Actions

Work Header

Love You Still

Chapter Text

Mornings in the Benson-Stabler household had never been the quietest of moments. In fact, they'd always been somewhat of a noisy, rarmbunctious affair with lots of arguing over bathrooms, the water temperature, whether or not someone remembered to pack the lunches, who was picking whom up from school or other activities. Then, there was the coordinating schedules, making sure that everyone got where they needed to be while the other people in the house were where they had to be as well. Parties, playdates, everything was always written down, scheduled, and kept track of. It was the one place where the family could thrive. 

"Allie!" Olivia Benson called up the stairs, standing with her hand on the railing. She loved this house, and was surprised when they'd found it that it was in a quiet neighborhood, within easy transit to the city, but still felt like a suburban house. "You have five minutes to get down here before I leave and you're stranded." 

Noah was already situated at the kitchen table, eating the last of his cereal next to the two youngest kids. Which, oddly enough, were almost like Irish Twins to Noah. She remembered the surprising moment when  she found out they were coming along. It had been a rough year, and they'd been fostering Noah for about three months when she started feeling extremely fatigued, run-down, and just...well, she wasn't doing very well at all. So, she'd made an appointment with her GP and received the shock of her life that afternoon. 

She smiles, remembering the way she went home, was sitting casually on the couch when Elliot walked through the door that afternoon and she just  looked up at him, holding Noah on her lap and motioned to the box on the table in front of her. Part of her brain was still in shock...there she was,forty-three years old and pregnant. She would've been happy  to just  have Allie and Noah along with the four kids from his marriage to Kathy. She remembers watching him as he reached for the small box and her hand landed on his arm, tears in her eyes when she looked up at his face. 

"Promise you'll still love me?" 

"I could never stop, Olivia." He meant every word. 

Or, that's what she thought. 

Now, as she stares up the stairs, she waits on their oldest daughter to come down. It scares her shitless that  Allie is fifteen years old and one year away from getting her license. Allie is all the best parts of both of her parents and has absolutely none of their bad traits. She's athletic, tall, smart...and beautiful (that's the part that scares Olivia shitless, because Elliot's been through this with three daughters before Allie, hell, three before Allie and Serena). 

"Look Mom, I'm wearing something that covers my stomach, are you happy now?" Allie's sarcasm, that's maybe the thing that is a negative she got from her parents. Olivia sighs, shaking her head. "I'm going to go grab a pop tart for breakfast." 

"Okay." She walks into the kitchen, bending down over Fin and Serena to make sure they actually ate their cereal. Finley Joseph hates breakfast, and Serena? Serena would rather skip all meals except for dinner. Elliot seems to think it's normal, but Olivia? She's not so sure about that. The twins have their own language sometimes, and it drives her nuts. "C'mon kids, we're going to be late. I'm going to go out and wait for you all. Noah, here are the keys to the house, lock up after the twins come out."

"Okay Mom."

"Allie, sooner rather than later." Olivia points at her while she clips her gun to her belt, straightening her Captain badge on her waist as well. 

The moment she steps out onto the front porch, she looks around at  the yard. It could probably do with a little bit of trimming. She'll have to get to it this weekend. At least there's more than a 2x2 square of grass. In fact, she has the most beautiful flowers growing. It's her little bit of pretty  that Elliot planted. 

"LIV!" Her neighbor calls across the street. She almost smacks herself in the face when she glances over and sees him there, standing. He's wearing a pair of star-spangled boxers, his chest bare and the blue robe that Fin and Serena had gotten him for Father's day is just hanging open. She takes a deep breath, feeling the ache in her chest beginning again. "Good morning, neighbor!" 

"Elliot." She hisses. 

It's this moment when Allie decides to venture out the front door, "Mom, do you know - " Elliot's voice travels back across the street. 

"Allie-bug!" She immediately looks up, rolling and then narrowing her blue eyes as she sees her father, standing there, on his front porch, half-naked waving with a blue coffee mug in his hand. "Morning sweetheart!"

"Mom." She whispers, "Make him stop. I'm getting in the truck." She huffs as she quickly jumps down the three steps to the ground, practically sprinting into the black SUV. Olivia runs her hand through her hair as she glances around to see if anyone is paying any attention. It's just  her luck that Jessica Jones, the neighborhood bored housewife that likes to stare at all the men in the  neighborhood just so happens to be doing her morning jog. Elliot's standing there, waving as Jessica almost trips and falls over a crack in the sidewalk while she's staring at Elliot's toned stomach, and the small smattering of hair that trails down underneath the line of his boxers. 

"Jesus Christ." Olivia whispers. It's this moment that Noah walks through the front door, slamming it behind him because his dance bag got caught on the screen. 

"Mom, remember I have dance until five and dad's going to - " His eyes travel from his mother over across the street. "Seriously?" 

"Noah, just...lock up the house when the twins come out." She places her hand on her son's shoulder, sighing as she moves forward, through the white gate and across the street, up  the sidewalk of the house across from hers. DIRECTLY across from hers. "Elliot, would you put some fucking clothes on? Our fifteen year old doesn't want to see her father half-fucking-naked on his front porch and Jessica Jones' husband probably won't appreciate it much either."

"You don't like me half naked?"

"Seriously?" She shakes her head. Meanwhile, their fifteen year old is beeping the horn of the black SUV in the driveway. "Elliot. Put some clothes on."

"Funny, that's  not what you were saying three weeks ago." He smirks at her, she feels her cheeks redden. "C'mon, Liv. Let me come home."

"This is your home, Elliot. We're divorced."

"That what you want?" He asks, and she huffs, shaking her head. "Olivia?"

"Elliot, just...tie your robe." She mumbles. "Before I have to arrest you for indecent exposure."

"You used to love me being indecently exposed." He winks at her, taking another sip of his coffee. 

"Elliot." 

"Why did we get divorced, I'm a little fuzzy on the details."

"I'm sure if you thought about it hard enough, you'd come up with the reason. I have to go, the kids are going to be late for school and I'm going to be late for work." She sighs, stepping back off the small steps in front  of his porch. 

"Get dressed."

"You can't tell me what to do. Let me take the kids to school, Liv."

"No. I've got it." She calls out as she walks back over to the truck, opening the door as Allie whines that she is going to miss first period English. Olivia shakes her head while never breaking eye contact with her ex-husband. 

How the hell did they end up here?

Chapter Text

chapter two

“You look…especially pissed this morning, Captain.” Fin walks into her office, handing her a cup of coffee from the cart out front. She takes a sip, wincing. She hates the coffee from the cart.

“Thanks.” She mumbles, placing the cup on the corner of the desk. She’ll toss it in the can when she goes out for lunch. She hears the phone go off in her pocket. She’s going to ignore that, she knows who and what it is. Old habits die hard, apparently.

“So…”

“My dumbass ex-husband decided to stand on his front porch this morning drinking a cup of coffee.”

“Well, he did move in across from you, Olivia. I’m pretty sure he’s allowed to stand on his front porch and drink coffee in the morning.” Fin laughs, shaking his head.

“In his boxers.” She adds, looking up at her Sergeant through her lashes. Fin smirks, shaking his head. “With his robe just hanging open. Jessica Jones was jogging by and I swore she was going to face plant into the begonias.”

“Jesus. What a dumbass.” Fin mumbles.

“Told him I was gonna arrest him for Indecent Exposure.” She takes a deep breath, rolling her eyes. “Allie almost had a heart attack and Noah asked me while we were driving to school if I could text his father and request that he wears something to pick him up from dance tonight.”

“What about the twins?”

“Hell if I know. They were arguing over something in their language that they have.” Olivia shakes her head. “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing here, Fin.”

“Maybe you should think about dating.” Fin shrugs. Olivia’s eyes widen, her mouth opening as she drops the file she had been moving across her desk.

Shit.” She mumbles, picking up the pages that had fallen out of the folder. “Fin…I’m…I’m not going to date. I’m done with all of that. I have my job, the kids…” She takes a deep breath. “I’m not ready to date anyone. Ever. Who the hell wants to date someone with four kids and an ex-husband that lives across the street?”

Fin laughs. “God help the poor bastard that attempts it.”

“Get to work, Sergeant.” She mumbles, watching over her glasses as Fin walks out. She pulls her phone down, glancing at the notification.

Elliot Stabler
I saw you checking out my 📦

She sighs. Asshole.


It had been a shitty day. She’d gotten reamed out by her boss, a perp had clocked her in the face with his gun and so she had a lovely bruise on her cheek. She’d texted her ex-husband after that happened and asked him if he wouldn’t mind taking the twins and Noah tonight. He asked if she wanted him to take Allie too, but she said that Allie could decide for herself where she wanted to be, because as much as she might suggest to her daughter to stay with her father, she knew Allie would choose to stay home with her.

She still hadn’t forgiven her parents for divorcing.

Olivia didn’t forgive herself for it happening, honestly. It was stupid. The whole damn thing was ridiculous, but here they were, almost a year later, divorced, living across from one another and…they kept finding themselves in each other’s vicinity. Orbit. Whatever.

She missed him. He was her best friend. The love of her life. Her…well, she thought he was her happily ever after.

She wipes her cheek as she sits in the chair in the living room, the one next to the front window with a glass of wine in her fingers, staring at the photograph on the mantle that she hadn’t removed yet. She couldn’t. It was for the kids she kept it up there, their family. It was a candid shot that Kathleen had blown up and given to them for Christmas…the last one before…she takes a sip. Just as music begins to play through her Bluetooth speaker on the bookshelf on the other side of the fireplace. She allows her head to lull back.

That son of a bitch has done it again.

She moves the curtain to the side to see him sitting on the front porch swing, his arm thrown over the back smiling down at Serena as her hands move through the air as she tells her father a story. His eyes travel across the street and she drops the curtain before he can see her.

Oh, why you look so sad?

Tears are in your eyes

come on and come to me now

Don’t be ashamed to cry

Let me see you through

She closes her eyes listening to the song he’s played. He does this, every once in a while, he’ll pick a song and play it to her. At first, it pissed her off, but the more he does it the more she softens. Sometimes, sometimes she’ll cross the street and give him a piece of her mind…like the other night when he played their song during family game night. She’d been feeling particularly feisty that night….so, she’d slammed her scrabble tiles on the board and pushed herself up, marching right over to his front door where she banged on it with the practice of a seasoned cop.

When he opened the door, he’d smirked at her – bastard.

She’d narrowed her eyes and told him to just fucking stop.

She sniffles as she hears Allie come down the stairs, she quickly wipes her eyes.

“Mom.” Olivia turns to look at the girl. Equal parts both of them. She remembers the day she was born.

“Yeah, Alexandra?”

“Mo-om.”’ Allie whines. “I know you named me after Aunt Alex, but…you okay?” Olivia nods, walking over to where the teenager stands, wrapping her arms around her baby girl. “Why is that song playing?”

“Did you tell your father I had a bad day?” She mumbles into Allie’s hair. Allie tenses up. “It’s okay if you did. This was…”

“The song he used to play for you while he got down on one knee and mimicked Chrissie Hynde?” Allie laughs. “Dad is ridiculous…did you tell him how embarrassing it is when he comes out on the front porch in just his boxers, mom?”

“I did. I told him I was going to arrest him for indecent exposure.”

Allie laughs, squeezing her mother tighter. “Mom, wanna paint each other’s nails?” She asks, and Olivia smiles. Allie occasionally would ask this, when she knew her mother had a bad day.

“That would be nice, Allie.”

“Good.” Her daughter turns out of her grasp. “I’ll go get the nail polish, I’ll see you upstairs in your room, yeah?” She smiles at Olivia, who instantly melts. Damn their daughter for having his smile.


It’s almost 3 am, but Olivia can’t sleep so she lay there, her phone in her hand.

Olivia 2:40 am || Do you remember when we found out I was pregnant with Allie?

Elliot 2:42 am || I was terrified that Cragen was gonna murder me. Of course I remember.

Olivia 2:45 am || Remember when I refused to marry you…until I was literally in labor. We didn’t even have a ring.

Elliot 2:47 am || What’s wrong? You can talk to me.

Olivia 2:48 am || You gonna wear more clothes so Jessica Jones doesn’t ogle you? In front of our kids?

Elliot 2:49 am || Jealous?

Olivia 2:52 am || Maybe you should start dating, El. Might make it easier to move on.

Elliot 2:54 am || You ask me about if I remember when we found out you were expecting Allie, you tell me to put more clothes on so Jessica Jones doesn’t ogle me, and now you’re telling me to date? What the hell, Liv? I told you…when we got married, it was you and me. That was it.

Olivia 2:56 am || Yeah. We did so well.

Elliot 2:57 am || It’s too early to have this discussion.

Olivia 2:59 am || Maybe the mediator was right.

Her phone rings.

“Meet me outside.”

“Seriously? It’s three am.”

You have so far to go.”

“No thanks to my ex-husband moving in across the street.”

Olivia.”

“Elliot.”

Mrs. Benson-Stabler.”

“Ass.” She mumbles as she pushes herself up off the bed. “Fine. Five minutes. That’s it.” She quietly slips out of bed, slipping her feet into her slippers she grabs the robe off the back of the door and makes her way quietly down the steps, unlocking the front door and slipping out quietly, taking a seat on the front stoop, watching as he walks across the street, glancing back at the house to make sure he can watch. Because their kids are asleep inside.

Theirs.

He pauses right in front of her, his hand reaching out to run his thumb along her cheek, over the bruise. “Damnit, Olivia.” He whispers. “Seriously?”

“You should see the other guy.” She laughs nervously, gripping his wrist in her hand and pulling it away from her face. Her breath catches because he’s always tender with her, always sweet. “You are infuriating, Elliot.” She mumbles. “I just don’t know what the hell I’m doing here.”

“Raising our kids?” He laughs, tucking his hands in his sweatpants. “Sorry about…this morning. Allie sent me a few emojis that I’m still trying to decode.” Olivia nods as Elliot sits down next to her, their shoulders brushing. “I don’t wanna date.”

“I think you should.” She shrugs. “Pull the band-aid off.”

“No.” He shrugs. “It’s not fair to you, what about you?” She recalls asking this question years ago…the night that things changed between them, the night Allie was conceived…Her lips quirk up a little at the question.

“What about me, Elliot? I’m fine with where I am…it’s a waste of a perfectly good man for you to not be dating.”

“I don’t want anyone else. I wanna move home.”

“You are home.”

“Only when I’m with you.”

“This is a bad idea. Us, talking at 3 am.” She laughs lightly. Turning her face toward him. In the dim light of the porch he smiles at her, tilting his head as his hand comes back up to cup her cheek. Her lips part as they move toward one another, pausing slightly before she’s turning her whole body toward him, almost climbing in his lap as their tongues tangle together and she lets out a small whimper into his mouth. “Fuck.” She mumbles as he holds her more firmly against himself.

It would be in this moment when a cat screeches and then the dogs in the neighborhood start barking. Breaking them out of the spell the two of them seem to be under. They stare at one another for a moment before she curses again, pulling herself away.

“I’m sorry, Elliot. I – I’m going to go to bed. That was dumb.”

“Liv. Don’t you see?” He asks, she shakes her head. “That’s the ninth time that’s happened in the last four weeks.”

“It’s stupid. We’re being stupid. It didn’t work.” She stands up on the top of the porch step, glancing down at him. “Just…go back across the street. Think about it, dating, yeah?” She swallows, glancing over at her flowers. His gaze never leaves her.

“Jesus, Olivia. Yeah – I guess…I’ll think about it...okay?”

She nods. As he reaches the gate, his hand on the latch, she practically plows into him, knocking them down on the grass as her hands cup the side of his face, her wedding band on her right hand is cool against his face and as he lifts his hand up, she catches the glimmer of his bands on his left hand. Their wedding bands.


Allie, who happens to be an insomniac like her mother, sits in her room, glancing down at the front lawn, watching her divorced parents making out. She pulls her phone over to her and texts her older sister.

Allie 3:20 am | K, they’re doing it again. Making out on the front lawn.

Katie 3:22 am | Can’t sleep again?

Allie 3:23 am | Nope. Dad played “Stand by You” for her tonight.

Katie 3:24 am | I think we need to intervene. This is getting ridiculous.

Allie 3:25 am | I can’t watch them anymore, one day they’re going to get arrested for indecent exposure. I agree, this is ridiculous I don’t even think they know why*** they got divorced. I hate them at the moment. They’re selfish asses. They obviously still love one another.

Katie 3:27 am | They are absolutely in love with one another still. It’ll work out, Allie. Just…give it time. We’ll talk tomorrow. Get some rest? Love you. xo.

Allie 3:29 am | Love you too. xo.


Down on the grass, Elliot’s hips roll against Olivia’s fully clothed. She pulls him down on top of her harder, fingers digging into his back. “Liv. We can’t…not on the front lawn.”

“El. We shouldn’t at all, we’re divorced.” She rolls them over, and pushes herself off of him, cheeks flushed. “Damnit. Good night. I – I have to – I can’t.” She shakes her head, running her hand through her hair.

He watches as she disappears through what used to be their front door.

Shit.

He has to come up with a plan and quickly. Maybe it's time to call up his son's namesake. 

Chapter Text

Elliot Stabler really did not want to date anyone... other than his wife. (Ex-wife, whatever, he was still married to her, in his opinion, until the day they actually leave the Earth, and even then - he still thinks that he and Olivia will be married). So, he begins to sit and think about it one day, while behind his desk at work. He thought about how they got married. 

The moment that Olivia had found out she was expecting Allie, he'd finalized his divorce that had been sitting in limbo for over a year. He and Kathy had initially agreed that they would see other people during the separation, but that didn't make it any easier when he finally told Kathy that he and Olivia had somehow - stumbled into a relationship. In fact, Kathy had scoffed at him, back then, and rolled her eyes. 

Then, by the time his divorce was finalized, Olivia had been adamant that she absolutely, positively did not want to get married... just yet. However, that lasted all of five hours into labor, when she finally, sweat slicked, dishevelled, and breathing through a contraction had turned her face to him, holding his hand while they were stuck snowed in with no hope of making it to the Hospital any quicker had declared that "Fine, I will marry you, Elliot. I wanna do it now though. Before she gets here." 

So, they did. They got married over the phone, with John Munch (who was surprisingly ordained, he really did surprise everyone with the things he could do) asking them if they wanted to take one another to be as big of a pain in the ass to the other as they had been to other people, (Olivia had laughed, for a moment, before another contraction had come on, more intensely than the others before), whether they promised to weather whatever storm may come to pass (where the hell did he get these vows, Elliot wonders?), if they promised to keep one another safe, watch one another's back, and always be honest with each other...they'd both said yes. They promised all of those things. And before he'd kissed her, while she broke his hand (she honestly did, he was wearing a cast for a few weeks afterwards), she looked up at him with her dark eyes and said, "We're partners for better or worse. For life." (While it was unofficial at the time, they later went down to the Courthouse a few days after Allie was born and really made it official) and Alex Cabot, who was home at the time visiting Olivia and organizing an impromptu baby shower with Casey Novak, helped deliver Allie. So, naturally, they named Allie after Alex. 

That was how they really got married. 

He wouldn't change a damn thing, except for now, they were divorced. By law

His eyes travel over to the house that they'd lived in with one another for the past twelve years (they'd moved out once their family grew even more than just having his first set of twins on the weekends and when Noah and the twins came along), and he can see her pacing in what used to be their bedroom, her figure going back and forth in front of the window. Silhouette illuminated by the small bedside lamp that she bought with the soft light. 

He knows that she has a Bluetooth speaker in their bedroom. Her bedroom. (Whatever, if he has anything to say about it, it'll be their bedroom again soon). So, as he watches her, he pulls his phone out and scrolls through the playlist he had made for them. Their songs, the songs he used to sing to her, the ones she used to play for him, and he smiles as he presses play on their song. 


Olivia has been pacing, ever since they made out the other day on the front lawn at three-thirty in the morning, she's been uneasy. She told him to date other people. Why the holy hell would she tell him to date other people? Is she a glutton for punishment? Maybe she's lost her damn sanity. Maybe she needs...to have an appointment with Peter Lindstrom soon. 

She looks over at her nightstand at the photo next to her small lamp. She supposes they're both her nightstands now. But she doesn't think like that, because part of her still has hope for her and Elliot. It would be easy to just allow him to move back in, but maybe she's hesitant because he didn't fight it that hard when they got the divorce. She remembers what it was like, sitting there, at the kitchen table a year ago, both of them staring down at the packet of papers, both waiting on the other to stop it. But they'd been fighting a little more than usual. (Not that that was unusual) and they hadn't been particularly nasty with their fights, it had just felt... like a lot

She takes a deep breath, remembering looking up into his eyes as he shook his head, closed his eyes and reached for the black pen, signing on the line and tossing the damn black pen on the table before he pushed himself away without a word and walked out. She remembers she stared at the packet for a while, eyes filling with tears. She remembers swallowing the bile that had risen in the back of her throat. She remembers when Allie, Noah, Serena, and Finley had gotten home from school that she was still staring at the black pen, eyes watery but not yet spilling over. She remembers the way Allie had looked down at the stack of papers and her shoulders had fallen...and she remembers that Kathleen had showed up thirty minutes later, ushering the kids out of the house to take to Maureen's and then she remembers when Kathleen came back with Allie and they both lead her upstairs to the bedroom, where she'd sat on the edge of the bed, silent. 

