Elliot walked into headquarters about half an hour before he had to begin his class. While the recruits enjoyed lunch he headed to the classroom to get prepared. He found Johnson sitting at the desk packing up.
"Hey man. You got here just in time. Class went good this morning."
Elliot reached out to shake his hand. "Thanks again. I appreciate it."
"Yeah you look like you appreciate it," he said teasing Elliot. "So a good night hunh?"
Elliot wasn't sure how to respond. Johnson was a close friend but he didn't want to talk about Olivia in such a way that would make anyone think any less of her and he didn't want to gossip.
"It was a great night. She's on her way back to New York now. I can't believe you were able to keep her arrival a secret from me."
"I know how you feel about her Stabler. I was just as surprised as you when I got the call. The second I talked to her I knew she loved you just as much you loved her. I'm happy for you man. You deserve it. Plus the look on your face was absolutely priceless."
Johnson's sincerity touched Elliot. He had proven himself to be a great partner. He worried he would never be able to work with anyone the way he worked with Olivia so when he was partnered with him when he got to the Bureau he was more than a little hesitant. Of course they weren't nearly as close or dependent on each other and he was with Olivia but they had each other's backs and supported each other like any good partners would. He covered for Johnson on several occasions when his fiancé was upset because he was working long hours or was called on an undercover assignment. At the time Elliot didn't have much going on personally so he hadn't minded picking up the extra assignments. He was grateful that Johnson returned the favor for him this morning so he could have some extra time with Olivia.
"Thanks. It just sucks to be leaving in a few days."
"Haha. Man you got it bad. I remember when you used to look forward to our undercover assignments. How did she take it when you told her?"
"She actually took it better than me. That's the thing about Liv. She gets it. She's always been the job so if anyone understands how it all goes it's her."
"You think you could get her to talk to my girl?" he laughed.
"She still giving you a hard time?" he asked sitting down and giving Johnson his full attention.
"Yeah. Some days it's fine, others it's a problem. I keep telling her she knew what I was when we got together and that's not going to change so she either has to accept it or…," he responded sadly. Elliot sympathized with him. He had gone through more than his fair share of arguments with Kathy about work and being gone so he knew what Johnson was going through. He wanted to reassure him that everything would be all right but he liked him too much to lie to him.
"How about this? When we get back from this assignment, you and Chelsea come down to New York for a night, double date with me and Liv. We can do a broadway show and dinner on me. I'm sure she will love the romantic night away and I'll see if Liv will talk to her. We owe you one."
"That's actually a great idea. You're on." They bumped fists to seal the deal. "Alright Stabler your students are on the way. Let me get out of here. I'll see you later man."
He pulled out his phone to text Olivia before class started.
Will be in class for the next 4 hours. Don't forget to text me when you land. Love you.
True to her word, Olivia texted Elliot as soon as she landed.
I made it. Thanks for a lovely night. Talk to you soon. Love you.
She smiled as she sent the text. It was nice to be able to tell him she loved him. Words that were once so hard for her to express flowed freely from her now and she wanted to scream from the rooftops that she loved Elliot Stabler. She headed straight to Don's to pick up Noah and was thankful to find them both in one piece.
"Hey Noah. Look who's here," Don told the little boy who was playing on the floor. He ran over to Olivia as he spotted her.
"Hey there," she said as she scooped him up. "Oh I missed you so much. Were you a good boy for Grandpa Don?"
"He was great. Eileen helped me entertain him and he played with one of her grandchildren. It may be too soon to tell but I think he may have found his future wife."
"Oh really now. Noah are you turning on the charm already?" She tickled him and he started to giggle.
Don stood back and watched Olivia with Noah and couldn't help but smile at the scene before him. She was happier than he had seen her in the nearly 20 years he'd known her.
"So how was your trip?" he asked prying.
"It was wonderful. Thanks for all your help. I know it was such a last minute favor and getting me in touch with Elliot's partner."
"I'm just glad it all came together. Was he surprised?"
"Oh you have no idea. You should've seen his face," she said laughing at the memory. Don laughed with her. "He's working with a great group of guys. I'm glad I got to meet them too."
"Yeah when we worked on getting him the assignment up there, the Special Agents they told me he would be working with are all top notch. Been in the bureau awhile and we knew they would be able to help him get adjusted." Olivia nodded in acknowledgement. "Of course nothing could compare to his old partner, but I'm pretty sure he would prefer the arrangement that you two have now over anything else."
Olivia blushed. "I'm sure he would."
"Thank you," he said.
She was confused. "For what?"
"For listening to me for once and talking to him. I know it was a lot to take in but obviously you guys got through it and came out on the other side. I'm proud of you. Of both of you."
She suddenly had tears in her eyes and reached out to hug him.
