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Shades of Red

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Prompt #28: Liv And Noah are invited to Elliot's for Christmas dinner and a hangout session with the whole fam (pre-relationship but they've been getting closer). 

Three things to include in the story are: 

1) While spending the evening eyeballing Liv and El together being flirty and in their own universe together as they do, the five stabler kids spend the evening in a group chat talking about EO and generally just being amused by their antics (maybe include Noah and Bernie by having the Stablers quietly questioning them about how much time they EO have been spending together or something) 

2) Liv says, "Did you just poke me with a pickle?" and Elliot replies "Actually, I believe I stabbed you with a pickle, Captain"

3) Liv and El end up outside watching the snow come down and they have their first kiss, not knowing that all six kids and grandma are spying on them through the window — writer can decide how they let EO know they saw


Shades of Red

~oOo~

 

Noah trailed behind Olivia at the grocery store as she hurried down the bakery aisle. 

“Mom, why aren’t we baking the pies?” Noah watched her as they came to a table that held the remainder of pies they had left. 

“Because bud, I wasn’t sure if we were going to go, so we don’t have time to bake them fresh.” She smiled down at him as she circled the table, taking in the inventory; two cherries, a sweet potato, three apples, and a broken peach. 

“Not much of a selection huh, kiddo?” Olivia tousled his hair before grabbing an apple, and a cherry pie. “Okay, bud, let’s go pay for these, and then we can head over to Elliot’s okay?” She turned to walk toward the self-checkout, with Noah once again in tow. 

“Why weren’t you sure if we were going to go? We always spend Saturdays with Mr. Elliot and Eli.” 

Olivia scanned the two pies and placed them on the bagging counter. “Well, Noah today is a little different. It’s not the same spending a holiday together, as it is spending a regular Saturday night together.”

“But Mr. Elliot and Eli are our friends, and aren’t you supposed to spend the holiday together with people you care about?” He looked up at her, sometimes it surprised her how smart he was for his age. 

She finished paying before kneeling down in front of him. “You sure are buddy. So what do you say we get on over there?” 

“Okay!” Noah smiled, grabbing her hand as Olivia grabbed the bag with the pies and they headed toward the exit. 

Twenty minutes later they were standing outside Elliot’s apartment. This would be the first official dinner that they’d spend together with everyone here. All of Elliot’s kids, and even Bernie would be here. They’d been getting closer over the last few months, so Olivia wasn’t exactly sure why she was so surprised when Elliot had asked her to spend Christmas with them, but she was. She’d nervously told him she’d talk to Noah, and then made up some excuse about work, then she’d rushed out. 

That was last week, and between work and last-minute holiday shopping they hadn’t seen each other since. It wasn’t until he’d sent her a text two days ago apologizing if he’d overstepped or done something to make her uncomfortable. To which she responded that he hadn’t at all and that she and Noah would love to have dinner with him and his family. After a few more text exchanges, deciding on a time and what Liv could bring they’d ended the conversation. Then this morning Elliot had messaged her and told her how excited everyone was to see them all, especially Eli — who had rather taken a liking to have someone younger than him around. She’d texted him back, telling him that she couldn't wait either and that Noah had been talking nonstop about how excited he was to show Eli his new Nintendo Switch. 

She was still pretty riddled with nerves, but she took a deep breath and knocked. Almost instantly Elliot answered the door, a smile across his face. 

“Hey, come on in, you’re just in time, just took the ham out of the oven.” Olivia and Noah stepped inside. 

Stepping to the side, Elliot turned to them. “Here,” he reached toward the pies that were in her hands, “let me take these from you.” 

Olivia smiled at him, as she let him grab the items from her hands, and followed him into the kitchen. “It smells incredible, Elliot.” 

Turning toward her, he returned the smile before speaking again. “Thank you, I wish I could take all the credit but Bernie did the majority of the work.” 

“Well, I’ll have to make sure to compliment her then,” Olivia spoke playfully. 

Elliot let out a chuckle, then gestured toward the dining room. “Everyone was just getting seated.”

