In the Quiet Chaos
The following weeks after Charlotte's birth were hectic at the Stabler household. Due to the C-section, Olivia couldn't climb stairs so she, Elliot and the baby settled in the guest bedroom downstairs. She felt guilty having Noah upstairs away from her even though either Lizzie or Lucy was sleeping up there. They tried to have Noah in the room with them for a few days but he kept waking up cranky when the baby would cry so that plan was quickly halted.
Eli wanted to spend more time at their house because he wanted to be near his baby sister and although she suspected that Kathy had a problem with it, nothing was ever said. He spent one full week there before it was Elliot who decided they needed to go back to the regular schedule. He said that it was for Eli's sake that his routine shouldn't be broken up but she suspected that he did it for Kathy's sake as well.
All of the kids were a huge help, including Eli who took his job of being a big brother very seriously. He comforted Noah when he would cry for Olivia's attention when she was nursing Charlotte and did a great job distracting him with toys or games. He also helped with throwing away diapers and grabbing anything Olivia or Elliot needed when they were tending to the baby.
They had a little trouble finding their groove in the beginning. Olivia had never had a newborn before and although she was used to sleeping light because of the nature of her job, she found herself frustrated at not being able to move around as much as she would like because she was still sore from her surgery. When Charlotte would cry in the middle of the night because she was hungry, Elliot would jump to get her from the bassinet and bring her to Olivia to nurse. It was a big help to her but she also knew that it was his way of getting another chance to hold her.
As she suspected, Charlotte was a total daddy's girl. She caught Elliot on several occasions watching her while she slept and even though she warned him not to get her too spoiled, there were very few times that Charlotte was awake that she was not in her daddy's arms.
Their home had become a revolving door of people, especially the kids. Maureen was in the last leg of her pregnancy and since Jason worked long hours she was going back and forth between Olivia and Elliot's and Kathy's house. Lizzie's last semester had started and although she had an apartment she was at their house more often than not helping with the kids and just hanging out. Everyone had come by to visit including the squad, Alex, Casey and Melinda. When they had to take Charlotte for her first doctor's visit, Munch offered to stay home with Noah and Eli. She and Elliot were both in tears laughing when they returned home two hours later after grabbing lunch to see that he had both boys on the couch next to him talking about the importance of privacy and that big brother was always watching. They arrived just in time to stop him from lecturing them on why monogamy was a farce and the disaster of marriage although he had been married four times.
Olivia was starting to be more mobile, in less pain and required less assistance than she did in the beginning. In the quiet chaos of their household, she was beginning to feel like everything was getting back to normal. Their house was still frequented by visitors but they had gotten into a routine. Her time with the baby was mostly spent in the mornings. Once they relocated back to their master bedroom upstairs, she would get up bright and early before everyone was awake and nurse. She reveled in the feeling of breastfeeding and the connection it made her feel to her child. Charlotte would hold on tightly to her finger while she nursed and would watch her mom with those same curious blue eyes as her dad until she started to doze off again towards the end of her feeding. That's when Olivia would examine almost every part of her. Touching her little fingers and toes, rubbing her hands gently through her mop of brown hair and caressing her cheek with her index finger. She was utterly amazed by the tiny human being that she and Elliot created. Elliot would wake up and eventually catch her in the act and could do nothing but smile and laugh to himself.
"What?" she asked already grinning at being caught redhanded.
He reached for the baby and kissed Olivia on her forehead. "You know she is real? Am I going to have to give you the same speech I gave Eli? She's not rented or going anywhere. She's ours and she's real."
She lightly tapped his arm in return. "I know that but sometimes it's just hard to believe you know?"
He smiled in response and held Charlotte a little longer before putting her down in her bed. "I know. I guess I'm a little guilty too," he admitted leaning against the bed railing and staring down at her.
"I'm glad you copped to it because I was going to call you out," Olivia teased leaning next to him. "I see you doing the same thing when you have her at nights during your bedtime ritual."
He popped his head up in surprise at her admission and looked a little embarrassed.
"It's ok, El," she whispered softly and kissed him on the lips. "I think it's really sweet."
