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A Thing or Two About Family

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A/N: This is domestic EO fluff and I make no apologies. Sequel to "A Thing or Two About Aching".

 


 

“And next time, you come a little later and we’ll have that drink.”

 

Liv laughs, heartily, standing up and slowly testing her ankle, which takes her body weight easily now.

 

“Bernie, that’s a promise.”

 


 

1 Year Later...

 

They’re mid-giggle over a bottle of red wine when the front door opens, signaling that he’s home. He meets her eyes first, from across the room, and it’s a silent sigh of relief, always.

 

“Hi, honey,” Bernie laughs, glancing back at Elliot, “You’re late, today.”

 

“Oh, I don’t like this at all,” he says, grinning warily, strolling into the living room, “What are you two talking about?”

 

“None of your business,” she says, winking conspiratorially at Liv.

 

Olivia grins, watching him approach. “Just having some girl talk, nothing you need to worry about.”

 

“Yeah, uh-huh,” he teases, dropping a kiss onto his mother’s forehead.

 

He takes another step and drops one onto Olivia’s forehead too, murmuring a soft greeting to her.

 

“You could actually kiss the woman, you know,” Bernie says, draining her wine glass, “It’s nothing I haven’t seen before.”

 

“Eh,” he shrugs, moving to empty his pockets at the kitchen counter, “She likes the forehead ones.”

 

“I do,” Olivia stage-whispers, crinkling her nose.

 

“Well,” Bernie shrugs, standing up slowly, “So long as he’s giving you what you want. I’m sure you don’t, but never hesitate to ask, Olivia, especially in the bedroom—“

 

Mama,” Elliot groans from the kitchen, turning bright red.

 

Olivia dissolves into laughter at the same time, while Bernie looks nonplussed.

 

“Honey, don’t be a prude,” she yawns, patting Elliot on the shoulder as she walks past to put her glass in the sink, “Time for this old bird to turn in.”

 

“Goodnight, Mama,” he manages, pretending to sort through the stack of mail on the island.

 

Bernie loops around and Olivia reaches out to squeeze her hand as she passes by, smiling affectionately. “Goodnight.”

 

Chuckling quietly, Liv reaches for the bottle on the coffee table to top off her glass, and then swings her legs up onto the couch, lounging back.

 

“Hey.”

 

Elliot looks up from the mail and she gestures with her head, beckoning him over to her, watching as his eyes warm and soften.

 

He plucks the wine glass out of her hand as he sinks down beside her, lying next to her with his back against her torso, his head level with her breasts. She scoots over a little to make room for him, sighing when his warmth covers her.

 

“You could get your own glass, you know,” she smirks, watching him take a long sip.

 

His brows furrow as he hands it back to her. “Why?”

 

He pulls her free hand around to his chest, encouraging her to rest her palm there, pressing a few soft kisses down her arm. It’s warm tonight, and she’s wearing a set of those light, feminine pajamas he loves so much; pants and a tank top, soft cotton in a soft yellow color.

 

Down the hall, a door closes and he hears his mother’s window unit turn on.

 

“Work okay?” she murmurs, closing her eyes at the gentle scrape of his neatly trimmed beard on her skin.

 

They haven’t made a habit of talking about work in detail, unless one of them needs to; they can always bring it to each other, but it feels like they’re walking on sacred ground, now, and they try to keep the darkness and the ugliness out as much as they can. He hums, pressing his face into her bicep for a few seconds, his way of saying there’s nothing noteworthy to talk about.

 

“Noah asleep?”

 

“So far so good,” she nods, looking hopeful, “When I talked to him about it again this morning, he seemed fine with staying over. He’s getting so tall, I think he actually fits in that guest bed better than his bed at home. I’m gonna have to get him something bigger.”

 

“Well, if he’s comfortable here he can do whatever he wants in that room,” Elliot says, absently turning her hand over, rubbing her palm with his thumb, “Get some different bedding that he likes, whatever he needs. Not that you guys are gonna be here all the time right now, but—“

 

“—thank you,” she says softly, slipping her fingers in between his shirt buttons, “For not pushing.”

