Meet the Stablers
It was the day before the Lieutenant's exam and Olivia was more on edge than usual. She didn't understand why she was getting so worked up over a test because she wasn't this stressed out over the other exam but she couldn't shake an anxious feeling in the pit of her stomach. Her detectives spent the day staying as far away from her as possible and only went in her office when they were summoned.
"I can't wait until she takes that damn test and get it over with. She's been a bear for the past couple of weeks," Amanda said. "And Elliot's been gone for a few weeks so that can't be helping."
"Yeah and I think she's not really sleeping too. I'm sure it will all be over soon. He should be back in a week or so or I'm calling him myself," Nick said. "How's your studying going Fin?"
"Oh you know me. I don't sweat the small stuff. It's all up here," he said pointing to his head.
"Ok Warner just called. She got something for us on the Reed homicide and wants us down at the ME's office. Who's coming with?" Olivia asked barreling out of her office.
Everyone looked at each other not wanting to make it obvious that they were not up for a car ride and spending any extra time with her.
"Hey Sarge Ill go with you," Carisi volunteered.
"Ok, let's go."
The ride to the ME's office was pretty short thankfully because Carisi and his incessant talking was really getting on Olivia's nerves.
"Hey Melinda, what do you have for us?"
"Well I found this. Thought you'd want it," she said holding up a necklace that said #1 sister. "I found it clutched in her hand."
"Only hers. But it looks like it's from Tate Velez Jewelers and only the best of the best shop there. That may help you out. Also, I wanted to show you this on the body," Melinda said heading over to the victim.
She pulled the sheet back to reveal the dead 17-year-old girl and Olivia immediately retreated.
Melinda noticed briefly but kept talking.
"See these ligature marks," she said prompting them to look closer. "I found fibers in the wound where she pulled against the ropes and it's made of a rare silk material."
At the sight of the wound Olivia became unsteady on her feet and Carisi had to grab her by the arm.
"Olivia are you ok?" Melinda asked concerned.
"I'm fine, it must be the fumes from the chemicals."
"I don't smell any fumes," Carisi said.
"That's because there aren't any," Melinda added matter of factly. "Are you sure you are ok?"
"I'm fine, it's no big deal really. I just need to get some sleep," she said steadying herself on the table. "Anything else?"
"Nope that's it. Ill call you if I have more."
"Ok. Will do."
"Hey Liv." Melinda called after her before she made it to the door and Carisi was already outside so they were alone. "Why don't you take off early today? You don't look so good and isn't your exam tomorrow?"
"You need to head home and get some rest."
"Is that doctor's orders?" she asked jokingly.
"If I could order you home I would. But seriously."
"Ok ok." She raised her hands in mock defeat. "I'll drop Carisi back off at the station and head home. I promise."
On her way home, Elliot called.
"Please tell me you are back," she said when she answered.
"I am. Would I be selfish if I asked you to get off early today?"
"I'm already on the way home baby."
"Really? Why? Are you ok?" he asked concerned. He knew Olivia well enough to know that she didn't get off work early unless something was really wrong.
"I'm tired, I'm in a bad mood because I miss you and I have that stupid test tomorrow. Good enough reasons?"
"Good enough for me. I'll see you in a few."
"Are you feeling better now?" Elliot asked while rubbing her back and kissing her on the forehead.
Once she got home, they spent some time with Noah and made love shortly after he went to sleep. He was holding her and they were enjoying the quiet of the apartment after what seemed like a hellish few weeks.
"I am feeling better. Thank you," she replied reaching up to kiss him on the lips. "I feel more calm."
"Well I hear multiple orgasms tend to have that affect on people."
She playfully pinched his side and they laughed.
"I've had a bit of an attitude lately. I think Nick and the team are scared to be around me," she sad sadly.
"You? An attitude? Nooooooooo," he said sarcastically.
"Screw you I don't have an attitude often if that's what you are implying."
