Two hours until Olivia and Noah had to be at the Stabler’s Family Christmas dinner, and she had no idea what to wear. She had been stumbling around in the closet for half an hour trying on every outfit she could put together. She quickly realized the usual attire of black jeans and a sweater just wasn't going to cut it for tonight. She had already picked out Noah’s outfit, laid it out, and got him in the shower. Explaining to a nine-year-old why hygiene is important proved harder than expected, but she finally got him in with the promise of an extra piece of pie for dessert, Bernie’s homemade spiced apple pie to be exact.
Now, she stands in front of her mirror with three separate piles laid out on her bed: casual, classy, and sexy. She already put on some light blush, mascara, and a nude matte lip. Nothing too extreme but it was already more than she would usually put on for any other day, but this was not like any other day—she would be meeting Elliot’s grandkids officially for the first time since Kathy’s service, which was hardly the time for a meet and greet.
Finally, narrowing down the options she’s torn between a simple black quarter sleeve dress with a thin red shawl or a deep red strap dress with a plunging V-neck. Both seem like a possibility, but which one screams “I’m here platonically, but I will fuck your grandpa...respectfully."
1 ½ Hours…
After making her final choice, now came the struggle of which shoes go best, but she quickly decided on a classy black strapped red bottom with a block heel. Ever since her ankle surgery she's had trouble with balance, but she's slowly found her way back into her heels, and these seem like that safer and sexier option. She’s satisfied.
While giving herself one final check in the mirror, there's a knock on the bedroom door. Slowly she makes her way to the door and opens it to her handsome little boy in his dark blue slacks paired with his blue sweater vest. His face however, had a frown on it. He insisted he had to wear his favourite red bowtie because he wanted to “look nice.” Olivia tried to reassure him that he looked nice without it, but his determination did not budge. Headstrong—just like his mama.
“Mommy, I don't want to go anymore,” he said while holding up his wrinkled bowtie in protest.
Olivia couldn't help but smile a little at his attempt at pouting.
“Noah, sweetie, it's going to be fine…” At this point Olivia had knelt down to properly tie his bow.
“You're going to have so much fun with Kieran and Seamus. Plus think of all the yummy food and pie you get to eat.” She finishes with a tickle attack to his belly to try and get a giggle out of him—-it worked. Noah happily agreed and latched onto her by the waist and pulled himself in for a hug.
“You look really pretty mommy!”
“Thank you Noah! You look very handsome yourself! Now let's get our coats on okay, we don't want to be late for pie.” Olivia gave him a kiss on the forehead before letting go of him.
Over on her counter sat the small gifts she got for the Stabler kids and Bernie. She grabbed them and they headed out the door. She had one for Elliot as well but was nervous as all hell to give it to him.
Given the time it takes to get from Manhattan to Long Island and the time she already spent picking the perfect outfit, they were in fact going to be late—fashionably late of course.
“Mama, please get down from the tree. Kathleen, can you help her?”
Elliot had been stir-crazy all day, making sure everything looked perfect for tonight. But of course, it did, Bernie and the kids had decorated the whole place—paper decorations made by the boys were hung up over the doorways, each seat at the table had a cloth napkin in the shape of a tree on every plate courtesy of Dickie and his origami hobby, and everybody even pitched in to get Noah a gift. Elliot had gone out earlier in the day to get Liv something special, but that in itself was torture. What do you get the woman you ghosted for a decade? The woman you love but can't bring yourself to admit it to her when you're not under duress or the influence of an unknown drug. Elliot knew he was probably thinking too much into it, but he couldn’t help but worry that it wouldn’t be enough, and he refused to stop trying to make it up to her.
He even spent an hour staring in his mirror to make sure he looked decent enough, finally settling on a pair of black bootcut jeans, a maroon button up, and tie. Obviously, a decent outfit and gifts aren't going to make up for 10 years of radio silence, but it was a step in the right direction. He hoped.