They all walked toward the dining room where everyone else was waiting, taking a deep breath before entering. Noah was a great kid and nothing really shook his nerves, but he’d confided in Olivia earlier that he’d been very nervous that Elliot’s family wouldn’t like him. He loved Elliot and Eli so much and he wanted his family to love him too. Her heart broke hearing that; she wanted so much for them to love Noah. She logically knew they would, Noah was a great kid and Elliot had really great kids too, but it still made her nervous knowing that fear existed, for him. 

“Hey everyone, you all already know Liv, but this is her son Noah, Noah this is my mother Bernie, my daughters Maureen, Kathleen, and Lizzie, that’s my son Rich at the end, and you already know Eli.” 

Noah shyly raised his hand, “Hi everyone, it’s really nice to meet you.” 

“Noah,” Eli yelled from the end of the table, “here kiddo, saved you a seat by me.” 

Noah looked up at Olivia, silently asking permission, she smiled before gesturing down toward Eli. “Go ahead.” 

Noah smiled, quickly took off his coat, and handed it to Oliva before running over to sit next to Eli. Elliot came up behind Olivia and gently grabbed her by the elbow. “Hey, let me take that from you.” Olivia smiled, handing him Noah’s coat before he helped her out of her own. She watched him walk away toward his bedroom — assumedly to place their coats on his bed. Reappearing, he walked over to a chair at the table and pulled it out for her. 

“Thank you.” After she was settled in her seat, Elliot let his hand trail across her shoulder as Olivia reached up, stopping to momentarily grab his hand, and looked up over her shoulder shyly smiling at him. 

At the other end of the table, Eli’s phone buzzed — a group text, to everyone from Kathleen — he knew whatever it was, it would be good. He quickly opened his phone and clicked the group chat that read * My Gene Pool*.

Kathleen — Okay, I know none of us are clueless to Dad and Liv getting closer lately but are they planning on having sex at the table? 

Eli looked up, just in time to catch Elliot giving a gentle squeeze to Liv’s shoulder, as she released his hand and he took the last empty seat next to her. Chuckling to himself and shaking his head, he typed out a quick reply. 

Eli — Seriously, Get a room. 

Rich — Yuck, that is not the image I need of my senior citizen father. 

Maureen — He seems happy… 

Liz — He does. 

Kathleen — It’s Liv. Of course, he’s happy. 

“Hey!” All five kid’s heads shot up at the sound of Elliot’s voice. “I know you’re all grown adults but it is a holiday, phones away at the table please.” 

Kathleen smiled at him, placing her phone back in her pocket as the rest of the Stabler kids followed. “Sorry Dad, won’t happen again.” 

~oOo~

After dinner, Elliot stood to begin clearing the table, and Olivia quickly followed him. “Let me help you with this.” 

“Hey, no Liv you’re the guest,” Elliot protested, but Olivia quickly shut him down. 

“Please, it’s the least I could do. Besides, there’s not usually much to clean up after with it just being me and Noah, let me get the full family experience would you?” she joked, playfully elbowing him in the ribs. 

Chuckling he put his hands up in defeat and allowed her to grab some of the dishes that sat at the table. Before the two headed off to the kitchen. 

The rest of them sat at the table in silence before Kathleen finally spoke, ”Okay are we going to pretend we don’t notice what’s happening.”

Bernie was the first to respond, “Oh you mean the flirting? Wish those two would get their crap together already.” 

Rich chuckled, “Yeah, you and the rest of us. Sometimes I think they’re the only ones who don’t see it.” 

“Are you talking about my mom and Mr. Elliot?” Noah asked, looking to Kathleen for an answer. 

“Oh Noah, I’m sorry I should have thought before I spoke.” 

Noah shrugged, he might be young but he wasn’t dumb and even he noticed how happy Elliot made his mom. “I think he makes my mom happy. She’s afraid to admit it because she said he had to go away for a little bit and they didn’t get to say goodbye before he did. But… she has a box in

our coat closet with pictures of them in it and I don’t think she would have that if she didn’t miss him when he was gone.” 