She doesn't remember what had been going through her mind, but she remembers feeling numb. Numb and like someone had scooped out her very soul. 

She remembers that sometime in the middle of the night, a sob escaped her lips and she'd fallen down onto the floor, absolutely gutted

She hears the bluetooth speaker starting to play a song and she freezes, her eyes darting over to the device as she covers her mouth. The kids are all at Kathleen's. She's grateful that hers and Elliot's kids and Elliot's and Kathy's kids meshed so well...they're one big family, and for the most part, they all love one another. She and Kathy have a sort of kinship now, and though they'll never be best friends, they are friends. Now, they're members of Elliot's ex-wives club. Though, Kathy has been hinting that Olivia needs to just swallow her pride and reconcile that she'd never seen two people more suited for each other - and that's coming from someone who had been married to Elliot for almost twenty years when they divorced. 

Olivia closes her eyes, her body falling into a sort of numbness as she listens to their song play. She takes a deep breath, walking out of the room. She needs to have a discussion about this whole hacking into her bluetooth thing he keeps doing. (It annoys her, but she secretly loves it). 


As she walks out of the house, he presses stop on the phone and before she raises her hand to knock on the door, he's pulling the door open. 

"Hey." He greets her, holding his hand on the top of the door, leaning against his arm. She raises her dark eyes to meet his blue ones and opens her mouth to speak, but finds that she somehow can't find the right words she wants to say. 

"I told you to date other people." She finally says. His shoulders fall as his hand smacks his denim clad legs. He sighs, running his hand over his head. 

"Yeah. You did." 

"Fin told me I should date other people."

"You are single." He sighs, studying her. It cuts him to say this, to admit this to the woman he never wanted to lose. The one he would step in front of a bullet for. 

"Is that alright with you?" She asks, and he laughs, shaking his head as he turns away from her. "Elliot."

"I don't care. Olivia, you - I signed the paperwork for you because I didn't want you to regret me or us...and I didn't want you to hate me."

"I hate you because you signed the paperwork." She whispers. 

"What the fuck does that mean?"

"It means that..." She shakes her head. "Whatever. Elliot, don't play our song. Please. I can't keep - I can't do this." She turns around, walking away. 

"Yeah. There you go again." He calls out, shaking his head as he closes his door. 

Damn her for doing that all the time. He just wishes she would talk to him. Tell him what's really going on in that beautiful mind of hers. 

If she wants him to go on dates, he's going to make sure they have no prospect.


She sits there, on the following Friday, staring across the street as his truck pulls in the driveway and he gets out with this attractive looking blonde. 

'Of course, a blonde', she thinks to herself. This was a stupid idea, telling him to date. What the fuck was wrong with her

She waits, sitting on the front porch for a while, eyes watching as he goes to the kitchen, gets the woman a drink, brings it back, and sits down on the couch next to her. She should just go inside, but she finds that there's something coiling inside of her stomach, something spining, something threatening to rise up. Something she always feels when she sees anyone who isn't her talking to Elliot. Jealousy. Her eye begins to twitch as she closes her hand into a fist. No, absolutely not. She stands up and goes into the house. 


"Was that her, sitting on the porch?" Carmen Dejesus, one of the cops that Ayanna knows asks. Elliot smiles, as he brings her the beer she asked for. Carmen is a lesbian, but she was looking for a chance to go out, have some fun dancing, not be hit on by a million guys  because she's not interested in guys. It's what made Ayanna suggest that Elliot takes her out dancing. Carmen is new, just transferred up from Florida, and she's fun to talk to. Elliot thinks that if she and Olivia met, they'd be fast friends.

Hell, Ayanna even gave Elliot five levels of hell for signing the papers. Told him he was an idiot. He told Ayanna he thought that's what Olivia had wanted. Ayanna had pointed out a very good point a year ago, "Did you even ask her what she wanted?"

No. They're both dumbasses, and ever since then, he's been trying to annoy his way back into her heart.

(They've made out twice a week in the last month, so he thinks that's progress). 

"Yeah."

"She's gorgeous, Elliot. I hope this works out in your behalf." Carmen giggles just as there's a knock on the back door. Elliot smiles, as Carmen winks at him. 


"I need sugar." Olivia holds up a measuring cup. Elliot wants to laugh, because Olivia Benson-Stabler asking for sugar is absolutely the last thing he thought she would ask for. If she had asked for milk, he might've believed her intentions. 

"C'mon in." He opens the door and she steps into the kitchen, tilting her head slightly to see Carmen sitting on the couch. "You know where I keep it."  She steps up to the cabinet, opening it and pouring two cups into the glass measuring cup. When she spins around, he's standing there, leaning against the small island in the middle of his kitchen, arms crossed, his shirt sleeves rolled up. "Why'd you really come here?"

Before she can think of what to say, she lunges forward, her hands cupping the sides of his face, her tongue sliding into his mouth as her body presses against him. His arms immediately wrap around her as she makes a small noise, pressing even more into him, feeling him against her leg.

"Um." Carmen clears her throat, putting the bottle in the sink. "I'm going to go. It was a fun night, Elliot. Maybe...again sometime?" Olivia presses herself back, away from Elliot, eyes wide in horror and Elliot, the bastard, begins laughing. 

 

Chapter Text

 

“Shit. I’m sorry.” She mumbles, looking over at the beautiful woman standing in the doorway. “I’m so sorry. I’m –

She’s mortified. Elliot’s laughing, and for some reason, the really gorgeous blonde is just smiling. She closes her eyes; this cannot be really happening. This has to be a nightmare, and she’s going to wake up and be staring at the ceiling in her bedroom.

When she opens her eyes, she’s mortified to find that…yeah, this is real.

Fuck.

What the hell is wrong with her? She told him to date and now she’s barging over here and throwing herself at Elliot like she’s some desperate housewife that has a hot neighbor that she’s attracted to… oh God, is she Jessica now? Her eyes widen as she realizes what she’s just thought. Her whole career is spent trying to tell people not to be so judgmental of other people but here she is, grouping Jessica in with the ‘Desperate Housewives’ bias. (Then again, she almost face planted a week ago into Elliot’s begonias, Jessica is a threat). She shakes her head to rid the thought away, they’ve lived here for years, Jessica knows that Elliot and Olivia are… No longer married.

“Carmen, would you like me to give you a ride to the train?” Elliot turns to look at the woman standing there and suddenly, Olivia is broken out of her thoughts as she glances over, her cheeks flushed. So that’s her name. This beautiful blonde glamazon is named Carmen.

And Carmen, is very beautiful. Olivia’s suddenly very aware of every wrinkle, every stretch mark, every scar, every imperfection on her body as she glances over at the woman standing there, in the doorway of Elliot’s kitchen.

Shit. What the hell is she doing?

“I’m sorry. I’m – I’m just… going to go.” Olivia grabs the cup of sugar and quickly ducks out of the room, heading back over toward the safety of her house before anyone can say anything more to her.


Carmen turns to look at Elliot, her brows raised. “Wow. Good for you.” She winks. “She’s a knock-out.”

“I got pretty lucky with her.” Elliot laughs, leaning forward with his elbows on the island. “Sometimes it’s a marvel to me that she even agreed to go out with me. Have kids with me…marry me. Divorce me.”

“You said you two used to be partners? You know what they say about partners?” Carmen leaned forward with her elbows on the counter next to Elliot, staring at the back door that lead out to the driveway. “Some are closer than married couples.”

“We were closer than we should’ve been… emotionally.”

“You’re still in love with her, huh?” He nods. “Why’d you guys get divorced?”

Elliot looks down at his hands, at the wedding band he refuses to take off, his fingers begin spinning the ring slowly. “I thought it was what she wanted.”

“Why did you think that? She obviously doesn’t want that, she’s… she’s kinda jealous and it’s kinda adorable.” Carmen plays with the edge of a napkin she had pulled out of the holder on the island. “I mean, she came over and asked for a cup of sugar. Does she bake?”

“Liv is… intense sometimes. And, no, she doesn’t bake.” Elliot laughs. “She doesn’t. Unless it’s one of the Betty Crocker pre-packaged cookie mixes. She makes those perfectly.”

Carmen smiles, her eyes shining. “She sounds special.”

“She is.” He pauses. “Why’d you move up here from Florida?”

Carmen shrugs. “Fell in love with my partner… She didn’t feel the same way.”

“Well… How about I get you home and we call this the beginning of a beautiful friendship?”

“I think that sounds fantastic.” Carmen nods.


Olivia sits on the small back porch, hand wrapped around the chain of the swing that Elliot had put up underneath the small pergola, appreciating the quiet night (as quiet as one could get in an outer suburb in Queens) and trying to calm down after making a total ass of herself. She wishes she knew what Elliot found so damn humorous about the situation.

She wishes she knew how they got there, how they ended up divorced. How it even got to that point, why no one tried to stop them. Why no one told them to take a time out and think about what the hell they were doing. Why it was Elliot seemingly just…gave up but now he’s been…doing sweet things like playing her songs on the Bluetooth speaker, their song. Why he’s been offering to do things for her and the kids all the time. It’s cause that’s who he is.

Her phone rings next to her, so she reaches over and answers.

“Hey.” She plays with the edge of her oversized sweatshirt. She listens to her oldest daughter talk on the other end of the line, laughing when Allie tells her how Serena’s just an identical clone of her but with Elliot’s dimples, and how everyone is swooning over the youngest Benson-Stabler child. She also comments how Finley and Noah had almost gotten confused for twins this evening. Olivia just relishes in listening to her daughter talk about the day she’s had and she’s grateful that her kids seem to be well-adjusted, happy, and full of light. It’s all either of them, Elliot or Olivia could’ve ever asked for. “I’m glad you had a good night, baby.” She rocks the swing with one foot, still picking at the end of the sweatshirt. “No, just… had a long night. I’m tired. Exhausted, really.” Olivia listens as Allie keeps talking to her, and when her daughter tells her that she should do something for herself, Olivia feels herself choking on her emotions.

Allie was always a perceptive child, with her large blue eyes, curious expression and quiet demeanor. She seemed to study everyone and everything around her when she was a baby, and that curiosity, that understanding of the world around her, the way she just knew things it got more intense as she got older. She was brilliant when it came to puzzles, to solving mysteries, and Olivia believes that Allie is headed for a career in psychology or profiling or something because she’s just…brilliant.

“I love you too, Allie, give your sisters and brothers a kiss and hug from me. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She pauses, chewing on her bottom lip. “Love you too. Night baby.”

Hanging up the phone she wraps her arms around herself. For the first time in a very long time, she finds herself home alone.


Three Days Later

She’s doing well, she thinks. She’s avoided being alone with Elliot for any length of time (almost three days since the last making out with your ex-husband incident). She’s been at work all day and hasn’t had a reason to believe she was going to be late for dinner (Allie would be glad, and so would Serena, who wants to play her a song she’d been practicing in Piano lessons, and Noah, who had a new solo dance routine he wanted to show her two days ago but she’d gotten called out right as she sat down on the back steps to watch him…and Finley, who was working on dribbling the soccer ball and some new tricks that he wanted to show her). When all of a sudden, it happened.

She had to go to a scene.

Upon arriving, she turned to look at her Sergeant and he shrugged. They both were almost off duty. “Sorry your plans got messed up, Cap.” Fin mumbles as they step under the tape, as they approach one of the Paramedics she hears someone call her name. Immediately, her eyes widen as she spins on her foot and wipes her now clammy hands on her pants. Standing there, at the edge of the scene, in uniform – is Carmen.

“Ah, shit.” She mumbles.

Chapter Text

Fin immediately turns to look to see what has suddenly made his Captain and long-time friend curse under her breath. Quickly, his eyes narrow as he watches her fist clench while she takes a deep breath, closing her eyes. She's whispering something beneath his breath and it doesn't take him long to figure out what she's saying. 

"Of all the goddamn places in the world...of all the people to run into...

His vision travels from Olivia to the Uni. 

"Captain Benson, we cleared the basement and the first floor, but the guy has a woman and her two kids hostage in the upstairs bedroom. We're not really sure what the hell he wants, but they said you're the best at negotiating, better than...HNT over there who want to go in guns blazing." The blonde officer stands there, her hand on her belt and looking at Olivia like they're friends. 

She swallows, opening her eyes as she reads the badge on the woman's chest. "Thank you...Officer Dejesus." She takes another deep breath, turning away as she shakes her head. "Do we know anything else about this situation?" She asks one of the Sergeants on scene, eyes narrowed. Fin just looks over at the blonde cop, trying to figure out what it was about her that made Olivia cringe. 


It could've gone better. That's what she thinks as she sits in the Hospital room. She'd gotten knocked down a few stairs and that damn ankle of hers that she'd broken while with the kids last summer had been affected. Not to mention, the cracked rib she was now the proud owner of. The nurse had been nice enough to give her some pain meds and it made her...high. 

Olivia Benson-Stabler was stoned. All she could think about though, was what the hell she was going to do for dinner. She guesses she could have Allie place an order for pizza or something, it would be the best option...right? Yeah. She was too high to make any sort of decision. Fin had to go back to the Precinct and that left her...going to the hospital with Officer Dejesus...of all people. Carmen was nice. Olivia supposes that's just  her luck. Luckily, she hadn't seemed disheartened to walk into Elliot's kitchen to find Olivia practically devouring (in a very uncharacteristic but not) her ex-husband on date night. 

Good for her for not being jealous, because one thing was for certain, Olivia was. She was so fucking jealous that she couldn't see straight. But Carmen was too nice. Way too nice. 

Olivia stares over at the doorway, squinting because the light hurts her head, and the meds are making her kind of loopy, but she watches the blonde, stationed there like she's safeguarding a precious treasure. When she sees the blonde smile, she instantly knows who got called to come get her. Who had been contacted. Just her fucking luck. 

"Olivia, we have  your husband here." The Doctor walks in, announcing and Carmen smiles, looking down at her neatly polished black shoes as Elliot comes into view just as Olivia decides that she can't let this poor Doctor be wrong but she's not right either. She lets out an audible groan as her head falls back and hits the pillow. 

"UGH. Not HIM." Obviously, this pain med has loosened her tongue enough that she's just going to word vomit whatever the hell comes through her brain. This could be disastrous. 

Elliot greets Carmen with a small smile and nod as she steps out of the room. Odd. 

"We called him because  he's your emergency contact." The Doctor continues, holding the clipboard to her chest. Stupid doctors. Olivia's eyes narrow as she tries to give the doctor one of her stern looks, but she's so stoned that it comes out looking kind of comical. Like the moment when you wake up first thing in the morning and your eyes haven't quite adjusted to the light in the room, so you look squinty like you can't see anything that's even two inches in front of your face. 

"Figures." She mumbles. 

"I got her from here Doc, how soon before she can leave?"

"Maybe another hour or so, we just want to make sure she's going to be okay." The Doctor answers, looking between the two individuals, noting how he's just staring at his (supposed) ex-wife. That's a man in love if the doctor has ever seen one. Especially with the frantic way he'd come into the ER, demanding to see his wife. It was confusing when the Captain corrected her and said ex.  

Olivia is too busy staring at Elliot, their eyes locked to even pay any attention  to what the hell the doctor in the white coat is saying to him. Something about observing her, and making sure she's not home alone and this is going to be a recipe for disaster if she's ever heard one. Fucking hell. 

Olivia suddenly starts giggling. Elliot blinks a slow blink while he looks at her.  "You're bald." She states, and he shakes his head. Leave it to her to point out the obvious while stoned on pain meds. "And the scruff...'s sexy." She mumbles, reaching her hand out toward his face. He knows better than to lean down though, as much as he'd absolutely love to - because if she remembers absolutely any of this she's going to be mortified. "You're sexy." She whispers. "Bald...but sexy." 

"Olivia. Stop talking." He whispers. As much as he loves when she tells him these things, when she's flirty with him, when she's the Olivia that he knows in private - he also knows she's going to absolutely rebel against everything he's about to say. "I know you weren't paying attention when the Doctor was in here talking just now, but she said  you can't be alone tonight."

"You tryin' ta get in my bed?" She blurts out, her filter officially disintigrated. Elliot would absolutely positively love to be in her bed, but he knows her. He knows that as much as she's made out with him (though this is the first time he's seen her up this close in three days) in the recent weeks, she'd flip out the moment the drugs wore off. 

"Normally, yeah." He answers, honestly. "But  right now you're stoned."

"Not stoned. High." She looks away from him and he chuckles lightly. She's brilliant, she really is, but when she's on pain meds, she's a whole different level of brilliant and funny. 

"Okay." He runs his hand over his face. "Listen to me, I'm going to call Kathleen."

"Your daughter has her own life. Everyone has their own life. You date. I pine...we live."

"Olivia. Stop."

"You stop. Meany baldy head who signs papers without talking." She pouts and Elliot smirks. She's probably the most fucking adorable human being on the face of the planet when she's stoned. But she does scare him shitless sometimes, he remembers  back when they had to work a case together, when Cragen was still pretending to not know that they had gotten married, and she'd passed out from inhaling the fumes of some Shrooms. He loves her, immensely. 

"Liv...we're not going to talk about this now." He places his palm on her cheek and she leans into it. Much like she used to do and he feels his chest tighten at the sight of her eyes closing. She's like a lioness sometimes, fierce, independent...then, she is a kitten, cuddly...warm. He has to figure out a way back into her heart (though he thinks he's already there to be honest) and into their home...and quick. 

"Wanna be held. I'm tired." She whispers, and he knows what she's really saying. "I'm tired, El." 

"So go to sleep." She shakes her head.

"Nope." She's fighting it, and he smiles as she turns her body toward him and he sits down in the hard plastic chair, watching as she wraps her hands around his forearm, pulling it close to her chest. Wincing as she drifts off to sleep... at least for a few minutes.

Chapter Text

He watches her steady breathing, feeling the puffs of air across his skin. Her fingers wrapped around his forearm, she’s warm and alive. A little beaten up, but she’s alive. His eyes soften as his other hand comes up, tucking the unruly brown hair behind her ear, his thumb slowly tracing the outline of her cheek. She sighs in her sleep, a small quirk at the corner of her lip. He wants to say that his proximity is what made her relax, but he knows that sometimes, or at least, in his experience with her – when she has certain pain meds, she sleeps it off. Carmen peeks around the edge of the doorframe, her eyes traveling over the Captain’s form on the bed.

“She’s something else.” Carmen speaks quietly, leaning in the doorway, her ankles crossed as she watches the way Elliot looks at Olivia. “She has no idea, does she?”

“No idea what?” Elliot asks, his eyes looking away from his wife of fourteen almost fifteen years.

“No idea that I’m not really a threat?” Carmen laughs. “She practically ripped the door off of my cruiser when the Chief called and said she had to come here to be looked at and that Sergeant Tutuola was now in charge of the scene.”

Elliot shrugs, a smirk on his face. “Nah, she thinks that I’m dating because she told me I had to.”

“And you decided what?”

“That if she wanted me to date, I would be the straight friend who protects his lesbian friends.” He smirks. “As long as she thinks I’m dating, she’s going to get jealous, and she’s going to get pissed and then…she’s going get territorial.”

“Wow.” Carmen’s eyes widen almost comically as she begins chuckling. “She tells you to date and then she comes over and asks for sugar even though she doesn’t bake?” Her brows rise as she shakes her head. “Then she – gets so jealous that she makes out with you in the kitchen?” Elliot nods. “Where the hell can I get one of her? Listen, since you’re here, I’m going to get going…um…you still good with going out this Friday or do you have the kids?”

“I have the kids. Not like they don’t go across the street or back to my place interchangeably.” He smiles, rubbing his thumb along Olivia’s temple, swiping it along a scar she has right there. “Maybe next week, yeah? It was fun going dancing.”

“Your moves aren’t that bad – Stabler.” He smiles at Carmen, shaking his head.

“You’re a decent woman, Carmen.”

“No, that’s a decent woman…if you two do end up back together, don’t let her go this time.” She grins. “Or else I might shoot my shot.”

Elliot laughs at Carmen obviously expressing that Olivia is more than her type but he runs his free hand over his head, “I was an idiot to let her go the first time.”

“You still owe me the story of that.” Carmen gives him a pointed look. “Because I gotta tell you, Elliot, if I had a woman like that – I would fight tooth and nail for her. Especially if she was half the woman that the Captain is.”

Elliot turns to look at Olivia, his eyes a little watery as she squeezes his arm a little tighter in her slumber. Carmen slips out, leaving the two alone, smiling a tight-lipped smile as she shakes her head while walking down the hallway.


He somehow managed to get Olivia into the truck and fastened in. She was a little more willing to go once he told her that he was ‘bustin’ her out of this hell hole’, knowing how much she hated being in a hospital herself, despite the amount of time she spent in them because of her job.

