The Best Day
As much as she tried, Olivia didn't get much sleep. Pure adrenaline and anticipation took over and at 2am she gave up and kept herself busy with plans for the day. Ironically, Elliot slept like a log after she made it clear he would be getting no sex and they should save it for the honeymoon night. After several jabs about the jig being up while pointing to her pregnant belly, he eventually took no for an answer and drifted off to sleep. To keep herself occupied, Olivia went through her suitcase to make sure everything was in there including some ridiculously expensive bridal lingerie that Alex purchased for her that she insisted she wear on her wedding night.
She checked in on Noah who was sleeping soundly and thought back to Elliot's words to him a few hours ago. She was trying to save face and act as if she hadn't been snooping when Elliot walked out of the nursery a few minutes after but her tear stained eyes gave her away. She held him close and wanted to thank him for how much he loved her son and all the beautiful things he said but felt that there were no words she could think of that could express how she was feeling so her silence said it all.
As she moved about her apartment that she once bought with Cassidy she thought about just how ironic life truly was. It wasn't just her that had gone through so many changes and had life turn on its axis but Noah too. She nestled the copy of the name change form in her hand and laughed to herself. The boy that was once called "Baby Boy Doe" because he had no name now had four names. Noah Porter Benson Stabler. It seemed ridiculous for such a little boy to have so many names and Elliot questioned her about it but for her it was simple. Porter represented his biological mother and she never wanted to exclude him from that familial connection to her despite their brief time together. Olivia felt a sense of pride at having a child that bore her name so getting rid of Benson wasn't an option for her therefore they decided to have Porter and Benson as his two middle names and of course Stabler as his last. A name that would soon be her own.
It was only 4:30am when Olivia heard Noah stirring in his crib and whimpering. He usually didn't wake up until 7am so apparently he was just as excited as she was.
"Well hello there, what are you doing up so early little man?" she cooed to the little boy. He was bright eyed and wide-awake as opposed to being a little sleepy like she expected him to be. They were scheduled to get on the road pretty early so it helped that he wouldn't be cranky when she had to wake him up but hoped he would fall back asleep on the road trip.
"You must be excited too hunh? Well today is a very important day for you and mommy. Today we become Stablers and everyone is going to be there to celebrate with us. Your grandpa and your uncles and aunts and your crazy sisters and brothers," she said with a laugh. "So many people Noah who love us and wish us the best. We are going to have the best day," she said rocking him back and forth with happy tears streaming down her cheek.
"Yes we are," Elliot rasped from the doorway. He wrapped his arms around both of them and gave her a kiss on her forehead. "It's going to be one of the best days of our lives Liv."
After two hours of preparation including showers (separately since she was sure that Elliot wouldn't behave), breakfast and loading up the car, they were on the road to his mom's beach house.
Olivia stole glances at Elliot who was grinning while he drove and his happiness was infectious. She figured now was as good a time as any to tell him what she was thinking and was hoping it wouldn't ruin the mood.
"El?" she asked tentatively.
"Yeeeees," he dragged out in a playful tone.
"I want to talk to you about something and I don't want you to get upset."
He turned to her anxiously and furrowed his eyebrows.
"Are you cancelling the wedding or the adoption?" he asked seriously.
"Of course not!"
"Ok then I don't know what else could possibly make me upset," he said confidently.
"I'm glad you think that way. Soooo I've been thinking."
She slapped him on the arm, "I'm being serious El."
"Go for it Benson."
"Yeah it's about that."
She now had his undivided attention. "Let me guess you don't want to change your name," he said resigned.
"Well no, yes," she stumbled across her words. "I want to be a Stabler. I will change it legally I just don't think it's a good idea to change it professionally."
He sat quiet for a few moments so she continued. "I think it would be a mistake to change it this late in my career and I think it would be confusing for ongoing cases I'm working on plus I think people would assume that we have been having an affair this whole time and I just don't-"
"Liv, Liv stop. It's ok I promise," he laughed taking one of his hands from the wheel to squeeze hers.
"If you change it legally that's enough for me. As far as professionally, I get it. I really do."
"Yeah?" she asked still not believing him.
"Yeah. Your name is legendary with SVU and with the NYPD. You've really accomplished a lot Liv and I'm proud of you. You've done a lot to build your name, I wouldn't take that away from you."
"I don't know about legendary," she scoffed. "But thank you for being so understanding." She took off her seatbelt and leaned over to bury her head in his shoulder and began to rub on his thigh.
"Now can you do me a favor?"
"After that, anything."
"Make sure you don't get so caught up in today's festivities that you forget to eat and take care of yourself."
"Of course I will. I can always eat later though," she said nonchalantly.
"You won't have time to eat later…or sleep," he responded with a mischievous grin.
She smiled back suddenly catching on to what he was implying. "And why is that?"