“Wait…” Lizzie cut him off. “You’re telling me she has a box of pictures stashed away?” 

Noah nodded. “She doesn’t know I know about it, one time I was looking for my birthday present and I found it, don’t tell mom though.” 

“Guys, do you know what this means?” Maureen spoke up from her spot at the end of the table. 

“Uh, that Liv and Dad love each other? But we knew this already.” 

“Bingo, Eli. They’re in love with each other, but this is confirmation.” Kathleen laughed excitedly. 

Just then Olivia walked back into the room and silence fell over everyone. Suspiciously she looked over everybody before asking the obvious question. “Everything okay here?” She eyed Bernie first, but when she stayed silent she went to Kathleen. 

“Yeah Liv, everything is great. We were just talking about going to play some video games!” 

“Okay, um, we’re just finishing putting away the leftovers but we’ll be in, in just a few.” 

“Great!” Everyone got up from the table and headed to the living room. 

Olivia laughed and shook her head. “What has gotten into them?” 

When she returned to the kitchen Elliot was taken out a tray of cheeses, pepperoni, olives, and mini pickles. He looked up at her smiling when he heard her come in. “Hi.”

“Hey, whatcha got there?” She gestured toward the tray. 

“Oh, we do this every year. It’s a little backward but we’ll have dinner and then we take out a tray of little finger foods, we’ll usually play some old video games and just veg out.” 

With that Elliot picked up a small pickle from the tray and tried to get Olivia to take a bite, she laughed and shook her head but Elliot was resilient, even bringing the pickle to her cheek and tapping her with it. 

Olivia’s expression was comical but shocked. “Did you just poke me with a pickle?” 

Finally giving up, he takes a bite of the pickle himself before answering her. “Actually, I believe I stabbed you with a pickle, Captain.” Olivia threw her head back as she barked out a laugh. 

“You are never going to let me live that one down, are you?” She looked down shyly, shaking her head.

Elliot just smiled, taking the last bite of the pickle. “No,” he shook his head, “probably not.” 

“Let’s go goofball, the video games have started.” She gestured toward the living room, as he followed behind her. 

The family had chosen Mario Kart. Noah, Eli, Rich, and Lizzie were currently racing. It was obvious to Olivia that they were all trailing behind Noah on purpose, and their kindness and acknowledgment that he was still a small child warmed her heart. Noah threw his hands up in the air as he crossed the finish line and “1st place” came across the screen. 

“Yeah! Mom I won, did you see?” 

“I sure did, good job, buddy.” Olivia smiled at him.

Kathleen shot up from her spot on the couch, handing a remote to Olivia and then one to Elliot.

“Okay. Liv, you and Dad go next.” She smiled at her. 

Olivia put her hands up in an attempt to protest. “Oh no, I don’t do video games.” 

Elliot nudged her side playfully. “What’s a matter, Liv? Thought you wanted the full family experience? Unless of course, you’re afraid I’ll beat you.” He gave her a slanted smile and she laughed shaking her head. 

“Oh, you’re so on Stabler.” She tapped the side of his arm playfully. 

“Wouldn’t want it any other way.” He smiled, as he took a seat at the far end of the couch, pulling Liv’s hand to take the seat next to him. The quick motion caused her to lose her footing and trip over his leg landing in his lap. 

“Shit, Liv I’m sorry, is your ankle okay?” 

His immediate concern for her caused her heart to swell. She swallowed the lump in her throat, looking down at their now, very intimate position, and if she didn’t know any better she swore she could feel a slight hard bulge against her back. She quickly got up, face as red as the ribbon on the Christmas tree. 

“Yeah, um, I— I’m— my ankle is fine. All good.” 

She moved to the armchair that sat next to the love seat, and Elliot sighed in defeat. If he hadn’t been goofing off she’d be next to him now and if he could slap himself across the face without creating a scene, he would have. 

A phone vibrated on the coffee table, breaking what had become an awkward silence among them. 