She was a shitty patient. In fact, when the twins had been born, she’d cursed and complained the entire time – all the way into the OR – and even when she’d been patched up afterwards, when she was recovering from surgery, she wanted to get the hell out of the hospital. His eyes wander over to where she’s pulled the lever and put the seat back. Her hospital bracelet sticks out, the stark white against her olive skin. He’d managed to call Elizabeth from the hospital before she’d been released, and made sure she could come over to his place and take care of her younger half-siblings. She’d been more than happy to do it, citing that she had nothing to do anyway, and this would give her a break from living with her twin.

As soon as he pulls into the driveway, Allie is standing there, arms crossed. Elliot comes over to the other side of the vehicle, looking at his daughter as he rouses his ex-wife awake. She’s still out of it, but he gives her instructions to wrap her arms around his neck.

“A piggyback ride?” She groans, “C’mon, El. ‘M not thirty-five anymore.” She pauses. “Hell, ‘m not forty.”

“Coulda fooled me, Cap’n.” He wraps his arms around her legs, relishing in the way she’s draped over his back. Allie watches them, lips pressed together as she opens the door for her father and mother to go inside of Olivia’s house. “Let’s get you upstairs to bed.”

“M’kay.” She mumbles.

He loves her.

As soon as he gets her in the bedroom, their bedroom, he helps get her shoes off, divests her of the over-sized blazer that she had been wearing that afternoon, and manages to unfasten her bra through her shirt while she (modestly) manages to get it off through her blouse. She collapses onto the bed in a somewhat haphazard manner and he helps lift her feet up onto the bed, covering her with the throw she keeps at the end of the bed. Allie watches this entire process, leaning against the doorframe. Elliot brushes Olivia’s hair out of her face as she hugs the pillow closer to her chest. “Rest easy, Liv. I’m gonna be downstairs. Just…yell if you need anything, alright?” She nods, sighing before she drifts off to sleep again.

The minute he shuts the door, his daughter follows silently. “You don’t have to stay, dad. I can watch over her.”

“Allie…” He shakes his head. “I called Lizzie for a reason – “

“Yeah, well…” Allie takes a deep breath, pushing her dark hair out of her face. “You don’t have to stay. But…you know that.”

He sits down on the couch, running his hands over his face. “Allie.”

“No, dad. You don’t get to ‘Allie’ me.” She plops down on the chair adjacent to the couch. “You don’t have to stay.” Her eyes look teary and even though he’s been out of the house for almost a year, and they’ve had this discussion, he feels like it’s a conversation that will never go away. “I’ve got her.”

“I know you do.” He studies his daughter. Their daughter. The daughter that came along following an amazing night that he never quite believed would ever happen. The daughter that was the best of both of them. The absolute best of them. “But you shouldn’t have to.”

“No. I shouldn’t. But I do.” Her bottom lip quivers slightly as she furrows her brows. She looks so much like her mother that sometimes it takes his breath away. But those eyes, they are his. “Dad.”

“I want her back, Allie. I shouldn’t have ever signed those papers. And I know you don’t understand it – “

“But you thought it’s what she wanted.”

“You been talking to your sister again?”

“I talk to all my sisters.” Allie replies. “You know, I talk to Kathleen at three am when you and mom are busy playing tonsil hockey on the front lawn.” Elliot freezes, closing his eyes.

Busted.

“Alexandra.”

“You wanna know how to really win her back? Have a goddamn conversation with her.” She pushes herself up out of the chair, shaking her head.

“Language.”

“Screw you.” She mumbles as she walks out the front door, and he watches through the window as she looks both ways before she crosses the street, joining her siblings over at his house. He runs his hand over his face, pulling out his phone and going to the playlist…pressing play on their song and sitting in the living room, listening to it, his eyes on the portrait above the mantle.

Chapter Text

He makes sure to lock up the front door and check the back door before he makes his way back upstairs. They had to talk, their fourteen-year-old daughter was right.

He made a promise to Dr. Bellamy that he would watch over Olivia. He made a promise to Olivia years and years before they’d even gotten married that he’d be her partner for better or worse. Her telling him to date other people? He didn’t want to date other people, he only had one person he wanted to date, and call him selfish, but – he didn’t want her to date other people either, because if the past few weeks had shown him anything, it was that she was just as conflicted, just as drawn to him as they’d always been…and if her jealousy was anything to go by – well, he had a feeling that they had to address it sooner rather than later. Before things wound up even further than they’d already gotten.

He could choke his pride and grovel and beg – if it meant that their family could be whole again.

His arms rested against his knees as he watched her sleep.

He remembers sitting on the floor in her bedroom almost fifteen years ago after they’d found out she was expecting Allie. She was laying on her side in her bed, and he had just sat there, watching her, in awe as the steady rise and fall of her chest reminded him that though weeks prior she could have died on the floor of the bus station, that she was alive – and there was a life that they had created that was growing inside of her at that moment. It’s when he knew he would never give up on her. He made it a mission to watch her sleep after hard cases, after losses, after good nights – and he memorized the different expressions that would cross her face as she dreamed.

He used to climb into the bed next to her and wrap her up in his arms, whispering how loved she was, how lucky he was. His eyes burned as he sat there, watching her sleep, his head resting against the wall.

Allie.” Her head raised up slightly as she squinted into the darkness.

“I sent her across the street.”

Olivia groaned, hearing his voice as she rolled over making a small whine as she did, resting her hand against her side. Damn broken rib. “She probably stormed out of here and told you to go screw yourself.” Olivia’s voice is scratchy, so Elliot pushes himself up off the floor, walking into the bathroom and grabbing the water bottle she always left on the edge of the sink, bringing it to her.

“Teaching our daughter phrases like ‘screw you’?” He raised his brow as he handed her the bottle and she took a sip. She shook her head.

“No, she uses that phrase at least twice a week to me.” Olivia turns to look at Elliot. “Why are you still here?” It comes out quietly, more quiet than he is used to. So, he looks down at her, blinking a few times as he looks to the bedroom door.

“I promised I’d watch over you to Dr. Bellamy.”

“And you keep your promises, right?” She turns to look at him, and he swallows as he nods. “Yeah, thought so.”

“That’s not fair.” Elliot tells her, brows furrowing as he scratches the back of his neck. “I do keep my promises.”

“You promised to love me forever.”

“I do.” He sighs, “Liv, I never stopped – a damn piece of paper means nothing to me, honestly.”

“Why’d you sign the damn papers, Elliot? It’s been a year, but I still don’t understand.” She looks down at her hands, playing with the polish on her thumbnail. He blinks a few times, looking at her directly. When he doesn’t answer right away, Olivia sighs, shaking her head as she gingerly stands up, moving toward her dresser to reach in and grab one of her old t-shirts that she loves to sleep in.

“You remember when Don found out we were married?” He asks quietly, watching her making sure she doesn’t lose her balance.

“You mean when John blabbed it on accident?” She laughs, remembering the way it just kind of slipped out a few days after Allie was born.

“You mean before or after you lied out of your ass about who Allie’s father was?” It was an agreement they’d had, from the moment they found out they were expecting a child together – that they would pretend, put on a façade that no one really saw through – a room full of detectives and she just shrugged it off and pointed out that she had dated Andy Erickson years prior and no one knew. That she’d dated a few different cops in the NYPD and no one ever knew when she was dating someone.

At first, they accepted the lie that she told people. Until the room full of detectives wondered why Elliot, her overbearing, overprotective partner, wasn’t flipping out that his partner was pregnant and that the guy (a cop, she’d told them) wasn’t interested in having a kid. They were suspicious around five months in. Kind of put off that they hadn’t heard of Elliot beating up a guy or threatening anyone. He just shrugged and would lean back in his chair citing that he was just happy that she seemed happy.

If she was okay with the situation, why couldn’t they let it drop. He’d support her, because she was his partner. Inside, he was overjoyed because they’d just found out they were having a little girl.

They’d accepted that reasonable answer - until she was eight months pregnant and her blood pressure caused her to faint and Elliot seemed a little more frantic than usual.

John had them clocked.

“There’s a reason her last name is hyphenated, Elliot.” Olivia breaks him out of the memory, coming out of the bathroom where she’d been changing into her night clothes. He’s got a dumb grin on his face as he shrugs, thinking carefully about their Captain, a man that all their kids called ‘Grandpa’ lovingly. Because Don was Olivia’s surrogate father, when it came down to it. A fixture in most of their holiday photos – a proud father of both of them. The most influential male in either of their lives.

“I’m pretty sure the first time Don held Allie, he fucking knew, Olivia. She has my eyes.” Olivia rolls her dark eyes as she turns her head away from Elliot, shaking her head. “I mean, there’s no denying it.”

“No, there’s definitely no denying it. Both of our daughters have your dimple too.” She laughs, taking a deep breath as she sits back down next to him on the edge of the bed. “To be perfectly honest, yeah, he knew. He just... refused to split us up.” Olivia plays with her fingers again. “We had a hell of a partnership, Elliot. We make a hell of a team. We just… suck at communicating when it counts. We’re good together.” The last part comes out in a whisper and she sounds so damn sad. That’s what Elliot was scared of. Making her feel so run-down that she loses the light and happiness that she brings to everyone.

He doesn’t know how much longer they can go on like this – in this weird sort of limbo.

He forces a small smile, taking a seat next to her on the edge of the bed. “Liv, what did you really want… when you slid the stack of papers to the middle of the table that day… what did you want?”

“I wanted… I - “ she shakes her head, sucking her bottom lip between her teeth. “I can’t talk about this.”

“You know what I think you wanted?” He reaches his hand out, placing it over her own, looking into her eyes as her breathing stutters for a moment. “I think you wanted to stop it all.” He tilts his head down, looking up at her. “I think you were waiting on me to put a stop to it – tell you that it was stupid that I wasn’t going to give up… But you never said anything, you kept shoving the pages in front of me.” He tilts his head back, it never used to be this hard to have this sort of conversation. “I thought you were doing those things because you wanted me to sign them...”

“Because I thought you loved me enough that you’d just get up and walk back upstairs to our bedroom.”

“To the bedroom you hadn’t been sleeping in for a week? What the hell was the point of it all, what were we even fighting about?” He asks her, tilting his head to the side.

She opens her mouth for a moment, thinking about it…but comes to the conclusion that she doesn’t really remember what they were arguing over. Was it a case? Was it…something to do with the kids? The chores? Money? She can’t honestly recall what the hell started it all. She just remembers thinking that their difference in opinion was too great…too deep to try to patch up. Even though…she wanted to. She just…didn’t know how. She was thinking, at the time when she had the papers drawn up – that Elliot would fight her on it.

That he would refuse to sign.

He would tell her repeatedly that she was his wife and he was her husband and they were partners.

“I – I don’t remember, honestly.” She shrugs. “But…”

“But you kept pushing them at me, Olivia. I thought – I’m not going to make you hate me. Make you miserable. I wasn’t going to be that person to keep you in something you obviously wanted out of. You…you were never meant to be tamed, held in a marriage… shit, I was lucky that you were the one to say ‘Let’s get married’.”

There it is!” She practically roars, reaching for her head. It was too loud, she realizes, she has a slight headache…probably from the meds wearing off. “I ASKED you to get married.”

“You were in labor.” Elliot laughs. “You were in labor and you said ‘Fine, let’s do it now’, so we did.” He pauses. “But then you handed the stack of paperwork to me, after four kids…and you toss the pen on the stack and sit there, staring – “

“I was hoping for a stalemate.”

“I thought you wanted to get divorced.”

“You thought I wanted our marriage to fail? Do you even know me at all??” She asks, tears falling over the edge of her bottom lid. “Wow.” She whispers. “Seriously?”

“You think I wanted to sign those papers?”

“You could’ve stopped it at any point…” She looks up at him through teary lashes.

“You could’ve too.”

“Did we seriously play marital chicken?”

“We both fucking lost, Olivia.” Elliot shakes his head. “I mean…shit.”

She blinks twice, looking away from him. ”Do you know what happened after you signed the pages?”

“No. I had to get out… away because – I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I felt numb, untethered. I felt like I’d lost everything. You, the kids…my whole heart.”

Her head turns to look at him, as she feels her heart clench in her chest. “You could’ve walked back in – Elliot, you could’ve come back.” she sniffles. “You could’ve walked back in and – “ she winces, putting her arm against her chest – crying is a bad idea with a broken rib. She’s had a shitty day and she doesn’t have much left in the tank this evening. “You could’ve walked back in and apologized and grabbed my face and kissed me and said let’s rip these fucking things up and I would’ve done it. I would’ve – You didn’t come back.”

“Liv, you said the other day you hated me because I signed the papers, is that still true?” She shakes her head no. “What happened to us?”

She laughs a sad laugh, with a few ‘ow’s’ thrown in between the low chuckle. “I don’t know.”

“Tell me about that night after I signed the papers.” He swallows, “Allie seems to think she has to be the one to take care of you. She doesn’t – it’s not our daughter’s job to take care of you.”

“She’s too much you and way too much me.” Olivia whispers quietly, moving as though she wants to get comfortable in bed now that she’s wearing a pair of old boxers and the t-shirt she’d changed into.

“Let me help you into bed here,” he stands, placing her legs up on the bed and walking around to the other side, where he sits down next to her, still wearing his blue jeans and dark gray henley shirt. “So.” He folds his hands into his lap and seems surprised when she reaches over, laying on her side (the one without the cracked ribs) and grips his fingers between her own.

“When you left that afternoon, I sat there – staring at the packet of papers, hoping they would spontaneously combust.” He listens, quiet. “I remember I wanted to cry – I wanted to scream, I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. When you walked out that afternoon, after you clicked the pen – which sounded so loud by the way, and walked out… I wanted to just shrivel in on myself and I hated myself for allowing things to get that far. Allie and the kids got home from school and I was just… catatonic.” She runs her thumb over the back of his hand. “I wasn’t moving, and I was just staring at the damn pen. Allie looked down at the stack of papers and saw the signatures and I could tell she was disappointed, she wanted us to talk, she wanted us…to be her sickeningly in love parents and now she was looking down at the paperwork and she lost hope. We killed the hope in our daughter.” She presses her face into the pillow and it’s that moment that Elliot suddenly wishes he had walked back into the door, fought with her, fought for her.

Liv.” It’s choked out.

“I can’t talk about this anymore. Not tonight. I’m exhausted.” He reaches over and moves to lift her hand out of his, before he can untangle them though, she squeezes harder, her eyes finding his in the dim light of their old bedroom. She studies him for a moment, her eyes traveling over his form.

“Alright – I’ll just…” He stands up, still holding her hand, leaning forward with the other braced on the bed.

“Stay with me?” It comes out barely above a whisper, but he knows he can’t deny her anything. He can’t deny her love, attention, kisses – hell, he didn’t even deny her a divorce. He feels the world shift on its axis, but he knows if he stays it could either repair them or break them more.

“Let me run across the street and – “

“You still have some clothes here, Elliot.” It was true, he still had a few pairs of boxers that she’d stolen to sleep in as well as a few t-shirts she’d stolen. “They’re in my drawer.”

“Okay. I’ll go change and then I’ll sleep in the boys’ room.” She shakes her head.

“No, sleep here. Please? You promised the doctor.” She reminds him, and in that moment, hope reignites in his heart.

Okay.” He concedes.

Chapter Text

She’d kicked him out first thing in the morning.

After she’d woken up to the light coming through the bedroom window, illuminating their figures on the bed, his arm thrown around her stomach just like they used to sleep; her body tucked perfectly into his chest, the feeling of his breaths against her neck. She’d closed her eyes for a minute or two, her arm tucked underneath her head as his lips made contact with the back of her neck. She’d almost sunk into the moment before she realized what she was sinking into and with whom.

So, she had swallowed thickly, gingerly lifted his heavy arm away from her stomach and slid out of bed, going to the bathroom and when she came out, he was sitting up in bed, looking at her.

“You fulfilled your promise, Elliot. You can go across the street now. Thanks.” She’d whispered it quietly, looking away from him as though the sight of him there, in their old bed was too painful for her. He sighed heavily, knowing that she wasn’t going to give in that easily, even after their conversations they had had last night. There was still much talk to be had between them, like the fact he didn’t remember what it was that they had argued about that had made her file the damn paperwork. He had rested there, next to her last night thinking about it – and he thinks he might have the answer.

“Hey, Liv?” He asked as he reached for his pants. “If I had declined the UC work back a year ago – “ She closed her eyes, crossing her arms in front of her chest and shook her head. Yes, that was it – the reason she’d been so pissed off that she had filled out and filed the paperwork. His job. They both understood the nature of the job, but – for some reason, his undercover jobs had put a giant fracture in their relationship.

She had counted to five, and then quietly asked him to leave.

He had made it to the bottom of the stairs when he heard the shower turn on.


She arrived at the Precinct a little after 9 am. Fin had told her she should take the damn day off, but she’d said ‘No.’ When she walks into her office, there’s a vase sitting there with pink peonies in it. Her brows furrow as she walks over to them. Elliot knows these are her favorite flowers, but she’d just kicked him out of the house this morning, though she wouldn’t put it past him to send her her favorite flowers.

She bites down the corner of her lip as she takes a seat, staring at the vase.

“You datin’ someone?” Fin asks, reaching for the small envelope in the middle of the vase. Olivia shakes her head, just staring at them. Elliot knows she loves pink, knows she loves Peonies, and knows that she loves them to brighten up rooms when she’s feeling sad. “Who’s CD?” Fin hands her the card and Olivia’s eyes suddenly squint as though she’s trying to figure out who the hell CD is herself.

“Um. I don’t – “ It hits her. Square in the chest. C.D. Carmen Dejesus. Elliot’s girlfriend. Officer CD. Olivia’s facial expressions change quickly and Fin takes a step back, watching her. Then, her shoulders fall as she rubs her forehead. Un-fucking-real. “You’ve gotta be kiddin’ me?”

Olivia’s brain is going ten thousand miles an hour as she stares at the pretty flowers, the plain vase, the card.

“Cap?” Fin watches her, curious. “What’s goin’ on?”

“Elliot’s girlfriend, Carmen – or maybe she’s not a girlfriend, but his date from the other night… or whatever she is. I don’t know…the blonde officer that was at the scene.“ Suddenly, it all clicks into place for Fin.

“Wait, Stabler’s datin’? That doesn’t seem right.” Fin looks out into the Squad room. Olivia watches him as he shakes his head, walking out of her office, pacing a few times in front of his desk. Thinking.


Odafin Tutuola was confused because Elliot had called him the other day asking for help in winning back his wife, Olivia. To hear from Olivia that Elliot had a girlfriend or had been on a date seemed…suspicious to him. Very suspicious. Then, he remembers how his Captain had clammed up at the scene when the blonde officer had called out to Olivia, how she’d seemed to know Olivia. How Olivia had seemed embarrassed. He had a lot of questions.

He had just left her office, but now he wanted answers and he was going to get them, because Odafin Tutuola knew things, but this was going to drive him nuts.

“Wait.” He closes the door behind him, as Olivia looks up from the card, her mouth slightly parted. “Wait a damn minute here, Captain.”

She sits back in the chair, waiting.

“Yes?”

“You seemed embarrassed – so spill it, Cap. How’d you meet Carmen?”

She takes a deep breath, thinking of how she wants to answer this that’s not going to make her look like a jealous asshole. You are a jealous asshole. “I told him to date.” She begins. “And so, he brought her back to his place last Friday after they’d been out…dancing or something…and I needed to borrow something and I didn’t know that he’d brought her back.” Lies. Fin eyes her suspiciously. “And when I was standing in the kitchen, she came in – “

“Uh huh. You didn’t know she was there?” Olivia looks over at the filing cabinet, avoiding meeting Fin’s eyes. “Captain.”

“I knew she was there, okay. I thought I’d be okay with him dating, you know, I thought…maybe it’d help us both move on.”

Fin starts laughing at her, shaking his head. “You’re both dumbasses.”

“Fin.”

“Nah, listen to me, you and El? You guys are obnoxious as hell and made for one another…everyone knows it. Shit, even you two know it deep down, it’s why neither of you really wanna date other people.” He almost tells her about the phone call he’d had with Elliot the other day, but bites his tongue. “I’m gonna find out about this woman, because – don’t you think it’s weird she knows your favorite flower?”

Olivia stares at the vase.

Maybe Elliot found a woman that’s exactly like her. Damn the woman for picking her favorite flower to send. She loves pretty things. She should throw them out on principle alone.

But they’re pretty.

She glances over at her phone…pressing her lips together. She needs advice on how to navigate this weird place she finds herself in, because as much as she wants to hate Carmen, the woman is extremely nice (from the time she’d spent with her in the Squad Car on the way to the hospital and time spent with her in the Hospital) and she finds she can’t hate her.

She presses the call button on the phone, inwardly groaning as she listens to the other end ring. Finally, when it connects she speaks first.

“Kathy? I need advice.”

Chapter Text

Elliot Stabler was not expecting Odafin Tutuola to call him in the middle of the morning. He especially wasn't expecting him to ask about Carmen Dejesus, his new friend. But when Fin explained why he was calling, Elliot had to laugh. In fact, he told the Sergeant that he couldn't even begin to explain the situation over the phone, that it was something that was better explained in person and asked if Fin could meet up with him at a cafe that was just over the bridge. 

Fin was curious, so he narrowed his eyes, glanced in at the Captain (who had been on a really short phone call to God only knows who), and agreed. 


