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By April 2023, Elliot and Olivia had finally left all their demons behind and had been sharing their lives for 9 months.

They practically lived together already, since at least four times a week, Olivia stayed at his house with Noah, or Elliot stayed at her apartment with her.

So Detective Stabler, recently promoted to Sergeant, thought it was time to take the next step in their relationship, and for an entire week, he had been planning his marriage proposal.

He had decided that he was going to propose to her over the weekend that they were going to spend together at his mother's old house on the beach.

That morning, they had woken up together in his bed — they had agreed that she would spend the night there before going on a trip.

Kathleen would be left in charge of Noah, Eli, and Grandma Bernie, who due to her advanced age needed supervision.

"Good morning, Beautiful. Are you ready for today?" Elliot asked, kissing her bare shoulder as she slowly closed her eyes.

"Mm... I think so. Although I don't know, why you're so mysterious and insistent on this trip," she said, staring at him.

"Benson you are not in an interrogation. Just stop being a police officer for just a minute."

"I can't, you've been acting strange for days."

"You'll like it, you'll see." He leaned in for a kiss.

A few minutes of bliss later, they got out of bed and got ready for the trip.

"Noah, be good, please don't give Kathleen any trouble. I don't want to hear any complaints," Olivia asked of her son.

"Don't worry, Livie, we'll have fun," Kathleen said with a smile.

"Liv, I promise you, I'll be a good big brother," Eli said with a wink.

"It better be so. Remember that I still have the cameras up in the house," Elliot reminded him.

"I know, Dad. You don't have to tell me," he said, rolling his eyes.

"Leave them alone Elliot, I'm convinced Eli learned his lesson. Noah, I love you, Baby. I'll see you in three days." Olivia said with a smile.

"I love you, Mom, have fun," Noah said with a suspicious smile.

~oOo~

Usually, on their car rides, Elliot and Olivia were never able to stop talking. This time, however, it was different, for Elliot was completely silent.

"Anything to say, Stabler?" Liv stared at him.

"You're beautiful," he told her with a smile.

"For God's sake, Elliot, tell me what the hell is going on," Olivia laughed.

"Liv, relax, Honey, everything is fine," he assured her, kissing the knuckles of his hand. "I just have a surprise for you."

"I don't like surprises, and you know it."

"You will like this one — I hope," he added.

And then the silence returned. Liv kept thinking about a reason for his surprise but it wasn't her birthday, their anniversary, or any other special date. Her heart stopped.

"Oh my God, Elliot Stabler, you're going to propose to me."

"Damn, why do you have to be such a Detective?" he groaned, running his hand over his visibly upset face.

"Just so you know, this has nothing to do with being a police officer, I just know you very well, and you forget that I can easily read you."

"Why don't you ever let me do something nice for you?"

"Excuse me?" she asked confused.

"You figured it out. I was going to ask you to marry me while we're at the beach. But since you sucked the surprise out of it already, what's your answer, Olivia Benson? Will you marry me?"

She immediately got flustered. "I… Ah… Are you sure?"

Elliot looked at her confused. "Why wouldn't I be? You are the love of my life, we have been together for almost a year, not to mention that I have been in love with you for more than 20 years. I love your son, and my children love you."

"I know... I know, I just..." Olivia needed a minute to think.

Elliot noticed her hesitation and decided to pull the car over.

"Olivia Benson, believe it or not, you are a wonderful person, and you are worthy of love."

She was surprised that he knew what was going through her head.

"Do you forget that I can also read you like a book? Get those absurd thoughts out of your head."

She had tears in her eyes. No one had ever made her feel as safe and worthy of love as he did.

"Oh... El, I love you." She leaned over to kiss him. And then without hesitation, she replied, "My answer is yes. I will marry you."

They continued their journey to the beach where they enjoyed three magnificent days. Elliot gave her the ring that he had bought at sunset. And even though he already had her answer, it was still a special moment for both of them.

~oOo~

When they got back home, everyone was overjoyed at the news, and Elliot's daughters were talking enthusiastically about starting to plan the wedding.