“Sorry guys.” Lizzie smiled before reaching across and grabbing her phone from the table. 

*My Gene Pool* 

Eli — Oh, COME ON! Can we just knock their heads together until they realize what's happening between them? 

Rich — Not the worst idea you’ve had. 

Lizzie — Did I just witness Liv getting hot for Dad? *Barf* 

Kathleen — LOL! I think you did Lizzie. 

Maureen — You for sure did. Thank god, Dad was more concerned about her ankle or I’m afraid of what we might have witnessed with him. 

Eli — Okay I’m all for Dad being happy, and I like Liv but that is NOT a thought I need in my head. 

Rich — Ditto, kid. 

“You’re cheating!” Elliot playfully yelled. 

“Am not! It’s okay if you can’t handle that I’m kicking your butt, Stabler!” 

Just then Elliot got a blue shell, sending it flying toward Olivia’s character. Olivia watched Yoshi go flying into the air as Elliot's character and three others passed her before she was back on the ground and driving again. Elliot raced around the corner flying past the finish line, Liv following behind in third. 

“So Benson, what do I get now that I won?” He smiled at her, smugly.

“You wish Stabler, glad to see you’re such a gentleman.” 

Forgetting anyone was in the room he smiled at her before answering. “Maybe I do wish.” He winked at her and for what felt like the hundredth time that night her face quickly became warm and red. 

*My Gene Pool* 

Kathleen — Real subtle Dad lol 

Maureen — Talk about Dad’s subtlety all you want but in the 23 years I’ve known her I have never seen Liv turn that shade of red before. 

Rich — Should we start taking bets when they’ll actually make a move? 

Eli — You don’t think it’ll happen tonight? Have you not been watching them?  

Liz — Yeah, I’m with Eli. It’s going to happen tonight. All they need is a minute alone and Dad’s not gonna be able to stay away. 

Kathleen — So, how do we get them alone? 

Maureen — Leave it to me. 

“Hey Liv,” Olivia looked up from her conversation with Noah to give Maureen her attention. “We were just talking about going to see some Christmas lights around the neighborhood. Would it be alright if we took Noah along?” 

Olivia looked at Noah, apprehensively. “I don’t know, it’s kind of late.” 

Noah looked up at her with disappointment in his eyes. “Come on, Mom, please? I’ll listen to the adults and I’ll stay with them the whole time.” 

Liv looked at Elliot who shrugged his shoulders and silently nodded. She knew, in the end, it was her choice, but she valued Elliot’s opinion. Olivia looked back at Maureen, nodding her head. “Okay— Yeah—” Then she turned to Noah. “Make sure you listen to them. I’m not around so if they tell you something you listen to them like you would me.” 

Noah happily nodded. “I will! Thank you, Mom!” He hugged Olivia before turning to Elliot, “Mr. Elliot can I go in your room to get my coat?” 

He smiled at Noah’s manners, of course, Olivia’s child would have perfect manners. “Of course, bud.” Then Noah was off down the hall. 

“Hey grandma, you wanna come along?” Kathleen looked at her, sending a silent message through her eyes. 

“Oh, Yeah you know what that does sound fun. Let me just get my coat.” With that, she stood and walked off to the room. 

Ten minutes later everyone but Olivia and Elliot was out the door. Liv couldn’t help but feel like she’d been set up. Why weren’t the two of them invited to go along? She sat on the couch, her hands nervously ringing together. They’d been shamelessly flirting all night, and Olivia had a feeling his kids had picked up on this. But if they left them alone and they had picked up on the flirting then that was good right? Maybe they didn’t hate the idea as much as she thought they would. God, here she was sitting here having these thoughts and she didn’t even know how he felt. Sure

they had been hanging out more but that didn’t mean anything. She hung out with Fin too, didn’t mean they were lusting after one another. Although she and Elliot were very different. She knew that. She couldn’t really compare the two relationships. But for her, it seemed easier to act as though this wasn’t happening than to think of the alternative, what that could mean and what it would mean if it didn’t work out. She knew though, if the opportunity presented itself, she’d have her answer. There would be no way she could ever turn away Elliot. 

