The Gang's all here
By the time they made it back to Olivia's apartment, Lucy managed to have almost everything ready for the party. There were blue and white balloons hanging around the apartment that happened to match her powder blue dress. She ordered desserts and food and there were fresh flowers on the bar. The place looked brighter than it had in months and matched Olivia's demeanor.
"Lucy, I can't believe you managed to do all of this by yourself," Olivia responded in awe as she walked in. Elliot was holding Noah behind her.
"Well she had a little help," a familiar voice said emerging from the back room.
"Alex!" she screamed. "When did you get here?"
"You didn't think I was going to miss the party honoring you adopting my nephew would you?" she joked. The two hugged and kissed each other on the cheek but it wasn't long before Alex and Elliot made eye contact. "Well we clearly haven't talked in quite a while because you left a few things out," she teased.
"Alex Cabot, still as beautiful as ever," Elliot smiled as he bent down to kiss her on the cheek.
"Flattery will get you nowhere Stabler but nice try. Now you two have about one minute to do some explaining and then I'm taking Noah and go play with him before the rest of the cavalry get here. Let's hear it."
Olivia and Elliot flashed each other guilty grins and she nervously bit her bottom lip.
"Enough said. You've told me all I need to know. Well I just have one thing to say. It's about damn time. If you hurt her I will have to kill you though," she said pointing her finger at him in warning.
"I wouldn't expect anything less." She reached over and grabbed Noah from him and whispered in Olivia's ear. "You will be giving me details later, you know that right?"
"Yeah I figured."
Before they could catch their breaths from the Alex encounter there was a knock at the door.
"Ill get it," Lucy announced walking towards the door.
"So I hear there's a party," Melinda said walking in with a present. "And there better be some good food," Casey said from behind her.
"Casey, Melinda you guys made it!" Olivia exclaimed. "I'm so glad you two are here. Look who else is here," she said pointing to Alex. Melinda, Casey and Alex all hugged and exchanged comments about each other's dresses before Alex spoke up.
"Well ladies, you guys were so busy greeting me you missed the other person that's here," she said pointing toward Elliot who was standing nervously in the kitchen.
"Elliot Stabler," Melinda said coolly walking towards him. "Come here you old hardass," reaching for a hug.
"Melinda how have you been?"
"Good. How about you?" she asked concerned.
"I'm great. Better than I've been in a long time."
"I bet you are," she said looking bath and forth between him and Olivia.
"Elliot, I was wondering when I would get a chance to see you. Come here," Casey said extending her arms to pull him into a hug.
"It's good to see you again Casey."
"Wait, you knew about him?" Alex asked. Casey shrugged.
"Ok now I'm mad."
"The question is how much does she know?" Melinda teased.
"My lips are sealed," Casey teased as Olivia looked at Elliot trying to gauge his reaction.
He had to know that she would talk to someone about their relationship but she worried that seeing so many people from their past all at once might be a little too much for him.
"No but seriously we will talk about all the details later once we get a chance to corner Liv," Casey whispered to Melinda and Alex.
"Hey ladies how about something to drink," Elliot offered to try and stop all of the whispering.
"Oh and he's playing host too, interesting," Melinda noted while the other ladies laughed.
The doorbell rang again and this time it was Fin at the door.
"Fin!" everyone shouted as he came in the door. He went over to exchange pleasantries with the other guests before making his way to the kitchen where Elliot was still laying low.
"Fin, thank God man!" Elliot said relieved.
"Really? Man things gotta be bad for you to be relieved to see me." They shook hands and Elliot laughed. "They giving you a hard time?"
"What do you think?" he asked nodding over to the girls who were all in a huddle talking.
"Ok yeah it's a tough crowd in there. I know this is technically kind of a kids party but please tell me there's some beer here," Fin asked.
"In the fridge. Grab me one too. I think I'm going to need it."
"Ok ok, Fin's distracting him in the kitchen so tell us something. What's going on between you and Stabler?" Alex whispered as all of the ladies leaned in.
"Casey what are you leaning in for? You pretty much know everything," Olivia pointed out.
"Yeah but not everything," she said emphasizing the last word.