“Dad, relax! Everything's going to be fine. The house is perfect, the food smells delicious, and she's going to love the gift.” Maureen said from behind him while bringing a tray of assorted cheeses and crackers to the table.
“Yeah. Y- you're right. I just pray Noah will be comfortable.” He prayed both of them would be comfortable.
Bernie was finishing putting the last decorations on the tree with Dickie's help. Maureen, Elizabeth, and Kathleen were in the kitchen. Eli was in the living room playing with building blocks with Carl and the boys.
“Grandma, is that Bernie Sanders?” Kathleen asked in surprise as Bernie was putting an ornament of Bernie and his gloves on the tree.
“I know you share the same name, please don't tell me you voted for him.” Elliot asked, almost concerned for the answer.
“It's none of your business.” She answered back completely serious.
Dickie stifled back a laugh.
“She voted for him.” That was all the answer he needed. Standing up from sitting on the arm of the couch he makes his way toward the kitchen where Maureen was pulling out the Christmas cookies.
“Fresh from the oven!” She announces.
Elliot picked up a ball and bounced it before attempting to pass it to one of the boys.
Ultimately failing, he threw the ball right into the tower they were building.
“Grandpa!” Kieran shouted, eliciting a laugh from Carl and Eli.
Elliot raised his hands above his head in defeat.
“Sorry about that.”
Immediately after, there was a knock on the door.
“Hey, they’re here! They’re here guys!” His excitement and nervousness filled the room like the thick New York City air.
Everyone stopped what they were doing and waited for Olivia and Noah to walk through the door. The anticipation was suffocating as Elliot made his way to the door.
“Hey guys. Hey-” Elliot cut himself off when he saw who was actually at the door.
Ayanna Bell, with worry written all over her face. Elliot let her in with concern.
“I'm sorry to interrupt. Um, I just heard something, and I didn’t want you to be blindsided by it.”
Olivia and Noah pulled up to Elliot’s place with the gifts in one arm and a bottle of red in the other.
As they made their way up to the door Ayanna was walking out with Elliot leaning up against the doorway, stopping Olivia in her tracks.
“Ayanna… is everything okay?”
They met in the middle, greeting each other with a hug.
Ayanna looked back at Elliot with sympathy before answering.
“I’ll let Elliot give you the details, but the D.A. has decided not to retry Wheatley… He won- again.”
In absolute shock Olivia grabbed hold of Noah instinctually.
“Oh my god…”
Ayanna placed her hand on Olivia’s shoulder and gave it a comforting squeeze before walking to her car.
Olivia was stunned. She couldn’t move and instead she lifted her eyes and met Elliot’s—who was making his way towards the two at the end of the walkway. When he reached them, he immediately wrapped his arms around Olivia.
“He’s free, Liv. He won… Kathy’s gone, and he walks free.” Elliot was on the verge of tears.
Olivia rested her head on his broad shoulder and wrapped her arm with the wine bottle around his waist. Never letting go of Noah with the other.
“I know, El. I’m so sorry.” Her voice was barely above a whisper as she nuzzled her nose into the crook of his neck.
Elliot released her, wiping the evidence of grief off his face, and turned his attention to Noah.
“Hey buddy… All the kids are inside, and fresh cookies were just pulled out of the oven if you want to head in. That is, if it’s okay with your mom.” Elliot looked back up to Liv with a cocky tight-lipped smile.
Noah’s face lit up with excitement.
“Can I mom! Please? I promise I won’t eat too much before dinner!”
Olivia couldn’t help but giggle.
“Yeah mom. Can he?” He teased with an eyebrow raise. She laughed a little and gave Elliot the look before giving Noah an answer.
“Yeah, sweetie. Go ahead. I’ll be right in.”
“Thank you, mommy! Thanks Elliot!”
She released his hand, and he was off. She barely lets him out of her sight when he’s not at school or with Lucy, but she knew he’d be okay with Bernie.
Elliot and Olivia watch as he trotted his way inside. They couldn’t help but smile at his innocence.
