Elliot sleeps on the couch. He wants to give her space, physically, emotionally. But what he really wants is to be woken up to her hand drifting down into his sweat pants.
Instead, he wakes to the din of spoons hitting cereal bowls and the call-and-response of “Dude!“ from Eli and Noah, watching something obnoxiously loud from one of their phones.
He slides his own cell off the coffee table.
Liv can’t still be sleeping.
“Get up,” his mother shakes one of his socked feet hanging off the arm of the couch.
He arches himself up, “Where is she?”
Without preamble, Bernie slaps a pink post-it to his forehead.
The test of his patience. The test of his patience this house puts him through – daily.
9 am. Donnelly’s chambers.
As he’s reading, his mother slaps another post-it to his head.
“I swear mama –"
Your mom made something for you.
He eyes Bernie, who with a Cheshire grin, reveals a simple, yet elegant boutonniere of lavender and a white flower, tied in a dark blue ribbon.
“For your lapel,” She hands it to him, “Now get up! Eli’s driving you.”
“She laid out a suit for you too,” Eli’s states, standing over the sofa, cereal bowl in hand, deep smirk on his face, “Mr. Benson.”
They pull up, 11 minutes to nine.
Elliot’s patting his pockets, making sure he has everything, about to hoist himself from the car.
“Dad, wait,” Eli squeezes the steering wheel, not looking at him, “I think mom, she’d be happy for you.”
Elliot doesn’t know what to say. Doesn’t know if he agrees.
“She’d want you to be loved by a good person, you know?”
That Elliot might agree with that, but more importantly, he knows his son is trying to do the right thing, say the right thing. He reaches back and clutches the top of Eli’s head, kissing it, “I love you.”
“Yeah, yeah, get up there!”
Just as Elliot’s about to bound up the steps, he hears Eli yell again.
He catches it as it’s thrown from the passenger window.
He’s still trying to adjust the tie’s knot as he strides through the upper floors of the courthouse. His muscle memory falters as he doubles back through corridors trying to remember where Donnelly’s chambers are. He makes a wrong turn, then a right one because there’s the judge herself eyeing him outside her front door.
He nods in greeting, still fiddling with the knot.
“I heard you were back – but marrying Olivia too. Impressive.”
“Yeah, well, how does this look?” He means the tie but Liz gives him a full body once over.
“Looks like she’s getting a decent version of you.”
“She’s definitely dealt with the shitter ones.”
“Come on in.”
It’s trite. But time stops when he sees her.
She’s in white, a cream actually. A v-neck dress, that wraps around her and ties on the side. Her hair swept up in some kind of bun. She gives a smile that’s half embarrassment, half anxiety. She has a small bouquet of flowers in her hands that match the ones his mother made for him.
“Hi,” she says with a softness reserved for their most private time at home when she’s sated and soft and he can trace each freckle on her face.
He realizes he must be staring at her like he wants to absorb her and shakes himself out of it, mustering a nearly speechless, “Wow”.
Donnelley clears her throat, “You’ll get her alone right after this.”
Olivia blushes, which makes her bronze skin glow and he just wants all of her. He can’t believe he’s getting all of her.
The ceremony is so short that Elliot asks to slow it down. He wants to savor it. He has things to say.
“I’m glad we did it this way.”
He pulls out his wallet, unfolding a small piece of paper, “Without the kids, I can give my real vows.”
A look of understanding passes between them. His kids aren’t kids anymore. But none of them need to hear how much their father pined for his partner while married to their mother.
“Okay,” Elliot gives a quick look around the room, assessing who exactly is going to hear him lay it all out in a public forum, and it's just Donnelly, her aide, and his bride.
“The day I met you….” Heat immediately floods his eyes. He has to blink it back, imagines digging his feet deeper into the carpet, and tries again, “The day I met you, it went to my veins. And it wasn’t your beauty, which is enough to take anyone out. It was,” he licks his lips, pauses, looks up at her, “I’ve studied, memorized saints. And people who aren’t Catholic, think saints are some kind of religious superheroes. But a lot of them are just everyday people, who pushed their own needs aside, dedicated their lives to serving others. Meeting you, knowing you, running alongside you, I met one of the figures I prayed to.”
He crinkles the rest of the paper in the fist that isn’t holding her hand, “I know you’re human, but you’re also holy. Your heart, your dedication. I fell in love with that light, from the first day - that power that’s just… you.”
Her body slightly wavers and he pulls her in by the waist.
“To be in that light, I’ll never deserve it. But I’ll try to live up to it.”
She’s crying now. Her palms reach up to hold his face, wiping the tears pooled at the edges of his own eyes.
“Olivia,” Donnelly prompts, “Can you beat that?”
“No,” Olivia cries out with a laugh, “I can’t. This feels like – I think I’m going to wake up. God, that’s how I’ve always felt with you. That someone who just got me so – it couldn’t be real.”
She’s shaking her head, willing herself to calm, “When you left, after a while, it made sense. You were a dream that I woke up from. And now, even if I’m dreaming – it’s fine. It’s fine. Just stay in it with me."
“Ok,” He promises, he’d promise anything, “Ok.”
They don’t wait for permission. One of Olivia’s hands moves to the back of his head, her lips close in on his bottom one. He works them into a kiss. Into a kiss that’s not totally appropriate for the venue.
She lets him put the new ring on the right finger, on the left hand. She keeps her last name.
On Saturday, they use the flowers that Katie so painstakingly planned. The outdoor patio that Elliot chose. The playlist that Noah had too much free reign over. It’s chaotic, loud, and rowdy with an open bar that Eli's definitely partaking in.
At some point in the night, she catches herself in a reflection of a mirror and sees Elliot slide up behind her, one arm encompassing her waist, "My love," his voice cupping her ear, “What made you finally jump?”
She looks at them in the mirror, slightly elbowing him to get him to look up into the mirror too, "Same reason I always do – because it's you.”