"Because," he struggled to keep his eye on the road and off her. "I plan on making love to my wife well into the night." He kissed her hair and her hand moved up his thigh close to his zipper.
"Mmm, is that so?" she moaned.
"Liv don't," he struggled to say. "Noah is in the backseat and I can't pull this car over."
"I didn't plan for you to. I told you no funny business until the honeymoon. Just keep your eyes on the road. You can multi task can't you?" she teased continuing to rub his thigh.
"Oh yeah…tonight you definitely won't be getting any sleep and there won't be anything funny about it."
An hour and a half later, they pulled up to beach house and saw Liz outside waiting for them with cups of coffee in her hand.
"Good grief. She's like an energizer bunny on crack," Elliot said rolling his eyes.
"Like father, like daughter."
"Gooooood morning," Liz said in a chipper tone. "You guys are right on schedule. Here's some coffee for both of you, decaf for you Liv."
"Thanks. Where's your grandma?" Elliot asked.
As soon as the question left his lips he saw her.
"Well well well. Miracles do happen. I don't know which one is a bigger miracle, you agreeing to let me host this wedding or you getting your head out of your butt long enough to finally make a move on that beautiful partner of yours," Bernie said pulling him into a hug.
"Hey mom." They exchanged hugs and Bernie hastily made her way over to Olivia.
"And he made quite the move indeed," touching Olivia's stomach before pulling her into a hug.
Elliot and Bernie had one long conversation after agreeing to have the wedding at the beach house where he updated her on everything that had been going from Olivia and Noah to the new baby. Bernie and Olivia spoke briefly that night as well with Bernie making a sly comment that she knew they would end up together.
"Thank you again for agreeing to host all of this."
"It's my pleasure Olivia and you don't have to thank me again. I should thank you for letting me be a part of all this. It's rare that I get all this excitement in my life now a days you know?"
Olivia opened the backdoor to pull out a sleeping Noah.
"So this is my newest grandson. He's beautiful." She rubbed his hair and seemed to be lost in thought for a few moments but pulled herself out of it. Olivia and Elliot traded glances and she smiled to reassure him.
"Ok everyone let's get a move on. Today's a busy day!" Liz exclaimed.
Guests slowly started to arrive and were quickly impressed with the scenery surrounding Bernie's home. What was supposed to be an all afternoon affair turned into everyone wanting to change and hang out on the beach and take in the sights before the wedding. Lizzie was a bit annoyed at the change of pace but Olivia convinced her it was for the best. Olivia decided earlier that morning that she really only wanted the kids at Noah's adoption. The event seemed like something more intimate that should only be shared with the immediate family and Lucy because she had taken such good care of him over the past year.
Judge Linden arrived about an hour before the hearing and spent time mingling with the guests before spending a considerable time with Bernie in the kitchen talking. Elliot looked a little worried when he saw them chatting because of his mom's eccentricity but Maureen told him to relax and trust that everything would be fine.
They were all in separate rooms getting dressed and ready for the hearing with Liz going up and down the halls barking orders that all of them ignored. Lucy was in Olivia's room with her helping Noah to get ready.
"Someone sure looks handsome," Lucy commented as Olivia put the final touches on the ensemble.
"Oh you must be talking about me," Dickie interrupted. Lucy rolled her eyes and got out her camera phone to take a picture of Noah.
"I don't think she was but you look handsome too," Olivia commented. "Lucy do you mind taking Noah to Elliot and Eli's room so he can give him a once over before we head downstairs?"
"Sure," she replied looking over at Dickie who realized that Olivia was trying to speak with him one on one.
When Lucy left the room they stood for a few minutes before she finally broke the ice.
"Soo umm I know you and I haven't really gotten the chance to talk one on one since…well everything," she said nervously.
"No we haven't," he responded simply.
"I know that this may all seem like too much too fast and-," she started before he interrupted.
"Actually it seems like it's been too long."
His response shocked her.
"What do you mean?"
"I think under normal circumstances it may seem like it's all happening a bit too fast but I agree with my mom when it comes to her view of the situation," he said while Olivia looked on in confusion. "Look I get why you two didn't do anything. My dad can be a son of a bitch in a lot of ways but a cheater he's isn't. I wish you two would've figured it out as soon as we did but it is what it is. No hard feelings."
"Well ok then."
She was searching for more words to say to him but she felt like she was walking through a landmine and any wrong statement could potentially set off an explosion.
"Look Dick—I mean Richard. I want you to know that I really appreciate you being here and your support and everything. It means the world to me and even more so to your dad. I know that it hasn't always been the best between you two.."
"No it hasn't. I didn't understand why he did a lot of the things he did when I was younger. If I've learned anything though it's not to expect to understand why people do things but just focus on their intentions. I know my dad loves us and he wouldn't do anything to intentionally harm us. I just…hold on to that. He's always tried his best."
Olivia smiled with acknowledgement. "You're in therapy," she said as a statement more than a question.