 

“We got time. After twenty-four years?” he says, smiling gently.

 

She smiles down at him, offering him the glass of wine again, watching as he takes it and sips, focused on the way his lips wrap around the edge of the glass. He hands it back to her and slides up a little, turning so he has access to her mouth.

 

“Missed your voice yesterday,” he murmurs, bringing her down into a kiss, “Hate texting.”

 

She cradles his chin in her palm, twisting a little so their mouths line up better, and parts her lips for his tongue, moaning softly in the back of her throat.

 

“I know,” she whispers, rubbing his jaw with her thumb, “I was getting pulled in twelve different directions.”

 

“That’s ‘cause you’re the captain,” he grins, rubbing his lips over hers, covering them with a warm breath.  

 

“This is turning into a real ‘thing’ for you, isn’t it?” she teases, tilting back to take a sip of wine.

 

He takes the opportunity to press his face into her neck, dragging his mouth across her skin. “Uh-huh.”

 

She laughs softly, and then sighs when he nuzzles in right under her jaw, drawing a patch of skin into his mouth and sucking gently, using his teeth just enough to—

 

Eli pushes unceremoniously through the front door and they immediately move apart, but they’re not quite fast enough.

 

“Seriously, you guys?” he sulks, pulling a face, rolling his eyes.

 

“Ah, my son,” Elliot grins, holding his arms open, laughing when Liv smacks his shoulder, “Come join us, won’t you?”

 

Eli groans, dragging his feet over to the fridge, pulling out the carton of chocolate milk. “Do I have to?”

 

“For a minute,” Elliot nods, settling back into his former position against her.

 

At first, they’d been incredibly careful around the Stabler kids, barely even standing near each other during family gatherings. But, one by one, they’ve all given their blessing.

 

Olivia had made a point to sit down with Eli herself, giving him her ear for anything he might want to vent, making sure he knew that family photos including his mother were never going to disappear, that she had no intention of filling any role in his life that he didn’t help define.

 

“Liv, do I have to?” Eli tries, still attempting to slink off to his room.

 

Olivia tips her head, considering. “I would, if I were you.”

 

Relenting, finally, Eli comes over and drops into the chair across from them, crossing his arms.

 

“Great, now, how was your evening?” Elliot asks conversationally, as if Eli’s here for a chat completely of his own volition.

 

“Fine,” he shrugs, eyeing them, “I didn’t do any drugs, if that’s what you’re asking.”

 

“Good to hear,” Liv says, stifling her laughter at his teenage angst, “I think Dad was just asking, in general—“

 

“—yeah, did you have fun?” Elliot finishes, holding up his hands, “Seriously, just wanna know.”

 

“Yeah, it was fun,” Eli says, smirking a little in spite of himself, slowly uncrossing his arms, “Movie was good.”

 

“And…?” Olivia prompts, staring at him expectantly.

 

Eli’s eyes widen. “No, I do not have to tell you guys that, you said I didn’t have to—“

 

“He kissed her,” Liv stage-whispers, hiding behind the wine glass, “I knew it.”

 

“You did say it would be tonight,” Elliot grins, glancing back at her, “I owe her five bucks, thanks, kid.”

 

“You guys are the worst,” Eli groans, sliding off the chair, “I’m going to bed.”

 

“Aww, c’mon, we’re just messing with you—“

 

Eli starts to walk away and then stops, turning back to Olivia.

 

“Did Noah bring his Switch?”

 

“I think so, why?” she smiles, sipping from the nearly empty wine glass.

 

“Oh, no reason, we just have, like, a shared game going, I was teaching him Mario 64. He’s gotta start with the classics,” he says nonchalantly, trying to seem less interested than he actually is.

 

“I don’t know what that means,” Liv chuckles, eyes warming, “But I’m pretty sure he brought it, and I know he really likes having you help him. You guys will have a few hours in the morning before soccer.”

