"Umm. Are you sure?" Olivia asked hesitantly.
"Of course come on in there is plenty," Kathy said cheerfully and opened the door more to allow her in.
Olivia searched Elliot's face for whether or not she should actually accept but he seemed as genuinely shocked as she was. Not wanting to make the situation even more awkward she walked in.
Kathy and Elliot exchanged a glance that didn't go unnoticed by Olivia as she walked in the house.
"This handsome guy must be Noah," she said.
"Uhh yeah Kathy this is Olivia's son Noah that we talked about," Elliot said.
He was trying to snap back into the moment and be as natural as possible. He didn't want Olivia to leave but he worried that being there with his ex-wife would make her uncomfortable.
"It's Olivia!" Eli said as he jumped from his chair and ran over to her.
"Wow honey, you haven't seen her since you were like 2 years old. You still remember her?" Kathy asked surprised.
"Unh Unh. I saw her walking in front of her house when daddy and me drove by. Hunh Dad?"
Elliot froze. Olivia and Kathy's head turned to look at him at the same time.
"Hey son why don't we go show Olivia and Noah where the ice cream is so they can have some too," he said while patting Eli's head and hoping his son wouldn't say anything else that would embarrass him.
He headed towards the dining area and started to scoop ice cream trying his best to change the subject. The two women followed him with Olivia still holding on to Noah who was starting to be more vocal.
"Mama. Ice cree," Noah said pointing as everyone chuckled. Elliot started to fix him a bowl as soon as he saw his excitement.
"Yes honey, Ice cream," she said putting him down. "Ice cream is one of his favorites", she explained to Kathy who was now right beside her.
Kathy stood back and watched as Noah walked towards Elliot who had his ice cream and Olivia trailed close behind being over protective making sure he wouldn't fall or wonder off from his destination.
"Ill help him with it Olivia," Eli volunteered as he walked over to the three of them.
Kathy couldn't deny how comfortable they all seemed with each other. She noted that Elliot and Olivia tried to play down their contact with one another and she assumed it was because of her presence.
Everyone made their way back to the table as Olivia talked to Eli who she hadn't seen in years and was happy to see what a well adjusted little boy he was. There was so much that happened around him over the past years but you wouldn't know it by how joyful he was. She especially enjoyed watching the interaction between Eli and Elliot. He was definitely his father's son and Elliot seemed much more relaxed around him. His positive attitude was contagious. Kathy asked Olivia random small talk questions which she gladly answered but she couldn't shake the feeling that Elliot's ex-wife was trying to size her up. It made her uncomfortable but she tried her best to hold her composure in front of him and the kids. If things were going to work out with Elliot then this was going to be her future.
As they wrapped up eating sundaes and talking, Kathy got up to clean up.
"Oh Kath, you don't have to do that," Elliot said getting up to help.
"Nonsense. You fixed everything the least I could do is help pick up. Why don't you and the little guys go play outside or something while Olivia and I tidy up in here?"
Here we go. Olivia thought to herself.
Elliot and Olivia once again exchanged glances and Kathy headed in the kitchen. As usual their non-verbal communication was in tact as she let him know with just a look that she was fine and he should go.
"Come on Noah, Eli and I will show you some of the cool stuff we have on the back patio." He walked out slowly still watching the two women in his life and their dynamic to see if there was any cause for concern.
She got up from the table to gather more bowls and everything while Kathy started running water in the kitchen. She kept searching her brain for things to say but there was no cutting the tension in the room so she went with what she wanted to say the most.
"Kathy, I know it's been awhile. I uhhh well Elliot told me everything and about Kathleen. I'm really sorry," she said sincerely. Kathy stopped momentarily and turned around from the sink to face her. She saw the sincerity in Olivia's eyes and gave her a small smile. She thought to herself this is why she could never bring herself to truly hate Olivia. Despite everything she was always just so damn nice.