She laid her head on his shoulder and they watched Charlotte sleep peacefully. "We should really enjoy this time."
"Why do you say that?" he asked pulling up the baby's blanket over her to make sure she was warm.
"Both of the kids are sleeping and the sun is up. That doesn't happen very often."
Elliot stood up and pulled her into him by holding on to the sides of her robe. "Is she six to eight weeks old yet?"
She smirked as he kissed her cheek and moved down slowly to her neck. "Not in front of the baby El"
"She's sleeping," he mumbled against her neck. "Plus there's nothing wrong with kids seeing their parents be affectionate."
Olivia started to feel the goosebumps form on her skin and moaned at him sucking the spot on her neck. "Why do you start something you know we can't finish?"
"Because I've always been glutton for punishment." He rubbed gently against the underside of her breasts knowing they were tender. "Am I hurting you? Are you still in pain?"
"No," she whispered. "But we have to stop."
He groaned and quickly pulled back from her. "I'm sorry."
She put her arms around him and gave him a quick chaste kiss. "It's ok. Trust me this is as hard for me as it is for you."
"Somehow I don't think that's the case," he grinned and looked down at his bulging erection.
"You are utterly ridiculous," she laughed. "Just few more weeks baby. Hang in there. It will be worth the wait I promise."
"It always is," he said pulling her by the hand out of the nursery before sneaking one more look at Charlotte.
It was almost 8am and a little surprising that the house was still quiet. Lucy and Noah were still sleeping.
"Can I interest you in some breakfast?" he offered as they walked down the stairs.
He led her to a chair where she watched him begin to make eggs, bacon and toast. After a few minutes of watching she couldn't help herself and went to the kitchen wrapping her arms around his waist as he scrambled the eggs.
He smiled and leaned back slightly into her. "Mrs. Stabler you should be sitting down."
"No I shouldn't. I've laid around enough for a lifetime. I can move around now and I'm not in pain so I want to enjoy it. Don't worry I'm not going to go for any runs or go the gym and workout or anything before I'm supposed to."
He finished up the eggs and turned around to hug her before reaching for the bread. "Well that's good to hear because the first work out you get will have nothing to do with a gym," he countered winking at her.
"You are such a horndog. Honestly Stabler, you have quite the sex drive. How on earth did you survive your two year separation?" she joked.
"How do you figure I didn't have sex during those two years?"
Olivia stopped suddenly and her face gave her away. She tried to fix it but he was already on to her.
"It's nothing. I mean did you have sex?"
"No I didn't but how did you seem to know that already? And don't tell me you just assumed because you accused me of having sex with Dani the night I first met Noah," he quipped with a huge grin on his face showing her that he wasn't really upset.
Olivia was silent trying to come up with an answer when she heard the door open.
"Good Morning," Lizzie said gleefully as she walked through the door.
Elliot eyed her knowingly. "Well I believe the answer to that question just walked in."
"El don't," she began. "Don't say anything."
He couldn't help but get a kick out of the genuine worry on her face.
"It's fine Liv," he clarified. "Do you think I'm honestly concerned that you know the only two women I've slept with were my wives? That's kind of silly to be mad over don't you think?"
"Well wouldn't be the first time," she deadpanned. He walked away leaving her in the kitchen to greet Lizzie. "You seem like you are in a good mood."
Lizzie blushed, "Yeah just—you know. Happy to see you guys."
Olivia grinned knowingly and kissed her on the forehead gently stroking her long blonde hair. She knew that at some point in the past few weeks Lizzie had sex with Dean for the first time. She couldn't pinpoint when it happened but knew it did. "We're happy to see you too sweetie."
Lizzie gave her a grateful smile realizing that more than likely Olivia was on to her but didn't question her about it.
"And everything's ok?" Olivia asked. Everything meant a lot of things. Did you guys use protection? Has he blown you off or acted differently since it happened? Do you regret it?"
Lizzie picked up on the implication. "Everything's fine Liv, I promise."
On cue Noah began to cry.
"Ill go get him," Lizzie offered.