“Penny for your thoughts?” She felt Elliot plop down beside her on the couch. 

“Eh, I’m not really sure they’re worth that much.” She looked at him, her bottom lip caught between her teeth. 

“I’m going to need you to stop that.” He looked at her, his tone as serious as his expression. 

“What?” Olivia asked, genuinely confused. 

“Biting your lip. I need you to stop.” 

“Oh.” She quickly released her lip. “Sorry.” 

Elliot stood up and started pacing. “Is it hot in here? I’m gonna—” he pointed to the back terrace, “step out for a few, get some fresh air.” 

She watched as Elliot walked toward the door of the terrace and stepped out. Putting her head back, she let out a sigh. No, that was it, she wasn’t going to let him keep doing this. She stood up and walked the path he had only a minute prior and stepped out onto the terrace. 

“Olivia you don’t have a jacket on go back inside.” He hadn’t even turned to her, just knew she was jacketless.

“No.” 

He finally turned to face her, clear shock across his face. “What?” 

Olivia stood her ground, though she could feel the chill of the December air in her bones. “I said no. You don’t get to keep doing this to me, Elliot.” 

Elliot looked up toward the sky, letting out a frustrated laugh. “What? I don’t get to be concerned about you catching pneumonia?” 

“First of all you don’t have one either so why don’t you step out of ‘Dad’ mode and stop avoiding this conversation.” 

“What, Olivia, what is it that you want me to say? Huh?” He was starting to shout now but she didn’t let it deter her. In fact, it gave her the push she needed, as she shouted back. 

“I want you to be honest for once! Tell me you love me, tell me you hate me, tell me you wanna be friends or that you want nothing to do with me. Whatever. Just say something! You give me so many mixed signals every day that I’m not sure if I’m coming or going and I’m just tired! I’m tired of waiting for you to kiss me and I’m tired of worrying that I’m going to wake up and find out from somebody else that you left again!” Olivia threw her hands up in the air in frustration. 

~oOo~

“Mom, we're back!” Noah stopped short, hearing the quietness of the apartment. “Where are they?” 

Kathleen stepped further in, hearing the yelling coming from the porch. “Guys! Shh..come here, they’re outside!” 

Everyone ran up and squatted next to the kitchen table to watch them.

~oOo~

“You want me to be honest Liv? Fine. I love you! Okay? I know that I shouldn’t, I know I’ve hurt you in the past and I know that I’m not even a year out of losing my wife but I can’t pretend like I don’t love you. I can’t act like every time you bite that damn lip of yours I don’t wanna catch it with my own teeth—” Olivia gasped, swallowing the lump that had formed in her throat. “And most importantly I don’t want to keep pretending that I don’t count the days and hours each week until I get to see you and Noah on a Saturday night. That’s the truth. So now that I’ve made a ridiculous fool of myself, I’m going to go inside and pretend this didn’t happen.” Elliot headed for the door, but Olivia called after him, knowing exactly what to do to get him to stop walking away. 

“El…” 

Elliot’s breath hitched. That was the first time she’d called him El since he had come back. He turned, looking at her, tears were falling from both of their eyes now, there was no sense in trying to hide it. 

“You’ve been honest, don’t I get a chance now?” She gave him a small smile. 

“Listen Liv, I really don’t need to hear about how we’re partners and friends, and that matters, and I just can’t do this conversation right now. I’m sorry.” He turned again to walk away but Olivia kept talking anyway. 

“That's a shame because I was going to tell you I loved you too.” 

He stopped, turning toward her, listening. 

“I was going to tell you about how our friendship is important, and it does matter but as terrified as I am of losing that, I think we could be really great together. I think we owe it to ourselves after twenty-three years, and I was going to say how much Noah loves you and that means everything to me. That he loves the man I’m in love with.”

Elliot marched over to her, shaking his head and placing his hands on both sides of her face. “Liv— I need you to say it now if you don’t want this. Because in just a second, I’m going to kiss you and once I start, I’m not so sure I’ll be able to stop.” 