“Gosh I remember when Eli was that small.” Eliot said while scratching his forehead with his thumb.
“Yeah,” she laughed. “They grow up so fast, don’t they?”
“He seems like a sweet kid, Liv. You’re doing a great job.” Elliot placed both hands on each of her arms, rubbing his thumbs up and down her bicep. Olivia was wearing a heavy black peacoat, but he could still feel the shiver his touch caused her. Her brown eyes gleamed with affection while staring into his own.
They stayed in that moment for what seemed like forever, but in reality it was just mere seconds before Elliot offered to take the bag of gifts.
“Here, lemme take that.”
“Thank you, Elliot… for all of it. What you said means a lot.” She shot him a smile before they both turned and headed back to the door.
Before they reached it though, Olivia paused and grabbed ahold of Elliot to stop him from moving further.
“Uh…El… Listen, I want to let you know… if you need anything, I’m here. I want this…You and I. Being friends again. Anything. I’ll be here.” Olivia’s eyes started to well up. She meant everything she just said. She would do anything for him.
“Thanks, Liv. And just so you know… I’m serious about this too. I want to know everything that I missed. I want to know you again, know us.”
Olivia reached her empty right hand up and placed it on his cheek. He was still freshly shaven, and she reveled in the smooth warm skin under her palm. She let her thumb caress his cheek as he leaned into her hand. Elliot grabbed ahold of it and brought her palm to his lips, kissing it softly. Olivia didn’t pull away, instead she leaned forward and rested her forehead on his; this was quite possibly the most intimate moment they’d shared in a very long time, maybe ever.
“I know, El…”
They looked back up at each other and basked in the comfort they shared.
Elliot was about to speak again when Bernie suddenly opened the door. She paused for a moment with a wide smile on her face.
“Um… Elliot you two might better get in here. Dickie and Eli are going head-to-head in something called Mario Kart…”
“Ha! Well this is going to be good… I CALL WINNERS!” He exclaimed while brushing past Liv and Bernie.
“Come in Olivia. It’s freezing out there!”
“Oh. Thank you! I um- I brought some wine but I now remember you can’t drink with your medication… I’m sorry- I wasn’t thinking.” Olivia’s face was flushed in embarrassment.
“Oh Olivia, dear! No worries. I’m sure Elliot could use a glass… or two.” Bernie said while ushering Olivia inside.
“Ha! Yes we both could.”
“It is nice to see you two together again. Just like old times… Partners in fighting crime.”
“It feels nice… I never imagined he’d be back.”
“That makes two of us.” They shared a look and headed down the hallway.
They finished their conversation as they walked into the family room. The second Noah spotted her, he’s at Olivia’s side.
“Mommy! I get to play Mario Kart with Elliot next!”
“Wow! That’s awesome, Noah!”
She bent down to him and spoke just loud enough for Elliot to hear.
“Go kick his butt, sweetie.”
Noah ran away with a smile, and a laugh echoed through the room.
The house was filled with laughter and joy, a refreshing difference from what the usual night at her apartment or the precinct would be like. She does make it a point to make the most of her and Noah’s time together when they are home, but many nights lately she had been at the precinct by the time Lucy put him to bed. It’s tough, but they make do.
Bernie made her way towards the kitchen to help finish dinner while Olivia found her way to Elliot where she was officially introduced to Maureen’s husband, Carl, and sons, Keiran and Seamus. She made her rounds to the older kids, and Elizabeth offered her a warm cookie to which she accepted happily. When she made it to Eli, she made sure to ask how he was doing.
“Better now…Thanks to you and dad. I don’t know how I’ll make it up to you guys.” He gave her a hug and she held him tight.
“No need, Eli… I’m just glad you’re doing better.”
She let go and made her way back over to Elliot and Noah. It was their turn to play, and Noah was in fact kicking Elliot’s butt.
Olivia felt a sense of peace wash over her as she watched Noah and Elliot play and talk. The two most important males in her life, and she couldn’t help but feel something she hadn’t felt in a very long time… Home.