Elliot came around the corner with orange juice in his hand for Olivia. He took a sip of it and handed it to her. She instantly smiled thinking back to the first year of their partnership when he did the same thing. "No need. Lucy is here and I heard her moving around up there," he answered walking back towards the kitchen. "So how's Dean?"
Lizzie stopped cold looking at Olivia. Olivia quickly shook her head to let her know she didn't say anything and watched to make sure Elliot's back was still turned.
"Umm he's fine. We are going to dinner later."
"Good. Things seem to be getting serious. Do I need to invite him over and have a little talk with him about his intentions?"
She looked horrified. "Dad no! Don't you dare!"
"I think I should. Someone gets serious with my baby girl he needs to know that you are special and that he can't treat you like any of these other college girls around here," Elliot replied sternly. "Now give me his number. I think I should start inviting him to church with us too."
Lizzie looked dismayed and reached for her phone to call Dean like someone had just sentenced her to the death penalty. Elliot winked at Olivia who was standing off to the side looking just as mortified as Lizzie to let her know he was just joking.
"Dad I'm begging you please don't do this," she complained.
"Well it's the least I could do for you discussing my past sex life with my wife," he said seriously before morphing his mouth into a huge grin.
Lizzie took a moment to recognize what was going on and looked back and forth between them before breathing a sigh of relief.
"I can't believe you! I was freaking out!"
Elliot and Olivia laughed while Lizzie huffed and folded her arms. "Plus it isn't much to tell clearly."
"Oh I'm wounded," he replied holding his chest in mock disgust taking a seat next to Olivia.
His phone rang and he got up to answer it. "It's Kathy," he announced looking at the caller id. "Hey Kath….Now?...ok let me get dressed…I'll meet you there."
Lizzie watched him anxiously until he hung up. "Is it Mo? Are the babies coming?"
"Looks like you will be an aunt today. You coming with me?" he asked running to the coat closet.
Olivia felt a pang of disappointment when he didn't ask if she would be coming along but figured she may be intruding.
Lucy came down the stairs with Noah in hand. "Dickie just called. He said Maureen is in labor."
"Mama," the little boy whined reaching for Olivia.
"Careful," Elliot warned. She still wasn't supposed to be lifting on anything heavier than Charlotte.
"I can hold him Elliot just not lift him up from the ground. I'm fine," she explained to him. "Lucy you can go too. I'm fine here alone."
Elliot's head shot up in disapproval. "Absolutely not. You can't even lift up on Noah alone and what if the baby wakes up? Why won't you just come with us? Lucy can stay with them."
"Yeah of course," Lucy assured her.
Olivia was happy that he included her but decided it wasn't for the best.
"See it's decided. I don't have time to argue with you, they are going to be at the hospital soon," he said opening the door.
"Then don't argue. Lucy has been helping Maureen with Lamaze, she should be there."
Elliot was irritated. "Lucy and Liz can you take Noah into the kitchen for a quick second?"
She let out a deep breath knowing what was coming. "Liv I'm in a hurry, please don't pull the I'm fine routine on me today. Why aren't you coming to the hospital? You said you were feeling ok."
"I am. I—just."
"Spit it out Liv," he said looking at his watch growing more and more aggravated.
"You and Kathy are going to become grandparents today. Your first grandchildren. You should experience that…together."
Elliot sighed realizing what she was saying and quickly softened. He loved her for thinking of someone other than herself first but he was troubled that she wasn't as ok with it as she seemed. "Are you sure? Maureen would want you there."
"Ill visit her tomorrow I promise but today, she needs to see her parents there with her when she has her children and she needs her sister and her Lamaze coach."
He glanced at Noah who had started to settle down and decided he didn't have enough time to counter her.
"Ok, if you promise me that you will call someone over here to sit with you. Anybody. If you don't have someone over here in an hour, I'm calling Munch. He doesn't have much to do these days," he joked. "Come on Lucy and Lizzie let's go."
Lucy put Noah in his high chair so she wouldn't have to lift him from the ground and they barreled out of the door.
"One hour Liv," Elliot warned before rushing out of the door.