"I see someone about once a month. I was going more frequently a few months after Kathleen died but it's tapered off some."
"Your dad doesn't know does he?"
"No, at least I don't think so. It seemed to work for him so I thought I would give it a try. Never really believed in it before but it's helped," he said sincerely.
"Yeah it does," she agreed.
"So it's helped you with….everything?" he asked referring vaguely to her ordeal with Lewis.
"Yeah it did. I don't think I would be where I am today if I didn't see someone."
She gave him a small smile and a pat on the back before getting up to walk towards the door.
"Thanks for everything. You being with my dad is the best..for everyone. Plus, I know you talked to Lucy when she was a little mad at me."
"A little?" she joked earning a laugh from him.
"Yeah I guess I have a bit more of my dad in me than I realized."
"You do and that's not a bad thing."
"I know. It took me a few months of therapy to realize that but I know it now."
She was ready to walk out when she felt a tug on her arm. Dickie pulled her into a half hug that she turned into a full embrace. She tried to hold back her tears but ultimately lost the battle.
"I love you Richard Stabler. You've grown up to be a great young man," she said trying to swallow back tears.
"Me too Liv…and don't worry. I don't mind if you call me Dickie," he teased.
From down the hall Elliot witnessed the hug between the two of them and even though he didn't hear the dialogue he was glad to see they had the chance to talk alone. He felt the last piece of the puzzle fell into place before everything was finalized.
"Ok so is everyone present?" the judge asked glancing over Maureen, Eli, Dickie, Olivia, Noah, Elliot, Liz and Lucy.
Bernie and Liz got everything set up in the study off the kitchen area for the adoption hearing.
"Looks like it," Maureen responded looking around the room.
"Can I hold Noah's hand?" Eli asked Elliot who was holding the little boy.
"Well let's see what we can arrange."
He pulled up a chair for Eli to stand on which made him tall enough to hold Noah's tiny hand.
"I think we are missing one other person," Elliot said getting everyone's attention.
"Who?" Dickie asked confused.
"Liz, go grab your grandma. She should be in here too."
Liz paused for a moment with shock written all over her face. "Sure," she finally said.
Olivia smiled at him and his good will gesture towards his mom. It was too late for her and her mom to ever reconcile their differences but she was glad on this day where family was so important that he was extending an olive branch to his.
"Ok grandma's here," Liz announced with an emotional Bernie in tow.
"I—Ill just stand over here," she choked out trying not to cry and ruin the moment.
"Ok well it looks like everyone is here. Let's get started. Olivia do you have all of the paperwork back from your attorney?"
She stepped forward to put everything on the desk in front of the judge. "Trevor couldn't be here he had a prior engagement."
"That's certainly ok," she said putting on her glasses to review everything. "Looks like we are good to go. Elliot Stabler, you are agreeing to lawfully adopt this child?"
"Yes your honor."
"He will be treated no differently than your biological children and he will inherit from you. Do you agree?
"Yes I do," Elliot answered with tears welling up in his eyes.
"Ok. Well congra-."
"Wait hold up a second," Maureen interrupted. She looked over to Liz and Dickie prompting them.
"Umm well we wanted to say something if we could," Liz said hesitantly to the confused look of everyone else in the room.
"Of course you can," the judge responded.
"Noah, we just wanted you to know how happy we are that you are one of us now. So we got you something," Liz said pulling a package off the bookshelf that no one noticed before.
"It's a Stabler survival kit," Dickie explained. "You are definitely going to need one of these as a child of Elliot Stabler," he said to the amusement of everyone in the room.
"Yeah it comes complete with an extra door knob for when he removes yours so you can't lock your door when you have friends over," Maureen added.
Liz jumped in, "And we have a toy phone here for you that we've already programmed like ours. We all have his personalized ringtone set to a siren which is the loudest one for whenever he calls because if you don't answer he will just worry and call you over and over,"
"And over and over again," Dickie and Maureen said in unison.
"And let's not forget the most important thing. A background check form for your friends to fill out. May as well have one on hand get their permission before dad runs it on his own so you aren't blindsided," Lizzie joked.
"Alright alright. I can't be that bad. You guys keep this up and the judge will change her mind," Elliot intervened holding up his hand to stop them.
"Just know that whatever he does. He does it because he loves you so much and he will always protect you," Maureen said beginning to tear up.
"And he cooks really good too," Eli added.
Elliot looked at Olivia who was now in tears as well.
Judge Linden watched the scene unfold in front of her in admiration. "I remember when Noah's case used to keep me up at night because this precious little boy was being shuffled from foster home to foster home and we didn't even have a name for him. You have managed to find yourself quite the family young man," she said touching his cheek. "Congratulations Noah Stabler."
"Thank you judge." Elliot shook her hand and kissed Noah on the top of his head before turning to Olivia and kissing her on the lips.
"Thank you but we've got a long day ahead of us. This is just the beginning."