"Only when you have your Badass Benson persona on. Which I happen to find pretty sexy."
He kissed her deeply and his hand was beginning to move lower down her abdomen when she yawned.
"I'm sorry," she apologized embarrassed. "Don't stop."
"Baby you are tired and you have a four hour test tomorrow. Sleep. There will be plenty of time for this," he said pulling the covers up and settling her in.
"I really missed you when you were gone. I know it was only two weeks but I've been feeling so anxious since you left," she confessed.
He pulled back and looked in her deep brown eyes and could see how sincere she was. Olivia made it a point to never be vulnerable with anyone and the last time she did, Elliot left. The stakes were much higher this time. She was emotionally and physically dependent on him. She couldn't imagine going to sleep without him next to her and them spending time together had become something that she looked forward to after her long days at work.
"Why didn't you tell me?" he asked concerned.
"I didn't want to worry you. I know it was probably nothing and we've been apart longer before I just felt a little out of sorts without you here. When do you have to go back?" she asked.
"Not for awhile. A couple of months at least," he responded.
"I missed you too by the way."
"You better had."
"Do you want to cancel the dinner with Kathy and the kids later this week?" he asked cautiously. She didn't seem herself and he didn't want the dinner to be a disaster as a result.
"No, El its fine," she replied sleepily and quickly dozed off. Fine. There was that word again. The one that she always used when everything was anything but fine. He took a deep breath and hoped that they could get through this dinner.
It was now Friday night and they were on their way to Queens to the old Stabler family home for dinner. The original plan was to get together at a restaurant but midweek Kathy called and changed the plans. Elliot was nervous about telling Olivia it would be there but she took the news pretty well. He figured it was because she was in a good mood about being done with the exam. Despite all her fussing and stressing she finished in record time and was certain that she passed.
In spite of her saying she was okay with the change of venue, Olivia was radiating tension the closer they got to Queens. He put his hand over hers on the center console in an effort to calm her down. She squeezed his hand in response and struggled to reel in her emotions. At first she was okay with the dinner and was grateful that his family was going overboard to make her and Noah feel welcome but the closer they were to the home he shared with his wife of twenty five years she just couldn't help but think she didn't feel like taking part in a warped adaptation of Meet the Stablers.
"Ok we're here," Elliot announced. Noah started clapping his hands when he realized the car ride ended and they made it to their destination.
"You sure you're ok?" he asked her concerned.
"I'm great. Let's do this." Her smile didn't quite meet her eyes but she had plenty of grin and bear it moments with Kathy in the past and tonight would be no different as far as she was concerned.
Elliot scooped up Noah from the backseat while Olivia grabbed the bottle of wine and dessert they brought over even though Kathy insisted she had everything covered. As they approached the door, he saw her take a big cleansing breath while waiting for someone to answer. There was a lot of activity in the house and he wasn't sure that someone heard the doorbell so he kept ringing it.
"Elliot!" she said annoyed. "Stop, I'm sure they heard you. They are coming."
"Well we've been standing out here a few moments and no one has come yet," he shot back.
"Just be patient for once." She rolled her eyes at him and continued to stare forward. As he was about to call her out on her attitude the door opened abruptly.
"Hey dad! Olivia you look..wow. You look great..something's… different," Maureen said narrowing her eyes.
"Hey Olivia," Lizzie called out effectively cutting off Maureen. "Oh you brought stuff."
"Yeah here is a bottle of red wine and some dessert we picked up," she explained.
"Noah's here!" Eli exclaimed running from the kitchen. Kathy followed close behind.
"Hey you guys made it. Oh what's this?" she asked looking at the food in Lizzie's hand.
"It's nothing, just some wine and some gourmet cupcakes for dessert I picked up from a bakery near the house."
"Oh it's lovely. I made a homemade peach cobbler too so we will have plenty to go around," Kathy said smiling.