Olivia went to the kitchen fixing Noah some juice and was about to call Don or Casey when Nick called.
"Hey," she answered quickly.
"Hey sorry to call you so early," he apologized. "I was trying to find your notes on the Raymond case but couldn't find anything. Are they in your desk?"
"Yeah they should be…oh wait no. I have those here. I was going to—"
"It's fine Liv. Ill be there to get them. Fin and I were going to meet Barba in a few hours for a meeting anyway. This is the perfect excuse for us to sneak out," he whispered.
She chuckled at him. "Are you sure your boss is okay with that?"
"Well my real boss is not here and you know I'm no fan of Murphy. Him and Wonder boy can hold down the fort for a few hours. Plus we want to visit anyway. See you soon."
Olivia breathed a sigh of relief. Having Fin and Nick come by would buy her a little time to find someone who could come stay with her until Elliot came back.
Charlotte started whimpering shortly after she hung up the phone. She took off to go get her before she looked over at Noah who was watching her intently. She realized this was the first time she had been left alone with both of the children and wasn't sure if she should leave Noah down there by himself.
"Shit, why did we have to buy a house with stairs," she cursed to herself while watching Noah and listening to Charlotte's cries grow louder. "Ok. Just—just be a good boy for mommy I'll be right back ok? Don't move."
He nodded his head and continued to eat his cheerios while she walked up the stairs as fast as she could careful to not overdo it. She picked up the baby and tried to calm her before heading back down the stairs in under two minutes.
"Noah you ok?" she asked while rocking Charlotte back and forth.
He shook his head again and continued to watch her in mild amusement.
The baby needed to be changed so she went to the living room and ran around the living room gathering everything she needed.
"Ok little girl let's get your diaper changed."
Fin and Nick arrived a half hour later to see a somewhat flustered Olivia rocking Charlotte while Noah's high chair was pushed in the living room near the TV so she wouldn't have to put him on the ground and not be able to lift him up. She had some of his toys on the high chair tray and he played with them silently while watching cartoons.
"Heyyyyy Liv," Fin said as he entered taking in the scene around him.
Nick gave Noah a high five but then picked him up when the tot reached for him. "Umm how's everything going?"
Olivia looked up from the baby to see the Cheshire grins on both of their faces and was not amused.
"I'm glad you two are getting a kick out of this. Remember that when I'm your boss again in a couple of months," she quipped.
Fin held out his arms to her and she gave him the baby. She sat down in the chair and blew out a deep breath.
"Tired?" Fin asked while making funny faces at Charlotte.
She rolled her eyes and waved him off, "Oh no not at all."
Olivia held her head in her hands trying to regain her composure. "I have to say this is a lovely sight," she admitted watching both men sooth her children in the living room. "Fin you are a natural. She loves her Uncle Fin."
Fin beamed at the compliment. "One day you will realize that all females can't resist my charm."
"Well you guys keep that up, I just realized I didn't eat and I have to use the bathroom. You think you two can manage for about fifteen minutes. I know you have to meet Barba but just fifteen minutes," she rambled already making her way to the bathroom. "Will be right back."
Nick and Fin exchanged glances and smiled to one another seeing Liv the way she was. She was flustered and tired but more than anything they could tell she was happy.
True to his word, Elliot called in exactly an hour to see if she had someone over there and found it quite comical that Nick and Fin were on kid duty. She even sent him over a picture of the both of them with the kids in the living room. They were able to stay until their meeting with Barba and then she called Don over. He was more than happy to spend time with his grandkids and as the day went on she got used to caring for them by herself, only asking Don to pitch in when she needed help lifting Noah.
"So is it all you thought it would be?" he asked her with a tight smile. They were sitting on the sofa while both the kids napped.
She snickered crossing her legs and leaning her head back. "Yeah I guess it kinda is."
"How is Elliot handling having a newborn again?"
"Better than me actually," she smiled to herself thinking of how sweet he is with her. "When he's with her he just-lights up."
Don returns her smile, "kind of like you are doing right now?"
