Oops he did it again
"Liv? Liv did you hear me?"
Olivia stared straight ahead borderline panicking. She didn't know if she should act like she was asleep or not to avoid the conversation altogether. She couldn't believe what she was hearing.
"Yeah," she said softly. "I heard you."
"Do you plan on answering?"
She turned to face him all signs of her exhaustion now faded away.
"You want me to be a Stabler?" she asked.
"More than anything," he answered genuinely. He could tell she was still processing and he rubbed her hair and caressed her face while he continued. "Liv, this..us is everything to me. I have been thinking about us getting married since the day you walked back in to my life and if I'm being honest I thought about it a lot earlier than I should have. I know it's soon and I know we have so many changes going on right now between the adoption, the baby…" he was rambling on and the more he talked the more the tears welled up in her eyes and her panic started to dissolve. "I just…I know it's a lot. Just promise me you will think about it. Ok?"
"Ok. I promise."
He leaned over her and turned off the lamp while taking his place behind her and settled his body into hers to go to sleep.
"I love you." It was all she could think of to say.
"I love you too."
He drifted off to a peaceful slumber satisfied that he said everything he wanted to say and that the ball was in her court. Olivia on the other hand was wide awake.
The next morning he was up and moving about as normal. She was groggy and dragging. She watched the clock most of the night with her thoughts racing until around 5am she finally drifted off and it was an hour before her alarm went off.
Elliot could sense that she didn't sleep well so he took care of getting Noah ready and fixed her some tea since she couldn't have coffee. He was afraid that his proposal is what kept her up all night so he tried to tiptoe around her to find out if it in fact was the real reason.
"Good Morning," he said entering the bathroom while she stood near the sink with her head in her hands. "Are you sick?"
"No. I just didn't get much sleep and I'm exhausted. I'm sorry I'll be out of here in a second so you can use the bathroom to get ready."
There were bags under her eyes and she looked drained.
"I'm ok. I don't have to be on a conference call until later so take your time," he stood at the door threshold trying to think of what to say next. "Did the baby keep you up last night?"
"No. I'm fine," she snapped and didn't make eye contact with him.
He recognized that patented response from years of working with her and decided to back off. He knew it was the thought of marriage that kept her up last night and he didn't know how to feel about it. He knew that relationships scared her and so did commitment but he never thought that the idea of being with him forever would cause so much distress to her.
"Good Morning," Lucy said as she entered.
"Morning," Elliot responded in a clipped tone. "He's already been changed and ate a banana, he's still working on the cereal. I'm going to go ahead and head on out."
"Umm ok, is Olivia still here?" she asked slightly confused.
"Yeah she's still in the bathroom."
Lucy stayed quiet and just tended to Noah feeling the thick tension in the air. Elliot threw on some clothes, kissed Noah goodbye and left without saying anything to Olivia.
She finally emerged from the bathroom ten minutes later.
"Hey Elliot, have you seen my…oh hey Lucy I didn't hear you come in," she said surprised.
"Yeah Elliot left a few minutes ago."
Olivia was completely stunned that he would leave without saying goodbye to her and the look on Lucy's face told her that he left in a bad mood.
"Oh ok, I was just looking for my black tank top but Ill find it," she said trying to recover.
She ran to her cell phone to call him but he didn't answer. She thought it was a fluke so she called again and he didn't answer so she left a voicemail.
"Hey," she said pausing not really knowing what to say. "I just…I love you. I guess that's all I wanted to say. Call me back please." By the time she got to the last words she had broken down and was in tears. This was the thing about herself that she hated. This is why her relationships always fell apart. She was fine until it was time to get to the next step and she couldn't handle it. The thought of marrying Elliot and having that marriage fall apart devastated her. She couldn't reconcile the thought that they would end up just like him and Kathy. She had gotten pregnant by accident and automatically he and his kids felt like they should get married. Everything he said to her the night before was true but she felt if it wasn't for their child there was no way he would've proposed so fast and that's what scared her more than anything. She didn't want him to repeat the same mistakes.
Once she dragged herself to work she kept checking her phone to see if she had a missed call or text message from him and there was nothing except a missed call from Trevor Langan. She was out of it during her morning meeting with the team but managed to play it off well enough that no one questioned her about it.
"Hey boss, Melinda just called and she has something for us on the Meyers rape. I'm going to head down there," Nick said.
"Actually Nick, I'll go down there and get briefed. You head out in the field with Carisi and question the teacher and janitor."
"Yeah, it gives me a chance to get out of the office and it's the closest to getting out in the field that I will get for quite a while," she smiled sarcastically.
"Ok. See you later."
At the ME's office, Olivia tried to keep everything strictly business with Melinda initially but she was dying for someone to talk to. Melinda could sense that something was wrong but like the professionals they were they took care of business first before diving into the real issue.
"Ok what's going on?" Melinda asked pulling off her gloves and pulling up one of her stools.
"Umm can we actually go to another room without a body in it?" Olivia pointed out.
Once they were settled in Melinda's office Olivia told her everything about the day before and about the proposal.
