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More Than Blood

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Olivia is focused on the phone in her hand, having paused in the doorway of her office on her way out to type out a quick text response, when the words register.

“... Mrs. Stabler?”

And damn if the whole room doesn’t suddenly fall silent and leave her with the overwhelming rush of her blood in her ears, because who the hell said that and how the fuck -.

“Sorry, what?” Olivia says ineloquently.

From his desk, Fin actually has the gall to chuckle. It’s quiet but it’s undoubtedly a laugh and Olivia whips a sharp glare in his direction before refocusing on the uniformed officer across the floor from her.

“She says her name is Mrs. Stabler,” the uni repeats.

And then a familiar face is rounding the corner behind the officer and she frowns up at the man - who clearly dwarfs her - as she pulls the scarf off of her head. It’s a riot of color, bright teal and sunset orange, and Olivia can only blink in surprise.

“I said no such thing,” Bernie Stabler snaps at him in annoyance. “That hasn’t been my name in years, young man. I said -.”

“Bernie,” Olivia cuts her off smoothly. “What are you doing here?” Then, a note of concern lacing her voice, “Is everything okay?” 

“Of course it is, darling,” Bernie says with a bright smile. “We just -.”

Elliot rounds the corner looking a little flustered and out of breath and he catches her eye from across the room, and he doesn’t say anything but his shoulders fall just a little and he sighs inaudibly, and Olivia hears the apology he hasn’t voiced.

Sorry, Liv.

Fin, the asshole, actually sounds gleeful when he says, “Gotta love surprise visits from the in-laws.”

“Laugh again, Sergeant Tutuola, and you’ll be explaining to Phoebe why you’re covering all the late shifts for the next month.”

Olivia raises her eyebrow as she delivers the threat. Fin closes his mouth with an exaggerated press of his lips that does nothing to hide his grin. 

The uniformed officer, unflappable in a way that Olivia envies at the moment because she feels decidedly … flapped, simply turns without a word and disappears back down the hall. 

“I’m heading home again this afternoon,” Bernie says with a warm smile, “and wanted to have lunch before I left.”

She’s a little off kilter but Olivia smiles. Bernie Stabler in her squad room is unexpected and off-putting, in a way, because she’s not someone that Olivia equates with this part of her world or ever expected to see here. But Bernie is the same woman that she’s always been: precocious, but sweet and well-intended. 

Besides, the mild panic in Elliot’s expression is only hidden to anyone who doesn’t know him or understand how difficult it is for him to be around his mother in any capacity. Olivia can see it plain as day on his face. 

Olivia smiles and crosses to the other woman, laying a hand on her shoulder and squeezing affectionately. 

“I was planning to meet you there,” she explains. “In case I have to leave early.”

“Of course, of course. But since I’m here, maybe you’d let me take a peek at your office, Captain?”

“Bernie,” Olivia starts.

But Bernie grasps Olivia’s hand and pulls it off her shoulder, squeezing it in earnest between both of hers.

“I’m just so proud of you, Olivia,” she says, and damn if she doesn’t sound proud, “There were hardly any women even on the force in Joe’s day, and now here you are, a woman in charge. I know you’re too humble to be proud, so let me be proud of you, hmm? Just for a minute?”

It’s unexpected, but Olivia’s throat closes with a sudden rush of emotion. Serena had hated Olivia’s choice to work in SVU - in law enforcement in general, really - and Bernie Stabler isn’t perfect, but her words have a hell of an impact on Olivia. 

“Just for a minute,” Olivia manages to say, and shucks her head toward her office. 

Elliot has relaxed a bit by now, and he takes his time following her and his mother into her office. Olivia sees him stop at Fin’s desk out of her peripherals as she ushers Bernie into her space. The older woman takes it all in with interested, sharp eyes before gravitating to her desk. 

Olivia watches her. Her eyes linger on Olivia’s nameplate - Captain Olivia Benson - and then move to the framed pictures. There are technically only two frames on her desk - the rest set up in a nice line in front of the window behind her desk - but one of them is a folding frame that holds two pictures. Bernie smiles at the single frame, the photo one of Noah, and then shifts her focus to the folding frame. She picks it up almost reverently. 

Olivia doesn’t have to look at the photos to see them. She has stared at them enough in the last few months that every aspect of them is committed to memory. On one side, it’s a selfie of the three of them in the snow: her, and Noah, and Elliot. She and Elliot are matching with their black beanies and jackets, but Noah’s coat is a bright spot of blue in front of them. 