"Yeah I guess so. I knew it wouldn't be easy but I never thought I would have two young kids at my age. I hope we have the stamina to get through this," she admitted.
He gave her a comforting pat on the back. "Somehow you two always make it work. You will be just fine."
Don and Olivia are discussing one of their old cases, reliving memories when a tired but genial Elliot walks through the door.
"Hey, you're home," she announced going to greet him before he made his way to the kitchen. He gave her a kiss on the cheek and picked up a half asleep Noah who was reaching for him.
"I hear you have a new granddaughter and grandson. That's something else," Don said shaking his hand at the news that Elliot called Olivia with an hour before.
"Yes. Miss Violet Anne and Mr. Caleb Joseph are 5 lbs 2 ounces and 5 lbs 4 ounces respectively," he announces proudly.
She is happy to see him so proud. "Love the names. How is Maureen doing?"
"Well she insisted on not finding out the sexes beforehand, so finding out it was a girl and a boy she was grateful to have one of each until Dickie said something and he and Lizzie started fighting and she suddenly got a glimpse of her future," he joked continuing to rock Noah who is slowly going to sleep on his daddy's shoulder. "Our girl already sleeping?"
"Yes but don't worry, she will be up soon. I need to feed her in an hour," she answered.
"Ok good. Let me go and put this one down," he says turning to head for the stairs.
"Well I should get going," Don announced. "Eileen has dinner waiting."
"Thank you so much for coming," Olivia said reaching out to hug him.
"Yes thank you for keeping an eye on this crazy household of mine while I was gone," Elliot added before disappearing upstairs.
"You know I'm here anytime you need me," he begins squeezing Olivia's hand. "Anytime. I mean that."
"I know. Thanks again."
Olivia is warming up dinner for Elliot when he comes down the stairs twenty minutes later after putting Noah down and taking a quick shower.
"So everything went ok today?"
She spares him the details although she can tell from the smirk on his face that he has an idea. "It was just fine."
He tried to hide his grin but failed miserably. "Oh really now? You sure about that Stabler?"
She rolled her eyes at him and slapped him on the arm. "You get on my nerves sometimes you know that," she admits kissing him on the lips and putting a plate down in front of him.
"I know," he responded and kissed her again. "But it wasn't as easy as you thought it would be right?"
"No it's not. Ok? I admit it. I was a little rattled by the time Nick and Fin got here but in my defense it is my first time having them by myself and not being able to lift Noah makes it harder too," she defends.
Elliot puts his hands up in surrender. "You don't have to defend yourself to me. Honestly I just wanted you to see that's why I didn't want to leave you alone today. It wasn't just me being my normal overprotective jackass self." She eyed him mockingly. "Ok ok well not completely."
"Thank you for at least admitting it."
He continued to eat his food while she straightened up the kitchen. "Liv why don't you come sit down? You've had a long day I can take care of that."
"You're doing it again," she warned in a sing song voice. "I am fine. I know how to say when it's all too much."
Now it's his turn to eye her speculatively.
"Ok well maybe sometimes I don't but it's really fine. I need to get used to all of this. I'm starting to feel like myself again and need to get in the routine of things."
He looked up from his plate with a mischievous grin on his face. "So would this routine of things include you straightening up the kitchen in some sort of revealing French maid costume?" he asks wiggling his eyebrows. "When the kids are sleep of course."
"I hate to break it to you Stabler but after the long day I've had if they continue to be like this it's not looking good. I'm tired I need to shower and I'll have to feed her soon so the last thing on my mind is trying to be sexy."
He rolled his eyes. "And so it begins."
She slapped him on the arm and continued to clean while he laughed.
"So what were you and Don talking about when I walked in? Sounds like you guys were reliving some of the good times."
"Well I guess it's hard to call our cases good times but there were some that stood out. Remember the guy who was sodomized with a banana? Poor bastard. And when I got in trouble because I wouldn't leave that pop star's kid alone?"
He shook his head laughing at the recollections.
"Ahh man I remember that. Ashley was wearing you out calling all times of the day and night. I wonder how she's doing now."