Olivia's smile quickly faded at Kathy's statement. She took offense to her pointing out that her food was homemade but tried to reel it in.
"So let's go in and sit in the living room for a bit. Dinner will be ready shortly," Kathy announced.
"Sounds good," Elliot responded. He put his arm around Olivia and gave her a reassuring squeeze.
Noah and Eli played in the middle of the floor while Maureen, Lizzie, Elliot and Olivia sat on the sofa and loveseat in the living room. Lizzie sensed that things were a little awkward so she started talking about school and Maureen talked about her summer plans tutoring at a summer camp.
"Maureen where is Jason tonight?" Kathy asked.
"He's running late of course. The ER is swamped tonight but he said he would come over as soon as he's done." Maureen's husband was finishing up his residency at a small hospital on Staten Island. He only had six more months to go and her parents were hoping that once Jason found a job that it would be somewhere near New York and she wouldn't have to move away.
"What time is Dickie coming?" Kathy asked.
"You know dickwad. Always a day late and a dollar short. He just texted me though and said he was on the way," Lizzie said rolling her eyes.
Olivia listened and observed quietly as they all interacted. It seemed so comfortable yet so weird at the same time. Noah was fitting right in and everyone took turns holding him but he only seemed interested in playing with Eli. Every once in awhile she would look in Kathy's direction to see her staring back at her. She would give her a polite smile and concentrate back on the group. After about the third time she was getting annoyed.
"So Olivia..what's new with you? How's work?" Kathy asked.
Elliot interrupted before she could respond. "Well it looks like Sergeant Benson will be Lieutenant Benson before too long." He was beaming with pride and she couldn't help but smile.
"Well it's not official yet. I should get the results in a couple of weeks but I do feel the exam went well," she added.
"That's amazing Liv. Congratulations," Maureen said. "So if you are Lieutenant then who takes your old spot?"
"Fin. He's going to be taking the Sergeant's exam in a few weeks and he will be my number 2."
"That's great. Fin's awesome," Lizzie added.
"Yes he is," Elliot agreed.
"Well you will be able to work less hours now and spend more time at home then?" Kathy asked.
She swallowed hard before answering trying to keep her cool. "That's the goal but we'll see. This job is always unpredictable."
"Either way, whether she does or doesn't. I'm proud of her," Elliot said rubbing her knee and locking eyes with her. "We will make it work." He gave her a small smile and she knew he picked up that Kathy was being passive aggressive and she was trying to hold it together. The exchange put her at ease despite the tension from Kathy but at least her and Elliot were on the same page. He always had her back.
Maureen and Lizzie beamed looking at the two of them together.
The oven timer went off catching everyone's attention. "Well it looks like dinner's ready. Shall we?" Kathy said motioning to the dining room.
They all got up and got ready for dinner. Elliot picked up Noah and was headed in that direction before Olivia stopped him.
"Hey. Come here," she said softly.
He had a faint look of concern on his face that she quickly made disappear with a tender kiss.
"Thank you," she said simply.
"For being you."
Once they actually sat down for dinner and everyone was eating, the atmosphere was less tense. Dickie and Jason showed up fifteen minutes after they started eating and Olivia talked to Dickie extensively about the real estate business. He was very open and at ease with her which made Elliot happy.
"How are the renovations coming Dickie?" Kathy asked her son.
"Almost done. Dad came over and helped so we are almost done with adding the patio on the back. Then it's on to the next project."
"Hey we helped too," Eli protested on behalf of him and Noah.
"You are right squirt. You and Noah were very helpful."
"Hey you have to come up with a name for Noah now too," Eli announced. "You call me squirt so we have to come up with something for Noah since dad says he's a part of the family now."
Everyone instantly got quiet and exchanged glances not really knowing what to say. Olivia wanted to crawl under a rock. 'Darn kids' she thought to herself. Eli and Noah in their own way were making everyone face a reality that they were walking on eggshells trying to acknowledge.