Liv smiled at him. “I’m not going to tell you to stop,” she spoke, biting her lip just to get a rise out of him. 

Before she had a chance to release her lip he was pulling her to him. Pulling her lower lip between his and started nibbling. 

There was nothing awkward about their first kiss, no bumping noses, or hitting teeth. Olivia let out a whimper as Elliot pulled back, his forehead resting against hers. He smiled at her, and she laughed burying her face in his neck. 

She latched her mouth onto his pulse point. Placing open-mouthed kisses and making sure not to leave a mark. If or should she say when she marked him it was going to be in a place no one else could see. Elliot let out a small groan, knowing this wasn’t the time to continue this, with their family who would be walking through the door any minute. 

Just then a gust of air blew and Olivia felt her body shake as the chill whipped through her. Elliot smiled down, kissing her lips once more before bringing her toward the door. “Now can I get you inside?” 

“Mmm okay. Too bad the family is here or I’d be letting you get inside too.” Elliot stopped short, his mouth falling open in shock but Olivia just let her head fall back in laughter. 

“You are going to be the death of me.” He smiled, shaking his head. 

Meanwhile inside, the seven were silently cheering, smiling, and giving each other high fives that the time alone had finally caused their parents to get their heads on straight. 

“Does this mean you guys are going to be my brothers and sisters?” Noah asked excitedly.

Kathleen smiled down at him, tussling his hair, “Well, it did take them twenty-three years to get here so I would take it one step at a time.” An expression of sadness came across Noah’s face and Eli stepped in immediately to cheer him up. 

“Hey, no matter what happens you’re with us now, okay, kiddo?” 

Noah smiled, nodding his head gently. Kathleen nudged Eli’s side. “When did you become so grown up?” Eli gave her a shy smile and just laughed. 

“Guys, they're coming!” All seven of them ran toward the living room, quickly grabbing a seat and throwing out a conversation starter. The terrace door opened and Olivia stepped inside followed by Elliot. 

“Oh hey guys, when did you get back?” Elliot asked, worried that they’d seen them taken over. 

Kathleen looked toward the couple and smiled. “Oh, only a minute ago. We were just thinking now would be a good time for dessert, huh, Noah.” 

“That’s right.” They got up walking toward the dining room table again. 

“Oh.” Olivia looked at Elliot, relief running through them. Unsure of how the family would feel about this newfound idea of ‘partners’ and not wanting to upset or ruin anyone’s Christmas. 

Everyone took a seat down at the table; pies, cookies, eggnog and hot cocoa spread out in a mini buffet 

Kathleen looked up at Olivia before speaking. “So Liv, I was thinking I could have my brothers and sisters over to my place next week for New Years Eve and I know we’d all love it if Noah could come and stay the night as well.” 

Olivia looked up, surprised by the invite but loving the fact that they had all taken to Noah so well. “Oh, um.” She looked to Noah who had his hands clasped together. 

“Please, Mom, can I?” 

“I don’t know Noah, don’t you wanna bring in the new year in with your mom?” She looked down at him, a little bit of sadness in her eyes as the realization of him growing up was hitting her. 

Noah smirked and looked across the table at the Stabler kids. “I don’t know. Don’t you wanna bring in the new year with Mr. Elliot?” 

Olivia started coughing, choking on the sip of eggnog she’d been taking. “Noah, what?” She asked, shock evident in her voice. 

“By the way Liv,” Kathleen chimed in, “that’s a really lovely shade of red lipstick.” 

Clearly confused, Olivia let out a quiet, “Thank you,” before Lizzie chimed in this time. 

“Yeah, it looks even better on Dad’s neck.” Both Oliva and Elliot’s eyes widened in shock as his hand shot to the spot Olivia’s lips had been less than ten minutes ago. Busted. 

Everyone but them threw their heads back in fits of laughter. While Olivia once again turned a shade of red, only this time Elliot sat next to her, turning just as bright.