Olivia had gotten off the phone with Kathy as soon as she could. It was true, their relationship had grown somewhat cordial, if only for the kids - Elliot and Kathy's  twins were still in High School when Elliot and Olivia had gotten together, and then when Allie was born, Elliot wanted to keep as much of his family intact as possible. It just so happened that in order to keep it intact, his ex-wife and partner had to get along. 

Awkward didn't even begin to explain the whole situation. 

Kathy had told Olivia in the most gentle way possible, (okay, not that gentle), to get her head out of her ass and talk to Elliot. That she was not going to have this conversation with her for the tenth time about how they were obviously  meant to just annoy the ever-loving-piss out of one another for the rest of their lives and the sooner the two of them realized that, the sooner that everyone around them would have absolute peace. 

It was true, as much as Olivia hated being given advice about hers and Elliot's marriage, relationship, state of whatever the hell they were  - that everyone seemed to realize the truth about them when they were blinded. 

It still didn't explain why Carmen was being so damn nice.


"Spill it, Stabler." Fin sits down across the table from his old co-worker, the love of Olivia Benson's life (he knew this term wasn't something someone uses in casual everyday conversation, but it was true, and as much as she might hate the term, it was unavoidable when it came to the two idiots who drove everyone nuts back in the day). "Who is Carmen and why is she sending the Captain peonies?"

Elliot laughs. "She wasn't joking then."

Fin's brows furrow as he looks at Elliot, confused. "Man, what the hell you talkin' about?"

"Fin, Carmen isn't my girlfriend. I mean, she's my friend, and she's a girl - but we're not dating, not like that."

"What the hell do you mean  'not like that'?" Fin has never been more confused in all of his life, but whatever is going on here seems suspicious. 

"I mean that Ayanna asked me if I would mind going out with a friend of hers who just moved here from Florida a couple of months ago. Said her friend was getting harassed and she wanted to go out, enjoy herself without being hit on all the time."

"What's that got to do with you, Stabler?"

"I'm a pretty good friend to take out because who the hell in their right mind would hit on a girl when I'm standing with them most of the night?"

"Why doesn't she wanna get hit on?" Fin asks, playing with his sunglasses on the surface of the table. "What am I missing and what really happened when Olivia met Carmen the first time, cause she was pulling that avoiding crap thing she does."

"You really  do know how to read my wife, don't you?"

"Man, I ain't even gonna correct you anymore about the whole 'ex' thing because y'all are driving me absolutely batshit crazy, Stabler." Fin smiles at the server as she places a drink in front of him along with a croissant. 

"She'll kill me if she finds out I told you." Elliot takes a drink of his beverage as his blue eyes  study the Sergeant who has always had his wife's back. (Ex). The man who they named (kind of) their son after. His youngest son's godfather. "But let's just  say that Olivia is more Carmen's type than I am." He gives Fin a pointed look and then it registers. 

"You're a dumbass and you're playing with fire."

"I know that, Fin. But if there's one thing I know for absolute certain about my wife, it's that she is very territorial and she gets jealous  easily. When she's jealous -I used to benefit from it." Elliot smirks, shrugging slightly as the server brings over a plate of french fries. "I'm still benefitting from her jealousy. I just want her back, because...damnit, I love her."

"She loves your stupid ass too. No matter how much you fucked up during that UC job before you all got divorced." Fin shakes his head. "What the hell were you thinkin' anyway?"

"I was thinking that I had to do whatever was necessary to survive and come home to my family." Elliot drops the volume he's speaking as he leans forward slightly, so other people don't overhear the conversation. "That's what I was thinking."

"And you didn't think about the repercussions of that?" Fin narrows one eye, wiping his hands on the napkin in front of himself. "Elliot, you and Liv? You make all the damn sense in the world - I just can't figure out why you didn't ask to be pulled out of the situation when -"

"She never listened to my explanation."

"Did they have a gun to your head, Elliot?" Fin narrows his eyes as he takes a deep breath, sitting back. 

Elliot studies the man in front of him for a moment, unsure of how precisely  to answer this question. It's a conversation that he wanted to have with Olivia back then. A conversation that she'd avoided talking about until she'd just fought with him about everything - even going as far as filing the paperwork for a divorce because her exact words the first time she tossed them down in front of him on the table were 'If you can't trust me and I can't trust you - then it's time we go separate ways'. But even then, he knew that she was just hurt, angry, and questioning everything about them. Everything that made them compatible. 

"Yeah." He answers, looking down at his hands. "They actually did."

"Look, that's fucked up. Did you talk to Liv about it? Did you all try counseling together or something? Anything?"

Elliot sits, silent. "Look, you asked me for help in winning her back, and I think you two are made for one another - but you gotta look at what you're doing to not only one another, but yourselves and your kids. I know Allie won't take any shit from either of you, but the other three? They're still young enough that they can look at their parents separating for a year and think it's just a hiccup." Fin laughs. "Phoebe would've kicked my ass, but we would've talked about it." Fin narrows his eyes again, "You need to have a serious conversation with Liv. You need to lay it out on the table before she begins to hate you again - because I can guarantee she doesn't at the moment, she loves you so much that even when you're annoying her, she's fond of your ass."

"What can I say?"

"I don't know, Stabler...but - stop playing with fire before she does decide she wants to date again." Fin takes a deep breath. "Just keep showing up, and stop leading her on to think that Carmen is your girlfriend. Dumbass."

Fin's phone rings. "Hey  Captain. Nah, I'm on my way back now." He hangs, up, tucking the phone in his pocket. "Just talk to her, have a real conversation, Stabler. She might surprise you."

He shakes his head as he begins to walk away. 

Chapter Text

two and a half weeks later

To say she was tired, well, that would be an understatement. She was exhausted. She’d been working a case for the last week that had resulted in her walking in the door at night, and practically collapsing on the sofa – laying there until her phone would buzz next to her on the table and she would roll off to go wake the kids up.

Elliot had been surprisingly quiet lately and surprisingly more…standoffish, and she wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing.

Tonight, when she walked in the door, she was surprised to find him sitting at the kitchen table, soft music playing in the background as he was flipping through a packet of papers, jotting down what looked like answers to questions on lines. She tilted her head as she placed her bag and jacket on the chair in the living room before walking through and stopping at the chair across from him.

“There’s a plate of dinner in the microwave, Liv.” He didn’t even look up at her, but she watched him, with his black framed glasses sitting on the end of his nose, the dining room lights dimmed just enough that they weren’t harsh, but a soft glow that allowed him to read through whatever it was in front of him. “I made bacon wrapped meatloaf.” His eyes suddenly looked up, pen pausing on the paper as he smiled gently at her.

Her heart ached for him. Still. She licked her lips as she thought about the bacon wrapped meatloaf that was waiting on her in the microwave. “Thanks.” She mumbles, walking past the table and into the kitchen, pausing as she reaches up to pull the plate out and unwrap it so she can heat it up. “Son of a bitch.” She mumbles, walking out and standing between the two rooms. “Care to explain why I have a new microwave?” She points with one hand behind her.

Elliot’s shoulders fall as he removes his glasses and sets them on top of the stack of papers he was marking. “Because yours was going.” He answers, turning slightly in the chair to look at her. “Your microwave was barely heating up coffee in the 45 seconds that it normally takes, and Kathleen told me about it yesterday and then Allie made a point to tell me how she was heating up a TV dinner and it was still frozen.”

“Oh.” She looks down at the plate in her hand, voice sounding as though she’s disappointed that she hadn’t noticed, but in all honesty – she hadn’t been home a lot lately. “I’ll Venmo you the money for it.” She turns around, walking back into the kitchen and opening the microwave as she punches in the numbers to reheat the plate of food.

“Olivia, you don’t have to pay me back for it.” He stands in the doorway, arms crossed, blue eyes watching her as she taps the counter top underneath her fingertips. “I did it for the kids.”

She feels her heart pounding against her chest, eyes watering as she studies the backsplash. “Thanks for…” she swallows as she tries not to allow her voice to crack, “helping out this week.”

“They’re my kids too.” He takes a step into her kitchen, moving over next to the sink, two feet away from her. “Hey, you okay?” His head tilts down as he looks up at her, reaching out and tilting her chin up. “Wanna talk about it?”

She shakes her head, sniffling slightly. The case she’d been working hadn’t turned out the way that they liked them to. It used to be that when cases like this would happen, she’d come home, he’d let her kick her feet up into his lap, he’d massage her legs while she talked to him. She reaches forward to grab the bottle of wine and then reaches over next to the microwave and slides the wine glass off of the rack. “Not really.” She answers.

“I’m seeing a therapist.” He blurts out, and she pauses, brows furrowed as she pours herself a glass. As she pushes the cork back into the bottle the microwave goes off and she reaches up to remove the plate from it, setting it down before she turns sideways and leans against the counter with her hip.

“Oh?” She asks, bringing the glass to her lips. “That’s… that’s really good, El.”

“Do you want to know why I’m seeing a therapist?” He moves over another few inches, eyes watching her quietly.

“Cause you’re fucked in the head.” She smirks, reaching for her fork as she takes a mouthful, her lips wrapping around it.

“Cause I’m addressing what happened while I was undercover.” He reaches for her wine glass, his lips touching the exact same spot that hers had just touched. Her heart is loud in her ears, and she feels her eyes continuing to water as she swallows the mouthful of bacon wrapped meatloaf and the mashed potatoes that she’d gathered with it.

She looks down at the plate now, breaking eye contact with her ex-husband.

“That’s… what made you decide to do that?” She’s quiet.

“I realized that there’s nothing to be ashamed of in asking for help dealing with things that we need to deal with.” She looks up at him, at the way his glasses are hanging off of his shirt, the way his blue eyes are teary, the way his brows are furrowed (she wants to take a tweezer to them), the way his muscles are beneath the material of the shirt his glasses are hanging onto. He’s like a whole damn buffet and she wonders what she’s so hesitant about because – he still wears his wedding band. Just like she wears hers on the opposite hand. “I’m realizing a lot of things I did wrong.”

Her head feels light. Who the hell is this man? She suddenly feels warm all over. She needs to sit down.

“Liv? You ok – “

He catches her.

When she comes to, she realizes that he’s pressing a cold washcloth to her forehead, and he’s sitting on the floor in front of the sink with her head in his lap. “You have to remember to eat something while you’re working the long cases baby.”

She sighs, closing her eyes, allowing him to press the cloth against her flushed skin.

 

Chapter Text

It was nice of him to buy her a new microwave so their kids could reheat their lunches, TV dinners, and their hot pockets when they were running out the door in the morning. It was nice to have a new microwave because it meant that the younger kids could make themselves the microwavable macaroni and cheese cups on the weekend for lunch. It was nice to have a new microwave because it meant that the cup of coffee she always forgot she’d made herself could be reheated with a polite ask from their oldest daughter. It was nice to be able to come home earlier and be told that there was meatloaf waiting for her to reheat in the microwave. It was nice to know she wouldn’t have a half-warmed up piece of meat for dinner.

It was nice to come home, and see him sitting at the dinner table with a packet of papers and a pen, knowing that he was filling out a packet for his therapy session. It was nice that he told her he’d bought her a new microwave.

It was not about the microwave.

It’s never about the microwave. It’s about the fact that he knows she’s a shit cook and most of their dinners are simple meals with two instructions or microwave times on them.

God bless Banquet and their family sized frozen meals she could just pop into the microwave or the oven.

It was about him telling her that he was addressing the things that had caused them to fight. It was him telling her that he’d identified where things had gone awry and that he was addressing them…she just wishes it had been sooner rather than a year later.

Trauma was funny like that, even she knew.  

She knew he’d catch on eventually – that he would figure it out, what had been the last straw. She just wishes she understood why it had come to that. Why he refused to talk to her about it. Why it was that he felt like she wouldn’t understand.

Why she couldn’t possibly fathom what he was going through…when she’d vowed to be his partner for life, that she would be there through good and bad…when she was the mother of their four children. Why she couldn’t be as understanding as he’d been when he looked her in the eyes and told her that she and he could figure things out when she’d stared at a positive pregnancy test while bouncing a baby on her lap that was only a few months old that they’d brought home that they’d chosen to love that they would figure things out. The woman that he’d told if it’s what she wanted, to have this baby while they’re raising a foster baby with the chance to adopt that he’d back her play.

She didn’t understand back then, how he could just shut her out.

How he could just shut down.

She opens her eyes, looking up at him looking down at her. He’d just called her baby and she found that while she lay there, her head in his lap, she didn’t mind. It was easy to forget the entire year had ever happened, that they had signed papers that severed their marriage, but the way he looks at her, the way his hand gently strokes her hair while the other presses the wet cloth to her cheeks, - she thinks that maybe a stupid ass piece of paper was never enough to separate them.  

She wanted her family together. She just…needed him to talk to her.

“Hey you.” He whispers, a small smile on the corner of his lips. “You scared me there for a minute. Reminded me of when you were pregnant with Allie – “

“Yeah.” She nods, turning slightly and bringing her knees up a little bit, her ribs still hurt – but, she’s been managing. “I bet my dinner is cold again.”

“I bet your microwave will heat it up just fine.” She hates him sometimes. No you don’t.

“Yeah. Some jackass replaced it for me.” She smiles, resting her hand against his stomach, clenching the material of his shirt between her fingers. He reaches up behind them, nudging the water faucet with his hand as he re-wets the cloth and then wrings it out with his hand, bringing it back down and resting it against the back of her neck as he twists her hair so it doesn’t get wet with his other hand.

“Yeah, some jackass must really care about his family.”

“So you’re in therapy.” She whispers, her finger playing with the hem of his shirt, his fingertips lightly brushing her neck as he presses the cool cloth there. “How’s that going?”

He shrugs. “It’s…therapy. You know I’ve never been that great with the whole head-shrinking thing.”

She chuckles, reaching behind herself and unzipping her boots, kicking them off one at a time until they’re resting beyond where she’s laying on the kitchen floor with her ex-husband cradling her head in his lap. “Nah, you never were.”

“I uh… don’t share things that easily.” He mumbles, his blue eyes look red-rimmed as he looks down at her. “Not like you do.”

“Please… Seriously? You think I share things easily?” She pauses, “El, I share things better with complete strangers than my therapist.” She looks up at him from the corner of her eye.

“I don’t share anything with anyone ever.” He mumbles, a smirk on his face. “Honestly, Liv… I realized that I never told you what happened uh… during that UC job and I realized that it was stupid that I closed myself off and was so damn ashamed. I thought, I thought you deserved better from me.”

“I did deserve better from you, Elliot. What happened? You… went undercover, which – I completely understood, and heaven knows that I did – but when you came home during the operation, you uh… started pulling away from all of us. I mean, you still tried to drop the kids off when you were able to – but you scared me when you came home that night and you were – you were fucking drugged El. Then, I find out through the grapevine that something happened near the end of the operation and you wouldn’t disclose what it was.” She focuses on the waffle-knit pattern of his shirt.

“I didn’t disclose what it was because I was ashamed.”

“You were an SVU detective for…years, Elliot.” She furrows her brows. “Yet you were…ashamed?”

“Pot meet kettle.” He chuckles as she closes her eyes for a minute, taking a deep breath.

“El. We’re not thirty anymore. Can we…go somewhere more comfortable if we’re going to have this discussion…finally?

He takes a deep breath. Nodding quietly. “Lift your head up, I’ll get up first and…do you want me to reheat your plate for you before we go talk about this?” She lays down on the floor on her back, staring up at him, lips pressed together. “Or do you want me to stick it in the fridge and you’ll reheat it when we’re done?”

“Put it in Tupperware. Just…grab me a fruit cup or something.” She laces her fingers together on her stomach, waiting on him to put away her plate and get her the fruit cup before he walks over and extends his hands to pull her up. “Where should we go?”

“You wanna go upstairs to the bedroom?”

She sighs, tapping her fingers on the counter top. “Might be the better idea, or we could go out back and sit on the swing.”

“Nah. I think we both don’t want Mrs. Reynolds overhearing this conversation.”

Olivia chuckles, shaking her head as she grabs the spoon out of the drawer, holding the fruit cup close to her chest. “True. Lead the way, Stabler.”

“Nah, you go first, Stabler.” He smirks at her, placing his hand on her lower back.

 

Chapter Text

He made sure that she didn't fall going up the stairs. A lifetime of being her partner (or what had once felt like a lifetime) had taught him that when she doesn't eat, doesn't make time to have small snacks during the day during particularly difficult cases, her blood sugar levels always plummet. Fourteen years of their marriage had been spent making sure he brought her extra snacks, lunches, that she would receive dinner delivered to wherever she happened to be at the time. 

He loved taking care of her, even before they'd gotten together as life-partners. 

She was worth the effort. She was always more than worth the effort. 

As they top the stairs, he takes a deep breath, narrowing his eyes while he looks towards the girls' room. He can tell Allie isn't really asleep, her reading lamp that she keeps clipped to the canopy on her bed casts a very dim glow under the crack of the door. Then again, it is almost summertime, and in a week she'll be out of school. She's probably busy working on one of her final projects for English - the one subject she seems to take more seriously than the others. 

"El?" Liv's voice catches his attention, and that's when he realizes he'd paused at the top of the stairs, head turned torward their daughter's room. "I told her as long as she was in bed by midnight, she could finish the project she was working on when she sent me a text earlier after you sent everyone up to bed." Olivia motions to the closed door. "C'mon." She hugs the fruit cup closer to her chest and what he wouldn't give to be the fruit cup. 

She waits on him to walk into the room first, and after he does, she closes the door behind them, twisting the lock on the handle. He watches her, quietly, eyes still radiating concern for her well-being since she passed out in his arms not even a half hour ago. He wishes she would've allowed him to at least pull a Healthy Choice meal out of the freezer and microwave it or something for her, the fruit cup wasn't going to be enough. 

He knew he was trying to avoid thinking about the conversation that they were getting ready to have. He'd avoided talking about it for over a year now. It had caused his marriage with the love of his life to collapse and he blamed himself for their lack of communication. Allie had it right once, telling him that despite the fact they seemed to know one another, the two of them, as her parents were infuriating because they lacked the ability to communicate using actual words. 

It was never going to be Allie's problem. Much like her godmother, Allie was gifted at telling people exactly what she thought about them not only verbally, but in writing. Bless Alexandra Cabot for passing something on to her goddaughter. 

Elliot stands there, staring off into space as Olivia's already moved about the room, changing into her night clothes (a pair of pajama pants and an old NYPD t-shirt that was actually probably his, to be honest), situating herself on the bed with her legs stretched out in front of her as she opened the top of the fruit cup, licking her hand where the juice splashed over between her pointer and thumb. 

"You gonna get comfortable or are you planning on cutting your losses and running?" She jokes, smirking at the man who had been taking care of her up until now. He feels his heart flutter in his chest as he takes a deep breath and shakes off whatever anxiety he can manage to shake off before he walks back over tothe drawer she'd told him had some of his old clothes in and grabs a pair of athletic shorts before he disappears into the bathroom. He hears her chuckle from the bed, as though him going to another space to change was actually hysterical to her...because they'd been married for fourteen years and almost divorced for one. It wasn't like she'd never seen him naked. They had three biological children that more than proved that they'd done a lot more than look at one another naked. 

After changing, he came back into the bedroom, tossing his folded pants on the chair next to the door in the corner before making his way around to the other side of the bed. She looks over at him, sitting there in athletic shorts and a henley shirt as she flips the spoon over in her mouth, a little thing she always did to make sure she got all the juices off the utensil...that almost always turned him on more than he was willing to admit. 

"Alright." He begins, hands neatly placed on his thighs. She reaches over, rolling her eyes as she grips his hand in hers. 

"El. This is me." She's looking up at him through her dark lashes and he visibly relaxes. Yeah, it is her. It's his partner, best friend, the love of his life, and she's never heard this story. He was actually scared to tell it to her, in case she'd think differently of him. 

"I know." He utters, running the free hand over his face before he blows out a breath. This isn't going to be easy. This entire thing is going to be the hardest thing he's ever done. Even harder than holding her hand in the hospitals after she'd been assaulted while on the job. Harder than the time he thought he was going to lose her. Harder than - harder than it had been to sign his name on a line that he wanted to scoff at and walk away from instead of signing. But he'd thought it was what she wanted. He thought that by letting her go, they would both be better off. What he wasn't counting on was the fact that they couldn't stay away from one another. That they'd never been able to stay away from one another. He'd neglected to think about the fact that she'd figure out eventually that something had happened. He just wishes he could've come clean about it all prior to it getting to that point. 

"When I was instructed to take the UC job with taking down the Albanian family - I didn't think that it would be what it turned into." He begins, she places the empty container from her fruit cup over on the nightstand, cursing softly as the spoon keeps knocking it over before she turns her head to look at him. "I was expecting the whole murderers and guns... but if I had known about the human trafficking, I would've asked someone else to take the job. Anyone else." She nods, quiet. She was always good at listening when people talked. "I would've done that because I know that things get a little blurry when that comes into play. The stakes are higher, because... the cost is too high."

She licks her lips, swallowing as she glances over to the dresser where a photo of their family sits. "Yeah. Human lives."