Olivia had never been married, so she had no idea about all that it involved and it brought her insecurity back again.

Monday morning in her office, after another 15 messages from Maureen and Lizzie, Elliot had to pull her into a hug, telling her to calm down, and let it go. It was her first and only wedding, and he wanted it to be exactly what she wanted, not be anyone else's vision.

"But I'm not in my twenties, I... I'm 53 years old. I'm a mature woman, Elliot, I'm going to look ridiculous planning my wedding as if I were a young girl."

"Liv, Honey, of course, you won't look ridiculous, you'll be the most beautiful bride. Also, remember what we talked about."

"El..." She rolled her eyes at him.

"Say it with me. I'm — come on, do it — worthy of love."

"I am worthy of love," she said in an almost inaudible tone.

"Louder, I can't hear you," he insisted.

"I am worthy of love… Happy?" she said a little louder.

He smiled pleased.

"Now, get out of here, I have work to do," she commanded him out.

"Love you."

"I love you, too."

When he left, Liv continued with her work. They had a complex case come in over the weekend, a way too typical, he said, she said. Olivia was stressed about it and for a moment wished she hadn't taken three days off but then the ring on her left hand caught her eye. I am worthy. I deserve this.

Around noon, she received another text message on her phone.

Kathleen. 12:35 PM. Livie, Dad will pick up Noah from school, and then they, Eli and Dickie will meet at 6 to go look at some wedding outfits. I was wondering if you would like me, Lizzie and Maureen to come with you to look at some wedding dresses, too.

Olivia. 12:36 PM. Oh, Kathleen, Darling, I would love to; however, I don't know if I can get off work early.

Kathleen. 12:37 PM. Dad says you're the captain and you can sneak out for a day. The girls and I will meet you at the police station at about 4:30 PM.

Olivia. 12:38 PM. Okay, Honey, I'll see you here at 4:30 PM.

After giving in to the insistence of Elliot's middle daughter, who happened to be her favorite of all the Stablers, she decided that maybe Fin could take over for the rest of the day.

After three more hours of grueling desk work, she heard the three girls looking for her outside her office.

"Liv," Lizzie ran over to hug her.

"Hello Darling, I'm glad to see you all," she said, hugging each one.

"Are you ready to go?" Kathleen asked, more excited than usual.

"Of course, give me just a second."

She walked over to her sergeant's desk to give her final instructions.

"Fin, I'll leave early today, you're in charge. Call me if anything important happens."

"Understood, Captain. Plans with the Stabler girls? That is new. Does it have something to do with wedding planning?"

"How do you…"

"Stabler. He called this morning to make sure you got out early, and he mentioned the word "wedding dress"."

"Son of a—," Olivia cursed under her breath.

"Wedding dress? That sounds like an essential trip," Amanda interrupted. "Take as long as you want Captain. Fin and I will hold down the fort."

"Ah… Amanda… Would you like to go with us?" Olivia asked her friend. "This is quickly going to be incredibly overwhelming and I think I need the moral support."

"Yes, I'd love to. I'll ask Sonny to watch the girls for a while," she said, visibly excited.

Olivia and Amanda packed up and they all left the police station together.

Kathleen and Lizzie walked arm in arm with Olivia while Maureen talked about how good it felt to have a few hours to herself without having to babysit the whirlwinds that are her children.

~oOo~

Arriving at the store, Liv began to feel a bit overwhelmed as she looked at the displays and the beautiful dresses that were mostly low-cut.

After William Lewis, Olivia had certain insecurities about her body.

"Oh my God, they're beautiful," Lizzie gawked at the rails.

"They are," Olivia said, forcing a smile.

They were immediately approached by a saleswoman.

"Hello, you must be Kathleen," she said, shaking hands with the blonde, leaving all the women confused.

"Yes, it's me."

"Nice to meet you too, and which one of you is Olivia?" the woman asked.

"Oh, that's me," Liv shook her hand. "And you are?"

"Oh excuse me, I'm Lorie. I'm an image consultant for brides. Kathleen hired me online, and I'm here to get you just what you want."