"Well I won't be getting into that much detail plus we are supposed to be here celebrating Noah." She was trying to get them off the subject but they were not giving in.
"Give us the cliff notes version," Alex said.
The doorbell rang just as she was about to start talking.
"Thank God saved by the bell," she said. As she got ready to walk away the ladies protested. "Ok I have to entertain my guests. Casey I give you permission to give them the cliff notes version. The rest I will tell you when we all get together over lunch. Deal?"
"Deal," they all said simultaneously.
Over the next 30 minutes Trevor, Carisi, Barba, Munch, Don and Eileen all showed up as well.
"Congratulations Liv. You look happy," Fin said.
Olivia immediately looked over to Noah playing on the floor with Elliot nearby. "I am."
"Amaro coming?" Barba asked.
"Yeah he's on his way."
"He's doing better right?" Carisi asked.
"He's only a week into PT but yeah he is. He's going to be back on desk duty in a couple of weeks so you will all get to see his smiling face back at work pretty soon," she responded.
"Hey hey. You guys started without us," Nick said coming through the door on crutches with Amanda by his side.
"Nick, Amanda thank you for coming," she said greeting them at the door and taking the flowers from his hand.
"Wouldn't miss it for the world."
"Nick, good to see you," Elliot said extending his hand. "How are you feeling?"
"I've been better but hanging in there."
"Well there's the one legged wonder," Munch said interrupting Elliot.
"Munch, long time no see," he said hugging him. "You still faking hurt so you won't have to go back to work?" he teased.
"And be away from this great squad. No way. How's retirement treating you?"
Don chimed in. "I think I speak for Munch when I say we don't miss it one bit."
"So you don't miss us at all?" Olivia asked.
"We miss you guys, not the cases."
"Or the sleepless nights," Munch added.
"Or the crappy hours," Elliot joined in.
Everyone turned to look at Elliot momentarily forgetting that he was a member of the retirement from SVU group as well.
"Well it looks like the gang's all here so how about a toast?" Olivia offered. "Everyone have a glass?"
They all looked around checking to see if everyone had a glass in their hand.
"To family," she said simply.
"To family," they responded in unison.
Elliot and Olivia stole little moments for each other over the course of the get together but mostly mingled with everyone there. Elliot got a chance to talk to Munch and Cragen as he updated them a little more on what's been going on in his life and life with the FBI. Olivia kept a close eye on him trying to make sure he wasn't overwhelmed as almost everyone took turns with him to try and get a feel for what he had been up to since he disappeared without a word. Thankfully Melinda and Alex seemed to be satisfied with her earlier solution for details about her and Elliot and didn't press for more.
After Elliot made his rounds he motioned for Nick to join him in the kitchen away from everyone else.
"Hey, everything ok?" Nick asked concerned.
"Yeah I just wanted a chance to talk to you alone." Elliot paused for a second not really knowing where to start. "Nick I want to thank you for being there for Liv."
"Look you don't have to-,"
"Yes I do. I know you aren't technically her partner anymore because she's CO but for all intents and purposes you are. I would've expected an explanation when I was her partner so now I'm going to give you one."
Nick nodded his head in acknowledgment. The truth is he wanted an explanation but he didn't want to upset Olivia by asking Elliot to explain himself especially when she was already stressed out by the adoption.
"When I left I didn't do it the right way. I hurt her because I was hurting and I didn't know how to handle it. I don't know how much Liv told you about what happened while I was gone but my daughter passed away, my marriage fell apart and I was suicidal."
"Oh man. I'm sorry, I didn't know," Nick explained.
"She's been keeping it pretty quiet to protect me I guess from reliving it all. I think the only people who know are Don and maybe Fin. But I'm not trying to hide anything anymore or make any excuses for my behavior."
"I can respect that."
"Anyway, when I left one of the things that kept me up at night was worrying about Liv and not having someone to have her back. I always thought that no one could watch out for her the way I could but I've listened to her and from what I saw over these past couple of months I was wrong. You have her back and you have protected her and Noah. I will always be in debt to you for that. Thank you."
"Anytime man. I care about both of them. I'll always have Liv's back you can count on that," he said shaking his hand and Elliot patted him on the back.