 

“Cool, cool,” Eli nods, shrugging, “Okay, goodnight.”

 

“Goodnight.”

 

They chuckle to themselves as his door closes down the hall, and she hands him the wine glass again, watching as he drains it and sits up to set it on the coffee table.

 

“Torturing teenagers is the bright side of having them, I almost forgot,” Elliot grins, reaching for her hands, “Hey, c’mere.”

 

She lets him pull her up, guiding her over to straddle his lap. He loops his arms around her and pulls her in against his body, pressing his face into her pajama shirt. Sometimes, he just wants to hold onto her, and breathe her in, and it wrecks her every time; she cups his neck, cradling him against her.

 

“Sure nothing happened at work?” she murmurs, not able to tell unless he looks at her.

 

Like he’s reading her mind, he tilts his head back to rest against the couch, and his eyes are soft and relaxed; no darkness, no ugliness.

 

“Just missed you,” he sighs, cupping her hips.

 

Humming softly, she leans down and presses a kiss against his mouth.

 

“Mom?”

 

They both jump, and Olivia looks back to see Noah standing at the far end of the living room.

 

“Hey,” she breathes, sliding over to sit on the couch, holding out her hand, “C’mere, I thought you were asleep.”

 

Noah shrugs, padding over in his bare feet. “I was but I heard something, and then I wanted to say goodnight to Elliot.”

 

“Hey, bud, how’s it going?” Elliot says softly, kneeling down to hug Noah when he’s close enough, “I know, I haven’t seen you in a few days. You want to have a glass of milk with me before you go back to bed? I was just about to get one.”

 

“Sure,” Noah smiles, following him over into the kitchen, “Were you working?”

 

He scrambles up onto one of the stools at the island, and Olivia watches as they catch up for a few minutes over a glass of milk, realizing, not for the first time, how much her son has bonded with her partner. He’d probably woken up and heard the deep rumble of Elliot’s voice, which he seems particularly tuned into…because he’s never had a man in his life before, not one that he remembers.

 

“Yeah, I think Eli has soccer tomorrow, but in the afternoon. Your recital is at night,” Elliot’s saying, when she tunes back into their conversation.

 

“Are you coming?” Noah asks, gulping the last of his milk.

 

Elliot rests his palm on Noah’s head for a moment. “I wouldn’t miss it. I even told work about it, so they don’t call me. Are you nervous?”

 

“Kind of,” Noah shrugs, “I practiced all week. But it’s different when there’s people there.”

 

“Well, I think you’ll do great. But you’d better get a good night’s sleep. Head back to bed, okay?”

 

They fist bump, and Noah hops off the stool, walking back over to give Olivia a hug.

 

“Hey,” she murmurs, folding him into her arms, “All good?”

 

“Yeah,” he sighs, standing up, “I can go back to sleep now.”

 

“Okay, do you want me to go with you?” Liv asks, running her hand down his arm, “I know it’s a new place.”

 

“I’m fine. Mom, I’m ten,” he smiles, leaning in to kiss her cheek, “Night, Mom.”

 

“Goodnight,” she says softly, watching him walk off to put himself back to bed.

 

Elliot slowly walks back over, and sits down next to her; when she glances at him it’s all over his face.

 

“Don’t,” she sighs, shaking her head, “Don’t, don’t—“

 

“—he’s ten, Mom,” Elliot teases, bumping her shoulder.

 

“I told you not to say it,” she groans, covering her face, “I’m not ready.”

 

He chuckles and slowly presses her down onto the couch, nudging his thigh between hers as he settles half on top of her.

 

“They grow, Liv. It’s what they do.”

 

“Yeah, well, I’ve never done this before, you asshole,” she chuckles, tugging on his ear, “Sometimes I might need a minute.”

 

“I know,” he sighs, smiling gently, “I’ve done it five times, doesn’t get any easier.”

 

She stares up at him for a moment, searching his face. “He asks about you, when we don’t talk to you for a couple days. He’s really attached.”