"Olivia honestly how are you shocked by this? Hell even we told you at lunch before you found out you were pregnant that the man was already thinking marriage."
"Yeah but the fact that he waited to do it now after the kids brought it up in reference to the baby coming it just makes me feel like oops..he did it again. He got a woman pregnant and is doing the responsible thing and making an honest woman out of her like he did with Kathy," she tried to reason.
"Is that really what the issue is Olivia? I mean really? If you weren't pregnant and he proposed, would you still be bothered?"
Olivia hesitated and they both knew the answer. This was Vintage Olivia.
"Everything is going so well Melinda. I don't want to rock the boat. I know what it's like to be Elliot's partner, to be his friend and to be his girlfriend. Being his wife I just…I don't know. I remember him and Kathy being more unhappy than not."
"But you said yourself Elliot was different then. I think the job had a lot to do with his marriage deteriorating and Olivia let's face it, you were too. I know we all want to tiptoe around that but the truth is Elliot's marriage didn't have a chance once you came along," she said being frank with her.
"I know all of this Melinda, he and I have had this conversation and I believe him. I believe all the reasons why his marriage didn't work and why it's different between the two of us so why is this so damn hard for me?" she asked pacing back and forth frustrated with herself.
"I think some of it is hormones and some of it is just you. You haven't seen a lot of successful relationships or been a part of one so you don't know what a healthy and happy marriage looks like. You have no point of reference and that's what scares you. You think you can't do this."
"I will screw this up Mel, I know I will. I always do. I already have. He's not even answering my calls," Olivia said in tears.
"It's called a fight Olivia. You should be used to those. You guys had them all the time. I know because I was there."
"It's different now though," she said sniffling.
"Well yes and no."
"What do you mean?" she asked confused.
"You think you haven't been part of a successful relationship before or seen one but you kinda have. You and Elliot already have one for sixteen years. That's longer than most people have.
"You call that successful? I didn't see the man for four years."
"No you didn't see him but he was there and you were there for him just in a different way. You took a break for very viable reasons, but you came back and are stronger than ever. We all see it. You are his lifeline and he is yours. So he's not answering your calls right now? So what? That man isn't going anywhere. If you never tell him yes and never marry him, he will still be right there."
"You think so?" Olivia asked trying to regain her composure.
Melinda handed her a tissue, "Yes."
Her cell phone started to vibrate in her pocket and she jumped up hopeful that it was Elliot.
"Is it him?" Melinda asked.
"No, it's Judge Linden….Benson."
"Hi Judge….yeah I have some time now. I'll be right there."
"I don't know. She wants to talk about Elliot's adoption petition," she said taking a deep sigh. "I swear I can't have anything else go wrong today."
"Call me when you leave, let me know how things go ok?" she asked concerned.
"Sergeant Benson, good to see you. Or should I say Lieutenant. I heard the good news. Congratulations," the judge said standing up to greet Olivia as she entered.
"Thanks," she said nervously.
"I'm sure you are wondering why I called you down here," she said taking her seat and motioning for Olivia to sit down as well.
"Yes. You said there was an issue with Elliot's adoption of Noah," she said fidgeting with her hands.
"Well as you know having a non-spouse adopt a child is pretty rare and hardly ever granted unless there are circumstances where there is a long standing relationship. I knew that you and Mr. Stabler had been partners for over ten years so when I suggested that I would see you here again soon I felt comfortable that he would be in you and Noah's life long term," she explained.
"Of course he would be. Why wouldn't he?" she asked the question as if it were so simple but yet she struggled with that determination herself in her conversation with Melinda just a few minutes ago.
"Well I was troubled to learn that he abruptly left you a few years ago and you two had been out of touch for some time until just recently."
"How did you find out about that?" Olivia asked defensively.
"The petition has to go through several avenues before it's approved as you know and people talk," she said frankly. "Olivia, I was the one to tell you that I could see how much he loved you and Noah so I don't doubt that the love is there. I just want to make sure the long term commitment is there on his end for Noah's sake..and for yours."
Olivia was overcome with the paradox of this situation. She had ignored Elliot's proposal of a lifetime together and the judge was actually questioning his commitment.
"Judge, Elliot asked me to marry him. He is more committed to me and Noah than anyone could ever be. If he and I were to never get married, I know that he would never stop being Noah's father and he would always be there for me. You are right he disappeared for four years. I hope that same person that told you he and I didn't talk for four years told you why."
"No they didn't," she said careful not to give away the person's gender.
"He lost his daughter, his job, his marriage and almost his life in that short amount of time and in spite of all that he managed to bounce back and be the man you saw here that day with me when I adopted Noah. Strong, confident and ready to step up and be a father to a little boy that he didn't even know a year ago. They love each other so much already," she said with tears streaming down her face. "My son deserves a man that will fight for him and protect him at all costs. A man that will lay down his life for him and teach him how to be a respectful young man. Elliot has four other children who already call him their little brother so if you don't sign off on this petition, the only difference is that his last name won't legally be Stabler but Elliot is his father and we are already a family no matter what."