Olivia shrugged her shoulders and continued. "We talked about the male stripper case too. You were highly pissed about that one and so rude to that poor guy," she reminded him.
"I mean I obviously have a different thought on it now but at the time I just couldn't see why he wouldn't want to be tied up with three beautiful women who wanted to have sex," he said winking at her to show he was joking. "One of them looked just like Casey too. Small world."
"How about when Porter turned against us and we set him up using me as bait," she adds to Elliot's obvious disgust.
"His stupid ass," he retorts bitterly. "That's one case I would like not to remember. You having to fake a date with him and all that just so we could get to Terri Baines."
Olivia couldn't help but laugh at him.
"What? Admit it Liv the guy was a loser."
"I think everyone knew you thought he was a loser. Could you have been more obvious about your feelings towards him?" she teased.
He rolls his eyes again and heads to the sink to dump his plate. "I wasn't that bad I was just trying to solve a case."
"Oh please. He asked me to call him and you acted a fool about that and let's not even discuss that stunt you pulled when he offered me a ride home," she added smiling at the obvious jealousy he showed even back then.
"I thought he was talking to me so I told him I was good and no thanks. I was trying to be polite," he grins putting his arms around his waist.
"If that's what you want to believe then fine but we both know better. You didn't want me to go with him."
"I knew the guy was bad news and was trying to look out for you."
She lifted her eyebrow. "And that's all it was? I mean you have me now Stabler may as well be honest."
"Fine. You seemed like you had an interest in the guy and I just couldn't stand the thought of you going home with him. What if you invited him up or something and then slept with him?"
"And what if I did? I was single he was single, we were both adults," she said wrapping her arms around his neck and drowning herself in his scent.
He started to tense a little. "Don't start Olivia. You know I can't stand the thought of anyone else's hands on you. Even back then."
"You are such a guy," she laughs into his neck. "You did whatever you wanted and you expected me to just sit at home and pine over you."
"No I didn't," he countered. "You could've stood, went out for a run, went down to the grocery store and still pine over me. I thought it was quite a simple concept."
She backed away from him playfully, "And on that note."
He pulled her back swaying back and forth and she relaxed in his arms. He thought about how he wanted this every night. The banter, the chatter, the affection even the chaos.
"I got another one for you," she said interrupting his thoughts. "Remember when I almost quit because of the girl I didn't believe that she had been kidnapped and other people got hurt. Can you imagine what it would've been like if I left?"
"I would've never let you leave." He buries his nose in her hair and pulls her closer.
"Even after you practically accused me of killing the perp?"
He scoffed and blew her off. "I never accused you. Just asked you a few pointed questions."
She rolled her eyes at him again. "Whatever. Her and her mom were about to drive me crazy though. The back and forth on who actually killed the guy."
"Well her mom wanted to avenge what happened to her. Not such a crazy concept," he insisted.
"She should've just let us handle it. We had him."
He pulled back from her suddenly growing stern. "Are you serious?"
"Yeah I'm serious."
"Liv, this guy kidnapped and raped her daughter repeatedly," he began searching her eyes to see what he saw there. "When someone hurts the one you love….it just…you want to hurt them. You want them to suffer," he said clinching his teeth.
Olivia saw his eyes turn dark and felt his muscles tense beneath her. She lowered her voice and stroked his cheek softly. "I know. I know. I'm sorry I didn't mean-," she started struggling to find the right words. "But good thing El is we don't have that to worry about. Lewis is dead and Harris is in jail. Ok? They've both suffered and we are moving on with our lives."
He took a few minutes letting the words sink in and she could feel him visibly relaxing underneath her touch.
"Ok?" she asked him again.
"Ok," he said nodding his head and kissing her.
Charlotte started to cry and she let go of him to go and get her.
"No let me, I'll get her and bring her down."
He hurried up the stairs and Olivia stood in the kitchen a moment pondering the exchange. She worried that maybe they were regressing with the spirits of Lowell Harris and William Lewis still lingering but she realized that those events just like the cases they discussed now would never go away. They will always be bubbling underneath the surface somewhere and as long as it didn't spill over into their everyday life she was ok with that. She was happy.