"Yeah." He nods. "I didn't have a problem getting the information and your squad was helpful in helping out - because they 're all empathetic, smart, brilliant detectives." He compliments them, because they are - under her leadership, they're incredible. She's incredible as a teacher and leader, and he loves everything she's done in the years she's been in charge. Everything she's overcome. 

"What happened three weeks before you started pulling away from me, Elliot?" She whispers the question with a sadness he's not heard in a while. He loves her, and he tries to show her that it's never stopped, his thumb strokes hers beneath his palm. 

"It started out like any other night on the job, meet up at the restaurant, hang out, have drinks - but then - then they take me out to this warehouse in the middle of nowhere." She feels her heart speed up. "They'd been trying to push random young women on me for a while and I kept turning them down. The others, they asked me if I was gay or just weird. I wasn't expecting them to bring in..." His voice cracks. Olivia's heart plummets. "I wasn't expecting them to make me do anything like that. And...I said no, but - Liv, they - they had a gun to my head." He begins, swallowing thickly. He's hoping that all her years in SVU allow her to put it all together in her head. He can see the wheels turning, her mouth opens slighly as a gasp escapes her lips. "I just - I felt so gross, so... used." He looks down at their clasped hands and when he looks up, he sees a tear trail from her right eye. 

"Why'd you think you couldn't tell me, Elliot?" Her head tilts. "If anyone understands - "

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry I pulled away... I'm sorry that I cut you out I just..." 

"You're not weak, El. I wouldn't have thought... I mean, I would've helped you..." She feels the glass shatter beneath her feet. "Elliot." Her other hand cups the side of his face. "We could've worked through it together." 

"I realize that. I was a dumbass for - " He takes a deep breath. "I didn't want you to have to fix me. That's all you ever do."

"It's because I love you." She lets out a dry laugh, her heart breaking for the second time in a year. This time, because she absolutely knows that they have a chance to fix this. That they can try to make things right. Fuck that piece of paper telling them that they're not married. 

 

Chapter Text

She couldn’t believe she’d been so blind that she hadn’t seen it. Years as an SVU Detective, Sergeant, Lieutenant and finally a Captain, and she’d missed it in her own husband. The love of her life, the father of their children. All the signs had been there, and she’d…overlooked it. And she’d pulled away almost as much as he had. He stopped getting changed in front of her back then, and she’d quit coming to bed because every time she’d reached for him, he’d pulled away from her. She remembers feeling confused about it, because in all the years they’d been together, he’d never not wanted her close.

“You’re beating yourself up for it and you need to stop.” He mumbles, tightening the hug he’s got her in. She nestles her chin between his shoulder and neck, turning her face to rest her lips against his warm skin. Inhaling the scent that was solely belonging to her husband. Ex-husband. Husband. Partner. “I should’ve talked to you about what was goin’ on, Liv. It wasn’t your fault.”

“But I should’ve waited. I should’ve known that it was trauma related, but you always pretended to be so damn strong and you – you could’ve told me what happened. El, I still don’t know what happened but I can guess based on…” She pulls back, keeping her arms around his neck, her eyes searching his for an answer. “Based upon my experience in dealing with victims for so many years.” The tone of her voice is low, comforting, something akin to smooth honey in a cup of warm tea that she almost always made when she had her yearly bout of the flu. Her arm drops slightly as she brings her hand up next to his face, her palm resting against his cheek.

The air in the room feels heavy and she’s so damn confused about a lot of things, but the one thing she’s never been confused about what how she really felt for the man next to her deep down in her heart.

“Liv.” He looks so damn sad, sitting there, hanging onto her while her other thumb traces small circles on the back of his neck. Small O’s that she’d taken to writing with her thumbnail throughout the year, claiming him for herself. “I’ve been trying to make it up to you for a while now… months, actually…and I gotta admit when you told me you wanted me to go on dates – I was shocked… mainly cause I’m a jealous asshole, but I never thought you’d ever suggest that. I thought… and I was right, if I’m bein’ honest here…that  you didn’t want to see me with anyone but you either.”

She blinks. Once. Twice. Then, she turns her head to the side, taking a deep breath as her fingers flex against the back of his neck. She bites her lip.

“I don’t.” She whispers. “God help me Elliot, but I don’t.” The grin that spreads across his face in this moment, it’s boyish really, and he reminds her of them in their first year of their partnership, the only difference is that his hand has traveled down her side, and his thumb is rubbing along her stomach in light brushes. “I know that’s terrible…”

“You were willing to hurt yourself – “

“If only to see you happy. Yeah.” She nods. “El, it’s all I’ve ever wanted your happiness it’s… it’s tied to my own.” It comes out in a small whisper.

Elliot loves that about Olivia.

The way she’s always been the strongest person he’s ever met, yet allows herself to be vulnerable with him. It’s only been theirs, the way she’s vulnerable and he somehow forgot that she was that person a year ago. He forgot that the sums of the traumas paled in comparison to the amount of love that they had for one another. He forgot that she’d been able to bare her soul to him, and it hadn’t been easy to get where they were prior to the UC job. He forgot that she’d gone through something similar after Allie had been born, and she held back on it for a few months, until… until she couldn’t anymore. She’d confessed to him what had happened in the middle of an argument back then, and he’d held her. Held her, stroked her hair, and told her they’d get through it together. Promised that no matter what came their direction, they’d conquer it together. They’d slay whatever monsters dared to slide beneath their bed together. If it was a hydra, they’d slay each and every head until there was nothing left. They’d always fight…

His eyes watch her quietly as she plays with the fabric of his shirt. It’s easy, he thinks, to get caught up in the worst days of our lives, the failures, the losses, the traumas, and not want to taint the beautiful parts of our lives. It’s easy to poison the beautiful parts by trying to bury the bad ones. It all comes to the surface eventually, and as he looks at her, he notes the way the years have added lines on her face. Lines that show that she’s lived, laughed, loved, and lost. Lines that he’s watched spread from the moment their paths had intersected.

The freckles on her face from moments she spent in the sunshine with their kids, with his kids. Though, it’s funny that even now, she somehow has a bigger role in the four kids from his first marriage’s life than he does. In some ways, she’s always been part of his family, he just made it official and that was the end of the story with those four kids.

“What are you thinking about?” She asks, the air in the room even heavier than it had been moments earlier.

“You’re beautiful… and the best parts of me.” He begins, bringing his hand up and cupping her cheek. “C’mere.” He motions and she smiles as she throws her leg over his lap, situating herself atop his thighs, looking directly into his face.

“This position used to be easier when we were younger.” She jokes, shrugging lightly. The air catches in his throat as he studies her face now that they’re even closer.

“Yeah, but – I still like it because I can look into your face.” He cups her face between both hands as she moves in first, eyes flicking from his lips up to his eyes and then back down to his lips before she brushes them together, wrapping her arm more firmly around the back of his neck. When she pulls back slightly, she looks down at him.

“Is this – “ she’s now aware of the problems in their marriage, aware of how it all fell apart, and she wants to make sure that she’s not somehow overstepping even though he’s the one that asked her to move. He trusts her. Always has. “El, is this okay?”

“With you? Yeah.”  His blue eyes shine as she looks into them. She’s now trying to figure out if this is him wanting, or if it’s PTSD or something similar. She remembers how messed up she’d been after her experiences, and despite the fact that she had him there to help her heal, it hadn’t been easy. “I’m alright, Liv.” His thumb traces her cheek gently. “I want this with you… just like all the other almost moments we’ve had lately – I… I trust you.”

She smiles, because they have had a lot of ‘almost’ moments lately. “I’m okay too, just so you know, despite the fact I passed out from blood sugar, the fruit cup helped a bit.” She leans forward, placing a soft kiss on his lips before pulling back again. “So, talk to me.” She traces her hand down his arm, up to where his hand rests on her cheek as she interlaces their fingers, squeezing them together, their rings touching together. His eyes travel to the bands on their fingers. His still on the left hand ring finger, hers on the right hand ring finger, the engagement ring that just had screamed at him to put it on her finger, their wedding band with P4L engraved on the inside. Their 10th Anniversary band he’d gotten her.

“Can we just…lay next to one another for now?” He asks her, “Or you can lay on my chest for a few minutes…either way. I just – I like being this close to you.”

“I missed this.” she tucks herself into his chest, laying her ear over his heart as he moves down on the bed, laying back more comfortably, wrapping his arms around her.

“Me too.”  

Chapter Text

Allie pushed open the bedroom door slowly, it was 3:37 am and she’d awoken from a bad dream. As soon as she stepped out into the hallway, heading to the bathroom at the end of the hall, she heard voices coming from underneath her mother’s door. Quietly, she moved next to the door wanting to differentiate between the timbre of the voices, though she assumed she knew who it was just because she hadn’t heard the front door close after her mother came home.

She stands, with her hand against the surface of the door pressing her ear near it. It’s that exact moment that her mother laughs softly and then she hears her dad say something to her that makes her mother sigh loudly. Normally, at least in the past year, she would open her mother’s door and crawl into bed tucked up next to her. Her mother had always loved playing with her hair, tracing small patterns on her temple when she felt sick or had a nightmare, and she would hum her favorite songs. Her mom couldn’t sing worth shit, but she had a beautiful humming voice. Allie would press her ear against her mother’s chest and listen to the beat of her heart and it would calm any nerves she might have.

As much as her parents annoyed her, she loved them immeasurably. She was luckier than most kids, actually – she had a father that would do absolutely anything for his kids and a mother that always hold her kids close, give them love, listen to them. Together, they were protectors of their family, and she always thought they were invincible. Until she’d seen her mother break.

She might be young, but she’s not stupid. She understands adults do dumb things all the time, her parents had raised her to know that for a fact – but she also couldn’t understand how two people who loved one another so damn much could do something like… get a divorce when they clearly still wanted to be together.

Backing away from the door (she knew that her parents were unpredictable when it came to showing how much they loved one another especially when they thought they were alone) she turned around to head back to bed, maybe she could get herself back to sleep on her own tonight. As she slides back beneath the covers, she stares up at the top of her canopy at the tiny little lights that her mother helped her string from one side to the other, dangling down dainty-like…like little lightning bugs above her head. They didn’t give off much light, but they were relaxing. She began to think.

Maybe she’d been hard on her father, but he hadn’t been there that night after he signed the paperwork a year ago.

She remembered it clearly, walking into the house and seeing her mother staring at the pile of papers on the table in front of her, the black pen angled across the middle of them as though someone had just tossed them there. She hadn’t seen her mother stare off into space like that since shortly before she found out she was pregnant with the twins… before she’d brought Noah home (which, funny enough, it all happened about the same time).

When she’d been injured on the job.

Then again, her mother had also been a little out of it, and staring off into space one day after she’d been held hostage in a townhouse. Allie was old enough to remember the specifics from the news when she saw it before her dad had flipped off the television that night after watching a show with her mom on the couch. She’d come down to get a glass of water and seen her mother’s face for the first time, with a cut on her cheekbone.

But seeing her mom that night? It had changed everything she had ever thought about the woman. Her mom was good at showing everyone that she cared about that she loved them, and she loved the people she loved, immensely. Allie was in awe at how much her mother gave of herself, but when she was with her dad? Her parents were the things of fairy tales. They were legendary. They were… made for one another without a doubt. Allie hoped that one day she too would find someone to love as much as her mom loved her dad. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime sort of love, as Kathleen had whispered. A love that defies everything life can throw at it (obviously, they were still madly in love though they were divorced).

She’d seen her sitting there, and Allie’s heart broke in her own chest, but it was nothing compared to that of her mother. She’d texted her sister right away, and they’d done all they could. She’d come over as soon as she’d been available, and helped lead her mom upstairs. It wasn’t until later in the evening, when Allie had been sitting on the floor outside the bedroom that she heard the sobs break out of her mother, and when she’d quickly come into the room, found her on the floor, clutching her hand to her chest – tears streaming down her face. Kathleen had left to go take care of Grandma for a half hour but promised that she’d be back, but to call if anything happened and she was needed.

Allie had pulled her phone out almost immediately and dialed the number, and Kathleen had tried to talk Allie down from freaking out – but she’d never seen her mother like this. Never witnessed her unraveling. She closes her eyes, shaking her head and trying to forget about that night. Trying to forget about her mother’s head in her lap as she stroked her fingers through her long hair just like her mother used to do for her. She tried to forget what a heart breaking sounds like.

“Don’t screw this one up, dad.” She whispers into the dark before turning on her side, staring at the photo of the three of them taken a year ago, right before her father had gone undercover. They looked happy, and she remembered that her siblings were in the bleachers still when the photo was taken. Her fingertips run over the photo as she closes her eyes, drifting off to sleep.

Chapter Text

She lost track of the time, laying there on top of him, feeling his hands trail up and down her back. He always did know how to calm her down, make her relax, put her constantly spinning mind at ease. He was always going to be her steady ground, her touchstone, her everything. Despite the fact she’d made a promise to herself years and years ago to never allow any one person to carry everything of her within them – just in case they leave – she’d allowed him to become even more of a part of her than she could ever dream of being. He was a mirror that had never failed to show her the truth when she was avoiding it.

When he speaks again, she finds her eyes slowly opening as a small chuckle escapes her. His one hand, the one rubbing her back in gentle passes stills in the middle. Meanwhile, his other hand, the one that still wears their wedding band continues to comb through her hair.

“Always knew you enjoyed cuddling.”

“Only with you,” she pauses for a moment, reconsidering the truth of this statement, “and the kids.”

“You’re a great mom, Liv.” Every single time he says it she feels her heart grow five sizes larger. She would have loved to have had another kid or two with him before Noah and the twins happened to come along. They almost had, honestly. She knows he remembers those weeks, the excitement they had both felt, the way they’d both shattered when it had come to an end. The way she thought it must’ve been her fault somehow. Then, they’d found Noah and they thought that maybe God was apologizing to them… and then, she found out she was pregnant; and that’s when they decided that God had a helluva sense of humor… at least, where they were concerned. “A great step-mom.”

She just hums, her eyes closing again as his fingers work expertly through the small knots at the very end of her hair. She’s been meaning to get a trim for a few days now, but she’s been so damn busy she can’t seem to find the time. (She wants to find the time, a trim always makes her feel a million times better). Elliot, she thinks, was always meant to have daughters because of his patience and the way he could make a better french braid than she ever could. She always knew she was meant to be a mother, but even after Allie had come along, she’d been absolutely terrified that one day she would wake up and see a vodka bottle in her hand.

“You’re not your mother, Olivia. You’re not going to turn into her, you hear me?”

 It had been the words he’d spoken in her ear, with his face pressed against her own as she battled postpartum depression after Allie was born. She’d felt so damn disconnected from the beautiful baby girl that she wanted so desperately to love. It had taken her two months to feel somewhat normal, like there wasn’t something wrong with her. Elliot had been so patient with her and all the issues she’d had. The mood swings had been the worst. She’d kiss him one minute and then the next she wanted to be on the other side of the apartment.

She’d stared at the stove top one morning, the red glow almost hypnotizing her and had reached her hand over the top, feeling the heat of it when Elliot had walked in holding Allie against his bare chest and startled her out of her trance. He’d been so terrified in that moment that he’d grabbed her upper arm in his hands and gently guided her to the couch while he put Allie in her bassinet and then he came back, pulling her into his lap as he held her while she broke down. She admitted she needed help, and she thought there was something wrong with her – and together (how they work best) they’d gotten her help.

But during those first few weeks, she’d felt like a failure. Like she was becoming her mother, and she’d never be a good mother. Despite how many times Elliot had insisted that she would be. He’d had to convince her a little harder. She’d scared the shit out of him, and he’d tried to give her space while simultaneously watching over her the entire time…knowing how she reacted when people would hover. They figured it out and when the twins came along, she thankfully didn’t experience it as badly as she had with Allie. (A miracle, according to her OBGYN).

She hears the steady cadence of his heart beating beneath her ear and the way he hums quietly, the sound dying in the back of his throat but where she was situated on his chest, she heard it. It strikes her in this moment, that they have quite a bit to discuss and there’s also the matter of…Carmen.

“El, you gotta promise me that you’re going to talk to me from now on when something is bothering you.” She pushes herself up, her hands resting on his chest as their eyes connect. There’s both spoken and unspoken history between the two of them, rules and guidelines that they both follow as though they are laws. “And you have to tell me what exactly I’m supposed to do about Officer Dejesus. If this is crossing – “

He starts laughing.

The sonofabitch.

“What’s so funny?” Her eyes narrow as she studies his face. “Keep it down, El, - you’re going to wake up the kids.” She pushes her fingers against his shoulder, her face scrunched in concentration and confusion all in one. She looks adorable, he thinks.

He shakes his head, reaching over to grab the water bottle and phone from the nightstand. As he tilts his head up to take a sip, he unlocks the phone and clicks on the icon for Instagram. With one hand, he quickly swipes a name and then hands the phone to Olivia. She looks at him through narrowed eyes. “El, I need my – “

He hands her the glasses that were sitting on her side of the bed as she slides them on her face, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth as she scrolls through the photos. Her brows rising as she seems to be scrolling down through the photos on Carmen’s Instagram page.

“You were jealous.” Elliot sounds pleased with himself, as she glances up at him. “Admit it, Captain.”

She chuckles lightly and then sighs heavily.

“Yeah.” She hands him the phone back, but as she gets ready to pull off the glasses his hand comes up and holds onto her wrist. “Elliot.” It comes out in a whisper as he smiles up at her, his hand trailing down her arm and then along her side, sending shivers down her spine as his hands then comes to a rest on her thighs.

“You’re sexy like that.” His voice is low, and she knows this tone. While she looks at him, laying in her bed, beneath her, feels the warmth of his body, smells his scent which is entirely him she finds herself wanting. Wanting him. Wanting them. Wanting relief from the ache she has been feeling for the last few weeks. Wanting to feel them together as they always should be, (in her opinion). Her hips shift a little as his eyes suddenly darken. “Liv.” It comes out in a whisper, a cautionary rasp that if she does it again, she knows what will happen. Smiling, she glances over at his phone and then to the small speaker that sits on top of the dresser. “Seriously?” He asks, double-checking with her. She glances at the clock.

3:40 am.

“We always did all of our best work in the early morning hours, partner.” She runs her hand up and down his arm, she’s missed this. Missed the intimacy that they always brought when they were together.

A few weeks ago, she’d found herself in his kitchen in the middle of the afternoon when he’d backed her up against the sink, his fingers tangled in her dark tresses, their tongues sliding against one another, hands exploring places that exes shouldn’t be really exploring when he’d unfastened her pants, sliding his hand inside asking if it was okay as his fingertips had rubbed small circles against her with the right amount of pressure he knew would get her there fast – and when she’d come undone against his hand – she’d suddenly recoiled and regretted it immediately. The moment she’d gotten back to her house though, he’d played the song ‘Let’s talk about Sex’ and somehow managed to make her laugh while also wanting to throttle him.

She wanted more of that. She wanted him to touch her, and she wanted to touch him (if he was okay with it) he’d have to make the first move, because knowing what she knows now – she worries that if she makes that move, if she were to yank down the shorts and do what she wants with her (ex)husband, he’d have a flashback or freak out and she doesn’t want him to be uncomfortable when they do what they like to do together.

“What are you thinking, Olivia?”

“It’s gotta be at your pace, El.”

“Baby,” he places his hand on her cheek and she allows him to use this nickname for the second time, if for no other reason than she loves hearing him call her that in intimate moments like this, “I trust you with my life… all the time. So, this? What we have?” His other hand presses play on the playlist he’d made for them especially as Journey starts to play through the speaker quietly, “I trust you.”

“Elliot, I know you trust me, but – “ she leans down, pulling his earlobe between her teeth gently. “I also know how PTSD is a bitch.”

His face turns toward hers as he rolls them over, his body covering hers. “This isn’t our song.” He smiles at her. She shakes her head, a soft laugh escaping as her hands push his shirt up. “But it could be.”

She hums as the lyrics for the chorus fill the room while his body presses hers down into the bed, her legs wrapping around his thighs. “Make love to me.”

 

Chapter Text

"Hey, so listen, you guys have to promise to be quiet for your mom, you hear me?" Elliot's blue eyes look at his three youngest kids as he prepares his ex-wife breakfast in bed. He used to do this often, make her something nutritious to start her day. Anytime they had the opportunity to laze about on a weekday or a weekend, he'd make sure to go to their favorite deli or prepare her fresh fruits, a bowl of oatmeal, or some yogurt with fresh fruits and granola. As his eyes study Noah, Fin, and Serena,  they look at him curiously. They'd not seen their father in their space in over a year,  or if they had, he'd been sleeping on the couch. This morning, Noah had come down the stairs to the quiet kitchen to reach in for a yogurt when his father suddenly appeared behind him in the doorway, stretching as his bright blue eyes found those of his son.   


Not three minutes later, Finley and Serena made their presence known,  Serena carrying the large owl beanie boo that she had affectionately renamed, despite its tag saying it was "Hyde". (He much preferred the name his daughter chose for the large black owl with golden eyes and rainbow colored stars on it, going with the name 'Celeste'... Where she'd heard the name, he couldn't be too sure,  but he wasn't really going to question it that much.)