The judge watched Olivia closely as she gathered herself. She stayed silent for a few moments before speaking.
"Thank you Olivia. That was all I needed to hear."
"So you will sign off on the petition then?" she asked hopeful.
"Yes I will."
Olivia exhaled loudly and rested her hand on her chest to calm her heartbeat that was slamming in her ears.
"Thank you, thank you so much."
She hurried and grabbed her purse and coat as if the judge would change her mind if she stayed any longer.
"After the 90 day waiting period, I will send the final paperwork over to your attorney to finalize including the birth certificate and social security card with the name change," she explained.
"Thank you again."
"Oh and Olivia," the judge called after her just as she was about to walk out of the door. "You said he asked you to marry him. What did you say?"
Leaving the judge's chambers feeling relieved, Olivia called Melinda and briefed her on what happened and then called Elliot again.
"Hey," he answered tentatively.
"Are you ok? Noah's ok?" he asks apprehensively.
"Yeah we are fine. Everybody's fine," she assures him.
He sighs heavily, "What's up Olivia?" He was clearly not interested in small talk.
"I just want to talk to you."
"Oh now you want to talk. This morning you didn't have two words for me, now you want to talk," he snapped back. He rubbed his hand down his face in frustration and tried to reel in his anger. His feelings were hurt and that's why he was lashing out but he didn't want to be immature about it. "Come over and we can talk."
"I'm already outside," she said and he could hear the smile in her voice. He couldn't help but smile himself when he looked out the window and saw her car parked.
"Well come in."
When he answered the door she saw those blazing blue eyes and threw herself into his arms.
"I'm so sorry Elliot, I'm so sorry," she said holding on to him for dear life. She was now full on sobbing and she didn't plan to be so emotional but one look at him and she was completely lost.
He didn't say anything as he held on to her and let her cry and get everything out. They were standing in his doorway and her chest was heaving with emotion.
"It's ok Liv," he said stroking her hair and kissing the side of her face waiting for her to calm down. "It's ok."
"No it's not. I'm so sorry, you didn't deserve how I treated you this morning and you didn't deserve my non-answer last night."
"Liv I know that the thought of marriage is foreign to you. I get it. Which is why I said I wanted you to think about it but instead you just gave me the cold shoulder and shut me out and that's not how a relationship is supposed to work," he said pulling her back so he could look her in the eyes.
"I know and I'm sorry."
"You said that already," he joked with her. "You are lucky that you are gorgeous and carrying my child or I may not have accepted your apology so easily," he said causing her to smile a little.
"Can I come inside?" she asked.
"I guess," he said pulling her in by her hand.
They settled on the couch and she laid her head on his shoulder.
"I just left Judge Linden's chambers. She called me about the adoption," she said. He jerked his head up with a panicked look on his face.
"It's ok. Everything's ok now," she assured him.
"What was wrong?"
"She said she had an issue with the adoption because non-spouses adopting is pretty rare unless there is a long established relationship that represents consistency," she started to explain. He visibly shifted his body when she said non-spouses and looked down at his hands.
"She knew we were partners for a long time and she was fine with that until she heard that there were four years that we didn't speak or see each other. She was worried about your sudden disappearance from my life."
"How did she hear about that?" he asked.
"I don't know but trust me I plan to find out," she said angrily but not wanting to concentrate on that. "Anyway I told her why you and I hadn't spoken during that time and she understood."
"Well good," he said simply. "So we are good to go with Noah's adoption? I mean….. if you still want to." He looked off into the distance not wanting to make eye contact concerned that maybe something changed.
She gently reached for his head and turned it so he could see how sincere she was. "Of course I want to and yes we are good. It will be finalized in 90 days. She's going to send everything over to Langan."
He nodded his head in acknowledgment.
"She was concerned about your commitment to me and to Noah," she approached cautiously and saw his eyes flash with a tinge of worry.
"I told her that commitment was the last thing she had to worry about with you. That you were more committed to me, to Noah and to your family than anyone I know," she said with tears starting to form again.
He watched her closely willing her to go on. He knows how hard it is for her to relay emotions and he is afraid that making any sudden move or saying anything will throw her off course.
"I told her that even if she didn't approve the adoption it didn't matter because me, you, Noah, Eli, Maureen, Dickie, Lizzie and Kathleen are already a family." Elliot's gaze dropped at the mention of Kathleen's name and he took her hand from his face and gently kissed it. "So…yes. My answer is yes. I want to be a Stabler and I want to get married…what about you?" she asked mimicking his question from the night before.
He grabbed her face in partial disbelief and partial happiness and put his forehead to hers breathing deeply.
"Are you sure? Are you really sure?" he asked.
"Yes Yes Yes!" she yelled for emphasis and he grabbed her and put her on his lap kissing her deeply.
They stopped kissing and he held her tight against him on the couch listening to their hearts beat in sync.
"You will be Mrs." He kissed under her right ear.
"Olivia" He kissed under her left ear.
"Stabler," he whispered in her ear as he kissed her neck. "I have waited so long to say that. Longer than you will ever know."
"Not as long as I have waited to hear it."