Olivia watched from the kitchen at Nick and Elliot shaking hands and tears welled up in her eyes. She wanted the two of them to get on the same page at some point but she didn't want to force it. She realized she had been wrong to worry about Elliot meeting up with everyone else again. He seemed a little nervous at first but he managed to fit right in with his old colleagues and the new people in her life.
"Hey everything cool in here?" Fin asked walking in the kitchen to Nick and Elliot.
"Everything's good Fin," Nick responded.
"Good well hurry up and get your ass off them crutches so you can come and do some of my paperwork for me while you are on desk duty."
"Give me a few weeks and you got it. Let me go and grab a bite to eat," he said walking off.
"You good? This has to be weird being here with all these old faces," Fin asked.
"Yeah I'm good. Better than I thought I would be. It's nice to see everyone here supporting Liv and Noah like this," he said looking at Olivia holding Noah.
"Ahh man you got it bad Stabler," Fin said with a mock look of disgust on his face as only Fin could do.
Elliot just laughed and took a swig of his beer.
"It was really hard for her when you first left and then Lewis happened but you know Liv she's strong. She's a lot better now."
"Yeah she is. Look I know you and I haven't really had a chance to talk since…well everything."
"It's all good. I won't act like I always understood your actions over the years but I know if you left Liv and didn't say a word there had to be a good reason. She told me about Kathleen. I'm sorry man," he said putting a hand on his shoulder.
"Thanks I appreciate that."
"But you doing ok right?"
"I'm doing ok. It's getting better. I thought the shit we saw on the job was the worst thing I could ever see but man was I wrong. Burying my daughter was by far the worst thing I have ever had to endure. I wouldn't wish that on anyone."
"I couldn't imagine. But you got through it and that's what counts."
"Yeah," Elliot said somberly.
"You and Liv seem to be really happy together. In spite of all the shit we've given each other over the years she is the happiest I've seen her in a long time. Baby girl deserves that."
"Yeah she does. And Fin thank you."
"For being there for Liv. I know she looks at you like a brother and you've been a source of consistency for her. When I heard that Munch and Cragen retired it made me feel better to know she still had you."
"I'm always going to be there for her. No thanks necessary."
"Appreciate that," he said shaking his hand. "Well how about we go and grab something to eat before these beers catch up with us."
"You read my mind."
Everyone continued to eat and enjoy themselves as the party went on. There was another doorbell ring and Olivia looked startled. All of the party guests were accounted for so she didn't know who it could be.
When she opened the door she was stunned. It was Maureen, Lizzie and Dickie.
"Hey," she said nervously.
"Liv baby who is it?" Elliot called out before he walked up and saw his kids at the door.
"Maureen, Lizzie, Dickie, is everything ok?" he asked concerned.
"Of course it is Dad, can we come in?" Maureen asked.
"Oh yeah of course sorry," Olivia said letting them in.
"We didn't mean to crash," Lizzie explained. "But dad mentioned that you were finalizing Noah's adoption today and there would be a party and we figured maybe we…Is that ok?"
They all looked a bit concerned that maybe they shouldn't have shown up when Olivia and Elliot were speechless.
"Of course it's ok," Olivia finally spoke up.
Elliot couldn't think of what to say because he was so full of emotion so he pulled them into his arms one by one and hugged them.
"We tried calling you dad but you didn't answer so we figured.." Dickie explained.
"It's ok son. I'm glad you are here, all of you. Come on in, everyone's here and you guys can meet Noah," Elliot said motioning towards everyone in the living room.
"Are you sure it's ok Liv?" Lizzie asked again.
"It's perfect. It means a lot to me that you guys would want to be here," she said with her voice a little shaky.
"Where's Eli?" Elliot asked.
"He went to his friend's house for a sleepover. Here we brought Noah a gift," Dickie answered.
"Thank you. You can set it over there with the rest of them."
As the Stabler kids made their way into the living room speaking with everyone, Munch and Cragen commented on how big they had all gotten. They seemed a little nervous at first, especially Dickie, but like their father they navigated the group pretty well.
"And this must be Noah," Maureen said.
"It is. Say hello Noah," Olivia said coaxing her son.