So, he found himself smiling over the island at his three youngest as he prepared pancakes for them all... and breakfast for his sleeping partner upstairs. 

Three minutes later, Allie made her presence known as well. "Oh. Hi dad." Her bright blue eyes studying the man in front of her, she took in the way he was casually leaning against the counter, smiling at the younger kids.  "Didn't know you were here." Her brow flinched slightly, Elliot's own rise as he realizes that she knows full and well that he was here still. She could never lie to either of her parents. 

"Mhm." He brings his coffee cup to his lips, taking a sip. "I'm still here... is that okay with you?" 

Allie shifts a few times from her right foot to her left, eyes narrowed at the man across from her. Taking a deep breath, her shoulders fall as she surrenders her hostility and sighs, eyes glancing out to the backyard. "Yeah. Whatever." Elliot notices she has a book in her hands as she reaches forward to grab a banana off the holder at the end of the counter, he places his hand on top of hers, holding it. "Dad?" She looks on the verge of tears but turns to see her younger siblings watching them. "Can we talk later?" 

"Yeah, Allie. We can."  He nods, smiling gently at her. Then, she does something she's been reticent to do in the last year, she wraps her arms around him,  pressing her face into his chest, her head turned away from her siblings. "I love  you, kid." He mumbles into her hair, tears lining the bottom of his lids. He squeezes her a little tighter. "You good?" She pulls back, nodding and wiping her cheek as she takes the banana and the book and disappears back up the stairs. Elliot chokes back the emotion that had gathered up in his throat as he looks down at the sink. 

"You guys good here?" The other three nod quietly. "Okay, I'm going to go take this up to Mom. Chew slow."

"Dad, we know how to eat." Serena locks her brown eyes on her father, brows raised in disbelief. "Silly."

"I know, I'll send Allie back down alright?" 

Noah sighs, exasperated. "Dad, we're going to be alright eating." 

"Still." He glances over at the stairs. "Chew slow."  

The three nod. As he tops the stairs, he looks down the hall towards Allie's room. "Allie - can you  do me a favor and go sit in the living room in case the kids choke?" 

She steps into the doorway, looking everything but amused. "Fine. I have to throw this out anyway." She holds up the banana. As soon as she reaches the stairs she pauses, turning her face up to look at her dad. "Don't mess this up, please?" 

"Never again, kiddo." He kisses her forehead as she nods, taking the steps in a 1-2 1-2 pattern. 

Elliot squares his shoulders as he steps towards the bedroom door, opening it slowly as to not wake her. She was probably exhausted after the night they'd had. They'd been awake until a little after 5 am. His smile spreads on his face as he looks at her, with her face smushed into the pillow, a small puddle of drool under the corner of her lip. He places the tray down on the dresser before he closes the door back over gently, locking it. 

As he climbs back over to the bed,  he divests himself of his shirt. Keeping the shorts on. She shifts towards him as he props his head up on his fist, looking down at her. His mind replaying everything that had happened after she had asked him to make love to her last night.


She ran her hands along his chest, as he lifted her shirt up, hands skimming her side, down lower until they slid underneath her pants, pushing them down with her underwear. Their lips softly pecking one another as she moaned into his mouth, her hand traveleing between them, brushing against his growing erection in the silky shorts. He was having a bit of a problem though, because the angle she was situated on him, he could only get them halfway down her thighs. 

"Need a little help here, Liv." He mumbled between their tongues sliding together. She nodded, sitting up so he could look at her, breasts gloriously on display. He loved them - he always had loved them, but he loved them even more after they'd been used to feed their kids. He remembers watching, mesmerized the first time she'd fed Allie. It had helped her bond with the infant, and it was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. He'd paid much more attention to how much she loved having them played with after that. "God, you're beautiful." 

"Back at'cha." She smirked as she pushed her pants off, sliding back onto the bed. "Off with the shorts, El. If you want to." She added in a rush, her mouth trailing kisses along his collarbone. "I mean..." 

"Hell yeah." He nodded enthusiastically. He wasn't quite sure he was ready for her to give him a blowjob just yet, but he wanted his wife. He wanted to be connected with her, wanted to hear the sounds he'd catalogued in his mind through the years. His favorite hobby though, was seeing if he could make her make new sounds. His shorts joined the pile she'd left on the floor almost immediately. She lowered herself next to his body, the heat of the two of them so close. His hand cupping her breast in his hand while the other one kissed from her neck down, tongue making a trail towards the nipple. 

"Mm. God, that's good," she moaned out, her hand flat against the headboard. "Need  you,  baby." 

His smirk only grew as his lips closed around the nipple, sucking it to a pebbled point and then kissing his way over to the other one. She was grinding against his hard cock, biting her lip as the music played random love songs through the speaker. "Need you." She repeated. "El." 

His fingers trailed down between them, testing her slickness. It was decent enough,  but he knew she'd feel it if he didn't use some lube, so he reached over into the nightstand where he knew she kept the bottle. He was surprised to find a new toy  there though, wrapped in a cloth. "What's this?"

"Thunderdick." She smirked, brown eyes mischevious. "That's what I call it."

"Liv." Elliot looks at the vibrator, curious as to why exactly she's  decided to name this one what she has. "Thunderdick?" 

"Lube." She kissed  him, tongue tracing along his bottom lip. "Then fuck me. Don't worry about thunderdick, I'll explain that one later."  Her eyes look at the bright blue vibrator as she smirks. She has a story as to why it's named what it is. It takes batteries,  has multiple settings, and makes her cum. The blue reminds her of his eyes, the only difference is, - it's not angry. But - if she's pissed off, it's perfect to use. 

Sighing, he places the vibrator back in the drawer. Whatever she says. He grabs the bottle and squeezes a little bit out on two fingers, spreading it around until he slides through easily down there. She grips him, sliding down onto him, finally connected after a year of being apart as her eyes  widen and her mouth drops open, feeling the stretch almost like it's the first time all over again. "Fuck." She mumbles at the same time as him. It causes her to giggle a little as she lowers her breasts against his chest, kissing him gently while his hands grip her ass, as he plants his feete onto the bed in a way that allows her to just slowly grind them together, back and forth. 

"Missed you." He whispers, one hand in her hair. 

"Mm. Me too." She echoes back as they move in a steady rhythm. Their bodies perfectly situated with one another. Fitting together like they were made to.

"I love you... insanely." He whispers, kissing her face as she tucks hers into his neck. 

"Ditto." She whispers back. "Don't leave me."

"No. Never." He grips her, eyes meeting as she takes charge, swirling her hips around. "Not going anywhere."

"Make love to me every night."

"You don't have to ask." 

Her eyes shine in the early morning light. "Good."

It was the slowest they'd ever made love, and if anyone were to ever ask,  Elliot would tell them it was his favorite time. It felt like coming home. When they'd both orgasmed, he lay there, holding her close, synching their breathing again. 


"Hey." He smiles down at her, while her brown eyes look up into his face, a smile plastered there. "I brought you breakfast in bed." 

Her eyes travel down his torso. "Yeah you did."

This was always meant to be. 

Chapter Text

14 Years Ago

Olivia Benson leaned her forehead against the cool metal of the bathroom stall, her hand flat against the surface, as though it were going to anchor her to the here and now. With a shaky breath in, she closes her eyes. The dripping of the middle sink's faucet providing a steady rhythm that she tries to breathe in with every third drip and out with every sixth. Her other hand reaches over, flushing the toilet as she presses her head against her left arm. 

"Liv?" Elliot's voice fills the room as she takes her tenth breath in. "You in here?"

"I mean, yeah, it is the women's room, El." She snaps. She didn't mean for it to come out like it did, in her snippy tone, but there they were. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean for that to come out like that..." She opens the stall, her cheeks slightly pink from the exertion of where she'd just emptied the contents of her stomach for the second time this morning. He steps to the side, leaning back against the sink as she turns on the faucet, splashing her face with the cool water before she pats it dry.

Elliot's hands are stuffed in his pockets as he looks down at his shoes. "Liv, this is the second time this morning." He leans over, whispering to her. She tosses the napkin in the garbage can before she turns to face him, shoulders falling. 

"I know." She swallows the bile that's rising in her throat. "Look, maybe it's a cold or something."

Elliot smirks, his eyes looking at the shirt she's wearing. "Or something. Liv,  it's been a few weeks." 

"I know what you're thinking and you're wrong." She walks out of the bathroom, as he follows behind her. "You're wrong."

He presses his lips together, shrugging as they head up the stairs towards the locker room. "Would it hurt to find out?" She stops two steps from the top as he places his hand on the railing. "I mean, would it?" 

"I guess not." She concedes,  taking the last two steps in stride. As soon as they get to their lockers she sits down on the bench. "Elliot, we don't have to talk about this -thing. It doesn't have to be anything." 

"Olivia, I'd just like to know." He shrugs. 

"Why? So they can..." she leans around, there's no one around. "... split us up?" 

"They won't split us up if we pretend that it's not - "

"We're talking in pipe dreams, El." 

"I think we're talking in definitives." He smiles at her sitting down on the bench, stretching his legs out in front of him. "C'mon, we'll go downstairs, tell Cragen we're going to lunch and then we're going to go interview Miles and Marissa Beaucamp, and we'll swing by your place you can find out and then we'll just go about our day...like nothing's changed." 

Olivia's brown eyes study his blue ones for a moment and inside of them she finds a calmness she hadn't felt all morning. Like she was being soothed. Biting her bottom lip, she pushes her hair out of her face, staring down at her feet. "Yeah... okay. We'll go find out..." she swallows, "We'll do that." She nods. 

"C'mon partner." Elliot stands up, grabbing her hand for a split second before releasing it after rubbing the back of her hand. "Remember, I'm your partner for better or worse."

"This is a little bit bigger than just having my back, El."

"Doesn't have to be."

"Yeah." She tucks her hand in her pocket,  sighing as they head back down the stairs. 

Seventeen minutes later, they found themselves sitting on the edge of her bathtub, staring up at two plastic sticks on the sink. She'd insisted on taking more than one test, both different, just to know for sure. 

"What if it's positive?" She asks, leaning her head in the palm of her hands, her elbows pressing into her knees. "Then what?"

"Then, we're going to have a baby." He answers, smiling. "C'mon, we'll be alright, no matter what."

"We're not even dating Elliot. We just...started sleeping together,  and I'm the biggest fucking cliche on the face of the planet." She shakes her head. "What will people say,  when they find out that I got knocked up by sleeping with my fucking partner. They'll think we've been fucking all along." 

"No. I won't let them think that."

"What, you're going to defend my honor?" She laughs harshly. "You're  ridiculous. It's what people will think."

"Well, does it really matter if we know the truth?"

"What if we say I was seeing this other guy and he doesn't want anything to do with me... if it's positive."

"Whatever you want, Liv. But- I do want to be a part of this kid's life... in whatever way you'll allow me." 

She sits there, quietly as two minutes (that seem to last a lifetime) tick by slowly. At last, his watch beeps. She looks up towards the counter. "I don't know if I can do it." She whispers. "Can you... El, can you check?"

"Yeah." He stands up, walking over to the sink where he looks down, his back to her. She knows he can see the result on the two tests,  but he's not saying anything. His shoulders fall as he reaches for one of them, hands shaking. She watches him, wondering what the hell he's thinking. He's not made one single sound.  

"El?" When he turns around, he has tears in his eyes and he's staring down at the test. "What's it say?"

"Liv." It comes out in a croak as he bends down, holding it out to her. She feels the goosebumps  rise on her skin as she reaches forward to grab it, mouth falling open as her other hand covers  her mouth. 

"We're... I'm... " She's speechless, and when her eyes look up to  meet his, she's got tears in her own now. "Elliot." She drops the test on the floor,  wrapping her arms around his neck, their lips crashing together. 

Present Day

"Hey Alliebug." Elliot stands in the doorway, his arms wrapped around Olivia's stomach as she leans back into him, smiling while she watches the kids in the kitchen,  laughing about something or other. He's  dressed in the pair of blue jeans that he'd been wearing the night before. "You wanna go take a walk?" She turns around, nodding quietly.

"Yeah."

Chapter Text

Stepping out of the safety of the house, away from the other three kids, stepping away from His Olivia, it was only easy this morning because as he walked over the threshold, he was in the company of one of the loves of his life. It was true, Olivia was the love of his life, but his daughters? All five of them? They were precious to him. With every little girl he brought into the world, he became even more scared shitless. Him and Liv? They’d seen the worst of the worst, and they knew what was out there so he’d always tried to teach his daughters all the things they needed to know to protect themselves. All the things he wished someone had taught Olivia.

“I hope you know just because I gave you a hug I haven’t forgiven you.” Allie folds her arms across her chest, watching as her sneakers kick a small pebble along the sidewalk. “But… it was nice to have you there this morning.” She admits the last part quietly, turning her blue eyes to meet those nearly identical ones of her father while tucking a strand of her brown hair behind her ear.

“I know,” he nods, “trust me, I haven’t forgiven myself yet.”

“Yeah, well… rightfully so.” She takes a deep breath, dropping her hands to her side, tucking one in her back pocket as her shoulder bumps against her father’s side.

“I can tell you have something to say,” he pauses, “you’re just like your mother like that. I can always hear her think,” the smirk on his face is almost endearing, because Allie knows that her father isn’t lying. “All the time. She’s always been the loudest.”

Allie makes a noise that sounds like a scoff. “You’re both obnoxious like that, dad.”

“I don’t expect you to understand what happened between your mother and me.” He begins, wincing slightly. It’s true, he doesn’t expect her to understand it, and he’s not going to ask her to – because he’d prefer if she stay his baby girl forever, but being the father of three older girls, he’s fully aware that they do grow up and he can’t keep them little as much as he’d like to do. “But I do wanna assure you that I love no one more than I love her.”

“Yeah?” Allie bites her bottom lip, “I mean, I kinda know that, dad… but what doesn’t make any sense to me is how it happened. Did she tell you about the night you signed the papers? How she just collapsed on the floor? How I had to call Katie? How I had to try to get her up off the floor? Dad, I don’t want to see her that hurt ever again.”

Elliot listens to his daughter, the oldest of his and Liv’s kids. He watches her face as she talks to him, while walking along the sidewalk. He studies how she’s got Liv’s coloring, Liv’s freckles, his blue eyes, Liv’s hair color, his dimple. He remembers the first time he looked into her tiny face, the first time she’d gripped his thumb.

“Kid, I promise I’m not going to hurt her. I think… look, some things happened between us – grown up things.”

“You suck at communicating? I know.” She smirks, (his) and he chuckles, tilting his head back as he shakes his head. “Trust me.”

“When did you become so wise?”

“Always have been.” She smiles, nudging him with her elbow. “Look, I just need to know you’re going to be there – for all of us from now on. Whatever this was – this small break or whatever you wanna call it… is over.” She takes a deep breath, “And that you and mom aren’t going to be playing tonsil hockey on the lawn at three am.”

“Dear God, Allie.”

“What?”

“Tonsil Hockey? You’ve been hanging out with Katie too much.”

“I love my sister, thank you very much.” She holds her face up towards the sun, a smile on her face. “Dad?”

“Yeah kiddo?”

“I love you.”

“Love you too.”

They walk along, side-by-side for a few more minutes until Allie pauses at the Stop sign, turning to face her father, who has been quiet, almost contemplative the entire time. “You gonna move back in?”

“If she’ll have me, kiddo.” Elliot sighs, tilting his head back down the block as they head back up toward their house.

“Have you asked her if she wants to get married again?”

Elliot thinks about it for a moment. No, he hasn’t, actually. “Would it matter? I don’t think your mother and I need a piece of paper to tell us we’re married.”

Allie’s brows raise as she laughs with her father, shrugging when the laughter dies. “I guess you don’t. You wanna know something?”

“Allie, you could tell me whatever you want, and I’d listen. You’re my favorite.” He winks at her and she rolls her eyes, shaking her head.

“You tell everybody that, dad.”

“Okay, so what if I do?”

Allie takes a deep breath and shrugs. “That’s just how it is. You’re our dad, you’re not supposed to have favorites. Anyway, what I was gonna say was…I’d like to be the reason you guys get married again, for the second time.”

“Baby, you never were just the reason we got married. I mean, knowing your mother was pregnant with you? That was mind blowing, but, uh… I never expected her to wanna get married. We didn’t get married because of you, we got married because we wanted to be a family with you – and we probably would’ve eventually gotten married anyway.”

“Dad, mom was literally in labor with me. She’s told me the story.”

“Yeah? Did she tell you how many different names she called me?” Elliot asks, smiling. He loves these talks with his daughters. Hell, he likes talking to his sons too. “Not as many as Grandpa called me when he found out you were mine, but uh…it was a close count.”

“I bet.” Allie smiles. “Aunt Alex says it was funny.”

“When’s the last time you spoke to Alex?”

Allie thinks for a moment. “Three weeks ago?” Her brows furrow. “She sends her love and says she’s working on coming back to kick your ass.”

Elliot just hums. “Yeah. I believe that.”

“I’d be scared of Aunt Alex, dad.” Allie shrugs. “But not more than Aunt Casey.”

“They’re both equally frightening.” He mumbles. “We good?” They stop in front of the gate of the house, Allie turns her head and looks up at the front door.

“Yeah dad, we’re good.”

“May I have a hug?”

Allie hums now, a smile on her face, her blue eyes sparkling extra bright today. “I think so.”

He pulls her in smiling as he kisses the top of her head, squeezing her closer to his chest, his hand cradling her head just like he'd done all those years ago when she'd been a newborn. 

He wishes she would stay this age.

Chapter Text

"Mom," Noah levels his gaze at his mother once the twins go into the living room to turn on cartoons (for thirty minutes, as Olivia had instructed them), "Is dad gonna move back in?" 

She chokes on the sip she'd just taken of her second cup of coffee. "Um..." She wipes the bit that had sputtered out of her mouth as she blinks a few times, shifting towards the kitchen island. "I - Noah, I'm not sure how to answer that... exactly." 

The truth is, she'd like to tell him that 'yeah, absolutely kid, your dad is gonna move in, we're gonna get re-married and we're going to be happy goddamnit.' But, the truth of the matter is, she doesn't know what his endgame is. He'd promised to make love to her nightly, he'd promised that he wasn't going anywhere, but - who's to say that the next time one of them did something asinine either of them wouldn't walk out? She couldn't guarantee anything. Part of her hopes, deep down inside of her soul that he will stay. Part of her dreams that maybe this reconciliation is going to stick. But they have a lot more to talk about, a lot to make up for. 

"What do you mean 'exactly'?" His eyes were always stunning to her, whenever she was with him, it was almost like she could forget that he wasn't like Allie, Finley, or Serena. It was easy to forget that he'd been placed in her arms at 9 months old and she'd never looked back once - he looked just like his siblings. The universe gave them Noah when she'd had a miscarriage, and he'd saved her... saved them. 

"I mean, it's adult things, sweetheart. Don't worry about it. Mkay?" She takes another sip of her coffee. She's grateful that she has the day off, partially because staying up all night making love to your ex-husband is probably not the way to spend the night if you have to work the next morning, so for that she was grateful. 

Did it mean she didn't plan on making love to him again soon? Absolutely not. It had been the longest year of her life, being without Elliot like she'd had him last night. Slow, sensual, passionate. Shit, she was trying to think about the last time they'd taken that much time exploring and touching one another. True, Thunderdick got the job done, but it wasn't the same as Elliot's hands trailing over her heated skin, spreading her arousal through her folds, his fingers plunging into her. No, she much preferred that to any object that took batteries. She bites down on her bottom lip, thinking about it. 

"Mom, do you think dad will wanna go on vacation with us this summer?" Noah asks, and for once, she snaps out of her wayward thoughts. Would he want to go on vacation with his family? Would he want to share a bed with her while their kids all slept in the next room in a double? She'd love that idea. She'd love to be able to relax with him, curl up next to him, sink into his side while he kisses her, running his hands through her hair. 

"I don't know, we'll ask." She smiles, imploring Noah to drop the million questions this morning. She glances out to the front door, Allie and Elliot should be getting back at any minute. Noah shakes his head, rolling his blue eyes as he hops down.

"Whatever. I'm going to go watch TV with Finley and Ser." She exhales slowly watching him walk out of the room. 

There's a lot that can be categorized in the "unknown" territory for them as a family, as a couple, as friends... but she's confident that no matter what it is, they can get through. In fact, she'd be willing to bet that they're going to be okay now. If only he would talk to her, honestly, about the things that happened to him. It took her a long time to be able to spill everything that had happened to her too. They were always grateful that they still had one another to lean on, and then - she doesn't know what changed a year ago that had made him run away like that. He'd mentioned that he thought it's what he thought she wanted, but he'd never even asked. Allie was right, what she'd said to her a few days ago when they'd been laying in her bed at night when she couldn't sleep. Elliot and her needed to learn to communicate. 

They'd figured it out years and years ago, they could totally do it again, right?