"Your dad's right buddy. What do you think we should call him?" Kathy asked him sincerely earning a look of pure astonishment from Olivia and Elliot.
"How about little Squirt?" Dickie offered and Maureen and Lizzie laughed.
"I like it!" Eli exclaimed.
Kathy winked at Olivia and she smiled back. She thought to herself that she would never understand their dynamic. One minute it seemed like she was throwing jabs at her and the next they were some supermom team working to make sure their kids were comfortable with their nontraditional family.
"Ok Noah, I hearby christen you little Squirt," Dickie said dramatically and everyone at the table erupted in mock cheers and Noah started clapping.
Olivia started to feel tears well up in her eyes and panicked a little not wanting people to see her get emotional. Lizzie noticed and put a hand on hers to comfort her. Olivia gently squeezed her hand in response and silently worded 'Thank you' to her.
"Is it dessert time yet?" Jason asked.
"Oh Mr. Sweet tooth here," Maureen teased.
"Well we have cupcakes and peach cobbler for dessert," Kathy answered.
"Yes!" Eli exclaimed pumping his fist in the air.
"Slow down there son. You will only be getting one or the other. Not both," Elliot corrected.
"Aww man," he whined.
"Mom any chance we have some ice cream to go with that peach cobbler?" Dickie asked.
"Yep and an even better chance that you will be getting up and getting it yourself." Kathy was bringing everything over to the table while Maureen and Lizzie cleared the dinner dishes.
"Let me help," Olivia said getting up to head towards the desserts.
"Oh no Olivia, you don't have to," Kathy answered.
"No I insist really."
"That's what I'm talking about. All the women in the kitchen. Hey Liz why don't you grab me that ice cream while you are in there?" Dickie joked.
"Oh way to be a male chauvinist Dickwad. Get it yourself," she shot back.
"Women," Dickie scoffed.
"I'm staying out of this one," Elliot whispered to Jason.
"Hey speaking of women Dickie, Lucy told me to tell you hello," Olivia teased.
He immediately turned five shades of red.
"Oooooooooooh. Well well well. I wonder how Lucy would feel about your chauvinist views on women," Lizzie said baiting him.
"Will you guys ever grow out of fighting? I thought twins were supposed to be super close and have your own secret language and stuff," Maureen interjected.
"Ugh me and him? No way."
Olivia opened the box of cupcakes to take some out and place them on a platter and immediately stepped back at the smell. She held her breath and tried to recover but she began to feel sick.
"Liv are you ok?" Maureen asked concerned.
"I-I'm fine," she choked out.
"Liv?" Elliot asked getting up to walk towards her.
"I just need a minute."
Before he could make it to her she ran to the closest bathroom.
"Let me go check on her," Elliot said.
"No. Let me," Kathy offered.
Elliot was about to object considering the uneven tone of the evening but Kathy was gone before he could speak up.
Olivia sat on the toilet lid feeling like the room was spinning. She was cursing herself for bringing those damn cupcakes and wanted to cry thinking that Kathy was right and they should've stuck to the homemade dessert. She gagged a few times but ultimately nothing came up she just felt dizzy. She was splashing cold water on her face when she heard a knock at the door.
She rolled her eyes and opened it, "Elliot baby I'm-oh Kathy."
"Ok if I come in?" she asked hesitantly.
"Umm yeah." Olivia was completely puzzled as to why Kathy of all people was coming to check on her.
"Here this will help," she said taking a cold towel and putting it on Olivia's forehead. "Sit back down. Geez you are tall," she chuckled. "And take some deep breaths."
Olivia did exactly as she said and a few uncomfortable moments later she felt better.
"Oh thank you. That helped. I guess I haven't been a mom long enough to know all the tricks of the trade and home remedies that work."
"That wasn't a home remedy I used on the kids," Kathy said guardedly. "It's a remedy I used on myself….when I was pregnant."