"Thank you Olivia. It's been tough which I'm sure he's told you as well but we are getting through it just taking it day by day," she said sadly. "Also, I heard about what happened with you and the kidnapping and stuff. I wanted to reach out but it was a difficult time."
Olivia nodded her acknowledgment.
"Anyway I'm sorry about that. How are you doing?"
"I'm fine. Just like you said, just taking it day by day. Having Noah has made it much easier though," she said smiling.
"Yeah kids have a way of making you forget the craziness of the world and just focusing on them."
"I'm sure you feel that with Eli. He's such a positive ball of energy."
"Oh you have no idea," Kathy said resuming their clean up. "Things have been so crazy around him these past few years but he is just as content as he ever was. He really got me through those rough times after losing Katie….and Elliot," she added softer.
Olivia didn't know what to say so she continued to pick up everything and put it in the sink and trash. They moved about in the kitchen silently for a few minutes that seemed like an eternity until they both felt compelled to say something.
They both said each other's names at the same time and laughed softly at themselves.
"No you go ahead," Olivia offered.
"Liv I just wanted to say I know this is a bit awkward to say the least. I don't want it to be weird with us but I feel like there are some things that need to be said and I don't know that today is the time or the place.""I agree."
"Would you mind getting together for coffee or lunch one day? It looks like you are going to be in our lives for a long time and in a different capacity than before so it's important that we get on the same page."
"I couldn't agree more. Here's my number," Olivia said handing Kathy one of her business cards.
"Oh wow. Sergeant Benson. I guess congrats is in order," Kathy said putting the card in her pocket.
"Thanks. It was nice to see you and I look forward to hearing from you soon."
After exchanging a brief hug, Kathy said goodbye to Eli and left. Elliot came back in the house with the kids almost tip toeing because he didn't know how everything went.
"Sooo..umm everything ok?" he asked cautiously.
"Everything's fine El. Did you think we were going to come to blows or something?"
"No of course not it's just…I don't know..awkward I guess," he said pulling her close and kissing her forehead.
"Awkward..yeah that seems to be the word of the day."
"So..what did you guys talk about? She obviously wanted us out of here for a reason."
"Elliot Stabler..you really are quite nosey aren't you?"she said teasingly as she reached up to hug him.
"It's ok you don't have to tell me."
"It's fine El. I told her I was sorry about Kathleen and she told me she was sorry about what happened to me. We agreed to meet up and talk more later because now wasn't really the time to say everything we needed to say."
"What more do the two of you have to say?" Elliot asked looking worried. "And when are you guys planning on meeting?
He was starting to get nervous about the interaction between the two of them alone especially after Kathy's demeanor during the conversation just a few minutes before Olivia arrived. He didn't want there to be anything that stood in the way of him relationship but he knew Olivia well enough to know that if there was a real problem with Kathy and the kids that she would back off.
She sensed his panic and continued to hold her hands around his neck while his hands went to her hips instinctively.
"El it's going to be ok. I promise. There are some things woman to woman that her and I need to discuss. I don't know what day yet, I gave her my card and told her to call me and we would grab lunch or something," she said calmly as if she was trying to calm down a wild animal. "I'm probably not going to tell you everything that her and I talk about because it is between us but it's necessary if any of us are going to move forward in a positive way."
"But it involves me so shouldn't you tell me?"
"It involves you indirectly but some of this is about me and her. Trust me. Ok?" She placed a soft kiss on his nose and pulled away to go and check on the kids.
As he stood watching Olivia go play with her son and his son, he couldn't help but hope that whatever needed to be resolved between his ex-wife and the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with would be resolved soon.
It had been only three days since Kathy ran into Olivia at Elliot's house. She picked up the phone to call her several times but didn't. Instead she decided to try her luck and show up at the station that she had gone to so many times before to check on her husband. Every time she went before it was pretty much always a zoo and she felt so out of place but she felt compelled to go there to see Olivia in her element and to see if she could get her out for their talk. Her motive wasn't completely innocent. She showed up unannounced because she didn't want to give the brunette time to prepare for their conversation. Kathy wanted to catch her off guard.