On the other side, it’s the four of them, her and Noah and Eli and Elliot. It’s the first picture they’d ever taken together. There had been nothing between her and Elliot yet, at the moment that picture had been taken, nothing but a tenuous and unspoken understanding of where they wanted to go. 

Just a day in the park, Elliot had said when he’d asked her to come. So she had loaded Noah into the car and met them in the parking lot, and the four of them had spent the day doing nothing important. 

The picture had been Eli’s idea, and Olivia’s heart had fallen straight to her feet in surprise when he’d looked between her and Elliot, afterward, and said, “It’s okay, you know. If you want to be together. It’s okay with me.” Kathy had been gone for a little more than a year, then. 

Olivia thinks about that day now as she watches the other woman. There’s something in Bernie’s expression that makes Olivia’s stomach twist. She can’t put an exact name on it: wistfulness, or regret, or … yearning. 

Bernie is still clutching the frame in her hand as she turns to take in the other photos near the window. She hasn’t said a word in minutes but Olivia is comfortable in the silence. 

Quiet footfalls tell her that Elliot has joined them. Olivia doesn’t turn, but when his hand comes to rest against her back she leans subtly into it and turns her head toward him even though she doesn’t look away from his mother.

Bernie picks up another frame. Olivia knows this one too: Thanksgiving at Maureen’s house, the entire gaggle of them smiling up at the camera from their spots at a long and finely dressed table. She’s smiling in the photo, but all Olivia remembers is how nervous she’d been. It was the first holiday they’d spent together, all of them, since she and Elliot had started their new relationship. 

But Olivia knows that’s not what Bernie sees. She moves away from Elliot and stands behind Bernie - behind the woman who will be her mother-in-law, and she still hasn’t quite adjusted to that thought - and clears her throat softly.

“You should come next time, Bernie.” She keeps her tone gentle because she can see the sadness in Bernie’s face as she takes in these moments she wasn’t part of. Maureen had invited her, and Bernie hadn’t come. 

“He looks like you.” Bernie looks at the picture of her and Noah and Elliot and back up at her, and then Elliot. “Like both of you.”

Noah’s not even old enough to be what Bernie is insinuating he is, but she doesn’t know that. Elliot still struggles with having any kind of relationship with his mother despite the concentrated effort he’s been making recently to change that. He doesn’t share a lot with her, so the gaps in what Bernie knows about them - all of them - are considerable.

“He’s not,” Olivia starts to explain.

But Bernie cuts her off with a gentle smile. “I know. But I think some people are meant to be ours, you know? You just look at them and know. Families don’t start with blood, just love. Blood isn’t everything, my dear.”

Olivia blinks against the sudden pin prick of tears. She’s heard Elliot tell her different versions of that same sentiment more than once, and it’s a sharp reminder in this moment that the woman in front of her is responsible for the man behind her. The man she loves. 

Bernie puts the photo of all of them back and then turns to the desk, her hand with the folding frame stretched out to set it back on the desk. 

“Keep it,” Olivia tells her, placing a hand on her arm to stall her movement. 

“No, dear.” She puts the frame back on Olivia’s desk and then pats the hand of Olivia’s that rests on her arm. “We’ll take our own pictures, next time. These ones are meant for you, to remind you of what you have on the hard days, and keep you smiling on the good days. Now, let’s go to lunch, hmm? I’m starving.”

Just like that, Bernie is back to her gregarious self. Olivia looks to Elliot, who smiles and gives her a subtle shrug of his shoulders as if to say, that’s mom for you

“And I said I was looking for Mrs. Stabler,” Bernie tosses over her shoulder as she exits the office. “You should make sure that young man has hearing checked.”

Olivia chokes back a laugh, but she needs a minute to take in those words. Her gaze falls automatically to her left hand where the band of diamonds glitters under the fluorescent lights of her office. The center stone is raised, but just barely. Looking at it straight on like she is, it looks like it’s just a flat band. Elliot knew to choose something with a low profile: something that won’t catch on latex gloves, or cut into her hand when she’s holding her weapon. 

One month. They’ve been engaged for one month, and it’s wonderful … but impossible, because she’s been Olivia Benson for more than fifty years and the idea that she will have a different name soon is … a lot. 

And not just any name, but Stabler. Day in and day out for years she’d been the other half of I’m Detective Stabler, this is my partner, Detective Benson, and now … 

“You don’t have to change your name.”

She raises her head. Elliot is standing near the door with his hands in his pockets. His face is pensive but not upset, his brows drawn together as he watches her. She’s been staring at her hand for longer than she’s realized. 


