On the morning of his birthday, Elliot awoke to sunlight gently spilling through the window blinds. He opened his eyes and instinctively turned his attention to the woman lying in his arms. Olivia's head rested on his chest, and he gently combed his fingers through her hair and pressed a light kiss to her head.
He always cherished these moments when he awoke first and would just lie in bed, holding her in his arms. It happened almost every morning, but each time felt like the first, felt like coming home.
Healing the rift he'd built between them took time, and he knew that things between them might never be exactly the same as they were before he'd left. But even after the pain he'd caused her, she stood by him. He didn't deserve it, but Elliot would never let her forget how much he appreciated her or how badly he regretted what he'd done.
All he knew was he didn't want to waste any more time, not after he'd thrown away ten years.
It wasn't long before she stirred, nuzzling him a little as she woke up. "Morning, sunshine," she greeted, smoothing her hand over his hair, or what was left of it. "Happy birthday."
"Morning," he returned, her touch bringing a smile to his lips. A moment later, she leaned up and touched her lips to his in a tender kiss. He leaned into it, unable to hold back a sound of contentment.
When their lips parted, Olivia sat up and reached for the closest shirt she could find- one of his, and put it on. "I'll go make breakfast."
"Okay." Elliot watched with a soft expression as she left the room. Once he'd slipped into his sweatpants, he followed her, watching as she started preparing coffee and breakfast.
Once the coffee was ready, Olivia poured two cups and handed him one. "Here you go. Just the way you like it."
He gladly accepted the cup and drank a sip as he sat down. A few minutes later, the food was ready. Olivia set a plate of toast, eggs, and bacon in front of him, then sat down across from him.
A comfortable quiet fell between them as they ate their breakfast, simply enjoying each other's company. Once she'd finished, Olivia stood up and carried her plate to the sink. She leaned over Elliot and hugged him from behind.
"I'm gonna go get dressed. I'm sure Noah and Eli will be up soon, so if you want seconds, you might want to jump on it."
He chuckled, reaching up to squeeze her arm. Her lips brushed against his temple before she released him and left the kitchen. Not long after Elliot finished his breakfast, Noah and Eli emerged from their bedrooms.
"Happy birthday, old man," Eli deadpanned around a yawn, earning a laugh from Noah. Mildly amused, Elliot rolled his eyes as he poured another cup of coffee.
"Happy birthday, Elliot," Noah greeted. He'd been understandably guarded around Elliot for the first few weeks after Olivia finally formally introduced them, but then he saw how much his mom cared about Elliot, and how happy he made her. After that, he'd quickly warmed up to him.
Elliot smiled. "Thanks, kiddo." He watched for a minute as both boys grabbed plates of food and sat down to eat before he left the room to get ready for work.
Once they'd all dressed, they left Olivia's apartment. Elliot drove, and they had just enough time to drop Eli and Noah off at their schools. Afterwards, Elliot drove Olivia to her precinct. He stopped at the curb and shifted the car into park.
He turned to face Olivia. She leaned across the console and kissed him, smiling into the kiss when his hand cupped her cheek.
"I'll see you this evening," she murmured contently when they parted. They shared another affectionate smile before she climbed out of the car and walked into the precinct.
That evening, once he and Olivia were both off of work, all of his kids came by for a visit.
He hadn't celebrated his birthday in years, but this year his family insisted on having dinner and cake. Elliot readily agreed to that. He couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than by spending time with Olivia and the kids.
They ordered his favorite takeout, and a large sheet cake sat on the table, surrounded by an assortment of presents. His daughters insisted on setting everything up, and after dinner he started opening his gifts.
After he'd opened all of his presents, Maureen ushered her father and Olivia aside and handed them another gift bag. "This one is for both of you."
"Yeah?" Elliot took the bag and moved aside a layer of tissue paper to find a matching set of coffee mugs. He handed one to Olivia and turned his over to read the caption printed on the front.
Promoted to grandparent.
Elliot's eyes widened as he took in the news and glanced over at Olivia, seeing that her mug had the same caption printed on it. She looked every bit as surprised as he did, if not more.
"Surprise," Maureen teased when he broke into a wide smile.
Grinning, Elliot leaned over and hugged his oldest daughter. "This is great news, honey."
Maureen returned the hug. "The baby's due in March. I'm about sixteen weeks along. We've known for a few weeks, but I wanted to tell you today."
"I'm glad you did. This is a good surprise." Elliot kissed her head, still grinning. His smile widened even more when Maureen let go of him and hugged Olivia.
"Congratulations, Maureen." Olivia set her mug aside and gladly returned the hug.
"You've done a lot for us. For all of us," Maureen murmured. "I really want you to be a part of my baby's life."
Genuinely touched, Olivia smiled softly. "I'd like that."
Maureen smiled as she released her. "Good. It means a lot to me."
"It does to me, too," she agreed. She heard Noah calling out to her from the kitchen and stood up, leaving the room to check on him.
Elliot returned his attention to his daughter and gave her a soft smile. "I think it means a lot to Liv that you included her."
"I wanted to. I… I wish Mom were here, but I think she'd support Liv being part of the baby's life."
His expression softened as he hugged her again. "I think so, too."
A while later, once everyone had enjoyed a slice of cake and they'd cleaned up, Elliot's kids hugged their dad goodbye and prepared to leave.
"Olivia, we're going to see a movie. Is it alright if we take Noah?" Kathleen asked.
"Mom, can I go?" Noah pleaded.
"Yeah, baby. Have fun and be good, okay?" She hugged her son and ruffled his hair before she let him go, watching fondly as he followed Elliot's kids out of the apartment. "He's really taken to them," she mused thoughtfully as she settled next to Elliot on the couch.
"They have to him, too," Elliot agreed, tucking his arm around her shoulders. He was still excited about Maureen's announcement and grinned. "I can't believe there's a grandkid on the way."
"You're getting old, Grandpa Stabler," she teased, giving him a playful smirk.
Elliot wrapped his arms around her and tugged her closer until their lips nearly touched. "I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who got promoted to grandparent, Captain."
"I guess you're right about that." Olivia smiled when he closed the distance between them and kissed her softly. She closed her eyes and let out a relaxed sigh, melting into his kiss as she deepened it. After several moments, she stood up and took his hand, pulling him from the couch.
Understanding the invitation, Elliot gladly followed her to the bedroom. Afterwards, when they were both sated and content, they lay awake in bed. His arms encircled her and he ran his hand up and down her back.
At the affectionate touch, she smiled and rubbed his chest. "Good birthday?"
He pulled her closer, brushing his lips against her temple. "The best."