[ almost 15 years ago]

Olivia sat on the edge of the hospital bed, holding an ice pack to her shoulder as Captain Cragen came into the room, his hands in his pockets, a folder tucked between his stomach and elbow; his eyes locked with hers. She'd been avoiding disclosing the fact she was pregnant for a few weeks now, and just this morning (of all mornings) she'd decided that she was going to tell him... after lunch. What she wasn't expecting, (other than the baby that she'd discovered she was going to have 3 weeks ago, putting her roughly around almost 12 weeks at this point according to the OBGYN she'd seen last week who said she was 11 weeks),  was to have to tell him BEFORE lunch. 

She and Elliot had been chasing down this guy, and Elliot had lost sight of him, they'd thought that they'd just lost him all together, but it turns out, he was hiding behind a door, and when she was walking by BAM!, right against her shoulder, knocking her back into the wall. Shoulder definitely dislocated. Elliot had been so freaked out that despite popping it back in (which everyone knew how to do, apparently), that he'd driven her to the hospital. 

They'd notified the Captain... and now, now she's staring at him and he's stairng at her and she's scared shitless. 

They'd agreed not to mention the fact that Elliot was the father... for the time being. Because if she's going to be benched, she can at least still be his partner. As long as Don doesn't know. 

"Anything you'd like to tell me, Benson?" 

She takes a deep breath, her head turning away  as she looks at the ice pack on the shoulder. "Like what, Cap?"

He sighs. She's pretty sure if he was going to break sobriety, it'd be because of something she or Elliot did. So, she takes a deep breath and cocks her head looking at him. "Don't play pattycake with me, Olivia." 

She clicks her tongue on the top of her mouth. "I don't know what you-"

"Anything in your blood work that would cause the levels of HCG to be elevated?" He tosses the folder on the bed. Shit, she almost forgot about that. She was injured on the job, and so all the records related to that go into a folder and damnit all to hell.

"I'm pregnant?" She states it in a surprised tone. Don narrows his eyes. "Look, I was gonna tell you after lunch today, I've been working up the nerve and I only got it verified last week for sure."

"For sure?" Don crosses his arms, sitting down in the chair. "Is this going to be something I need to report to IAB?"

"Why?"

"I don't recall you mentioning dating anyone and Elliot hasn't been overly pissy lately, Olivia." Don sighs. "Did something happen after the warehouse?" 

Well, shit. Damnit, Elliot. She makes a mental note to tell him to brood a little better.

"No." Okay, that was a little too quick. "I was dating this guy, El didn't know about him... it was relatively new. A whirlwind romance... I mean, we thought we were being safe but I guess it broke and we figured I was probably safe since I was taking my pills but -you know what, I don't have to explain this. No, there's nothing you have to report to IAB."

"I swear to you, Olivia." Don rubs his hand over his face. "Are you happy about this? I assume you're  planning on having this baby?"

"I'm -" She swallows. "I mean, I'd been thinking about adoption or sperm donation - "

"What about the guy?"

"He doesn't - look..." She takes a deep breath, placing her good hand over the small bump she'd noticed forming just last night after she and Elliot had finished having sex. (She wasn't going to call it making love yet, because she knew she loved him, but she wasn't sure what they were doing, honestly. They were pregnant, they were partners, they were fucking, but they weren't... they hadn't put a label on it. She's pretty sure he loves her too, because he mentions it while he's inside of her... but that's something most men say, right?) "I'm doing this on my own. Well, almost."  She smirks. "Elliot yelled at me when I told him on the way to the hospital that I don't have to - that I have the squad." 

"Olivia, if I find out any differently..." She levels her gaze. Pokerface, Olivia

"I know."

"I'm happy for you." He smiles. "But you're benched." 

Her shoulders fall. Well, it was good while it lasted


Olivia jumps as the front door opens and Allie walks in mid-laugh. Then, when her eyes meet Elliot's she relaxes. 

She's on the edge of asking him to move back in when he walks up to her, kissing her forehead. "You good?"

She just nods. She'll save that for later. Maybe while they're naked.

Chapter Text

Her phone rings as she's watching the kids tossing a frisbee in the park. They'd all decided to go after Allie had gotten back with Elliot. Now, as they sit side-by-side on the bench, she throws Elliot an apologetic look as she answers it. 

"Fin, the place better be burning to the ground." She mumbles, turning her body slightly away from Elliot. He just smirks, shaking his head. It was how she always answered the phone, going back as long as she remembered. "Well, tell him I'm taking the day off. I'm allowed to take those." She pauses for a minute, throwing her head back, her hair brushing against the middle of her back over her bright pink t-shirt. "Yeah. Tell him Monday." She turns her head to look at Elliot, mouthing 'Sorry' because they'd been in the middle of talking to one another about the kids. "Okay. Bye." She hangs up, rolling her eyes  as she tucks the phone back in the bag between them. "I need a new Chief," she mumbles. Elliot just kind of chuckles at that, because the truth is, she could be the Chief if things go the way they've  been going. She was always meant for greater things, bolder things, more brilliant and bright things. 

"Just put up with him for as long as you have to, then - " Elliot shrugs. 

"Yeah. We're going to not touch on that one right now, okay?" she stretches her legs out in front of her, pushing her hips up slightly as her back pops. "Oh, that was nice." 

"I coulda fixed it for you."

"Mhm, you could've." She agrees, looking at him in an appraising manner with a small glint in her eye. "Where were we?" 

"We were discussing Noah's Dance Camp that starts in a few weeks. You were also telling me about the Soccer Camp Finley got invited to and how Serena wanted to attend Music Camp."

"Yeah." She sighs, "When did our lives  become managing schedules?" He opens his mouth, but before he can say one word, she holds up her hand, shaking her head. "Don't answer that." They sit, silently, watching as Noah tackles Finley and then Allie picks up Serena, spinning her around in a circle laughing before they both fall down. "They're alright, right? You don't think we messed them up too bad?" 

"Nah, I don't think they're messed up. Not the younger ones. Allie, she's a hard nut to crack though."

"She's as stubborn as you." Olivia nudges  him with her elbow, smiling. 

"Me?" Elliot places his hand over his heart, "Stubborn? Excuse me, Mrs. BENSON-Stabler, but I believe YOU are the most stubborn of them all."

"Well, someone has to give you as much shit as you give everyone else." She mumbles. "I was thinking about the day Don found out I was pregnant, the day that my shoulder got dislocated. How you freaked out and took me to the hospital." She looks over at him, leaning back against his arm that he had thrown over the back of the bench. "You remember that?"

"You mean getting the third degree from Don and almost cracking under the pressure of his incessant questioning whether or not I knew you were pregnant and for how long and did I have anything to do with your situation? Oh yeah, I remember. I almost cracked that day, just so you know." 

"It's funny, it doesn't matter how many times we talk about it, but  it always makes me laugh."

"Remember when he found out that you lied to him?" Elliot asks, brows rising. Olivia takes a deep breath. "When was that again?"

"For sure? After she was born."

"Yeah, remember when Fin found out?" 

"Fin only found out because he was suspicious all the time, Elliot." Olivia laughs, placing her hand on his knee. "But yeah, the day Fin put two and two together... that was...something."



"Liv. You look a little pale." Fin leaned back in his chair, eyes narrowed, "You eaten anything?" 

"I'm fine, Fin." She reaches for her water bottle, the one that Elliot had plopped down on the corner before he had to run out with John earlier in the morning. She'd been feeling a little off most of the morning, but she was determined to not let this feeling get the best of her. 

"So, the father of this baby. What kind of a dumbass sleeps with Olivia Benson, knocks her up, then runs?" Fin asks,  rolling his chair over next to her desk. 

"You wanna be my baby's daddy, Fin?" Olivia places her pen down on the top of the folder she's been staring at for the last twenty minutes, between the terrible heartburn and the feeling that she's hot one second and cold the next. "Cause I gotta tell you - " 

"Nah. I just wonder where I can find the asshole so I can knock his teeth out." Fin's eyes study his coworker,  the woman he's come to respect and see as something of an equal in the last few years. "Damn fool, that's all." 

Olivia chews on the inside of her cheek, taking a deep breath as she runs her hands through her growing hair. She shifts slightly in the chair. 

"I'm surprised we haven't had to bail Stabler outta jail for doing just that though." Fin plays with the end of a pencil, spinning it in a small circle as his brow rises while his eyes never leave Olivia's face. She takes a deep breath in. "Funny how that works,  ain't it?"

"What do you want, Fin?" She asks, swallowing. "What are you asking?"

"Look, I ain't gonna lie to you, Benson. I love you like you're a sister - and this little one, damn lucky to have you as a Mama. But Dad? If you and dumbass here," he tilts his head towards Elliot's desk, "are lying to him about this whole 'baby daddy that doesn't wanna take responsibility' shit," Fin shrugs. "I'd suggest leaving the country now." 

She laughs, placing her hand on the small swell that was present underneath her top. "What do you know?" Her eyes narrow as she leans forward, placing her elbows on the edge of the desk. Fin presses his lips together. 

"I saw him taking you to your doctor's appointment last week." Fin tells her, "I was interviewing a witness and I looked up and saw him pull up to the curb, walk around, open your door,guide you in..." She holds her hand up, suddenly pale. 

"Fin."

"I ain't gonna say shit, ain't none of my business, I just gotta know how to run interference here." 

Olivia takes a deep breath. "What do you want?"

"The truth, and help doing my DD5s since you're chained to this desk..." Fin pauses, "And I wanna be godfather."

Olivia laughs. "We'll see about the last part..." She bites her bottom lip. "I'll help you with the DD5s, I'll buy you lunch this afternoon, and you can pretend like you don't already know the answer."

"That's cold."

"You still love me though."

"Shit, I should have a kid named after me." He rolls away.

"You're not wrong, by the way." She glances back towards Cragen's office. "I mean, we would've had to bail him out by now, huh?"

"I don't care what the situation is, as long as y'all do your jobs." Fin shrugs. "In my opinion, nothing really has changed anyway. Besides, however this goes down later on, I got your back.

She sits, looking at Fin for a moment, breathing out a sigh of relief. At least it wasn't a secret eating her up anymore... and Elliot trusted Fin, he'd mentioned it to her not that long ago. Said Fin would always have her back, no matter what. 


"It's amazing he didn't blab and that it was John's fault." Elliot laughs. "A lot of shit came out that day Allie was born."

"Yeah." Olivia nods, watching Finley sneak up on Allie. "A lot of things that should've come out sooner." She smiles, "I wouldn't change a damn thing though."

Elliot smiles. "Me either."

Chapter Text


[ almost fifteen years ago ] 

Donald Cragen had never been a fool. He’d known, almost immediately when the two Detectives had fallen in love with one another. He also had known, standing in the hospital that day that he stared down at the blood test results following Benson being injured on the job, somewhere in the back of his mind, that there was only one man Olivia Benson trusted enough to allow that close to her. To be tied to in such a permanent manner. He knew this, because he knew her past. He knew her origin, and he knew how much she held the men she dated at an arm’s length.

Then again, there was the time he’d found out that she’d dated the Cop turned Agent, Andy Erickson and he’d been surprised. She held her personal life pretty close to her vest, so when he’d stared at her – tossing the folder down on the edge of the hospital bed that afternoon, he knew either way it went, he could pretend to not know or he could blow it all up. He’d made a conscious decision that afternoon, that no matter how much she might try to bullshit him, he would hope that it was true that they were having a baby together, as much of a headache as it was going to be, because that child would be blessed with one helluva family.

He couldn’t just split up his best team and lose them both. He just wanted reassurances that they at least waited until he’d been separated to embark on a relationship.

He didn’t want to lose them. They were too valuable. What IAB didn’t know, it wouldn’t hurt them.

When the snowstorm made it nearly impossible to get to the hospital on time, he’d been notified hours later, after the streets had been cleared, after the dust had settled, - and after Olivia Benson had brought into the world a little baby girl, he’d made the trek there. Not even hell could have kept him away; because as she’d (emotionally) told him on the phone, he was the closest thing to a father she’d ever had and she wanted him to meet her baby girl. He hadn’t told her at the time, but she was the closest thing to a daughter he’d ever had, and nothing could’ve kept him away. He’d never had children of his own.

The minute he walked into the room he noticed two things. The first being the plastic band around Elliot’s wrist that matched the one around Olivia’s and the small baby’s ankle. The minute she looked up away from the child, and met his eyes, he instantly saw regret. Regret and the truth, unspoken. Elliot, ever the seasoned father, who was still trying to perpetuate the lie that he was just supporting his partner, handed the baby over to Don, and the crinkle at the corner of his eyes told Don everything he needed to know before he even looked down into the child’s face. That, and the fact that Elliot was wearing a brace on his hand.

“What happened to you, Detective?” Cragen hadn’t looked into Allie’s face yet, but he was watching Elliot carefully who held his wrist up after handing her over.

“Liv is a badass and likes to break hands.” Elliot laughs, “Delivering her daughter with no meds, a partner, and two attorneys present.”

“Well, this little one is well-represented.” Don laughs, finally glancing down into her sleepy face. The infant, hours old, is looking up at him her little fists hidden beneath the edges of a gown with the sleeves that fold over to hide the fingers from them. The minute he looks into her face though, his eyes water. Staring up at him, are unfocused stormy blue eyes with a ring of bright blue in the center. Don knows his suspicions are confirmed as he traces his finger over the bridge of the little girl’s nose, a smile spreading across his face when she closes her eyes.

“She’s perfect, Olivia.” He’s getting choked up, and shit, there’s no one better suited to be a mother than Olivia Benson. Olivia’s just staring at the two of them, at the moment, the medications the doctor had given her following her natural home delivery to help with pain had kicked in. She has a sleepy smile on her face, but she blinks a few times.

“I know.” She answers quietly.

“What did you name this little one?” He folds the sleeve back, checking on her tiny little fingers, smiling as she tries to grip hold of his finger.

“Alexandra Grace.” Olivia answers.

“That’s beautiful.” Don comments as Elliot excuses himself. Olivia nods, watching the door shut behind Elliot. “What’s her last name, Benson?”

Shit.

She takes a deep breath. “Benson.”

“Olivia, I can read bands.” He holds her little foot up before he swaddles her back. “Benson-Stabler?”

She chews on her bottom lip, allowing her head to hit the pillow as she looks up at the light above her bed. “Yeah.” She swallows.

“We’re going to have to talk about this, Olivia.”

“I know.” She plays with the edge of the bedsheet. “I know.”

“In the meantime,” he smiles, his serious expression quickly dissolving. “I’m going to tell little Alexandra – Allie – about what a huge pain in the ass her parents are.” He stares into her face, “Listen to me when I tell you these things, because one day you’re going to roll those pretty blue eyes of yours and want to smack the both of them.” Don begins, “Your parents are both stubborn, smart, and have this thing they do where they like to talk without words, what do you say we have a little fun with your daddy, we don’t let on that we know he is who he is to you.” Don’s dark eyes look up at Olivia and a silent agreement passes between the two of them. “That way, we can play pretend that we don’t know they were together when they shouldn’t have been and I don’t have to try to find a person to fill a hole.” Don smiles down at Allie. “What do you say to that?” The little infant, who looks asleep, starts to move her little chin like she’s attempting to suckle on air. Don begins rocking in the chair, appreciating the new life in his arms.

“You did well, Liv.” He whispers above the infant’s head. “I’m not happy about what happened, but – this little girl is one lucky little girl.”

Olivia smiles sleepily, “Yeah. She is,” She takes a deep breath, “She’s got you for a Grandpa.”

Meanwhile, in the back of her mind, she doesn’t wanna shatter Don’s thoughts, that they just had a baby together. She doesn’t want to admit to the man that her partner is now her partner officially, well, kind of – because another one of his Detectives, John Munch, married them over the phone. That they’re going to make it official in a few days, as soon as she gets out of this hospital.

She doesn’t want to lose her partner. She doesn’t want to work with anyone else, why should they, when they work so well together? They’ve already had this discussion though, and when push comes to shove, Elliot has volunteered to bite the bullet and transfer out. It had been a long, hard conversation that they’d had a few weeks ago, while she’d been balancing her bowl of ice cream on her stomach as Allie attempted to resituate in the womb, the bowl moving in weird waves.

She’d loved the feeling. As foreign as it had been.

Though, now that Allie is out here, in the world – and she can physically touch her, she’s feeling a little off. The doctor said it was a normal feeling, that there was nothing to worry about, but – Olivia couldn’t help but feel as though there was something broken inside of her.


“Knock knock.” The front door opens to the house as Donald Cragen, older now, but a fixture in the Benson-Stabler household, “Grandpa’s here!”

Olivia and Elliot were sitting in the kitchen, a cup of coffee in front of the two of them as they were looking over one of the several camp applications, filling them out. School would be out in a few days, and they wanted to make sure the registrations were complete before June 30th – the date on most of the papers. When Don opened the front door, Serena bolted past them from the back porch, having heard his voice.

As much as Don loved Allie and Noah, Serena was Don’s little angel.

“Grandpa!” Serena called as she ran. Sensing the way Olivia tensed up, Elliot leaned back from his position.

“Sera, don’t run in the house. You’ll trip over the rug.”

Allie was sitting at the breakfast nook table, her Algebra 1 book cracked open in front of her. She was in the 8th grade, but in the accelerated classes. She’d taken Pre-Algebra in 7th grade and was slated to be in Geometry when she started High School. In one ear, she had one of her earbuds, listening to music as she checked over the assignment, plugging in the numbers and double-checking her work. Erasing problems when she couldn’t get the same answer twice.

Finley and Noah were on the back porch, laughing as they played games on their Switches. (Another time-monitored thing in the household. They were allowed 3 hours a day – split up in 1 hour increments).

“Sera.” Don leaned down, giving the little girl a kiss on the forehead. “How’s my best girl?”

“I thought I was your best girl, Don.” Liv called from the kitchen, pushing her glasses up from her face.

As he came into view, he took a deep breath, eyes moving between the two pain in the asses he thought of as his children. (Olivia more of as a daughter and Elliot like the son-in-law). “This is… different.”

“They’re trying.” Allie’s voice comes from the table behind him, Don turns to meet her blue eyes, a small smile on her face. “A bit annoying, but an improvement compared to a few months ago.” Allie erases one of the problems and begins to write a new one. “Hey Grandpa.”

“What are you working on Allie?” Don takes a seat next to her, pulling her book over. “Oh, Algebra. Do they still teach that the same, or has that math changed too?”

She furrows her brows and Don wants to laugh at how similar to her mother she looks like that, but those eyes, he’d always known just by those eyes.

“They changed that one too.” She sighs, clearing out her calculator. “Unfortunately.” She swallows, “Dad showed me how Katie and Mo had to do Algebra and I think it’s a million times easier than this shit.”

“Language.” Serena puts her hands on her hips, staring down her older sister.

“Listen here, squirt.” Allie points her pencil eraser at her little sister. “One day you’re going to say the same words.”

“Let’s hope it’s not for a long time, right Sera?” Don sits back as Serena climbs onto his leg, throwing her arms around his neck as he gives her a hug. “Where are the boys?”

Olivia turns to look out the back door, where she sees Noah and Finley on the steps. “Out on the steps. Playing games.” Don nods. “What brings you by today, Cap?”

“Well, Captain, a little birdie told me that they saw you two out at the park and I thought it’s been a hot minute since I saw my grandkids.”

“You’re welcome here any time, Don.” Olivia smiles warmly. “Honestly.”

Don turns his attention to Elliot, a silent agreement passing between the two of them. “Elliot, how are you?”

“Trying to fix it, Don.” He answers, turning back to the packet in front of him. “It’s not easy.”

“Never was, you two were always complicated.” Don laughs. “I was going to ask you all if you wanted me to buy dinner for us all, my treat.”

“Pizza, Grandpa?” Allie turns to look at him, smiling as she leans on her fist. “Please?”

“I could never say no to you, Sera, or your mother. What do you say Liv? Pizza okay?”

“Pizza sounds awesome.” She answers. “Means I don’t have to do the dishes.”

“Means you don’t have to cook, mom.” Allie rolls her eyes. “I think I’m done with this.” She announces. “Now, I have to enter the numbers in on the worksheet on the computer.”

“It’s ridiculous,” Elliot mumbles, leaning toward Olivia, “When we were younger we had to turn in paper homework. Now, they have them fill out digital worksheets, use digital books, and you only have to use paper or a printed book if you want to.” Olivia laughs.

“Save the rainforest, El. You make yourself sound old.”

“You’re both old.” Don calls from the table, laughing as Serena is telling him a story about something Finley did that morning, going into a long-winded description about Pokemon too.

“What’s that make you, Don?” Elliot turns around, smirking.

“An antique.”

Allie glances around the kitchen just as Finley and Noah come in, excited that their grandfather is there. This is beginning to feel like it should. It’s beginning to feel like a year and a half ago, and she’s glad. God, is she glad.

Her parents are talking, her grandfather is joking with them, and all her siblings seem happy.

This is family, and it’s good.

 

Chapter Text

Two Nights Later


"I think that was a productive session." Elliot shoves his hands into his pockets as they leave Dr. Smith's office following a couple's counseling session. It was the same therapist that had been suggested before they were divorced, but at the time, neither of them were willing to discuss anything. They're both heading for the same vehicle, because ever since a few days ago, they were rarely seen without one another. In fact, they'd spent every single night next to one another. 