“You don’t have to change your name,” he repeats. 

“Changing your mind, Stabler?” 

She watches his expression as she approaches him. His smile is lopsided when it appears and he cocks his head to one side. Olivia stops just shy of actually touching him, because they’re still in her office.

“Not even close. I just want you to be comfortable, Liv, and if you don’t want to change your name then you shouldn’t.”

“Let me get this straight: traditional, Catholic, Elliot Stabler … and you don’t care if I change my last name?”

“I care about you.” His voice is tender, and strong, and it feels like a lifetime ago that any admission of their feelings had once left them reeling when they can do so freely now. “I just want you to be happy. Benson, Stabler, it doesn’t matter …” he trails off as he reaches for her left hand and lifts it into the space between them, his thumb rubbing the skin in front of her ring. “This is all I care about.”

And he kisses her hand, his lips warm against her knuckles. 

“Oh, you have a girlfriend?” Bernie exclaims from the squad room. “How wonderful!”

Olivia laughs and Elliot frowns in immediate consternation. 

“My mother is loose in your squad room,” he says in dry observation. 

“And my lunch hour is disappearing,” Olivia adds.

“C’mon.” He releases her hand, because they’re not in the same unit or even the same precinct anymore, but they’re still at work.

They go to a café just down the street that Olivia knows has quick service and good food, and she sits too close to Elliot in the booth while Bernie takes up the other side with her bright scarf and her elbows on the table. 

There are only a few moments where Bernie says something that sets Elliot on edge and Olivia feels him tense next to her. She bumps her knee into his beneath the table, or drops her hand onto his thigh, and he inhales deeply and then takes his time letting it out until he’s managed to relax again. 

Olivia’s phone rings as they’re waiting for the check. She tells Fin she’ll be right there and squeezes Elliot’s thigh before she slides out of the booth. Bernie stands to give Olivia a hug, and it’s nice, Olivia thinks, to have this. 

She’s reaching for the door when she hears Bernie speaking.

“It’s good to see you both so happy, son.”

Olivia thinks about that all day. She thinks about it when’s on the phone with the chief and her eyes stray to the folding frame on her desk; she thinks about it when the woman across the table in interrogation stares at Olivia’s hand and says, “Wouldn’t your husband do anything to protect you, Captain? To protect your family?”

And she only pauses for a second before replying with unfailing certainty, “He would.”

She’s the last one home that night. It’s been a long day, but not one of the harder ones, and the apartment is full of noise that she can hear even before she opens the door. 

“Noah, I know you’re not done with your homework,” Elliot says.

“Eli won’t stop kicking me!”

“I’m not kicking you, I’m stretching! I have long legs, twerp.”

Olivia smiles as she shrugs out of her coat and hangs it on the rack. She can hear the sizzle of meat in a pan and smell the spices from here: Elliot is cooking dinner at the stove while Eli and Noah sit at the table with their homework and school books spread out between them. 

“You forgot to carry the two,” Eli tells Noah with a tap of his pencil on the paper.

“I hate math,” Noah complains, but he erases something and starts writing again.

“Yeah, but it’s important,” Olivia says.

“Hey, mom.”

“Hey, Liv.”

She ruffles Eli’s mop of dark hair, and then Noah’s curls, and goes to stand next to Elliot at the stove. 

Elliot, her fiancé. 

“Dinner’s almost ready,” Elliot informs her, leaning over and kissing her cheek as she runs her hand over his lower back.

“Smells delicious. Your mom made it home okay?”

Elliot nods. “She called me a little while ago. I’m sorry about earlier, Liv.”

Olivia takes a breath and thinks about Bernie in the precinct. The woman’s bright scarf and the wistful way she’d run her fingers over the picture frames in her office sticks out in Olivia’s mind even now. 

“There’s nothing to apologize for, El. She’s family.”

“Oh, shit,” Eli mumbles behind them.

“Eli!” Elliot calls out immediately.

“Sorry,” but the teen sounds anything but. “Mo doesn’t care if I say shit,” he adds under his breath.

Elliot hears him though. “Maureen isn’t your parent.”

“It’s just a word, dad.”

“Can I say shit?” Noah asks. 

“No,” Elliot and Olivia say in unison.

“Damn,” Noah says.

Elliot spins to stare at the boys and shakes the spatula at Eli, who is staring at them both with the most comical deer-in-headlights expression that Olivia has ever seen on him. 

“See what you’ve done, El? Your ten year old brother is swearing now.”