"Hi." He waved his hand and gave them a small shy smile.
"We got you a gift that we think you are going to like," Lizzie added touching his small hand.
"Well he certainly likes gifts. I'm sure it will be great."
"He's pretty cute Olivia. He actually looks a lot like you," Dickie said.
"Thanks Dickie. Everyone says that."
She touched his arm as she thanked him. She wasn't just thanking him for saying Nick was cute but for him making the effort and being there.
Of all the Stabler children Dickie was the one that concerned her the most because of the exchange they had the last time when he asked her if she was sleeping with his dad. She hadn't seen him since then and she knew that things were rocky with him and Elliot so she wasn't sure how he would be handling it now that she was in fact sleeping with his dad.
"We have some great food in the kitchen and some drinks in the fridge so you guys please enjoy," Olivia added.
"Can I fix you guys a plate?" Lucy offered.
"Oh this is Lucy, Noah's nanny," Elliot introduced.
"Hi, nice to meet you," Dickie said smiling from ear to ear and Lucy blushed.
"Easy son. The kitchen is this way," Elliot laughed navigating him towards the kitchen with his hand on his shoulder.
"Ok everyone it's time to open presents," Amanda announced. "Sorry to hijack the party Liv but I got Noah a kickass gift and I'm ready for him to open it."
"Ok well you go first."
Olivia maneuvered Noah to the middle of the room as everyone gathered around and Amanda set her gift out. He stood in front of it at first picking with the wrapping paper until Olivia helped him.
Everyone said "aww" as she opened it to reveal a little Atlanta Hawks jersey with Benson on the back.
They continued to go through all the rest of the gifts that included a little suit from Barba of course, shoes, toys and a mini police badge with Benson on it from Fin.
"Ok we have one more gift here," Olivia announced.
"That's from us Noah, we hope you like it," Lizzie said.
By this time Noah had gotten the hang of opening presents and giggled as he tore the paper.
"Ahh look Noah," Olivia said as she pulled the car out of the bag.
"It's a mock police sedan like the one dad drove all the time. It has a siren and everything on there. Eli used to play with it all the time but now he claims he's too big for it," Dickie explained.
"So we thought we would pass it on to Noah," Maureen added.
"Thank you guys so much," Olivia said as she put the toy car on the floor and helped Noah move it back and forth to his delight.
Elliot put his arms around his kids as a way of saying thank you and then walked over towards Olivia and Noah to help with the car. When he made the siren go off Noah clapped his hands and squealed in delight.
"Mama mama look..car," he said turning in Olivia's direction to point to the car.
"I see it honey."
He then reached towards Elliot, "Daddy daddy look..car."
Everyone gasped in surprise including Olivia. Elliot immediately looked over to his kids to see their reaction. They didn't seem upset but were definitely taken aback. Olivia didn't know what to say. She didn't think she should correct him because the truth was Elliot was like a father to him. While everyone exchanged glances, the siren stopped and Noah tried to push the button to get it started again. When he couldn't he motioned towards Elliot again.
"Daddy push," he said pointing towards the car.
"Here you go," Elliot said pressing the button for him. He squealed again when the siren went off and everyone smiled.
"Well…our gift is clearly the hit of the party. Sorry Amanda," Dickie said breaking the silence and everyone laughed.
"How about some cake?" Lucy offered to everyone and then immediately moved to get plates and start cutting the cake.
Olivia made a mental note to pay her more because she always came through in the clutch. She obviously realized it was time for some kind of diversion. Olivia looked over at Elliot who was still playing with Noah and the car as everyone moved closer to the bar while Lucy cut the cake.
"What?" Elliot asked grinning when he noticed Olivia staring at him. "What's on your mind Benson?"
"This isn't the first time he's called you daddy is it?" she asked smiling back at him.
"Let's go get some cake son," he said kissing the top of Noah's head and picking him up. He winked at Olivia and they joined the rest of the group as they ate cake, talked and enjoyed the rest of the party.
Olivia couldn't think of a moment more perfect than being in a room with all the people she loved most. She never had a blood family growing up but looking at everyone around her laughing and celebrating her son she never felt more loved. This wasn't just her colleagues and coworkers. This was her family.