"It was a surprise, Livie," Kathleen said smiling. "I know you're a very busy New York Captain, and you probably don't have much time for this, so Lorie will help us find the perfect dress as quickly as possible."

"Kathleen, Honey, you didn't have to do that."

"I wanted to do it, you know how much you mean to me."

"Oh, yes," Lorie interrupted them. "Kathleen told me your story. How you have helped her and how important you are to her father and the rest of the family and I dare to say that you are as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside," she said with a smile.

"Thank you, Kathleen, thank you, this is wonderful, and you didn't have to do this. But I thank you very much."

Olivia was still a bit tense about the situation; however, tried to relax.

"Well, let's get started. I need you to tell me a little about your love story, and I also need to know a little more about you, Olivia, to know what kind of person you are and what kind of dress we are looking for."

"Where to start," she began with a nervous smile, "Elliot and I are police officers, Detectives in fact, and we were partners for 13 years, so we have known each other for quite some time, 23 years to be exact."

"That long?" Lorie gasped in surprise.

"Yes, it's a complex story," Kathleen interrupted with a small giggle.

"Yes, it is. Well, to make a long story short, we hadn't spoken in 10 years until…" She stopped, sad to have to tell the story of Kathy's death in front of her daughters.

"Until tragedy shook our family, and Olivia was there as she has always been," Lizzie said with melancholy in her voice. "Our mother passed away a little over three years ago and Olivia helped us all deal with it in the best way."

"Wow, I can't imagine how painful that situation must be for you all," Lorie said saddened.

"Yes, it was difficult, but we would not have overcome it without the help of Olivia. She has always been the only person who has been able to deal with dad and his bad temper," Maureen said, breaking the melancholic moment.

All the girls started laughing.

"I agree with that," Amanda commented.

"Oh, is the fiancé a little complicated?"

"You have no idea," Olivia replied sarcastically. "But he's a good man and a good father."

The women continued to talk, and Lorie realized just what kind of wonderful woman Olivia was.

At the end of the talk, Olivia was a little more relaxed.

When they started looking for the dresses, Olivia specified to Lorie that she wanted something simple, appropriate for her age, so she had vetoed something that included tulle and plunging necklines, trying to cover the marks that her encounter with the devil had left on her.

She ended up choosing a long dress, all covered in the neckline with small embroidery and short sleeves.

"Wow, Liv, you look incredible," Amanda said, stunned.

"Dad's not going to know what hit him," Kathleen continued.

Olivia looked in the mirror, and she couldn't believe it, she never imagined seeing herself in a wedding dress much less at her current age, and about to marry the love of her life.

The whole wedding thing had sounded unreal to her until now, but seeing herself in her dress now made it tangible. Tears began to fall down her cheeks.

"Sorry, I just need a minute," she apologized and went to the bathroom.

The Stabler girls stood there not knowing what to do, Amanda, however, went after her.

"Liv, are you okay?"

"Yes, I am. Sorry…" She took a second to breathe. "All this, I don't know, I had given up on this idea a long time ago. Getting married, having a big family... It's difficult to believe that it will all be real now."

"I understand that more than you think. But if there is one thing I know, there is no one who deserves this happiness more than you. You are an amazing person Liv, and Stabler is the luckiest son of a bitch in the world."

"Thanks, Amanda." She hugged her friend with a smile and made their way back to the girls.

Back at the car, Kathleen texted her father, letting her know that they had already found the dress and that he would surely cry when he saw Olivia.

After dropping everyone off at their house, Olivia headed over to Elliot's to pick up Noah.

"Hey," he greeted her with a kiss on the cheek. "I heard you found your dress. I'm dying to see you in it."

"Not until the day of the wedding. Lizzie was very strict with that, and although I'm not superstitious, it's better to make sure."

"Okay…" He sighs. "Did you have fun with the girls today?"

"Yes, to tell you the truth, I really did." She smiled but it didn't reach her eyes.

"What's going on?" he asked, looking into her eyes.

"Nothing, just... I didn't imagine us getting married at this stage of our lives, after everything that happened with Kathy... It's a lot to process."