“I didn’t teach him that!”

“Damn is a swear word?” 

“Noah,” Olivia warns, and then she unexpectedly dissolves into laughter. Not a chuckle, but full on laughter. 

Elliot looks at her like she’s just betrayed him but he’s still brandishing the spatula at Eli and Noah’s eyes are wide and round as he looks from Eli to Elliot, and she shouldn’t be laughing but she can’t help it. 

“Oh, that’s helpful, Liv,” but she can see the way he’s trying to hide his grin and she can hear Eli behind them whisper-yelling at Noah for getting him in trouble and telling him that, yes, damn is a swear word.

The air in the apartment is warm, and fragrant, and there’s so much life being lived in this moment that Olivia is afraid her heart will burst. 

Elliot had said “your brother” and no one had thought twice about it, and Olivia hears Bernie’s voice all over again telling Elliot how happy she is about how happy they are. 

“You don’t need my help, you’ve got it covered,” she finally manages to say.

He grabs her waist with his free hand and pulls her into his chest so that he can kiss her in retaliation. 

“I’ll remember that,” he threatens.

The boys clean up their mess so that the four of them can sit down and eat dinner, and Olivia does the dishes as Elliot oversees the teeth brushing and nightly routine follow up. It’s easy and settled, a routine that they’ve established and refined over the last several months of living together. 

Later, when the boys are in bed and the front door is locked and it’s just the two of them in the quiet of the room that used to be hers, and is now theirs, Olivia leans a shoulder against the bathroom doorway and studies the sight before her. Elliot is propped up against the headboard, staring at the screen of his tablet with a furrowed brow. 

“I like this one,” he says without looking at her. “It’s a brownstone, not far from here. Three beds, two baths …”

He trails off and Olivia pushes herself off the doorway. They’ve been looking for a bigger place for a while now, because her little apartment isn’t going to work for them long term, and Olivia hadn’t needed to say anything about her unwillingness to move to the suburbs. She’d mentioned needing more space and Elliot had said, “You’ve always liked brownstones,” and they started looking. 

Just like that, no pushing, no questions about why she wouldn’t prefer a house in the suburbs - no foundation for Olivia’s private, lingering fear that maybe there’s some part of Elliot that wants to go back to Queens and recreate the life he once had. 

She knows that it’s not true, but sometimes a momentary darkness tries to sink its teeth into her. Sometimes, a dark voice that Olivia doesn’t recognize tries to tell her that this isn’t her place, that she’s taking something that doesn’t belong to her and that Kathy will always be Elliot’s wife. 

But Elliot doesn’t want to move to Queens, and he doesn’t care if she changes her name even though she knows that he’s the more traditional of the two of them, and last week she’d heard Elliot say “six” with a smile when the old man at the grocery store asked him how many kids they had. 

“Two floors?” Olivia queries as she climbs onto the bed.

“Three,” Elliot replies, and then Olivia pulls the tablet out of his hand and he raises his head to watch her as she drops the piece of technology on the bedside table without a glance.

Olivia straddles his hips and Elliot’s hands come up to rest on her waist as she settles herself against his pelvis. With a hand curled around the curve of his neck where it meets his shoulder, Olivia kisses him once, and then again, and again.

Elliot makes a sound against her lips, something between a hum and a growl, and tightens his hands on her waist.

“I want to hyphenate,” she tells him between kisses. 

“Hyphenate,” Elliot repeats as he slips his hands beneath her shirt and drags them slowly up her sides. 

“Hmm. Benson-Stabler.”

Because she wants to be hers, and his, and there’s no reason she has to choose; because that’s how they’ve always belonged, as a team, together, even when they’re apart. 

Because any time she says those two words, or introduces herself to someone, it’s an announcement that she’s one half of a team.

It’s a claiming, even if they’re the only ones who know it.

And Elliot knows it because he knows her, so he says, “Olivia Benson-Stabler,” and lets the familiar weight of her breasts fill his hands as he kisses her again, slowly. 

Olivia sighs into his mouth and rocks her hips in response when he pinches her nipples. Their lovemaking will be slow tonight, languid and relaxed. Nights like this are peaceful in a way that she’d be hard pressed to explain, even to Elliot. 

Elliot leans forward and Olivia leans back to accommodate him, dragging her lips away from his to do so. He kneads her breasts and latches his mouth onto the column of her throat when she tips her head back and pushes herself forward, farther into his hands.

“Liv,” he whispers against the skin of her neck, and has to say it again before she realizes that he’s waiting for an answer.