"Thank you for the advice. It's crazy to think that this is where we are. I didn't know if I would ever hear from Elliot again let alone…"
"Be in a relationship with him?" Don finished for her.
"Yeah. I guess I just never believed we would actually get here."
"I think we are all glad you did. You both drove us all crazy for years. It's nice to see it all pan out," he said as she laughed. "Happy looks good on you Olivia."
Two Days Later
Elliot arrived back in New York anxious to see his kids and Olivia. He wanted to see her first before he headed off to see the kids and then come back to her but she was in Chicago working on a case. He didn't get many details from her other than it was a case they worked on 10 years earlier that somehow had ties to Chicago. Kathy called him shortly after he landed telling him to come to the house since the kids were all there.
When he arrived at the house he was a bit nervous because he didn't know how much she had told the kids about Olivia. He wanted the opportunity to tell them himself and he didn't know if the conversation was appropriate now since he had such limited time with them.
"Hey dad's here!" Lizzie yelled and ran to hug him.
"Hey kiddo. How you holding up?" he said returning her embrace.
"I'm fine dad. You worry too much."
"You know I will never stop worrying honey. You will understand one day when you have kids."
"Daddy!" Eli shrieked running up to him.
"Hey there champ. Did you miss me?"
"Of course. Daddy why do you have to leave? You have to go under the blanket again."
"That's undercover shrimp," Dickie answered before Elliot could respond. "Nice to see you dad."
Elliot was so taken aback he didn't respond. He just hugged him and kept patting him on the back. Tears were brimming on his eyelids and he blinked several times to keep them from falling. He was encouraged by the conversation he had with Dickie a few weeks ago and they had little talks here and there over the phone but seeing his son in front of him there to see him off was overwhelming.
"Thanks for coming son," he managed to choke out.
Kathy and Maureen joined them in the foyer just in time to witness the scene. Kathy wiped away at her tears and silently thanked God that her oldest son and his father had managed to find their way back to each other. She thought for the first time that they really would be alright.
"So who's hungry?" Kathy asked.
"Me! Me! Me!" Eli squealed raising his hand.
"Ok. I made dad's favorite so let's sit down and eat."
"Sounds good to me. Hey dad," Maureen said finally getting a chance to hug him.
After they ate, Dickie and Eli went to the living room to play a video game while Kathy cleaned up. Maureen, Lizzie and Elliot were on the back porch talking and drinking beers. He caught them up on the Academy, Maureen talked about her husband and Lizzie talked about her new apartment. After the small talk ended, the girls pried a bit more.
"So how are things going with Olivia?" Lizzie asked.
"Subtle Liz," Maureen said rolling her eyes.
"What? You know you want to know. I've never been one to beat around the bush."
Elliot chuckled uncomfortably. "Well you are your father's daughter," he said kissing her forehead.
"So how's it going? I'm glad you kept your promise and said something to her and that you guys are giving it a shot.."
"Now how do you know I did that?"
"Because you are the happiest I've seen you in a long time. You're practically glowing."
"Oh please. You've been reading too many of those magazines," Elliot said taking another swig of his beer.
They both paused waiting on him to say something.
"Ok fine yes we are…close. I just don't want to get too much into it because I wanted to sit all of you guys down together and really talk about everything. I want to do this the right way because she means a lot to me and it's important to me that you all are okay with this and not uncomfortable."
"Dad," Maureen said putting her hand over his ,"We appreciate you being careful with us. But I think after everything we have gone through these past few years, we can handle you and Olivia dating."
Elliot took another drink from his bottle taking in what Maureen said. He hated that his kids had gone through so much. He spent so much time trying to shield them from the ugly part of his job and the world but they still ended up having to endure more than what most kids should have to.
"I know honey. I know you guys have been through hell and I'm so sorry about that," he said pausing a moment before he talked again. "I just want every night from now on to be like tonight. All of us together and getting along..and that includes Noah and Olivia. I'm not asking for us to be the Waltons or anything but I want it all to just be ok. Does that make sense?"
"Yes it does dad and it will be. We all love Olivia. Even Dickwad. I know he gave her a hard time that one time a few years but he does like her. We will accept Noah too. You have our word on that," Lizzie said with Maureen nodding in agreement.
"Even if it hurts your mom?" he asked tentatively.
"I know it's been tough for mom to accept," Maureen said with Elliot eyeing her suspiciously. "Yeah she told us," she continued. "It's a little awkward for her considering Olivia was always like a part of the family but she really did see the writing on the wall years ago. Part of getting us all here together tonight was like a new beginning for all of us. We've finally moved past all of that stuff that happened and we are together again…and we are ready to accept Olivia and Noah into the fold as well."
Elliot teared up again and reached out to hug his daughters. "I love you both."
"We love you too," Maureen said.
"How about a toast?" Lizzie asked raising her beer. "To new beginnings."
"To new beginnings," they said in unison clinking their beers together.