"I know I think about it sometimes too, how different our lives would have been right now if she was still alive."

"Surely, we would never have seen each other again," she says honestly. "And I could have lived with that, cause it would have saved all your children from losing their mother."

"Yes, me too. However, today, I choose to be grateful to the universe for having crossed your path again and allowing me to shout to the world that I'm in love with you." He wrapped his big arms around her and pulled her towards him to kiss him.

She gave him a shy smile.

~oOo~

Days later, Olivia was still going crazy with the organization of the wedding.

Lizzie and Kathleen were helping out and taking care of almost everything, but yesterday, she had gone with them to choose the color of the flowers for the decoration.

But who was she kidding, she's an NYPD Captain, she didn't care if their centerpieces matched her dress or not.

Nobody taught her to appreciate those things, her mother did what she could to make her a strong and educated woman, but she had never been married herself. No one taught her the difference between petunias, tulips, or roses.

However, she tried to appreciate the girls' enthusiasm and showed up whenever she was required.

Truthfully also enjoyed the extra attention and time with them this was getting her.

She was sitting in her office at the 1–6 when she received a call.

"Hello..." she answered without looking at the screen.

"Liv, it's me, Lizzie, I was calling to remind you that this afternoon you and Dad have to go taste the cakes and choose your favorite for the wedding."

Oh hell, the cakes! She had completely forgotten about it, and she had a lot of work to do with a case.

She decided that maybe Elliot could do that job alone, after all, he knew her taste and since he came back from Rome he had a much more refined palate.

"Oh, Honey, I'm sorry... I forgot and to tell the truth, I have a lot of work in the office, maybe you can accompany your father? Just this time," she apologized to the youngest girl of the Stabler clan.

"Oh okay, don't worry Liv, we'll even take Noah. Being surrounded by cakes and sweets will surely be heaven for him."

That thought made her smile a little, imagining the whirlwind Noah would be after that

"Okay, just make sure he doesn't consume too much sugar or he will be impossible to control."

"Don't worry, everything will be fine. Be careful at work."

After hanging up, Fin walked into her office, telling her that his suspect had struck again and that they had a new crime scene.

On their way to the crime scene, Olivia stared out the window in silent thought.

"How are the wedding preparations going?" Fin questioned, interrupting her thoughts.

"Oh, you know the usual. Elliot is cake tasting with his children. I was supposed to go with him but… Work."

"Yeah…, he sighs. "How did he take it?"

"I didn't talk to him. But I think he understands. He knows that our work is very important. If he didn't, I wouldn't marry him.

"Good point… And who will walk you down the aisle?" he questions curiously.

"I'm not very traditional, you know, I was thinking of doing it alone… I never had a father so… You know, it's not something that keeps me up at night. Why do you ask? Do you want to do it?"

Fin let out a bellowing laugh.

"Like I haven't had enough of you two for years… But I know someone who would be happy to… You'll get a call tomorrow morning."

Olivia looked at him in surprise, someone who would give her away to Elliot? What the hell, Fin?

~oOo~

The next day, Olivia was in her office, when a cell phone call came in.

"Captain Benson."

"Olivia, it's Cragen."

"Captain, to what do I owe the pleasure of your call?"

"I heard that someone is needed to walk you down the aisle. It would be an honor for me to do that."

Olivia was stunned for a few seconds. Her former Captain was really willing to hand her over as if she were his daughter.

"Captain, I don't know what to say…" Her voice cracked.

"You know Olivia, I never told you but… You are the closest thing I have to a daughter… I am so proud of you and what you have achieved. I want to be the one to hand you over to stubborn Elliot.

She let out a giggle mixed with tears.

"Thank you so much, Captain. You have always been like a father to me and I appreciate it very much."

After hanging up the call with her former Captain, Olivia realized that this was what Fin had talked about yesterday. So, she called him into her office.

"What's up, Liv?"

Without a warning, she approached him and gave him a tight hug.

"Thank you..." she said, trying to hide the tears in her eyes.

"Whatever you need. You know Stabler has a ton of children and whatever, but you're not alone either. You have us, so you won't have to be alone.