“I want to adopt Noah.”

Olivia stills. The air catches in her lungs and her eyes fly open; she counts to five before dropping her head forward again to lock gazes with him. Elliot’s expression is open and honest. 

“El,” she murmurs, but she can’t manage anything else. 

“When we get married, I want to adopt Noah.”

“Elliot,” she whispers thickly, and her hands come up to frame his face as she fights to keep the tears at bay. 

“Don’t tell me that I don’t have to,” he says earnestly. “It’s not about that, you know? It’s … some people are meant to be ours, Liv.”

He looks like you, Bernie had said. 

Some people are meant to be ours. 

They are, Olivia knows they are, because it’s the same reason that she wants to hyphenate. It’s the same need to make it permanent any and every way she can, to make it last and reinforce every layer of connection that they have. 

It’s staking a claim, Olivia thinks again. It’s protection and pride and love; it’s more than blood. 

Families don’t start with blood. They start with two people who love each other. 


She barely has the word out before she’s kissing him, sliding her hands across his jaw and back so that she can wrap her arms around his neck and pull him tightly against her, crushing his hands against her breasts and trapping them there. 

“Marry me, Elliot,” she commands breathlessly.

Elliot laughs, the sound a deep rumble that she can feel against her chest. “Pretty sure I already asked you that.”

“No, I mean now. Tomorrow, this weekend, whatever. I don’t want to wait anymore, Elliot.”

Elliot flips her over with quick but careful movements, pressing her into the mattress with the heavy and welcome weight of his body above hers. His hands are everywhere and she lifts herself off the mattress just enough to pull her shirt over her head, whimpering as his lips close over her peaked nipple. She digs her nails into the taut skin over his shoulder blade and runs her other hand through his hair. His stubble is just scratchy enough to make her shiver as releases her nipple and kisses his way down her chest and over her stomach. 

Olivia lifts her hips when he hooks his thumbs into her shorts so that he can drag them down her legs and then gasps and clutches a handful of the comforter when he runs his thumb over her clit. 

She wants to get her hands on him - he’s wearing entirely too many clothes - but he knows her body so well that she can’t think around the pleasure that’s already building under his ministrations.

Mine. It’s the only thought she can manage and it’s more of an instinct than a conscious thought, something possessive and primal. Mine. She’s never been this way with anyone, and no one but Elliot could inspire something so instinctive. 

“Elliot,” she says, because he’s not close enough and she’s too close, and she latches onto his biceps and digs her fingernails into his skin without a thought for how it might hurt. But he doesn’t seem interested in stopping and she’s not interested in waiting, so she latches a hand around his wrist and pulls it away from her. “Come here,” she commands.

He grins but does as she says, running light fingers over her hip and across her stomach as he brings himself even with her again.

“So demanding, Captain,” he growls in that timber that he saves just for her.

“Yet you keep making me wait,” she shoots back, and doesn’t wait to tear his shirt off. “Now get naked.”

Elliot laughs and shimmies out of his boxers. It’s not as slow as Olivia had first anticipated, but there will be time for that later. It’s not slow, but it’s not frantic, either. 

When he’s naked Olivia hooks a leg around the back of his thighs and pulls him forward, catching her breath as the tip of his cock bumps into her center. She lifts her hips and pulls again; Elliot groans as he slides into her. 

She holds him there for a minute, relishing every spot of connection between their chests when she inhales deeply and cataloging the sweep of his hand across her ribs and over the outside swell of her breast. 

Olivia knows Elliot’s hands. She knows what they feel like, and how they move over her, but it feels new again at this moment. It feels like the first time, like the last time, like every time she’s ever imagined and never dared hope for. 

Without warning, Olivia closes her eyes and feels the warm slide of tears as they slip down her cheeks and into her hair. 


She’s overwhelmed. It’s ridiculous that she can still feel this way, eight months into their relationship and one month into their engagement, but she does. 

“Tell me something, El.” It’s a quiet plea and she’s not entirely sure what she’s asking for, but she trusts Elliot to know. 

“I love you, Olivia.” He punctuates the statement with a slow, sweet thrust. “I love our family.” Another thrust. He reaches for her left hand and intertwines their fingers, then raises their hands over her head and pins hers to the mattress. “I love that every time I see this ring I know that I put it there. That you’re mine.”

Olivia’s eyes blink open slowly, languidly, and she bucks against his hips as he pushes into her again, meeting his thrust with one of her own. Her eyes are so dark in the half-light of their room and he’s waiting for her to call him a bastard, but she doesn’t. 

