as Toby kissed him, lips slightly parted in surprise, eyes drifting shut as he got used to the sensation, as he got to like it. Closing his own eyes, Toby could almost feel it, could believe he felt the brush of Elliot's long lashes against his cheek; could feel those lips part wider and accept the slide of Toby's tongue between them--


"Hmm?" Eyes still half-closed, mouth yearning to merge with Elliot's, it was all he could do to hang onto a ragged thread of common sense and realize the concerned look on the handsome face was only that, not an invitation to go right ahead and jump his bones. A twinge of worry about the leering maniac sitting beside him, nothing more. "What?"

"You're a million miles away."

Oh no, not remotely. Things would be so much easier if that really was the case. He shook his head, hoped his smile wasn't too wistful. "Just thinking."

Elliot raised the bottle to take another drink, beautiful lips kissing the brown glass, tongue catching an errant drop of booze. "Good thoughts?"

Toby swallowed, looked away. "Pretty good, yeah." You know, if you didn't count the potential for shattering heartbreak.

Oh man, and this conference still had four days to go. How the hell was he going to make it? Be around Elliot day after day, hours spent wanting him, aching to tell him, and no way he ever could? Tell Mr. Straight Arrow, happily married, father of four, never had a stray homosexual urge in his life that this Beecher guy he'd just met was dying to kiss his mouth and see him naked and make sweet, hot, sweaty monkey love to him for days?

Did he know how to pick `em, or what?

"You hungry?" he asked.

"What'd you have in mind?" Elliot returned, and it must have been the setting sun that made it seem like a flirtatious sparkle lurked in those dark blue eyes.

"Your choice, my treat."

A smile that put the sun to shame, showing a dimple that Toby wanted to lean over and lick. "Sounds good. My partner treats me, it's a hotdog on a street corner."

"Well I think we can do a little better than that." And better to concentrate on picking out a good restaurant than dwelling on the life Elliot had waiting back in New York, the life that would take him away from here and Toby no matter what. "Steak, Italian...?"

"Steak sounds good."

Yes it did; manly food for manly men. Toby smiled at himself, shook his head at himself. "Okay, I'll make a reservation if you want to go freshen up."

The smile dimmed to something more intimate, engaging, as Elliot said, "Do I need to freshen up?"

"Well," faltering for words, needing something to ground him, Toby reached over to scrape his fingers along that stubble, fighting to keep the touch light and impersonal "you might want to shave."

Elliot didn't tilt his head into the touch to make it linger ... but he didn't jerk away from it either. And his eyelids drifted down for a second, like he was thinking about the soft touch. "Yeah, wouldn't want to go out looking scruffy."

"Like you could."

"Might be surprised."

Oh, yes, he'd like that very much. If only Elliot meant it the way he wanted to hear it. He watched him go along to the bathroom, wondered what spark of insanity had made him offer Elliot a place to stay when a fire had broken out at the hotel he was staying at. No reason Elliot couldn't have found other accommodations right along with everyone else attending the conference. Arrangements had been made, everything was set -- and he'd had to open his big mouth and say there was plenty of room at his place if Elliot would rather crash there for the rest of the week.

He thumped his head against the glass door before sliding it shut, wondering when he'd become a glutton for punishment, and picked up the phone to call in the reservation. And hey, maybe he'd get run over or shot or something on the way to the restaurant, because that all had to be easier than being so close to Elliot, and knowing he might as well be on the Moon.

~all, for now~
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