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Here in the Silence

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For an event that’s been planned on about a week’s notice, Olivia thinks that Liz’s wedding is shockingly well organized. The ceremony is being held in a small, United church about two blocks from their hotel, and while Paula’s mother had complained the whole walk over that it wasn’t a Catholic church – she had been sure she would have been able to convince someone called Father Raul to perform the ceremony, with force if necessary – Olivia thinks that it’s really quite perfect.

As soon as they arrive, Elliot disappears into the back room of the church to meet Liz, and Olivia finds seats for herself and James in a row with Kathleen and one of Paula’s brothers – though she can’t really tell the three of them apart.

“Hey Liv,” Kathleen greets her, smiling. “You look nice. You too James; very dapper.” James turns a bit pink, but thanks Kathleen nonetheless, and Olivia considers it progress.

“How did they put this all together so quickly?” She asks, genuinely baffled. If she had a week to plan a wedding, Olivia is quite sure it would be little more than a courthouse affair. Kathleen just shrugs.

“I have to assume it was Paula’s doing, because Liz isn’t nearly organized enough to have pulled this off. She’s a bit scatterbrained socially, but she can get shit done on a timeline – I'd guess she gets it from her mom, but I’d never say that to her face.” Olivia laughs out loud, because she can easily imagine the sort of reaction that would get from Paula. “Besides,” Kathleen continues. “She works for some high-powered Senator, so I’d imagine she’s called in all kinds of favors.”

“Like you wouldn’t believe,” Paula’s brother – whether Michael, Anthony or David, Olivia has no idea – butts in. Kathleen nods, looking pleased that her guess has proven correct.

“Well, whatever it is, everything looks lovely,” Olivia says, looking around the church.

“Giving you ideas?” Kathleen smirks.

Olivia scoffs and shakes her head. “I’m not getting married any time soon.” She had hoped to cut the conversation off there, but James chooses an inopportune moment to find his voice.

“They admitted it last night though, so you owe Maureen like fifty bucks.”

“James!” She scolds, but her son looks entirely unrepentant, and Kathleen is unable to contain her own amusement.

“Oh, come on Olivia,” she chuckles. “Nobody’s surprised. Although I would have very much appreciated it if you could have waited another week to confirm it – Maureen's going to be insufferable about this.”

“Insufferable about what?” Maureen herself asks, filing into their pew with Dave and Logan in tow. Olivia is vaguely mortified, but there’s no backing out of it now.

“Apparently you’re owed some money,” she tells Elliot’s oldest daughter, unwilling to elaborate any further.

“Aha!” Maureen exclaims, clearly needing no elaboration. “I knew it! Weddings bring something out in people, Katie, I’ve always said that. I’ll accept my payment either in cash or by e-transfer – no cheques please.”

Kathleen just rolls her eyes at her sister’s theatrics, and even James looks amused, so Olivia can’t find it in herself to be all that embarrassed – even if she had intended for people to find out less... publicly.

“I feel like I should get some kind of finder’s fee,” James says, shocking Olivia a bit, but drawing laughter from the others.

“We’ll discuss terms at the reception, James,” Maureen nods. Olivia just looks up at the ceiling, fully aware that there’s really nothing she can do here, and not wanting her son to see that she’s amused, despite her attempts to be stern.

--

The ceremony itself is beautiful, though Olivia wonders to herself just when she had become someone who cries at weddings. Elliot and Kathy walk Liz up the aisle – all three of them beaming – and Paula is accompanied by her mother and one of her brothers – Maureen informs Olivia that it’s David. Despite her rather severe presentation – and earlier gripes about the church – even Pilar is smiling brightly as she walks with her daughter to the altar.

They haven’t written their own vows – ‘thank God,’ Maureen had said, when informed of this – and so the formalities take very little time at all. The whole thing is upbeat and happy, each of the brides bursting into laughter at one point or another, and the gathered crowd applauds raucously when the officiant declares them married, one of Paula’s brothers wolf-whistling from beside Kathleen.

Despite the jovial atmosphere, Olivia still finds herself making use of her handkerchief – drawing dramatic eye-rolling from James – though she is relieved to see that she’s not alone there. Both Maureen and Kathleen were sniffling along beside her, and as they make their way out of the church, she can hear Logan ribbing his father about his own lack of dry eyes.

“Oh shush,” Maureen chides her son, poking him in the shoulder. “Leave your dad alone, or I’ll be sure to make an even bigger spectacle at your wedding.” Logan grimaces, but drops the subject, and Olivia levels a look at James to let him know that those rules apply to him as well. Truthfully, she can’t even begin to imagine how she’d hold it together at James’ wedding, should he have one.