Instead, she thrusts again, her breath hitching as she catches his eyes and doesn’t look away.

“Say it again.”

“You’re mine.” Just two words, simple, spoken with a tender sort of possessiveness. 

Olivia squeezes the hand that’s holding hers. Elliot is holding himself up with one arm and he’s unwilling to release her hand, so she slides her other hand between them to swirl light fingertips over her clit. 

“That’s it,” Elliot encourages her, moving faster as he does. “Let go, baby. Let go for me.”

Olivia’s breath hitches as the pleasure builds low in her belly, the push as Elliot buries himself in her driving his pelvis into her hand and harder against her clit in a way that makes her moan. 

“El,” she whispers, frantic as the orgasm builds and the hand that he’s holding starts to tremble. 

“I’m here, Liv. Let go.”

It’s something that Elliot has learned about her in their time together: she needs this sometimes, to be told what to do. Olivia spends her days now being in charge, giving orders, making decisions; when she’s with him, especially like this, she doesn’t want to think. She doesn’t want to make decisions or be in charge.

It’s the only time she feels safe enough to relinquish control, when she’s safe in his arms, beneath him. 

“Elliot,” she whines, and nothing makes him more protective than seeing her like this; knowing that for all of her strength and resilience, sometimes she just needs to be reminded that it’s okay. 

That she’s safe enough to be out of control. 

Her body tenses and clenches around him as her orgasm sweeps through her. She arches  under the force of it as Elliot drives into her, again and again until his own orgasm has him taut and spilling into her. 

Elliot drops himself carefully against her. He squeezes the hand of hers that he still holds and then lets go, and Olivia’s hands immediately come to rest against his back. They stay like that, breathing against one another as Olivia traces lazy designs against his skin, for what could be an hour or five minutes. 

“Are you sure?” Elliot finally asks. 

“I don’t care about a big wedding,” Olivia promises, knowing without explanation what he’s asking. “Just you, and our family. Our kids,” and she adds the last part so softly that Elliot thinks maybe he didn’t hear it at all.

“Our kids,” he repeats encouragingly.

“And your mom.”

Elliot laughs. “Seriously? Of all of the times to mention my mother …”

She bumps her cheek into his and he lifts his head to find her smiling at him. Olivia can more than handle herself - Elliot has seen her put the fear of God into men twice her size - but she’s so soft and vulnerable beneath him. She’s affectionate in little ways, subtle ways that someone else might not appreciate but that strike Elliot in their tenderness. 

“You okay?” He pushes himself up onto one elbow so that he can run the pad of his thumb over her cheek, tracing the path that her tears had taken earlier.

“Just overwhelmed.”

“And now?”

“Better,” she promises. “Just tired.”

“C’mon.” Elliot pulls out of her slowly and then climbs out of bed.

Olivia takes the hand that he holds out to her in offering and lets him help her up and into the bathroom so that they clean up. Elliot is done first so he goes back to pick up their clothes, turning their shirts so they’re not inside out anymore and handing Olivia hers when she comes out of the bathroom. 

When they’re under the blanket and she knows that Elliot is comfortable Olivia turns to face him and curls into his side. She inhales deeply and closes her eyes as she brings her hand up to rest over his heartbeat.

“Show me that brownstone in the morning?” she asks sleepily. 

“Over breakfast,” he promises. “I think you’re going to like it.”

She falls in love with it immediately, like he knew she would, and Elliot calls the realtor to put an offer in before Olivia can protest over the price. She does anyway, but Elliot promises her that they can afford it, and the realtor crunches the numbers three times to prove that Elliot isn’t just telling her what she wants to hear. 

It’s going to take them a month to close on the brownstone, the realtor says, and Elliot doesn’t bother asking her if she wants to wait so that they can spend their first night as husband and wife in a new place. 

They’re done waiting. 

Elliot signs Noah’s adoption papers the same day they get married; on their first night in their new home, Olivia finds Elliot helping Noah tape a banner to the outside of his bedroom door. They’ve been working on it all night, coloring it and cutting out the letters, but they wouldn’t let her see it until now.

In big, slightly uneven block letters it says NOAH BENSON-STABLER.

Olivia cries then, and she cries that night when Elliot holds her through the aftershocks of her orgasm and whispers, “Welcome home, Olivia Benson-Stabler,” into her skin. 

Some people are meant to be ours … and now, at last, they are. Hers, and his, and theirs; a family built of blood and love, both.