"Fin, I don't know what I would do without you. You really are like a brother to me."

He smiled pleased.

~oOo~

In the days following, the only thing left to do was to wait. The wedding would take place on the beach in just three days.

All the guests and relatives were booked into a luxury hotel where the bride and groom would relax the day before the wedding.

Although Olivia had renounced the famed bachelorette party tradition, her future step-daughters insisted on enforcing the tradition that the bride and groom could not see each other the night before the wedding.

So, there she was, Olivia Benson, a 50-something woman alone in a hotel room, about to get married. If someone had told her growing up this would happen to her, she probably would have laughed in their face.

Sitting in front of the closet, with a glass of wine in her right hand, she stared at the dress that was hanging on the door, she realized that from tomorrow on, she would be known as Olivia Benson-Stabler. Elliot Stabler's wife.

In just a few hours, her world would change completely, and she would obtain the happiness that she had been waiting for for so long. While she was still staring down at her dress, her cell phone vibrated with an incoming video call from her infuriating fiancé.

"Hi," she answered with a smile.

"Hello, future Mrs. Stabler. Are you alone? I barely managed to get away from Richard and Eli."

She laughed at that. She didn't expect that just hours before they were married, they would have sneak around like teenagers.

"Yes, I'm alone. Although, I'm sure Kathleen and Amanda will show up soon and take my phone."

"Well, I just called to tell you that I wish I had you in my bed tonight. I miss you so much."

"I miss you too. But come tomorrow, we will have a lifetime to fall asleep and wake up together."

While they were still in their own little world talking, Kathleen appeared behind Liv.

"Dad! I knew you couldn't do even one night. Livie, I'm sorry, but I will have to take your phone."

"I'm sorry, it was my fault," Elliot explained himself. "I was going to hang up anyway. Goodnight, Liv, I love you. Love you too, Katie."

"Good night, El."

"Goodbye, Dad."

After ending the video call and putting Olivia's phone in her pocket, Kathleen turned to Olivia and said, "You should get some sleep, Livie. Tomorrow is the big day, and you don't want to wake up with bags under your eyes."

"Katie, I'm an older woman with fine lines and wrinkles all over my face, a couple of dark circles don't matter," she told her, smiling.

"Even if. You should rest. We will start very early tomorrow, and you don't want to be tired."

"I will, Honey, thanks for caring."

Kathleen turned and was about to go to her own room; however, she directed her gaze back on Olivia.

"Liv…"

"What, Darling…"

"Thank you for giving my dad another chance, and accepting him back into your life, and us with him. I hope you know how much we all love you, especially me. For me, you are like a second mother and a best friend because you were there when I needed you the most. Welcome to the Stabler family. I hope you don't regret it at the last minute," she said jokingly.

Olivia with eyes full of tears smiled at the young woman and answered, "Katie. Oh, my wonderful Katie... This is the most beautiful thing anyone has ever said to me. I've known you since you were 8 years old, you're like a daughter to me too and shall I tell you a secret? Of all the Stablers, you are my second favorite. I am so proud of you and the progress you have made in your life. I love you so much." She got up from the sofa where she was sitting and wrapped the young woman in a strong and warm hug.

"Me too, Livie." After Kathleen left her room, Olivia listened to her and laid down on her bed, trying to get some sleep.

However, she stayed awake a little longer, thinking about tomorrow and what it would mean for her.

Not only would she become a wife, but she would also obtain the title of stepmother of four young adults and a 16-year-old teenager. And although she did not plan to replace their mother, what she was sure of was that she would do everything in her power to guide and support them when they needed it.

Little by little the tiredness of her body was overpowering the thoughts in her mind and she fell asleep.

~oOo~

When she woke up in the morning, the Stabler girls were knocking on her door. The chaos had begun. Kathleen arrived at her door with a light breakfast, while Maureen suggested that she take a bath afterward to relax to give Lorie time to arrive along with the hair and makeup team. Lizzie for her part took care of the kids, she kept an eye on Noah, Kieran, and Seamus, so the adults didn't have to worry about them. After her bath, Olivia began to get groomed by Lorie's team. They treated her delicately and pampered her like she had never been taken care of in her life.