Sometimes, they'd make love, sometimes- they'd just lay there. Last night, he'd been laying on the bed, kind of curled up next to her with his head resting on her stomach while she leaned against the headboard, their hands clasped together, fingers interlaced as he listened to her talk. There was a lot of things that had happened prior to their marriage, during their marriage, and after their marriage that they'd both avoided discussing. They were both good at avoiding things. It didn't mean that they weren't madly in love with one another, hell, two pregnancies, four kids later, they definitely loved one another. Insanely. 

Now, as they walk to the vehicle, and she climbs into the driver's seat, she presses her lips together. "Hey El," she grips the steering wheel, taking a deep breath as their eyes meet over the console. "Do you think we're being dumb for  jumping back into this?" She asks brows furrowed. 

"What do you mean?" Elliot asks quietly, his hands resting on his knees. "You wanna take it slow or something?"

"I mean, our shit can't get fixed overnight, Elliot." It comes out in a whisper and she feels the pain in her heart. She presses her hand against her chest as he reaches over, grabbing it in his own. "What are you doing?" 

He turns in the seat, facing her more fully. "Liv. We promised one another for better or worse, and I think our divorce was definitely the worst..." he shrugs, "And the fact you're looking conflicted about whether or not what you just said makes sense... What's really going on?"

 "Susan said we made mistakes. " Olivia rubbed the back of his hand with her other hand as they sat in the truck, looking at one another. "I mean, she's not wrong, we really did make a lot of mistakes." 

"We did. But, I gotta tell you, I don't agree with everything Susan said." Elliot sighs. "Liv, it's not like I wanted to get back with you because you're familiar, or because it's comfortable. I want to be with you because you challenge me, you always have... and I think I'm a better husband and father when I have you next to me." He tilts his head againt the seat. "It's never been easy between us, and we've gone through some really bad times together, right?"

"Yeah." She nods, feeling the tears prickle behind her eyes. He reaches forward, placing his palm on her cheek as she leans into his touch. "We have."

"Well, I know our problems aren't going to be fixed in one therapy  session, but I'm willing to make it work with you because I love you. I've always loved you, even when I shouldn't have loved you. I'd like to marry you again, but I know you need a little bit of  time,  so I'm not going to beg you  to go out  and do it on a whim, but -  I miss my wife and my family." She laughs, dryly, shaking her head. 

"Kinda hard to miss what's across the street." 

He smiles at her, blue eyes  slightly watery. "Yeah, well, it was all about strategic planning. I wanted you to be happy, but I wanted you  to be happy with me."

"You're still a selfish prick." She turns away, looking out the window. "But I love you still."

"Me too, Captain." He smirks, turning in his seat as he releases his hand from hers and reaches for the seat belt. "So, what do you say, do you think maybe you can forgive your pain in the ass husband for signing the stack of papers?"

She takes a deep breath, blowing it out  slowly. "I think so, if we just... keep talking like this. Elliot, I never wanted to be that wife, the one who nags you or asks you for more than you can give... and I'm sorry I didn't think it all through at the time, but I felt you pulling away and I was at a loss because I didn't know how to reach you for the first time."

"Liv, I'd go through hell for you, you know that, right?" He asks, brows raised. "I mean, I know you do because I never gave up on you at all."

"You  didn't." She looks down at her hands, gripping the wheel. "I should've thought about how you  were persistent after - well, before Noah." She sighs. "I mean, I didn't give up on you after Jenna."

His eyes close as he nods, running his hand over his face. "Liv, I had to transfer out of SVU after that because as much as we loved working with one another, while 'unofficially' partners, according to Don - the lack of Officers willing to come into SVU allowed me to stay  but your official partner was Fin..." he shakes his head. "Well, they knew I would've shot a hundred people if it meant my wife was safe."

She nods.  "Now look at me." 

"What? You're successful, our kids are loved, you have your own squad -and a kooky ex-husband that absolutely  adores you  still."

"Promise?" She asks, pushing her lips between her teeth, running her tongue along them while they rest inside of her mouth. "You promise you're always going to adore me like that, El? Even when I yell at you for playing our song?"

"Well, in your defense, our song isn't exactly subtle or quiet... but it's us." He smirks. 

"Why  did you pick that song, by the way, Elliot?" She pulls away from the curb, heading back toward the bridge to go back to  their houses. "I never asked."  

He smirks, holding onto the bar above his head. "Well, there's the line in the song, - and it's the 'I can still feel the touch of your thin blue jeans runnin' down the alley, I've got my eyes all over you baby.'" he recites, a full smile on his face now as he turns to her at the light. "I always loved watching you run down alleys after perps in blue jeans. That ass, and those thighs  of yours?"

"Great, so our  song - is only  our song because you used to objectify my ass in jeans while doing our job when you were supposed to  have my back."

"Fin wasn't wrong... I had your back... I was just also looking at your backside."

"Ass." She smiles, shaking her head. "Let's go home, Stabler."

"You're the one driving, Stabler." She rolls her eyes. 

Chapter Text


A Few Weeks Later

Things had been looking kind of better, as far as their counseling sessions were going. After they'd sat down the night after their first one, they'd asked the kids what they thought about the whole situation. Because, in the long run, it always would come down to what worked best for them. With Summer Camp in full swing now, Elliot and Olivia found themselves with a lot more free time after dropping off Finley at the sleepaway Soccer Camp he'd wanted to go to, Noah was staying in the Dance Dormitories for his Intensive that he'd gotten a scholarship into, Serena had twice-a-week piano lessons, which coincided with Olivia and Elliot's counseling sessions perfectly on Thursdays. 

But when they had sat them down and talked to them about everything that had been going on, the resounding answer was all the same from the younger kids. "Whatever, we just want our family."

Not that they weren't ever a full family, but it was an understandable thing for Olivia. Elliot too, because he missed the hell out of his kids. 

Allie had decided that she wanted to go with Kathleen to the shore for a week and now, they found themselves alone. Alone, and trying to figure out what it was they wanted to do with the house across the street. Alone, and finding themselves more undressed than dressed. 

Not that that was a huge surprise to Olivia. 

Or Elliot, for that matter. 


She lay there, with the sheet pulled up around her chest, her head to the side as his arm lies pinned underneath her body, on her face, a smile graces her lips. 

"Was it ever like this?" She asks, as Elliot catches his breath, the sheet crumbled and draped over his lower half. He's still ridiculously fit, and Olivia is a little be jealous about everything to be honest. He'd been offering for weeks to help her get back into shape if that's what she wanted, but for the most part, he mainly told her that she was already perfect the way she was. That her body, while scarred, while it has evidence of the two pregnancies she'd gone through, it was everything he could ever want and more. (At the time, she'd asked him if he was trying to get into her pants again - and he'd laughed, telling her he didn't have to try because there were some things he could say to her that would want her in HIS pants instead... he wasn't wrong). 

"What do you mean?" He asks, his other hand resting on his rising and falling stomach. "I always thought it was like this - intense, incredible, sexy, passionate." 

Her brow rises as she shakes her head. "I meant, was it always this emotional between us, El. Think really hard about it..." She takes a breath in. "I mean, when we first got together, you came over because you'd just signed those divorce papers, and Gitano had sliced my neck and then Ryan died, and we found Rebecca, and after he'd held a gun to your head, - you just showed up and you cupped my face in your large-ass hands that I used to stare at and you kissed me, right there against the door of my old apartment- I was so fucking confused."

"You were pretty surprirsed, but c'mon, we were partners. Or, that's what we tried to tell ourselves. You know... I reckon I fell in love with you that second year of our partnership, I think it happened when I began to worry more about your well-being than my own."

"I think you were sunk from the beginning, El." She laughs, shaking her head, her hair moving with her, the smile radiant on her face, her skin practically glowing. "But remember what happened after I smacked into the wall?"

Elliot smiles, of course he does. It was the beginning of the rest of their lives - unknowingly - together. 



Fifteen Years Ago

"Elliot." She pushes his shoulders back, forcing their lips apart. Already, she feels a loss at the loss of contact between the two of them. "What the hell are you doing?"

"I love you." It comes out in a rush and Olivia finds herself a little weak in the knees because never in a million and one years did she think she'd ever hear her partner, her - divorcing partner - say those words to her. They'd been words that had always been silent between the two of them. Words secreted in different actions, in the protectiveness, in 'screw yous' and 'I've got your backs'... but never did she think she'd hear them. She'd swallowed them so many times, herself. She wasn't sure where to put that. 

"What?" It comes out in a whisper, and she feels like a damn fool for asking it, but she needs him to repeat it. She needs to know she's not losing her damn mind. 

"I love you, Olivia. I love you and I - " she crashes their lips back together, pulling him away from the door, kicking it closed with her foot as she backs him into the door while she fastens the chain. As soon as it goes into the slot, she pushes his jacket off his shoulders, as his hands reach down and lift her up from her thighs. She wraps her legs around him while feeling him against her. 

The sounds of their kisses fill the empty space of the room as they make their way to her bedroom, through the door, and he lowers her down onto the bed, covering her body with his own, their lips traveling, kissing, nipping, biting, tongues sliding against one another, breaths exchanged. They could breathe for one another if someone asked them to. He wraps his arms around her back, pulling at the hem of her shirt. She helps him, tossing it over into the corner as she reaches for his pants. 

It doesn't take either of them long, but he's standing there, with his pants unfastened, shirtless,and she's sitting on the edge of the bed, in her bra and panties, staring up at him, both flushed, lips swollen, and breathing heavily. 

"I love you too." She whispers, as his hands wrap around her back, sliding up her spine, splaying against her warm skin. He smiles, kissing her neck against the butterfly stitch over the skin that had been slashed the day before.


PRESENT DAY

"Yeah. I think it always was like that, Liv." Elliot smiles, putting his arm behind his head, turning his body towards her. "I mean, look at us now, fifteen years later, and I still can't get enough of you and don't want anyone else, and it killed me when you told me to date other people." She snorts. "I mean, what the hell?"

"Let's forget that." She takes a deep breath, turning onto her side to face him. "It's the middle of the afternoon, I lied to my Sergeant and told him I had a doctor's appointment." She blinks twice. "So I'm yours...until we have to pick up Serena from Liz's."

He hums, moving closer to her, again, kissing her gently. "I don't mind your playing hooky, but you think that maybe the Chief is going to notice eventually?"

"Why would he?" She laughs, followed by a sigh. "I think I want to retire, El." It comes out in a whisper. "I mean, I still feel like I have a lot to do, but I was thinking about maybe starting a non-profit organization, or...traveling, or spending time with my kids. Our kids." She amends, seeing the pout on his face. "But I want to do those things with you." She places her hand on his cheek. "I want to do those things with my partner."

His eyes look at her, a little bit sad. "I know you don't mean it." 

She sighs. 

"What do you mean, I don't mean it?"

"You're not ready to retire, you're just scared that you're missing out. I have a suggestion, how about... we take vacations together, and we take the kids somewhere...and when we get back, if you still feel the same way - if you can enjoy a vacation without thinking about work... then we will readdress this R word that you, my wife, would have never suggested in a million years."

"Maybe not... but maybe if you were by my side..."

"I'll love you no matter if you're retired, on the job- it doesn't matter to me. You're never not going to be my wife, Liv." He strokes her cheek with his thumb, placing a gentle kiss there on her lips again. 

"Even though the state says we're not?"

"You just tell me when you want to fix that, and we will. Together. We'll do everything together, I promise." 

Chapter Text


Two Weeks Later –

“Allie, watch the twins.” She calls, leaning against the post at the top of the stairs at the cabin on the lake that Don had been willing to let them borrow for a impromptu getaway. Noah quickly dashes down the stairs after his older sister following Finley and Serena. Elliot steps out of the cabin and leans on the post opposite of her, his hands behind his back. She turns to face him, both of them guarding the entry to the porch as they both hear a large splash down on the lake. He chuckles hearing Allie yell at Finley for getting her wet when she was sitting on the chair at the end of the dock.

“That’s your son.” She gives him a pointed look.

“Yeah, that is.” He smirks, his eyes taking in the woman in front of him. “Your son too.”

She hums, nodding as her brown eyes shine in the afternoon glare of the sun. It shines down on her caramel tresses, illuminating her and making it look like there’s a halo above her head. It steals his breath away. They’ve been talking more and more, getting reacquainted with one another, spending a lot of time getting things out of the dark and into the light.

They overhear Allie still instructing the three younger kids to be careful.

“That’s your daughter.” He squints in the light.

“Yeah, she is.” Olivia nods, her eyes watching him, taking in the way he’s filling out his shirt. They’ve had a lot of discussions about the trauma he endured, the therapy that he’s been going to, the work they’ve done – and she’s asked what she can do as his wife, ‘It’s a damn piece of paper, and in the grand scheme of things, Elliot, it means nothing compared to how I feel in my heart… in my soul’ – to help him heal, to continue to help him.

‘Just be you, Olivia. That’s all I really wanted. I just needed you- like you needed me.’

It hurt, to think that they’d hurt one another in all the ways they’d sworn that they wouldn’t.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do.” She licks her bottom lip, tucking the corner in between her teeth. “But – maybe you should move back in when we get back home?”

“I mean, I’ve been staying there practically every single night.” Elliot shrugs. “I’d like to come home.”

“Maybe… “ she hears Noah’s squeal of delight as she looks down at the dock where Allie had discarded her cover-up and jumped into the lake and was tossing her siblings into the air. A smile spreads across her face as she laughs, and he thinks there’s maybe nothing sweeter in the world than her laugh especially when she’s watching their children.

Their children.


[ 2013 ]

He walks into the door that night, smiling at the sight that greets him, Olivia sitting on the bed with the newest addition to their family on her lap, playing with his chubby little hands, his blue eyes watching her with the most intense stare that Elliot had ever seen from a baby. It was more intense than Allie’s stare had been.

“Look who is home, Noah, it’s daddy.” Her brown eyes turn to look up at him as he leans in the door – the gun he’s got to put in the safe next to hers in his palm. His badge still clipped on his belt. Elliot walks into the room, leaning down under the bed to press in the code on the gun safe as he stows his weapon away, placing his badge on the nightstand before he plops down on the bed next to his wife and their newest addition.

Allie, hearing her dad come home, comes running into the bedroom and jumps onto him, resulting in an ‘omph’ coming from the fact she’d put her elbow in his ribs. Her giggle fills the room as Noah smiles, reaching his chubby fingers towards his sister.

“Noh.” Allie slides between her parents, as the infant wiggles out of Olivia’s arms, his mouth landing on Allie’s arm as he slobbers happily on it. “Ew.” The six-year old wipes her arm on her mom’s shirt. “I’m not a toy, Noah.” She says it with a serious expression on her face. “Sister.” She points at herself.

Elliot is grinning, watching the interaction.

Olivia is staring at him, instead of their two kids. Well, one and a half kids. Noah isn’t theirs yet but if she has anything to say about it, he is going to be. He feels like theirs.

“Daddy… Mommy and I had a busy day.” Allie announces, proudly as she plays with the little stuffed elephant blanket that they’d gotten Noah to chew on while he’s teething. Partially a cloth, with the head of an elephant. It was cute and the minute that Olivia had seen it, she knew it was Noah’s.

“Oh?” He turns to look at his little girl, grinning. “What’d you do?”

Olivia watches the interaction, lips pressed together in a serene smile.

“We went to CVS and mommy bought me a stuffed bear then we went to Target and then… we took Noah to the park and Uncle Nick came and pushed him on the swings while Mommy and I played with the sidewalk chalk.”

“Sounds like a busy day, Allie bug.”

“Mhm.” Allie nods. “Mommy said we could order Chinese for dinner. Right Mommy?”

“That’s right.” Olivia runs her hand through their daughter’s wavy brown hair. “I did.”

“Chinese sounds awesome.”

She didn’t tell him why she went to CVS until the next day, when he came home to find her on the couch with Noah on her lap and the pregnancy test sitting there, positive.

Changing their lives forever again with the twins.


[ Present Day ]

“I wouldn’t change a thing.” She breaks him out of reminiscing.

“I fell in love with you more the night before you found out about Finley and Serena.” He smiles, watching the kids chase one another on the bank of the lake, at Allie who is sitting on the edge of the dock, watching them smiling.

“I fell in love with you a little bit more every single day, Elliot.” She sighs. “Even after you signed the papers… I still loved you a little more every single day.” She shrugs. “Seeing you with the kids, seeing them love you – seeing how you still tried to be there for all of us…” She takes another deep breath. “You ever think about multiple universes, El?”

“You mean in like… Doctor Strange or something?” He asks, “Because I gotta tell you, I feel kinda like Stephen Strange a little bit… I’d love you in every single universe.”

Her shoulders fall as she pushes off of the post, walking toward him on the porch, wrapping her arms around his middle, resting her head against his chest. “I’d love you in every single universe too.” She tells him.

They believe it too, in every single universe, in every single version of them that existed or ever existed – there’s not one in which they didn’t love one another. She knows it deep within her bones.

Chapter Text

[  2 Months Later ]

"I was thinking," she begins, twirling the piece of spaghetti around her fork as they sit across from one another in their favorite Italian Restaurant, "that maybe we could discuss our  - marriage."

"I thought you said we were doing well working with what we have going on, right now?" He takes a bite of his dinner, reaching for the glass of wine between the two of them next to the bowl of breadsticks. 

"It is good, what we have now... ever since you moved home after our trip to the lake." She nods, breaking a breadstick in half and tossing one half onto his plate, dipping it in her sauce, "But... I mean, I think in the eyes of the law - since we've been doing so well... maybe we should get remarried? On paper?"

"You still wear your wedding bands, and so do I. Does the paperwork really mean all that much to you, Olivia?" He asks, trying to verify that she's serious, "I mean, we're partners no matter what. We're husband and wife in every way that counts, we're going through counseling, we're talking to one another, we're being open and honest... do we have to mess it up with logistics?"

She sighs, "I just think it'd be less confusing for the kids."

"It would've been less confusing if we hadn't of gotten divorced in the first place." He smiles, reaching for her wine glass and taking a sip,  "I don't think they  are confused about anything, Liv. I think they know we love one another, they know we're working on our relationship, they know I moved back home, they like having both of us there - so I don't think that it makes much of a difference to them if we're legally divorced  or married or dating or  whatever."

She rolls her eyes. "Maybe you're right."

"You're still Olivia Benson-Stabler.  You never changed that." He takes a bite of his bread, looking at her thoughtfully. "Baby, I just want whatever you want."

"Not to call me baby in public, Stabler." She kicks his leg underneath the table, before she smiles. She doesn't know why she's being so insistent that they get re-married legally. It was, as he said, working out between them the way things were. He'd even had the nerve to mention a couple of weeks ago that maybe they shouldn't have gotten married in the first place to begin with, maybe they should've just  lived in sin all those years, married to one another through their partnership. But she'd wanted it. She'd wanted to  be his wife. She'd wanted his children to have both parents in a legally binding marriage and not be bastards in the eyes of his church, because it meant that much to her  that he have that piece of  himself still intact. 

She runs her foot up his leg, smirking as she tips the wine glass back to take a gulp, her hand reaching for his on the table, "I want that legally binding document saying I'm yours and you're mine again."

"Olivia Benson-Stabler, what are you doing?" 

She giggles. It's time to go home. Home, where their children are currently probably downstairs huddled on the couch watching a movie together like they tended to do every Saturday evening when Kathleen would offer to  come over so Elliot and Olivia could go out and get reacquainted. She loves their life, and looking back at all  the  bad things that had happened to them and to  their marriage, it seems so stupid,  so reckless, so ridiculous that some days she wants to kick her own ass for it all. It hasn't  been easy, and it took him a while to get under her skin, but he'd never really  left, honestly. For all those afternoons while they'd been officially separated and divorced, before she'd really allowed him back in - for all those times he'd taken control of her bluetooth speaker, making her go over to yell at him just so he could press her up against the wall and kiss her, and she would react - because that's how they were - they'd  arrived back here. 

It wasn't meant to end. It was never meant to end in the first place, and both of them knew it. 

They were meant to be a couple, to  be a family, to be together. 

They'd made it through worse things in their lives, as long as they focused on communicating, on their family, on the truth,  they were going to be okay. Not everyone was as lucky as the two of them. Not everyone had an overabundance of love in their lives. Their families had merged years and years ago to make one solid unit, and when a piece of that was fractured, it had thrown everyone a little off kilter... but here they were again, patching it up, looking out for one another, having each other's backs. 

He smiles across the table at her, his partner,  the mother of his children, and he can't help but think he's lucky  that she's got one of the biggest hearts he's ever seen. He's  lucky that he's her one weakness out of all the strengths, and he's damn lucky that she's his achilles heel... he couldn't give her up even if he tried. She'd tried to  push him away, to push him out - and all the times they'd given into one another had been proof enough for him that it was never meant to end in the first place. 

They were magnetic. 

Magical. 

One solid truth remained about the two of them, hands held tightly together on the table top. 

Love had the power to heal everything, to bring broken pieces back together,  and as long as you  loved one another still - in the end, that's all that matters. 

"Let's go home, Olivia." 

They'd have time to talk more about this possible legal paperwork tomorrow. Tonight, he was going to show her just how much he still loved her, and always will.