 

This isn’t new information, but it sounds like she’s sitting with it for a moment, and he sits there with her.

 

Elliot takes a breath. “Is it—I mean, what does it feel like? Sharing him, after so long?”

 

“It doesn’t feel like sharing,” she says honestly, catching his cross where it dangles between them, playing with it absently, “It feels like…you’re giving him something that I can’t. And I’m—some days I have feelings about it. But, I’m glad he has you, I would never take it back. I’d never take this back.”

 

He affectionately tucks a piece of hair behind her ear, cradling her cheek, and she tips her face up to kiss him. He growls, low and soft in his chest, and presses her back into the couch, sucking on her bottom lip.

 

“We should get in bed,” she murmurs, between kisses, sighing.

 

Shhh, in a minute,” he rasps, gently tugging on her hair to tilt her head back, “I just wasn’t finished…”

 

He sighs contentedly into her neck, slowly dragging his mouth up to her ear, down to her collarbone, enjoying the way it makes her shiver. Sliding both hands under her hips, he rocks her against his thigh and starts to suck slow, wet kisses up her throat.

 

“El,” she whimpers, starting to lose her breath, fisting the back of his shirt with two hands.  

 

The front door opens, again.

 

“Oh, god, sorry, sorry—“

 

Olivia immediately tries to sit up but he collapses on top of her, growling in frustration.

 

Why are there so many of them?”

 

“—I’m sorry, I was just at a club a couple blocks away, I figured I’d crash—“

 

Liv starts to laugh, resting her palm on his neck. “I brought one. I’d point out the rest were here already.”

 

“—I should’ve knocked or something, I didn’t—“

 

“Katie, it’s fine,” Olivia calls over to her, pushing him off of her, still laughing, “Honey, it’s fine. Come in.”

 

Kathleen turns around cautiously. “Yeah? Okay, sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

 

“You’re not,” Elliot soothes, smoothing a hand over his beard, “You’re good. Come in. Hey, kid.”

 

He pulls his daughter into a hug, holding her for a moment.

 

“Hey, Dad,” she sighs, grinning, “Hi, Liv.”

 

Olivia stands up too, giving her a quick squeeze. “Out having some fun?”

 

“Just with a few people from work,” Kathleen shrugs, dumping her coat and bags onto a chair, kicking off her shoes, “Kind of a scene though, I got tired.”

 

“Noah’s actually sleeping in the guest room,” Liv says apologetically, glancing at Elliot, “But the couch is available?”

 

Kathleen’s face softens, realizing it’s a new step. “Noah’s sleeping here? That’s—that’s really cool, guys.”

 

“It’s the first time we’ve tried it,” Liv explains, toying with her watch, “But, seems to be working out so far.”

 

“Well, the couch is fine with me, unless, I don’t want to put you guys out—“

 

 Elliot shakes his head. “We were just about to go to bed—err, I mean, not, go to bed, just, I mean—“

 

“—we were about to go to sleep, anyway,” Liv finishes helpfully, shaking her head at him, “Real smooth. Hey, you need anything?”

 

“No, I have a bag,” Kathleen smirks, shaking her head, “Man, this is weird.”

 

They glance at each other, not sure how to interpret that.

 

“—good weird,” she corrects herself quickly, unzipping her overnight bag, “I’m happy for you guys. You know what I mean.”

 

“Yeah, we know,” Elliot says, smiling a little.

 

“Good,” Kathleen sighs, looping pajamas over her arm.

 

Abruptly, she pulls Olivia into another hug, holding her tightly. “I’m glad it’s you.”

 

Liv blinks, not expecting it, but closes her eyes and hugs her back.

 

“Me too,” she whispers, holding onto her arms as they pull apart, “Goodnight.”

 

Kathleen goes into the bathroom, and Elliot grabs for her hand.

 

“Let’s get behind a door before anyone else shows up.”

 

Olivia laughs, letting him tug her into the bedroom.

 

“Three out of six in one night though, that’s pretty impressive.”

 

 

A/N: I think I live here now...