As she got off the elevator she looked around in awe. The place seemed completely different and she couldn't say that she recognized anyone in there. She approached the squad room slowly looking for at least one familiar face. Instead she saw a young blonde putting up pictures on a wipe board and a young Hispanic guy walking around talking to one of the officers. Everyone was moving around so fast that no one noticed her. She didn't see Olivia at the desk that she normally sat in that was across from her former husband's desk and hoped she wasn't out on a case.
"Kathy?" Fin asked confused.
"Fin! How are you?" she asked genuinely happy to see a familiar face.
"Can't complain. Good to see you."
"Yeah. Good to see you too."
"Are you here about Lizzie's case? You know the guy copped a plea so she doesn't have to testify."
"Oh yeah I know. I'm actually..uhh hear to see Olivia. Is she out on a case?"
Fin froze for a bit a little concerned. He knew that Olivia and Elliot had reconnected and wasn't sure if Kathy was in the loop or not.
"No she's here. She's in the office back there where Cragen used to be."
"Oh." Kathy said surprised. "So she's umm"
"Yeah she's the boss now."
Of course she is, Kathy thought to herself. She thought about leaving thinking that maybe it wasn't a good idea to just show up after all when Fin guided her towards the office. While walking to the office, Kathy watched her through the blinds pace back and forth on the phone.
"Ok. Thanks for letting me know. We are right on it," Olivia said as she was hanging up the phone.
As she was getting ready to yell for Fin she saw him come to the door with Kathy in tow.
"Hey Sarge, Kathy is here to see you," he said as he prepared to walk out.
"Uhh hey Fin, hold on a second. I need you and Rollins to go and check out the lead on Terry Hawkins. That was Johnson down at the 12th precinct. They got a hit on his credit card at a gas station on West 49th," she said handing him the paper with all of the information on it.
"Got it Liv."
As he walked out, Kathy stood in the doorway.
"Hey Kathy sorry about that. Come in, have a seat. Give me just one second."
She walked just outside her door as she yelled for Carisi and Amaro to go and check out another lead on the same case. Kathy sat and watched her in action. She really was in charge and the confident in charge Olivia Benson was different from what she experienced the other day at Elliot's house. She'd seen Olivia in action a few times before when her and Elliot worked together and she was always taken aback by how strong she was. Now watching her command the squad room she was nothing short of intimidated.
"I'm so sorry about that Kathy," Olivia said as she shut the door. "It's always crazy around here."
"Yeah I'm sorry, I shouldn't have just showed up here. I thought we could head out and talk for a bit like we discussed the other day but I should've called first," she said shyly. As she got up to leave, Olivia stopped her.
"No no not at all. I usually do like to make plans so there are no interruptions but my squad's out chasing down some leads so we should have a little time. Is everything ok?" she asked genuinely concerned. She was a little taken aback that Kathy would just show up and not call.
"Everything's fine, I was just nearby because I dropped Eli off to play with a friend and thought I would take a chance that you would be free," she lied.
"Let me go tell someone I'll be out for a little bit, get my coat and we can grab some coffee at the shop at the end of the block."
"Ok. Sounds good."
While Olivia stepped out to go and tell one of the officers she would be stepping for a little while, Kathy took in Olivia's office and noticed the pictures of Noah that was now on her desk. She tried not to be nosey but was looking for any indication of what her life was like now. She thought there might be something that was an inkling of Elliot's return to her life around but she didn't see anything. Olivia came back into the office to gather her bag, bent over her chair and that's when Kathy noticed the small pendant hanging from her neck. It was Elliot's marine medal. The realization stopped her in her tracks.
"Hey Kathy. Ready to go?" Olivia asked trying to get her attention.
"Yep, ready as Ill ever be."