She is saved from pondering that any further by Elliot’s arrival, beaming at all of them and sweeping each of his daughters into hugs before he picks up James and Logan – one under each arm – and spins them briefly, despite the fact that they’re probably too big for that sort of thing. Apparently, the ceremony has filled him with a joyful sort of energy that he needs to get out. The boys don’t seem to mind though, and it’s obviously amusing to the rest of the gathered adults. Olivia briefly thinks to warn him that he’ll put his back out, but she doesn’t want to be a wet-blanket, so she just laughs and shakes her head instead.

When he’s put the boys down, Elliot turns and wraps his arms around Olivia next, as if it’s the most normal thing in the world. She freezes momentarily, but he’s really not doing anything inappropriate – and the cat is well and truly out of the bag at this point – so she just laughs and hooks an arm around his middle, deciding to relax.

“You’re going to put your back out,” she warns him, smiling fondly. Both his daughters are snickering in the background, but Elliot just shrugs, mood clearly unaffected.

“Didn’t seem to worry you so much when I was-”

“Elliot!” She yelps, not sure what’s about to come out of his mouth, and not willing to find out. The girls’ snickering has now turned into full blown laughter.

“I was going to say ‘when I was lugging your bags up to the hotel,’” he smirks. “But glad to know where your head’s at.” Olivia is quite sure that her face has gone crimson, and she momentarily considers hiding behind her purse.

“Alright,” she clears her throat, determined to push ahead. “Off to the reception then?”

Even though the laughter follows them all the way back to the hotel, Olivia finds that she’s more relieved than she is embarrassed. Clearly, at least Maureen and Kathleen have no issue with their relationship.

--

Just as she had been at the ceremony, Olivia is impressed by just how nice the reception is, for having been planned on such short notice. It’s all very elegant and understated, but Olivia’s been to enough weddings to know that it would have taken a lot of work. There is an honest-to-God ice sculpture by the head table – that can’t have come cheap.

She’s distracted from her ice sculpture musings though, by Elliot’s hand, lingering low on her back as they make their way to sit down. She tries not to think about it – it's not like they’re doing anything wrong – but Olivia realizes that he hasn’t actually stopped touching her since they’d left the ceremony. Nothing inappropriate, but at least one of his hands has been on her since he’d pulled her into a hug in the church foyer. She kind of hates how much she’s enjoying it, because she knows exactly how smug he would be about it.

“We’re over here,” he says, directing them to a table just to the left of the ice sculpture. Pilar, Kathy, and two of Paula’s brothers are already seated, and Olivia briefly feels uncomfortable that she’s been put at the family table, but Kathy looks up and smiles at them both, and she decides to just get over herself. Elliot is the father of the bride, and she is – she supposes, technically – his date. It wouldn’t make any sense for her to be off sitting with Liz’s college friends.

“Where’s James?” Kathy asks, once she and Elliot have sat down.

“Last I saw, him and Logan were badgering Maureen about something,” Elliot shrugs. Olivia just laughs and shakes her head – she knows full well that her son had been trying to weasel his finder’s fee out of Maureen. She’s honestly a bit surprised that he’s been so persistent, but she’s decided to take it as a sign that he’s getting comfortable with the Stablers.

Kathy nods. “Just a heads up,” she says, grimacing a bit. “My mother’s decided to make an appearance tonight, despite not having RSVPed.”

Elliot’s face takes on such a dark expression that it makes Olivia nervous. She’s never heard much of anything about Kathy’s family, and she’s beginning to suspect that there’s probably a good reason for that.

“I still don’t understand why Liz even invited her,” Elliot scowls.

“Beats the hell out of me,” Kathy shrugs, somewhat helplessly. “It certainly wasn’t my suggestion.”

“Not a ray of sunshine, I take it?” One of Paula’s brothers asks. Kathy grimaces again.

“Not exactly,” she confirms. “If I see her, I’ll try to run interference,” Kathy continues. “But I apologize in advance for whatever horrifying thing she might say to any of you.”

“Does she...” Elliot trails off.

“No,” Kathy shakes her head. “I haven’t spoken to her in about a year. As far as she knows, we’re still married and living in Rome. Hence my offer to run interference.”

Olivia can’t help but notice that Elliot’s tightened his grip on her hand, and she suddenly feels very nervous. She doesn’t particularly care if Kathy’s mother is nasty to her – she's had more than enough practice there – but, if the woman is anything like Elliot’s sudden shift in demeanour suggests, the idea of having her around James is not something she cares for at all.

“Hey,” Elliot squeezes her hand, apparently having guessed at her thought process. “He’s with Maureen – she won’t let anything happen.”

Olivia nods. While there is a part of her that will always be far more protective of her son than is strictly necessary, she does, honestly, trust that Maureen – that any of Elliot’s kids – will take care of him.

“If she steps out of line with any of the kids, I’ll put her on a bus back to Queens myself,” Kathy says, emphatic. Olivia decides that that’s good enough, but she still finds herself craning her neck to find James and Maureen in the crowd.