Two and a half hours later, she was ready. Her makeup was light, bringing out her freckles, and the hairstyle was a half braid, letting some of her curls fall in the back and two over her face. She put on her dress and shoes to complete the outfit. She looked at herself in the mirror and nearly burst into tears but stopped herself when Lizzie, her youngest stepdaughter-to-be, told her that she would ruin her makeup.

God knows that Olivia was about to care for those five wonderful beings that Kathy brought into the world. If Kathy had not been lost that fatal night, this day so full of happiness for her, perhaps would have bever happened.

She is about to fulfill one of her biggest dreams — to be part of a family. She could have never imagined that at this stage of her life she would have such a large family, a family that has helped her heal and fixed the broken pieces. They too would take her under their care and protection along with their young son Noah, who had gotten used to the Stabler mayhem pretty quickly and was everyone's favorite.

She took a few more minutes to calm her nerves, and then she was led to the car that would take her straight to the beach ceremony.

Cragen was already waiting for her in the car with a calm smile on his face.

"Olivia, you look wonderful."

"Thank you."

"I hope Stabler is aware of how lucky he is and never runs away again. He would be the biggest idiot, and he would be dead," he finished, winking at her.

When they got to the beach, the girls helped her out of the car along with Cragen who extended his arm to her.

A couple of weeks ago, she still felt that this idea was ridiculous; however, today, she decided to listen to the voice in the back of her head telling her that she deserved this and that she had to stop feeling guilty for getting her happiness.

Her age, their history, and the reason they made it here didn't matter anymore, she just wanted to enjoy the moment.

The happiest day of her life — that was what some women called their wedding day.

She never understood why, because the wedding itself wasn't essential, but here she was now, about to permanently join her life with the person she loved and loved her — and she couldn't be happier.

As she got closer to the wedding arch, her eyes began to search for that intense connection that only the two of them shared.

The blue of his eyes locked on her brown orbs, he looked at her with a cheeky smile, the biggest smile she had ever seen on him.

Although his face was full of happiness, the blue of his eyes was drenched with tears that threatened to roll down his cheek.

When she finished walking her down the aisle, Elliot walked over to take her hand slowly, while Cragen whispered a few words into his ear that she couldn't understand.

Olivia tensed but Elliot waved Cragen off with a... "I assure you, Captain, I'll take good care of her."

"You look beautiful..." he whispered in her ear once they were standing face to face.

"Thank you, you don't look too bad yourself, Stabler."

The ceremony was short and after just a few minutes, the officiant asked them for their vows. "I believe Elliot wanted to say something?"

"El…" Olivia protested, not expecting she needed to speak.

"You don't have to say anything but I want to do this, okay. Olivia Benson from the moment I met you I knew that our destinies would be intertwined in some way. You have always been my partner, my accomplice, and my best friend. You have always supported me even in the moments when I did not deserve it. I disappeared from your life for more than 10 years, and yet you found a way to forgive me. I'm sorry I did it, I'm sorry I disappeared, but I promise you that as long as I'm alive you'll never be alone again... Honey, I'll be a pain in your ass for the rest of my life. I love you, Olivia Benson."

"Oh El, I love you, too." She looked at him with tears in her eyes.

Too emotional to speak, the officiant continued.

"Olivia Margaret Benson, will you take Elliot Joseph Stabler as your lawfully wedded husband?"

"Yes, I do," she replied, looking at him.

"Elliot Joseph Stabler, will you take Olivia Margaret Benson as your lawfully wedded wife?"

"Yes, of course," he smiled into her big, beautiful brown eyes.

After Olivia and Elliot signed their wedding register without hesitation and the officiant called the witnesses.

Kathleen signed for her father and Fin signed for Olivia.

"Very well, by the power vested in me by the State of New York, I now declare you husband and wife. Elliot, you can now kiss the bride.

Elliot delicately reached out to cup her face in her hands and gave her a deep kiss, full of love and devotion.

After more than 25 years of waiting, these two soul mates have finally become partners in life forever…